Posts in parenting
PRUNING: When you cant see the big picture... rely on the one who does

Written by Jenna Brown

"We're coming out of a pruning season"- My coin phrase for the past 6 months. 

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I could stop there. It would be easy to stop there, and leave it at that. I've struggled to write in the past 6 months (hence the empty blog). But I cant. I know there is a message here, one to be shared, and one that will be an encouragement to many.

If you are familiar with The Bible, you will know that gardening analogies are all over the place in that thing, and it’s AMAZINGLY HELPFUL IN PRUNING SEASONS (just saying).

About 8 months ago every time I opened my Bible, it seemed to mysteriously open to gardening stories. Passages about "being connected to the vine" or "watering" or "seasons".

I've walked with God for 9 years now, so I know a bit about how he tries to tell me things.... it started to grab my attention.

"Alright God, Gardening is a thing for me now..."

If you've ever met me, I'm an "all in" kind of person.. so this would explain my next course of action...

I went home and told my husband I would plant a garden.

He reminded me that I haven’t kept more than an aloe plant alive for a year.. But I pressed on.

Rude.

And

Correct.

So, I asked my neighbor who is legitimately the most amazing gardener  (you should see our houses next to one another.. HA), if she would help me garden this year.

I also thought maybe it meant that we would have a community garden at The Nest (still do), and so I met in person with the local "master gardeners of the city in Akron" <-- yes that is a thing! They're incredible!

I read gardening books.

I started a gardening notebook and goal planning thing.

I had a gardening pinterest board.

But guys...

I never actually ended up planting a garden.

 

Want to know why?

I learned about how much PREP work goes into having a garden.

How much you have to know.

How much you learn along the way.

How much you have to plan for.

And how much tending work needs to be done.

 

AND THEN, in the midst of my planning,  I saw the connection.

God was speaking to me about gardening, because I had a garden I was tending at The Nest... one that he was showing me how to plan properly for what was ahead.

STEPS OF GARDENING:

PREP WORK: PLANNING

(side note: I literally just heard my dad’s voice say... "Miss (his pet name for me), 80% of the work is prep work... you gotta do it right, or else you won’t get the end goal you want)

1) Decide where Garden bed is going to be.

2) Decide what plants you want and what grows best next to one another.

3) Buy your plants and seeds, soil, fertilizer, and tools.

 

WORKING

4) The soil get’s tilled, manure is added, other things are added to it (I told you I’m not a professional.. yet).

5) The seeds are planted

6) Water the seeds

 

WAITING

(this is the part where I was at my friends when it came to The Nest.. the lovely waiting game)

6) The roots grow.

7) The shoots grow.

8) They sprout… YAY

9) They're pretty to look at, so you stare at them in pride.

10) You water them.

11) You fertilize them.

12) You tend to the whole garden by pulling the weeds that grew up like crazy when you fertilized.

13) You prune the large plants, pull off fruit and veggies here and there so that the nutrients can keep distributing properly throughout the plant

 

THE PRUNING::: (keep going)....

14) The pruned bed looks bare, weird, and kind of like you just did a step backwards when you just had a huge beautiful garden bed

15) You fertilize again

16) The garden is watered

 

And then.. (before the harvest)... Here's the big point:

YOU REALIZE YOU ARE A GARDENER.

 

 

You see, anyone can plant a garden and see the initial thing grow up the first time. It’s the ones who are willing to take the time to prune, to stick it out for the end goal, that are called gardeners.

Maybe it is weird that I am writing about this as we enter into fall, where everything beautiful dies slowly, we can all of our veggies and fruits, and get snuggly inside. Or maybe it’s not weird at all.

I think gardening is a skill, a talent, a patience analogy that is used over and over again biblically for a reason.

Maybe it’s exactly where you're supposed to be as you wonder what the HECK is happening in your life, as I just so happen to feel led to talk about pruning.

Because here's the thing.

PRUNING SUCKS.

