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Breathe

“Life moves at a million miles per hour.”

I don't remember where I first heard this phrase. At this point, I think it's one of those phrases that everybody just knows. Life flies by in an instant. One moment you’re a small kid just starting kindergarten with nothing more than an excited smile and a backpack in your hand, and then all of a sudden you’re a freshman in college carrying the constant weight of anxiety because of that paper you forgot to write.

All of a sudden life can become a series of deadlines. The feeling of accomplishment that accompanies meeting a deadline immediately fades when the reality of the next one hits you. It becomes a cycle focused only on “the next thing” or “just one more assignment.” We often fall victims to our cycles and end up missing out on the world around us.

“But I have to keep moving forward.”

I would always say this to someone when they suggested that I should take it slow and give myself a moment to breathe. Busyness can become a badge of honor and an excuse for us to neglect rest. But the truth is that living life to the fullest doesn't mean always trying to get ahead. We must take time to breathe and rest because just like it's impossible to run a whole marathon at full speed without passing out, so it’s impossible to get through life at full speed without burning out. Pace yourself. Give yourself time to simply sit back and enjoy every step of the way. Let yourself fully experience life and be open to new changes because like I learned, life doesn’t work out the way you planned it in high school.

Stressful and overwhelming moments will come, but remember that everything is temporary - deadlines come and go. The only thing that remains in the grand scheme of life is your relationship with God. Unfortunately, sometimes we stray away from the purpose and vision God gives us. But we can always come home to Him and realign ourselves with Him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Just like the verse says, we have to learn to lean on God and allow ourselves to both physically and spiritually rest. Allowing ourselves to rest lets us better accomplish our goals and lets us appreciate and learn from whatever season we go through.

It's almost time for a new year, so let’s make these last few weeks count. Let’s continue pacing ourselves, taking breaks, and being intentional with the vision God has placed in our lives.

William Rivero

Service Liaison

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Provision in the Storm

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Provision in the Storm

We go through many things in life that are both good and bad. We as a society also tend to fix our eyes on the bad things and see them as a hindrance rather than an asset. We say, “If this didn’t happen my life would be…” or ask, “Why God? Why did this have to happen to me?” We ask ourselves these questions daily, and maybe even hourly. But have you ever asked yourself, “What is God giving me through these moments?”

At first glance, it seems like this question doesn’t make sense. But if you think about it a little more you’ll realize that it’s the best question to ask in the midst of a storm because God has a purpose for both the good and bad moments that we live through. He gives purpose to things that we think can’t possibly have any. Relevant illustrations of this are seen in how a mountain peak always follows a valley and how a rainbow always follows a storm; a high always follows a low. Although we know this is true, it’s sometimes easier to play the victim and say, “Oh but you don’t know what I’ve been through!” and “I have lost this and that." Although our feelings and loss are valid, what we sometimes fail to realize is that we choose our perspective. Will we focus on the storm or on the rainbow?

Growing up in Florida, I’ve seen my fair share of hurricanes throughout the years. What has always amazed me is how the eye of the hurricane seems to put a pause on the storm; how there's a moment of peace in the midst of chaos. It’s in this moment of respite from the thrashing wind and rain that we get to see that the storm that once felt never-ending has finally almost run its course. This moment gives us hope that once the storm is over, there will be a rainbow and a reason to rejoice.

God works in the same way. When you’re in the middle of a storm in your life, God will give you moments of peace to signal that the storm is almost over, and once the storm is over there will be a reason to rejoice. So today I encourage you to ask, “What is God giving me through these moments?” and stand in awe as He provides for you in the storm and eventually parts the gray clouds to reveal His glorious rainbow.

Ashley Roman

Executive Assistant

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Your Role in Building Up a Generation

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Your Role in Building Up a Generation

In M.A.D.E., we are all about empowering the next generation to fulfill God’s plans and purposes in their lives, even beyond their wildest imagination. Empowerment is actually one of our five core values which we strive to incorporate in every single thing we do, not only as an organization but also in our individual lives. We genuinely believe that we have all been hand-picked to be world-changers and difference makers, and we won’t stop until every youth knows it.

Each day that passes by, my heart breaks at the news of every youth whose short life comes to an end far too quickly. In fact, according to the CDC, the second and third top leading causes of death in teenagers are suicide and homicide, respectively. Can you imagine how many teen suicides we could prevent if they had an influential voice near them, cheering them on, speaking life into them, giving them hope for a brighter future? Can you imagine how many homicides could be prevented if we could build up a generation that chooses love over hatred and acceptance over ignorance?

