The Season of Endurance...

when I started training for a half marathon a few months ago, I said to God that I wanted this to build endurance into my body, into my bones.

Have you ever needed something so bad, or loved someone so much that you needed it/them to be a part of you? 

Maybe it was something you read that you were so obsessed with that you wanted it to become your thoughts and your words. Or someone (a child cough cough) that you love so much that you just need to nibble on them because a hug is not going to suffice.

 

This is where I was at a few months ago.

I needed endurance, and I no longer could have it be a concept, or a far fetched idea. I needed to test it and understand it, and look at it almost as a scientist looking at a test tube would.

Now, fast forward a few months, a lot of hard turns, selling all of our belongings and moving in with friends, fundraising for The Nest, and being in tough spots both personally and organizationally.... I . Am. Tired. I am kind of annoyed that I ever told God this, but I hold on to some simple truths that I have learnt along the way.

 

Endurance. 

 

When I started running, I could not even run a mile. 

Lets be honest here, I couldn't even run a half of a mile.

Tomorrow, I set out to do a 9 mile run. A NINE MILE RUN. I am going to be running for almost 2 hours.

How did I even get there?

 

By building endurance.

 

Did you notice on child number one how late night nursing sessions, or trips to the doctor, or teething was much more difficult than with number two? (maybe haha).

Endurance.

Did you notice your first week back to work from your child it felt like 100 years, and all of the tears and then by week four, it was your new normal?

Endurance.

Did you notice in your fifth year of marriage how something that monumentally would have made you ball in the fetal position during year one of your marriage, you called it for what it was and moved on within moments?

Endurance.

 

I remember when I broke my arm a few years ago, and people were in shock and awe of the fact that I just kept on with my normal life (for the most part-- holler for your meals!) and couldn't believe it. I remember an overwhelming understanding that for me to mother without an arm was one million times easier than me mothering in my first year with my son when I was struggling through PTSD and post partum depression. To have lost ability in my dominant arm temporarily felt way easier than to have my brain missing.

Endurance.

I remember in my first year of running The Nest I wanted to quit nearly every month. It all felt so overwhelming and hard and as we round out year four here in a couple of months, my desire to give up is not nearly as often.

Endurance.

 

Here's the point. You don't build endurance by not building endurance. You build endurance by having to endure, by having to persevere.  You build endurance through struggle. You build endurance through tears. You build endurance through doing hard things. YOU BUILD ENDURANCE. 

For me, the only thing I can build upon is my foundation in Jesus. He is the rock, and he is the foundation, and I have learned the secret. I can do all these things through him who gives me strength.

I can only run a marathon because he's given me legs to do so.

I can only run a ministry because he has given me it to steward.

I can only love my family because he has given me a family to love.

 

In the middle of building endurance. It sucks.

 

I distinctly remember one time on my way up to 2 miles crying as I ran because I was mad that I had committed to run this race, and was so defeated. I had a cramp and my body hurt, and I was embarrassed at how hard it was for me, how slow I was.

But I finished.

And the next time, I ran further.

AND I BUILT ENDURANCE because I did not give up.

 

I think the biggest lesson I've recently learnt is that without endurance being built beforehand to run a half marathon, I could go out there and try to run it, but there is no WAY that I would finish it. 

The race day is not at all the point.

The point of the race is what is built in between. In the hard moments, in the training moments, in the persevere moments, and how you endured.

When endurance is built into you, you will be able to persevere on race day.

 

Such is life.

Dear friend, when you feel like giving up. When you want to throw in the towel, remember what is being built into you right now, yes right this very moment even when you do not feel it AT ALL.

You will use this opportunity to persevere. 

You will look at this opportunity with hope.

You need this because it tests you, and it strengthens you, and it builds you into the person who will be able to withstand tomorrow what you could have never dreamt of withstanding today.

 

"We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4

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He's beginning to want daddy more than me....

It started a year ago when he would start to say no to holding my hand, run over to daddy, and ask him to hold his hand instead.

WAIT what? What's happening?! (i would think to myself)

It seems like yesterday my little boy only wanted comforted by mommy. How could this be?

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Just a few weeks ago I was in the kitchen, my son didn't know I was home, and I overheard him in the living room talking to his little sister. 

He said

"Sissy, Daddy is so much more fun than mommy, isn't she? Don't we LOVE dad days? Mommy days are boring... aren't they sis?"

To which she replied

"Yeah mommy is boring!"

RUDE.

So naturally, I marched my 12 year old butt (disclaimer: I am not a preteen in real life, just in my emotional age at this point), and I made myself seen to my son.

He stared at me with the fear of the Lord

And I said,

"I hope you know I was in there the whole time and that really hurt my feelings."

