I’m Natalie. I'm so glad you're here
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this undeserved life
author headshots, natalie brenner


In August of 2011, a Bible College junior with the name of Loren Brenner had an actual staring problem — his eyes would not break the lock they held with mine for an entire week at a middle school camp on the Oregon Coast. Obviously with a staring problem so strong he could not break his gaze, we got married and started trying to make babies.

Nearly 2 years into trying to create a baby the natural, husband-and-wife-in-bed way, we decided to pursue adoption (a dream already set before we were wed) now rather than later. It was on our 5 Year Goals list, but we wanted to be parents and weren't yet. We began the process of adoption, fell pregnant on our last round of low-intervention fertility treatments, and lost that very wanted baby to miscarriage. May 11, 2015 we officially began the Domestic Infant Adoption Journey.

September 19, 2015, about two weeks before our first marathon and three days after our completed adoption-homestudy, I discovered not one but two pink lines again. The shock consumed me and I literally blacked out on the bathroom floor. Fear of losing another baby gripped me, along with the fear of adoption agencies forcing us to pause our adoption process.

In October 2015 our world was flipped upside down and then inside out when we were hurt with what felt like a double-edged sword – we were deeply wounded by people closest to us. We were Youth Pastors for nearly four years and will forever cherish the memories made with those precious teens. We said goodbye to our vocational ministry life and hello to a world of unknowns: pregnant, adopting, jobless/fired, and needing to move.

The day before 2015 Thanksgiving, we moved our belongings and hearts to the greater Portland area. Loren works in a residential treatment facility for elementary aged kids with mental and behavioral challenges. He is pursuing his Masters in Teaching and plans to teach Elementary School students because he is one cool dude.

I am a writer and photographer, working upwards 25 hours a week while caring full time for our sweet little men.

This undeserved life I get to live? I take no credit for it. But boy am I thankful.

Full hands, full [grocery] cart, fullest hearts.

 Fall 2016 by Heartstrings Photography

Fall 2016 by Heartstrings Photography

 Christmas 2016

Christmas 2016

 Easter 2017

Easter 2017


We adopted our sweet + perfect son Sage, January 2016, while I was 20 weeks round with our second born. Sage made us an official mama, an official dad. He made us an adoptive family and a transracial family. I can hardly stand the treasure of him.

We were privileged to add our precious + perfect son Ira, June 2016. I cannot get over the gift of him.

Two miracle boys in one year? The sweetness is surreal and the joy is unexplainable. I'm constantly in awe I get to be theirs.

Witnessing their bond form and deepen is one of my greatest honors.

Adoption has made me a better parent; it has cracked me wide open in the best sort of painful ways. I hope to bring others along on this journey of learning to love well.



As soon as Ira was about three months old, making Sage a whopping eight months, I was like, "Let's get this party rolling: three babies under one." My husband is of course a bit more sane than I am and put a crashing halt to that. Over the course of our boys's first year of life, we spent a mass amount of time in the hospital and doctor's offices. Therapies became a part of our routine, trauma was something we were learning about, and most of our friends were foster parents. We knew eventually we would become foster parents, we just didn't know when.

In 2017 our friend's foster son was needing an adoptive family placement. Long story short, we didn't know if we had a chance to be chosen, but this kicked us into high gear to begin our foster family certification process. Before our home study was totally completed and with only six of twenty-four hours of training completed, we received our first phone call over the holidays for two baby boys: we suddenly had four boys under age two! You can read about that adventure here.

Less than two months later we said yes to a set of sisters who have four other siblings also in care, with some of our friends. Saying yes to A and I was a long term yes, and we are theirs until further notice. This made us a family of six for an indefinite amount of time. 


August 2018 we grew by yet another little person, and permanently! We are bursting with joy adding in Baby Sister. She makes us a family of seven, for now, and we consider this a great privilege. We have known her most of her life and you can get the scoop of what I'm sharing right HERE!


Writing. Words matter: they change lives, save marriages, move hearts. Words put us into motion. Words give life, laughter, compassion, grief, courage, stillness. Words deliver. I've always loved to read and write. The fire in my heart burns wildly, untamed, and I hope to make the few words I have count.

My Husband. He is all sorts of funny and awkward. He is the best of dads and I believe that with all that I am. He is a gift.

Being Mama. I love it entirely. It is a privilege that does not escape me.

Learning about trauma and my kids's systems.

Justice through Jesus. Learning how to work towards racial and social justice through the lens of the Gospel.

Home. Making the space that houses us home. My prayer is that when people leave our home, they depart feeling refreshed. My hope is that our small space can offer peace and life, love and Him.

Adventure. Exploring. Portland. OREGON. But also abroad: Europe, Canada, South America, you name a new place, I'd love to explore it.

Running. Coffee, creamy + frothy. Smoothies. Wine.

Humans. Sweet and dear humans. I love them. The stinkier, the messier, the more awkward and unsure of themselves, the more I am drawn to them. Loving those society deems unlovable is my jam. Tender + vulnerable hearts are welcoming. All humans: glorious amidst their mess and it just takes an ounce of humility to see and believe it. 

beach family of four photos beach


These pages are about the story He is writing that we get to live.

author headshot, Natalie Brenner

Physically, I feel so broken so often. I have an autoimmune disease that brings about pain, fertility issues, and a crooked sacrum. 

Emotionally, I am a pile of spaghetti. I carry around big feelings on a scale so large it consumes. I wear my heart on my sleeve and display it on this space. I cry, I laugh, I weep, I just with joy. Emotions bleed out of me.

These pages will be where I share my experiences + my heart, vulnerably + honestly, with the wild dream that you may fall in love with Him. I write because words change lives and maybe my words can help change yours for the better. I hope to shed light on the importance of racial justice for our kids and for this world and for all of us: we all are better off when we sit down and listen to voices of color.

I'm a real hot mess. But I'm learning to be okay with that. I'm realizing maybe we are all living messy lives. I am learning to find beauty in the brokenness, gratitude amidst the chaos.

As I cherish all of my tiny moments, I hope to give you permission to cherish yours.

Life is fleeting and worth cherishing, even amidst the unavoidable tragedies, irrevocable loss, and agonizing pain.