Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the one I forgot to title.

Listening To: My Father's Father by The Civil Wars
Line Obsession: "Sure I dreamed of having football dates, but my real dream was that one day I would write something that people would actually read." - from The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Hey there beauties (&; beastlies)!
I've been home from the Pacific Northwest for a while now. And y'all were so right - I loved it.
In fact, if my heart was a jigsaw puzzle, I'm fairly certain it would presently be missing two pieces shaped like Oregon and Washington State. I was stunned by the beauty. Swept off my feet by all the sweet people. (Thank you for sending such great travel suggestions! You people are definitely kindred spirits : )
I miss that place. Most of my sentences lately have started with, "When we were in Seattle ..." or "When we were at Mt. Rainier ..." Sigh. I miss being somewhere new. Don't get me wrong - I affirm Dorothy's sentiments. There is, most assuredly, no place like home.
But I very much like to be in transit too. In fact, if I can be tee-totally honest with you, I've always had some bizarre aversion to putting down roots. If I had a red cloak that billowed in the wind, I would probably be like Vianne in Chocolat.
Except I'm not hawt like Vianne. Also, Johnny Depp does not play guitar for me. Not often. Also, if I worked in a chocolate shop, I would, most definitely, eat everything. I would have nothing to sell except wrappers.
The one thing Vianne and I do have in common is a chronic case of of wanderlust. Have you seen the movie? (I haven't read the novel, so I'll only use the movie example here.) Remember how Vianne could only stay in a place until the wind called her on? That's so how I feel sometimes.
And while there is so much good in embracing new beginnings and setting out and adventuring and finding joy in the journey and so on ... I'm also willing to fess up to a sometimes-maybe-possibly fear of commitment. And a fear of rejection. Maybe even a fear of getting too attached.
I feel like I'm always learning what it means to really live up the day I'm in while still maintaining some eternal perspective. That same principal applies to my wandering heart, too. I can dream. I can anticipate. But I've also got to learn to be in the moment; fully and completely here. This season is teaching me what it means to dig in and build relationships and bloom a little bit.
... but it sure is nice to fly away sometimes ; ) And planning for a big vacation was just flat fun. Coming down from the mountain and digging back in to day-by-day stuff is fun too though.
I've got pictures to show you and so much stuff I want to write about; words that started out as journal-scrawls and Tumblr mumbles.
{Slight tangent: I had so much fun with the Tumblr. I've got some tumblr-y ideas I'm going to test drive very soon.}
I've got so much I want to tell you.
This is the short summary: The West is wild and unruly and covered in wildflowers and snow. The mountains made me cry. The art made my heart flutter. The java made me do an absurd number of happy dances. The people made me smile. That whole place set my imagination spinning. It was pure storybook. Inspiration comes easy in a place like that.
Also, the temp never climbed above 75 while we were there. I cannot even describe how nice it was to be able to breathe deeply again. The heat has been a beast this year, hasn't it? The weather out there (rainy and cool and foggy and mysterious) made me envy you West Coast girls something crazy.
And then I had coffee at Tully's. And then I had a Grilled Cheese Sandwich made with Tillamook Cheddar at a pub on Cannon Beach. And after those two events transpired, my envy skyrocketed. I miss Tully's. I miss Tillamook Cheddar. I miss feeling all fizzy and inspired all the time. (I wonder if The Inspiration had something to do with The Cheese ...)
{Note: I did not feel inspired when the Rogue Accountant tried to wipe Yak juice from his Yak Jerky onto my hoodie. But otherwise, it was all good.}
My trip was better than wonderful. Travel always changes my perspective in some necessary ways. But here is what has not changed:
You people are as cute as ever.
I've been thinking of you so much in the past few days, mostly due to my favorite cute person: Erin.