BUT GOD LOVES EVERY PERSON THAT IS PRUNED. You know how I know?

 

John 15:2
“"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me."
&& this:
Hebrews 12:6
"because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
 

SIX MONTHS AGO I was sitting on my kitchen floor, weeping, asking God if he wanted me to close The Nest. 

The past 4 months have been the most excruciating seasons of my life in personal relationships.

The past 10 weeks have been series after series of hard conversations in multiple spheres of my life.

I have spent numerous hours working, planning, strategizing, and PRAYING on my face about what to do in various situations at, around, and in The Nest.

8 weeks ago my husband felt like in the midst of what felt like death all around me, that he was supposed to quit his job and work full time as business manager at The Nest. Convenient. So we currently are raising support in the ministry we do here in Akron and Ellet, all while everything seemed to be "failing" around us.

I almost freaked out. Because it was all too much. It was all so lonely and terrifying, with so much change on the horizon, and I saw nothing except death around me.

 

AND then. I remembered the seasons.

This garden thing that kept popping up.

Perfect timing.

I remembered what happens after the pruning.

I fell on my face in gratitude that God these entire past months, had been preparing me for what was ahead. He was speaking over and over hoping that I would trust in the harvest, trust in the promise of his faithfulness, That I'd be quick to obey, without delay.

Dear friends, if you are in a pruning season. I NEED TO TELL YOU.. its for purpose.

 

To many of us have sought out to make the God of the universe in OUR image, instead of submitting and allowing the GOD of the universe fashion us into HIS image.

 

Do not be afraid.

He does everything with purpose, and if it's something that wasn't in his design for you.. he will bring purpose OUT of it if you let him.

He’s more intricately involved in the details of your life than you could ever imagine.

 

Our pruning season at The Nest..

Was an entire summer dedicated to seemingly one million behind the scenes conversations, gigantic sticky notes up on the wall of all the issues, solutions, strategies and possibilities you could ever imagine.

We talked merger with other organizations.

We talked selling our building.

I cried, and shook. I was angry and sad. I lamented, and felt lost a lot of the time.

There are things I cannot even mention in a blog post, that I went through leading this organization this summer, that if someone told me 4.5 years ago I would have to do, I would have NEVER said yes.

BUT YOU GUYS. I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR THE PRUNING SEASONS.

ALL THE THINGS THAT ARE SUCKING THE GOOD NUTRIENTS THAT AREN’T NECESSARY, DIE IN YOU WHEN YOU TURN TO JESUS.

IT CAUSES YOU TO EXAMINE THE ROOT OF YOUR PLANT

IT CAUSES YOU TO QUESTION THROWING THE WHOLE GARDEN OUT AND STARTING AGAIN NEXT YEAR BECAUSE IT LOOKS SO UGLY.

 

It’s the best space to be. 

In pruning, you are at the mercy, at the very hands of the true MASTER Gardener.

He is the BEST pruner.

He knows what needs to go, and he knows what needs to stay.

He cuts the withering leaves off with gentleness, and care.

And he waters at just the right times.

He fertilizes with the best nutrients,

and HE HAS THE VISION in his head of the END result.

The finished garden.

THE HARVEST.

For those of you who have ears to hear this, the point of what I am saying.. HEAR IT, because in the midst of what felt like death all around me….

THINGS shifted.

The big vision came.

 

In the pruning season, the shift is never the moment you "start to see the shoot come out of the ground".

Because "blessed are those who believe without seeing".

The shift.. is in your heart, friend.

When you realize you GET TO join in your master's work. That you also GET TO plant a garden. And you GET TO learn from the BEST master gardener in all of the land.

That even though when you see a bed full of dirt, worms, a few weeds, and... nothing else, you keep watering.

WHY?

Because you remember that you planted seeds all over that thing.

That you tilled that soil faithfully.

That you put the good stuff in there to make it grow.

So now you water, and you wait.

The pruning season in life... feels a lot like that.

Going back to the bare ground with tiny little shoots in it.

