The Burdened Outcast + Blueberry Muffins

The Burdened Outcast + Blueberry Muffins

I think we can all agree it’s been quite an interesting first half of 2020. The memes remind us to laugh a little at all the chaos happening in our world, but really, it’s pretty heavy. From a pandemic that started in the country we serve in—and us not even thinking once it would spread across the globe—to race issues in our other home country that also directly affect us, being a bi-racial family. I’ve dug into the Word more these past several months, knowing that God’s truths alone can withstand the turmoil that constantly swirls around me.

Race discussions are nothing new to us. We have them as a family, although because our mixed kids don’t experience as much discrimination (in a language they can understand…yet—more on that later), we let those conversations and questions come up naturally. If they want to talk about something to do with race, we’ll definitely dive in. Otherwise, we’re letting their innocence last as long as it possibly can.

Several years ago, our oldest asked if his daddy’s skin was brown because he ate too much chocolate cereal. All of our kids still refer to our skin color as “tan” (which, if you know me and my childhood nicknames of “Casper” or “Powder,” that’s pretty hilarious) and “brown.” This is the pure innocence I want to cling to!

I’m still protecting them from the conversations I have every single day about their features. Most of them start off by asking if they’re my children, then they move onto comparing their hair and skin to mine. In this country, pale skin is considered the most beautiful, so I hear things like:

“I’m glad they got some of your skin tone so they’re not as dark as their daddy.”

“The oldest is the whitest—he’s the most beautiful.”

“Her hair is cute, but WOW that must be so hard to take care of and do all the time!”

“His hair looks like a bunch of bugs crawling—I’m scared of it!”

I’ve written here before that I try my best to remember that these questions come from a state of curiosity and having not being exposed to other cultures. But lately, maybe because I can get fired up about things happening in the States, I’ve been speaking up more, trying to turn around some of these statements so they can slowly begin to unwind all the racism they’ve naively accepted for way too long–even from local Believers.

Their skin tone is perfect the way it is. Sometimes, depending on the conversation, I’ll dive into the fact that each country has its own version of the most beautiful skin tone—and it’s not always pale!

Yes, he may be the least dark of the 3, but the other 2 are just as adorable. And actually, ma’am, it’s pretty rude to say that in our culture (and yours too, but you just haven’t discovered that yet). Sometimes I’ll explain the underlying meaning behind saying the lightest is the most good-looking is that they’re simultaneously saying my dark-skinned husband is not handsome in the least, simply because he’s dark.

Yes, her hair takes a lot of work, but by you commenting in such a way makes it sound like her hair is more trouble than it’s worth and I carry such a heavy burden with her hair. It does take work, but I can’t imagine her without her perfect ringlets.

I had no words for the last comment. After the shock wore off, I simply felt sorry for her. She truly hasn’t been exposed to many people beyond those who look like her.

In recent months, I’ve tasted my own bits and pieces of discrimination. Because locals believed the rumors that people from the US spread the virus here, lots of locals began to treat us differently. They would grab their children and run to the other side of the street while looking at us wild-eyed. When everyone was wearing masks, they would readjust theirs to make sure none of our germs would seep in. We were denied entry to some places. We were told to sit in the back of a restaurant. We had countless conversations that, once people learned we are from the US, ended with, “Your country is such a mess. The leaders are doing a terrible job. I bet you’re so glad you stayed here. Our country is so much better than yours.” One day I lamented these frustrating circumstances to my husband. He lovingly responded, “Now you know what it feels like to be one of us.” Talk about a gut punch!

My initial reaction to some of these situations is to lash out at them. Let them know just how awful they are being. But Jesus, also a foreigner, also discriminated against, did no such thing. Instead, he responded with grace and patience, yet still full of truth. The Bible shares several stories and verses about not repaying evil for evil, but instead heaping blessings and looking for the good and right in the other person. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to practice! It’s a moment-by-moment choice in how I react.

Recent events have made life in our earthly home harder and more exhausting with all the conversations in both countries. But when I take a step back and think of everyone as the Lord sees them, I feel burdened to pray for them. May their hearts be softened to accept all people for how they were created, in His perfect image. May they begin to think of how words can be hurtful. May they become aware of their prejudices and begin to unravel them. May we all do the same.

Have you experienced any foreigner discrimination over the last several months? What types of conversations are you having with locals about race issues?

*****

Blueberries used to be a rare, expensive commodity in our country. But, like avocados, raspberries and blackberries, they’ve become more and more common. These muffins have less sugar than most, but continue to be a huge hit with expats and locals. Try them out and see if they can last longer than two days, which is the longest they’re around in our house!

I’m not the greatest at planning ahead. So, when my butter is still cold and hard and I need it to be softer, I slice it up and set it out while I get everything else ready. It’s usually soft enough by then!
Mixing the dry ingredients is always the 5-year-old’s job. And it’s this mama’s job not to get upset when she spills some…nearly every time.
Butter, (less) sugar, and eggs. Easy enough!
Alternating mixing in the dry ingredients and the milk will ensure the batter won’t get too tough. Don’t overmix!
Don’t worry if you still have bits of flour to mix in. Once you add the blueberries, it will all join in happily. Better this way than overmixing and ending up with tough, chewy muffins.
Yummy plump berries make their appearance. There are a lot of berries for this recipe, so you can definitely use less! I happened to find a great sale, so I splurged and dumped them all in.
I usually make mini muffins. In my head, they last longer….in reality, they don’t. So easy to pop!
Bursting with berries. Crispy tops. Soft centers. Yum.

