I’m Natalie. I'm so glad you're here
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THIS IS US.
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.
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.
WHAT I LOVE.
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.
Home. Baking. 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.
These pages are about the story He is writing that we get to live.
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 mess. I carry around big feelings on a scale so large it consumes. I wear my sleeve on my heart 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'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.
I invite you to join me as I learn how to be Mama. As I figure out life as a wife, as a mama, as ME. I hope you'll learn with me, grow with me, be humbled with me. And sip some coffee with me, acknowledging: YES, we are a hot mess but we are going to make it.
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.