Thank you, friends, for supporting my business!

I have been so overwhelmed with the love and support of so many as I venture into putting more time and energy into my Birth Care business. Though I have served during a number of births and taken newborn photos, I wasn't allowing myself to deeply run with this dream as a full on business, out of fear. I was allowing myself to use my gifts in this way when it was offered, but out of fear I and uncertainty of the future, I hesitated to build a full on business. As friends have shared my new website and written loving words about me, my heart has been deeply encouraged. Not in an arrogant way; in an extremely humbling and deeply moved sort of way. It is as though Jesus, through His beloved children, is whispering sweet nothings to my soul and reminding me what I'm always reminding others: You can do this, by My strength. You are more. You have many who love & support you. I have your back. Oh the sweetness of knowing He has my back.

As I have been praying over the months about launching a website and putting myself out there, I have had many debates with myself & God.

"But what if I begin to grow the work-aholic syndrome?" "But will I be able to actually supplement our income?" "What if I can't serve each mother so well that I was worth their investment?" "What if I let people down." "What if I step on other photographers & doulas toes?"

And the fears go on, because there are always reasons to fear. But the persistent Voice remains: "Child. [Natalie.] I am with you. I have gifted you. I have given you a fiery passion and desire, a love for these things. Do not fear, do not fear man and do not fear self. And really, you already fight these things, and we will continue to work through them. Lean into me, let me do the loving and the serving. Let me do the providing. I am with you."

So I did it. I spent hours building a website, praying for the right amount of professionalism mixed with welcoming-personal-ness. I prayed through it, I feared going into the unknown of putting myself out there, and then I trusted.

And I am so glad.

I am thankful to pursue my passion and love for supporting and serving expectant parents and babies. I love babies. I love mamas and daddies. I love serving them and building them up and rooting them on. They are HEROES in this world. I want to be a part of MANY people's lives, not only the few in my circle. That means I must put myself out there and build this business. I am so excited to make this part of who I am, because Jesus has given me a deep desire for these things.

Friends, thank you for supporting me. Thank you for sharing my website on your Facebook profiles. It means more than you know. It means you are helping me pursue my dreams, helping me provide for my family, and encouraging me on a deeper level than I knew possible.

Thank you. I pray I can do the same. Let me know and I'll be ready!

Be blessed. Go for your dreams and pursue your passions.

It may will be scary at first, it is unknown, but remind yourself of His truer than true promise: Do not fear, I The Lord your God am with you. You never know how Jesus will love you through it, but you can know that He will.

Live fully the adventure of life. We only have one of them.

Still adventuring,

Natalie

Visit my business website at BrennerBirthCare.com

Learning that Life Doesn't Go as Planned.

It is June of 2014 and I should be graduating with a degree in Nursing today. I should be wearing a cap and a gown, preparing to walk down a grassy aisle to receive a piece of paper that cost a lot of money, and looking forward to an after party filled with nothing but the best of snacks and iced lemonade. I should be looking back over the last 4 years and remembering mostly studying late into the night, the early morning, along with way too many sugary Dutch Bros drinks. I should be applying to Hospitals all over Oregon, but hoping to get one in Eugene. I should be getting married this year to a man I have known since elementary school; he will work in the same hospital as me and it will be a jolly good time. I should be preparing to live The American Dream. This is the year, 2014, where my life was going to begin. Here is that picture again... too good.

I remember in 2010 when I worked my fanny off to apply for the many scholarships I received, thankfully. I can envision myself in Nancy Hay's office with Stephanie Lilly, talking about Nursing and pre-nursing and the different classes I would need. I remember having a picture in my head: a big chunk of space filled with studying & coffee {the next 4 years) and then the glorious June 2014, which was the mere beginning of the life I planned to live. I wrote June 2014 on so many lines for my graduation date, with a BS in Nursing; it was the day I would base my life around it seemed.

Funny how life lives itself out.

I remember so clearly, 2 and a half years ago when I took the plunge of "retiring" from school early. Declared finished? Withdrew maybe? Alright, let's be real: I dropped out. Currently, I carry no shame with that. I discovered that school and nursing was not what defined me, is not who I am, nor is it what gave me value. Or removes my value. I can recall walking around outside of a Starbucks in Boise when a member of my life called me to let me know of my stupidity in this decision. They clearly stated, "This is the stupidest decision you have ever made. I guarantee you that Loren does not want to marry a woman who puts her brain on a shelf. Are you really letting God get in the way? I am so disappointed."

I pray to always be wise enough to "let God get in the way."

