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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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A little encouragement from a fellow mama

I met Bridget 12 years and one month ago when I arrived at Esperanza Viva as a young girl on a mission to serve Puebla, Mexico's little orphans. My first room assignement was with Bridget and 12 little girls under 8 years old. We loved each other like best friends and fought like sisters. We had a million inside jokes and a hundred times we disagreed over something or another. We teased each other over cute boys, our home towns, and our lack of fashion sense out on the mission field. Many nights we stayed up way too late crying and laughing together as we talked for hours. We co-parented many children together, held each other accountable and were a huge support to one another... and we had a lot of fun that year.

Now as the years have passed, we are still close. Just last year she was able to finally make it to Minnesota with her family. Our husbands and children got to meet. It was a total dream come true.

Hegstrom/Tucci-Gomez boys getting dirty and climbing

Twelve of us successfully sat around that table and had a few meals together, slept under the
same roof and even got a long for three whole days!

This sweet thang stole my heart (little Gracie)

Hers and mine. Add one niece and minus Max
(who was too cool for the picture since he had a little crush on said niece
pictured in the middle)

Bridget and her handsome Miguel

Me and my hermana
Bridget and I check in on Facebook regularly. Sometimes it's a cry of desperation on the rough days, and sometimes it's excitement over happy things.

She contacted me last week with a guest post. Enjoy!

Parenting is hard. We already knew that. Some days some people's kids make the day especially hard. Some seasons it feels like one little person (kid... 2 year old boy, you fill in the blank) makes it his or her goal to make every day a little harder for us as moms. 
So today was one of those days. One shenanigan after another. One mess to clean up, including diaper messes, after another. One correction after another. One whine after another. In the midst of it, I started to rant to my little tribe (4 of them, two boys and two girls, to be exact) about how they were just "making this harder for mommy".... And I reached out for a truth in God's word that made the light bulb flick on in my head.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, 

and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, 
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 

(Matthew 11:25, 28-30 ESV)

While I am spending a lot of time pointing the finger at the kiddies and saying how they make it all harder, Jesus says to come to Him and learn from Him .....and find rest for our souls ....and that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Hanging out with Jesus will make a hard day easier, not harder. It will be restful, and not a heavy burden. Such truth! 

Thanks for sharing your heart Bridget. Be encouraged mamas.

If you would like to hear about how Bridget and her husband are continuing to serve the youth of Esperanza Viva, click here and then select the fourth picture over)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Too Cool For Naps...

As of late, most of the children in my care during the day-time hours are feeling too cool for nap times.

We'll start with "Miss Thang", "baby booty", "bebe mona"..... (just a few nick names we have for this little one that joined the daily crew at the Hegstrom house.) Meet my LP's baby girl. Remember when I did a post about her with her cute little pregnant belly? Well her daughter sleeps perfectly for her mother and father. PER-FECT-LY. Like 12 hours straight through the night PERFECT. So then she sleeps for me NE-VER. I ain't even mad at ya 'mona. As long as you remain perfect for my lp.

Gabriel quit naps long ago, but in the fall he fell back in to a little bit of a routine just because I'd lay down with him and bribe him with cookies or a movie if he would just close his eyes for 10 minutes.... and usually it worked 'cause he'd pass out by the 8th minute. Don't judge. And it doesn't even work anymore anyway. Bummer.

Eli has refused for the last two weeks. He is sooooo over sleeping in a crib, but he is tiny, and a crib is what ya get when there isn't a bigger bed for you yet. So get over it pal. No you get over it Sierra. Okay fine. skip it. But then he was just falling asleep while watching our daily afternoon viewing of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.

And then last week, something happened when little boys were tired but fought with all their might to skip naps.

They fell asleep having major temper tantrums. 

So here is Gabe who refused to eat his delicious and creamy potato soup (complete with bacon and cheese). He wanted more bacon. We said no. He screamed and yelled. Then fell asleep at 6:30 pm.

And here is Eli. Passed out over something, I don't even know what. And yes, these are the same pajamas that he fell asleep on Ronan in the day before. My kid wore pajamas (the SAME pajamas) two days in a row. Don't judge. And yes, we got a dog. Didn't I tell you?

And then the next day, again, a major-snot-and-tears-all-over-the-face, screaming, yelling all-out melt down at 3:30pm. Out. Face-down.

Eli is 2 1/2 years old. His terrible two's only rear their ugly head about once a day. It's exhausting for him. Poor guy.

The constant Minnesota cold is making all of us a little crazy and irrational. It's been a billion below zero for days and days. There has been many MANY days I wish I coulda just buried my face into the floor and cried myself to sleep. ugh. I can't wait for spring. We need to be able to go outside.

Tomorrow will be my first attempt at mom's group with all four kiddos. Send this girl a prayer or two. 'kay thanks.

Sorry this was a boring post. i kinda just wanted to show off the funny pictures of my sleeping kiddos. Yeah. I use the word "kiddo" LP.... sorry. You will too one day.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

...how things were supposed to be

A friend of mine posted this today on Facebook and it struck me.

I don't really agree that our perfect pictures are what screw us up the most. But. They can screw us up pretty bad.

I was talking to a new friend last night about a season I was in a few years ago. 

With toddlers and a brand new baby.
All I did was nurse. Peel wrappers off of string cheese. Fill sippy cups. Change diapers. Cut crusts off sandwiches. Wash dishes. All while husband was getting to go out and work, have a ministry life, having contact with adults and getting to leave the house everyday.

There were many days that I was mad (or maybe just jealous?) That wasn’t what I had signed up for. When we got married I was in school to fulfill my dream of being a marriage and family therapist. I wanted to change lives and help people. I was going to pick my babes up from daycare and bring home a paycheck. I didn't have plans to be a stay-at-home-mom. I had done my time as a nanny. I did my time raising kids as big sister in a big family and then for a year as a volunteer in Mexico mothering 14 little girls. I couldn't wait to be a working mama.

So I was pissed. 'Cause this was not how it was supposed to be.

And a couple years before that... marriage. Mine was not how marriage was supposed to be. I had a husband that suffered severely from depression, anxiety and years of heavy baggage. He found every way possible to escape the hardships of our marriage. Video games, internet... etc. etc. 

We were a mess. We almost called it quits. This was not how it was supposed to be.

I feel like so many things in life 
disappoint us because they contradict the ideas and expectations that we still hold from childhood: pictures of what our lives were supposed to look like when we grew up. 

Luckily, it is deeply embedded in my utmost being that I am a long suffering and merciful fighter. 

So I persevered - got through those early years of being lonely, at home, and stuck 25 minutes outside of the city. But now? My world has opened up and it is expanding as my children get older and my husband continues to encourage my personal growth and new opportunities. I'm doing things now that I never would have imagined I'd be doing. 

I fought hard for my marriage and for my husband. Thank God I did. Our marriage is so strong now. And we have three amazing kids that would never have entered into the world had we not worked through the messiness and muck of hard marital circumstances. 

So. Bottom line (if you are asking me) ?
Get rid of the pictures in your head of how things were supposed to be. 

Work with what you got. 

So. Just wanted to share what was on my mind today. What are your thoughts?