Posts in suffering
Birthed a Baby and a Vision..
Written by Jenna Brown

Its been four years my friends.

Four years ago, my firstborn biological Son came into the world.. and simultaneously God birthed a vision in me (Jenna, founder of The Nest), for this place.

I am sitting here today in the office.. kind of in awe.

Like what in the world, how did we get here?

How do we have a non-profit, serve hundreds of families, own a building, and are changing the way people look at care for a mother, a family, and children?

WHAT IN THE WORLD.

I am in awe.

 "God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, he's so good to me". - the song on repeat in my head today.

 

Four years ago, My Hylan was born, and through a traumatic and near death experience, I begged the Lord, the exact words... "please God, don't that be the last time I hold my son." 

The picture above is the moment he was born, i DID get to hold him, and within minutes he was taken as I fought for my life.

If i close my eyes long enough, I can remember every nano-second of that experience.

Every emotion, every reality, that now seems so distant and far off in the whirlwind of life.

Trauma is crazy like that. How your brain protects itself, but also can bring you straight back to that place if triggered, either by chance or by your own will.

Sometimes, it's healthy for me to go back there. To remember where I was, and where I've been.

To have perspective on birth, new motherhood, struggle, depression, and sheer exhaustion.

 

 

And all I can do, four years later, when I look back is just sit in awe.

and say.. what in the world!?

I literally had no idea.

I had NO idea.

you guys.. I HAD NO IDEA.

^you get the point

Slash.. i don't think I would have ever said YES if God had given me the big picture right then.

"Oh, Jenna BTW I am gonna allow you to go through really immense pain, like literally your organs will fall out, you'll want to die you are in so much pain, then you'll go through struggles to bond, ptsd, depression... but don't worry sweets, you will come out on top. you'll be healed. I promise.. and then you'll catalyst a vision for this thing I've had in the works for awhile.. its called The Nest."

uhm. no gracias senor.

I would have been like... eh you can try the lady in the room next door, I am not really feelin it.

I'd like to have an easy delivery, recovery period... and actually, i want to live overseas! not two doors down from my parents dedicated to the town i grew up in my whole life. ;)

 

Oh... I love God.

He knows what we need, who we are, and what we were built to withstand so much more than we do.

Seriously, if he gave us the full picture of life, we would be scared to death. I mean... you guys, I STILL feel this way. I feel like this is still the beginning of the picture. I maybe see like 20% of it? and I am a VISIONARY by NATURE. I'm scared for what this blog will say in 4 years from NOW.

All to say.

 

I don't know your circumstances friend.

I don't even know what season of life you are in.

 

BUT I DO KNOW THIS.

God is moving. He's searching for people willing to say yes. Yes to everything he has.. not just parts of it. (Ps that includes suffering, because in our suffering we also show his glory!)

One of the sweetest thoughts I have often, is what God thought of me during that time. How did he respond to my pain, anguish, suffering, and cries for help from him? Did he cry? Did he hold my hand through those around me? Probably.

But the thing I feel the most?

Is that he believed in me.

he trusted me with his vision for moms and for families.


I see that as a parent, because I feel that for my children. All four of them. My youngest of the two oldest adopted.. I genuinely believe in him. He's on his own right now, struggling through life.. but I believe in him. I KNOW that he can do this. I KNOW that he can come out on top... but at the same time.. I am not right up in his business through it all. Actually, we don't even talk at all. I pray behind the scenes. I move heaven and earth in my prayers (did you know you can do that?) , and I believe with all of my might when everything otherwise tells me not to.

"don't you know.. the teacher is always quiet during the test?" (one of my favorite phrases)

Someone told me not too long ago, when this weary Jenna sat down with him to explain how I wasn't sure I could keep going, keep doing this, keep pioneering a vision that I wasn't even sure of in its fullness....

"Oh, sweetie. God didn't give you this vision IN SPITE of you.. he gave it to you BECAUSE YOU ARE YOU".

Cue all of the tears.

 

It's not weird for me, even one bit, to tell you that God believed in me.

Or even to tell you that he's my biggest fan, and cheering me on.

