Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's all about to change.


Hey. 
Yeah hi...
It's been a long time.
I know, I always say that.
This summer has been busy. Last week and this week have been pretty peaceful as Maximo is in summer school and one of my daycare kids is gone this month. So I have had a little more breathing room. We spend almost everyday at the pool or at the park. We have playdates every other day. For as busy and crazy as it has been, it has been fun.

This fall though, everything changes. Take a deep breath. I do every time I think about it.
Max will be in school.
Gabriel will be in pre-K (like preschool) half days.
I will no longer do daycare.
I will only have Eli home during the day.
Just let it sink in.

I may actually be able to run to Costco, Trader Joe's and Target during the day.
I may get to go visit more friends during the week, and with only one kid to buckle in.
I may be able to keep a cleaner house, and be a better meal planner.
I may be able to work out again.
I may be able to volunteer once a week at Breaking Free.

It's weird that I am entering in to a new season of life, that my season of little kids at my feet all day - is over. I'm done having babies in my house.
Just let it sink in. I'll give you a minute...

I have so many hopes and dreams for what this next season will look like.... but I don't know what is to come. The one thing I am certain of, is that I am leaving it up to God. Because he has a plan for this next season.

So for the next six weeks I will be finishing up this season well. I'll be holding Ramona a little tighter when she lets me. I'll be soaking up Tya's giggles and hugs. I'll be having lots of fun at the pools/playgrounds/playdates with the kids.

Ugh. Fine, I guess I'll try to enjoy every moment the way the seasoned moms tell me too... (personally I think they tell me to do that only because they remember every moment with their little tornadoes treasures being tender and wonderful... I hope I remember these moments like that!)

Here is a little taste of my summer so far:


pool day e'ery day



me and seester pretend we are kardashians sometimes.

matt and i are being intentional about our marriage.



maybe i'll actually wear real pants when i'm no longer
chasing kids all day? prolly not.

little eli


seester got a neck tattoo. i got one on my foot.

a tiny bit of brotherly love

a lot of brotherly cuteness here. wow.

tya and tha boyzz

being intentional..... we are stuck together so we may as well like it.


my brother-in-law finally got married!


b'mona (as we call Ramona) is growing up too fast. she is mobile.
she wrestles eli to the ground trying to steal his bagels.

some of our best friends and godson are moving away.
at least we got one good grill night in!

Alright, I am off for the night. Hope you all are enjoying the summer.



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

enslaved.

Lately I am learning a lot about slavery: Human Trafficking. Women, children, and even men. Forced. With out a choice.

And I feel like my eyes are being opened up to so much. Some very profound things, some very simple things.

One thing I have been pondering is what I allow myself to be a slave to. All the people I am learning about who are modern day slaves, have no choice. Prostitution. Sweat shops. Desperation. Poverty. Devastation. War.

Me? My life is pretty easy when we're looking at the big picture.

And I am asking God what I need freedom from.

And then I feel really stupid. 'Cause it's things like facebook. And sugar. And my bad attitude. A poor body image. Fear of what people think. And my desire for a neat and tidy cute house.

I took facebook off my phone a couple months ago. Before, whenever I had a spare moment I was on the good ol' fb. Checking out what you are making for dinner tonight, how cute your baby was when she woke up this morning, or who was causing drama on the neighborhood facebook page again. Not all of it is pointless. Because I genuinely care when your little boy has had a fever for three days, how your honeymoon was, that you posted a new blog entry or that you're sick of your job... but it's getting in the way. And I could be managing my time better. And ugh. I hate admitting that.

I put Facebook back on my phone not too long ago. I manage so much on there.... Like my Trades of Hope page and our Urban Collective Trunk Show page. It's a big source of communication for me and my friends. 

Balance. I need to balance it out. I need to be intentional about what I am doing on facebook and not do the mindless scrolling thing.  

I'm trying to clear out the unnecessary stuff that gets in the way. (I feel like I am ALWAYS  in this process.)
I want to take away the false comforts that somehow allow me to escape for a moment. It's okay to escape sometimes. But I'm trying to do that by listening to good music or by chatting with my mama or one of my girls.

I think it'll be easier now that we aren't stuck in the house for days at a time.

So, there it is. Our daily battles and slavery to the stupid things overwhelm us at times, but luckily we can claim power and victory over them if we really try.

Daily I am thankful for the freedom we experience. And daily I am reminded of those who suffer, stuck in bondage to circumstances they cannot control.