Making sure that soil is nutrient rich.

That you've prepared yourself for the "vision" that this is going to take awhile for the seeds to sprout and come out of the ground... but sure enough your vision stands firm. You WILL have a garden.

This vision is what drives you to water everyday.

This is what drives you to weed.

This vision is what drives you.

 

That was my summer.

In my garden called The Nest.

Back at the bare ground/ soil with my faithful shoots.

Soil being tilled up, nutrients being poured back in.

Planting seeds like a mad woman.

Watering it day and night. Waiting for the shoots to come up like God promised they would.

 

The perspective shift. Is never the moment you see it all happening.

It’s before that.

It’s the moment where you believed that it would come to life like it always does.

This summer, as an organization, we cut some services, some classes, some programs at The Nest. We kept our CORE main groups, the exact same that they've always been, and spent time investing in our leaders.

This summer we also refocused our attention on an entire section of The Nest that was lacking. Our ability to train and pour into leaders who are Christians at The Nest was struggling. Giving good training to share the hope that they have in Jesus with those around them in non threatening but real ways, became a priority again.

This summer we changed our official documented filing to religious at The Nest allowing us to do both A & B effectively to serve all groups of people who are coming to The Nest where they are at.

This summer we cried and pounded our heads into walls a lot.

This summer I had a lot of tears I was fighting back as I watched things die that I had spent hours and years helping create.

 

BUT GUESS WHAT.

This summer I also saw a team of leaders who are SO grounded be SO excited about where The Nest is headed, and more all in than I've ever had with a team before.

This summer we saw people get healed from physical illnesses and mental illness through the name of Jesus.

This summer we led a few friends to relationship with Christ :)

This summer WE GOT TO dedicate our time to hear God's heart for The Nest, and what he was actually going to do, and where we were headed.

This summer we teamed up with YWAM akron as a couple (Brandon and I), in hopes to bring deeper further training in the future to our families ministering to the heart of Jesus every day at The Nest.

 

I've never felt so stripped down in my entire life of myself than this summer... in ALL of the ways that I needed.

AND

I've also never felt SO sure that the season we are headed into is one of absolute favor, provision, freedom, the miraculous all around us, and that a movement is being birthed right here in the midst of the bare soil with tiny shoots.

Months ago, God gave me that vision of the garden. Before we ever started being pruned away.

Why?

Because he's a good Father, and he always wants to speak.

Are we listening?

 

So my friends, as we close out a season of pruning and we THANK GOD for his discipline, his pruning, and his heart to get us to rely on him... we encourage you.

In the midst of the bare ground.

Can you take a step back?

Can you see the big picture of what he’s doing in your life?

If it feels like he's "taking away" , he may be.

But rest assured in the "big picture" of the garden.

That the soil has been tilled.

The fertilizer is in.

The seeds will be planted if you "say yes" even in this dark season

and the refreshing water will cause them to sprout up and grow.

 

Fun fact? for those of you who have been around The Nest for the past 4.5 years, you know that we have been all about Isaiah 61.... have you ever caught what the ending statement of that chapter is?

 

" For as the soil makes the sprout come up

   and a garden causes seeds to grow,

so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness

   and praise spring up before all nations."

Isaiah 61: 11

 

 

Knowing my Father's voice.

Written by Jenna Brown

It's still imprinted on my mind.

"So much of the woman's journey is doing things that are  unnatural for her. That, to me, is what The Proverbs 31 woman is. She does things that both come naturally, and do not come naturally. Just as my wife cried as she leaked from her breast sitting at his grave. Because she was still nursing our fourteen month old son when he died."

These words wrecked me this weekend that I experienced at The Nest's annual Christmas tea.

And the thoughts have been swirling,

"what does it mean to lean into the things that I am naturally gifted in? and the things that are down right unnatural for me..."

 

Magic happened this past Saturday that was so much more than a pretty tea with fancy clothes, and fancy food.

Healing happened.

I could have never planned for it to have the effect that it did, although I know the one who did.

