Sunday, December 29, 2013

Rukous

Silloin Jeesus sanoi opetuslapsillensa: "Jos joku tahtoo minun perässäni kulkea, hän kieltäköön itsensä ja ottakoon ristinsä ja seuratkoon minua. Sillä joka tahtoo pelastaa elämänsä, hän kadottaa sen, mutta joka kadottaa elämänsä minun tähteni, hän löytää sen."
Matt. 16:24-25 KR33/38

Jeesus sanoi opetuslapsilleen: "Jos joku tahtoo kulkea minun jäljessäni, hän kieltäköön itsensä, ottakoon ristinsä ja seuratkoon minua. Sillä se, joka tahtoo pelastaa elämänsä, kadottaa sen, mutta joka elämänsä minun tähteni kadottaa, on sen löytävä.
Matt. 16:24-25 KR92

Rakas Jumala, tahdon ottaa ristini ja seurata sinua, näytä minulle tie. Anna minulle voimaa kantaa ristiäni ja anna minulle viisautta seurata sinua. Anna minun joka päivä nostaa katseeni sinuun ja seurata sinua niin etten ikinä eksyisi sinusta. Anna minun kadottaa elämäni sinun puolestasi jotta saisin sen itselleni.

Aamen.

Thought for today


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Virtual or Real - answer to Susan Evans

A fellow blogger Susan Evans wrote a very interesting post called Virtual or Real (Part 1).

It talked to my heart as a mother. It made me think about being a mother. It made me think about my son, our relationship, our relationship with God. And what all this means. At once I felt I had to answer her.
Mikael at Cotopaxi volcan. He loves the snow and Cotopaxi is one of the few places in Ecuador where you can find it.

Just few days ago I was looking at pictures of my son when he was little. He's 9 years old now, a big boy. And I missed that little boy who would come to sit on my lap and I could pick up and carry on my arms. I miss him so much.

I have my son still but the relationship changes all the time. And I don't want to miss the important moments. Like yesterday watching a movie together while we ate pizza. Or reading him when he goes to bed.

Just few days ago he sighed while he was laying in the bed, hugged me and told me that he's so glad I'm there for him all the time.
Mikael as a baby with my deceaced little brother Juhana.

I felt a strange mixed sensation. I know I try to be there but there are so many moments I feel guilty that I spend with the computer or at work and I'm not there for him.

I struggle with this daily. I try to find moments to show that all my attention is to him. To teach him about God and God's love, by showing him my love, mirroring the love God has with the love I have for him.

And when he talks about his love for God, how he will never forget or deny God, it makes me feel so proud of him. And scared. Because I know how hard the world can be.
Mikael with Jenna, a very dear nanny he had for a almost a year from Finland.

I find Susan's honesty encouraging and I respect her, as a mother and a person, even more because of it.
There are moments when my son asks me something while I'm on the computer and I answer something half intelligible. Sometimes he repeats what he's saying, sometimes he waits, other times he just gives up. And it breaks my heart when I think about it later on.

There are times when my son gets angry and says: You only care about the computer. Why don't you spend time with ME?

I think it's excelent that he can express his worries and anger. But it still breaks my heart.
Mikael at Quito Zoo.

But it also makes me a better mother because it makes me think about my choices and he challenges me to put him first and everything else I do second.

Mikael and Barney at Carolina park in Quito.
The good thing is that I have had some opportunities to take him with me to my work. We have visited indigenous communities, he has seen how the people there live, the schools they go to. And I think it will help him to see the world in quite a different way.

But it still broke my heart when he told me that he had thought that I didn't really work but only spend time on the computer. I guess since my office is at home, that is what he sees. His mother at the computer, just spending time when she could be with him.

A heartbreaking situation that many mothers must face today.

My answer to it.

Stop working when he talks to me. I know, it kills the flow. It takes ages to remember what I was doing and find the thread of thought I was following. But it also shows that I care, that I put him on the first spot.

Write when he's at school, asleep, with his friends, find moments when he isn't around to write. And when I have to write, when the work absolutely takes me away from him, explain it to him. He is big, he's nine years old, he understands a lot of things.
Mikael riding with his cousin in Finland.

