Saturday, December 3, 2016

Christmas Shopping

The month of December comes with many little fun things to enjoy; the Christmas lights by City Hall in Toronto, The Enchanted Forest, Hot Chocolate and chocolate peppermint donuts and eggnog lattes. On Thursday I also got to experience a Christmas miracle when my husband and I had our Date Night at Jack Astor. I had a drink called the Christmas Miracle.

I did some Christmas shopping at the mall in Toronto on Thursday and now I only have 30% of the shopping left to do. My Shopping list seemed longer than ever this year and then I realized that we have four new people that have joined our family since last year so no wonder. I love that our family is getting bigger and bigger every year. Christmas is all about spending time with loved ones and the more people I get to love the better! :)


Decorating for Christmas

This week I've been having an unintentional social media fast, in other words our internet haven't been working properly all week long. When the internet isn't working you realize how dependent you are on it, it's a little scary how much I need it. I need the internet to stay in touch with my family in Finland and for another one million reasons. Today we still don't have any internet connection at home so I decided to head to Starbucks and blog at the same time as I have my coffee. I really appreciate free Wifi on days like these.

The fun part of the week was getting to start decorating the house for Christmas. It's finally the month of December so this week I've put up most of our Christmas decorations. Next week I will decorate the Christmas tree. We usually have a real tree but this year we bought one in plastic. Our tree is white and I'm so excited to get to put it up and decorate it in silver, gold and white. Last weekend our kids decorated some gingerbread for us that tasted great and looked beautiful. Today we will decorate some more gingerbread and enjoy some Swedish glogg and lussebullar. I love the Christmas season! :)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Never Gonna Stop Singing

You called out into darkness
You reached out to save us
You conquered the grave
You crossed the divide;
Lost in our sin
You made us alive
How can we ever hold it inside?
We can't hold back

We're gonna lift You higher, higher
Hearts burning bright like a fire, fire
Voices unite; make it louder, louder
We're never gonna stop singing
We're never gonna stop singing

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Beauty Ideal & the things we pursue

All young women, welcome to the world of adults! Let me introduce you to our beauty ideals. Step 1: Make sure you have no wrinkles, not even one. Get Botox early, you should probably start injecting it at age 19.

Step 2: The thinner you are, the better!

Step 3: Don't think you are off the hook because you are older than 40, even older women can have a face completely free of wrinkles, so don't you dare settle for anything less!

This morning I started my day with a cup of coffee and the Toronto Star as usual. Today’s sad news was an article in the Star that reported that Botox use among people under the age of 30 has gone up significantly. It’s becoming more common for Millennials to start taking Botox early to prevent aging. The Toronto-based plastic and cosmetic surgeon interviewed in the article explains that when the Millennials start to see signs of wrinkles it freaks them out and they decide to start taking Botox to prevent aging.

Toronto Star reporter Azzura Lalani reports in the article called “Millennials using Botox to hold on to young look, surgeons say” that the use of Botox has increased with 41 % among Millennials. Azzura Lalani writes the following in the November 22, 2016 issue of Toronto Star:
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported that Botox treatments for people between the ages of 19 to 34 shot up by 41 per cent between 2011 and 2015.”

As I read the news I was saddened by how beauty obsessed our society has become. What made me react to the article was that I had those same feeling in my early twenties. When I was 20-years-old and started getting my first fine lines I remember freaking out about them. I remember thinking that I wish I had more money so that I could get Botox. Luckily for me I was a poor student and Botox was never even an option available. I grew up and the more documentaries I watched the more convinced I got that there was nothing wrong with my face. I finally realized that my face and body wasn’t the problem, but that the beauty ideal was a real problem. I learned that contentment doesn’t sell products. Advertisers want me to think that I need to look younger, be thinner and that I need to update my wardrobe constantly, contentment doesn’t sell.

