Friday, April 8, 2011

search out the moon.

Listening To: Go to Sleep by The Avett Brothers
Just Finished Listening To: Jenny B. Jones radio interview with Moody, in which she talks about the inspiration behind Save the Date. I love to hear passionate people talk about what makes their heart skip. Such a great interview.

Happy Friday Beauties (and beastlies)! Life snuck up on me this week (always a good thing) so I didn't have time to put together the post for the mini-giveaway. That's probably for the best. Maybe this weekend I'll have time to rifle through The Rogue Accountant's most precious belongings and find something else to add to the mix. ("Buzz's life savings!")

Actually, "The Rogue Accountant's most precious belongings" are cigars, guitar pics, a small statue of a gorilla playing a bongo drum, and some back issues of
Rolling Stone. And I call dibs on Rolling Stone. So maybe that's not the best idea.

I'll also try to get down in the comments and post some responses. You are the most wonderful bunch ever. I'm glad that last post encouraged you. Because you people encourage me
all the time. Thanks for taking the time to be part of this blog. You make me smile so hard my face hurts. (Also love it when you talk back and forth to each other. That rocks my world.) (Quick note: Frannie - that's not the Langston Hughes poem I have. I've never heard the one you shared but it is GORGEOUS. Wow. I keep a poem taped in the front so that I can change it out ever so often. The one you shared is definitely going in the queue. I love that you wrote it on your Converse. Thank you so much for mentioning it!)

Today I wanted to do a quick-like post featuring some pictures I took a few weekends ago.
I'll be talking about how to chase the moon. And how to find ice cream boats. Also, my very wonderful friend Lola.

<--- Lola.

As you can see, Lola is way, way too pretty for her own good. (Also, as you can see, my hair was having its own private celebration I affectionately refer to as FrizzFest.)

In addition to being a doll, Lola is also exceedingly talented. I'm biased toward my friends, who isn't?, but she truly is a phenomenal writer. Lola writes for The Knoxville News Sentinel. My favorite story she's written is the one about spending time with her grandmother in Nigeria, but she does consistently wonderful stories. You can checkout her Facebook page here if you want to follow along with her work.

Lola is, at this point, one of my longest long-time friends. We met back when we were in high school. We both read (and adored) Brio Magazine. One year, we both entered a yearly competition Brio held. The winner got to write a column for Brio for the next
year (they called this position "Brio Girl" - very superhero like ;). To make a long, awesome story short ... we won! We met in Colorado, where we'd both flown to meet the staff of Brio and get some pics made for the magazine. And we connected instantly. Do you have friends like this? Friends who you knew, from the nanosecond you met, you're going to be friends with? I felt like that when I met Lola.

When I met Lola, I was so totally enamoured. She and I have the most different backgrounds you can possibly imagine. She was born in Nigeria and came to the USA as a spunky little kid. Lola grew up in Brooklyn. One of her favorite high school memories is walking over the bridge, getting ice cream, and then walking back home. When I found out she rode subways daily -
DAILY - I was done for. I instantly decided she had the most glamorous life imaginable.Cause I grew up beside a cow field. And one of my favorite high school memories is driving to Sonic, with my bffMelanie, to order ice cream and french fries after school. (Let us observe a moment of silence for my 18 year old metabolism ...) I wouldn't trade my growing-up place for anything, btw. I am a true-blue mountain girl at heart. But even when I was a little nerdy kid, watching Sesame Street, I thought living in a city would be the most glamorous existence possible. I think kids are supposed to watch Sesame Street to learn. Which I did. But I was even more transfixed by a community where people lived in apartments. And fuzzy green Muppets lived in trash cans. (Oscar is my favorite!)

I knew our friendship was sealed when Lola and I were racing through the Denver airport trying to catch our flights back from Colorado. We rounded the corner to the food court when the girl behind me groaned and said, "Gross. I smell food."

Almost at that exact same moment, Lola (who was running ahead of me), said, "Mmmm! I smell food!"
That sealed it. I knew we would be friends for life.