And like I said before, make him part of the work. Show him what I do. Make him understand why it is so important to me.

I must tell these things have improved our relationship inmensely. But there is still a lot to do. And I still keep praying and seeking God to give me understanding how to show more love to my son. How to show God's love and care to my son.

"Children are not casual guests in our home.  They have been loaned to us temporarily for the purpose of loving them and instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built."
James Dobson

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Joulurukous

Herra siunatkoon sinua ja varjelkoon sinua; Herra valistakoon kasvonsa sinulle ja olkoon sinulle armollinen; Herra kääntäköön kasvonsa sinun puoleesi ja antakoon sinulle rauhan.
4. Moos. 6:24-26 KR33/38

-- Herra siunatkoon sinua ja varjelkoon sinua,
Herra kirkastakoon sinulle kasvonsa ja olkoon sinulle armollinen.
Herra kääntäköön kasvonsa sinun puoleesi ja antakoon sinulle rauhan.
4. Moos. 6:24-26 KR92

Elämää Jumalan siunausten ja rakkauden ympäröimänä!

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Top 5 Favorites of 2013


This year has been full of ups and downs. 

At the beginning of the year I was very scared. 

I had to accept my marriage was dead and my husband had been cheating me for some time already. 

Then in July he had a son with another woman and I had to explain it to our son. 

A very dear friend I made through Facebook, and had known for years, died during this year. 

I have been struggling at work. I have had to admit that I cannot do everything and I do not know everything. 

I have had difficulties in my relationship with my son. It has been very hard for him to accept that we do not live anymore with his father.

The year has been impossible.

Still I must say: This year has been amazing.

I have felt a grace and joy that I have never had before. A peace in my heart that has been there and is just unmovable.

I have been held at God's arms, safe and protected.

I have been so blessed, with so many things, that this year has become one of my favorites.

The year when I first learned how much God loves me.

The year when I learned to let loose and let God take care of everything.

So, when I look back. What has been the best about this year?


1. God

Like I said, God has been amazing. I have felt Him with me, all the time, everywhere. It has been a real privilege to have all the love and attention from God. To be able to trust and rest, among everything that has happened has been a lesson I love dearly.


2. Prayer and praise

During this year I have found myself humming praise and exaltation to God. Singing old songs from my youth I thought I already had forgotten. Finding new ones online and searching ways to exalt Him even more. I have prayed and I have been answered.


3. Bible

I have always wanted to read more Bible. There just has never been time to do it. Or so it has seemed. This year I have prayed for God to show me ways that will make me want to read the Bible. And He has given them to me. Now I have my iPod with Finnish and English translations of Bible. I have different reading programs and devotionals I go through and it has really made the difference. 

The funny thing is that there was a time I only had one Bible in Finnish here. I had another one in Spanish and yet another one in English. But the meaning comes to me through Finnish. That is how I feel verses really speak to me.

So, I prayed for a Bible and in two years I have gotten four more Bibles in Finnish. And besides that I now have the different Bibles I have downloaded in my iPod. God is quite amazing.


4. Congregation

It is hard to find unity in Christ with other believers when you’re abroad. I work for a church and the Finnish Free Evengelical Church has a sister church here, IPEE (or Ecuadorian Evangelical Covenant Church) who are our collaborators here.

But there is no IPEE congregation in Tena or nearby.

I have finally found, after praying hard for it, an independent church I feel comfortable with. I don’t agree with all their teaching or pastor’s theology. But it is close enough to be comfortable.

This is still a struggle for me because I would really like to find a church I could call home and be part of. I want to find a place where I could use my talents to build His Kingdom.

But I feel God has something prepared for me and meanwhile I can trust Him to take care of everything. And just rest in Him.


5. Blog

Instead of the tangible congregation I have found a community of bloggers and a communion of believers. The interaction with other Christians have been like drinking from a clean, fresh fountain after so much tainted and lukewarm water I’ve had to imbibe.

Writing my own blog has also been an opportunity to arrange my thoughts and be productive. Start to build that Kingdom I envision. A vision, I hope, God has given me.

Thought for today

O

Päivän ajatus


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy 1

What is the Sabbath?