Months ago God put it on my heart to move in a direction with this annual event that hosts 100 women, to talk about the Proverbs 31 woman. To instill hope and identity in a group of people whom have listened to culture, other's voices for far too long.

To draw them back to their creators voice.

To their Father.

 

Why?

Because he's done that for me this year.

A year that started out in the pure glory and joy of bringing my daughter into this world through birth. A story that could have been like the story of my first. One filled with trauma, angst, near death, pain, sorrow. Instead... it was a story of healing, of miracle, of joy, of purity.

I say often Reyna Jean is a song over my life.

Because her life is a literal reminder of how intimately involved my Father in heaven is in my life.

That he isn't a distant God.

That he knows my inmost needs, desires, and heart.

That he has not allowed suffering in my life for no purpose.

"so much of a woman's life

is doing what feels unnatural"

 

Whats natural to you, may not be whats natural for me.

Natural for Jenna = working, passion, moving and shaking, change, busy, relationship, conversation, one on one time, prophetic voice.

Unnatural for Jenna = mothering my small children, homemaking, being present, being still, saying no, trusting others to do something I want to do, small moments, large groups of people.

 

Women naturally live our life in seasons.

Seasons of nurturing, working, living, hosting, dreaming, imparting.

Seasons.

Seasons of truth, struggle, perseverance, loneliness, fulfillment

Seasons.

 

I've been in a season this year of remembering what my Father's voice sounds like.

That he tells me I am enough.

That he made me the way I am on purpose.

That he didn't give me this mission for family in spite of me, but because I am me.

That he has gone before me.

That I can fully and confidently trust in him.

To listen to the one who reminds me to be bold.

To listen to the one who reminds me to call people back to who they originally are.

To listen to the one who binds up the brokenhearted.

To obey the one who sets the oppressed free from the struggles in their mind.

 

I was more than thrilled about our Christmas Tea on Saturday.

Not because of the amount of money we made, which we did better than any other tea we have had in the past!

BUT because of the honor and dignity that was placed back onto us as women this day.

 

By our speakers who all five brought to light how utterly different they were created.

But that they were created on purpose.

And they were supposed to live in that specific purpose.

 

Healing happened and started on this day.

A day of reminding ourselves that we were on purpose.

 

Do you know who's voice that really was on Saturday?

Not just the voice of Judge Todd McKinney as he prayed, or the voices of the other AMAZING women who spoke.... but the voice of our Father himself through them.

 

I don't know if you are in a season of Natural or Unnatural.

Regardless, take heart dear one.

I've been in both.

And he is in BOTH.

 

Why your #GivingTuesday should be at The Nest!
Written by Jenna Brown

I find it ironic that all of American Humanity waits until the Tuesday after the busiest shopping day of the year in stores, and then online... to host #givingtuesday.... a day of giving to organizations and non profits and churches.... right when we've emptied out our pockets on more things we probably didn't need..all because they were 30% off and we JUST COULDN'T PASS UP THAT DEAL. Okay, end rant ;)

Okay... so seriously. Why should you chose The Nest to give to for #givingtuesday?

I'll give you 5 reasons why... starting at number,

 

FIVE

5. Tax Purposes- Okay. maybe this is number 5 only on my list because I am the least "taxy" person ever. and the fact that I just said the word Taxy... probably proves it. BUT its true. Giving through the year of 2016 is almost over. Each and every donation given, is a tax deduction for the filing of your taxes this upcoming year! This is a great opportunity to give as a business, as an individual, or a couple! Give to a cause you believe in, and get a kickback for it on your taxes! #dontmindifido #givingtuesday

 

FOUR

4. Our funding is limited- So maybe not what you want to hear... but I am going to just say it how it is. The Nest is a baby organization. 3 years in the running. We are new to the line of "non profits" in the Akron area serving moms and families. HOWEVER, there is no one that does quite what we do rather on the medical side of things, religious side of things, or social service side of things. We are kind of .. all of those in one... reaching an audience that is barely touched without emptying out their pockets and life savings.