While one person might not be able to reach every single youth, if we are each intentional about it, we can each play a role in building up a generation of difference makers. Here are three practical ways to empower the youth in your life:

  1. Remember their emotions have value: So often we can find ourselves judging this generation and wondering what they could possibly have to complain about, given all of the first-world privileges they have. Yet, we must remember that there are layers to people that we may not see, wounds that may have left ugly scars, and experiences that may have molded their identities. This generation deals with a lot of “first-world problems” that leads to emotions we shouldn’t belittle. Be the first to ask how someone is and mean it. Get down to their level; you’ll be able to see their lives from a new perspective and instead of judging them preemptively, you can guide them in love.

  2. Encourage them to act today, not just in 10 years: It can be easy to dream about the future and all of the things they want to accomplish as an adult, but why wait until then? Inspire youth to make a difference in their schools and families today. Encourage them to get involved and be the most loving and caring citizens that their community has. Offer to drive them to their local homeless shelter or support them financially when they want to organize a food drive.

  3. Be present and be available: Let your empowerment be more than just words and turn it into action. Don’t just cheer a youth on verbally but prove it to them by showing up. Take the time to listen to their situations, ideas, and dreams. Speak life into the darkest parts of their lives and always point them to their original cheerleader: Jesus.

I hope that you are encouraged to reach out to the youth in your life and be used as a vessel for all that God has for both your life and theirs. Together, let’s continue building up a generation that makes a difference every single day.

Ester Avero

President + Co-Founder

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So You Want to Change the World?

     People have always wanted to make their mark on history and change it. People want to be like Martin Luther King Jr. and stand up for the rights of African Americans, like George Washington and lead the charge for your country’s independence, or like Billy Graham and lead a global revival for the Christian community. 

     In light of our human desire to change the world, I’ve asked myself many times, “What kind of person changes the world?” to find out what kind of qualities a world changer possesses. In my search for answers to this question, I learned about three people who changed the world and I want to share with you what we can learn from them.

     1. Ghandi: Mahatma Ghandi was a man who radically changed the way we view protesting. Ghandi was a man who wanted independence for the British-ruled nation of India, but instead of leading a war on the English, he used peaceful protesting tactics that would later be used by people like Martin Luther King Jr. His peaceful tactics taught everyone that war is not the only instrument for change. Ghandi once said, “Where there is love, there is life.” So, if you want to change the world you first have to love it.

     2. Steve Jobs: Perhaps one of the men, if not the man, who changed the face of the modern world is Steve Jobs. He and his friend, Steve Wozniak, were the co-founders of Apple. When we look at Job’s legacy we don’t see one of a simple computer company owner; we see one of an incredible visionary who instead of being ok with the state of the world, decided to change it by bringing about a new age of smart technology and touchscreen phones. When we think of Steve Jobs we think of a dreamer and that’s the kind of person who changes the world - someone who dreams extravagantly.

     3. John Wesley: John Wesley was a pastor in the 1700’s who led a revival in the Christian community. He traveled constantly and preached two or three times a day everywhere he went. He preached to everyone he came across and people came from miles to see him speak. When asked about why so many people come to see him, Wesley answered, “I ask God to set me on fire every day, and people come so they can watch me burn.” To change the world, you must have a God-given boldness so people can “watch you burn.”

     So you want to change the world? The people that change the world are those who love people and care for them,  dream big enough to see change, and are bold enough to stand up for what they believe in. Those who build up these qualities can change the world. Although the call is not easy, it is worth it. 

Will you take up the call and change the world?
 

Christian Muraldo

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Celebrating 6 Years of M.A.D.E.

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Celebrating 6 Years of M.A.D.E.

 

 

 

    July 10th, 2012 marked the beginning of a new journey where God brought two ideas together and built what is known today as Making A Difference Everyday, Corp (M.A.D.E.). It all started with a passion to bring children and youth together to serve their community while simultaneously growing together physically, spiritually, and mentally. We never imagined where God would take us and how many different groups of people He would allow us to reach in this time.

 

Throughout these six years, we have encountered both overwhelming grace and growing pains. Both unending faithfulness and tested faith. However, through it all, we have seen God’s goodness in every community service event, youth camp, and capacitation class. This past year, we even had the opportunity to turn a mess into a blessing after Hurricane Irma hit South Florida in September and we served our communities directly. In these six years, we have completed over 1,425 hours of events and have impacted 674,620 individuals worldwide. Yet, regardless of the numbers, we know that if only one person had been reached, served, and loved through M.A.D.E., that would have been enough for God’s purpose to be complete.

