Alumni Richie and Natalie Norton taught a crowd of students and alumni about unconditionally loving God during trails and not delaying any goals at the Hawaii Alumni Chapter Fireside on Sept. 17.
Natalie, an author and professional photographer, spoke on the trial of enduring the deaths of her son and brother as well as a fatal accident one of her sons had during the summer. Richie, an entrepreneur and author of “The Power of Starting Something Stupid,” focused on how pursuing a dream or thought one has now will allow them to be a positive influence in the world.
Though her family was poor and moved from city to city surviving on faith, Natalie recounted how her parents “ensured me everything would be alright.” She said she witnessed miracles in her youth. She said, “My parents had spoken it and made it so by working hand-in-hand with God.”
This faith and hard work, Natalie said, would be put to the test in the future. She said she and her husband struggled to make ends meet and experienced grief when her brother and son passed away.
Natalie recounted she became frustrated and said to God, “I don’t understand because I’m doing everything. I’m righteous and I’m worthy, and I’m not getting miracles. I prayed so hard when my son got sick. We prayed with our whole hearts for that boy, and he died. I’m praying, I’m holding to the rod. We’re paying my tithing and doing everything right! And yet, where are the miracles? Why aren’t you helping us?”
Learning along the way and going through more hard times, Natalie shared the story of her son getting hit by a car two months ago. She said Richie shared a post on social media that helped her with her questions. It says, “‘When we’re struggling or making bad choices, or we’re not in our best, we expect God to still love us... We know we have a God who loves us. However, when hard things happen to us, do we show that same unconditional love to God?’”
Richie also shared the grief he experienced in losing children, but he emphasized his love of belonging to the LDS Church and the importance of being an influence in the world for good. He encouraged students to take the mission of the school and make it theirs.
Richie said his journey to success started in a fireside at BYUH by Sheri L. Dew, who wrote the book “God Wants Powerful People.” Dew asked the audience, “How far will your influence go?” This influence, Norton said, would be intentional instead of casual.
“That’s when I decided to write [the] book,” said Richie Norton. From that book, he said he has built a successful business, done a TEDx talk, worked with Grammy award winners, and took a Grammy award-winning rapper to church.
He mentioned how it is better to fear God, not man. He said his book is a “general audience way” of saying “please follow the Spirit.” Richie added, “What’s that thing pressing on your mind right now? If you have a pen, I would write it out–that’s what God wants you to do.”
Richie also taught students to remember if they “wait longer, it will never happen. If you start right now, you’ll never have enough money, you’ll never have more time, and so you act on the prompting of the Spirit, and the Lord will take care of the rest. Put your faith in God, and you go to work.”
He said he realized this principle when he did 300 personal interviews with people retired or approaching retirement. All of them said they waited their whole lives for a day when they would have enough education and money to pursue a goal, but they realized it would never be enough.
Alumnus Taylor Steele, a creative video marketing teacher and media production manager at BYUH, commented, “I like the Nortons. They’re very real. They’re spiritual and relatable for students and alumni.”