Adopting while pregnant, then giving birth less than 5 months later – these lives intertwined to weave together a beautiful family. This Undeserved Life is a beautiful book of Christian faith through health problems, miscarriage, adoption, ministry, grief, faith, and the real life struggles we Christians go through. Natalie does a beautiful job unfolding her story throughout these pages that will draw you in. I could not put this book down. I cleared my weekend plans to finish it. I actually woke up thinking about it anticipating the rest of the story. Her vulnerability in sharing her deepest thoughts that most of us hide will make you feel like a familiar voice is sharing their heart with you. Her raw honesty in sharing the pains of a woman struggling with fertility problems rips the Band-Aids off my heart. I feel like I was meant to read this book. It has ministered to me in multiple ways.
My tears pushed through as she shares the painful thoughts that go through the mind of someone struggling to get pregnant. I rejoiced with her at the blessing of her two sons. I gripped my chair with the story of meeting her first son, and clenched the waves of emotion while she shared the birth story of her second son. I love the way Natalie gives acceptance to grief while hanging onto faith in Jesus. Though the storm rages, she seeks the One who calms the seas. Her faith is inspirational. All too often, we Christians try to pretend our life is picture perfect to paint the portrait of a good Christian’s life that has no struggle in Christ. Her thoughts throughout the book cut right to my heart. This is real faith. This is Christianity in the midst of troubles and the rough, deep waters of grief. This is also comfort to the aching heart. This book is a warm salve to the Christian who needs permission to feel the full range of human emotion – even our grief that takes time to process and heal. It shows permission in Christ to grieve and to heal on our unique journeys. It’s biblical. It references scripture at the perfect times in the story. This is what a genuine relationship with Jesus looks like.
In a twist I did not expect, she also shares the challenges of transracial adoption. Sadly, racism still exists. Sometimes it is packaged in hurtful comments not intended to be hateful. She addresses the issue head on. She sends a message of love and a safe place to be heard. With the heart of a doula, she nurtures respect, a listening ear, and the unfolding of the layers of grief, while at the same time pointing to the love of Christ. As a bonus, in the back of the book is a faith-based workbook for grief.
I appreciate that Natalie has invited the world into a piece of her heart and home by sharing her journey thus far. This is a book that I will look back on tucking the tokens of wisdom into my broken pieces. The official release of This Undeserved Life is September 18th. It’s on sale for its first week of publication at only $9.99. Learn more at www.NatalieBrennerWrites.com Go to Amazon to order here. Don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. You can follow Natalie’s facebook page here.
Natalie Brenner is the author of This Undeserved Life. She is also a writer, speaker, mom, and photographer.
Originally from the two-stoplight town of Harrisburg, Oregon, Brenner gave up driving tractors and moved to Corvallis where she met her now-husband. Together, they helped to plant a church, built a youth ministry out of scratch, and fundraised their entire income. After this short season, their career paths shifted entirely as did their home, and they moved to Portland, Oregon. She now writes and photographs for a living, raising two one year olds, and spurs others on to chase their dreams. Her heart beats for justice and Jesus, creating spaces for every fractured soul. Natalie is addicted to honesty and believes honesty is at the core of a full life.
Natalie's rapidly growing blog, NatalieBrennerWrites.com, has been visited by more than sixty thousand people since January 2017. Her work has been featured in Adoption.com, Pregnant Chicken, Adopting.org, Shelley Skuster Writes, Today SHOW, Parents, and more. She is a lover of life and breather of grace and hopes to always love bigger than before.
For those called to the field of “birth work”, it can be hard to find the niche that is the right fit for you. There are many options. Some are medical, others are non-medical. Some are support roles while others are educational roles. Gravitate towards where you belong. You are needed there.