Not because of Me... or because at the end of the day Jenna will be the best.

But because he uses us, for his glory.

It's the HIM in ME that he is cheering on.

Because he is BEAUTIFUL in the way he brings things full circle. 

Because he is faithful, even when we are not..  cannot, have not, and do not.

Because he is just, and right, and realer than the two shoes that are on my feet.

 

I reflect on these past four years.

And Im in awe.

I am humbled by the pain we've went through.

I am humbled by the surrender we've HAD to go through.

I am encouraged by the PEOPLE who came alongside us in and out of every season to support this vision and dream God gave me.

I am propelled by the vision he keeps giving us as a community piece by piece.

 

And now?

now.. I am headed home...

to my little boy, who still doesn't even know...

that this place, his FAVORITE place in the world (he says he wants to work at the Nest when he grows up).

Started through his life.

The nest was birthed at his birth. 

We just didn't know it yet.

This is HIS heritage.

And I just get to start it and dedicate parts of it to him.

 

WHAT IN THE WORLD.

full circle.

full awe.

full surrender.

 

 

 

 

 

When you're grieving silently...

Written by Jenna Brown

I've been reminded lately as we've entered into the season of "spring" and new hope arises,

how many are still in a stage of grief around me.

Grieving unborn babies, wayward children, parents who are no longer with us, and the list goes on.

 

This message, this is for the woman, the man, the friend, who is grieving silently. 

 

For the one whose community felt so close after the initial shock of the loss,

but now seems so far away.

The one who is struggling to get your feet on the ground in the morning, 

let alone be productive, and excited for a "new season" to come along.

Who feels as if spring is coming for everyone else,

but for you, your still stuck in the dead of winter.

 

This is just a reminder that you are not alone.

 

Last night, my oldest adopted kiddo (20) shared at our foster adoptive support group at The Nest, and the grief welled up inside me... i knew, unavoidable. 

Not the grief of his life. I literally rejoice every single day over this kid, and the ways God has healed him, the decisions he has made in the past year, and his future that is ever before him.

I grieve because my other one, the one locked in my heart.. is somewhere out there.. on his own.

 

The funny thing about grief, is that is comes in waves.

You grieve things that aren't even dead, did you know that?

 

Of course you grieve true death, and loss.

But you also grieve relationships that are broken, which you desperately want to be mended.

You grieve your idea of "parents" that maybe never was what it ended up being.

 

In life, no matter who you are, grief is unavoidable.

And grief has a way of coming around and welling up inside when we least expect it.

 

I don't really know how to explain to people anymore the place we are in with our youngest of our oldest 2 not with us physically. The traumatic shock of it is gone for everyone else, but sometimes it wells up and overtakes me without me noticing.

Grief.

Its weird like that.

 

But heres the thing. As we go into spring.. I recognize that only parts of my heart will remain in winter.

(this is a metaphor by the way).

As in, My heart will always be saddened when I think of the grief we've experienced in the past year and a half over our second oldest and the life he's chosen away from us.

My heart will always grieve for my oldest when he talks of his brother, and how a limb seems to be missing from him, from time to time.

The tears will ALWAYS come when my 4 year old asks "when is Logie coming home mommy?".. even though he hasn't lived in our physical house for over 2 years now.

 

Grief is inevitable when a person leaves.

Whether by choice, or not.

But there are waves.

There are parts of our hearts which carry on into spring, new blossom, new waves of excitement, new gifts, and new rejoicing.

And there are parts of our heart that stay in winter.

 

They ebb and flow, without regard to whats "convenient" to us.

 

And if I've learnt anything along the way in my small journey with grief, it's that there is hope in my heart for a future that is not yet seen.

One eternally, and one here on earth.

And to that, I cling, I long for, and I hope for.

Hope.

Im clinging to that with you today, friend.

No Small Loss Remembers My Loss

Written by Samantha Richardson 

My immaculate Kaydance was born on February 3, 2009. Seven pounds, nine ounces, she was perfect.

Expecting parents joke and say they don’t care what gender their baby is, as long as he or she is healthy. Well,

I loved Kaydance even though she wasn’t. 

