Sunday, July 10, 2016

Can we Support the Black Community and the Police at the Same Time?

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Friday at the airport, I approached three police officers with a cracked voice and watery eyes and said, "Thank you for your service." They looked caught off guard. I continued, "Especially in light of everything that's been going on." It was all I could get out of my mouth as I was about to ugly cry. They said thank you and I quickly walked away (to suppress ugly cry) as my three kids awaited me wondering what I was doing.

On the plane, there was a black couple sitting in front of us with their cutie pie 6-month-old daughter. As I stood up to go to the restroom, I saw they were looking at professional photos of the two of them on her phone. "I'm sorry to intrude, but those are amazing. Beautiful couple." Then the woman asked me to give my opinion in which photo worked best for a "save the date" for their wedding. We went through the pics as I lurked over them from behind. I made my top pick.

Then I awkwardly transitioned into something to the effect of "With all that's been going on and the shootings...I just want you to know, I'm sorry. And I see you. And black lives matter. And of course, we know all lives matter, but right now I see your pain. And of course, cops are not bad and their murders in Dallas were awful and no one wants that. And I'm just sorry for the insensitivity of white people."

And they seemed caught off guard...kinda' like the police. I'm positive I was not eloquent and fumbled over my words. But I think they understood my heart and they sincerely thanked me. I got a bit choked up, but I was able to hold back the ugly cry so that was pretty neat. And of course, if you know me, I asked them about themselves and got some of their backstory - how they met, where they were from, etc.  And as we left baggage claim I went over and hugged them and said goodbye.

So there you go. That’s what my broken heart is telling me to do.

But this is not about me. I tell you this because I want you to know that grieving with your black friends for the injustices they have faced for centuries does not mean you don't support law enforcement.

You can grieve with your friends as they process the pain of another black man shot by police while you weep with police families as they cry out over the loss of their fellow officers.

You can ache for your black friend as she cries about the fear she has every time her husband leaves the house and you can hurt for your friend who has trouble sleeping at night because she fears every time her husband leaves for work, to serve and protect.

I stand with my black friends in their sorrow and in the pain they feel when they are marginalized and treated like their lives don't matter. How must that feel?

I stand with police officers who go out day after day to serve and protect, deal with a lot of crud, and have to make split second life-and-death decisions. How hard must that be?

I stand against police overreach and brutality.

I stand against those who would threaten and murder innocent police officers.

We all need to be for justice. There doesn’t need to be “sides". Supporting blacks in their struggle to be treated equally and supporting law enforcement are not mutually exclusive.

This is where I'm coming from, these word I love in Romans 12:15-16, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.”

Sadly, those words aren't true for many, which makes me ask:
How do we fix this?
How do we overhaul systematic racism?
How do we support law enforcement?
How do we insist on an end to policies and culture that encourage the mistreatment of black people?

Well, this part stresses me out a bit because I don’t know. These are huge, complicated questions. I have some ideas, but I'm not law enforcement (though I watch a lot of Blue Bloods) and clearly, I'm not black.

Nevertheless, here are a few suggestions:

1. If you are white, talk to your black friends. Don’t just read and watch some super conservative black people on TV or quote some far left black TV personality. Listen to your black friends' stories and experiences. Listen to their hearts. Tell them you are sorry for the racism they have experienced. Ask how you can help. If you don’t have any black friends, ask yourselves why. Now is a time to reach out. There are plenty of community meetings where the black community is engaging this conversation, find out where they are happening and go.

2. Do something to support your local law enforcement. Write them a note, have your kids make them cards, bring them some food, give them a gift card for them or one for their spouse. Thank them for the service. Tell them you are sorry for what they are going through. And you know that most of them are great cops, but they are now experiences the backlash of the bad ones. Let the words of Dallas police chief David Brown echo in your head, “We don’t feel much support on most days,” Brown said. “Let’s not make today most days.”

3. Search your own heart. Get on your knees and pray that God would soften your heart and open your eyes to your own biases. Be humble. Rapper Lecrae wrote a great article  “Humility is the Key to Understanding Race Relations.”

Step out of your comfort zone.
Ask questions of someone who is willing to talk about their experiences. If you can't do that, try taking racial bias inventory like this one.
A black friend has suggested reading something that exposes the black experience in America. 'Between the world and me' 'or The Souls of Black Folk' or 'Black like Me'.  I have not taken the inventory or read these books, but I plan to now.