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Just an example, of the shift we are going through with our sweet little boy.

Not all boys, but most boys hit a phase in their life where mommy is secretly still their love, but daddy. (or daddy figure).. he is now the shining star of the picture.

Its super healthy as boys are learning what it means to be "men" and looking to their dads, their grandpas, the father figures in their lives to see what it means to be a man in their little world.

I actually love it, even though it freaks me out as moments become years and I feel them slipping away...

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Don't worry momma, Im not one of those who says "soak up all of these moments because you'll never have them again." I just don't believe that's true. A boys heart towards his momma is ALWAYS there. Trust me, I see it in my brothers, in my dad with his mom, in my husband with his moms and majority of grown men around me who had loving mothers.

A boys love for his momma just changes, it shifts, it grows, it hides for a bit, and it morphs into beautiful expressions in every stage.

---

Yesterday I reached back my hand while driving home to see if today would be one of the days that he lets me hold his hand (happens once a month haha), and it wasn't. He pushed it away, and i just said, "I love you so much buddy".

There's this thing that happens with girls and boys as they get bigger.

Some girls push away their dads as they develop and are becoming women and trying to find their space in the world and how to relate to it.

And some boys push away their moms as they learn what it looks like to be men.

 

My job

Is to Be consistent in loving him where he's at.

 

A wise woman told me once that with her teenage sons she started reading Harry Potter, and asking them about their video games once a week (I'm pretty sure she put that on the calendar), and when I asked her "Why?" and kind of giggled she said...

"I could literally care LESS about these things, but it's what my son loves, and I love him so much and this is how I can step into this space to show him I am still here and nurture him where he is at now."

 

And I guess that's where I am at.

Learning how to step into my five year old- going on 25's world and meet him where he is.

He likes legos, crafts,  building, deep questions, mario video games, and music... so I'll step into those spaces for now.

Knowing that if the option is there, he's always going to choose daddy to cuddle with, go to sleep with, or to play games with.

Every once in awhile I get a glimpse, when he'll lean over and kiss me on his own, or give me a big hug out of no where and tell me he loves me.... and I know my sweet babe is still in there.

But for now, I change with the season. I learn to love the laughter and excitement when we do a craft, or watch our cooking show together, or throw a ball back and forth.

Ill miss the baby cuddles, and that season, sure. But ill learn to love the one that I am in. Learning to ebb and flow with my babe, meet him where he is and learn to see what he loves so that I can show him my love through it.

Isn't that so much like Our Father in heaven anyways? We push, and pull, and glance and say I love you. We move onto new parts and passions and he follows us wherever we go, taking whatever we'll give him. 

He loves us and meets us where we are at, because he's a loving parent. Watching us grow and relating to us where we are at, in the season we are in, with his love in what interests us.

He's a really good dad.

And Im learning what it means to be a mom, that looks like him.

 

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Why Families? Why is this so important NOW?
 

Written by Jenna Brown

 

Did you know that 96% of issues adults process through in counseling are rooted in their childhood?

... thats a really big number.

 

If you didn't know, 'The Nest', originally started out as 'The Mother's Nest'. 

In the beginning, we weren't planning on starting a non profit organization. We weren't planning on really doing anything besides having a group of moms over in my house to share a meal and talk.

We weren't planning it, but I know that it was planned long ago, long before me.

 

Through the process of our sons birth (born in 2013), I had a near death experience. From that, I moved into a season of suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and PPD (post partum depression). I struggled to bond with my son until he was about one years old, and struggled greatly in that first year after having him.

In my healing "process" I really wanted to find a space to talk about these things with other moms, but everywhere I was turning seemed to be superficial, and I felt like an outsider in my own skin. So I started creating that space instead.

Little by little more vision was handed to me and our team by the Father.

It started as a seed (as everything does in the kingdom of God),  and he has made, and is still making something incredibly beautiful out of it.

 

Little by little, we became a non profit organization (501c3).

We started programs and services.

We purchased a building (been there for 3 years now!)

We had a board of directors

A vision 

A mission

A heart

A team.

 

And little by little, things kept developing.

 

What we noticed, after we had created this "safe space" for moms to come and be who they were, and to show them the heart of God to truly nurture THEM, protect THEM, serve THEM as they poured out their lives for these little ones, was that their whole families truly needed it as well.

We saw the need of the single mom.

We saw the need of the dad.

We saw the need of the family to know who they are, and what in the world they were doing with their children raising them in this world.

 

And honestly, I saw it in myself.

When I was pregnant with our second child, Reyna in 2015, I started going to trauma counseling. This is a bit different than your typical cognitive behavioral counseling, as one part of my brain had shut off in the PTSD (which is an incredible protective mechanism given by God in trauma, however it cant stay that way forever ;)) and in my counseling, the strangest things were coming up.

I was going to counseling to truly just get me through the next birth of my next child without dying or having a mental breakdown. 

 

It was strange that instead of processing through my birth however, I was processing through my broken family history.

I was talking about the seemingly meaningless memories. Ones that some would probably laugh that were "traumatic" for me.

But thats truly where The Nest shifted.

Once again, in a story that started with me.

 

I started to see that my birth was just a trigger of something that had been hidden deep within.

Pain from my childhood that had never been uncovered, because parts of my brain had hidden it away for long time.

And I clearly had work to do.

 

Through that process, (THANK THE LORD for incredibly patient counselors and for EMDR therapy) I really began to have a heart to see this around me.

 

And somewhere in the process, God gave me this picture of a plane.

 

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Picture a plane, descending, preparing for landing, checking out the runway.

Now picture the runway being your family system you grew up in.

 

God spoke to me in this season that his heart was for the FAMILY unit to be a landing strip for GOD to land as children grew, and no longer would it belong to the enemy.

 

If you talk to most individuals, they dont realize that their family had brokenness in it.

Why? well because..it was normal to them. 

This is how you get recurring cycles of abuse, neglect, alcoholism, addiction, abortion, poverty, prejudice and racism, and many other of the cycles in our society that the non profit and ministry sector of the world is adamantly trying to fix.

Which is noble.

And awesome.

I love partnering with this city, so many passionate individuals that are attacking specific issues, social justice platforms, etc.

 

But I started to dream bigger.

What if this is preventable.

What if at the center of God's heart is for every "issue" to be abolished?

(it is, in case you didn't know)

What if instead of approaching the world with bandaids, we approached it with a scalpel. 

What if we looked longer than just this generation we saw right in front of our face, and poured into the next generation that saw a bigger picture.

 

"21 For he must remain in heaven until the restoration of all things[a] has taken place,[b] fulfilling everything that God said long ago through his holy prophets." Acts 3:21

 

This phrase that I have repeated over and over again that God gave to me in my prayer closet was

"God created in families, he's going to restore in them too".

What if restoration of the world, started with the restoration of the family?

 

What if family truly is the first picture of who you see God to be?

What if God created it this way for a reason, and its NOT a lost cause?

What would happen if parents actually got a hold of that?

What if dads were empowered to show the Father heart of God through knowing their own identity, and calling that out and instilling that in their children?

What would that do to a fatherless generation?

 

What if mothers were nurtured, cared for, and no longer oppression so that they could be the beautiful picture of the holy spirit that they are meant to be to their children? as comforter, nurturer, constant, teacher?

What if marriages looked like Jesus' relationship with the church. His dedication, his commitment, his covenant?

What would this next generation look like?

 

I saw this often, and most of you know. In the VERY beginning (like day one) of The Nest (then known as The mothers nest) God gave us Isaiah 61 that this would be our cornerstone.

Our dream was to make MIGHTY OAKS out of mothers, fathers, and children.

and I say this often.

 

The OAK tree is already within the ACORN.

It just needs planted in fertile soil and WATERED.

We get to be a part of the watering at The Nest.

We get to be the soil for many.

 

We know that the oak tree, that mighty oak, that beautiful picture of covering for children to enter into, majestic in its beauty, is already within the people who walk through the door, no matter where they are at with Jesus.

 

We know that it is within everyone to become that mighty oak.

We know that the way the kingdom works, is that God has already PUT THAT IN there.

If he put the ability for an oak tree to come from an ACORN.

how much more would he have put the ability for a FAMILY to show the heart of God within it?

 

So what do they need?

A little watering.

A place to be planted.

A place to grow.

And a place to provide shade.

 

Here we are folks, The Nest.

 

What started out as no "vision", and just a simple weak "yes"  has become something that I believe flows from the original intent of God's heart. It has NOT been easy, and most definitely has NOT been perfect, but I am proud of what The Nest stands for and is today.

Why? because I know its my Father's heart.

His heart to nurture, protect, call out identity, and create a safe haven for this next generation.

 

Let me ask you friends,

to dream a bit bigger with me.

So often we put our minds in boxes, into systems, believing that all we could ever do was provide a bandaid. (which are important, because you bleed out without the proper bandages ;)) 

But what if we prevented the cut in the first place?

 

What if our children didn't have to sit in counseling offices for trauma healing?

And even if they did, what if we didn't waste time on the fruit of their lives, and got to the root of them.

IF EVERY CHILD IS PLANTED INTO A FAMILY, AND EVERYTHING IN THE KINGDOM IS THE SEED, WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT THE SOIL?

 

Dear friends,

dream bigger with me.

See that preventative is the heart of the Father.

That once we fix the root, the fruit will take care of itself.

 

"So if the tree is good, it will produce good fruit; but if the tree is bad, it will bear only rotten fruit" Matthew 7:18

 

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24 “Everyone who hears my teaching and applies it to his life can be compared to a wise man who built his house on an unshakable foundation.25 When the rains fell and the flood[acame, with fierce winds beating upon his house, it stood firm because of its strong foundation.

26 “But everyone who hears my teaching and does not apply it to his life can be compared to a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 When it rained and rained and the flood came, with wind and waves beating upon his house, it collapsed and was swept away.”[b]

 

 

Matthew 7:24-27 The Passion Translation (TPT)

When your marriage is hurting & you need HOPE...
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Written by Lindsay Beaver

I sit here, watching the not-yet-warm sun sparkle off of the stubborn April snow, longing for the hope and life and beauty of spring to set in.  This time of year is full of meaning for me, as I watch the frigid, bleak winter, with it’s darkness and death, give way to life. Seeds that have been frozen deep within the earth awaken again, animals come out of hibernation, and our world fills with color once again.  

Two years ago, I was living in a dark winter season in my life and in my marriage.  The weight of depression and anxiety engulfed me. Life lost its spark. I lacked motivation and joy eluded me.  I went into survival mode and it was not pretty. The deeper and darker the days became, I prayed less and hid more.  The urge to run away or simply disappear loomed over me. Maybe you’ve been there, or are there right now. Let me pause for a moment to say if that’s you, please don’t fall for the lie that you are the only one.  You are NOT alone.

I had what seemed like the “Ideal Christian Marriage.”  I married my highschool sweetheart, waited until marriage for sexual intimacy, did premarital counseling, and invested into our relationship with conferences, books, and getaways.  I grew increasingly frustrated that the recurring advice to “try harder, be kinder, go on more dates, and have more sex” did little to change the painful reality of our marriage. The problem was, the issues we were facing were more severe and more destructive than either of us was willing to acknowledge, and the effectiveness of most of that advice was akin to offering a cancer patient some advil and a hug. Well-intentioned, but inadequate.

If you’ve met me, you know that I love to read, and almost always have several books I’m working my way through at a time.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that Leslie Vernick’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage,  legitimately changed my life.  I would recommend it in a heartbeat to anyone who is in a difficult, disappointing, or destructive marriage.  

This book, in tandem with biblical counseling and the support of friends, helped me to see my marriage with clarity for the first time I had to face the reality that my marriage and the desire to “fix it” had become more important to me than loving Jesus and being loved by Him. I had allowed my identity and worth to become so wrapped up in the perceived success of our marriage, and had lost sight of who Jesus says I am.  I was defined entirely by my husband and his view of me. Leslie’s words hit home:

“When you give someone the power to define you, you also give them the power to destroy you.  Even if your husband devalues you, you must not devalue yourself. Why not? Because your husband is not the final world on your personhood and worth.  God is….your core value does not rest on the words of your husband or your mother or your father or your children or even your best friend. It rests on God’s words because he’s the only one who will always tell you the truth.”

Reading that was the beginning of my own broken heart being mended.

It was an invitation to hear Jesus say who I am. An invitation to hear truth. I sat, weeping, as I asked him to show me those truths. I am still, daily, needing to learn to fully embrace the love God has for me.

Once we recognized the actual cancers that were eroding our marriage, and began to treat them with the intensity of chemo and surgery that they required, rather than the “advil” we had been trying to mend it with, we began to see healing.  We have received the best of care, skillful counselors, loving friends, tender teammates. The Master surgeon has removed what was dead and dying inside of us so that we could truly live. And so we heal. Not without pain, of course. But not without hope, either.

We have experienced first hand the power of the resurrection.  Winter has given way to spring, and our hearts have thawed again.

What was dead has been made alive again.

What seemed hopeless has been made holy.

If you are struggling in your marriage, know that there is hope.  God wants ultimately to heal your heart, and whether he heals your marriage or not, he wants you to know that He is enough. If you have experienced heartache in your marriage, know that God’s heart aches with you.

I feel like I could go on and on, but maybe that’s for another time.  Let me leave you with a verse I clung to on my darkest days, a verse that still sits on a tear-stained 3x5 card on my mirror.

 

“Lord, people find the will to live because you keep your promises.  And my spirit also finds life in your promises. You brought me back to health.  You let me live. I’m sure it was for my benefit that I suffered such great pain. You love me.  You kept me from going down into the pit of death. You have put all of my sins behind your back.” Isaiah 38:16-17 (NIRV).

 
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