On Mother's Day I went to a march for the girls missing from Nigeria. I'll share some of the photos that were posted below.



source


(photo by Renee Horsman)

Heavy stuff on this mamas heart lately. But I believe sometimes we are called to share in the burden of what weighs on the hearts of those around us and all over the world. This slavery issue is what my heart aches for so I continue to press in and figure out what I can do about it. 

Pray for the missing girls. Pray that slavery ends. It's an overwhelming situation but there are things we can do. 


Monday, May 19, 2014

be still.

This morning I woke up and decided to push aside my bad attitude over it being Monday.
(It was hard, I had to push really really hard)

I came downstairs and my husband had made coffee. So that helped.

Then I went and sat on the porch and I did something that I do not do often enough. I opened up my phone and started my morning by reading today's devotion from my favorite book Jesus Calling. Here is an excerpt:

I want you to know how safe and secure you are in My Presence. 
that is a fact, totally independent of your feelings...
Although My Presence is a guaranteed promise, that does not necessarily change your feelings. When you forget I am with you,you may experience loneliness or fear. It is through awareness of My Presence that Peace displaces negative feelings. Practice the discipline of walking consciously with Me through each day.

No more than 5 seconds later my 1st grader began to cop an attitude about having to get out the door to the bus stop. Instead of beginning my usual morning speech about how "we all have responsibilities and even though we don't feel like it sometimes, we still have to go to work/school/etc..." I told him I'd walk him out to the bus stop.

As we walked hand-in-hand I told him that I loved him. That I am proud of him. That God is always with him, even when he is having a hard time at school or when he feels alone or anxious.

The sun was shining, the air was crisp and it was a perfectly sweet moment.

As soon as we got to the bus stop he ran over to his friends. Apparently it's not cool to stand at the bus stop holding your mother's hand. When the bus came he sat in the seat the faced me and secretly blew kisses to me until they had passed me by. I love that we got to have a sweet and peaceful beginning to our day.



On my way back home I was met by Gabriel and Eli coming out of the house. They had dressed themselves and were without shoes. We took a little walk down the block and back.





Again, another perfectly sweet moment.

I know I say it ALL.THE.TIME. This season is oh-so-hard. The whining, the potty accidents, the constant need for snacks, the messes, the fighting, the difficult bedtimes, the long days. I make it harder on myself by trying to do it on my own. My Father God is there beside me the whole time but instead I choose to feel alone in it and to try to take it on by myself.

I had a new friend over today and she saw my little poster (I saw it on pintrest and recreated, it's not my own design!) She asked me what it meant to me and I had to think for a minute.



I try to fight through so many of the hard moments on my own, which is dumb. I need to stop. I need to breathe and chill out. I need to seek out how God wants me to deal with it. I need to acknowledge that He is there, ready to fight the battle for me. Whether the battle is a whiny kid, an unexpected expense, a fight with my husband or someone close disappointing me: I need to be still and allow Him to take it on.

Be still. Be still. Be still. I think this is what God is trying to show me in this season.

A few months ago it would've been my dad's birthday. It was a hard week, I missed him so much. There was a necklace at Groundswell that had been on display for a long time. I knew I needed it.



I wear it almost everyday. Just as a reminder.

Alright, well, here's to practicing the discipline of walking consciously with Him through each day.
Be encouraged.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Once in a while I am right.

Last week Maximo came rushing through the front door as he usually does after school. It's usually because he is about  to pee in his pants.

This day was different though.
He swung open the door with a look of sheer terror screaming that a kid from the bus was going to punch him in the face.

I'm not one to over react. But my inner mama bear began to rise up and I asked if it was a kid from the bus stop. Yep it was. Max lead the way as I went and stuck my head out the front door and looked down at the bus stop. There were some kids out there and I hollered over to them "what happened?" They all hollered back that *dude said he was going to punch Max. Then they started hollering down the street at *dude telling him to come over here and talk to me. Matt over heard the situation and stormed out of the driveway ahead of me. So I followed. In my bright green crocs and SAHM yoga pants. (And no coat since was a balmy 22 degrees out.)

When we got to the corner, fifth grade *dude was half way down the block walking a little girl home from the bus stop. I know this kid isn't a bad kid (he is employed by the little girl's mom to walk her home each day) and I also know that Maximo is notorious for annoying older kids on the bus.

I didn't know what I was going to say, and that's when I ask Jesus to give me the right words.

It is so important for us to be in relationship with our neighbors, even the punk ass neighbor kids who threaten my boy. So I knew that I was about to set the foundation for how these boys see me.

I was surprised when dude walked back over to where we were. By this time Matt had gone back home to Gabriel, Eli and Tya after seeing that everything was going to be alright.

