Tuesday, September 27, 2011

a nifty opportunity.

Listening To: Slumber by Needtobreathe
Craving: Nutella on toast. And a glass of vanilla soy milk. In the words of Ebeneezer Scrooge, you keep breakfast your way and I shall keep it my way. 

Hey beauties (and beastlies). I hope you're having a fine and swankified start to your week. (Do you know what I think when I type "swankified"? I think of the most swankified place in town ... The Ozdust Ballroom! And it makes me want to defy gravity!)

(This probably goes without saying ... but it is rather late as I type this entry.)

I just got back from a girls weekend (well ... girls + 1 brave guy) with two of my college roommates. My body is tuckered out from traveling but my heart feels more rested than it has in a long time. Some people make me feel like I'm home no matter where I am. My girls are all like that. I love them dearly. They're fun and they're a little bit wild too, and those things together make for loads of good memories. Soon, I'll post a picture of something awesome I discovered this weekend.

But today, I'm writing today to direct you to this recent post on the Living Proof Blog.

Shall we discuss Beth Moore? Beth Moore has been one of my favorite Bible teachers since I was in High School. Way back then (back when I parted my bangs down the middle like Dwight Schrute ...? Back when cafeteria conversation was all about what happened on Dawson's Creek ... back in THE DARK AGES of dial-up Internet and cell phones the size of bricks), I remember watching my first Beth Moore video. VI-DEE-O. Every week, my mom had to hunt down the traveling television that all the departments at church shared, roll it into one of the class rooms, and pop the video into the cranky VHS player.

I realize that most of you don't even know what VHS players are ... but trust when I say VCR's are vintage. They are swell and snazzy and you need one.

Back in ye olde days of VHS, we all circled our metal folding chairs around The Traveling TV and watched Mrs. Moore teach something from the Bible.

This is what I've always loved about the way she teaches: she gets the imagining part and the think-harder part of my brain to work in tandem. That does not always happen. In fact, I have long suspected that part of the reason I never liked school much was because I couldn't figure out how to make my mind and my imagination work together. Mrs. Moore is also a born teacher - very spunky and fun and smart. The studies she and her coworkers have researched and put together over the years have come to mean so much to me. I keep the ones I've completed in a stack beside my bookshelf. And I hope like the dickens nobody ever reads them. Those studies are seriously my grown-up diaries.

However. Anytime I talk about Beth Moore, I feel like I need to add this little disclaimer: I have been very, very blessed to have a bunch of great Sunday School teachers along the way. I have many friends who (rightfully) have issues with the Church (not a specific Church; I'm talking about the Church as a whole). There are certainly issues in the Church I don't agree with (soooo grateful I live in a place where I'm free to believe and free to disagree). But my little disagreements are non-issues. I know many people who were hurt or ostracized and even abused by people who were claimed they were in ministry positions.

Church was always a safe place for me. Church was one of the places (besides home) where I felt like I could totally be myself. My Church taught me that living out what I believe was essential, that the words mean nothing if I'm not living out a life of love. My church was especially passionate about missions and local outreach. Church was also one of the first places I was encouraged to share my writing. My pastor was big into the arts and he was always encouraging me to read something to the congregation or write something for the bulliten. He and his wife still email or call sometimes, just to encourage me (even though they're technically retired). They're amazing people and I love them dearly.

My Church was not perfect and there were a few things that cropped up over the years that might have irked me. But the good was really, really good. For many years, my grown-up dream was to write novels and to teach a kids Sunday School class. (In many ways, that's still the big dream.)