And don’t just read and watch the negative stuff about law enforcement. Bad policing is not the norm. This video made me smile when I was crying about the hurts of the world today.

4. Pray! Pray for all law enforcement who are in the midst of this storm. Show them your love and support. Pray for them by name. Pray for black people who are broken, hurting, angry, deflated and tired.  Pray for them by name. Show them your love and support.

So there you have it - my heart on a page. Please don’t attack it. It’s a little too fragile at the moment.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chore Charts - No Screen Before Clean and Homework

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Star charts. Rewards. Stick jars. Chore posters. Blah, blah, blah. I have tried several chore charty things. And usually we stick with them. For a while. And then it's just too hard to keep up. I mean, counting stars and earning prizes - all the while making the chart look all cute and visually appealing and all that jazz . . . not in my skill set.

I searched high and low on Pinterest for the easy solution. JK, I did not and would not. Is there anything easy on Pinterest for the craft and star chart challenged? Nope.

I made my basic chore chart on a word doc. We have used these basic chore charts for the last few years with the motto "No screen before clean and homework." For the most part, it has worked pretty well.

I posted a photo on my Totally Desperate Mom Facebook page (which is basically now my place for lazy blogging) of my kids doing their Fantasy Chore Draft. And many people commented or texted me asking for copies of my chore charts. Here you go:
(Click on the photos to be able to read them more clearly)
For the eleven-year-old:
 For the nine-year-old:
 For the seven-year-old:

We switch up chores every once in a while based on how many outside activities they have, stress level, summer time, etc. But it had been a while since we had made adjustments and Elijah and Lydia were complaining that the other person had all the easy chores. So we decided to do a draft so they could take turns picking which chores they would do. We basically left Jordis out of the draft because she gets the easiest chores since she is seven. With the exception of dry mopping the hardwood floors. Because she loves doing that. For now.

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

My Little Taylor Swift Fans

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We're dreaming of Taylor Swift letting these girls back stage. Or perhaps on stage. Also, this video really just encapsulates the sisterhood. Lydia (9) shaking her head and Jordis (6) singing. Non-stop Taylor Swift songs. And the giggles. I love these two. 
So if you know Taylor, put in a good word for us :)

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hagen Family Worst Photos 2014

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I have really neglected my blog the past few years. In fact, my Totally Desperate Mom Facebook page has really become my form of (lazy) blogging. However, I probably can never let it go entirely because of this. My worst pics. My family's ugly photos. The worst lighting, the worst angles, the worst attitudes. This Christmas, our family really does celebrate Jesus. God with us. But somehow this Hagen family photos has also become something we (and apparently others) celebrate. It's a tradition. 

My girlfriends were talking about mud masks and junk. And for my birthday my girlfriend got me some mud with special powers. I tried it. Apparently I am not so good at it.
Lighting is everything. My garage is my best lighting friend. Or in this case, my worst lighting friend. If you want to see my wrinkles and creases and blotches in all their glory . . . here you go.
Okay, so this is kind of staged, but whatever. I look like a freak.
Although I proudly wear the sash of Miss Catan, I can hardly look at this photo. It's just bad in every way.
 Morning glossy eyes. Special mouth, frowny wrinkles are developing as I approach FORTY. 
Hair eating photos always turn out well. 
Working out some stuff in our marriage. 
Sleeping kids are not always cute.
Say "cheese" Jordis. 
After the Easter candy . . .

Early in the year Jordis provided me with many shots for the hashtag #nothomeless. Unfortunately, she is really into brushing her hair now so I don't foresee much #nothomeless in the new year. Savor these ones, people. 
I love it when she does her own makeup. Because she is so good at it.
I love it when she does her own makeup and then goes to watch her sister in the talent show.
We are hopeful that #nothomeless has a future in balloon work.
Face necklaces. The next big thing.
When Jordis saw this pic she said, "I love this one. Look at my tights! They're yellow!" 'Nuff said.
Yep. She belongs to us.
Elijah got a really bad haircut this year. The next morning, he shaved his head completely.
Shiloh really tried to outdo me this year by way of ugly photos. So proud of him. 
Looks like that guy from The Simpsons here.
Just no. 
Shiloh is so very proud of this one. His belly sticking out skills are first class.
This might be my favorite worst picture of the year. Oh Shiloh. Shiloh, Shiloh, Shiloh.
Mad skills, Shiloh. Way to go.
Family photos are always a good time.
I spoke at Crossroads Church on Mother's Day. My kids came to see me. I could't see them,
Hugs and kisses. From our family. And this random dog on the beach.
To walk down worst memory lane . . . 20132012201120102009.
Until next year . . .
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Thursday, September 04, 2014

