Monday, June 29, 2015
A funny thing that happened while we were in New York was that after spending an evening by the pool we found out that Hillsong NYC was going to have their baptisms in our hotel pool that same evening. It feels kind of cool to know that we have been swimming in the same pool that thousands of people from Hillsong NYC have been baptised in since the church started just 4 years ago.
Today I thought I would share a sermon by lead pastor Carl Lentz at Hillsong NYC called "I was born for this!" Carl Lentz shares his tips on what to do when you find yourself "in the fire" in life. What do you do when you find yourself in the middle of a tough struggle in life?
Last week my husband and I took a road trip from Toronto to New York. The weather was hot during our days in New York so I was happy that our hotel had a rooftop pool. It was also nice to buy an iced latte and hang out in central park doing some people watching. The pool and the park will keep you cool during a summer in the city. :)
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Today it's Midsummer's Day and we are having a nice and slow Saturday at our house. I'm enjoying the sunshine and some music by Elevation Worship. I'm hoping I will find the motivation to do a Pilates workout in the evening but other than that I'm just going to relax today. Tomorrow it's time to celebrate Father's Day here in Canada and on Monday we are heading on another road trip. Summer is awesome! :)
On Friday we celebrated the Scandinavian holiday Midsummer's Eve.
We went out to pick some wildflowers first thing in the morning so that we could decorate the house and our front porch for the celebration.
We celebrated with a nice barbeque dinner and a Strawberry shortcake for dessert.
We also enjoyed some Swedish cider with dinner, nothing tastes more like Scandinavia than cider!
I realized that the downside with celebrating Midsummer's Eve in North America is that the sun goes down a lot earlier here than in Scandinavia.
At 9:30PM it was already very dark outside, but at least it was nice and warm. I heard some rumors that the weather was a little cold and rainy back in my home country this year for midsummer, I guess you can't have it all. :) Happy Midsummer everyone!
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Lake Ontario is one of my favorite things about Toronto. I grew up on an island so I crave spending time by the water year round. In the summer the lakefront is more beautiful than ever, it becomes my oasis. The great lakes add so much livability to all of Ontario. It's easy to forget that you don't live at the coast of Canada when you are able to enjoy so many beaches and lakes here in Ontario.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Pain and suffering, if we could just get rid off those things our world would be so wonderful.We all know that this world is full of suffering, that it isn't really possible to live on this earth without experiencing pain to some degree. Today many of us are blessed to live in countries where there a lot less pain and suffering than there used to be a few hundred years ago, but that doesn't mean that it hurts any less when pain enters our lives. It's so devastating. We all wonder why these things happen, what's the source of all this pain?
If there really is a God then how can he allow all this suffering in the world. The Bible makes it clear that there are two different forces in the world, there is God, and then there is evil. We can call evil the devil or darkness or whatever we like, but we can't fight the fact that evil is real. Wherever there is lack of love evil flourishes. Children who grow up in homes without love doesn't become very nice people to be around. Countries with political systems that aren't based in love aren't very nice places to live. In places and people where there is absence of love there is great darkness.
Although we try to protect ourselves from evil with laws, alarm systems on our homes etc. we are never fully removed from the presence of evil. We live in a world with both good and evil and the only real way to get rid off evil is to "kill it" with love. When we fight evil with more evil it only grows, but when we choose to fight evil with love there will be a little less evil in the world every time.
For as long as we live on this earth we won't be able to escape having to live in the presence of both good and evil, but we can choose in what direction we want to walk. Do we want to spend our lives spreading more love into this world or do we want to practice revenge and other behaviors that only create more evil? It's a hard reality we live in, but we all have to choose what side we want to be on. We can choose to love or we can choose to hate. When we choose to follow God we choose love, because God is love.
"Where there is love, there is God."
Monday, June 15, 2015
I'm used to spending all my summers on a small island outside of the coast of Finland. This summer will be a lot different, I'm spending my whole summer in the city this year. Luckily for me Toronto has a lot of nice things to offer during the summer season. A few days ago I got to enjoy my first dinner on the patio this year and I'm looking forward to many more!