Beth Moore is not my favorite Bible teacher. My mom is my favorite Bible teacher. My mom taught me how to study my Bible when I was in High School. She also taught my youth group class on Wednesday nights. When I was in my early 20's, my mom decided to teach a young women's class (most likely so she could ensure I would get my rear out of bed and go to Sunday School). Her class was so popular that it became a catch-all for women of all different ages, in all different life stages. My mom is a gifted teacher; she's funny and articulate and creative. She spent endless hours planning for those classes and they came off so authentic. So genuine. I'm only bringing that up because, sometimes, when women start talking about Bible teachers; they only mention the front-and-center types. Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer and ______ whoever else. I do that too, sometimes. I've been talking about Bobbi Houston a bunch lately, because I watch Hillsong Church when I'm battling seasons of insomnia (it's either Hillsong or the infomercial about pajama jeans ... what is up with that weirdness?). I am so grateful for those women, who are encouraging and teaching from a big front-and-center platform. But I'm even more grateful for the Sunday School teachers I've had; for the men and women who poured into my life at a very personal level.

I am most grateful for my mom. She's an amazing teacher. She was also amazing at vacuuming the hallway right in front of my door every Sunday morning so I would get out of bed. Like, she would jam the vacuum against my door - WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! - until I flung the door open and then, very pleasantly, she'd say: "Oh good! You're up!"

Anyway. Mrs. Moore's studies are great. And when girls (especially college girls) write and ask me about Bible Study suggestions, I always recommend Beth Moore's work.

But here's why I'm linking you to her site today: Beth Moore is going to scholarship 1,000 girls to attend next year's Passion Conference. Half of the scholarships have already been filled, but there are still some that are available. There are some specific requirements: you need to be between the ages of 18 and 25. You need to have never attended a Passion conference before (attending a concert is okay; but you can't have experienced the main event). And you need to not be able to afford it without some outside help. (Everybody is broke in college. But if you know that there is absolutely no way you could make this happen financially - that's what this scholarship is for.)

(I'm pretty sure this scholarship covers registration only, not travel or food, so keep that in mind as you proceed.)

If those pre-requisites apply to you, or a young woman you know who might be interested, then scoot on over and read about the scholarship on the Living Proof blog. You can apply for it here on the Passion site. Email me and let me know if you get one (or if you're already planning on going). I won't mention you here on the blog, but I would love to pray for you as you attend.

Funny Randomness: A few years ago, I got to meet Beth Moore. I thought I might like to work in event planning and so I interned with some ladies who are, quite frankly, The Queens of the Main Event. And one thing lead to another and I got to attend a taping they put together for Beth Moore's then-new series. My reaction was similar to this.

I debated what to wear for days, ended up in jeans and a black sweater because I'm very daring like that, and I went to the taping. And I purposely sat in the way-back of the room so my face wouldn't be on camera. And some sweet, well-meaning lady kept moving me to the front of the room despite me digging my high-heels into the ground and saying, "You don't understand! I cannot be on camera! I am allergic to cameras! I look like Chaka on film! I will ruin your series!"

This is Chaka.
My utter loathing of cameras simmered, however, when I found out that everybody at the taping got to meet Beth Moore. My reaction was similar to this:

Because Mrs. Moore's writing had helped me through so many strange seasons, I was as terrified to meet her as I was excited. I was so worried that I wouldn't say the right thing. There are many writers who would stir up that kind of reaction in me. I press memories into books the same way some people press flowers or pictures or concert tickets into books. Stories remind me of what was happening in my life when I re-read them. There are so many books - fiction and non-fiction - that have filled my heart up with hope again and helped me through the dark days. Beth Moore's books are definitely among them. So I wanted to say more than thank-you. And that was my only chance and what if I blew it?!

After the taping, the powers-that-be herded us into a long hallway. And a lady told us, as we were shuffling around in line, that we needed to practice one sentence that we could say to Beth Moore. One sentence. And that was it. The taping was FULL of people and Mrs. Moore had a plane to catch and so we needed to try and refrain from telling her our life stories and etc.

One. Sentence.

So. I started sweating. Sweating major. And because I was sweating, I started slowly flapping my arms like I was doing a slow-motion funky chicken. To cool off. To relieve my stress. But then I realized that I looked kinda weird. I realized this because the women beside me were looking at me like I had three heads. Clearly, we were not sisters in sweat. So I pressed my arms tight against my sides. And I started practicing my one perfect sentence.