Costco Inspired Thoughts About Kids Going Off to College

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Yesterday in line at Costco I saw a middle-aged women in her tennis outfit. Clearly an empty nester because she was buying tennis balls, toilet paper, and avocados. That's it. And I got really sad and thankful. Sad for that stage in life. Sad there was not a dozen apples in her cart that will vanish in days. Sad there there were no flat pretzels that her son likes. Sad that there was not a double flat of raspberries that will be consumed by tomorrow. Sad that there was not a ginormous honey dew rolling around in her cart because her kindergartener told her class that honey dew was her favorite food.

I am sure that woman has a great life and enjoys her freedom, her grocery bill, and her tennis. And I know there are GREAT parts to having grown kids. Like going to the bathroom without interruption and people gratefully rejoicing when you make them food of any kind. But I was looking at her cart situation and thinking "I am so glad that my kids are in school right now so I can fly through Costco, but I am so glad I get to go pick them up in a few minutes!"

You guys, this kindergarten business does not make me cry. But I cannot handle the thought of kids going off to college!!! Yesterday I helped one of my babysitters (who started as my "mommy's helper" when she was 9 years old) with her COLLEGE essays.

And I get teary-eyed thinking of her beautiful mother who will be kissing that sweet face goodbye next year. I know she is not dying or vanishing into the abyss never to return, but I just can't handle it. Last year we went to my high school's dance show and they did a senior dance where all the girls wore their college sweatshirts. Could not handle. Was crying on behalf of their parents.
And I am so thankful that I have at least 8 more years with Elijah at home, 12 with Lydia, and 46 with Jordis. She told me the other day she never wants to leave home and go to college. Yes, that's the same girl who once told me I was meaner than fireworks. She's never leaving home.

Parenting is hard. Some days are horrible. Some days are simply mundane. Some days are rewarding. Some days are amazing. Sometimes I feel like a total failure. Some days I feel like I could teach a parenting class. JK, never had that thought. I guess what I am trying to say is, I am thankful that I get to be a mom. The end.

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Stealing from the Rich to Give to the Rich?

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On Mother's Day weekend I spoke at services at Crossroads Church in Fremont about "Lies Moms Believe." One of the lies I addressed is "I am ruining my children." Because we often think our kids will only pick up on our failures, weakness, parenting mistakes. Any bad choices they make in life are our fault. Will they learn anything good from us?

The truth is we can greatly influence our children but we cannot control them. We must do our best and surrender the results to God. They do see us and they are learning from us even though sometimes they act like we are invisible. We influence them every day, but we cannot control them.

Almost every night I pray with my kids that we would have generous hearts. That we would be generous with our time and money. And almost every night, sweet Jordis prays the same exact prayer. "Dear God (omits "thank you") for this wonderful world. Please help angels to surround our house. Double them both." Amen. She has admitted that she doesn't even know what this means. She has just picked up on it from someone else's prayer, twisted the words a bit, and then repeated it. For years. Only adds to it or spices it up when I ask her to. I long for the day when she prays to have a generous heart and an open hand with her stuff. Enter Mother's Day morning.

I spoke at two services Saturday night and then Sunday morning I woke up to Mother's Day blessings and confirmation of what I was teaching - we do influence our children. Jordis came to me with a Mother's Day gift. Twenty dollars of her very own money. (Grandma hid money eggs instead of candy on Easter so I thought that is where the money came from.)
"Mom, this is for you. It is from my give jar and I wanted to give it to you."
"Oh sweetheart, thank you so much. That is so generous of you. Maybe we can work together to figure out who we can give this to who really needs it. Thank you so much."
So sweet. So blessed. She is really getting this generosity. A little misguided to give it to her mom instead of someone really in need, but I'll take it. 
As I walked out the door I saw her in her room going through letters and pictures of our Compassion sponsored kids. Be still my soul. She does hear us and see us. We are influencing her to be generous and to care about others.

