Sunday, November 29, 2009

but first, starlight.

Listening To: A Million Parachutes by Sixpence None the Richer
Line Obsession: I don't want anyone imagining me as anything other than the fool you'd encounter if you saw me on the street or heard me talk. - Eugene Peterson

And how could such a thing shine it's light on me and make everything beautiful again.
- David Crowder (Stars)

The farm is situated off a red dirt back road under a starry Georgia sky. The only way I know to get there is to keep driving: keep driving until all the radio stations fizzle into country music, keep driving until I have no signal on my phone, keep driving until the pavement ends. It might be located in the farthest tip of the boondocks, but trust when I say the middle of nowhere is highly underrated. Even if a farm isn't the image your mind conjures up when you think of fun, I bet you would like this one (see gorgeous peaceful picture above). The whole atmosphere is fabulous: guineas pummel through the high grass*, a calf walks around in his mama's shadow, and the brave little leaves leftover from October click together in the wind. There are bicycles in the yard. There are turtles in the lake. And there are four people who live in a little brick house who I love so so much. This post is a little bit about them, but it's also about sky. I forget about how bright the stars are until I'm visiting the farm. I have stars in my city. They make me smile there, but down here, they make me tremble.

Stars make me feel nervous, excited, and super teeny-tiny in the most wonderful kind of way. Like maybe it's okay to be one in a million if I still shine a little bit. Like it's possible to be little and bright, little and loved. And I don't know if it's the stars, or the warm fuzzies from family time, or the sugar high that comes from sampling every dessert in the turkeypalooza line-up ... but nights like this also make me introspective. Tonight, the stars are making me think of all the things I have to be grateful for.

Here are a few items on a thankful list that could stretch around the Milky Way and back:

* I'm thankful for a family who loves me no matter what I do. If I gave up every dream I've been working toward and pursued something else, they would still love me. If I make a bad decision, they'll love me. When I passed out game boards for License Plate Bingo on our last family vacation, they still loved me. They made fun of me, but they loved me ;). We all went to see The Blind Side** this weekend and that movie affirmed what I already knew to be true: all it takes is one person investing in someone's life to make an incredible difference. I have more than one person, I have lots of (strange, awesome, loud, lovable) persons. If I could walk into a Pick-Your-Own-Family Superstore, I would still want exactly the family I have. I love them so much it hurts.

* My health, health insurance, and great doctors.

* Melanie and Sarah. I'm grateful for all my friends, but they're the friends who know the most dirt and love me anyway. Very recently, through one of those crap-weeks I mentioned on the last post, I called Sarah on the verge of tears and said something very eloquent like, "I don't know what to do now. I feel like fungus for even trying." And she said, "I'll tell you what you do. You wallow for awhile. That's okay. Cry a little bit. Go eat some ice cream. But then tomorrow, you get up, and you go kick some *tail*." Everybody needs friends who 1.) understand the healing power of ice cream and 2.) can admonish you to go kick some metaphorical *tail* and get back in the game. Love them to pieces.

* Books. I'm thankful for passages I read over, and over, and out loud because they're so gorgeous. I'm thankful for those specific books that feel like diaries because I remember exactly what was happening the first time I read them. I'm thankful for stories that keep me awake at night asking questions. And for the books that make me embarrassed because I'm laughing so loud everybody in Starbucks, including my archenemy in hipster ski gear, is staring at me like I'm a loon. And for the books that make me feel really shy because I'm reading a kissing scene that is so sweet and well written. I'm thankful for gorgeous covers, cliff hangers, and passages some lowly writer spent weeks perfecting that take me ten minutes to read. Not only am I thankful for what books do for me, I'm thankful I live in a country where I can read whatever I want. (I think the portrait of the Owl & The Cat adds some real sophistication to my bookshelf, don't you? ;)

* Words. Have I mentioned that I like to write? Because I truly do. I'm not always good at it. When I'm in the middle of a project, I throw a hissy fit and say I'm going to never do it again. But I could never stop doing it. I love it so much. I hope I'm getting better. I hope every project is better than the one before. I hope the words I write matter. This year, when I ran through the rain, opened the mailbox, and realized Paperdoll was an honest to goodness book ... it was surreal. I'm thankful for that experience and what it taught me. I'm thankful for the opportunity I had to work with an incredible editor and publisher who believed in my book, and me. I'm kind of excited** about the direction I'm headed next, even thought it may take awhile to get there.

* This blog community. I got gushy over you last time, so I'll leave it at this: You people are too cool for words. Too cool for school. Cooler than a poler bear's toenails. I'll stop now. :)

* Music. Live music. Records. iTunes. Songs my brother puts on a CD for me. Pandora. And even this (you'll be so jealous): The house I live in now has an old sound system (installed sometime in the 80s). I kid you not ... it has a tape player. So now I get to drag out the cassette tapes and listen to those too :) I can't imagine a word where music doesn't exist, and don't want to. (Even though that might be a cool concept for a novel.)

* Seasons. They remind me change can be a beautiful thing.

