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  • Raising Kids with Compassion

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    Have you ever stopped to think about the kinds of adults you are raising your kids to be?  Hopefully you have, and as a result have some specific goals in mind for your kids.  Some parents hope for their kids to be extremely educated or financially successful.  Others hope for their kids to be famous or known for something important.  Others want their kids have a specific skill or sport mastered whether it be dancing, the tuba, or a star soccer player.  Encouraging our kids in their giftings is not a bad thing at all, but at the end of the day (or of their life) it’s not whats going to matter most.

    More than anything I desire to raise kids with hearts of compassion.  I want my kids to see people as more imporatant than anything else.  I don’t long for my kids to be famous, rich or successful by the worlds standards.  I want my kids to be known for their kindness, for their desire to see and notice others, especially the ones overlooked by most.

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    One time we were teaching at an evening outreach in an little village on the rocky side of a hill.  Suddenly, my oldest son, who was helping me  said, “I’ll be right back, as he looked past me to the window outside that faced the steep rocky hill.   He slipped out the the door and I watched my son, run to help a little girl who was carrying two heavy back packs.  I watched him remove both back packs off of her and place them on himself then walk with her up the slippery hill, and beyond where I knew it was just as steep on the other side.  He carried it all the way home for her.  He was gone for about 20 minutes, and came back sweaty and out of breath.

    I was so, so proud of him.  He noticed some one who needed a hand, and he jumped in to be the one to give it.

    I’ve often thought of that moment and asked myself this question…

    What makes some kids or adults more kind, generous then others?  I don’t think being kind and helpful is natural for most of us.  It’s not always for me any ways.  So why are some people more compassionate then others?

    Honestly I can only come up with one sound answer, and please hear my humility in this…. it’s the ones who have some one to model it for them and teach them.

     

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    Our kids, are watching us.  They notice everything we do or don’t do. They see when we share what we have with some one who doesn’t.  They hear our words full of gentleness and compassion, and the ones that aren’t.  They see when we go out of our way to help some one else, or if we just pass on by.  They see how we react when we haven’t been treated fairly, when we extended grace instead of anger or revenge or when we don’t.  But they aren’t just watching us.  They are copying our addititudes, beliefs and behaviours._MG_0544

    I am no saint.  I don’t always help.  I am often distracted, busy and messed up in my priorities, and I am not pretending to have it all together or saying that my kids do either.  We are normal, messy people, believe me.  But I do pray to have open eyes to see those in need of a helping hand, a hug, or a word of encouragemnt, and to do my best to give it to them, even if it’s inconvenient to me.

    I want to notice those around me.  Really see them, and be a help when I can.

    I want to show kindness when it costs me something and I want my kids to see and do the same.  Not out of duty or obligation but out of love for the people around us.  I can’t think of anything that would bring me more joy than that.  More importantly then what I want, isn’t that what loving Jesus is all about?

     

  • Yum – Zucchini Muffins

     

    _MG_8970I want to share one of my families favourite snack recipes… Zucchini muffins.  All of my kids eat them (that’s saying a lot right there), even the zucchini haters.  I promise that you can not taste the zucchini at all, they mostly add moisture and fibre (among many other good things).  They are moist, fairly healthy and quick to make.  You don’t need a mixer or more than one bowl to whip these up.  I usually make a double batch and put most of them in the freezer.  They are great to take to work, or school, with coffee or for an afternoon snack.  We never seem to get tired of them.

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    Print

    One Bowl Zucchini Muffins


    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Cook Time 20 minutes
    Total Time 45 minutes
    Servings 20 muffins
    Author Amber Machado

    Ingredients

    • 3 cups grated zucchini
    • 2/3 cup melted butter or coconut oil
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 3 cups white flour (or half white and half whole wheat)
    • 2 tsp baking soda
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
    • 3 tbs ground flax optional
    • 1 cup chocolate chips

    Instructions

    1. Prepare muffin tins with paper liners OR grease tin with oil. 

       Preheat oven to 35O F

    2. In a large bowl combine sugar, eggs, vanilla and melted butter with a whisk

    3. Stir in grated zucchini

    4. Add the flour gently onto the top of the wet ingredients, proceed to add remaining dry ingredients.  Gently stir dry ingredients with a whisk on the top surface of the bowl, not mixing in the wet ingredients from the bottom.  Once top dry layer is combined use a wooden spoon to mix everything in the bowl together. 

    5. Stir in chocolate chips.

    6. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins filling 3/4 full.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Muffins are ready when you touch the tops and they bounce back or a toothpick comes out clean after you poke the center

    7. Enjoy

  • The Shirt

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    It was one of my favourite shirts.  The one I fought myself to keep instead of giving it to the lady that wonders the streets.