It’s easy to read news like the article about Botox and feel that there is no hope for a culture that seems obsessed with beauty, power and money. Later in the morning I checked my Instagram account and I was reminded that the obsession with money, power and beauty is not the ideal everywhere. I checked the Instagram account for The A21 Campaign and read about how these people had rescued a girl from sex slavery in the US last week. The people who work for A21 have chosen to pursue something different in their lives than the ideals we are sold. I also checked the Instagram account for Amazima ministries and I was reminded once again that not all Millennials worry about wrinkles and beauty. Katie Davis was 18-years-old when she decided that she wanted to spend her life towards helping other people. Katie moved to Jinja, Uganda one year later and started helping poor children get food and education through her ministry Amazima.

Katie Davis grew up in the same culture as me, surrounded by messages that tell us beauty, money and power matters, but she chose a different path in life. Katie Davis chose to give up her comfortable life in a wealthy Nashville suburb to live in a much poorer neighborhood in Africa because she wanted to make a difference during her days on Earth. In a world that tells us that we need to pursue beauty, money, status and power Katie Davis chose something different. Katie chose to spend her life loving other people, to serve the poor and needy in the world. Today Katie Davis is 27-years-old and if you look at pictures of her you can see that she has a few wrinkles around her eyes, but I don’t think she worries about wrinkles or beauty. Katie Davis Majors is busy caring for and loving her adoptive daughters, her newborn son, her husband and all the poor families she is helping through Amazima. The A21 Campaign features a quote on their Instagram account that I like:

What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
Jane Goodall

People tell me I am brave. People tell me I am strong. People tell me good job. Well here is the truth of it. I am really not that brave, I am not really that strong, and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am just doing what God called me to do as a follower of Him.”
Katie Davis Majors

Monday, November 21, 2016

Marriage Mentors

We know that about half of all marriages end in divorce, so it’s safe to say that a good marriage isn’t something that just magically appears, it seems to take a bit of effort. During my years as a married woman I’ve learned that strong marriages don’t just happen, they are built. Every year my husband and I read a book about marriage to make sure we continue to grow as individuals and as a couple. Over the past four years I have learned that every marriage needs to be cared for and prioritized to ensure it stays healthy and flourishing.

I like to learn new relationship skills from reading books but I also like to have what I call “Marriage Mentors”. My parents and friends who have been married much longer than me are my marriage mentors, I can learn many things from them. I also have three other couples who I consider my marriage mentors: Craig & Amy Groeschel, Francis & Lisa Chan and Steve & Charlotte Gambill. Craig and Amy have written a book about marriage called From This Day Forward which is one of my favorite books. Francis and Lisa have also written a great book on marriage, the book is called You and Me Forever.

Steve and Charlotte Gambill are Lead Pastors at Life Church in the UK and they are my favorite Instagram couple. I love all their funny family pictures on Charlotte’s Instagram. You can tell that even after two kids and 24 years of marriage Charlotte and Steve are still very much in love with each other. Charlotte Gambill talks about her marriage in the video above and mentions a few lessons she had to learn on the journey with Steve.

Made to Live

Our kids might just be Hawk Nelson's biggest fans! We were listening to Hawk Nelson's newest album Diamonds a couple of weeks ago and now all they want to listen to is Hawk Nelson. After listening to the same album for many hours while driving I asked them if we could put on another CD.

My children: "Okay, but if we don't like it can we then put Diamonds back on?"
Me: "Sure, we can do that."

I pick out another CD that I'm guessing kids their age might like. We listen to the new CD for about five minutes, then my children have a question for me.

My children: "Can we PLEASE put Diamonds back on?"
Me: "Sure."

I put the Diamonds CD back in the stereo and then we listen to Hawk Nelson again for the rest of the day. I think two of Hawk Nelson's biggest fans live right here in Toronto. The Canadian Christian Rock band is all my children want to listen to at the moment, every time we are driving somewhere the most common questions are: "Are we there yet?" and "Can we listen to Diamonds?" I love my kids, they are the best in the world and so funny to spend time with! :)