Lucky for me, God decided to move Lola down south after college. Not only does she share my affinity for 1.) Gilbert Blythe, 2.) Ice Cream, and 3.) people watching ... but she reminds me to look
up. Lola lives her faith with such boldness and, at the same time, such humility. She knows how to blend the two so well. I never feel stupid wrangling with my faith when I'm around her. She gets it. She gives such wise advice, too. It's amazing to have a friend like that - who loves the mystery that comes with following God and also, very honestly, sometimes bucks against it. Also, Lola makes me laugh my head off. (My friends are all quite different, but they all have that in common.)

A few weekends ago, Lola came up and we went to the park. My city has a kick-butt park. Lola said it made her miss New York.
That's how rad my park is. We bought ice cream cones from Clumpies and explored the funky little shops that dot along the river. There's a boat that stays docked on the river here; it's a floating hotel, I'm told. And it's called "Delta Queen." So "DQ" is painted bold and gold on the ship's flag.Lola saw it, pointed, and shouted, "Dairy Queen!"

We were meant to be friends, is all I'm getting at.

<--- Happiness in a Cup. Wouldn't it be awesome if there was a Dairy Queen boat? I'd captain that ship.

We had a blast, talking about boys and books and ice cream. We talked about what we were writing. We talked about working out (
while we were consuming the ice cream). Lola has always been a beast when it comes to working out. Last May, when I first started working out, Lola was my cheerleader. I call her my personal trainer, because I'm forever more bombarding her, asking for specific moves that target specific muscles. The girl is in the know.

Lola and I spoke at an event together a few years ago. She knows I get nearly sick-nervous over stuff like that. Right before I marched up to the microphone, she said, "Do you remember when Moses was praying for the Israelites and God granted them favor as long as Moses kept his arms up? But Moses got tired? So Aaron and Hur held up his arms for him?"

I nodded. (Though secretly I was thinking: "What's Moses and Aaron and Hur got to do with me about to barf?") (Also, "Who's Hur?")

Lola took a step back and lifted her arms up to her side. Her arms were bent, like she was about to do The Funky Chicken. She said, "Think of me like your Aaron. I'll be here praying you through this. I'll hold up your arms."

While I was talking, I saw her standing in the back of the room. We made eye-contact. She lifted her arms like she was about to do The Funky Chicken again, and nodded at me.
I hope you have a friend like that, who holds up your arms when you get tired, when you think you can't push through. Everybody needs a Lola. I am blessed to have her as a friend.

Did I mention that I took Lola to her first bluegrass concert? We saw Alathea together and they were AMAZING. (Tangent: if these girls tour near you, GO SEE THEM.) Lola loved it. We both busted a move that night. Lola looks way cooler move-busting than I do, but still. (For real: I cannot sit still over that kind of music. Yesterday, while at Starbucks, old school Avett music came on my Pandora station and I texted a friend and said,
"The Avett's are singing 'Go To Sleep' and I can't sit still. I am about to dance on these tables!")

(Fortunately for everyone, that did not occur.)
After Lola went home, Mom and I decided to go look for The Super Moon. Could you see The Super Moon from where you live? It was truly soo-pah down here.

First we found the sunset:

And, of course, we had to stop and take pictures. The sunset loves to show off and, so help me, I never get tired of watching:

As you know, the most dangerous part of lakes is the ducks who inhabit them. Ducks are winged-beasties; all feathers and fangs. Tis best to keep an eye on critters like those. I bet they were plotting even as I clicked this picture:

After running for our lives from the ducks, we managed to find the moon. Lucky for us, the moon is not like four leaf clovers and good parking spots. The moon is pretty easy to search out. That night, I found it caught in the trees:

It seriously looked like a giant headlight in the sky, didn't it? My camera isn't built for night photography. Or maybe it would be if I knew how to manually set it and had a tripod and blah blah blah. But I don't.

I took a few pictures anyway. The pictures turned out
okay. But the problem with those pictures is the same problem I have with every picture.

