I’m Natalie.
I'm so glad you're here. 

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natalie kristeen brenner
natalie kristeen brenner, cannon beach photoshoot

I’m a small town girl who moved to the city.

I’m no stranger to grief.

I have walked through the fire and lived through it far longer than I could have ever dreamed possible to survive.

I’m also no stranger to gratitude.

I believe this broken earth brings us more pain than we can comprehend from our beginnings, but we also have the opportunity to grab ahold of beauty in small and mundane moments. There is much more beauty than most of us choose to see.

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I’m a mom.
I once was a mom to four boys under the age of two years old.
I used to be a mom to five kids.
I lost two babies who were born into heaven.
I walked through a disrupted adoption.
I’m currently a mom to two.
I get to be my boys’s mama forever. They are my world and they are not even five months apart.
My motherhood has been forged through loss and pain, but has revealed the most beautiful kind of love and passion I could have ever imagined.

I know about trauma.
My own, and others.
I have tended to broken hearts and I am learning what it means to have mine tended to.
I understand the brain and how it is affected by trauma.
Trauma impacts our every day worlds far more than any of us would dare to look at or want to notice.

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I’m a photographer.
I document life for myself and for others.
Photographs are the best, most tangible way to leave a physical and visible legacy for generations to come.
Photographs reveal emotions and feelings for one another that are often missed through the chaos of life.
Photographs freeze time, so that we can cling onto memories.

I’m a writer.
I’ve always been a writer.
My memoir This Undeserved Life sold 1,000 copies in its first month of release. In its first year, it sold around 4,000 copies.
This Undeserved Life is about finding my way through the grief of my first few years of adult life: church abuse, my parents divorce + remarrying, endometriosis + miscarriage, adopting (transracially) while pregnant.
It is about finding fullness through grief and joy, living in the tension of sorrow and hope.
My next book is being lived + written, through yet another season of deep grief and finding Grace in the chaos of this world.

I love exploring creation.
The beach is a safe space for me, in its wild intensity.
The mountains are stunning.
The dark starry nights make me wonder.

I’m indebted to my community.
Not really, because that’s not how they operate. But I wouldn’t be standing without them.
My community was folded together through the trenches of foster care and adoption. We have trauma bonds, really.
My community is the most beloved, sacred, supportive community I have ever seen or known about.
Everyone deserves a community like mine.

natalie kristeen brenner, waking up, no human is illegal, social justice

I am waking up.
Sometimes it feels embarrassingly slow. Other times it feels like I’ve woken up so much.
I know I only have half a clue, but I am determined to keep on opening my eyes to the injustice our world is infused with.
The injustices most apparent to me that I spend time learning about and working towards tearing down are through: adoption and foster care, cultural and racial differences, abusive (Christian) marriages.

natalie kristeen brenner, cannon beach photoshoot, dani brewer photography

I’m a real mess.
And I’m not just saying that. Just because I like to write and take pretty photos doesn’t mean my life or my heart are together in any sort of organized perfect fashion.
I have good pieces of me that when in stress or times of unhealth, go too far the other way, like:
I tend to over think and over analyze things, to a fault — literally stuck in my brain.
I explain myself much more than necessary.
I want to protect everyone from everything, including themselves, including people who have proven time and time again that they are not safe for my vulnerability.
I subconsciously idolize myself in relationships, thinking I have what the other person needs, always, even at the constant expense of myself.
I have a really deeply embedded coping mechanism of repression.

Justice and Jesus.
Two things I don’t want to live without.

These pages.
They’re essentially my journey along the way.
It is changing so quickly and has been flipped upside down.
My heart beats to learn about other people. to meet people in their vulnerable and dark hours, and to celebrate too.
My heart beats to be a friend.
I hope we can be friends.

author headshots, natalie brenner
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