Teaching Compassion & Empathy

We have to teach our kids compassion. As I watched Gabe and Esther play tag in the yard, the game which was full of shrieks of laughter turned to shrieks of pain. Seeing Esther first I said, “What happened?” She looked at me, then back at Gabe — who was shrieking on the ground– shrugged and said, “He stepped on something I guess.” Then she casually went on ignoring his cries of pain happening only a few yards away from her.

Disturbed by her reaction, I ran and surveyed the scene. Gabe was on the ground holding his foot with a board (recently fallen off the play set) full of rusty screws on the ground under him. He had stepped on one of the screws and had a pretty bad puncture wound in his foot. Blood was pouring out of it as I carried him up the stairs. As I doctored him, I pondered the lack of interest in Esther. Wondering why she didn’t even check on him. I sent her to her room intending to speak with her about it later.

After Gabe had been thoroughly tended to with iodine, I turned my attention to the seemingly heartless daughter I had upstairs. I know Esther. She’s kind and thoughtful. She cares a lot about people, so her behavior struck me as odd. I didn’t want to attack her or make her feel guilty. I just needed to teach her what to do when someone gets hurt. How to act with compassion and empathy.

If it’s not fun for one, the game is done.

I began with a gentle reminder of a rule in our house: If it’s not fun for one, the game is done. If a joke is not funny for someone, the game is done. If someone gets hurt and isn’t having fun anymore, the game is done. If someone gets hurt you need to check on them. Ask if they need help. Go for help if they say yes. If they say no, then help them up. Try to find something that will make them feel better. Put yourself in their shoes. If you were hurt and couldn’t get up, what would you want? How would you feel? Look at their face and try to understand what they are feeling. Are they crying? Laughing? Sad? In pain? …all were questions and options we discussed.

It seemed to me that these were obvious social rules and obligations, but my four year old daughter didn’t know what her responsibility was. Today, as a parent, I realized the concrete concept that it has to be taught. We have to teach our children how to care for others. How to get help. When to stop the game. Especially if it is a family member.

I want her to act with compassion and empathy for everyone she meets, and develop an even stronger protective nature for members of her family. Because we are family, and that’s what we do. We care for each other. We look out for each other. Help. Defend. Protect.

It all has to be taught. As parents, we cannot assume our loving, tender child will know what to do a situation like that. I am very interested in what you have done to teach the children in your life empathy and compassion.

Pray for them

Psalms reminds us to, “Forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Wow! What a promise! Let’s pray for those in our lives who need a touch from God, whose unfailing  love and faithfulness is ever true.

Lord, I lift up (Name) to you and “I pray that all may go well with [Name] and that [he/she] may be in good health, as it goes well with [his/her] soul.” In your powerful name I pray, amen. 
3 John 2

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.

Spiced Pumpkin Scones

  • 4 cups Flour
  • 2/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cloves
  • 1 1/5 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 cups Cold Butter
  • 1/4 cup Cold Lard
  • 1 cup Pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbs Molasses
  • 1/3 cup Cream
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Vanilla

Cinnamon Glaze

  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cream
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line two large baking sheets with foil. In a large (and I mean LARGE) mixing bowl, combine first 8 ingredients. Cut in cold butter and lard until you have small crumbles the size of peas. Set aside. In another bowl, combine pumpkin, molasses, cream, eggs and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and combine only until a soft dough forms (it will be sticky). Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead until it is no longer sticky – about 5-8 times. Form dough into a rectangle and cut into 32 small triangles.

Transfer onto the prepared baking sheets and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Once done, let them cool on a rack. Meanwhile, prepare glaze. Once scones are cooled completely, drizzle lightly the cinnamon glaze onto the pumpkin scones and let dry.

Note: If you are a glaze lover, double the glaze recipe and dip the scones into the glaze, covering the top completely.

Kids or Coyotes?

It was later than usual. At least, it was for locking up the chickens. So, I marched out there with a flashlight hoping they would all be accounted for. They were. However, they were running low on  food and water. Brian was inside with the kids, and it would soon be their bedtime too. So I thought, I’ll just do it tonight since I have a moment. Bringing the containers back to the house with me, I heard a lone coyote howl. He was down the valley a ways but coyotes and I have never gotten along. When I meet one, I want to have a gun in hand. Which I didn’t. I had chicken feeders. I wondered if I could land a good blow with the feeder or if it would just make the coyote mad.

It’s childish, I know. Coyotes are nearly worthless animals, more scared of me than I am of them. At least, that’s what my dad used to tell me as a child. You see, I have had this aversion since childhood. I grew up next to them and let’s just say coyotes and I never became friends. I heard it howl again, this time closer. I decided the feeder would not be a good line of defense so I decided to hurry this little project along. Besides, it was probably the chickens it was smelling anyway.

As I was finishing this lovely task, I heard another coyote from the other end of the valley answer the first. They were closing in, anticipating a chicken dinner, and I was there in the middle of them. So, as any courageous adult would do, I forced myself to walk back to the house.

As I approached, I could hear it from outside. Brian had announced bedtime and the three toddlers were screaming and crying in protest of the dreaded event. It had been like this all day. And a long day it had been too. I knew what was next. The kids don’t give in that easily. This was a bedtime fight and they wouldn’t concede until they were all doing nose to wall.

