November 11, 2013
In 1953, the National Hurricane Center began naming Hurricanes. Throughout the years, if any one storm is exceedingly destructive, that name is retired forever. Katrina was such a storm. With death tolls close to 2,000, damages in the range of $91 billion, it is officially the costliest hurricane to strike the US.
Ironically, the city that suffered the most, New Orleans, had prepared for such a storm. Levees were in place, emergency services were on alert and a mandatory evacuation was issued. Despite the efforts, the storm surge and the aftermath left a wake of destruction that is still being pieced back together over 8 years later.
The scale of the tragedy made one thing abundantly clear—when it comes to a showdown between man and nature, man stands to lose.
The same could be said in life. A showdown between man and the chaos of life isn’t a fair fight. Natalie Grant knows this as well as anyone.
“Our lives right now are just chaos,” says Natalie. “People ask me how I organize and order it…I must be a good actress because most days I don’t even know how I survive.”
Survive seems a bit modest. A mother of three—twins (6) and younger daughter (3)—Natalie juggles motherhood and marriage with writing and recording, touring, fighting against human trafficking through the non-profit she founded, Abolition International and, most recently, launching a new movement called Dare to Be.
Such a load would overwhelm and exhaust most people, but Natalie derives strength and purpose by sharing the grace of a God who pulled her from a pit of insecurity, uncertainty and fear.
“All of us struggle with insecurities,” she says. “What we hear from culture or friends and family tries to define who we are even though those messages are so full of lies. It’s time for us to rediscover who God says we are. The promises of God have no expiration date. As women really begin to digest the truth of who we are in Christ, we will change the communities and change the world.”
For Natalie, that change starts at home.
“I want my girls to see a mom who loves them and is engaged with them and is thankful to be their mommy,” she shares.
It doesn’t take much for anyone to see how grateful both Natalie and Bernie are to be parents.
“We were told we couldn’t have kids,” says Natalie.
More specifically, they were given a 3% chance of ever conceiving. After countless rounds of fertility treatments, the twins arrived. Shortly thereafter, Natalie found herself pregnant again. This time, however, it was unplanned and overwhelming.
“Sadie was the miracle I didn’t know to ask for,” she says. “I felt completely ill-equipped to be a mom to three kids and then had such guilt for even having those feelings. So many women struggle to ever have children. I know He’ll never give you more than you can handle, but it seemed like God overestimated me!”
She says all this with a laugh today, but just a few months ago, laugher was the furthest thing from her heart and mind. Soon after the birth of their third child, Natalie slipped into post-partum depression.
“I didn’t even know what it was,” she says. “It was very real and lasted about 20 months. I was so quiet about it but everyone knew there was something not right.”
Internally, Natalie was fighting to stay afloat in the midst of a storm that seemed to intensify each day.
“I had a nephew who was struggling with a heroin addiction and then my father was diagnosed with cancer,” she shares. “I just thought, ‘That’s is. I’ve had it.’ As the storm clouds kept pounding on my life, I felt so guilty. I didn’t want people to think I didn’t love my baby. I avoided people for a while thinking that it might go away.
“I began asking myself questions like, ‘What kind of mother am I to struggle with this? What kind of Christian am I?’ I knew I should be spending time with the Lord but it was the last thing I wanted to do. I knew the truth…but it wasn’t working for me.”
Or so she thought, After months of darkness, spiritual estrangement and an overall disconnect from truth and emotion, Natalie returned to the promises upon which faith is built.
“I cracked my Bible open for the first time in a long time and flipped to Matthew 14,” she says. “I feel like the Lord gave me new eyes.”
New eyes for a familiar story—Jesus walking on water.
“Jesus knew a storm was coming but insisted His disciples go ahead of Him into the storm.”
Into the raging sea and storm the disciples went. And then, Jesus came to them—in the storm…upon the water. Jesus didn’t stop the storm. But He came alongside to be with the disciples as the wind and water mercilessly ravaged the boat and rocked the faith of those on board.
“I had been begging God to stop the storm,” she says. “I wanted out, but He came in. I was looking as a sea of impossibilities, but He eventually brought peace. The day after I read that, I wrote the song, ‘Hurricane,’ and a creative dam just broke. I was writing like I’d never written before.”
From beginning to end, the album is upbeat, pop, positive…as Natalie says, “the antithesis of where I was. I wanted songs that reflected not where I was living, but where I was going.”
The result is a collection of songs that inspire, challenge and transparently reveal Natalie’s heart and life more so than any of her previous work. The vulnerability became the benchmark of the project.
“The last thing the world needs is just another singer and just another song,” she says. “These have to be my stories and songs.”
Over a period of 18 months, Natalie and Bernie built this project piece by piece in their home studio—a luxury they don’t take for granted.
“I’m very blessed to create music with my best friend,” she says. “To be able to go downstairs to the studio in my PJs was great. And, I’m learning more and more that writing is so risky. It’s so important to have a safe environment to share those ideas.”
As the music took shape, it became a personal refuge from the storms in Natalie’s life. Scripture became levees to hold the storm surge at bay. Prayer became a rescue from the raging wind and water. Much like Katrina, though, the strongholds and preparations don’t always prevent the storms from raging, but they provide a cornerstone to cling to in the midst.
“It’s still chaos and one day at a time,” she says. “I’m trying to not worry about tomorrow. I’m going to do my best to love and balance. And tomorrow, I’ll wake up and try all over again. Chaos, doubt, fear, inadequacies are still there, but my hope is reignited like never before. I serve a God who knows my name. Who gave me my career and husband and non-profit. Who must have a lot of faith in me…I’m going to embrace who God is calling me to be.”
Storms will come. Water will rise. Man will flounder.
Without Him, we don’t stand a chance.
With Him, we can boldly say, “Bring on the storm.”
The scope of destruction brought about by Katrina retired that name forever.
The scope and power of God against the struggles in our lives allows us to do the same.
Defeat has no place in hope.
Fear has no place in faith.
Insecurity is no more in the light of everlasting life, peace and love…
Visit Nataliegrant.com for more.
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