    Every now and then I see her walking around town, dirty, with bags in her hands and a doll clutched under her arm.  I have seen her sleeping on the side of a back road, and not too long ago I found her digging through my garbage can.

    Her clothes are usually filthy, and her outfits a modge podge of what she must find thrown out or what others may have given her.  These past couple days she has been wearing jeans, an open jacket, a prom dress hanging half off, and nothing else underneath.  When I saw her as I was driving by, the sight of her walking along the road with her breasts exposed, made my heart sink a little.

    What has a person like that gone through?  What has been done against her, that she no longer feels shame from being so exposed?

    When I came across her that  morning, digging through my garbage, I remembered the shirt in my purse.   I had it in there from  a trip a few weeks before.  I don’t normally carry extra shirts with me but we had gone on a day trip to the city and I stuffed one in my purse in case one of the kids spilled something on me or, lets be honest, more likely in case I spilled on myself,  ha ha.  I wanted a back up.  It was one of my favourite shirts, actually.

    I knew instantly that I should give it to her, but I am not going to lie, I hesitated.  It wasn’t that the shirt was worth a lot, not to any one else anyways.  I just really liked it.  I also knew there was a good chance that she would never even wear the shirt, but neither of those thoughts are the point.  I actually considered running inside my house to get another less loved shirt.  Bottom line  I wanted to do something  nice without is costing me any discomfort.  I was being selfish and materialistic.  Nothing to be proud of.

    This lady deserved to be treated with love and compassion.  She was 100% worth  receiving a favourite shirt.  I only share this to say that the one changed in the shirt exchange was me.  For all I know, she walked down the road and tossed it aside, and thats ok.  I’m not going to let my love for stuff hold me back from giving compassion with out expectations and strings attached.  The struggle is real though, isn’t it?

    Who said loving Jesus and loving people was easy, convenient or comfortable?  It’s not and it shouldn’t be.  If you live your life in a tidy, easy Christian comfortable bubble it may be time to dig deep into God’s word and be willing to live the life He has called all of us to live….

    And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.[b] Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

    Because of the privilege and authority[c] God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.[d]  

    Romans 12:1-3 NLT

    Maybe you have your own “favourite” (stuff, attitudes, comforts, etc)  you need to be willing to give away?  I’m still working on my own, it’s not really a one time thing.  The shirt was just the beginning.

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  • I’m listening to: The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey (podcast)

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    From now I will share something I love on Fridays… anything from a fave recipe, book, cleaning tip, a product I love, or something I like to do.  So check back in on Fridays for something interesting.  Today I want to share something that I LOVE to listen to.  Its more for women, so if you aren’t one you could pass on this info to a lady you love.

    Do you listen to podcasts?  You should, their are a ton of really good ones!  One of my favourite podcast shows is the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey .  It’s a podcast for women, featuring a wide variety of different christian ladies.  It’s like overhearing a great conversation between girlfriends including all kinds of reverent topics including parenting, marriage, social justice issues, managing time, beauty tips, and so much more.  I usually download an episode before I go out for a morning walk or run, or listen to one when I am doing the dishes in the morning.   I have learned a lot from these podcasts.  I highly recommend you give them a try.  You will not be disappointed.

    At this time of my life I have very little time to spend with my friends chatting.  My family takes most of my time, and I am ok with that.  It’s the season I am in right now, and I love it.  These interview are like listening to 2 friends have a really great conversation, only I don’t have to say a word and I can pause it if I need to, ha ha.  They are so great.

    You can download them on iTunes just look for The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey or check out her website and download them from there.  A few that I have listened to lately that I have really liked are

    Happy Hour #141 : Cheryl Scruggs – they mostly talk about marriage and Cheryls’ experience of getting divorced and then remarrying the same man.  So interesting to hear how God worked in each their lives and restored a broken relationship.

    Happy Hour #134 Tsh Oxenreider – talks about her experience with traveling with her whole family around the world.  I found it soooooo interesting and it really awakened some dreams for me to do something like that with my own family some day!

    Happy Hour #116 Ann Voscamp – author of the popular book “1000 gifts” and mother of 7, she’s a great writer and speaker, lots of good stuff always comes form her.

    Happy Hour # 71 Korie Roberton of the Duck Dynasty fame talks about family, adoption and so much more.  Loved this one!

    Those are just a few of many.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

  • Investing in what works

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    Poverty makes me so incredibly angry and frustrated.

