Wednesday, August 15, 2012

the most and the moment.

Listening To: How He Loves by David Crowder
Description love: "The glasses on his nose looked like/ a little bike left leaning against a tree" - from the poem "A Myopic Child" by Yannis Ritsos
WriteOnCon: is a very swankified FREE writer's conference online. I'm a major fan. There are so many awesome sessions on there this year! 
This post isn't about Biscuit.
But, my word, how cute is her face?!
So once every four years (... four years, right?), this is what happens pretty much daily:

I walk to the corner-edge of my rug, take a deep breath and fix my eyes diagonally ahead ... to the far, far away (like, maybe five feet away) corner. Next, I wave. First to the right, then to the left. At this point, my dog, who can only endure these shenanigans for so long, simply sighs and blinks at me as if to convey that I, in the immortal words of the great poet Rob Thomas, am "a little unwell."

Bolstered by my dog's confidence in me, I take another deep breath and mumble something like, "Natalie's opening move in the floor routine is her most difficult combination yet: the double-latte, triple half-back ... doubloon."

And then I scamper across the floor and pretend I'm doing crazy backflips, even though I'm really just moving my arms in a wavy-wave motion and making noises like: "Whoosh! Whoosh!"

Once I get to the other corner, I make imaginary cheering noises. And I wave to the imaginary crowd. And I smile. Because I won the gold medal, obviously.

Or sometimes, in the morning, while I'm waiting for my toast to get appropriately toasty, I pretend the beams on the hardwood floor of the kitchen are my balance beam. "This is a risky dismount! She didn't land it in practice. Will she pull through this time?! ... Yes! Yes! She's GOLDEN!"

Or when I'm feeling particularly inspired, I step back a few feet from my mom's gorgeous flowery couch and mumble, "At last ... Natalie will attempt the double-decker-flipper-skipper dismount on the vault..."

And my mom will yell from the kitchen, "Do not vault over my couch again!"

Bolstered by her confidence in me, I carry on: "The critics are fierce, Bob. But Natalie is not deterred. You might recall that the vault has never been her strongest event. In the last Olympic games, she nearly broke her nose on the dismount. Also, she almost broke the coffee mug that she forgot she was holding."

*waves to the right* *waves to the left*

*runs and LEAPS!!!(ish) over the couch*

* ... lands on coffee table with resounding CRASH*

"She's GOLDEN!!!"

I'm exaggerating barely. But! Gymnastics is my favorite event in the summer Olympics.

I think lots of girls, myself included, place the women's gymnastics team in the same category as Disney Princesses. Or maybe I should more accurately compare the women's gymnastics team to superheros, with their sparkly outfits and crazy backflips. It's like they can fly! I've been cheering for them since I was little. Back in ye olden days, in the raging 80's, I used to put on my swimsuit and scamper around my house pretending I was Mary Lou Retton. I no longer do that often. But I'm still inspired by the sport. Gymnasts are so strong and so graceful; simultaneously elegant, feminine and tough. Those girls are fierce.

I love their camaraderie - the way they huddle together and cheer each other on.

I love the way their routines are pieced together. I've always been in awe, maybe even a little bit jealous, of gymnasts and dancers and you talented people who create art through movement. That's so wild. And so gorgeous.

And despite my joking earlier, I think what really inspires me about gymnasts, and pretty much every Olympic athlete, is their perseverance.

Maybe once they're walking the stadium lap at the opening ceremonies, Olympic athletes don't feel like they've given up anything that matches what they've gained. But at some point, I'm guessing they had to be very intentional about what they made time for and what they had to let go of. I'm guessing they know how to cling to their priorities.

And I can't help but wonder how many of them wanted to quit. 

As you know, I am not an athlete. (That sentence is, in fact, the understatement of the decade.)

Occasionally, I watch a little bit of a football game. Like, occasionally = barely enough to qualify me as cool. In Tennessee, football is A Big Thing. Most of my friends around here (guys and girls) are serious fans. I am not this way. I do enjoy going to a game (occasionally) - they're fun and I feed off the energy of the crowd and have a great time. But I'll be the first to admit I don't know very much about sports. Aside from the very occasional football game, the only sport I really get into is Quidditch. *waves nerd flag* And I also love to watch ice skating! Where was I going with this?