I remember a lot more words that came through the ear-speaker of my cell phone and landed themselves into my heart like daggers. I also recall the clarity of the calling on my life that resulted in this decision to drop out of the OSU/LBCC pre-nursing program. I was working full time to 60 hours/week at Park Place Assisted Living {night shift might I add, and then some} as well as 15 credits between OSU and LBCC. It was too much and I cried a lot and I consumed so much caffeine that when I stopped cold turkey, I threw up and had the shakes and the sweats. Real bad, folks. Not a life style I recommend. These two life-consuming things took a back seat to where my heart was invested: a tiny little thriving church plant with the name of Corvallis Church. With every moment I could {plus more moments}, I would spend my energy living with the Evans and Millers and Petersons. I would volunteer my heart and energy to serve this city and live and enjoy life with them. I desired so deeply to let Jesus burst out of my being that I started meeting with 3 middle school girls at Imagine Coffee.

 

I was on fire and I was ready to jump into the great unknown of church plant-ness. I was thriving and flourishing and growing and crying and stretching and learning and thriving some more..I was craving to make disciples and reach lost souls and follow Jesus in all ways available.

There was just one small glaring issue: time. The pressure for good grades to get into nursing school was unreal. I had my CNA license, I was in my 3rd Anatomy & Physiology class and receiving a B. You need A's to get into the nursing program. My online biology class slowly tapered to a D. I was losing all interest in the Dream I once held so dearly, the dream that was mainly to achieve what I wanted in life, "helping others along the way," via nursing. I enjoyed my job as a Caregiver at Park Place and had an opportunity to take on the am/day Power Float shift. Allowing me to sleep at night. After much prayer and many conversations with humans I respect, admire, and look up to, I decided to drop out of school. I needed more time to serve this city in bigger ways than I was, only for and only because of Jesus Christ and the radical ways He was transforming my world. I craved this transformed life for others.

I am learning that life doesn't go as planned.

I am not engaged or married to the man I was sure to marry.

I am not anywhere near graduating with a Bachelors in Nursing.

I am not looking to move to Eugene.

I am not desiring to work in the hospital and go to church on weekends.

Not once did I think I would drop my American Dream {which I didn't realize was my American Dream} to volunteer and serve full time through a church plant. Not once did I dream to fund-raise my paycheck (click here to learn more about that). Not once did I think I would actually be married to a Pastor man; [though I had hoped when I was younger].

As I fell more in love with who Jesus is and His heart for me, my plans changed. My day to day plans were slowly changed as I let God take the reigns of my heart. Self-pursuit was becoming less and less and as my day to day plans changed, my "future plans" and my American Dream were completely altered.

All glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

None of these things were in my playbook, none of them existed within the boundaries of my wildest dreams or ever crossed my mind. And from where I stand, my life couldn't be better. You see, I now spend my early mornings reading my Bible and talking intimate prayers with Jesus, so that I can know who I am, which results in knowing who others are, which moves me to lead with grace. I wake up to pray for many people, by name, asking Jesus how I can be used in their life to bring them closer to Him. Spending time at His feet keeps me in-tune with His Spirit while I spend the rest of my day building up His people. I now invite anyone into my life at the mere possibility that they may experience the deep and unending love of Jesus Christ. I get to spend time hiking and talking about Jesus. I get to spend time drinking tea or coffee and praying with others. I get to spend time doing laundry with beautiful humans. I get to do things like scheme different ways we can bless this city, our church individuals, and our neighbors, with young girls. And trust me, those girls have wild and beautiful ideas. Yes, this life comes with its baggage and great emotional toll - spiritual battles are real and I believe 1,000%  in them. I constantly battle the fear of not pleasing everyone; but we are not called to do that - we are called to please & revere Jesus. There is great joy in loving many and so deeply, but it does not come without great pain and heavy burdens. But the worth it part is real. I wouldn't trade it for a BSN or career making big bucks. I feel spoiled.

I am not saying nursing is bad; it is needed - I have had many nurses save me and treat me and do good things for me. I need nurses you need nurses, this world needs nurses. My sister in law is a nurse and she provides well for her baby girls and takes care of patients while doing so. My friends who are graduating today with a BSN are some of my heroes. They have worked so hard and are changing this world. School isn't bad. Humans who love school or hate school but remain in school are crazy and I am proud of them. They amaze me. Both of those things are callings for people, and I am learning that I am not one of those people. At least, not right now. My heart in my pursuit of those things were off. And quite self-based. Either journey would have been blessed and adventurous for me. Neither are bad, but boy am I grateful I took a turn at the Y onto the path I did.