So here I was with Maximo, *dude and his little kindergartner, and the other two 5th grade boys that were loving to be all up in their business.

I just asked what happened. *Dude said Max was bothering him, and he got fed up, and so he told Max he was "gonna punch him." I felt *dude's pain. Max does stuff that makes me want to punch him in the face irritated too. I explained that although Max looks older, that he is six. *Dude and his friends were surprised. They thought max was 9. I just explained that we are working on how Max needs to not bother people, and that he is still learning how to ride on the bus since this is his first year doing it. All I did was help to create some empathy. I told him that I understood why he said that to Max, because he was frustrated, but that it doesn't feel good to me to see my boy run home, afraid.

I explained that we are all neighbors and that we gotta look out for each other. I explained that in a few years Max would mature and grow up a little and that he'd be out with them in the summer playing basketball and riding skate boards (with helmets of course...). The boys nodded and agreed. I told them all that if there is ever any issues with Max, to come and talk to me and Matt, that we want to hear them out and help solve it instead of threats being thrown around.

I love living in the city. I love that Max is around kids of all ages and from all different backgrounds and I truly hope that Max get's to be these boys' equal someday. That they are shooting hoops in our backyard and hanging out with my boy.

I hope I get to be the cool mom that everyone trusts. I want to have a heart big enough for even the toughest boys (mine included).

Today I watched for Max from the front door as he skipped all the way home with a big smile on his face. He walked in the door and said "MOM! You were right. Those boys are my friends now!" He explained that they all had a snow ball fight and the big boys were nice to him. I told him "isn't that cool? That when you treat them like a friend instead of annoying them on the bus, that they actually get to enjoy your friendship?!"

Once in a while I am right I guess.


Maybe I wasn't so right when thinking it was okay to
wear my green crocs out in public.

My big (little) 6 1/2  year old trying to figure out his way in the world.





Tuesday, February 25, 2014

don't wait until the timing is perfect

Yesterday I was talking about having faith like a yellow mansion and dreaming big dreams. Another thing on my heart a few weeks ago was learning to be brave.

You all know by now that I'm passionate about the fight against sex trafficking. The more I learn about it, the more fired up I get. I am so excited Ito figure out how God is going to use me to help, rescue, support and give hope. 

I hope one day that our family gets to adopt in to our family a daughter. I have been reading about how general age of entrance into sex trafficking in the U.S. is like 12-14 years! Most of these girls are runaways, or are from the foster care system and in homes that are not safe. They just need strong families and people who are going to love them and protect them. I want one of those girls. I want to rescue her before she is even faced with that danger. Or I want us to take a girl in that has already been chewed up and spit out. A girl that is in pieces and that needs a strong mama, dad and family that will help to put her back together. I want us to get to show her real, unconditional, safe love. To love her like God does. I want to help her realize her value, worth and true beauty.

Crazy right? I even think it's crazy. This is one of the dreams that when I ask Matt if it freaks him out he tells me "nope."

It seems so far away. 

So what to do until then?

Learn more. Pray more. Be the best mom possible to the kids in my care now.

I am attending two events in the next month. One is called Freedom Weekend and you can read about it more here.

The other is a volunteer training and informational meeting with Breaking Free at the Roseville Library on March 5th from 6-8. If you are interested in joining me and learning more about this organization, register at volunteers@breakingfree.net.

Another thing I am doing in the meantime, is my Trades of Hope business. I'm learning to be a voice. I am learning how to raise awareness. I am meeting people all the time who want to help make a difference too. It's a simple way that I get to make a difference now. It's a way that I get to be useful now

People, we can't wait until the timing is perfect to move and to start to help. If there is a cause that you feel called to help with, find a small tangible way that you can help now. Don't wait. 




Monday, February 24, 2014

faith like a yellow mansion

You know that verse in the bible about having faith like a mustard seed?

"... Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” 
Matthew 17:20

Five years ago life looked a lot different. Matt, Maximo and myself were living with my parents in a great big house out in Inver Grove Heights. We really enjoyed living with them and when they began talking about selling the great big house and moving in to the city, we all decided that we should all find a house together. Fox 9 news even did a story on us, a news guys and camera man interviewed us and followed us around on one of the showings we went to. I was bummed when I went to look it up, I wanted to share the clip on here, but it is no longer available to view. They did have a short article that you can see here if you want.

Everyone sort of thought that we were nuts. Why would we want to live that close to our family? It just worked for us. 