Pictures tell stories; a thousand words and so on. But I'm not convinced even the best pictures (or the best stories) can truly capture certain moments; the times when the world feels so big and I feel so small (in the most wonderful sort of way). I can think of so many pictures I've taken on trips - pictures that I was desperate to get. Because I thought if I showed the picture to someone, they would feel like exactly like I felt when I took it.
This statue of Jesus overlooks all of Rio. We hiked to the top of it. Do you see this mountain in the water? We took a gondola over to the mountain! The sun turned the ocean gold when it settled down into it. See?
This is the balcony of the flat where I lived. And I wrote poems right there, on the balcony, every night. And one night that guy I told you about - the cute one from Alabama - stood here on the street and shouted, "Hey Jane Austen ... let's go find that pub you were telling me about ..." This is where our seats were for the concert. I know you can't really tell, cause it's dark, but everybody was dancing. I know the picture is blurry but that totally fits because I felt like my heart was about to spin out of my chest right then ...
This sunset! Just look at this sunset!

But that never works. People
can see it, of course. They see it in the picture. But no two people experience something the same way. And talking about the big-little moments, even remembering them, can't match living them. The pictures help me remember. But they never quite feel the same as the experience. I keep taking them anyway, printing them out. I keep looking at the colors and tracing the shadows. I can only trace shadows for so long though, before I want to get out and see something new. So mom and I chased down the super moon. We found it. I took a picture. The picture didn't really turn out. So I put the camera down and blinked up at the moon with my eyes. That felt right; just to breathe it all in. To devour the moment. To smile up at the moon and let the moon smile back down at me.

I whispered a very poetic prayer like: "God, You are so awesome. Thank you for making the super moon. Thanks for letting me see it. Thanks for letting it shine on me."

The world felt so bright that night, like I had little flecks of stardust caught in my eyes.

Happy Weekending to you. :)(Please feel free to utilize the comments to gush about the friend who "holds your arms up." Or your favorite move-busting song. Or your favorite ice-cream flavor. Or your collection of gorilla statues playing bongo drums.)


  1. Girl, what a FABULOUS blog and tribute to your dear friend. I wish I could hang out with the two of you, seriously!

    I am SO blessed with some friends who hold my arms up, as you say...I LOVE that...they are so precious to me. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  2. I'm glad you put up the JT video. That's how I imagined it when I sang the song at karaoke on Wednesday.

    Your supermoon picture is now my backdrop.

  3. I almost fell out of my chair with excitement when you mentioned Gilbert Blythe...DON'T CALL ME CARROTS!

    When you were talking about the pictures I kept thinking of my senior project, a documentary sharing about my trip to India last year, and how I get excited for people to see it and then realize that they still don't get it cause they weren't there. But that's okay, cause I remember.

    My friend Sarah holds my arms up. We try to meet every Sunday before church to share and pray. She's someone who reminds me that my relationship with Jesus isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. With her I'm not intimidated to squeal with joy over what God's doing or to cry out in frustration with it. Although we didn't hit it off at first quite like you and Lola. :)

    Thanks for sharing. It always makes my heart pump a little faster to see you wrote a new post. :)

    P.s. You know where I can get one of those gorillas with bongo drums? ;)

  4. Lola sounds like an amazing friend. :)

    I know exactly what you mean about pictures. I think sometimes we say we're taking pictures to show other people (like on vacations and such), but really we're taking them for ourselves. So when we see them, we can relive the beautiful moment that made us snap the picture.

    Love that Avett Brothers song! And your pictures of the super moon. :) I'm always so happy to see you've put up a post!


  5. my frined that holds my arms up is named jenna. and she's as awesome as a super moon.
    great post. for me, i like to dance like stargirl to boy bands (normally from earlier in the decade, bowling for soup and the backstreet boys.)

  6. First of all, I love how you share little snippets of your life on here. Thank you for sharing about Lola!

    Second of all, I love Dairy Queen Blizzards, but the only Dairy Queen we have in our food court at the mall...

