Saturday, December 31, 2016
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Pastor Charlotte Gambill from Life Church in the UK preaches a great sermon about thoughtfulness. Thoughtfulness is what Charlotte calls "God´s great gift wrap". Thoughtfulness is the language of heaven. God is very interested in thoughtfulness in every aspect of our lives. I love this quote by Charlotte Gambill:
"Thoughtfulness is where God gets involved. Thoughtfulness takes things that are the robotic, mundane and ordinary and magnify something beautiful that no one else saw or deemed was worthy of the time. Thoughtfulness is the language of heaven. Thoughtfulness is when God kisses something that is entirely average and makes it something beautiful."
Thoughtfulness stops us from being self-seeking and self-serving. Thoughtfulness places us in the shoes of others. The definition of thoughtfulness is "being mindful of others". When we live lives where we are being midful of others it changes what we do, when we do things and how we do things in life.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
I have a friend who works as a youth pastor and one thing he has taught me is to take a look at my past when I need hope for the future. When we find ourselves unsure about the future and worried about how things will work out our past will reveal God´s fingerprints all over our lives. If God could direct my steps in the right direction so beautifully in my past He will surely continue to do it in my future. I can have peace, hope and joy today because I know that God holds my future in His hands. I will sometimes get confused and unsure about my future but God is not confused about my future, He will continue to guide me along the right path in life with a lot of patience and grace. I can trust Him.
Today I'm in Finland visiting the town where I grew up and I decided to take a look at some pictures from my past.
I love the little island where we have our cottage.
Spending time in the country and nature feeds my soul.
Here's a picture from when I went on a hike in Finland with my Grand Father four years ago.
Four and a half years ago my husband and I had to spend six months apart and had a long-distance relationship. I missed him so much during this time and he sent me a teddybear in the mail that I could hug while missing him. The six months that we spent apart were hard but they made me appreciate my husband even more than I did before. I still think back at those months every now and then and feel grateful that we get to live together all the time now.
Four years ago we had a lot of snow in Finland and I wore glasses, today I don't need my glasses anymore.
This is a picture from when my husband and I went shopping at Marimekko in Finland after our six months apart were finally over, every day was awesome during this time. Taking things for granted can steal our joy, when we appreciate what we have we suddenly get overwhelmed with joy and gratitude.
Some things change. This is a picture of me at the airport before I moved to Canada six years ago. Many things have changed since then, my hair is longer and lighter. When this picture was taken I had no idea that I was going to meet the love of my life just a few months later.
Sweet memories. This picture was taken the day before our wedding in Finland.
Nine years ago. I was having a week of vacation in Chicago when my Mom and Dad came to visit me in the US. I was working as a Nanny in the US during this time and I had no idea that my future husband was living just a few hours North of Chicago.
That year working abroad in the US changed a lot of things in my life, I grew and matured a lot during this one year away from everything familiar. I never planned to live in Ohio for one year in my life, but it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I never planned to move to Toronto, I wanted to move to Vancouver.
I got a job in Toronto so I took it, I never planned to stay there more than 1-2 years max. Six years later I still live in Toronto and I love it, I have met many wonderful friends in the city and I have married the love of my life. Who knew that when life does not go according to plan it can actually be the best thing that could ever happen?
Why are you alive? What´s your purpose in life? Most of us can answer the question "What do you do?" but we are not always sure why we do what we do. We live in a culture that puts a lot of focus on what we do, we are taught that our worth is connected to our work. We often try to prove our value and worth with what we do. We live in a culture that bases success on the what. What we do, what we accumulate, what we make per month, that's where we find success. But significance is found in the why.
Pastor Larry Brey talks about how we don´t need more of something to find fulfillment in life, we need to understand why we do something. The answer to the question "Why do you do what you do?" can lead us to our purpose in life. I like what Larry Brey points out: "And the beginning place of a why is a brokenness for somebody else." We will not find our purpose in life by focusing only on ourselves. My purpose in life will be connected to somebody else´s pain. If we only look within ourselves we will not find our purpose, we might find our gifts and personal interests, but our purpose is found in helping somebody else.
Larry Brey also mentions that our why is always connected to taking a who to where. God will call each one of us to entirely different things but each one of us will be called to take a who to a where. God might be calling you to:
take women in sex slavery to freedom,
take orphans to a family,
take addicts to freedom,
take the lonely to Christian community,
take the depressed to hope in the future,
or to take refugees to safety.
Your purpose in life is about helping a who to a where. What person or people group is God calling you to serve and what place is He calling you to help these people reach? There's not one person walking on this Earth right now, not a single person that God allowed to be born, that lacks a purpose. You have a purpose, but the question is do you know what it is?
