Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas from New Zealand!

We are missing our families of course, but very thankful to have enjoyed a wonderful Christmas meal with a Kiwi family tonight. We experienced a few firsts (and sadly maybe lasts as this may be our last summer Christmas here!): the Christmas Cracker/bon-bon tradition, orange glazed Kumara and steamed Christmas cake with custard. Delicious!

Today was a beautiful warm day and we took a walk/jog on the St Kilda beach. These are the memories I hope stay with us regardless of where we end up next. 




Here's a wee Christmas prayer I've enjoyed these past few weeks (thanks to Julie Ryan for sending to us)

Hold fast to hope.
Hold fast to the elusive, the intangible, the never-to-be-had,
For stars fall from heaven sometimes,
And Kings are born in barns and miracles rise out of little things.

May the quiet trust of Mary,
the graciousness of Joseph
the humility of the shepherds,
the perseverance of the wise men
the joy of the angels
and the peace of the Christ child
be God's gifts to you this Christmastide

Amen.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Naming our Daughter

I've known for about seven or eight years that were I to have a daughter one day, I'd name her Natalie. When we found out last year we were having a girl we kept it from our friends and families for a surprise. A few people probably knew all along, my grandma for one. When I announced Natalie's name to her I could practically hear her smile over the phone as she lovingly said, "Oh Anna, I knew you were naming her Natalie".

When I was about 7 months pregnant I skyped with three special people, Jill and her two children, Natalie and Sam Clavero. It was then that I asked them a question I'd been waiting to ask for years: "Can Josh and I have the privilege of naming our daughter after you, Natalie?" It was a memorable moment and we all shared laughter and some tears.

So who is this Natalie? Natalie is a young girl with one of the brightest smiles in the world. She has contagious joy and deep strength. She loves and receives love in a beautiful way and has the patience of someone who's lived decades longer than her age tells. Natalie is someone I deeply admire. And this Natalie has quite literally changed the course of my life.

This Natalie also has cerebral palsy. But to her, it 'ain't no thing'. I can practically see her laughing and thinking, "ain't nobody got time to worry about that!" Natalie gets around in a stylish wheelchair and now communicates with her eyes using some really cool technology. She receives the challenges of her life with joy and strength. Natalie  has battled so many things - sickness, surgeries, physical pain and probably much more than I even understand. Is it easy for her? No, I'm sure it's not. She goes through more physical challenges each day that most of us could ever imagine. The way I see it, the most admirable thing about Natalie is that her strength comes from God and her character and joy give witness to the beautiful story of Jesus and His love for her and her love for Him.

When I was finishing my undergraduate degree I worked with Natalie in her home to help support her mom. At the time I had needed a part time job as I decided what to do next with my life. I had no idea I'd form a special bond with this family, fall in love with two of the cutest kids in the world, and form a lasting friendship with their mom, Jill. I also had no idea that through the course of my years of outdoor wheelchair and bike adventures, long rainy afternoons playing shape searchers, and helping to care for Natalie through the day and even through some nights, that my life would be changed. To make a long story short, I went on to get my Masters in Special Education and hope to continue a life-long career in education and/or the disability field much because of Natalie. I am so grateful that God placed us all together for those years!

So there you have it. How could I not name my sweet baby girl after Natalie Clavero? Seriously, how could I not!? :) I love you, big Natalie and little Natalie. And I hope and pray with all my heart that my sweet baby grows into the kind of woman you are becoming.

 Natalie as my flower girl in March 2007
 Playing outside with Natalie and Sam
 Cute little Sam!
Thanksgiving Weekend 2009

I can't wait to get a picture of the two Natalies together!