Saturday, June 13, 2015
We live in a culture today where power and achievements are celebrated more than anything else. The cultural ideal is to be strong and successful. It's easy to start believing that our worth is connected to our achievements, but what happens when we start to base our identity on our success? What happens the day that success is gone? How do we view ourselves then? Baron Batch shares his story.
These are the stories about four young women who went through really difficult things in life that left them broken and without hope. They all ended up with broken dreams and identities but God restored their identities and brought healing into their lives. Today these four women live to help others who are hurting.
Monday, June 8, 2015
One of my favorite workouts during spring is to take a morning walk before breakfast in our neighborhood. I get so much joy from looking at all the beautiful fruit trees in bloom in the suburbs. It's wonderful to be able to just walk out the door in the spring and get a good workout without having to visit the gym. I enjoy my workouts the most when I get the chance to be outdoors. Workout DVD:s are good during cold winter months, but nothing beats getting to do a strength training workout in the park or taking a morning walk in the neighborhood.
My beauty routine is pretty much the same all year round. I try to stick to only organic beauty products and my goal is to use as few different products as possible. The biggest change in my beauty routine for summer is that I choose products that smell like a summer vacation. I like to use a body wash with a tropical smell like coconut in the summer. I also love the new lip balms from Burt's Bees, vanilla bean and coconut&pear.
Life is full of surprises. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity. So how do we keep stretching when the path we’re on hits an unexpected speed bump? Holly Furtick at Elevation Church gives us an inspiring and uplifting sermon about interruptions in life.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
It wasn't more than a few weeks ago that we planted our garden and yesterday I was able to make my first smoothie of the summer with spinach from our garden. I love the joy and excitement that comes from growing your own little garden and experimenting with growing different things. The plan is to make the garden a little bit bigger each year, so that in the future we will be able to feed our kids lots of healthy organic vegetables. I'm hoping that the strawberries will be ripe for our Scandinavian Midsummer's Eve celebration in a couple of weeks.
Speaking of gardening and the homeless, I found this amazing non-profit in Austin, Texas called the Karpophoreo Project. It's a non-profit organization that will come and plant a garden for you in your backyard and then care for that garden on a weekly basis. All you need to do yourself is water the plants, the organization does the rest of the work. 50 % of the harvest from your garden stays with you and the other half will be sold on the farmer's market by the organization. 70% of the profit from the sales will be paid to the formerly homeless people who work as gardeners for the organization.
The workers are a mix of regular people who volunteer at the organization and formerly homeless people who work for a profit. I would love it if there was a non-profit similar to the Karpophoreo Project in Toronto where I could volunteer. If anyone has heard of something similar to this project being done in T.O., please let me know by commenting below.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
"Without a roof" is a documentary about what it's like to be homeless in Toronto. What you often hear among us wealthy people is the opinion that homelessness is a lifestyle choice so we should just let them be, they chose to live in this way. That's true, some people chose to live on the street because they couldn't fit into society, but do we really think that anybody would choose to expose themselves to the cold weather, violence, rape, constant hunger etc. if there was a better option? I don't think so. Many times there are no better options.
It's always so much easier to blame the poor for their situation than to do our part in working towards a better society. Why help by volunteering at a shelter or by donating money to a non-profit when we can just decide that whoever is homeless deserves to be in that situation? People make mistakes, we all do, and for some people their mistakes lead to a life on the street. Every year homeless people freeze to death during cold winter nights in our cities. I don't believe that anybody deserves that. Most of us have the opportunity to do something to prevent this from happening. Help the poor or ignore the poor? We all have to decide what kind of Torontonians we want to be. We can choose to either complain or to be a part of the solution.