I've mentioned my niece, Erin, a time or a thousand. I try to be a cool aunt and not get all squealy about her, but this is a difficult task. She is adorable and sarcastic and smart. Too fun for her own good. Most days, I try to be chill. But every now and again, I flip out and (randomly) yell, "YOU ARE SO STINKING ADORABLE!" Erin rolls with it. She's used to it at this point.
When The Rogue Accountant and I landed in Nashville, Erin and my Dad were waiting there to pick us up. Despite my jetlag, Erin had me laughing all the way home. We spent the next day shopping and doing our nails and watching Harry Potter and cramming into a photobooth at the mall and trying on makeup at Ulta. When it comes to very girly-girl stuff, Erin is my go to girl. We had a ball. I'm missing her like whoa.
Erin is a Freshman in High School this year. A FRESHMAN.
Have I mentioned that I was in High School when Erin was born? So surreal!
This is us at Abuelo's, about five seconds before we stuffed our faces with chips and guacamole. By "we," I mean "me":
Isn't she the cutest?
I pray for Erin everyday but I've been praying lots of high-school-specific prayers lately. Mature stuff like, "Please, please, please, please keep every immature jerk who might possibly break her heart ten million miles away from her!"
I pray serious things too - that she'll grow closer and closer to God - that she'll find peace in prayer and freedom in Worship. That she'll keep her heart wide open to what His Word is teaching her. I pray that she'll have friends who laugh with her and cry with her and squeal over boys with her. I pray that she'll be brave enough to wear her heart on her sleeve. That she'll never stop getting angry over the right things. I pray God will put adults in her life who recognize, and affirm, what she's good at; who help her cultivate her gifts and talents in amazing ways.
Mostly, I just holler out all kinds of thankfuls.
Erin's beauty is heart-deep. Soul-deep. She's easy going until she sees someone getting picked on; she does not put up with mean. She doesn't take herself too seriously. She doesn't sell herself short. She loves God. She loves her friends. She makes ordinary days sparkle. She shines; starry, starry-bright. The world is a better place because she's in it. I can't wait to see what High School brings her way.
As I've been praying for her, I've also been praying for you.
I know some of you are in a similar place: a transitional place. You're starting High School. Or college. Or grad school. Even if this isn't a transitional year, I know the new can feel pretty overwhelming regardless of how it happens. So I'm praying those same kinds of prayers for you, too: that you'll run after God, whole-hearted. That you'll take lots of study breaks and put on some loud music and dance, dance, dance in your dorm room with your friends. That you'll be brave enough to wear your heart on your sleeve. That something you study, or read, or see, or hear will spin your heart like crazy. That you'll come undone over something. Restless over something. That you'll walk in confidence, rooted in God's Word, aware that you are loved by Him no matter what happens. No matter where you're headed this year, He's with you.
If you're walking into a new school year (whether you're in middle school, high school, college, grad school, or some other smarty-pants school), and you feel like sharing, here's what I would love to hear from you in the comments:
a.) What year you'll be
b.) What you are most looking forward to about this year and/or what you are most nervous about this school year.
And if you feel so inclined, I would love, love, love it if you would also let me know how I can pray for you this year.
You can comment anon if you want, or you can leave that part out all together. But if we can pray for you, let us know. If you're in the comments, and you see a prayer request or two, I would love it if you'd consider praying it up as well.
Of course, you are welcome to comment on anything you want (Next Food Network Star? Anybody else watching?).
I'm excited to hear how you people are doing. Because I've missed you. Because I want to know what's happening in your world.
And because I'm curious to know if you've ever had a Grilled Cheese Sandwich made with Tillamook Cheddar and if it changed your life like it did mine ...
Catch you in the comments!
{P.S. - I'm posting my favorite Season 9 Project Runway looks over on Pinterest. Would love it if you'd hop over and let me know your picks and thoughts on this season! Viva le Tim Gunn!}


