Wednesday, May 8, 2013

seeing again.

When I look at my life and I can't remember who God is, can't remember that He can fill the busted-in holes in my heart or heal the severed limb I left  a few blocks behind me on the road of life—when I can't remember that he is not only capable of fixing and healing the scary dark hallways of my soul, but actually wants to, desires to save me daily...all I need to do is go to Antioch, my church (

               I don't mean this in the traditional sense. Not in the: wear a nice hat, smile a "blessed day, sister" or "great message, pastor," kind of way (although there was a great message this week!). But in the ~looking, the seeing and knowing the lives around me, the lives that have become more than family to me.
  It's in seeing darling Colette who has spent 12 of the last 24 days in the hospital, including her 7th birthday, at a level 8 pain...seeing her, Sunday morning in bedazzled silver shoes and pink-spring-dress dancing around the sanctuary like a prima ballerina; eyes closed, face upward to Jesus, hopping to "I exalt thee, I exalt thee, O Lord" and meaning every movement. It's this seeing that reminds me who my God is, the great redeemer-healer, yes! But also the one who holds hands at hospital bedsides, and allows mothers asleep on hospital chairs to wake up to smiling girls with the most precious words in that moment on their lips, “Mommy, I’m hungry”…and the healing-progress begins there in Him. I see Him in that mommy on her face worshipping thanks on Sunday morning. And I begin pray “Daddy, I’m hungry…for more of your love.”

It’s in opening my eyes to my friends, Ben and Tiff, who’ve been trying to buy a house for months with failed offer after failed offer—who want to fill it with adopted children—finding out that their dream home has dropped a miraculous $50,000 into their price range. That their landlord is, without need of any payback, gifting them thousands of dollars for their down payment that they couldn’t quite afford. Here, I see God as the joyful gift giver who loves to see dreams come true, who works in ways we didn’t see coming, who disguises his angels as investors and doctors and birds and Walgreens checkers.

I see Him in all the faces around me, some as close as relatives to me, others mere acquaintances—knowing about their lost jobs, newly discovered cancer cells, new babies, dreams coming true—and all equally with faces upturned and so much joy singing “there is power in the name of Jesus, there is power in the name of Jesus.”

All that...all that movement…gives me the strength to return home—to life—the power to remember that the fire that burned so close to my home the night before with its ashes like bullets aimed at my roof, threatening their destruction, is something I can say thank you for. Thank you for the way it threaded my neighbors together in instant community, kind and soft-spoken watching the flames, opening relationship doors where there hadn’t been before—and for Him that put out the fire before it touched anyone or any home.

“ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37-39

So, God, whatever is left of me in this tired sop of a body, whatever sin and thought and apathy is clogging the wells of life you have placed in me—take it. Sweep it away—ashes for beauty. Fill me anew with your pure-water life. I want a whiff of the joy and peace and resolute purpose that only surface in your arms. The wide-eyed “wow” that slips past my tongue before I’m even aware of it when water breaks out of the gray muddled sky, a late spring rain. Enliven me—animate me.

I won’t run away from sin anymore. Instead, I’ll just run straight into your arms, straight into forgetting all those old ways of drain and empty and I’ll re-member fullness and hope and joy and wonder and awe. And I beg to be led to this decision and choose rightly, everyday. Amen. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Accomplishment-fed Rest.

Walking out in the sun today, Holy Spirit soul-whisper rolled through me. Reminded me that the accomplishment-fed rest that settles me in bed at night, is not all there is. That swift movement and lots of check marks on my list, meant nothing if I hath not love.

I move through life so internalized on getting things done that when phone rings, Mom, I half-hover over ignore, before a tired half
and grumble
‘the middle of something,’
 get back to sluggery of online glow job ads. Let Pinterest trickle through every 5 minutes or so as that ‘there’s still bright in life’ relief.

I farm more than just online—there’s gym, date, read, write, eat right, play, pay, pray, relax, God time, time with family, me time, going out time, look at the time time, forget the time time, instagram time—

When my day is checklisted and all to-dos, what life is there left in me but “I got a lot done today” (practically dead) sleep.

No, that whisper yelled—

                                                            It’s not about how much you get done—
                                                            but how you do it.

And while we’re at it…
                                                            Destiny isn’t what you accomplish
                                                            But who you are.

