Monday, October 11, 2010

the brightest.

Listening To: Fair and Tender Ladies by Roseanne Cash
Line Obsession: "There are as many reasons to travel as there are travelers. For a writer interested in place, the subject can be any dot on a map. One goes to a war zone, one takes a wildflower walk, one experiences a gun at the temple, one trails a foot off a sailboat in aquamarine waters. Only the writing will reveal who traveled the furthest." - Frances Mays, from his introduction in The Best American Travel Writing 2002

Hey lovelies! My orange overnight bag is plopped in the floor - still bulging with the clothes I've yet to unpack from a weekend adventure to my hometown. The mountains did not disappoint; the colors flowed like a perfect paint-swipe all the way up the interstate. Rust-colored to Jewel-toned in a matter of hours. I freaked out over the colors quite frequently. Sandra McCracken wrote a song about my town, calling this the place "where the city in October looks like fire." Isn't that gorgeous? I have my camera at the ready so I can confirm this truth for you. Once these hills really pop, I'll show you around. I'm also packing along the camera for a trip to Ellijay, Georgia this weekend. The Rogue Accountant, the parental units, and myself will be bonding at the apple festival there. I am anticipating much in the way of blog fodder and I want to capture those moments with my camera. I am also anticipating funnel cakes. And I plan to capture those with my mouth.

There are some fun bloggy topics on the horizon (like my fall favorites and Ally Condie's Matched and my experience making a dessert I like to call "redneck-apple-tatin" ... a fiasco I have documented for you in pictures). However, I wanted to fire up the blog this morning to make you aware of two fun links (of a hot pink variety):

Thing #1: Author Marti Pieper wrote a super-kind review of Paperdoll on her blog. And she's giving away a copy of the book. All you have to do is leave a comment on her blog for a chance to snatch it up.

Thing #2: I'm thrilled to see Paperdoll featured in the October issue of the e-zine Not of This World. Awhile back, I got an email from Courtney, who edits the publication (who also happens to be a blog reader) asking if she could share a certain section of the book in her magazine. My answer, of course, was YES. All out, absolutely, Y-E-S. Yes for two reasons:

Reason #1: I love that Courtney is editing her own e-zine, and doing it so professionally. She works crazy hard to put together something fun for a very specific audience I happen to adore (more on them momentarily). Courtney's e-zine isn't a paid subscription, but she edits it with the same professionalism and artistry any paid editor would. I'm sure there are many writers who are part of this bloggy community who are in similar positions - writing for your high school newspapers, or putting in hours on your college yearbook staff, or you editing your own e-zine, or keeping up your youth group's website. You are a severely talented bunch. Thanks for putting so much heart into what you create.

Reason #2: Courtney's publication is specifically written for teen girls who are MK's (missionary kids). Not only are the articles written for MK's, but they are written by MK's. I clicked through to the original link Courtney sent and thought it was the sweetest concept. Not only is the e-zine creative and smart, but I can see why it's such a great connecting point for girls living all over the world. I know we have a few MK's reading this blog, so allow me to utilize this moment to tell you people how fabulous I think you are. I love the fact that you're living out such a huge adventure while you are in your teens. Do you realize you are living out the brave stuff most people write on a bucket list but never actually get around to doing? I love the way you live out your faith - through service and love. I love what you teach me about other cultures. Love the way you interpret the true meaning of "home". You're an incredible bunch and I'm honored to see something I've written tucked into a publication you write.

So I was tickled to be part of the October issue of Not of This World. What I didn't realize, however, is how beautiful Courtney's layout would be. I got to see how she processed a particular passage in Paperdoll - and wowzers. The way she highlighted certain words and phrases and incorporated so many pictures - of so many gorgeous girls (real girls!) at all different places in their lives - it's lovely. Courtney so gets it. And she couldn't have picked a more fitting passage to share with Not of This World's readers. Y'all get it too. And you remind me to get it; you remind me that beautiful is so much deeper and truer and so much more than a paper smile.