I am learning that when you decide to follow Jesus no matter what, even into the unknown & out upon the waters, even when (not if) it means you decline the American Dream and you go against the popular norm of self-pursuit, you grow and you thrive and you learn to trust. You learn the dance, the dance of grace. You learn to trust in Jesus who is your provider and guide and your everything. I am learning to see things differently, live life differently. It is happening, as grace transforms me by the renewing of my mind.

Am I sad that I won't be graduating with a Bachelors? Am I bummed I didn't stay in school for the 2 short years that seemed to have fly past me? Sometimes. But then I look back and am convinced this is what I should have done with my life. At times I revisit the idea and pray about school, asking Jesus if this is the best place for me. I ask Him if I would be more useful in a classroom and work force, or what I am doing right now. Every time, so far, He says, "Stay. Persevere. Trust. Lean hard into me." So I will. Ephesians 3:14-19 has been so sweet to me:

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will EMPOWER you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

Ephesians 3:16-17

When I look back over the last 2 years and what I could have done with my time in school and career pursuit, I know I would have loved to walk down the aisle to graduate. Starting with a salary of $60-$80k. To even think that as possible explodes my mind. It is dangerous to begin thinking about that.

When I look back over the last 2 years and what I did do {only because of and through Jesus - I cannot emphasize this enough} and how Jesus truly has been transforming me, I see VICTORY. Baptisms, bibles being studied, small groups upon small groups forming into communities where people live life together, navigating through healing and forgiveness with people, planned retreats and trips and a mini-Oregon-mission trip, so many prayers, so many hours spent with so many people it implodes my brain even thinking about it. What a blessed life I have been given so far. I am learning that I would never have quit school and laid down my dream of making BANK, unless Jesus didn't interrupt my life. I am learning that I wouldn't live this life the way I live it, if it weren't for Jesus. If He didn't give me strength, I would be mush and I would be dead. I would be dead in a ditch, I am sure of it. Or I would be graduating today. But friends, I cannot tell you enough, the life He is giving me, offering YOU, is beautiful and glorious and rich and free.

>ALL FOR + because of JESUS<

Bible Study: Youth Ministry @ Coffee Culture, PNW Coffee Culture PNW Bible Study

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I am learning that where Jesus takes us isn't always easy, it doesn't let you sit idle. Jesus grows you and stretches you and uses you. And it is far better than pursuing your own interests. The fruit is far tastier. Far sweeter. Oh goodness, believe me.

I am learning to hold things in an open palm, rather than a clenched fist, so that if they are taken away or modified, it doesn't hurt - my heart can be light. I have ideas and dreams, but ultimately I want to yield to where God leads me, daily. Daily, He leads me to love those around me even when I am tired and cranky and hangry. Thursday, I woke up cranky and in a funk. But that doesn't mean I have the GO AHEAD to be a sour-puss to everyone that crosses my path. No, it means I lay down my funk and my yuck and I praise God. I thank Him out loud and CHOOSE TO FIGHT FOR JOY. He teaches me to trust Him for even the smallest things and to lean into His grace even when all else says I should be drowning.

I am learning alot these days. I hope to always be learning, always be ready to jump into the unknown and adventure with Jesus. I am seeing that following Jesus means doing things like going to the Library on Wednesday mornings to be with new and young moms OR joining a writing group with 70-88 year old women OR inviting others in your home for a meal OR moving to a new state and planting a church. His call for us is daily and we have the choice to accept or decline.

Today, I salute you graduates! I have a ton of friends graduating today and seriously, you amaze me and you inspire me. I mean, a couple of you are MOMS and you are the strongest most amazing creature humans to have done what you have just done. I could not have done that. I want to make it clear that I STAND IN AWE AT YOU. You have accomplished a HUGE awesome thing. I stand proud and applaud you.

There are no words that will describe my deep gratitude and joy, to be an intricate part of what Jesus is doing here in and through Corvallis Church - I am so overwhelmed with joy that I took the plunge and leap of faith, which was completely different from what I had planned.

There is no better satisfaction in this life, no more fulfilling purpose and job, than answering the call of Jesus Christ.

All glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

Still adventuring & so grateful, Natalie

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Reason to Drown in Bitterness & Survival.

Wild flower, PNW

Do you ever go through the days, surviving? Waiting for your 5 o'clock {or whatever it is} to arrive so you can just go home to sleep? Only to wake up the next morning, again barely surviving the day and looking forward only to the end. Getting through the week, looking forward to your Friday. Oh if only we could reach the end of..the day, the week, the season, the year. I think so often, "We are all just surviving..there could be so much more to every days."