None of my goals are sports related. But I do have big goals and hopes. In my mind, some of them have seemed, and still seem, as big and gnarly and impossible as the playoff/Olympic-esc stuff.

I think every person has a golden moment they're hoping for - career goals and personal goals and all manner of sparkly, shiny dreams we keep tucked away in our heart's hoping place.

Truly, and I'm not trying to be cutesy or pious or hoity-toity - my big dream for my life is to love and glorify God and love people. That's a huge responsibility. And yet, when I actually get over myself and make that my focus, I feel a whole load of weight lift off my shoulders. I'm so darn grateful that my life isn't measured by accolades or accomplishments. In the end, I believe love matters more and most and best-of-all.

I'm an endless dreamer too, though. I'm enough of a hopeless romantic to be a forever-fan of people who set their hearts on a dream, especially if other people tell them it's impossible. I don't just mean Olympic aspirations either, I'm more inspired by people who challenge the day-to-day impossibilities. Because it's only impossible until it's done, savvy?

A couple of years ago when I was adrift in a slimy (... yet familiar) sea of rejection, my mom gave me a slip of paper with this quote on it: "Don't give up what you want most for what you want in the moment."

In other words:

Be intentional.
Get a grip on your priorities.
Keep on swimming.

I wonder how often athletes as awesome as the Olympics-superhero-gymnasts wanted to give up what they wanted most for what they wanted in the moment? I heard one reporter say that Gabby Douglas wanted to give up her Olympic aspirations very, very recently. It's crazy to see Gabby in her golden moment, looking so confident and flawless, and believe that she ever had a moment of doubt. But she totally did. I think everybody who goes after a gigantic dream does.

Crazier still: what if Gabby had given up just a few months ago? She was exactly on the brink of what she'd set her heart toward ... and she nearly gave up. I'm so happy she pressed on. I bet her golden moment made all the dark days pale in comparison.

As you fling yourself back into the school year (or the year in general) (is it because we all spend so long in school that August kind of feels like a "New Year" even when school is no more? :), I wanted to issue this reminder: you've got lots of golden moments ahead of you. Rejections suck and plans change and majors change and maybe, in your very dystopian school, people are cruel and mean and make you feel every bit as valued as belly-button lint.

Never, never, never give up. You've got so many golden days ahead. It takes some serious bravery to push past all the dark and keep moving. My amazing writer-friend Jenny B. Jones sent me this quote on one of my Piglet days: Choose courage over comfort. I'm trying to live that way. If you're trying to live that way too, I'm cheering for you.

Read for the lead.

Try out for the recital.

Study until the words go blurry. (Because someday, you really will get to teach what you're learning.)

Write the next chapter.

Run a little bit further.

Dream a little bit harder.

Speak up for the person nobody else cares about.

Look people in the eye and smile.

Believe you're worthy of love and respect. Because no matter what you believe, what you're into, where you've been, where you're from, or what makes your heart spin ... you are absolutely worthy of love and respect.

You're golden. For serious. 

I know this is a loaded question (or maybe you just don't want to share this kind of thing on a blog - which is quite okay!) but do you have a big dream you're working toward/praying for/hoping for? Maybe something you're hoping for this year or even a big dream for the future? I'd love to hear about it!

I'd also love to hear about your favorite part of the Olympics. Besides gymnastics and a bit of swimming, I pretty much only watched the opening ceremonies. Which was ... interesting. 


  1. I love the Olympics. I watched prime time every single night from 7 to 11. And some during the day as well. My faves are swimming ( grew up with micheal phelps, do this was an emotional games for me), volleyball (especially beach! Misty and Kerri rock!), and of course gymnastics. This year was great. I loved the fab five. I so so upset for mckayla about the vault. But she rocked it in the team final. It was pretty spectacular. They Olympics are the best. I adore them so much.
    This post was awesome and if there's anything I need right now it's courage. My crazy dream? New York Times best selling author. Just once for a young adult novel or even a children's book would be great. But I wouldn't mind being the next John Green, rock star famous for writing books.