My mom spent many nights staying up late looking on-line at different houses and she came across a HUGE mansion for sale in the Crocus Hill neighborhood in St. Paul. We went and saw it. It was amazing. It had been transformed into a group home so it was perfectly split down the middle. Aside from the fact that the power didn't work on the upper level and it was super spooky and super institutional looking with bright neon EXIT signs and eerie hallways and hidden stair cases, the house was AMAZING. It had like nine bedrooms, two kitchens, at least four bathrooms, etc. etc. etc. It needed a ton of work and was double what our budget was for a house, but we began truly believing that if God wanted us to have the house, that it could happen. My mom and I began saying "we just need to have faith like a mustard  seed yellow mansion.

When we scheduled a showing for the house we brought our whole crew: my best friend, my dad's best friend (Warren, Matt's dad), Matt's mom, and a few other friends with re-modeling experience. They all thought we were nuts. The house needed a lot of work, but we saw the bigger picture: that if God wanted us here, he'd make it work. We envisioned where our rooms were going to be, what it would look like when we took down a few walls, how we would build a garage in the back and make ministry retreat rooms above it, how we would finish the attic and hold gatherings up there. It was going to be so cool.

Needless to say, it never worked out. The house was sold to someone else and what we all got from it was: "well? It was fun to dream!" A few months later I happened to drive by and they were gutting the house and fixing it up. The curb was full of old furniture and things from inside the house just waiting to be gathered up by the garbage collectors. And yes I pulled over and crammed a chair and old mirror in my trunk. Wanna see it? Here's a link I found: 513 Portland Ave.

God knew what the future held, and that it wouldn't have worked out. That Dad was going to die just six months later and that life was about to drastically change.

It's been a while since I have really had huge dreams about huge things happening. After my dad died I think I stopped hoping and dreaming for big huge out-of-the-box miracles. I wanted to protect my heart, so I started having low expectations so that no matter what happened I wouldn't get hurt if things didn't turn out the way I wanted them to.

My life is full of miracles. Miracles I don't even recognize.

I want to have my eyes open to them again. I don't want to be surprised when they take place anymore. I want to expect the best. I want to dream big again.


My dreams scare me these days. Not in a bad way, in a good way. And the best part about it, is that when I talk about them with my husband, he isn't scared at all.

I want to have faith like a yellow mustard seed. And I'm tellin' those mountains to move.

Monday, February 17, 2014

the case for quiet.




I. am. so. tired. of. all. the. LOUD.

It has been a freakishly long and cold winter here in Minnesota. And we are only half way through February. Last year we were still getting snow in May.

I'm trying to remain calm. I am trying to be positive. But this has been rough.

Gabriel will be four in April. He has had a rough last couple of years. A week before he turned two it began. His "terrible twos" hit hard and have not loosened up since. He is a whole lot of emotions and tears and passion and strong will wrapped up in to one little fragile body. He's so sensitive. There are days that I don't feel that I can handle one more minute of the constant whining, crying, and his daily "I HATE YOU"s. He is easy to love but so hard to handle sometimes.

So I yell. And I hate it. I try to keep my cool. I try to speak gently and quietly. But I can't it's hard. Oh so hard. And I justify it by feeling like it's better to be harsh with my tone than with my hands... 'cause OH MY GOSH I want to get harsh with my hands. And sometimes I do. I hate admitting it.

It's just that I  want a few moments of quiet. And for some strange reason my hollering at the kids for a little bit of quiet doesn't work....

My days are filled with (quiet) swears + prayers.

God gets it. He understands. And he loves me even when I am weary and tired.

Swears when my smoothie spills all over and the kids walked through the house with sloppy snowy boots. Swears when there is red lipstick on the couch pillows and the carpet because Eli gets in to my red lipstick again.

Prayers when I am grateful that Gabriel didn't totally wipe out when he missed the last step, and when I'm thankful that he fell asleep on the couch while watching Curious George. Prayers when I feel like I am about to lose it over spilled milk. Prayers that spring comes quick and that Matt gets home soon.

Being a mom means that sometimes most of the time our happiness or need for quiet doesn't matter. We just gotta stick it through. And we can't holler and yell just because we aren't getting our way. When we are in the thick of raising the littles, we gotta remain loving, selfless, and  intentional about how we speak to them. Ouch. I have so much room for improvement in this area. 

I read a few interesting articles today and yesterday. I got some good stuff out of each. Here they are in case you are interested:



So whether you were home with kids too, or driving on the icky snow today, hope you are surviving this Presidents day, and that you are finding hope and light in the midst of it all.

His mercies are new every morning.

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