When I worked at US Bank I heard this statement of relief every afternoon: "My day is almost over." And "Just getting through the day." I also often heard, "I just can't wait for Friday."

Constantly, I saw the yearning for the next end. Just get through life. The hearts of those around me craved to be out of the now and into the future, and when the "future" arrived, the response was to keep on wishing for the next phase of the day [week/season]. I was grieved by these words - saddened that, it seemed, no one was content or happy with where they are right here, right now.

We are always rushing, always busy, always stressing to get DONE. Done with what? Where are we all going? The other day at the coffee shop, I overheard a 30+ year man say these heavy words:

"I just can't wait for retirement. Then I can slow down and enjoy life, then I can actually be with my family. I work so hard for that retirement fund."

Oh my soul. He is missing out! By that time, his family won't be around. Heck, he may not be - you never know when you will take that last breath. You never know when the soul's dearest and nearest to you may swallow up and die. To wait 20-35 more years to enjoy what little life we have left sounds like hell on earth. Literally.

I was just told that a young wife & mother of two kids, each under the age of 3..she died. She was in a long boarding accident. You never know when the soul's dearest and nearest to you may swallow up and die.

Friends. There are hard seasons, bitter seasons, rocky rough and ragged seasons. Days and seasons we want to be over - sometimes those seasons seem unending. But can we pause and rethink our view? Our outlook? Our hearts themselves? Can we see the life we have as beautiful and bright, even when all seems lost? I know without a doubt that I won't regret choosing joy in the hardest of times, when looking back in 10-15-30 years from now. I do know that I would regret looking back to remember my response to life as bitter and angry; discontent, entitled, and selfishI hope to leave such a legacy of choosing the joy of Jesus, that my Grandkids have a generational habit built into their gene pool.

A generational habit of choosing joy even when.. Even when the most precious, innocent, little children live in hell itself, on this earth, and you can't do a thing about it but pray and trust Jesus. Even when you lose dear people within close proximity of time. Even when parents hurt you because they are hurting from deep within. Even if you often live paycheck to paycheck, in a moldy apartment or a ghetto janky house that may not be "the dream." Even when..whatever your situation may be, the list goes on.  Even when we have REASON to drown in anger, becoming so self-centered, so bitter, so...darkened...we access to choose the truest of true joys and hopes. Guys. This is the stuff that leads others to Jesus - when we have all the reason in the world to suffocate in bitterness and crave the "end" of everything, but we don't. We instead choose the genuine joy and hope unending, which is offered to us at every second of the day. Offered to us in the darkest of nights while walking this earthly world. If only we would choose to drink the cup of grace and keep our eyes on things ahead: Heaven.

Bird watching pnw

Peering up and ahead at Jesus makes this life worth it, it's when we stare our circumstances straight in the face, entering mere survival mode, that we are swallowed up in them, and unable to selflessly ove those around us.

There is a difference between looking ahead at Jesus, which brings confident hope, and just getting through life, which brings dissatisfaction. I only know because it's a constant battle for me, a wrestling match between myself and Jesus.

I went bird watching with a lovely woman the other day; she is part of our church community. The entire time I could not stop thanking God for every moment given. What sweet, calm, peaceful moments. What beauty my eyes and soul held. The grass and the flowers and the water and the birds and every single thing that my being soaked in...was good. It was good and it was from God.

Make time to choosingly soak in the beauty God has surrounded you with and let it bless your inner being. Let your heart soften into thanksgiving.

"All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.

See that little guy up in the top of the tree?

Bird watching in Corvallis

Each little flower that opens, Each little bird that sings, He made their glowing colors, He made their tiny wings.

Fields of grass, Corvallis

He gave us eyes to see them, And lips that we might tell How great is God Almighty, Who has made all things well.

Duck pond at Starker Arts Park in Corvallis, OR

The male ducks literally follow the female ducks around... they follow and they wait and they follow and they wait. It's like they want something.

Starker Arts park in Corvallis

All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all."

All Things Bright & Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander

Bird watching in PNW Binculars, bird watching in PNW PNW PNW PNW PNW

This world is broken. It is full of sin and muck and yuck and pain and selfishness. Every human has reason to choose self-entitlement and bitterness.

We each have a daily choice to make: wallow in self pity {I choose this often}, waiting for the "end" or adventure. Journeying through the day as it really is: an adventure to be lived, a gift to unfold, beauty to behold. I crave to choose this over and over again - adventuring life. I fail often, but I get to walk in the assurance of grace and start over. The good news? That same grace is not only offered to you, but is chasing you ready to set you free.

Will you adventure life with me?

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