When I was a teenager, my mom and I used to head up American Fork Canyon every morning to hike the trail to Timpanogos Cave. Some of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life occurred on the face of that mountain. It was there I learned to listen to my Father in Heaven (I’d always been very good at talking AT Him).

These early morning adventures are among my most treasured memories with my mother. However, one experience stands high above the rest.

I may have a stronger build than Mom, but boy does that woman have endurance. She can go and go and go and go and go. But when you’re 16 years old, you’re supposed to be faster, stronger, and more fit than your old lady mom. I was none of the above. And it was INFURIATING.

On this particular day, I was determined not to finish in her shadow. As we approached the final stretch of the trail, 3 steep switchbacks (by far the steepest of the entire climb), I opened the throttle. I literally sprinted the remaining distance to the top of the mountain.

VICTORY!

But the sense of accomplishment very quickly gave way to absolute terror. I reached for my throat, desperately gasping for air.

None came.

I panicked. I began to feel dizzy. Thankfully, I was coherent enough to lower myself to the ground in order to avoid falling over the edge. The harder I tried to gasp for breath, the more frantic I became. I could not breathe. I was horrified, certain I was going to die. A few other hikers had gathered around, but that detail is foggy. I don’t remember what they said, if anything, or what they did, if anything. I just remember them being there, and I remember sensing their sincere concern for me. The next thing I clearly remember was my mom trotting up over the top of the trail. The moment she saw me, she rushed to my side.

All she did was place her hand on my back.

Immediately, I took a long, deep breath. And another, and another. . .

I was safe. My mom was there.

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For the last year and a half I have been heavily involved in The Making Things Happen Intensive. This is work I believe in. It is rich and fulfilling. It has made me a better person in every way.

And . . . it’s time to say goodbye.

As much as I love this work, the girls (Gina, Lara, Em) and the remarkable alum, the reality is this: God has been knocking on my heart for some time now, and just like I learned during those mornings on the trail, all those years ago, I need to remember to listen.

(Yes, I’m licking my son’s face. Believe me, the punk had it coming.)

As it relates to my professional life, this may be a big, bad business decision (and by “may be” I mean “most certainly is”).

Yes, I am afraid. There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty ahead. But I am absolutely certain that I am being called home, and I am thus absolutely certain that I will NEVER live to regret this decision. . . as difficult as it has been to make.


As much as I hate saying “goodbye” to something I love so very, very much, I am also saying “hello.” I’m saying “hello” to something I love even more.

Clearly the last 5 years haven’t exactly been easy on my family. It’s important to remember that not only did my boys lose their brother, they also lost their uncle. . . who had lived with (or very near) them for the entirety of their lives. Their sense of loss has been tremendous, beyond anything I could have ever imagined would be our reality. They still struggle daily from the remnants of this devastation. . . and though I firmly believe that they will eventually heal, I also believe that they will continue to struggle for some time to come.

They need me. Here. To wrap my arms around them and echo my mother before me.

“You’re safe. Mommy is here.”

All photos in this post courtesy of G.

PS- I love you Lara, Gina and Emily. Your response to all of this has been nothing less than as gracious and supportive as everything I have come to expect from each of you. You are remarkable. Exceptional. The best friends I ever could have dreamed up in my very wildest of imaginings. I’ll always, ALWAYS, be your biggest supporter and your number one fan.

PPS- All, happiest of Mother’s Days, by the way.

Caping, Sedona, AZ. Watching the sunset at the lookout on Airport Road.

I have been thinking.

A lot, actually.

About life. About love. About what really matters.

Not what I’m TOLD matters, but what sincerely matters to me. . . at the very core of who I am.

You know, this image is it. Nothing beyond that, nothing beyond them (all of them, pictured or no) matters a lick.

As I rest there, in THAT reality? I find peace. I find clarity. I find perfect direction. In this world, spinning at a maddening pace, I am still.

I am still.

Above quote by the tap dancing goddess, Eleanor Powell.
Above photo, sweet Mailee, spinning in the sun.

I wish I could pass my life by simply spinning along through the warm rays of the sun.

I’ve been left in awe in recent days as I’ve pondered over just how very much I have been given. This is a refreshing respite from the cold and lonely land of self pity I’ve danced my way through over the past couple of weeks.

People, God loves us. He loves you. He loves me. He wants us to find peace. He wants us to find joy. He wants us to have security, laughter and all the beauty and goodness this world has to offer. But like the little chick, we must break out of the egg on our own. We must push and struggle, and sometimes even kick and SCREAM, in order to break that shell. But once we do. . . we are free. We are strong. We are prepared for the big world that awaits us. God doesn’t make things easy for us. No. Because he loves us too perfectly for that. He knows we need to grow, to progress  . . . to prepare for what lies ahead. . . otherwise where would we end up? Well, what happens to the chick who doesn’t develop the strength necessary to break out of his shell on his own? What happens if a well intentioned master steps in and helps by pulling the shell away? Eventually, the chicken dies, for it has not developed the strength to survive in the outside world.

