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!