  1. oooo...the civil wars, have you heard poison and wine?
    jealous. i love to travel, but my family isn't big on it, can't wait until i can go new places.
    i LOVED reading your tumblr. It rocked.
    what also rocks, is abuelo's. just saying.
    i'm graduating next year, and am excited and terrified. mostly about dance, last year of dance. and i don't know what to do about understudy-ing this year, i kinda have to decide if a want to do anything with dance later in life by the end of september...and the other understudy girls aren't really who i want to have to spend early saturday mornings and a memphis trip with, so please pray about that.thanks.

  2. Your trip sounds wonderful! Glad you had a good time. I've never been in that part of the country, but your descriptions make me want to go.

    I will be a junior in high school this year at a new school, since we just moved from Italy. I'm so nervous, but a little excited too. I've been homeschooling the past two years and I'm ready for "real" school again. I have never changed classes before or used a locker, so that should be interesting. But I'm sure I'll get the hang of it within a week or so. I still have two weeks to get used to the idea! :) So I guess my prayer request would be that I learn how to change classes quickly and not be late to any of my classes and that I'll be able to make an impact for Christ at my new school.

    I love the picture of you and Erin! So cute :) Oh and I love your quote at the top! I read that book last summer and can not WAIT for the movie!!! I think it comes out tomorrow? I hope it's as good as the book.

    Happy Tuesday!

  3. Hi Natalie! This summer my best friend moved across the country and I am missing her so much, especially since this is our senior year! I honestly don't know if the first day of school is going to be a no big deal for me, or have a huge emotional breakdown because it's not the same without her! :)

  4. Hey Natalie,
    Your trip sounded fantastic.
    This year, I will be a sophmore in high school, scary! Our plan for this year is that I would be able to attend 'regular' school but that doesn't look like that's going to happen. Due to a very rare, and very serious, liver condition I was born with, and now an undiagnosed stomach condition that causes me tons of pain along with some other less then enjoyable side effects, I will be at home again this year, spending my time at doctor's office's and hospitals. Not really the way I wanted to spend my sophmore year. I am looking forward to the flexibility of being homeschooled, I'll be getting a part time job as well as volunteering, something I wouldn't have been able to do if I was in public school. But You could definatly pray that I would start feeling better, that the doctors would figure out what's wrong, and how to help me, and that maybe I would be able to go back for my junior year.
    Thanks for being such an encouragement to me.

  5. It sounds like you had fun! This year I'll be a junior in high school (screams) along with being the president of a club and working at Old Navy (if all goes as planned). I ask only that you pray that I'd not stress out too much, remember to eat, and do well in school. Thank you so much!

  6. I am officially done with school, but I still wanted to comment. :) This is actually the first year in about 16 years that I will not be doing school this fall, and that makes me feel a little nostalgic, but mostly happy. The only thing I will really miss is buying school supplies, because I'm a nerd like that. I'm sure I can still find an excuse to buy a new notebook and pen, at the very least. :)

    Natalie, I realized the other day that through your blog, you introduced me to three of my most favorite musical groups: Eisley, The Civil Wars, and the Avett Brothers. Thank you so much. :)

    The picture of you and your niece is so cute! She sounds super cool.

    And I think I finally *might* break down and create a Pinterest account.


  7. The first part of this post hits quite close to home for me.

    I am a traveler. That's always been a part of my identity, and I don't think that's something that will ever change. It's been ingrained in me since I was tiny. But sometimes I wonder. I've always had this excuse in the back of my mind, that I don't have to get to attached, don't have to open up, because we'll be gone in a year anyways.

    This year I'll be a junior. I don't anticipate it being too difficult, but there are mega-changes coming up.

    For instance, I'm going back to Taylor U to take a few classes. I can't decide if this will be easier because I know what to expect, or harder, because I know how difficult it will be.

    The thing I'm nervous about is exactly the same thing that I'm looking forward to: moving. If everything goes as planned, this time next year I will have graduated high school, and we'll be back in Europe.