At twenty weeks pregnant, we found out our soon-to- be little girl was being diagnosed with pulmonary atresia, a congenital heart defect in which the pulmonary valve does not form, obstructing blood flow from the heart to the lungs.

Its cause is unknown and rare, occurring in about 7-8 per 100,000 live births. With all the technology we have, the outcome is favorable.

I had an emergency caesarean section, after a failed pitocin drip. At 1:33 pm, my baby drew her first breath of air and was immediately taken to an adjoining OR room, where a breathing tube was inserted. I was moved to a recovery room, where we awaited the arrival of Kaydance. About forty-five minutes later, five people suited up in jumpers that read “Akron Children’s Transport Team”, came in pushing a box containing a sweet bundle of joy. I was able to slip my hand in the small opening provided to touch her for only a moment.

In that consequential moment, I saw the future, the upcoming fight that I would not give in to. 

As if taken from a movie scene, in one small and slow motion, the transport team moved my daughter out of the room, bound for the children’s hospital a mile away.

Over the next six weeks, Kaydance underwent three open heart surgeries, multiple “minor” surgeries, a bout with sepsis, and several cardiac arrests. When she was four-weeks- old, the children’s hospital said they couldn’t do any more for her and life-flighted her to the Cleveland Clinic to be put on the heart transplant list.

Kaydance suffered a stroke during the plane ride, but fortunately she was so young they didn’t think it would affect her long-term.

Luckily, Cleveland had one more idea before deciding she needed a new heart. That is when she underwent her third open heart surgery. Following the surgery, she began to see tremendous improvements.

It wouldn’t be long before we could take her home.

Then came March 20th .

I could sense something was wrong when I entered her room that morning. Kaydance had sepsis, again. She was on the highest volumes of medication and there is nothing more that could be done. This time she would not pull through. It was time to say goodbye. 

At 3:15am on March 21, Kaydance earned her wings. I held her as she went.

 

With the support of my family, and their arms locked around me, I found the courage to hold my head up, and walk down the hospital hall, one last time. 

I went home the next day, after not being there for six weeks. This was my home, but now it felt like a stranger’s.

Cards and flowers rained through my house, and I cried with every one.

A week after the funeral, the cards stopped and people were getting on with their lives. Here I was feeling as though my entire world was falling to pieces around me. How did I pick up the shattered fragments and continue breathing?

It wasn’t until I became pregnant with my second daughter in October of 2010 that I truly began to have faith in the future again.

It has now been seven and a half years since Kaydance left.

I am happily married with two beautiful and healthy children.

But there isn’t a day I don’t remember Kaydance. I have just learned to accept it and live with the loss. Over the past seven years, I have learned to bury my pain around most people. I see the tension on some faces when I mention her. I see the uneasiness it causes. So I lock it up and pretend it doesn’t hurt.

In February of 2015, I found The Nest.

Words cannot express how grateful I am for this organization.

These amazing individuals have helped me in my journey through motherhood. But most importantly, they allow me to remember Kaydance without the awkwardness.

Last year, when Jenna told me about the first No Small Loss event, I tried to talk myself out of attending. I came up with multiple excuses not to go because I knew it would be so hard. I felt as though no one would accept my pain and honor my daughter as she was meant to be honored.

In the end, I went. I am so thankful I did.

This event was so good for my soul. Not only do they accept your pain, they embrace it. Our children were here. Whether it was for six weeks, a few seconds, or a couple weeks in utero.

They were here.

Some of the women have not experienced a loss like we have, and they don’t act like they know how it feels.

They simply hold our hand and let us grieve. They let us sob and they stand by us.

Society has seemed to forget the lost babies or make us feel uncomfortable to remember them, but

The Nest doesn’t.

No Small Loss is an event to reflect on the loss but embrace the love. While our babies’ lives were so brief, they were also remarkably meaningful.

Life is quite rushed. We often don’t have time to reflect on our loss, and sometimes it’s just too painful.

Nevertheless, it is such a blessing and a spirit cleanser to have people that support us. To have people that say “I don’t know your pain, but I recognize it, and I am here.”