Has anyone ever written you a love song? What many of us don't know is that God had done exactly that to every one of us. There is not one person on this earth that he doesn't care about, he longs for each one of us to come to him, but he has also given us free choice. We can choose to come to him and love him back, or we can choose to turn our backs against him. He will never force us to love him back, we have free choice. Hawk Nelson portrays very well how God feels about each one of us in his song "Drops in the ocean". The song is based on the same truths that are found in the Bible.
We are so small in a big world, but God knows all our thoughts and he loves us. He's waiting for us to love him back.
If the whole Bible would be narrowed down to just one sentence it would sound something like this: "Love God, love yourself, and love others as yourself." It's so simple, so easy to understand yet so difficult to do sometimes. When it comes down to loving God we either don't love him because we don't know that he exist, or we know about God but we don't know his character. We might have an idea in our heads about who God is that is far from the truth, so even if we love him it's more like we admire someone who we have never met. If we are going to be able to love God we must first know him. Who is he? What is he about? What is his plan for this world? Think about the people you love, how well do you know them? Quite well, right? You can't love someone who you don't know very well.
When we love ourselves we take care of our own physical, emotional and spiritual needs, both during the storms and the calmer seasons in life.
Love yourself sound like a much easier command, in today's world we are so selfish that we must love ourselves right? Not necessarily. Just like confident people often have very bad self-esteem it's possible to be very selfish and still not love yourself. Selfish people want what they want and expect other people to bend to their needs. Loving yourself doesn't mean always trying to have it your way, it means accepting yourself and embracing your true self. Loving yourself means you aren't afraid to stand up for yourself and make sure you get treated with respect from others. It's also about caring for your own personal needs rather than neglecting them. When you love yourself you listen to your inner longings and take care of your self. You make sure you take time to rest, exercise and feed your body good foods that will keep you healthy.
Loving yourself also means spending time with people who fill your emotional needs of love, appreciation, attention and acceptance. If you love yourself you also choose to spend less time with people who tend to be hurtful and selfish, people who could hurt you emotionally or even worse physically. You protect those you love, and that includes yourself.
When we love others we commit to serving others, even when it's inconvenient or a little uncomfortable.
"Loving others" we are more familiar with, since we can't escape the need to love others as we live in societies among other humans. Loving others as yourself means you treat others with the same respect and priority that you would treat your own needs. When you love others you learn that sometimes love requires you to act even when it's uncomfortable or inconvenient. If you like someone you spend time with him or her when you feel like it, but when you love someone you realize you will sometimes need to put their needs above your own, not all the time, but sometimes.
Love doesn't always feel good because love isn't always easy. When Jesus died on the cross he did it out of love for us, that was neither comfortable or easy. When we love others it will sometimes require us to "die to our own will" and put someone else above ourselves for awhile. Love always includes some level of self-sacrifice. Love is about caring for someone's needs, whether they are unmet physical, emotional or spiritual needs. Loving someone can be giving food to someone who is starving on the street, or listening to a friend who is going through a tough time in life. Loving someone can be praying for God to intervene and heal someone who is sick and in the hospital.
Loving someone can be a million different things, but love is always an action. When you love someone you do something for him or her. When we help, hug, listen, comfort, feed, pray for, encourage, strengthen and lift up others, then we know that we are truly loving others. When we love we act as servants, we serve others by filling their physical, emotional or spiritual needs. If we follow the three commands to love God, love ourselves and love others, what could that look like? Here's an example of that lifestyle:
"We love God so we obey him by choosing not to lie, steal, cheat or envy others etc. We love others so even when it's not convenient or comfortable we serve others by filling their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. We understand that love will sometimes require us to put the needs of others above our own needs. At the same time we love ourselves, which means we won't allow others to treat us with lack of respect. We prioritize taking time to rest, exercise and eat healthy. We spend more time with people who can fill our emotional and spiritual needs and less time with people who drain us of energy and who could potentially hurt us emotionally. We love ourselves so we completely stay away from people who could hurt us physically."
This way of living sounds so good, and although it takes a lot of practice to be able to live in this way it's the goal I strive towards, to be able to live The Life of Love.