As my wonderful husband reminds me (as it relates to this analogy, which ultimately belongs to him, not me), “Natalie, we are all big chickens.” (And he’s right.)

Once upon a time, someone asked me if I would die for God. There was no hesitation in my heart, “Of course I would.” The question that followed has never left my soul, “Will you live for Him?”

It’s interesting to think about. And by interesting, I’m sure I mean Earth-rattling. In quiet moments I’ve imagined myself standing up for what I believe, fighting for integrity, truth, purity, light. I’ve imagined myself as the heroine of my own story, willingly making the ultimate sacrifice for all that is good and holy! But God hasn’t asked me to make that sacrifice, what he has asked of me is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. He has asked me to truly LIVE for him.

What would happen if I were to translate that same courage, that same commitment to what I believe so perfectly that I would die for it, into the LIVING of my life? How would I approach everything I do? With courage, with faith, with resolve, with a willingness to see clearly and sacrifice as necessary for the people and things in my life that matter most.

I’m in the process right now of drawing the strength and courage necessary to make a couple of very large sacrifices. I’m sure they would seem insignificant to most, but they are nevertheless, gut wrenching for me. But I want to live for my Father in Heaven at all times, and in all things, and in all places, even if that means taking big risks, doing hard things and offering up my heart and soul. . . (the living of my very life) as evidence of my faith in Him.

I believe that true sacrifice — our will for His— brings forth the greatest blessings of heaven. The greatest blessing I could ever ask for, and the greatest blessing that I believe comes as a result of our greatest sacrifices, is that of PEACE.

. . . peace that feels like spinning along through the warm rays of the sun.

Cardie,

I love everything about you. From the freckles that softly brush your nose, to the way you sing yourself to sleep. I love the depth of your soul and your complete clarity surrounding what matters to you and why. I love the way you love me. I love the way you live simply to be loved, cherished and understood. I love how hard you work. I know “it’s” infinitely harder for you than many. Your mommy recognizes this, and son, your response to life fills.me.with.pride. I LOVE YOU. I hope to be just like you when I finally grow up.

I hope you enjoy these images of you, simply being you; I hope you can see and feel the ABSOLUTE JOY in every one.

I couldn’t separate you from the ant hills. You were completely memorized. You noticed everything wonderful. . . about an ant. “Mommy, look how STRONG they are!” “Mommy, look how they stay in a line when they walk!” “Mommy, what would happen if I put my finger in their hole?” And oooonnnnnnnnn and oooooonnnnnnnn. You care about every detail of this beautiful world we live in. Gosh, I love this about you.

You made mommy jump too. . . and of course you insisted on taking pictures. It hurt my back. But you still made me do it twice, so you could get the perfect shot. You’re hard to turn down, son. This will bless you someday. I’m confident enough of this not to squash it out of you. . . even though it certainly doesn’t seem to bless me, today. ;)

You love sand. Every day, you come home with 2 shoes and 2 pockets fulllllll. :) And every day, you dump it all over my hard wood floor. I even love THAT about you. (Sort of.)

This is my favorite picture of you, ever (maybe):

Your spirit has been bigger than your body since the day I first held you in my arms. No doubt about it. Here’s proof of what I’ve seen in you forever:

Happy birthday, my Cardie boy. “Whatever you say, I love you more.” ~M

I love this quote so much.

I’m really working on GROWING right now. I’m reeeeeeeeeeaching, learning, changing, embracing, submitting.  I’m committed to living deliberately, and part of that commitment requires me to take a long hard look into every corner of my life to determine if it’s all intentionally aligned with my heart.

It’s hard.

I think it would be hard for anyone. But one of my biggest revelations throughout this process has been how deeply difficult the process has been for me. I’m finding untapped reserves of grief along with other emotions that I didn’t know I’d harbored. This introspection is intriguing. . . and painful. . . and deeply frustrating, in a nearly infuriating kind of way . . . but underneath alllllll of that, it’s worth it.

I just want to be me. Healthy. Happy. Complete. Whatever that takes, whatever that means, mostly so that my children have permission to do and be the same.  I don’t want to set any example for them but that of LOVE, AUTHENTICITY, CONNECTION, COURAGE, KINDNESS and JOY.

So here I am. . . reaching, learning, changing, embracing, submitting. . . being me.