You can click here to read Not of This World. (You will enjoy it whether or not you're an MK!)

Can I share some serious with you? (That was more a rhetorical question for myself ... because I just realized I am 1.) wearing socks that don't match and 2.) drinking a Capri Sun I found in the back of the fridge ... and I mostly wanted to drink it because I think poking the straw into the silver container is so weirdly fun. Such a challenge! ... I don't know that those two confessions bode well for "the serious.")

Paperdoll has been out over a year now and there was a part of me - a big part - that figured the book would have faded into oblivion by now. Paperdoll is a tiny book, written for a specific audience, written by a girl who is not a big deal (see above note about socks and straws). The fact that you are still reading the book, still mentioning it to your friends, still writing about it in your e-zines ... that always gets to me.

What gets to me even more are the very personal notes about how, specifically, you are processing the message. You tell me that you're not ashamed of your scars anymore. That you aren't ashamed of your past anymore (That Anne of Green Gables quote just popped into my noggin, the one where she says, "Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it."). That you aren't afraid to put on a swimsuit and go to pool parties even though you aren't the skinniest girl there. That you've started counseling - for cutting, for an eating disorder you've kept secret for years, for depression, for anxiety. Asking for help makes you a hero, btw. You are navigating family issues with grace and sorrow and a little bit of joy too ... and a lotta help from your friends. You are speaking up even if your words are a stammer at first. You are getting involved and putting yourself out there even though the putting-out-there-of-the-self always involves shaky hands and a trembling heart. You are fighting for causes some people call time-wasters. There is no such thing as a "losing battle" for you brave souls. You set your heart and lace up your Converse and go figure out a way to make the world better. Get em. :)

I am fully aware that a hot pink book isn't responsible for any of those moments, but I am grateful that maybe certain snippets have encouraged you along the way. I know most of these blog posts revolve around somewhat frilly conversational topics - like my spy dog, my affinity for cowboy boots, my obsession with Project Runway and my cooking snafus. But in between all the funny, I think it's important to break out some serious. The serious is this: 1.) you are loved more than you know. No matter who you are or what you do or where you're from or what you did or will do - you are loved more than you'll ever know. Perhaps this is a better way to phrase this: there is nothing you have done, can do, or will do that will make God love you less. Or more. His love is permanent and better and bigger than our pea-brains can contain. And 2.) There is a reason, a really amazing reason, you are on this planet. I know some of you are walking through some dark places. I know love can, and will, pull you through the shadowy parts. I know your story is way too beautiful for giving up and stopping in the middle.

I save every single note you people send. I received an email awhile back with a line that makes me chill-bumpy every time I re-read it. One reader wrote to say this: "...I just wanted you to know that I've heard John 3:16 hundreds of times and never thought it was for me. Your book made me see that it was for me too."

I nearly fell out of my chair. That's a frequent occurrence, by the way. The chair came from the Rouge Accountant and he sat in it while he played x-box and, apparently, playing x-box involves sitting in such a way that you are severely tilted to the left. If I don't position my body just the right angle, I spill out of that chair in no time. (As I type this, I realize he probably engineered the chair that way before he gave it to me...). But that day especially, I nearly flipped. My heart flipped. That's the part that matters most - knowing God's love is for you too.

You people shine so bright you hurt my eyes. You're the brightest stars in the bunch for sure.

There are a few more book giveaways coming up in the next few months, but I promise not to constantly get sappy and wax pink poetic :) Thanks for letting me talk a little bit about the book today. I hope you have an incredible week! Let me know about your fun fall-inspired adventures in the comments. And please make it a point to step on the extra-crunchy looking leaves on your way to class today. :)

My heart knows that beauty - the real kind that threads from my heart to my soul to my mind, binding itself to the external - is possible. Real beauty is quirky and timeless, elegant and artsy. It's in a face full of freckles and long Spanish braids and in a hard bicep or a soft stomach. It sines bright and breathtaking from a classic girl who wears pearls and stilettos and reads Kate Chopin. It blasts like a rock song from the funky girl on the fringe with blue hair and dark rimmed glasses and a collection of Bob Dylan records. It's wrapped in introversion and extroversion, caught in the lilt of an accent.