    1. And please pardon the many typos in this comment and the one on the last post I think as well, I'm on an iPad.

    2. First, I never, ever notice typos. Second, I believe your crazy dream does not sound crazy at all. I think John Green would give you a high five and tell you that you're totally going to be even cooler than him because you'll be the first YOU :) DFTBA! Also, I agree swimming is awesome. I can't believe how fast they can go. It's truly insane. They're like Avengers but real!

  2. I have to confess that I didn't watch a bit of the Olympics. I probably would have watched the opening ceremonies if we still had TV service, but I hate watching things like that online. But the main reason is just that I'm not a sports person at all. I'm not interested in sports, and I'm extremely uncoordinated myself (recently I bruised my arm up because I fell off a children's swing...that wasn't even in motion). But I get how they can be inspiring. :)

    It might sound strange, but most of my dreams right now are internal things...fears I want to move past, getting closer to God, and such. Completely unrelated, but I'm also working towards making my Etsy shop more successful. That would be nice- it's been a slow summer. :)


    1. While I'm sorry you fell off the swing ... that makes me chuckle :) I'm graceful exactly that same way! And I think your dreams are the best kind. I've struggled with fear and social anxiety off and on for a long time, so I can certainly understand the dream-status of finally shrugging that stuff off. You'll be victorious over all of that; I totally believe it. And I'm sure your Etsy will kick up again. It's seriously like everything hibernates in the summer. Such a weird season.

  3. I love this post. Your gymnastics commentary was hilarious and I can definitely relate. I do a lot of the flailing arm motions and spinny jumps through my house and in front of mirrors. I am no gymnast (though I wish I could be!). I am, instead, trying to be a runner. When I go running I also imagine that I am being interviewed after winning gold and come up with my responses: "What were your thoughts as you crossed the finish line?" "Well, I wasn't really thinking much -- I was just so concentrated on getting through and being done with it, you know? It was tough but I'm just so, so happy to have won!" Yeah, it gets pretty involved sometimes. I really love the Olympics.

    On a more serious note, my goal for this semester is to survive my first season of cross country. Training is hard, but I am always inspired by, of course, Olympic athletes, and posts like this. I'd also like to get a volunteer job and in the future be a writer, although I have no idea in what capacity since I'm terrible at plots and poetry and journalism isn't for me, either. I'm pretty ambitious for someone so lazy. Whoop, sorry for the verbal vomit going on here. And the disgusting metaphors.

    1. This made me laugh: "I'm pretty ambitious for someone so lazy." I feel this way often. But, just so you know, the fact that you're in cross country pretty much forever alleviates you of any lazy status. :) I'm always so impressed by the tenacity athletes have. Your commitment to what you love is great. As far as writing, remember that you can get better at plotting. That's never come very naturally to me either, but I think craft is mostly learned. Some people have a natural pizazz for creative writing, but working it into a story can take longer to figure out. So you might love it eventually. And there are all sorts of writing styles you'll probably try out. You'll find what you love eventually! (Verbal Vomit = awesome)

  4. Praise God Natalie! This came at such a perfect time. I've been really thinking lately about whether the school I chose is the right fit and all that jazz. But if I'm honest with myself I know that I feel that way because it's the easiest thing to feel, this year will be different from last and it scares me to take on more responsibility. But now I can't ignore God's call to "Choose courage over comfort." My momentary discomfort is far less relevant in comparison to God's eternal Kingdom.

    I have been questioning my life goals too. But they can't be my dreams, they have to be God's. Cause He's the one that gives the desires to my heart. And although I know for a fact that I was born to teach I have no idea what that looks like and I shouldn't try to fold it into a mold because then I'll only get to experience one corner of it and God has so much more for me.

