Hi There, Glad You’re Here.

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, 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 + traumatically fired, and needing to move.

The day before 2015 Thanksgiving, we moved our belongings and hearts to the greater Portland area. Loren 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 babies-turning-toddlers.

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 + perfectly imperfect 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 + perfectly imperfect 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.

You love these things too? Stick around for the journey, let’s be pals, let’s learn from one another.

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Natalie Brenner

Wife, mom to two one-year olds, lives in Portland, OR. Author, photographer, believer in the impossible. Thrives on honesty + gratitude. Writes to set you free.