* My dog. That's Biscuit, sitting on the console, helping dad navigate on the way back from Georgia. She makes me laugh. She loves to cuddle. She loves to go for long walks, just like I do. When I'm sad, she nuzzles her face against my face. Biscuit has taught me two very cool things so far: 1.) That it is possible to be little and brave (tuff and tough ;). She growls at the werewolves on the New Moon commercials. She barks at lions on the Discovery Channel. My dog is a scrappy little puff ball. And 2.) That I had, and have, a whole lot of love to give away. I love taking care of her. (Also, she has taught me that if I leave my make-up out, she will try to eat it.)

* I'm thankful for grace. It's one of my favorite words, one of my favorite concepts, one my favorite things. Laura Story wrote a song called "Grace" back when she was with Silers Bald. The chorus says, "I wonder how many times will you pick me up ... when I keep on letting you down?" Even though I know the answer is always and forever, I forget. Or I think it's vastly impossible. Grace and forgiveness are two actions I'm convinced don't come easy to anybody but when they do come, and when they're genuine, they're the sweetest.

And somehow, though I'm not quite sure how, that all brings me back to the farm. I'm almost ready to say adios to a year that has been a smashy blend of heartbreak and heart-mended. I've seen some amazing sunsets, gone to some great concerts, cried, celebrated, embarrassed myself, fallen, got back up, fallen, got back up, grateful. I shiver when I think about how much I have to be thankful for. There aren't any words heavy enough to describe how I feel. All I know to do is look up at the sky. I let all that gratefulness, and all that love, swell up inside my chest until I can't take it anymore. Then I blow it all out in one icy breath. And watch it dissolve into starlight.

* Guineas are birds that mostly look like chickens with mohawks. They also remind me of General Grievous, from Star Wars, because their hunchy-run makes their feathers look like a cape. I'm convinced they're plotting a complete takeover of the farm, but no one will heed my warning.
** Such an incredible movie. Go see it if you get a chance and tell me what you think! (But do note: there is potential for tear spillage.)
***For the purposes of this post, "excited" means "mild to moderately terrified."
**** A final p.s. - I'm giving away a copy of Paperdoll on Thursday. If you're interested in snagging the pink, leave a comment on Tuesday's post telling me your favorite thing about Thanksgiving.


  1. I love this post!! I could probably go on forever and end up writing a whole blog post of my own, just replying to this one. I'll try to keep it short...ish. Heh!

    1. The middle of nowhere is probably my favorite place to be. It has this peacefulness and (at least for me) adventurousness to it that you can't really find anywhere else. Also, the picture is gorgeous.

    2. Stars are my favorite thing. Ever. Really, I can't think of anything I love more than going up on a mountain, away from all the city lights, and staring up at a huge blue-black sky, filled with billions of stars. It makes me feel small and amazed and loved by a big, big God who made all of it. :) Some friends and I went up and watched a meteor shower a couple of weeks ago, and it was incredible. Ahhh! I could go on forever about just this, but I'll stop now. Haha.

    3. I saw The Blind Side this weekend, too. So good! I came super close to crying more than once.

    4. I have some friends like that, too, and I could not love them more. They have been a huge blessing to me, especially over the past few months. I've never felt so loved and supported in my entire life. They're amazing. :)

    5. I know what you mean about writing. I'm pretty sure I would cease to exist if I ever stopped. Journaling is my favorite. I can't get over how much I love it! It's such a huge part of me.

    6. I can't say enough about music, so I won't even try to start. Heh! I will say that, while I've known about Pandora for quite awhile, I didn't start using it until recently...and now I'm wondering why I waited so long! I love it!

    7. I've been thinking that about seasons a lot lately. It makes me feel a little more hopeful. :)

    8. I'll just second the whole last paragraph, word for word, because, really, what else can be said?

    P.S. That was short compared to what I could have said. Haha.

  2. Ugh, I want to draw love hearts all over this post. You say so well all the things I've been thinking/trying to figure out how to say lately. I'm with Ellie - that last paragraph?....I'm grateful you blog. Let's leave it at that.

    I'm excited and intrigued about the things coming up next in Natalie world! I hope we get to hear them soon. :)

  3. I love your thankfuls list. I made one too, and wrote it on my blog the day before Thanksgiving. That's whay I love that holiday. It's not so much a day to just give thanks, but to think of all the reasons you have to be thankful. All the moments that you thanked God, praised God, cried out to God, and prayed to God. I am so blessed with so many things, that it makes me dizzy to think of them all. Thanks for this post, it put a better perspective on my day:)

  4. Wow. :)
    It has honestly been a while since I have read anything new of yours, and once again, you've blown me off my feet. :) Paperdoll is amazing and I am currently reading it for like.. I dunno the fourth time. Only my copy is getting a little ragged where it has been passed around so many times :) Anywho, this post is beautiful. It makes me want to go lock myself in my room and write like all night long, but I have college algebra to get to. :( Thank you for all you do, and your passion for the maker of the heavens :) You inspire me :)