    Third of all, my friend who "holds up my hands", is def my cousin, who is always there for me and praying for me.

  7. Little Fairy,
    It cracks me up to hear someone mention the Backstreet Boys! I was obsessed with them and N*Sync. A few months ago, I came across all my old CDs and fought the urge to pop one of them in for old time's sake. :) Since then, I've heard a BSB song on the radio about 3 times (and I've been brave enough to listen to it :). They make me feel so nostalgic!


  8. I was sitting with my friends around a circle table and out of nowhere, my friend says to me, "Deanna, you're so beautiful and you make us laugh." When I started college I was afraid I wouldn't have a group of friends to encourage me, But God gave me the greatest group of girls (and a few guys) who want the best for me in life. :)

  9. Natalie,

    This is the first time I've seen your blog, but I just wanted to that it is amazing! :)

    As a girl, I loved reading your "In Step" column in Brio magazine. Every time I got the magazine, I would flip right to your article and read it on the spot. I seriously loooved them SO much, I would rip them out & save them for later. This weekend I went home & found a whole folder of your articles! (I googled your name to see if you had published any books since, and that's how I found your blog)

    This just goes to show how much of an impact you can have on people. I admire your close relationship with God & whole outlook on life. Please, please don't ever stop writing!! Your words had such an impact on me, and I know they do for many others, so thank you :)

  10. kristin- a couple days ago we were in zaxbys and the backstreet boys came on, i gently (because i WAS eating in a public restaurant) sang and danced along.

  11. Lola sounds like such an amazing lady! I love how you brag about your friends on your blog :)

    I loved this description "This is the balcony of the flat where I lived. And I wrote poems right there, on the balcony, every night. And one night that guy I told you about - the cute one from Alabama - stood here on the street and shouted, "Hey Jane Austen ... let's go find that pub you were telling me about ..." It sounds like the perfect opening to a good book. One that I would read in a heart-beat.

    Your pics of the super moon are gorgeous! Wow. I was in Germany visiting a friend during the super moon's appearance. I glanced up and was like "Oh. It's the super moon." And then forgot about it. Oops? Though my great aunt sent me lots of e-mails about it, so I feel like I kinda saw....

    Happy Sunday!

  12. Hey Natalie...

    I loved this post, and loved seeing the super moon as well. I love that it moved you to prayer... I always find myself simply saying "God! Look what You did!" As if He hasn't seen it yet... but hey, my heart says what it says!

    I totally identify with your desperateness to bring people into a moment with you... I always try to do it more with music though, than pictures. As in, "go listen to 'Brothers on a Hotel Bed' by Death Cab and you'll know how I was feeling on Friday." But sometimes, no one will get it. And maybe those moments were meant just for you and that place in your chest where Jesus breathes. And maybe that's just as special!

    Looking forward to more posts, as always! :)

  13. I came to your blog from a link on Lola's (I'm the Life with Laura blog) and just had to comment. Imagine my excitement to read your blog for the first time and see someone gushing about how amazing Lola is!? She really is totally awesome. I love your super moon picture behind the tree. It turned out perfectly, in my opinion (not seeing the actual moon in real life of course). Just enjoy because the rest of the world thinks it rocks.

  14. Natalie...can I just say that I stinking love you?!?! Your blog brings great joy to my heart :)

    Also, I would like to say, if someone ever called me Jane Austen I wouldn't live to tell it...I would die of incandescent happiness.

    I am so glad you have a friend like Lola! Because, you know, she sounds a lot like my bff Becca. Everyone should have a Becca. (Though I say this, I would be highly unlikley to actually share her)

    My Becca is the most beautiful, most encouraging, most godly friend I've ever had. And not godly in a "I'm holy so you should start taking notes" sort of way.

    She's a waaaaay better person than I am. And I'm constanlty learning from her. She knows my weaknesses and doesn't judge me for them...she prays me through them.

    Thank the Lord for good friends!