Physician Assistant working in obstetrics and gynecology
Other patient support health professionals
Office or hospital unit support staff
BABY CARE AND SUPPORT
SMALL BUSINESS SERVICES
Transformation of the Complete Athlete
Alchemy means transformation. “Athletic Alchemy” is a guide for athletes to transform their game and their mindset. This is a blueprint for empowerment. It contains key to success gained along the journey of goal setting, action planning, and application of these principles to optimize your athletic experience. Whether a student is in 5th grade or college, these teachings will grow them personally and professionally. Author Donnie Ray Evege achieved his dreams of being a football player for The Ohio State Buckeyes because of the strategic methods taught in this book. He now travels as a motivational speaker to empower student athletes and youth sharing his experiences, both positive and challenging, to help them reach their goals effectively and with a mindset of determination and victory.
Copies of Athletic Alchemy can be ordered through Donnie’s website at www.donnierayevege.com If you are interested in sponsorship or speaking engagements, you can email Donnie through his website.
If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume your sleep hasn’t been the greatest lately. I suffer from insomnia. I’ve found these tips to be helpful. I hope they help improve your sleep too.
It is surprising how much some of these simple tips can help improve your sleep. I know everybody is different. Use the sleep tips that work best for you and leave the rest.
I’m not going to tell you that I can cure your depression. What I can do is try to help you survive it more easily. There are days that you’re a little blue and need something simple to snap out of it. There are other times that depression is a deep darkness that lingers you can’t shake. No matter where you’re at right now, know that this too shall pass. I’ve struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. I know the storm well. So well, in fact, when it hits hard I know to lay low and ride it out. Even the worst depression hits its peak and comes down. You’re going to make it through this! Here are some ways that help me with depression. I hope this list is helpful to you.
This is such a hard blog to write because there is no easy way to explain the struggle of anxiety. I’ve had anxiety since childhood. I’m 28 and anxiety is very much a controlling part of my life. The first thing I want to say to you is it’s okay to not be okay. That is the number one thing I wish people would say to me when I’m struggling. It’s okay to not be okay. It drives me crazy when you admit that you’re having a hard time, seek out friends to talk to, and they respond with statements like “You’re okay”, “You’ve got this!”, “You’re doing great.”, “It’s not bad. It’s going good.” Etc… I know they intend to be encouraging, but all that really does it shut me down. If I say I’m not okay right now, don’t tell me I am okay because you can’t handle having a deep talk about it. So for anyone who struggles with anxiety or depression, it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.
That doesn’t mean that you’re not a positive person. Struggling doesn’t make you negative or ungrateful. It makes you human. I feel like there’s a lot of guilt around anxiety. Don’t feel bad about what you’re struggling with. It’s a very legitimate problem that millions of us are affected by. If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you know the feeling. Anxiety – nonstop worry, sleepless nights, never being able to turn your thoughts off, sick stomachs, throwing up, panic, fears, trouble breathing, migraines, another bottle of Tums gone, the anxiety controlling your day, the anxiety consuming you to the point of feeling like there is no escape. Then, on top of all that, feeling bad that you struggle with all this because you’re supposed to do better than this in life. Stop feeling bad about feeling bad! Accepting that you are having anxiety and acknowledging it, at least to yourself, is a big step in managing it. I want to share some ways that help me with anxiety. I hope this is helpful to you.
You can have anxiety and still be an awesome person. This is part of you. It’s not all of you. There is more to you than your struggle. You may be broken, but you’re still beautiful.
How you manage stress can either give you chaos or peace. We all have stress on varying levels. Some people are naturally calm and handle stress well. Others…. not so much. I’m definitely someone who doesn’t naturally manage stress well. I have anxiety and I’m often stressed out. I’ve had to learn a lot of techniques to improve my stress level. Even after learning my options it still takes practice to develop these stress management techniques into strong skills. The biggest key to healthy stress management that I have found is you have to actually practice the methods that work for you. Knowing different ways you can handle stress in a healthy way is great, but it’s useless if you don’t apply it to your situation. That’s like having the medicine in the cabinet, but not applying it to your wound. It’s not going to help if you don’t use it.
I’m not going to get into the unhealthy ways to cope with stress. We all know alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, eating your feelings, sleeping around, and bandaiding your problems with materials items are unhealthy and harmful ways to manage stress. There’s plenty of info out there on the physical and mental damage stress can do. So, I want to talk about 3 different areas of stress management – coping, resolving, and preventing. Try out different things. Take what works for you and leave the rest.