My journey with Kaydance taught me to cherish the experiences, blessings, and people life has bestowed to me.

I appreciate the community at The Nest. I am beyond thankful that they hold this event and they don’t question our loss or experience. They simply let us remember.

If you have experienced a loss, come to No Small Loss. Don’t talk yourself out of it like I almost did. You will be so lifted and refreshed to be able to openly remember and grieve. You will be able to meet parents who have felt your pain. It is a day to remember our babies together.

If you haven’t experienced this loss, come anyway. Parents who have need you. We need you to tell us it’s ok.

We have encountered one of the worst experience life has to offer. Yet, we are expected to continue living without our babies. No Small Loss and The Nest itself, is a safe place for us.

Having a day to be able to remember them,

helps make living without them a little easier.

 

“When a child loses a parent they are called an orphan.

When a spouse loses her partner, they are called a widow or widower.

When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.” - Ronald Reagan

 

 

We do what we do--- Because of Who we are. Who are you!?

Identity.

This word has come up quite a lot for me.. and I'm seeing the internal struggle in myself, and those around me, heading into this new season.

A season of business may lie ahead, and you wonder if you will lose parts of yourself, parts that you cherish about your family, parts of your sanity in the midst of the busy.

Or a season of wandering may be ahead, and you wonder if you'll lose your community, your umph, your desires, your passions in the midst of the everyday motions of just getting through.

Regardless the season, regardless the day, regardless the tasks and duties... our identity HAS to remain the same. And when we are desperately seeking it in other things, the things we do, our roles on this earth, we will always feel a tension inside of us.

 

Let me give you an example from my own life...

5 years ago, God honestly shot down my "dreams" of what I thought my life would look like.

It is no secret that I love Jesus, and my whole life is circled around the things that he has called me to here on this earth.

But what is a secret, or I guess something that I don't shout from the rooftops, is those years of struggle before the Nest, the years of no community for us, the years of turmoil in my heart, the years of wondering if my God, that I believed in.. had forgotten me.  The years of wondering who the HECK I was.

7 years ago, I really felt like what I was supposed to do in life was to live overseas, living in a full time missionary organization, called YWAM (Youth with a Mission). I packed my bags, planned on living there and committing for at least 3 years.. and was off....

Except for that minor detail, when (my now husband) Brandon Brown, high school best friend, told me that he was in love with me and wanted to marry me.

Uhm, worst timing in the world. I am moving across the world forever, goodbye.

Fast forward 8 months into being overseas living and stationed in Australia, dating the entire time apart from each other, and feeling the tug to come home.

Here we go, God. Yes I will follow you.

No plan.

No ambition to be there.

No desire to even live in the states.

Other than knowing I was to marry this crazy guy who kept convincing me to love him (it wasn't that hard). 

 

So Home I came.

Ohio.

And then two months later, we received the life calling.. that changed everything.

Adopting our two teenage boys (gaining full custody) who are also Brandon's half brothers.. has by far been the absolute HARDEST most humbling thing I have ever been a part of.

We were seriously like 12 years old.

(okay we were 22 and 23 (wait.. is that right?!))

In regards to Their privacy, and everyone involved, I don't share much of their story, (it's theirs to tell), but I do share my story through that season of life before the Nest came around.


I went from friends and family thinking I was this awesome missionary (or at least what I told myself.. yuck).

To my entire mission being for two people, who I wasn't even sure I liked.. and they definitely did not like me.

My life went from pretty, tons of fruit, experience, joy, deep friendships, deep meaning of life... to the most seemingly meaningless things I had ever done.

It went from talking to homeless in Africa, living on a hammock on the amazon river (I am not kidding), feeding hungry children of the world, living out of a suitcase, seeing the most amazing sights and wonders of the world...

To living in my hometown, raising two boys.. and I have never been disappointed in myself or learnt more about myself in that season.

 

One, my desire for an identity outside of Jesus.

Two, my desires for affirmation and approval from others.

Three, my desire for "Normal" even though I had convinced myself I despised "normal"

Four, how utterly, unloving... I naturally am.