Another howl rent the air. My hand was on the door knob. Coyotes or kids? At that moment, I looked inside and hesitated. It had been such a long day with the kids, the fresh, crisp air felt so good and coyotes aren’t so bad… are they? I doubted the pack would even know I was there. I’ll just hang out outside in the dark for a while, maybe walk around the house until the kids concede and go upstairs.

I’m not a smoker. Never smoked a cigarette in my life. But as I stood in the darkness, listening to the pack close in, I desperately wanted something to do with my hands. Smoking a cigarette seemed like it would have been better than nervously poking them in and out of my pockets. I peeked inside again. Kids were still at it. Brian has always had more patience than me. Finally the house grew quiet and I peeked in a window again. All was clear. Now I could peacefully go in and make coffee before going upstairs to help. So what if there was an extra pep to my step? No one was there to witness it.

pray for them

We live in a culture that loves to microwave, yet we serve a God who prefers to marinate. Perseverance does not come naturally, yet the reward is so much greater than we could ever conceive. Let’s pray for our loved ones to persevere in the face of resistance.

Spinach Tortellini

  • 2 packages Mixed Cheese Tortellini
  • 1 qt San Marzano Pasta Sauce
  • 2 cups Chopped Fresh Spinach
  • 1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Boil water and add tortellini. Cook for 8-10 minutes until tender. In a sauce pan, bring San Marzano pasta sauce to a simmer and add 2 fresh cups chopped fresh spinach. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Serve with sprinkled parmesan cheese over top.


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What I Will Miss

Everyone seems to think the best response to a hard day at home is: you’re going to miss this. It’s almost as annoying as the “you’ve got your hands full” statement when your kids are having a horrid trip to the grocery store and you’re about to be in tears yourself. Sometimes I want to snap back, “Actually, no I will not miss the perpetual ringing in my ears from the shrieks and screams that have happened all day.”

We hear it all the time do we not? There’s merit to it. It originates from the generations who have gone before us and look back and know that yes, we will absolutely miss this time of life. I just wish someone would go a little deeper. Break it down more for my fried senses to take it in with understanding. Tell me that while I won’t miss the ringing in my ears, I will miss the joyful sound of laughter and the pitter patter of small feet running through my house.

In an effort to stop rolling my eyes the moment I hear you’re going to miss this,  I decided to queue into the beauty in the mess. Focus on things I know I will miss so that I develope an appreciation of this “now” season. So that when it is over I won’t look back and say, I wish I had cherished it more.

I won’t miss the sleepless nights and the black circles that publicize them. But, I will miss those midnight moments when I rock a sleepy baby who is for the moment content to soak up all the snuggles I will give her.

I won’t miss the pain from boney elbows that pierce my chest when they suddenly want off my lap. However, I will miss the times when they wanted to sit on my lap at all and they were small enough to actually fit on it.

I won’t miss stubbing my toe on a talking toy in the middle of the night thus waking up the whole house. But, I will miss watching my kids toddle around while carrying their favorite stuffed animal– usually bigger than they are– under their arm.

I won’t miss the difficult trips to the grocery store with the five of them knocking things off shelves and dropping things from the cart just to see if it will break. But I will miss the days when they begged to go with me because all they really want is time with their mommy.

I won’t miss the dried oatmeal on the floor that hurts my feet when I walk over it. But I will deeply miss the days when we all sat around the table and there were no phones, no radios, no tvs, and no school meetings or practices to pull us in different directions.

For now, in this moment in our family, it’s just us. We are all here, together. Their love for Brian and I is untainted and unconditional. They hear opinions from others but care only for our praise and approval. Right now, in their tender, young hearts no one means more to them than us. Someday, as they grow and mature this will all change. It is as it should be. I will be proud of the independent and strong men and women they will become. But yes, I will miss this.

Pray For Them

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 18% of American adults suffer from anxiety disorders. That’s over 40 million Americans. In a society that struggles so much with fear and anxiety, we need to be battling on the front lines for our loved ones to find peace. Peace that persists in every situation and goes beyond understanding can only be rooted in Christ. Let’s pray today for our loved ones to find true peace in their lives.

Perfect Pie Crust

For all I know, this could be straight out of a 1954 Betty Crocker cookbook. But folks, it was handed down to me all the way from my great grandma and it is delicious. It never fails to be perfect. People who don’t like crust only exist because they haven’t tried this one. Pie season is coming up and you need to be ready!

This makes three 9″ pie crusts. Freeze what you don’t need and when you’re ready for your next pie just pull it out, let it thaw in the fridge and bam, you’re set to go.

  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Lard
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tbs White Vinegar
  • 2/3 cup Cold Water

Blend flour and salt. Add lard and cut into flour mixture with a pastry cutter until crumbles are pea size. Beat egg in a cup, add vinegar to it and mix together then add cold water. Pour into flour and combine with a fork until it pulls away from the edges. Divide into three even sections. Turn out what you need onto a floured surface and roll it out. Freeze what you don’t need.

If your filling is already cooked, poke holes in your crust with a fork and pre-bake your pie crust in the oven at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Then add your filling. (You poke holes so the crust doesn’t have big bubbles during baking.)

If your filling needs to be cooked in the oven, just pour it into a raw pie crust (no holes) and bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees.

Note: If you want your crust to turn out just right, you cannot substitute the lard. It’s a completely natural product and makes things deliciously flakey like pie crusts and biscuits. Shortening won’t do your recipe justice (besides it’s made only from chemicals in a lab) and butter doesn’t have the same abilities.