    To watch my dear friends struggle from day to day, working hard but barely surviving and not knowing how to help them in a way that will actually bring change has been so hard and maddening.

    I have spent countless hours listening, watching and trying to understand what life is like for the poor. I have been actively involved in several peoples lives, trying to help, but knowing most of what I was doing was not very helpful.

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    This is what I now know…

    No THING including food, clothes, shoes, toys, medication, or even a house can bring any form of long term transformation.

    It may temporary lighten the burden for a short amount of time, but things just can’t change a life.

    When your poor, you are just getting by.  You have enough for the day… not the week, the month or the year.  This results from living in crisis every time an expected or unexpected expense comes up such as sickness, a school cost, a birthday, or anything else beyond simple living expenses such as shelter, food, and water.

    When your goal is to survive, everything else seems less important, even good things like school, a steady full time job, holiday celebrations, routines for your family, or going to church.  Living day by day is stressful and exhausting, leaving very little time to dream, plan, and work towards a different future.

    My friend stopped by awhile ago, asking for a ride. They had just been to the hospital, their toddler was sick with a cold and had a high fever they couldn’t get to go down. They had spent the morning in the hospital. The treatment and medication was free but they had no money for the way home to their village thats a 10 minute drive from town. The simple cold of their daughter resulted in 2 days of no work for the father. It also resulted in a small birthday party they had planned for 3 family members to be cancelled. A couple days later it brought the oldest son to my house asking for money for shoes he needed but could no longer afford. It also led to a phone call I got the next afternoon from the dad asking for money to take his wife to the doctor who was now sick with the same cold.

    What did I do?  This time, I said no.

    It may sound heartless but after way to many yeses to what seems like good things… diapers, grocery money, medicine, and many other life essentials, I know I am not helping them.  I am guilty of enabling this family to live in survival mode, teaching them that they can always ask for a hand out instead of finding a way to help them selves. I care deeply for them, and truly hate to see them suffering, but I am more motivated than ever to be a part of long term transformation.

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    I may not have all the answers but there are a few things I KNOW make a difference and bring about real changes…

    The first is Jesus.  Knowing Him, changes every thing.  Of course I know this personally but I have seen a huge difference in the quality of life in the people who’s life have been transformed by the love of Jesus.  Knowing Him does not mean that the poor get rich but that the poor can have peace, joy and comfort through their difficult circumstances. It also transforms the values in their homes, affecting how couples treat each other, how they care for and love their children and what they believe is possible for the future.  If at the end of the day sharing the love and hope of Jesus is not a priority, not much of our “help” really matters.

    The second is education.  It’s really the golden ticket for a kids life to be different then their parents.  It’s almost impossible for a child to break a family cycle of poverty without getting an education.  In the case of most kids I know, this means simply making it past elementry school.  Anything else beyond that is very rare, especially for girls, who are often married off by the time they should be starting high school.  If you want to invest in something that can truly make a difference in the fight against poverty, invest in the education of a child!

    The last area I want to mention today is new skills.  Knowledge truly is power.  So teaching some one a new skill or helping them improve or add on to the ones they already have can truly make an impact towards changing their life.  It could lead to better job opportunities, increased income, and the gift of pride and dignity to provide for their own family.  What could be better than that?

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    That family that I mentioned above, the one I said “no”  to?  Well, we have  invested in them in much better ways.  Saul was temporarily able to give the Dad a part time job  through his work at the time doing construction where he learned new skills.  We have been able to  support their family through many family crisis situations, offering advice, prayer and counsel when needed and are happy to report they are a healthy Christian family.  Their oldest son just graduated from high school, and will soon continue his secondary education, which is a huge accomplishment for some one in his community.  He is currently working for an after school program, where he is tutoring other kids in the community and gaining many new leadership skills.  I can’t say this is a “and they lived happily ever after” ending but I can say that this family has had a huge improvement in the quality of their life, and had nothing to do with the free stuff they were given.  Oh and best of all, my friends don’t ask me for money any more.  They simply don’t need to.

    I know a lot of people with big hearts, who want to help people in difficult situations.  Their are so many ways to help, but few bring long term results.  So this is my suggestion…

    Jesus (evangelism and discipleship), education and new skills.  These are the areas I know are worth investing in because I have seen it firsthand, and they are the areas where we personally invest our own time here in Mexico.   I am not saying you shouldn’t support ministries/organizations that focus on other needs but I am saying that to help a person move away from a life of poverty, find hope and be able to change their family for the better these are the areas where I would encourage you to invest your time, money and resources.

    Don’t make some of the mistakes we have and invest in what matters most!

     

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