Coping – how to manage the stressor once it’s already stressing you out
Resolving – how to work through it, fix the problems, and diffuse the stress
Preventing – modifying our reaction to stressors
I love the quote “It’s not about how bad the storm is around you. It’s about not letting the storm get inside you.”
Okay, so you’re mad. I’m not going to tell you not to be mad. Anger is a normal human emotion. It’s how you handle anger that makes it healthy or harmful. Some people externalize their anger and explode. Other people internalize their anger and self-destruct. Let’s look at some ways to reduce and resolve anger.
Success is scarier than failure. You're used to things not working out. That's your comfort zone even if you don't like it. Struggle is familiar. It's what you know. Success is unknown territory. It's a new way of life that you don't know how to live. This isn't what you come from. It's riskier in some ways. The higher you climb the harder you'll fall IF you fall down. It's easy to quit. It's easy to say you're done pushing, sick of sweating for it, and tired of feeling like it'll never work out no matter how hard you try. Do it anyway. Take a short rest if you need to, but don’t give up before you see the fruit of your hard work. Keep pushing. You're climbing even if you have to crawl. If you want whatever goal is at the top of that mountain, stay on the path. Only you know where you belong and what's right for you. Don’t let fear hold you back from the accomplishments you want to achieve. Own your victory. You were made for this.
One of your greatest obstacles is fear of failure. Another obstacle is the fear of success. When things start working out and you start seeing the harvest of all you’ve planted, it can get scary. This is new. You’ve waited a long time for this. Now what? You’ve never lived like this before. You’ve never climbed this high. You’ve never made this much progress before. It’s scary to think about how bad you can fail. It’s also scary to learn how to navigate the new, successful path. I’m not going to tell you not to be scared. It’s the unknown. This is unfamiliar. It’s going to take time to adjust. What I will tell you is to do it scared. Keep striving towards your goals no matter how high you climb. You might fall. That is a reality. You might also soar. Both can be risky. Choose your risky. Choose whether to push through the fear of the unfamiliar success or to let the fear win and sink into failure where you’re used to being. Eventually, the level of progress you’re at will become familiar. You will get the hang of this. Take good care of yourself along the journey. Love is stronger than fear. That doesn’t mean the fear isn’t there. It simply means you love something strong enough to push through the fear to have what you want.
This message is for anyone struggling with anxiety, depression, grief, emotional turmoil, or maybe you’re just having a bad day.
I have come to make it a habit of telling people who are upset or sad "It's okay to not be okay". I say this so often to people because I feel like we all need to hear that sometimes, but nobody ever says it. Our society is so outspoken, but can't seem to handle a calm conversation on deep emotions or grief. I'll just use myself as an example here. I have anxiety. I go through bouts with depression, some of which can get severe. When I open to people and admit that I'm having a hard time the reaction is one of 2 things.
1 - "You're fine" "You got this" "You're doing great" "You're okay". I realize people say this as a pep talk. Maybe that's what they think I need. They have good intentions to be encouraging. I've come to the conclusion that those people are in denial because they can't handle talking about real issues. You can tell someone you're not okay and they insist that you are okay. Not only does that make me want to scream, but it completely shuts me down. I know I can't open up and talk to people who can't handle acknowledging when someone is not okay or that all humans go through bad times. It's sad because it's during those rough days that we are the most in need of loving support and a good friend.
Reaction #2 - "So and so has it worse than you" "You shouldn't feel that way. You should be grateful or happy or whatever". This adds insult to injury. Not only are you choosing to open up, be vulnerable, and reach out to a friend. Not only are they shutting you down by refusing to acknowledge your situation as your perceive it. On top of that they are basically telling you that you don't even deserve to have a hard time with something. They pour condemnation and guilt on your wounds. Then those people wonder why you shut down and push everybody away.
I say all that to say, IT'S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY SOMETIMES. You don't need anyone to validate your feelings except for yourself. If you're happy, great. We all have happy times. If you're depressed or struggling or grieving or in despair, accept that as normal human emotions we all go through sometimes. Accept your feelings for what they truly are. Love yourself where you're at. Self-care is essential.
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