 

First and foremost, we thank God for this time and for having His hand over this organization at all times; for guiding and providing everything for His will to come to fruition. We are grateful to be open vessels filled with the greatest purpose and for the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to reach the least of these. We also want to thank a very special group we call the Elders Council; many people do not know that M.A.D.E. is completely run by youth! God has given us the great privilege to work alongside a group of youth and young adults that are making a difference from the very core of our organization and it is our honor to serve together. Lastly, we want to thank every child, youth, and parent that has participated, volunteered, contributed, and been part of every event in the past six years. We pray that you may carry the difference maker vision in your life every single day, wherever God may lead you.

 

Every year that passes is full of expectation, excitement, and experiences to learn from. Year six has paved the way for new adventures, including our first away camp, but we cannot wait for what year seven has in store for us. Stay tuned for the best is still yet to come!

 

Making A Difference Everyday,

 

Ale and Ester

 

Co-Founders

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The Starting Line

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The Starting Line

     Have you ever found yourself sitting on the couch, staring at the TV, knowing that you really should go finish your work, yet feeling utterly powerless as the next episode starts in 3… 2… 1? Me too. 

     Although my schedule was busy and my to-do list anxiety provoking, I simply could not stop watching TV, checking my social media every few minutes, and procrastinating to lengths that made me even more anxious and even less efficient and effective in school, ministry, work, and just about every other area of my life. Eating way too many snacks while watching one too many F.R.I.E.N.D.S episodes felt good at the moment, but once I was finally able to muster up the strength to turn off the TV, I found myself battling with the loud voices of inadequacy, failure, and shame because I couldn’t get it together and just do what I had to do. The worst part is that my struggle with self-discipline wasn’t just impacting me; it was impacting how I treated my family and how I served God and His people. 

     Don’t get me wrong. Watching TV is relaxing and fun, especially when you do it with people you love, and social media is a great platform to encourage and build others, but when we lack self-discipline, these things and many others can also weigh us down in our walk with God and in the race He’s calling and equipping us to run. Recently, the Holy Spirit has really been creating in me the desire to run this race well – to carry out the purpose God has for me without holding back. 

     I’ve never been much of an athlete myself, but after watching my sister run cross country for a few years, I’ve learned that running requires athletes to give up comfort, go through rigorous training that just plain HURTS, and to shed any extra weight that slows them down. Athletes put themselves through all of this because they see the value in getting stronger and faster, and they want to win. The extreme significance of the end is what propels them to practice self-discipline in the beginning. When we understand that the prize of this Christian race won’t collect dust on display, but will result in eternal life with Jesus and eternal life for the broken and lost, it must - it will - propel us to die to ourselves and strip off every weight and sin that slows us down. 

     I don’t know in what areas you are struggling with self-discipline, but I do know that God is good and He sees us in our struggles and helps us strip off the weight so we can be free and give our all to Him and His people. Learning self-discipline is a process that like training, hurts and requires you to go against what you want to do, to do what you don’t want to do because it’s what’s best for you. It’s not an easy process, but you can start with these principles:

  • Acknowledge and accept that there are things and sins in your life that aren’t aligned with His will and that are slowing you down and tripping you up (Hebrews 12:1).
  • Ask God to search your heart and to show you if there’s any way in you that isn’t aligned to His will (Psalm 139:23-24).
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you die to yourself, get rid of emotion/spiritual/mental damage, overcome sin, break down harmful habits and build up good ones, and most importantly, to strengthen you through His might and feed you through His word to be able to do all of those things.

     As you start building self-discipline, you’ll see the freedom, joy, peace, efficiency, and effectiveness that come with it. This will not only help you do better in school and work, but more importantly, it will free you up to serve, love, listen, and give more because your heart and mind will be available to others rather than in a hurry to make up for lost time and resources. Don’t get me wrong, the process is hard and will probably be longer than you hope, but every race has a starting line, and today you have the power to step up to that line and set off to win the prize. 