    I've wanted this for a long time. It's my wanderlust roots, I guess, but the four years we've lived here have seemed like a life time. I've been ready to go back the entire time we've been in America.

    But I'm so scared, too. By the time we go back, I'll be 17. I'll go to school in Holland, in Dutch, and I'll have to learn the language. This terrifies me. I know how to live in other cultures, and it's easy for me. I think that the combination of moving, possibly leaving my brother behind, and starting at a new school in a different language is just scary.

    So if you could pray for that, I would greatly appreciate it. :)

    I really loved Danielle's fishnet dress. If she had put it on a model with dark hair, I think that it would have been very reminiscent of Annie Cresta. :)

    I loved following the Tumbla while you were gone! Can't wait to hear more about your adventures. :)

  8. Such an awesome-sounding trip! My uncle and aunt live in Montana - I'm positive that I'm gonna drive out there... once I get my license... and graduate... and get some money...
    Anyway I'm gonna be a junior in high school. That's scary enough in itself.
    I'm looking forward to getting my driver's permit (hopefully that will happen this year), and hopefully spending more time with friends than what I have in past.
    I'm dreading taking a college English course next semester. It was going to this semester, but things got complicated (a.k.a., my mom is a procrastinator).
    Continue to have an awesome year! And keep up the posts! I always start squealing whenever I see you've a new post ;)

  9. First of all, that's a beautiful picture :) Kind of makes you want to lay out back in a hammock in the middle of nowhere and watch the sunset. *sigh*

    Okay! Well, I am going to be a freshman at community college. I'm excited about my Psychology class. It's going to give me a taste of what I hope to get my degree in. I'm most nervous about the f act that it's a secular school, so they aren't seeing things we're studying through the eyes of the Lord. I'm wondering how it will go when the times comes for me to stand up for what I believe.

  10. So glad you had fun on your trip -- I really want to go there. I'm actually in California right now, and while I love traveling, I'm kind of looking forward to going home and having things return to normal.

    I'm going to be a sophomore in high school this year, and I think in some ways it will be easier -- I know more people, know the school better, etc. -- but in some ways it will be harder, like academically speaking. Also, just the fact that I'm getting that much closer to graduating kind of scares me, because I'm not ready for that. I know I have time and I'm just going to try to enjoy it while I can. :)

    It's good to have you back.

  11. I graduated last year, though all of my friends did THIS year, and that was kinda odd.
    I'm turning 18 this saturday, and it's kinda cool. I've been looking over these past 5 years, and though it's been hard, very hard, God has placed in me this heart I wouldn't have otherwise had. And it seems like for the first time I'm realizing LIFE, and that's a PRAISE!
    I see alot of highschoolers read your blog, and i just want to tell them something.Thank Jesus for their health, becasue it is a gift. And even if they don't have it, i want them to know that there is a reason for their suffering, otherwise it wouldn't be happening. And He won't put them under more than they can handle. And He can make anything beautiful(isn't that awesome?). And He CAN turn your ashes into beauty. That's a promise. Just hang in there and let Him love you.

  12. Firstly, that bird seed dress was my favorite, he's my favorite. Although the hamster and dog bedding one was another fabulous outfit.

    Secondly, Starting two weeks from Wednesday I'll be a fresh-woman at Maryville College (Go scots). I'm excited about Intervarsity there, thanks to Bethany. But I'm kinda nervous about what God has planned. I know that college is a piece of preparing me for long-term foreign missions. And so I know He's going to challenge me in good but hard ways.

    Just read the last comment and my heart is dancing. I definitely know what it's like to realize what Jesus meant when He said He came to bring "abundant life, life to the fullest" Praise God.

    I so wish I had taken advantage of my high school years. You are never in a larger mission field than high school. So thankful that God is letting me Start Now.

  13. Natalie!

    Explain to me how you always post exactly what I need EXACTLY when I need it?! I love it. I love your blog, I love you, and I am maybe a little jealous of your niece for having an aunt that prays such awesome, amazing God-prayers over her and her life. Just reading what you were praying for her made me cry!