Our target audience is lower to lower middle class moms and families. People who are typically above poverty line. I don't say that to be prideful, I just say it to be honest. There is a HUGE amount of resources in Akron Ohio for those who are in poverty. I LOVE that about Akron, truly I do. It blows me away at every networking event that I attend the amount of resources available for mothers and families in poverty class. And if thats you momma, reach out! No shame here! There are so many things that are at your fingertips!

However, in three years.. I have come to realize that moms and families in the lower middle working class, are not a cause to the majority. Christian or not, we just don't look broken. After all, how many needs can you have, when you essentially have "everything?" 

JK. there are so many. 

How do we help meet those needs?

Mental health resources, non- biased support groups, support for the foster and adoptive parents, empowerment, did I say support?, community, breastfeeding support, grief support, marriage empowerment, etc.

So when we are asked how we are funded... I typically answer this way! Rarely do we get grants awarded, rarely do we receive government funding, rarely do we receive church support.. and 90% of our funding comes from individual donors and fundraisers at this point! It's something I love that we continue to operate by the goodwill, donations, and support of those who are part of our programs, outsiders looking in, and people who genuinely wish they would have had support as young and growing families.

 

THREE

3. This part is the part that appeals to our christian, faith believing friends. It is no secret that The Nest is founded and operated on Christian values. These are the values of our founder, board of directors, and those running and administrating our programming. No one is weirder about this than christians.. so let me clear some things up for ya! ;) We view ourselves as the hands and feet of Jesus. Meaning... we are quite literally out there doing the work. Pouring into marriages, relationships, kids lives, families, and broken realities. We are working towards a different future for the next generation (PS that is our kids). We believe that the sphere of FAMILY is a sphere that is of utmost importance to God.. after all the thing that he created and said that it was VERY good?... By the way, that was the original family. *drops the mic*

I have seen through the years as we walk in relationship with those who believe differently than us, and the same as us.. values the same things.  Values of love, humility, honor, respect, genuineness, openness, inclusiveness, authenticity, and grace translate into everyone's life. Why? BECAUSE WE ALL WANT THAT. yep. we do.

SO. church goers. While I love you, please understand that we are not your competition. We are just a different extension of the church body. We are approaching the reality of our world in a different way as believers. In a way that doesn't say "come to us" but ... let us come to you. In a way that looks like breastfeeding support for a new and vulnerable mom, arms of a hug after losing a baby, a poker game of dudes on a Friday night.. and real authentic relationship in our living rooms and in our building. Not an us and  them, but an US. a WE. A I need you too. Its pretty beautiful to be honest. The people who never would come into your doors for fear of being judged? they're sitting on our couches... and we LOVE it this way. Support us in this! We NEED your support to keep on doing what we feel we are meant to do in our community, and in the lives of families around us. 

 

TWO

2. Well, Because families matter. As most of you know we originally started out as The Mother's Nest, an organization committed to the support specifically for moms. What we have learnt through our time targeting and loving on mommas and kiddos... is that the WHOLE family is really in need of support, empowerment, and community.

Strategy here? Moms are the gateway to the family. Am I right? 99% of mothers control the families schedules. (i made that number up, so if you google is and it's different, holler at your girl).

Dads need support to be providers, leaders of their family, lovers of their wives, empowering of their children.  Moms need support to be nurturers, meet needs, whether working, staying at home, or all of the above. Kiddos? Need support to be them. FAMILIES? we need support to just be in this world in whatever form we come in. Whatever race, religion, denomination, we just need support. Love. Non judgment.

In a world of A MILLION opinions... coming to a place that throws opinions aside, and instead loves... is a RARE-ity. Brokenness in families is something we are SO accustomed to in our culture.. it doesn't even phase us anymore. Why do we all say... "well we all have our family baggage..." like its something that is expected, and okay? ITS NOT OKAY. I do not want that for my children. For one day them to sit in a room of broken individuals all pretending like they have it together, googling how to parent rather than trusting their instincts and beliefs. To sit in meetings where each and every person's parents are divorced, lives filled and riddled with abandonment, neglect, abuse, co-dependency, adultery.  Let's STOP the cycle HERE friends.