Phillip Cary, in his book Good News for Anxious Christians: Ten Practical Things You Don't Have to Do, says: “Every time we turn to Christ in faith it is like a moment of Sabbath, a little foretaste of eternal rest and glory. The gift of that moment lies not in what we do but what we receive. It is the holy time set aside to receive the greatest gift of God ever has to give, which is himself, in his own beloved Son.”

 
What does this mean to the people today? For me personally. Today people want to be connected 24/7. 

I find myself waking up and checking out what is happening in Google+, Facebook and in my blog. 

Since I am ex-pat, living abroad, far away from most of my family and friends, this is the easiest, and sometimes only, way to keep in contact with the people I miss.

Besides my family and friends, I have met new people and made new friendships online. Many of these friendships are very meaningful and the people are real for me. We share our lives and we share our faith, we encourage each other and let each other know that we are facing similar challenges in our lives and faith.

There is a lot of talk about this phenomenon. People don’t exactly know how to deal with it. Many people talk about their “real-life” and “virtual” friends. Others say that people online are as real as the ones we meet elsewhere.

In churches there is talk about online services, online evangelism, online preaching and reaching out online to win more souls.

I want to think myself to be part of this.

All this seems good but still, people worry. 

Is it OK to use internet on Sabbath? Should we do it as Christians or should we keep ourselves away from the computer as part of the Sabbath rest? Will the computer only keep us busy and not allow the use of internet as a way to sanctify the day? 

Mark Buchanan says in his book The Holy Wild: Trusting in the Character of God:  “Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest.”

There are people that feel this means we should not be online, we should turn off our cellphones and disconnect from the world.

I feel that we should not make rules and regulations. After all, like Jesus says in Mark: And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)
It would be easy to say, "Don't use computer on Sunday!" "Turn off your cellphone during the Sunday!".

Rules are easy to make and easy to break.

But life isn't easy. What if someone uses the phone or computer to read Bible? What if they use it to listen to the Gospel and Christian music?

So, using the computer or phone to do "Christian things" is OK.

But shouldn't everything be then just Christian on Sunday?Does that mean watching movies on Sunday is a sin? Or going out with your family?

Here comes the difficulty of the rules.


Maybe we should explore further what Sabbath means in the Bible. Why it was given to people.

In Ezekiel we can find that the Sabbath is a sign of covenant between the man and God. God tells the prophet: Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the Lord made them holy. (Ezekiel 20:12)

I think it is very important today to remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. But there are different ways to keep Sabbath holy. As Emily Dickinson said: “Some keep the Sabbath going to church, I keep it staying at home, with a bobolink for a chorister, and an orchard for a dome. ”

This is the first part of three part consideration on what is the Sabbath. In the next part I will concentrate on the reason why God Himself celebrated Sabbath and gave it to men. 

You can find the second part of this series here.

Thought for today

“Across the will of Nature
Leads on the path of God;
Not where the flesh delighteth
The feet of Jesus trod.
O bliss to leave behind us
The fetters of the slave,
To leave ourselves behind us,
The graveclothes and the grave.

We follow in His footsteps;
What if our feet be torn?
Where He has marked the pathway
All hail the briar and the thorn!
Scarce seen, scarce be heard, unreckoned,
Despised, defamed, unknown
Or heard but by our singing,
On, children, ever on!”

― Gerhard Tersteegan 

Essential Christmas Music

Music makes a very strong impact on us. It can change or create moods, make us feel things, cause happiness, sadness or even terror in people listening to it.


In Western cultures, with long tradition of Christianity, there is a special style of Christmas music. A style profoundly impacted by Christian Church music. But this style isn't the same for each country.

When I first came to Ecuador one of the reasons the Christmas was such a hard time for me was the difference in Christmas music. Finnish Christmas music, like most Finnish music, is usully played in minor key with a very slow rhytm. While Ecuadorian music, just as almost all Latin American music, is played in major key with a very fast rhytm.

There are additional differences that made Ecuadorian Christmas music impossible for me. I just couldn't recognize it as Christmas music. It didn't make me feel Christmas.

I took refuge in English Christmas music, and by this I mean, music from England. Later on I developed a gusto for American, more modern, Christmas music. And now there are even some classics of Latin American Christmas music that I enjoy.

Here is a list of my Essential Christmas Music.