    So thank you for your wise words and blessed encouragement. Tonight in my devotion God reminded me of His faithfulness and I think that definitely applies here too. :)

    1. I'm so happy this encouraged you! Yay!! And I'm glad you realize God's dreams for you very often align with what you love. Just because He wants to nudge us out of our comfort zones from time to time, I think when we're walking with Him, He frequently gives us the desire to do what we're best at. He's always for you, not against you. I believe you'll be an exceptional teacher. And if you're traveling along and He pulls your heart a new direction, you'll know it. And you'll love it even more. In college, I was always so terrified that I was wasting my time in the wrong class/major/whatever that I didn't even enjoy it like I could have. You'll get exactly where you need to be. I have no doubt.

  5. My dreams are blurry right now. The main one, the one I keep thinking I'm dreaming is that i want to get better. I want to get diagnosed, overcome my past, leap over these hurdles.
    I want to find healing, and get better

    1. Prayed those exact things for you when I read your comment! Your faith, even through a seriously crappy-dark season, is so inspiring.

  6. I LOVE this. Dreams are something I've been thinking about a lot lately. My biggest dream seems impossible, so much so that I don't know if it can be done. But that just makes me want to accomplish it even more.

    I want to help each and every person that struggles with issues such as self injury, eating disorders, abuse, alcoholism, pornography addiction, drug addiction, etc. I want to help. To make a difference. I don't know how, or where, or when. But I know I have to. It will take a lot of time, and money, and help from others as well. But I know that if God put it on my heart, it can be done. And if it's in His will, it will be done to the glory of His name.


    1. LOVE this, Sara! Love that you want people to know that they aren't alone, and that they can always find healing, and that you want to walk alongside them as they find it. That's such a beautiful picture of true faith. Cheering for you! :)

  7. Thanks so much for always inspiring me all the way to France Natalie! You're such a gifted writer!:)

    1. So glad it encouraged you! Thanks for reading all the way from France!! :)

  8. I'm so sad the Olympics are over! I love watching gymnastics, diving, swimming, volleyball, track...I love it all. I am so not athletic, but all the stories about the athletes are inspiring!

    1. Yes! The stories make me teary every single time. I love it when they've overcome such incredible odds to get where they are.

  9. I LOVE this. Thank you for sharing your heart once again.

    My favorite part of the summer Olympics are of course gymnastics (!!!) and probably swimming. I'd love to watch more of events like the fencing and equestrian competitions, but those seem to rarely make it into prime time.

    Thanks for the encouragement! :)

    1. I've never seen Olympic fencing! That'd be so rad :) And I wanted to see some equestrian events too, but I only watched at night when the "big" events were on. Glad this post encouraged you. Thank YOU for encouraging me! :) (We need to chat about some new BBC stuff I've been watching lately. I want to know if you've seen them too...)

  10. This post was so timely for me.

    I have two big dreams. The first is actually a calling from the Lord to be a wife and mother one was the furthest thing from my heart at the time, but he radically changed my perspective and I now wait with much anticipation for Him to fulfill that calling! But, that's where the timelyness. Of this post comes into play. A few years ago I got caught in a horrible relationship. It was not God honoring and many things about it damaged my heart. It ended abruptly in April and I could not be more thankful..but it left my heart shattered. In the last few months I've battled against lies to cling to the truth that God can still fulfill his plans for me despite my mistakes. I know in my heart that being a wie and Mom is truly what I was made for..and that God will still fulfill that purpose, but the guy promised me the world...and so my dreams walked away when he did. I am thankful for a gracious God who loves me perfectly. but some days it still just hurts. Hope seems too far away & I get stuck playing the "what if" game. Satan has a way of keeping us more focused on Our mistakes instead of God's grace. So your encouragement that "golden moments are ahead" re-stirred the hope in my heart! Thank you thank you thank you!

    My second dream is to open a home for women who have walked through hard times and need to get back on their feet in a safe place. I want to be a counselor for women. This is the goal I am working towards as I await my Prince Charming & many days of mommy hood.

    My fave Olympic sport is gymnastics! I can't help it...they are so beautiful and graceful!!

    Thanks Natalie for the encouragement you provide! I know I can always come here for a bit of hope. God is using you in mighty ways! Thank you for letting him!