    I am leaving exactly a week and a half from today to start my freshman year at UNC-Chapel Hill. In one respect, my heart is SOARING- I love the campus, my roommate has also been my pen pal for the past year, and I get to buy all this cool pink stuff for my dorm (so fun!) As the time to leave draws closer, though, my heart is getting heavier. There are too many friends to say goodbye to- namely, my best friend, who I've shared all my secrets and Starbucks with since first grade. And then there's my family, and my sweet, handsome boyfriend, and the house where I've spent my entire life. I think I forgot that leaving actually meant I would be leaving many of the people that I love behind.

    On the flip side, this is exactly where God wants me to be. He has opened SO MANY doors for me and given me SO MUCH favor that I am completely certain that this is His plan (it definitely wasn't mine at first!) But God's cool like that (and faithful, and generous, and I know He's going to be there with me.) I'm looking forward to watching Him fill me and change me and bring me to life in new ways.

    Thanks for your post! And thanks for all your prayers. (I printed out the prayers you're praying- the wholehearted, spin-your-heart-like-crazy prayers- and I'm posting them on my dorm mirror so I can start praying them for both my friends and me.

    Happy summer, and so many blessings.

  14. Hey Natalie! I loved reading your tumblr while you were on your trip! It sounded like you were having a blast! This post was so encouraging! I'm starting my freshman year of college in a week and a half and I'm pretty scared. It's my first time going to a secular school, too! I guess just pray that it I'm not crazy stressed and it all goes well! Thank you so much Natalie! You always brighten my day!


  15. Sounds like you had a fantastic trip to the PNW! It's a place I'd love to visit someday.

    I'll be a senior in college this fall. It's so crazy to me! It feels like just yesterday I was walking on as a lil freshie, and now I'm just nine short months from leaving. I think I'm most looking forward to the classes I'll be taking this year; I'm finishing up my English major and history minor and doing my honors senior project, which is a historical novel (it was the best way I could think of to combine my two loves/areas of study). As for prayer, I would love for God to really just show me what He means for me to be doing post-college, and where. I'm thinking of editing or museum curating right now, and the city I live in would be lovely for that, but I'm also thinking Chicago, NYC, or DC. But it may be that I'm called somewhere else, to something different, and I really just want to be open to and sure of God's plan for this time!

  16. I'm going to be a sophomore in college this fall. My freshman year flew by so fast. I want to be a teacher, so I volunteer at an inner-city middle school on Fridays. I'd like prayer on that one! I love the kids, but it's heartbreaking sometimes to see them come to school in ratty shoes, shorts in the middle of winter, or using tape to hold their pencil pouches together.

    Sounds like you had an awesome trip!

  17. this post made my heart full. I'm heading to the West Coast in 7 days to shoot a wedding. Bliss!
    I'm finishing my senior year at Moody Bible Institute this year and I need prayer for graduate school.
    Thank you so much for sharing, Nat. You are being brought before the throne as well!

  18. Natalie! I loved this post! I am entering into my junior year of college and I am so excited. My first two years I was completely living for myself and abandoning the God I love and who saves me every day. This summer my heart and my faith had a "revival" if you will. The Lord just showed up in amazing ways and brought me back to the believer that I need to be and has taught me to trust Him above everything else. Praise God for loving me enough to let me wander, but never leave me! Please pray that this year and forever, the fire that I feel for God right now will never fade. Living for Him completely is the only way I will experience abundant life. Pray that I will never forget that! Also, please pray that the Lord will surround me with people who love the Lord and will encourage me everyday to surrender everything to Him. I've been reading your posts since you were writing for Brio. I have also read Paperdoll 3 times. It has opened my eyes to an eating disorder when I was in high school; it helped me heal from bad decisions I had made last year; and this year, it reminded me how much the Lord loves me and how much I can trust Him. The Lord has used you and your writing to help me grow closer to Him. You are doing AMAZING things for His kingdom!