Fact: Perhaps the only thing more troublesome than a girl standing in line doing a slow-mo funky chicken is when that same girl begins talking to herself; arms rigid at her sides.

First impressions are my speciality.

And then Beth Moore began her walk down the hallway. And she kept moving closer to me. And I kept sweating. And then she was talking to the girl beside me. And then my turn came ...

... and I totally flopped.

I didn't get my sentence out right. I don't remember what I said. But it was rushed and twitchy and stuttery and I ended up mostly staring at the pointy tips of my shoes.

I think I said, "I read ... my Bible ... Bible Studies ..." *thumbs up*

I'm very profound that way.

But she was so sweet. I got the vibe that she's good at making people feel like they aren't as nit-witty as they think they are. I only said one sentence. Actually, I said lots of sentence fragments. It was the quickest of hellos, and she wouldn't remember me now. I know I didn't say the kind of thank-you like I'd hoped to say. But she still made me feel like I mattered. She seems like a very cool, very real kind of person. It's not that I doubted she would be authentic; but when you look up to someone for a long time, and you realize they are exactly as genuine as they seem, that is definitely warm-fuzzy inducing.

Is there an author (or a few authors) you'd love to meet someday? Do you think you'd be nervous about meeting them? Also, let me know if you've ever been to a Passion event! I've never been to the actual event. I get twitchy in big crowds. But the ministry and the music have been a big encouragement to me. 


  1. I would LOVE to meet Ted Dekker!! Actually a few weekends ago he was only w few hours away from me doing a book signing and other such fun - I was SOOO bummed I couldn't go!!! I would've sold my house to go see him! Unfortunately, my mom didn't agree with the idea of selling our house.
    I haven't personally been to a Passion conference (I'm too young :[), but a lot of my friends have gone and have had AMAZING experiences! Every year they are super pumped to go back!
    I have seen and heard Louie Giglio speak at other events though - he's pretty awesome :)
    Sorry for a 900 page book here :p

  2. I would love to meet you, Natalie! Actually, I believe it's on my bucket list. :)


    -John Green
    He and his brother Hank have impacted me so much. Like, there's this entire online community that wants teenagers to think hard about things and celebrates nerdiness. That's something I can get behind. ;)

    -Markus Zusak
    I mean, obviously. If I ever could meet him, I would be too starstruck for words. Can you even imagine how amazing that would be?

    -Stephen Chbosky
    Because there aren't many books that have made as big an impact as his.

    -Madeleine L'Engle
    She. Is. Beast. That is all.

    -Suzanne Collins
    No explanation necessary.
    However, if I could meet her, I wouldn't hesitate to let her know how upset I was about the Finnick thing. That just wasn't cool.

    The Passion Conference sounds like such a cool opportunity. Maybe someday... :)

  3. I totally get nervous when I meet authors/bloggers I admire. Then I take a deep breath and realize they're usually normal people like me. Since I know how much it means when someone encourages me about my writing, I figure they'll feel the same way. This has led to some lovely conversations. However, I'm sure I was rendered mute when I met Madeline L'Engle when I was 8 or 9 years old. In the past year, I've met Shauna Niequist, Susan Meissner, Jenny B. Jones, and Ann Voskamp, as well as numerous bloggers I admire. If I could ever talk to John Irving about A Prayer for Owen Meany, I might die of happiness. I would also love to meet Kate Morton, Francis Chan, Brian McLaren, Anne Lamott, Elizabeth Kostova, and so, so, so many more.

  4. Both of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis and Jane Austen, are no longer here on this earth. But I fully intend on meeting them someday. :)

    I think it would be awesome to meet Jo Rowling, Gail Carson Levine (I have loved her fairy tale stories since I was 9 or 10), Jenny B. Jones, and (I agree with Katie) you!