 

Geraldine Lara

Creative Team Producer

 

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Trust in the Midst of Pain

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Trust in the Midst of Pain

     “And so, dear brothers and sisters, 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. 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.” Romans 12:1-2 NLT
 
     This verse and many more recently helped me overcome a tremendous trial in my life. On October 31st at 6:40 am on my way to class, I experienced what would be one of the most impactful moments in my life thus far - my motorcycle accident - when a minivan ran a stop sign and caused me to crash face-first into a car. Time all but stopped and I saw myself frame-by-frame as I pumped down hard on the brakes with my foot and held on for dear life. The next thing I knew, I was flying through the air and then I was completely upside down with the car under my head and my feet in the sky. On this cold Miami morning, a morning that should've been like any other, I found myself lying on the road with people rushing towards me from all angles as I laid in utter shock. I laid confused because I couldn’t move and in pain as I looked at my broken right hand. 
 
     My thoughts and feelings raced through my mind as the paramedics strapped me into a stretcher and rushed me to the hospital. I was overwhelmed by pain as the doctors asked me questions to better help me. I began to wrestle with myself and God as I wondered “Why? Why did with this happen to me?” Although I was very confused for a few days about my situation, I did learn that in times of crisis and suffering is when you learn a lot about those around you. I realized who really cared about me and who didn’t, which turned out to be the people I least suspected. It was a real eye-opener and it led me to make major changes to my friendship circles; changes that I have never regretted once to this day. Not only that, but in the midst of this trial, I was able to lean on my mom as she motivated me to stay faithful. She was with me day in and day out until I was finally able to come home. Although this was an experience of overwhelming pain and suffering, God used it to teach me about the people He’s placed in my life and about His faithfulness and goodness in Jesus. 
 
     Suffering can come at the hands of others, either through their selfishness or negligence. Yet the Bible gives us an example of a man who was neither selfish nor negligent, yet suffered the most - Jesus. He was an innocent man, yet He took on the sins of the world and suffered a horrific death so that we may live. Jesus also modeled for us that suffering is inevitable. Suffering takes on many forms in this world; sometimes it comes through a devastating diagnosis, a natural disaster, or another one of the million ways in which we can suffer. Suffering is so common that sometimes we even let our struggles, trials, and sufferings become the most familiar components of our lives; we let depression, shame, anxiety, bitterness, grief, sickness, and addiction become weirdly comfortable and even expected after a period of time. So much so that we have a hard time imagining life without pain and can even forget how our life was before suffering entered into it. 
 
     Yet the story of Jesus shows me that God works according to His timeline, not ours. He walks us through our hurts and our healing rather than around them or away from them. I put all of my pain and struggles aside and focused on the only person that can shape me into the best Juan that I can be - Jesus. Today I encourage you to do the same because it’s time to get unstuck, move past survival mode, and move into all that God wants to do in and through your pain. You may not have been living fully because of your suffering, but now is the time to live, thrive, heal, and take your life back. God desires for you to bounce back from the hurt that has been robbing you and shrinking your world. Indeed, He has good plans for you. He hates to see you suffer and promises to use your suffering for good in your life and in others’ lives. He desires to propel you to even greater heights because He loves you and wants to strengthen you. He can use your hurt for something beautiful today. The question is, will you trust him to take you through your pain?
 
     He’s turned my weakness into strength and I know that if you choose to trust Him, He can and will do the same for you. 

 

Juan Medina Urrego 

Creative Developer

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Young at Heart

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Young at Heart

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 
— 1 Timothy 4:12

     Every time that I read this verse I get a feeling of urgency as if this verse is a battle cry. It may sound odd, but it's because this verse empowers me to act by reminding me that God doesn't care about my age; He cares about my soul.

     God doesn’t look at the external, He looks at the internal. He sees our soul and how it overflows into the way we care for others, speak up for change, and love others. He doesn't overlook us because of our age. Instead, He looks into us - past the messes, insecurities, and struggles - and He finds above all else a heart that beats only for Him and His people.

     We live in a time when young people are often overlooked and criticized for only caring about themselves. But I know the truth. I've witnessed first-hand the amazing things that young people do for others. I've seen how they passionately and vigorously serve others, how they overcome differences to come together as one, and how they are making a difference in our world. We are living in a prime time for young people to stand firm in their convictions, raise their voices, and set an example for others. Whether it's advocating for safety, marching to end racism, putting a red x on their hand to stop human trafficking, or speaking up against a bully, young people’s actions and voices matter like never before and have the power to stir up a change in our world.

     1 Timothy 4:12 is the battle cry of our generation. Our age doesn't stop us from being the world-changers God has called us to be. Instead, it propels us to set an example to other believers in the way we act, speak, and love.

     We are young at heart and that's exactly what qualifies to run full speed into the mess of this world with the message of Jesus.

 

Ashley Roman

Executive Assistant

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