End of Year Letter – 2021

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We all know the last two years have been tough.  Everyone has had to struggle with something, with the added stress and hardships of the pandemic.  Although this last year was really rough for me as well, it also brought some incredible experiences and changes.

2021 was the most successful year I’ve ever had coaching Volleyball.  I made the decision to leave Club, and focus all of my energy on Tempe Prep, where I am leading the high school and middle school girls programs, and adding a boys team in the Spring. 

In 2020 we had record numbers show up for our Middle School Program, and those numbers almost doubled again this year at tryouts.  There were a whopping 44 girls that tried out for Middle School Volleyball.  Luckily I was able to scrounge up enough help to put together 4 teams, and all 4 teams finished their seasons without trouble.  I wasn’t always able to be in the gym with them, but from the energy at our end of season event, I expect most girls to return next year.

Our Varsity team was undefeated in regular season play, and played incredibly well against bigger, tougher teams in tournaments.  We made it to State Finals, and lost by 2 points in game 5 to a very tough, very determined team.  While it’s not the result we wanted, it was an honorable defeat, and I’m more proud of this team than any I’ve coached in the past.  The 6 graduating seniors left a legacy of hard work, kindness, and determination that will impact the TPA volleyball program for years to come.  I hope to continue to lead that program, and am looking forward to adding a Boys Team in February of 2022.

 This was a record year for Natalie Lynn Photography, despite Weddings being cancelled or postponed due to Covid.  I haven’t sat down to do the numbers, but I think I doubled my number of portrait sessions this year compared to any year previous.  Luckily I also started editing with my Intuous pro pen, so my wrists and fingers didn’t suffer from the extra work.  There were a few rough sessions with people who didn’t show up on time or who completely no-showed on me, but it wasn’t enough to cause serious trouble, and it solidified my plan to put contracts and penalties in place for 2022.  I’m hoping to expand next year, to upgrade/update my equipment, and possibly start contracting some of my extra work out in preparation for my lifestyle to change next year.

On that note, I’m getting married!  Bryce and I started to talk about dates and timelines in the fall, and then in November when he proposed we decided definitively to have a short engagement.  Spring is a tough season for me with volleyball and photography, and we didn’t want to wait until summer to be married and living together.  January 14th jumped off the calendar at both of us, so that’s the date we chose.  

The plan is to be married in California with just our immediate families, and the pastor

who’s been doing our counseling at church.  I wanted a destination elopement, but he wanted family there, so we compromised on Santa Barbara.  Right now I’m staying with friends while we remodel Bryce’s house, and it should be ready for me to start moving things in the week before the wedding.  When we get home I’ll officially move in, and then we are running a half marathon together in Phoenix 2 days after the wedding!  My training schedule has been destroyed because of selling my house and my busy work schedule, but Bryce is also struggling with a leg injury from soccer, so we are just going to do our best to finish the half marathon together. 

There will be a big party at ‘our’ new house in March after I’ve had time to nest and decorate, so if you want an invite please message me your address!

The hardest part of 2021 was deciding to sell my house.  Living with Jenna and her kids over the last 3 years has been such a blessing.  I know how lucky I was to get to spend so much time with them adventuring and learning.  Jenna is an amazing mother, with an insane amount of energy.  She encouraged me constantly, and inspired me to be as productive and intentional as she is.  Aria and Brychan are just plain fun.  They are clever and funny and I will miss waking up every morning to find them reading my books on the couch with their cups of cheerios.  The seasons we got to share together are priceless, and I hope someday soon to give them a couple cousins to hang out with.

I’m so excited to start 2022 in a new home with a husband that loves and honors the Lord.  We have lots of half marathons and adventures to look forward to next year, and the plan is to get a family started right away.  I’ll still be coaching (a lot), and shooting pictures, but I also plan to entertain, host lots of board game nights, and get really plugged in at our church, Redeemer Bible.  My dream of starting a bible-oriented lifestyle podcast got put on hold, but maybe that will finally come to fruition next year as well.

Thanks to everyone who has prayed for me (and Bryce) over the last few years.  God has been faithful through many hardships, and I don’t think I ever could have predicted how things would turn out after the storms He’s seen me through. 


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