Now:

1. Handel "The Messiah"

I just can't feel the Christmas without The Messiah. This version of The Choir of King's Collage from Cambridge is especially dear to me. When I hear the first sounds, I instantly know it's Christmas. Jesus, Our Saviour, has been born. And with the Halleluyah choir I am transformed, imagining myself a peek of Heaven.


2. Angels We Have Heard On High

This was one of the songs I sang every Christmas in the High School and Church's choir. It really helped me to accept the Christmas in Ecuador to be able to listen to something that was so familiar and traditional for me. Even though I was used to sing it in Finnish.


3. What Child Is This (Greensleeves)

Another of my favorites from childhood. This one I learned to love in English. It wasn't part of our traditional family Christmas but it was something I was already familiar with, so I was able to accept it as part of my new Christmas.
And Charlotte Church's voice just makes it seem angelical.

4. Breath of Heaven

One of the very few Christmas CD's we could find here was one by Amy Grant. I have always loved her music, just like my mother, and it was a touch of home to listen to her voice. This song wasn't on the CD but I have learned to love it. It makes me imagine what Maria must have felt, knowing that she will give birth to the Saviour.

5. The First Noel

This is one of the Christmas Carols I adopted to my new Christmas. Now there is a large amount of songs that bring me the Christmas feeling. But each one of them has a history. There has been a process to incorporate the sound and the message to make it part of my Christmas.
The message in this song makes it a very important part of my Essential Christmas Music.


Then:

1. Sylvian Joululaulu

A very traditional Finnish Christmas song written more than one hundred years ago. It was done by a Finnish poet who was in Italy during Christmas time. The song's name is "Christmas Carol for Sylvia", nobody knows who Sylvia is.
The song tells about the authors yearning for Finnish Christmas and about the suffering of a caged nightingale. (Yes, I told you. Finnish Christmas songs are in minor key and usually very sad and about the suffering world. That's just how Finnish people are.) I always imagined the caged bird to be Sylvia when I was a child and it gave me chills to imagine how she must have suffered even if it was Christmas time. (Yes, I am very Finnish.)
I have listened  this song since I was born and it is one of the first Christmas songs Finnish Children learn to sing. At school we are told about the history of the song.
So, when I came to Ecuador, this became my Nr. 1 Christmas song. The Finn, suffering far away, missing the real Finnish Christmas and feeling the suffering of the world through the lights and merryment of Christmas. Yes, very Finnish.

2. En Etsi Valtaa Loistoa


Another Finnish Christmas song by the same author (he is very popular in Finland). The music is by Jean Sibelius and it is one of the most beautiful Finnish Christmas songs, especially in choir version.
The name means "I don't seek for power nor splendor" and the song goes on to say neither do I wish for gold but I seek for the light of Heaven and peace upon earth.
This is a song I always sung in the church in the Christmas service. It makes me yearn for home, the real home of Heaven. Even when I was a child this song would make me realize that Christmas wasn't about the gifts and the glitter but about Jesus, and seeking His grace.


Still learning:


1. Ya viene el niñito (The child comes now)

A very traditional Ecuadorian Christmas Carol, or Villancico as it is said here. The author is very famous Ecuadorian poet and the song was written over a hundred years ago.
The songs tells about baby Jesus and how he comes playing among the flowers and the birds sing to Him. As you can listen the rhythm and style is totally different from Finnish Christmas Carols.

2. Mi burrito sabanero (My donkey from the plains)

A very traditional Latin American Christmas Carol in a little more modern version sung by Juanes from Colombia.
The song tells about the donkey that goes to see Jesus with the other animals. This is actually one of my favorites and it is sung every Christmas by children all over Ecuador.

3. Cha`ska Ñawi Niñucha Villancico Cusqueño, Perú  (A Child With Star Bright Eyes)

This is Peruvian Christmas Carol in Peruvian Quechua. The language is different from Ecuadorian Kichwa but it is based on the same Incan Lingua Franca.
The music style is very similar with Ecuadorian traditional Andean music. Very different from my traditional pietist, quiet and solemn Christmas. But very typical for Andean Region of South America. 