 

For those of you who have biological children... even those of you who have struggled to bond with them, the bond with them/ the love for them.. is literally innate.

For those of you who have adopted/ fostered children you may or may not know what I am talking about.. but the FIGHT to love.. is something that will change you inside and out forever.

You will understand God's adoptive heart for us.

You will understand how ugly your insides truly are.

You will never feel more unmotivated or dry in your life.

And it is a journey.. that is one of the most rewarding things ever.

Not because there is a guarantee of "they grow up, love jesus, love you and are grateful for all you have done for them" uhm.. because if you know our story, you know thats not the case.

But because there is a guarantee & a focus shift that happens when you dedicate everything you do, to the one who has done it FOR YOU. Knowing there may not be anything in return to make you feel #blessed, but doing it anyways.

 

What does this have to do with identity?

 

Because if you are in a season, where you are feeling lost, lonely, confused, out of sorts, dried up.

I am taking you back to that original place in this post.

The place where I realized my identity could no longer be in WHAT I DO.. but WHOSE I AM.

I am God's.

I am adopted into his family.

He calls me his own.

He has gifted me with specific talents.

 

And then...

 

After years of the dry -est ugliest season of my life...

a near death experience, horrific trauma, Post partum depression anxiety, lack of community....

God used those talents, giftings, passions.. to create the nest.

To be honest, I dont think I could have handled this vision, this heart for The Nest & restoring family if it wasn't for these seasons of "the desert" in my life.

 

A phrase I have repeated a gazillion times from Jen Hatmaker's book "Seven" (obsessed: read it now), is

"as a culture we are so much more obsessed with the feast and not the fast. There is so much beauty in the fast"

 

Jesus chose to fast before he started his ministry.

I mean.. not just skip a meal and say some awesome prayers.

But legit go in the desert, fast for 40 days and nights, not eat a single thing, submit himself to temptation, loneliness, isolation, cold, heat, sun... 

 

Uhm. Hello humbling.

I don't like to go 4 hours without food, let alone 40 days.

 

So here I pose the question

While, Jesus is fasting... Satan attacks his identity.

He says "if you are the son of God..."

meaning... did God really say that about you? prove yourself to me? Show me your good works.

 

My oldest, Bryce said this not to long ago praying over one of our friends in our living room...

"The very first thing that Satan always attacks is your identity"

 

He did it in the garden of eden: "truly if you eat this fruit you will be like God (because who God made you isn't good enough?)"

He did it in the desert with Jesus: "if you are truly the son of God..."

He definitely does it to us all the time.

 

and this is why, now more than ever, we have to be firm in who our identity is in.

From the day our kiddos are 3 we are asking them "what do you want to be when you grow up" ... equating that to a profession, a dream. Not "WHO" do you want to be with you grow up.

Kind?

Compassionate?

Giving?

Receiving?

 

Nope. A fireman.

 

It's innate in us to equate our worth to the things we do.

But from the beginning of time, God has been telling us that no matter what we do.. we will never find our identity in any place but him.

He is the only place where we are whole.

He is the only place where "who I am" makes sense.

 

 

So my friend, if you are in that season. That waiting season, that dry dry dry season. If you are in the desert, waiting for the test to be over, the sea to part, the promise land.

Take heart, it took the Israelites 40 years to get to the promised land when they were actually in hours of reaching it. (BLESSINGS WHY AM I JUST LIKE THEM).

And the majority of the stories reflected that God WANTS to tell us about are about their journey, their hardships, their FAST.

Because isn't that where the beauty lies anyways?

Where things in us die.

We die to ourselves & our desires.

And new things are born.

 

As fall comes, you tell me fellow Ohioans. Can new things be born, if old things do not die?

So as you enter into your season of fasting, know that you're not alone. you are not absent from where you are supposed to be.

You are not enough, no ... you are not.

But he is.

And he will show you that during this time.

 

LOVE YOU SO MUCH 

-Jenna Brown

Founder & Executive Director of The Nest

 

"We do what we do because of who we are. Being proceeds Doing" - Saturate