I then spoke at two more services on Sunday and had this new illustration to throw into my talk as we talk about how we influence our children. Thank you Jesus . . .
until I get home. And find out that she has given her brother 20 bucks. And then she brings out her wallet that is LOADED with cash. Many one dollar bills, some twenties, fives... $70 more dollars to be exact. Where is Jordis getting her money? Generous Jordis is really a criminal.

We question her. She just had the money. She just got it. She didn't take it. She won't reveal her sources. Meanwhile the whole family is now involved in this money scam and none of us can control our laughter. Elijah, Lydia, me, Shiloh. Cannot stop laughing at the five-year-old thief who will not come clean and yet has money for days. Did you get into Dad's wallet? Did you get into Mom's purse? Did you take it from Grammy's purse when you were at the office with her? She. Won't. Budge. She didn't take it from anywhere or anyone. She just had it.

We go to Grammy and Grandpa's later in the day and finally coerce a confession out of her. And when I say coerce . . . I mean, comedy. My brothers and sister-in-law as my witnesses, Jordis is a piece of work. And she was working us. "If I tell you, you have to give me five dollars." Whaaaaat? At one point my brother Cameron (who is trying to contain his laughter during this whole debacle) says to me "You're not winning." Then we all crack up. She finally whispers in my ear "Your purse."

She got it from my purse. Before you go thinking I'm all money bags, you must understand I had recently gone to the bank and got cash and a bunch of ones because we just started giving the kids allowance. And I needed a bunch of change for when I sold Totally Desperate Mom after the Mother's Day services. And my five-year-old took advantage of me and my temporary cash situation. And there went my illustration. And there went Jordis's allowance. We took all the money from her and she did not receive her one-dollar allowance that week. And she will never steal money again. We hope.

The moral of the story? I don't even know. Good luck in parenting?
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Thursday, May 22, 2014

God is Good, But Sometimes Life Still Sucks

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Suffering sucks. Just this week I've heard this from dear friends . . .

My dad is suddenly really sick. Sclerosis of the liver and huge tumor there.

Our baby is not going to make it.

My husband was unfaithful. We are in the process of the divorce. 

Awful. Heart-wrenching. Painful. Tragic. Last week I was asked to speak on the topic of grief. Because I know it. Because I have been there. Many of you know my story of loss and grief. Because of my journey, my heart is tender for those who are suffering. So let me just pre-party with you on this topic before I share at Mothers Together because it is weighing on my heart. And this is my self-therapy.

Many of you know grief personally. You are looking back on it. You are walking into it. You are right in the middle of it. And if that's you, I just want to validate the suckiness of it all. The pain of it all. The emotional pain where your heart just hurts so bad you want to crawl into a hole. The physical pain where you have cried so much it physically hurts and you feel like your throat is going to pulse into your brain -- or something totally funky like that because that hardcore crying pain is hard to articulate. It just sucks.

Yes, God is at work. Yes, somehow God is in control and we are not. Yes, God will bring good out of all things for those who love him and are called according to His purposes. Yes, what Satan has intended for evil, God has meant for good. Yes, God walks with us in our suffering. He hasn't caused it, but some how he steps right down into it. Yes, in our weakest, most desperate times . . . God speaks clearly. Or maybe we are just ready to listen. But some of us were really trying to listen before the pain, so what is up? Yes, God loves us. Yes, God has not forgotten us. Yes, we can trust him and do not need to fear. These things are awesome and true. I know this firsthand. They sustained my broken heart. They brought peace to my suffering. But my circumstances still sucked. 

And all those truths about God don't mean you should be skipping through suffering.  Because even with all these truths in your head, the pain is still there. The loss of marriage, the loss of a parent, the loss of a pregnancy, the loss of a baby, the loss of your health, the loss of a child to addiction, infertility . . .

I don't know where you are at as you read this, but if you are suffering loss right now I want to oddly encourage you with this:

Your situation sucks. Let yourself be sad. Let yourself grieve. Cling to Who and what you know, but let yourself cry out to God and grieve. And let people bring you meals for the rest of your life.

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