Is not the laughing farmers wife with muddied, glee-eyed kids greater in destiny than the full-pursed, Armani suit, with cinder eyes? Or even the serious, downtrodden missionary with no joy left for those he would save?

It’s scary, this slowing. This unbearable lightness of just—being. The slow soul that sees dappled green light leaves, the rib cage that opens enough to listen—the relationships that pipe fresh when you do…and all the hope that beauty floods. All piling up on that shambled roof called fear of disappointment, almost making it crumble. Under the weight, fear whimpers, ‘all will let down.’ Too heavy, the glory. So we hide. Again.

Get out the magazine, distract, list out all we desire. Our veil hanging by a thread, lace up our feet, all ready to complete more things when

Some sunset, some stream’s quiet babbling charm, some arm, some ‘Daddy, up!’, some God-vision, some book, some poem, some dream, all SCREAM…WAKE! UP!

“Then you will look and be radiant,
your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
to you the riches of the nations will come.”
Isaiah 60:5

He is doing something majestic in the earth and I want to see it, to really see it. Not just do it, like I have to make a grade, but drink in His glory with my soul and breathe awe at this human life.

Because it is not necessarily about how much you get done, but how you do it.

Remember who you are, be engaged. That your light may be seen bright and not shuffled behind the busyness of this world.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,

    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,

but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,   
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
“Lift up your eyes and look about you:
All assemble and come to you”
Isaiah 60:1-4

Love, Natalie

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Poem as Mask

I am just a little bit obsessed with this right now.

The Poem as Mask
by Muriel Rukeyser


When I wrote of the women in their dances and 
      wildness, it was a mask,
on their mountain, gold-hunting, singing, in orgy,
it was a mask; when I wrote of the god,
fragmented, exiled from himself, his life, the love gone
      down with song,
it was myself, split open, unable to speak, in exile from
There is no mountain, there is no god, there is memory
of my torn life, myself split open in sleep, the rescued
beside me among the doctors, and a word
of rescue from the great eyes.

No more masks! No more mythologies!

Now, for the first time, the god lifts his hand,
the fragments join in me with their own music.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I've been obsessed with gypsies lately so here's a little Charles Simic poetry to celebrate gypsyhood:

I was stolen by the gypsies. My parents stole me right back. Then the gypsies stole me again. This went on for some time. One minute I was in the caravan suckling the dark teat of my new mother, the next I sat at the long dining room table eating my breakfast with a silver spoon.

It was the first day of spring. One of my fathers was singing in the bathtub; the other was painting a live sparrow the colors of a tropical bird.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Easy ways to save the earth: with water.

We use to not care a bit where we drank our water from:
Now we need an Aquafina, Fiji, or Voss water-bottle  to ensure that we are drinking purified and convenient water. I am talking about myself here as well. However, I have been making a conscious effort to decrease the excessive amount of plastic I use. When I am at home I drink water from the refridgerator in a glass, when I'm out I try to bring my refillable water bottle.  If you are freaked out by tap water then buy a Brita filter pitcher for your fridge! It's the little things that make a big difference, can you give up or decrease your water bottle usage to save the world?

Easy ways to save the world: buy a couch.

This blog is inspired by my sister Meghann Ramer and her fiancee Sean Bonesteele. 

In preparation for their future apartment they have been trying to save money for furniture and rent and such. Together they came up with "recycling for a couch." They began recycling bottles and cans and setting aside that money earned specifically for a sofa. Pretty soon my entire family got involved, they collected recyclables after parties, I began bringing a bag of bottles in my trunk every time I saw them. Before we knew it their simple idea changed the culture of our family from dumpers to sustainable livers!
Is there something special you can save up for by recycling? 
Imagine earning towards a prize while saving the world.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Easy ways to save the earth: with your toothbrush.

Today we are saving the world while we brush our teeth!
Awhile ago my professor mentioned this innovative product sold at Trader Joes: a tooth brush made from recycled yogurt cups. That may sound a little gross but they are 100% clean and here is the best part:
the toothbrushes come in postal  ready, pre-paid packaging, so when you're all done with it you can just slip it back in the original package and mail it off to the company. They re-recycle them and there are no more toothbrushes piling up in our landfills!

So, how much does saving the environment cost? $2.99 which includes the shipping cost, not bad for saving the planet!

Don't take my word for it, here's a review: