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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On the other side of conflict with God...

Written by Jenna Brown

We've all been there... in a situation where the conflict feels overwhelmingly too close for comfort.

This thought has me wrecked this morning...

"On the other side of conflict is intimacy"

Have you ever been in the middle of an argument with your spouse, significant other, or just someone in general.. where things are SO heated, and for that split second (which could last days...) you are wondering why you ever got yourself into this relationship? For those 10 seconds, you outta there. you're trying to run and never be in this situation again? 

But have you ever stayed and pushed through?

Did you see their perspective?

Did you eventually see their heart?

Did you experience intimacy in that relationship afterward?

 

Why?

Because you see another part of them. You see another angle of their heart or their brokenness that draws you to compassion. You gain perspective. You fight through the conflict and the desire to run to the hills, and intimacy is established.

 

Recently, I have been wrestling with different aspects of God's character. Things, I just cannot understand. Ive been angry, Ive been hurt and confused, and I've been disappointed. Honestly, I've been doing a ton of projecting the brokenness I experienced in my life onto the Father heart of God. Because we, as humans project the brokenness we have experienced from PEOPLE onto the heart of GOD. Why? Because people are supposed to be image bearers of God. He has given the ability to show us who he is. He's given that over even more specifically to mothers and fathers to show his heart, to show his character.. and we know that the enemy has come to steal kill and destroy that for Many of us...

This morning, as I sat in my prayer closet, I turned on a song, and part of the intro to the song she said... "You cannot have intimacy without conflict". and it hit me.

So many spaces in my life I have walked into intense conflict with God.

I wrestle on the daily sometimes with deep concepts, spiritual truths, and the effects of what I believe. I think through systems, and brokenness, and institutional mess, and its... suffocating sometimes.

And as I sat in one of those spaces this morning, God reminded me.. he gave me a very specific picture.

When I am running, and I want to quit, I have this moment where my body catches up to what its doing, when it gets achy and tired, and then where my mind starts saying "you can just quit, you can just start walking, its okay.. you got here, you ran, its fine to just slow down a bit"... and then I hear the Lord say "Push through...".

And I will. Ill push through. If on the treadmill, ill crank up that baby to a sprint, and I'll laugh in the face of the enemy. If on pavement Ill make my destination point further and run harder. 

AND THEN WHAT HAPPENS?

Breakthrough.

I'll feel the "runner's high" ... which side note, im not telling you to go be addicted to runners high... But it feels amazing. To feel like you want to give up... and in the face of it, run harder than you've ever ran before. Breakthrough is in that.

 

So in conflict my friend

Whether its with your friend, your family member, your spouse or significant other, or with God.

Push through.

 

FEAR is going to tell you that its unsafe there.

Fear will tell you that you may ruin the relationship for ever. FEAR will tell you that you may lose yourself there in the midst of the conflict. That you may lose your faith. 

Trust me,

I see this often as I work so closely with familial relationships and the heavy amount of dysfunction within the family unit. The reason why people wont press in, wont get counsel, wont get out.. is always because of Fear. They are afraid that they wont make it through. They are afraid of the pain, of the darkness.

 

Oh friends,

If only we weren't afraid of conflict.

On the other side of conflict, there is intimacy.

To be honest... with your relationships in your life.. there is a possibility that it could end in separation, in divorce even, in the break of a friendship.

BUT with God... if you are wrestling with the God of the universe... take heart friend.

"even when we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself."

That is the truth.

If you're faithless, he'll remain faithful. He can't not. If he stopped being faithful to you, he would deny himself, and wouldn't be God.

 

So for you friend, the one who wont even go into a space of asking a question of God because you are afraid that you are dumb or misunderstood, or lacking. Just do it. Jesus invites us into places of conflict within ourselves.. so that GOD himself can resolve his true character within us.

He is in the process of restoring all things back to himself.

The Father invites us into the places of conflict within us, because he knows that there is intimacy on the other side. 

Part of my covenant with God... is that I will enter into the places that he leads. After all, he is lord of my life. If he leads me into places of testing, if he leads me into places of discipline, if he leads me into places of hardship... I choose to trust him. I enter into the conflicting parts of me that he is all about resolving and restoring back to his heart and original intent for me. Why?

Because I have tasted, and seen the intimacy before.

I know he is good.

I know he is worth it.

The runners high, has nothing on the spiritual intimacy that is established with God as I continue to say yes and run deeper and faster into his arms and heart. I AM NOT AFRAID that God is going to let me down. I AM NOT AFRAID that he wont show up, he ALWAYS does. I AM NOT AFRAID of my questions, they are nothing that he hasn't already resolved within himself. 

 

DO not let fear absolve you from entering into a space of conflict.

Whether thats with another individual, or within your marriage, or within your relationship with God.

on the other side of conflict, if we run through it, if we persevere... we will have breakthrough.

We will go farther than we went the last time.

We will be proud of our results....

But ultimately, we will be intimate.

Dear friend. The original intent of God for his creation was intimacy with him. The work that Jesus did on the cross, when he came to destroy the works of the enemy, and restore all that which was lost, was to restore us back to the Father heart of God. TO RECONCILE us back to the heart of the Father, and his heart of intention for our lives. 

The things that hold us back from that?

Fear that God is another name for evil.

A misunderstanding of his Father's heart for us.

A lack of faith to walk through the conflict.

An unbelief that we project onto God from the hurt and wounds others have given us on earth.

 

Lets just sit for a moment.

Lets just cast those away.

And lets stop pushing away the conflict.

Stop filling our lives with distraction.

Stop avoiding the conflicting questions within our spirit.

Lets go into them.

And when we go in.

Let's invite God into them...

Let's ask God to show us who he really is.

 

He will show up.

He will establish intimacy.

He loves showing up for his kids.

He LOVES revealing his heart and his nature of who he is.

 

Lets be a generation that is INTIMATE with our Father, that isn't afraid to run to him instead of run away from him.. or even run at all. LETS RUN hard, and deep and fast into that love. and know that on the other side of conflict.. there is INTIMACY like we've never tasted yet.

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Hanging on the edge? Go ahead... jump off!

Written by Jenna Brown

I got to hang out with a bunch of amazing foster and adoptive parents last night, and a whole bunch of people who are interested.

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It's pretty much my fave... 

Heres why,

 

In the book of James (in the Bible) we are called as believers to look after the orphan and the widow, and remember them in their time of distress. We are told that THIS is pure and spotless religion.

For some that means supporting the foster and adoptive families....

and for many that means, 

Jumping over the edge into the straight up world of foster and adoption care.

(yes it is kind of another world...)

 

I was so encouraged sitting with this group of people, with their real stories, their real questions, and it just truly blew me away.

God is moving his sons and daughters to action.

He is. 

And I GET a front row seat.

 

So much of what we do at The Nest is create the space, create the culture, create the environment for the spirit of God to move. 

So much of what we do is facilitate that movement, that space, that growth, and encourage it by fanning that flame into straight up fire and passion.

 

Friend, if you are on the fence about foster care and or adoption can I fan that flame a little bit?

 

Here's the thing....

It wont be easy.

No, I am not just saying that.. like seriously it will not be easy.

You will be ruined for normal.

Like... forever.

And thats amazing.

 

Its scary, I know. 

but its scarier to say no to Jesus when he is prompting you.

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Many people who start organizations/ ministries will tell you that they believe that God was putting their ministry they are called to on the hearts of many others that said "no", before they were the ones who said "yes".

We automatically think "oh of course that has to be me" because we are the one that is chosen for the task.

Which is true, in part.

 

But what is also true, is that if you say "no". God WILL find someone else.

His heart is more dedicated to the orphans of summit county than yours will EVER be.

His heart is more dedicated to the reunification of family than any social workers.

His heart is more concerned about the child in the orphanage in Russia than yours is, I promise.

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This summer, our friends and some of our family went to the AZUSA NOW CLEVELAND event at the Q arena. 

At this two day event we saw hundreds of people come to Jesus, we saw hundreds of people healed from physical ailments in their bodies, and we saw and experienced the POWER OF GOD. I mean there are things, that I Just cant tell you through a blog friend (ask me in person).  

It was the birth place of something that will carry on through Akron and this nation to revive the body of Christ.

I had a moment, while I was there of profound impact.

A moment that marked me.

I remember looking up at the stage at these INCREDIBLE men and women of God and was overwhelmed. I was humbled. I was marked. I was changed.

I had this moment of realization that men and women have been praying into, have been speaking over, have been believing for revival for Akron and God's people here WAY LONGER THAN I HAVE EVEN BEEN ALIVE.

I had this second part of this revelation, where I realized that GOD WAS GOING TO DO WHAT HE WANTED TO DO... and I GOT TO DECIDE IF I WANTED TO DO IT WITH HIM OR NOT.

It was a profound wave that was just so "other than" me, or any other person there.

IT was truly a move of God and there was this moment, where I was just like.. God is going to do this. He is going to restore his people and revive his church and bring his kingdom on to earth. 

 

And then that second part came up for me in question form.

 

Do I want to be a part of it?

It was so peaceful. 

Peaceful to realize that God would do it with or without me.

It took the burden off of me, and instead, simply handed me an invitation...

He wasn't holding me down forcing me to agree to his ways and plans and run a ministry until I die. He was just inviting me into something that was SO much bigger than me. A movement of saints that were on mission to awaken the church, restore his bride, and make his name known throughout the earth.

It was an awesome experience sure, 

but ultimately it was an invitation.

Into the army of Christ.

Into the body of something way bigger than myself.

 

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And this, my friends is a lot of what I think is missing in the world of foster and adoptive care.

It can either become its own niche where its almost like a prideful jaunt that if you are fostering than you "really get the gospel" or .. it can become very very lonely and isolated.

Neither of those do I see the Jesus insinuating when he asks us if we want to be fishers of men.

 

Its an invitation to ways that are like his.

Its an invitation to a front row seat of knowing our Fathers heart.

Its an invitation to suffering that looks a lot like his.

Its an invitation to sacrifice.

Its an invitation to the Kingdom of God.

Its an invitation ultimately to what we were made for.

 

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My friends,

God will continue to care for the orphan, WITH or WITHOUT you. You aren't the main player in this space. Jesus is.

BUT...

How incredible would it be if you said yes?

How hard it would be, yes. But HOW INCREDIBLE would it be to get a front row seat to the Father's heart in this way?

Regardless, of what it means to answer the call to love the orphan for you,

I just want to encourage you.

God loves orphans with or without you.

You simply GET TO be a part of his heart with him.

 

 

“There are no unwanted children. Just unfound families.” -Anonymous