    I would totally freak out if I had the chance to meet any of them. I am incredibly shy and awkward. I get nervous about meeting new people anyway, much less people who have had pages of their beautifully written words published.

    P.S. VCRs are the best. I have one because I have like 50 classic movies on VHS. Mine makes a cool whistling sound when it rewinds. :) I miss those stickers on rental VHS tapes: Please be kind and rewind.


  5. I laughed when I saw the picture of Chaka because my dad made me watch the first episode of Land of the Lost. VCR's rock! We still have our old one and a ton of VHS's somewhere in my house...They're mostly Veggie Tales and Story Keepers.

    I'm going to a Joyce Meyer conference in Atlants this weekend, so I might get to meet her! If not, I still get to see her in the flesh and not through a TV or computer screen. *squeal*

  6. um, you. duh.
    J.K. Rowling.
    Richard Peck.
    Eoin Colfer.
    And what is with pajama jeans?!

  7. Natalie, I had such a great time this weekend. I know what you mean about feeling at home with some people. No matter how long it has been, I always feel comfortable and able to really be myself with you guys. Can't wait until next time!

  8. uhm, I would LOVE to meet youuuu! :) It was crazy to read how you grew up feeling in the church and what they taught you...because it was like you were reading a section of my life story!

    -H. Jane

  9. Oh Natalie, you're so sweet. This story reminded me all too much of the time I met Nichole Nordeman. I knew I was going to be meeting her, so ahead of time, I decided to write down what I would say. This turned into a 4 page letter, and I ended up just walking up to her and handing it to her. (I don't remember what I said, but I really hope I said something.) Her words had a vital impact on my walk with the Lord...anyhow, she looked at me and said "Oh! I'm riding the tour bus to Atlanta tonight, this will be perfect reading for the trip!" And I still can't get my cheeks to stop hurting from all that smiling. :)

    Isn't it just wonderful to think of the ways words have impacted us, and to imagine that ours might impact others in the same way, if God chooses? That gives me goosebumps. I can believe in language because of what it has done for me.

  10. Your Beth experience made me laugh. But seriously "you have one sentence" just puts on way too much pressure.

    And what a sweet and cool shoutout to your momma. I love that.

    And not only do I still HAVE a VCR, but I still RECORD on it. Serious.

    And y'all, Natalie is awesome. You would love the in person version of Natalie.

  11. 1) Nutella on toast and soymilk are two of my favorite treats. Those sorts of things make me smile.

    2) My small group in high school, which has had a massive impact on who I am as an adult, went through a Beth Moore study my junior year. She has since been one of my favorite teachers.

    3) And finally, I appreciate that you went there with the whole Ozdust ballroom thing.

    4) And finally for real, the only TV currently in my possession is a tiny little VHS player combo thing. So I can watch Roman Holiday and Royal Tenenbaums.

    I retract all previous "finally".

    5) Last year I went to a Point of Grace concert and I think I let some eloquent sentence like "Um, er...I've listened to your music since I was little!" come out, but I can't be sure. They were very sweet, though. I do remember that.

    6) I was reading some of my old blogs and I found one about insisting on riding my bike to church wearing my black cable sweater, fake pearl necklace, and chuck taylors. I feel like that was a bright moment in a series of less bright ones...and I was a part-in-the-middle-with-gel-and-clippies girl for a couple years in my childhood.

    Sorry for the novel of a comment!! :)


  12. For starters, you! :) I absolutely love Paperdoll and love telling others to read it whenever I get the chance! I love how all your writing is so real. I think that's rare in the Christian teen literature world.

    Hmm, I'm trying to think of other authors...I'm kinda weird in that I don't really have favorite authors, just favorite books. :)

  13. A little late reading this post... sorry :)

    Do you watch Community? Because I think you in your nerdiness would enjoy it just as much as I do. But this post reminded me of this scene: http://youtu.be/UajEx7iU9-M

    But as to people to meet... we totally need to hang out one day. Anytime you feel like coming to Raleigh, you have a place to stay :)