  19. You and Erin look like sisters. And I loved this: I would have nothing to sell except wrappers. (Hand raised; amen.)

  20. It seems absolutely crazy for me to say that I am going to be a sophomore in college this year. This past year flew by.

    I am sad to be leaving my family and best friends from home again though. It should be easier this time around since we know what to expect and how to do things, but it is still going to be hard at first.

    I am very excited to get back to Taylor in two weeks. I have not seen my roommate all summer and we have much to catch up on (life, family, our favorite show to watch together: Castle). I am also freaking out about meeting the new girls on my wing. I wrote a letter to one of the new girls on my wing who is a freshman and I just found out today that she is one of the girls living in the room across the hall from me this coming year. I love investing time into the lives of others I care about and people younger than me. I love being a big sister, someone people feel safe talking to and want to talk to when they need help. I am excited to hopefully fill that role for at least a few of the girls on my wing this next year.

    I am also excited to see all my other friends I have not seen all summer. I have missed Taylor people very much this summer. It will be nice to get back to my second home.

    ALSO... I ordered my own of the tee you purchased from Evie Tees. I absolutely LOVE it! It is VERY comfortable and it makes me feel nerdy and cute all at the same time. :]

  21. Ahhh, you're reading The Help! Did you finish it? I devoured it...I adored Skeeter's character...I couldn't help but think of the pieces of herself the author tucked into Skeeter that made me feel like I knew her a little. :) What are your thoughts on seeing the movie? I like Emma Stone as Skeeter...she manages such a good balance of dorky and cool.

  22. Natalie, I went through high school and part of college looking forward to reading your devotional in my Brio & Beyond magazine and was so excited to find your blog : ) I always felt a connection with you when I read about your love of Gilbert! I recently graduated from college and am so excited for all that is to come in the future! That being said, I'm super nervous at the same time. God doesn't run on a predictable schedule like my school scheudle did! I could use prayer that God would open doors for new jobs and new relationships to come about as I start this new chapter in life. I could also use prayers for guidance : ) Let us know what we can be praying for you about!

  23. Hello Natalie,

    I'm 21 and am about to head into my last semester of college. A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to go through my Brio/Brio and Beyond stash (7 years' worth!). I recycled most of them, except for a few I kept because I'm nostalgic like that and Brio changed my life, but before I did I tore out every article you wrote so I could read them again. They still blow me away. I decided to Google you so I could thank you, and here you are! So, Natalie, thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart. You encouraged my struggling teenage soul every single month for 7 years.
    There was one article you wrote in October of 2007 that I will save forever. I read it while I was waiting for a plane to fly me from my home in Montana to visit a college in Georgia. I was terrified to go to that school, and you talked to me about fear and ridiculous bravery. A heart full of dreams and a pocketful of rocks. So I went to that school. These past few years have been an adventure unlike anything I could have guessed. Jesus grew me up. And He used you to strengthen me through my fear so that I could take that first step. My life won't be the same. Ever. God has used you in miraculous ways in my life and, I'm sure, in thousands of others. I hope that wherever you are and whatever you're doing, you are still dancing in His arms.

    Much love,

  24. Ashlee, thank you so so so much for this comment. I can't even tell you what it did for my heart :) I can't believe you actually took the time to google your way here! Woo Hoo and Welcome! :) Thanks for sharing what those articles meant to you. I love how so many of us are going through such similar experiences; processing them in such similar ways. I'm super grateful God lets us all walk through this life together. I hope you have the sweetest year!

    I wanted to comment on all of these posts as they popped up. I would make Blogger wacky if I tried to do that now, but just know that you all are dearly loved and prayed for. I hope this year is better than amazing for you. So grateful for your spunk and sass and creativity. And so grateful you never settle for anything less than shining as brightly as you possibly can. Keep me posted on how your year goes!