If you enjoyed this article about Essential Christmas Musica maybe you'll also enjoy another one about Essential Christmas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thought for today


Rukous

Mikään rietas puhe älköön suustanne lähtekö, vaan ainoastaan sellainen, mikä on rakentavaista ja tarpeellista ja on mieluista niille, jotka kuulevat.
Ef. 4:29 KR33/38

Älkää päästäkö suustanne sopimatonta puhetta, vaan puhukaa sitä, mikä kulloinkin on hyvää ja hyödyllistä ja kuulijoille iloksi.
Ef. 4:29 KR92

Rakas Jumala, auta minua olemaan viisas sanojeni suhteen. Auta minua osaamaan harkita puheeni niin että siitä on apua muille, että se rakentaa ihmisiä ympärilläni ja minua itseäni. Auta minua sanomaan tarpeellinen totuus mutta ei totuutta joka vain hajoittaa ja satuttaa eikä ole mieluisaa kenellekään.
Auta minua puhumaan sitä mikä on hyvää, ylistämään ihmisiä kun he ovat sen ansainneet ja se on heille hyödyllistä, sanoillani aiheuttamaan iloa lähelläni oleville.
Anna suustani tulla vain sanoja jotka rakentavat sinun valtakuntaasi, aamen.



Thought for today


Thought for today


Thought for today


Time is very flexible when it floats

Living in the tropic I can better understand the Oriental idea of time being a wheel. 

Here time doesn't movie linearly, the are no changes with the season. It may rain more one month, it may be a bit colder the next one. Then it will be hot and rainy.

The changes come with the dates, days we commemorate something special, with the changes in the moon and the sun.

People here name their months according to the changes they see in the nature. The is a cloud month (puyu killa), a baby animal month (wiwa killa), a fish month (mihanu killa), a corn month (sara killa), a rain month (tamya killa) and there is even an empty month when nothing grows (mutsuy killa).

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Luke 12:24-26 (NIV)
The year is a circle and the months are represented in a circular form. Not a line from left to right but a bird's colorful tail.

The moon moves in a circle and in the circle of the moon you can see the changes in the nature. The rain doesn't depend on the season of the year but the season of the moon.


27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Luke 12:27-31 (NIV)
Here time doesn't move, it doesn't tick or run, time floats or stays still while the wheel turns around and it's time for the next festivity. There is no rush to prepare it all, because it will come in it's time and rushing around may just spoil everything.

How can you pick corn if it's not time for corn? How can you hunt for ants if it isn't the ant month and the ants won't be ready yet?

In a hot temperature it's wasteful to try to hoard things. If you kill more animals than you can eat and cook at once, it will only spoil and the insects and vermin will have a feast. 

If you plant a seed next to a river you can return when the fruit is ripe and ready to eat. Picking it earlier would only spoil it for human use.

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
James 4:13-15 (NIV)
Right now we're at mishki killa, sweet month. The name comes originally from a sweet fruit that grows this season but is now used because of Christmas.

Christmas is one of the special days that mark the flow of the time and tell us that another year has passed.

How this has affected me life? The impact has been huge. First the chafe, the pain of change from thinking the year and time as going forward. Keeping my eyes in the future, planning for today.

The change from time tables, calendars and appointments to living the moment. From the rigid planning to "maybe around four o'clock on Thursday but it could be Friday at five". Change to "tomorrow", "in a little while" or "just in a minute".

1“Mortals, born of woman,
    are of few days and full of trouble.
They spring up like flowers and wither away;
    like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.
Job 14:1-2
Which minute? The next one or one of the minutes tomorrow, next week or next month? A little while from Thursday, or a little while from next week on? Or maybe a little while from Christmas or Passover?

There is always a tomorrow. So, maybe it's tomorrow from next weeks Monday. But there always will be a tomorrow.

As there always will be a Thursday or Monday or Wednesday,every week,every month. And if you get what you expected a month later from the Tuesday you first expected, it's still Tuesday, or day after Tuesday or just a little while from Tuesday.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matt 6:33-34 (NIV)
Time definitely does not move. It swamps around, stands still in ponds or floats above our heads where we can not touch it. 

And then the wheel moves, next moment comes. It's another morning, another tomorrow, another while.

What there is to do?

Live this moment and let tomorrow worry about itself.