Blueberry Muffins

Makes: 12-14 medium muffins or 24-30 mini muffins

Ready in: 45 minutes

Slightly Adapted From: Once Upon A Chef

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt (slightly less if using salted butter)

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a muffin tin with paper or silicone liners. These muffins stick to the pan easily, so using liners is best.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. (The batter may look a little grainy — that’s okay).

Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, beating on low speed to combine. The batter will be very thick. Add the blueberries to the batter and fold gently with a spatula until evenly distributed. Do not overmix or your muffins will be tough! Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin.

Bake for about 30 minutes (15-18 minutes for mini muffins), until lightly golden. Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each muffin to free it from the pan if necessary (the blueberries can stick), then transfer the muffins to a rack to cool completely.

9 Comments

  1. Michele July 10, 2020

    I am single with four beautiful bi-racial nieces and nephews, the oldest of whom has two babies of her own now. I moved to southeast Asia in 1997 and experienced enough frustrating conversations just from sharing photos of my family that I can’t imagine living it out day by day where you do. Some of those conversations did bear fruit in changing perceptions, though. As an outsider I was also able to sometimes help the two ethnic groups I had deep connections with see how wrong their prejudices toward each other were as well.
    I love that you are protecting your kids’ sweet innocence while you can. Two years ago my grandniece (then four) asked me why I was white. We had a good chat about how that works and it’s come up since- seems to just fascinate her in some ways. But the best thing about that conversation and subsequent ones is that she clearly sees her ‘dark chocolate’ skin as more beautiful than mine. I love that so much and long that she would always know how beautiful she is.
    I want to also comment on the current conversations with locals… I am now in Nepal and any conversations about the race issues in America have been positive and constructive. They deal with their own caste system and relate it to that. Since we’re all still staying home, I have been able to join the prayer team in my SE Asia church on Zoom each week and I’ve had a hard time with their opinions and how fast they judge things they know nothing about. I found they couldn’t really listen, seemed to not even be trying to understand, so I finally said very bluntly (I mean too blunt for SE Asian culture) that there was a lot they don’t understand about the history of America and what black people have suffered there and it would be better if they would stop believing everything they see posted and stop judging what they don’t understand and just pray. I guess it’s more painful because we’ve worked so hard to understand their cultures, to avoid judgment. And for sure in regards to this issue at this time, I feel more sensitive than I do about anything to do with America, honestly.
    I apologize for my long, rambling comments, but since this week is about ‘Processing’ and your post sparked a lot of the things I’ve been processing internally, I’m just letting it spill out today. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. Ashley Felder July 14, 2020

      Ramble on, especially during processing week! That’s what we’re here for. 🙂

      It’s so hard to know how and when to respond, especially in other cultures. I’ve also realized not every culture/country is as sensitive to racial issues as people from the States are. Thanks for sharing your experiences! We can keep learning from one another!

  2. Jenny July 10, 2020

    Wow thank you for sharing all of this Ashley. This struggle is so real and part of our every day in various ways. I’m thankful for your transparency and shining light on perspectives we may not always see or realize.

    1. Ashley Felder July 14, 2020

      So glad to know you a little bit now! The conversation we had seemed unfinished. Hope we can continue it somehow, someway, sometime! 🙂

      1. Jenny July 14, 2020

        Yes me too and I agree!

  3. Danielle Wheeler July 10, 2020

    I remember when Ellie used to talk about us having “blonde skin” because she didn’t know to call us white. Kids are good at calling things what they look like rather than what culture defines for them.

    Thanks for sharing these vulnerable parts of your story, Ashley. Such an important conversation as we all keep learning what it means to value and honor the diversity with which God made us (and how to respond to people who don’t).

    1. Ashley Felder July 14, 2020

      Blonde skin! I love it! And I love kids’ innocence! Lets keep learning from each other. 🙂

  4. Theresa July 10, 2020

    I always make things mini too, with the idea they will stretch further! Hahah. I think it’s really so that I can not feel so bad about stuffing my face because how can you count when things are tiny? 😂

    Thanks for sharing your perspectives and thanks also for the time Live yesterday. With regard to the virus, I imagine it is so interesting and frustrating to be in a crossroads where you hear about Asian discrimination from Americans, but you also experience the American discrimination in Asia (and that’s not even hitting on the pain of racism affecting your family, and the difference in the countries’ recognition/reckonings). So grateful to be serving a God who is seeing everyone as they are, and letting us share in the love of Christ for all people too. Blessings to you and your fam 💛

    1. Ashley Felder July 14, 2020

      Yes to all the mini foods! Mini chocolate chips, pretzel bites, mini muffins…they’re all calorie-free because they’re so small. 😉

      Yes, the discrimination across the world because of this virus is crazy. Sometimes when we complain about issues we’ve faced here, they’re quick to remind us their friends and family are often experiencing worse in other countries. So sad. So hard. Hoping we all come out better people by the end of all this! But, of course, we know that can’t happen without Jesus!

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