Beauty isn't some pinpoint we're all shooting for aimlessly. Real beauty is more like a kaleidoscope, shining out of every part of our lives. It is evidenced in thousands of skin tones and smiles, illuminated even from the heart of a girl who sees herself as nothing out of the ordinary. (From paperdoll, p.67)


  1. Natalie! Thanks for saying such sweet things about my e-zine! That brightened my whole day :)

  2. LOVED this:
    I just wanted you to know that I've heard John 3:16 hundreds of times and never thought it was for me. Your book made me see that it was for me too.

    Wow. You and Jesus did that, Natalie.
    And totally gonna check out the e-zine!

  3. Natalie,

    Thanks for the link to Courtney's e-zine! It's great! I want to read every issue!

    I posted a note on FB and tagged a bunch of KCA girls in it so they can check it out too (and of course mentioned your book too :) )


  4. Clicking over to the e-zine! It sounds fabulous.

    The rest of this post...I am feeling so many warm fuzzies right now, I can't be articulate. I love it when your blog pops in my Google Reader :)

  5. I simply cannot wait until I have a chance to read your book. I read quite a few blogs, and you're is easily my favorite right now. Just wonderful.

    Thank you!

  6. Awesome to hear how your book is impacting others, Nat! Who knows how God will use it next?

    In the meantime, I continue to enjoy hearing about your cooking exploits, song choices, and reality TV reactions. Thanks so much for your wonderful email back the other day- I have been pondering it and will get back to you soon.

  7. awesome post as always, your book touched me for sure. you are an amazing writer. I also just wanted to add that I've always noticed your book thief quote on your sidebar, but had never read the book. well I finished it last week and now I really noticed it and... oy.

  8. Hey Natalaie love your thoughts as always!

  9. Oh wow.

    I really wish this e-zine had been around when I was a teenager. ("when I was a teenager"... 23 isn't old enough to say that, is it? Tell me no...) How incredibly encouraging! A friend of mine once said that "no one can understand an MK like an MK." I love that this e-zine provides such a beautiful outlet where MK girls can share what's really on their hearts so that more people can understand a taste of this lifestyle. Every article felt like going back home.

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. This brightened my day. I am a junior in college and have loved your writing since I was in junior high reading Brio Girl. I told my mom to keep the subscription when I was younger just so I could tear out your article in the back every month. As if that doesn't sound stalkerish enough, I kept those articles and was inspired by the words you wrote.

    I just discovered your blog a few months ago and I have enjoyed it just as much as I enjoyed reading your stories as a young girl.

    I can totally relate to the yearbook/newspaper writing thing and not getting the recognition I necessarily see-fit. God is definitely teaching me a lot in these past few years of "growing up".

    All of this to say: thank you. You have inspired so many, and I will add one more smile received from reading your blog today


    ps: I am making a point to walk on the crunchy leaves today :)

  11. {fact} Paperdoll did this for me:
    Chapter... something... possibly close to four maybe :) Waiting for Gilbert made me realize that someday somewhere out there, there is a beautiful Avvian out there and he loves me like the northern lights :)

    Thanks to Paperdoll :)
    I'm writing him a letter.


  12. I just have to say, I love the quote at the top of this post! I always resonate with things about travel :) Also, the links you included are pretty cool. As an MK myself, it's awesome to see how MKs are impacting the world around them. Love it!

  13. One of my blogger friends had a link to you on her blog and I was like what a coincidence becuz I read ur articles in SuzieMag and btw, I LOVE THEM. I liked your last post "beautiful when its real" That was AWESOME

  14. Natalie, you are so awesome. Thanks for always encouraging me about my sewing...I now have an Etsy shop! :) . I'm also having a giveaway at my blog (one of the prizes is a wallet), and I thought maybe you'd like to enter!