Thursday, December 15, 2016
The team from the UK travels around the world to explore God in the Alpha film. In episode two they take a closer look at the person of Jesus. People often believe that there are no evidence that Jesus ever lived but there is actually a lot of historical evidence of Jesus' existence.
We're heaven-spun creations
His pride and adoration
Treasures woven by his love
His careful hands they hold us
Safe within His promise
Of calling and of destiny
Friday, December 9, 2016
Leonce Crump talks about the many misconceptions of Jesus. We have a tendency to either dehumanize Jesus or humanize him, which leads to us misunderstanding the nature of God. When we view Jesus as just a wise man we think that he was just like us, and we miss why he came to us. We miss the gift that God gave us through the Messiah; the gift of freedom, forgiveness and a new life.
We also tend to dehumanize Jesus and forget that although Jesus was God taking on human form he experienced everything that comes with being human. Jesus felt pain, exhaustion, fear, stress and frustrations just like any one of of us will feel in this life. Because He experienced what it's like to be human God can relate to every single thing we experience as people, although God is holy and eternal he fully understands what we are going through. In Jesus God experienced the deep sadness, fear and pain that comes with the human experience. When we come to God in prayer we come to a God who knows exactly how we feel because he felt it too at one point in history, in Jesus.
I like to start my rest day with blueberry pancakes and coffee.
After breakfast I have some more coffee and read my daily devotion in "A Fresh Infusion of Joy" by Sheila Walsh. I skip reading the newspaper on my rest day because I don't want the day to be ruined by stories about murders and other tragedies. It's enough to read about the bad news in the world six days of the week.
Two things I enjoy doing on my rest day is reading a book and watching a couple of episodes of one of my favorite TV shows.
This time of the year I enjoy being at home on my rest day so that I can enjoy all the Christmas decorations. I enjoy the music from my snow globe that I bought last year.
After it gets dark outside I like to get a Peppermint Hot Chocolate from Tim Horton's and walk around the neighborhood enjoying everyone's Christmas lights.
During a busy time of year like Christmas it can be tempting to skip taking time to rest in between all the work and chores. This year my life was busy even before the Christmas season arrived so I would never have time for rest unless I decided to plan it into my weekly schedule. Sometimes when we are entering a busy but exciting season in our lives it can be tempting to skip taking time to rest all together. I remember when my husband and I were planning our wedding five years ago, it was a very busy but exciting time in our lives. One of the best tips I got was to take one weekend per month off from all wedding planning and just enjoy each other. During the months leading up to the wedding there were a lot of things to do and if we hadn’t taken the time to “just be” it would have been a very stressful season.
The joy goes out the door when we get too stressed and too tired in life. Our human bodies and minds were not built to work at top speed for long periods of time. Life is filled with important responsibilities but I think that with a little planning we can make time for both responsibilities, rest and joyful moments in life.
I love Christmas and I don’t want to kill the joy by hurrying through the whole season. I find that starting the preparations for Christmas early (at the end of November) helps me keep a slower pace and enjoy the season. I also like to do things a little bit differently every year, if it’s a year when I have a lot of time on my hands I can enjoy some extras like baking a gingerbread house. If it’s a year when our family is busier I will choose to buy my gingerbread, lussebullar and Jamaican Christmas cake at the store instead. This year I’m not baking a single thing for Christmas, I love that I can buy everything I need in the store in Toronto, everything from gingerbread to eggnog. Next year our lives will highly likely be less busy and then I will enjoy baking a gingerbread house together with my kids.
December is such an exciting month of the year when we have an opportunity to be extra generous. I'm super excited to see what can be accomplished through this year's Christmas offering at our churches. I love being a part of a community of believers that all believe in loving people and in sharing what we have with others in every way we can. God didn't bless me so that I could keep most of my money and resources to myself, He blessed me so that I would be able to give lavishly to those in need. I feel so blessed and honored to get to be a part of two different churches here in Toronto that are alive and growing; our small community church and Elevation Church.
I've always dreamt of living a life where I would be able to make a difference but no matter how much I want to change the world on my own I can only do so much. When I link together with a community of people who all have the same passion as me; to love God and love people, we can do so much more together than I could ever do alone. Our community church has around 2000 people attending at this point and Elevation Church has around 25 000 people, imagine what we can do together when we come together as a church to serve the needy. This life truly is an adventure and I'm so excited to see what God will be able to do through me and my church community this year. :)
Saturday, December 3, 2016
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! :)
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! :)