Let's invest into the sphere of FAMILY.

 

ONE

1. Help us expand to THE NEST.

As stated earlier, we have operated as The Mother's Nest until THIS year. This specific #givingtuesday we are asking that you would pray and consider donating towards the finishing of our BASEMENT floor of The Nest. Why? BECAUSE this is where our children's programming will be held, as well as our men's programming!

Our building consists of three floors, two of which are completely remodeled for use. We currently have our kiddos upstairs, but are rapidly outgrowing the space! Our next reality as we continue to expand to The NEST is to fully operate and expand to serve the entire family. Currently, we serve moms SUPER well. Dads? Not so much. Kiddos... getting there! BUT in order to fully operate and maximize the use of our building, and completely live out our mission as an organization and individuals, we need to finish our basement! Our vision is to create an amazing play place for kiddos, and an awesome "dude's den" for the dads! Equipped with a pool table (already in my garage), dude couches, and minimum "decor" (as requested from my hubs). 

This project? Easily is our most extensive project to date. Our basement is completely gutted (has been for 2 years), but need new walls, floors leveled, a new bathroom, drywalls, drop ceiling, new wiring and pot lighting, children's activity center, and doors up to code and date. This will all cost total estimated around $35,000 in total if done by professionals (but good thing we have handy men in business, so we are seeking to raise $6,000 to get the project started!

Here are a few pictures of what we are thinking for inspiration!!!

 

 

Would you consider partnering with us in this way?!

OH AND a fun little surprise! We have a little promo (if you are okay with it!) and public thanks for our levels of donations! But PLEASE know that literally, EVERYTHING helps! 

 

 

No Complain November!!

To be honest, it's pretty much the most ironic thing in the world that I opened up my computer this morning and saw that it was November 1.

It's tradition, for me that I spend the month of November reflecting on gratitude and practicing the art of being thankful. I'm obsessed with November, and Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday! 

Funny thing about the Thanksgiving season...  it Is also the season where Cold weather kicks in, kids start to get sick, money starts to get tight, moods start to get... Moody?, we start to feel fat and pale, Family drama arises... And it's just so much fun to complain!

This is why I challenge you, and myself, to dedicate this month..

To Gratitude.

Here's the thing though, so many of us Think that being thankful means we write Down 10 things we are grateful for, and call it a day.

The reality is... Our are kids are watching us. If you ever wonder why your kid is a complainer, whiny, or being a turd ball... First action, look in the mirror. 

The funny thing is... When you "Give up" complaining... All the complaining from everyone else sticks out like a sore thumb, and then you realize, how much we as people complain. SO you will also get to practice your GRACE ;)

 

So here's my challenge...

Dedicate one month...

Yes, one entire month

To give up... Complaining!

I'm not even asking you to give up something good like chocolate... I'm asking you to give up something that kills your spirit.

 

Best part?

I'm in this with you.

Ironic part?

I broke my right arm on Saturday... and cant do much of anything without wanting to complain. ;)

 

Lets do this, and let's see how it changes our hearts and our families.

 

Who's with me?

 

 

***Some practicals***

-make a star chart for yourself for each day you go without complaining(Fun fact:: you can include your kids on this t00)

-give yourself a Prize at the end of each week or at the end of the month! Starbucks anyone? Trip to target? Pedicure that you would never spend on yourself? Do it. Work for it.

 

Now finally,

For all the naysayers out there...

I'm confronting you.

You don't want to do this, but you of all people, probably should. The person who resisted this the most... Is legitimately holding on to their complaining and negative spirit.. So just do it with me! Try it. If I can do this with a broken arm, you can do this too!

Comment below if you're in, and We'll hold each other accountable throughout the month! 

Here we go!