When you really love something, when you really, truly, madly, deeply, passionately LOVE something, it’s always shocking to wake up one morning and realize how long that thing has been gone from your life—how far away it feels—how foreign—how . . . irretrievable. When you finally find the courage and resolve to go after what you’ve lost, when you finally realize that life without it is worse than the horrifying reality of what will be required to get it back, there’s a part of you that believes that once you “jump back in,” you’ll be simply overwhelmed by the utter rightness of it all. “I’m home!” your spirit will cry!

Here’s the truth that I have found: It will hurt, this process of righting wrongs, of chasing our bliss, of restoring what was lost, of building what we hope has the potential to be. Once you’re in the thick of all the searching, it will be hard, and it will hurt. You’ll feel clumsy and unsteady, insignificant and small, and the journey will feel very, very long and unyielding. To paraphrase Robert Frost—the woods will seem dark and deep and there will be miles and miles (and miles) to go before you’ll sleep.

But where there is love, there is light. And light, my friends, is ALWAYS worth fighting for. Once you get back in the ring, the entire universe will begin to conspire together for your good—in absolutely miraculous ways. And out of nowhere, you’ll start receiving signs. Trust them. These signs will validate the stirring in your heart, and they will give every ounce of the courage you need. My sign was delivered to me by a stranger. In the exact moment my heart needed it the most:

“Please come back to the web. If only you knew all the people that you were encouraging, lives you were touching, the way that God uses your pain to shape others lives, to comfort those who feel the same. I know you will probably never know the depths of the way that God is using you, your story, your writing, your talents, your gifts, your trials, your sufferings….but I do hope and pray that you come back and process more with us. There needs to be more hope and truth out here on the internet….and more voices like yours. Thank you for all you have done here…you are a gift and a blessing and a teacher and a mentor and even in a way, a friend. Thank you.”

I’ll be back to writing (blogging) tomorrow (well, and today, as it would seem).

(Deep inhale, soft smile.) I’ll see you soon.

34 things. From my heart to yours.

There are cooler things than the internet.

Sometimes listening to the sound of the rain on the pavement is the best music there is.

Sticking your nose into a pile of warm laundry, fresh out of the dryer, reduces anxiety.

Cell phones are pretty lame.

God loves you. A lot.

Television is NEVER cooler than being outside.

Good fuel = happy living. (Trash in, trash out. Mind, body, spirit.)

True friendship is better than therapy. (Or at least the VERY best alternative.)

A good night’s sleep is totally underrated.

This too shall pass.

Be where you are. (Aka try to do something in the past, try to do something in the future: YOU CAN’T.)

Meditation is more powerful than you could ever imagine.

Kindred friendships exist in places and packages you’d never imagine. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover (or it’s Twitter avatar).

Deep breathing should be celebrated as a consistent part of one’s daily routine.

Life is short. LIVE it well.

Anxiety and worry are useless, unproductive and downright dangerous. LET GOOOOOOOOO.

Worry is nothing more than praying for what you don’t want.

You can heal.

Eye contact with actual humans is waaaaaaay cooler (and more emotionally satisfying) than text messaging.

Plus, text messaging when you’re around living, breathing human beings just makes you lame.

Being in the ocean is the best practice in mindfulness there is.

It will all work out.

We could all live with about 3/4ths less junk.

Purging clutter does wonders for the creative soul.

There’s nothing quite as reassuring as getting up early to watch the sunrise.

A good nickname goes a long way.

Be nice.

There is enough to go around (more than enough, really).

Water a plant. It does something inexplicable for the soul.

Letting people in isn’t as dangerous as you think. It’s actually pretty miraculous.

Life is too short not to get rid of your baggage.

Complete faith and total surrender are mighty powerful things.

It’s never to late to change your ways, to heal what you’ve broken, to try again.

No one’s life is as clean, pretty, or perfect as it appears on their blog.

My journey toward authenticity began the day my son died the day I died. (I can tell you from the bottom of my soul, they are one and the same.)

And there I was.

There I was. . .

(Deep exhale here.)

Nothing remained, aside from the physical form of the woman I had once been. Inside of that? Nothing was the same. When you come to THAT moment (that we all pray to God you never will) you have exactly two choices.

1.  You die.
2.  Or you don’t.

Physical death, yes, I suppose would be a third alternative (a thought that EVERY mother who’s walked where I’ve walked has entertained, even if only in an especially weak and fleeting moment), but I’m not speaking of physical death. I’m speaking of emotional death. Spiritual callus. The armor of the soul. Survival. Safety. The opportunity to disengage from the excruciating pain. The promise of relief from the acute, unrelenting torture. Option number 1, you die. See?

Option number 2, you don’t. BUT HOW DON’T YOU? HOW?! HOW?!!!! AND YES I’M SHOUTING NOW. I’M SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF MY BROKEN HEART. HOW DON’T YOU JUST CLIMB INTO THE CUPBOARD UNDER THE STAIRS AND BURY YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND? (Yes, my cupboard under the stairs is at the beach. Apparently. And yes, I’m done yelling at you.)


You submit.

And that’s how.

You submit.

You own your nothingness before God and yet your “everythingness” within him. For we are, each of us, nothing and everything all in the same harrowing yet joy-filled breath.

The moments after Gavin died horrified me. Horror. Times infinity. To the power of a million. For all the obvious reasons yes, but for one you rarely think about in specific. Eventually, friends, you have to walk away. You have to hand your dead child over to a stranger, and you have to walk away. I’ve never felt so small. I’ve never felt so afraid. I couldn’t do it. I moaned. I cried. I held him as tightly as I could. I probably screamed out loud, though I don’t remember for certain. If I didn’t, I should have. I’d certainly earned the right.

I’ve never been so acutely focused (before or since). I was completely keyed in to the moment I was in, the feelings I was experiencing, the fear that engulfed me. And amid all that terror, amid all that submission, amid all that awareness of my nothingness before God, I found something.


No longer was I a woman who was born in 1981, had lived a while, and was having this experience in a hospital room in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in 2010. I was Natalie.

I felt connected to myself in a whole new way. Connected to my divinity as a child of God, a literal spirit daughter of The Creator of Heaven and Earth and all things that in them are. I was Natalie, and Natalie, this me, SHE had the strength required to walk away. SHE had the faith required to move through this moment (and every one that would follow). SHE had the perspective I lacked. SHE had the courage I desired. SHE knew God in a way that I had never dreamed possible.

I held her hand, I kissed his face, and I walked away.

Over time, I’ve come to know her better. Learning she existed was half the battle, now getting to know her learning to become her will win me the war.

Authenticity. It’s a practice, not an art. A journey, not a destination.

But it’s worth the work. It’s worth the commitment.

And it’s definitely worth the jump.


This is the first post of a series. Practical, actionable steps toward the Journey to YOU to follow.