Monday, April 21, 2014

Dear Maria,

Dear Maria,

I was surprised to see you write to me in English. I thought you were going to write in Finnish and myself in English. No matter, your English is much better than my "Finnglish".

So much to share, where do I start?! Two weeks ago was Mikael Agricolan Päivä {Father of the Finnish Language}. To make it more meaningful, Agricola Theological Institute got it's first government supported student. Go Jani!

Secondly, you are going to laugh. My last Friday was a blooper. Think adventures with Maria...only without Maria to cry laugh with. I had my day perfectly planned out in the city center:

11: Surgeon check-up
12: Hair cut
13: Thrift Shop to see Nora

Well, that did NOT that order. This just shows how well I double-check things. As you know I live in the country based on time, schedules, and planning. I would probably do better in Africa, {that is not true, Mikko says I am more Finn than he is}. When I say that, I mean I truly dislike being late. ARGH!

So picture me on the train at about 10:30 in the morning enjoying the ride to Helsinki ALONE (*gasp*). I decide to my blonde self to then double-check the appointment with the doctor. {You see they send you a text message AND email a few days BEFORE to remind you of the day and the time.} I swore to myself it was 11 in the morning, {I even put that on my calendar at that time}. Ha! I looked {It was 9 o'clock} and boy what a panic. This is not just some random surgeon, he is like one of the best in the country for his expertise.

Anyway, I immediately call the office and rescheduled, but she warned that at 12:50 I would be in and out. Friday is insane for this guy. I then call Eddie, and he tells me to come earlier. I run by ID Hair to say hello to a relative, stop by that cool craft shop and then off to the hair appointment.

As always, my hair appointment goes really well. Eddie and I talk about our own lives, and life in general. He likes to watch movies that have meaning or at least make you think. So this time we were talking about the movie Noah, exchanging each other's view points and I move on. Now to doctor...

Story gets interesting as I just enter the medical offices and I see my doctor leave! {I guess sometimes they need to eat right?} He was late with me this time {Oh, I so deserved it.}. I asked a lady next to me who she was waiting for and of course it was the same doctor. He comes back to his door and invites the lady in and I interrupt in my fabulous Finnish {When I am nervous my finnish is harder to speak and understand clearly}. He says something back {probably a tisk tisk for being late}. I usually understand pretty well, but for some reason I didn't and I tried to clarify, he changed his tone and said he would return. So there I sit and hear another woman next to me say, "Heidi?".

You have to see God's humor in this. It was my ex-workmate from 2001 when Mikko was in the army. Someone had to make money, so I taught second grade at a Finnish/English school. Anyway, she was really pleasant to talk with and we exchanged numbers. The doctor returns and I see him literally five minutes. He grants permission to run {more like jog and walk interchangeably} and I ask if I need to see him again, thank him for his patience and leave. That was a relief but in some ways humbling in being late.

It was real nice to see Nora. I wish I had more time to interview her. She is a volunteer there. I have to say the price is a bit on the high end for a thrift store {It is not UFF}, but then again they had some nice designer brands. The down side is that it is pretty packed and you kind of have to look for things although it is rather organized {Not stroller/pram friendly, sorry}. The plus side is that I found a new designer jacket for more than 90 percent off the original price. :D Yeah me!

As for your question about Finns and how they relate to their own relatives and the church. I have to say it may be more important to speak highly of the body of Christ and how they have blessed you. Make it personal, and be real about it. I had the same question and a colleague of mine suggests this. It is easy to see a problem with people not "getting it". But the grace of God has worked in us the same way. We too used to not "get it". The Holy Spirit does this work and yes sometimes it needs to be preached on the pulpit or taught more clearly in discipleship. The culture of keeping things to ourselves can be changed by making initiative to step outside your Finnish comfort zone. It is called the art of self-forgetfullness and I too am constantly working on this.

I also miss our accountability {vastuussa???} times. I have felt that I have learned a lot from you rather. Oh, how I wanted to start a group, but with our times and schedules. It just didn't work out. PÖH. Mikko had some good insight on this. Accountability can happen when praying with a friend and sharing felt needs with another female believer. The caution with accountability is that sometimes folks may only share what they feel like and not what they dread to share (like sin, fears, and pride). Again, it takes time to build that trust with someone who keeps a confidence. I like that when we gather we do not bash our husbands, it's all about challenging each other to be more Christ-like and showing respect towards them. {That is not always easy}.

P.S. I really respect that you want to be less wasteful {via our phone call}. This too has come to my mind. Normally I purchase things for Easter that end up being wasted. This year I only purchased flax and eggs for the easter basket. I wanted to keep the meaning and newness that Christ promises to give when we turn from our sin and trust in Him for eternity. The hope that only He can give and make things new again. One blogger, an acquaintance, talked about letting go. I too have been kind of making it a game, I will try to give something away, sell, or toss every week. I also try to plan our meals out more so I am not making too many trips or unnecessary purchases. Let's do this together!

P.S.S. Again too much to share. Like my birthday party and all the fun things the kids are learning, and Mikko and our date at Nuuksio. For now, I look forward hearing your response.

Love from our home ja Hyvää Pääsiäistä {Happy Easter},


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dear Heidi {Part II}

Dear Heidi

Hearing: I completed watching  Francis Schaeffer´s "How should we then live?" -a video series about art, culture and philosphy with my husband. It's awesome. I think he is my favourite theologian now. As artists we have been learning a lot. Also as a mom, I got excited how we can explore cultures with the kids and see path ways that show the Bible's accuracy, our need for a savior and how this all honours our Creator.

Seeing: Our youngest is one year old. He has been walking since he was 10 months like all the guys in my side of the family. He doesn't talk but makes noises that really sound like he was speaking. I see that he is not a baby anymore. I'm proud of him! But I think im getting a baby fever again...

Smelling: I have gotten used to the  smell fresh air. It's prohibited to take cars to our tiny island unless it's there for work use.

Feeling: You talked about the body of Christ, the big family where we have been adopted. I miss you! This place has no kind of church. Oh, there are phones, Skype and facebook, but I like best chatting over a table with a tea mug.
 I have already been used to not attending Sunday services and small groups, and that's scary.
 I came up with a theory: tell me as an American if you see it. It's about the body of Christ in Finland:
Finnish families seems to have normally a mom, dad and few children. Everybody else (grandmoms, dads, uncles, aunts) are called relatives. Relatives keep "respecting" distance and everybody minds their own things. Helping and advising comes along but only when asked. Finnish family is small and really independent compared to how it is in some other nations.  
Have you noticed us Finns behaving the same way in our churches? We tend to keep distances, dont we? When something has happened, I tend to think that I dont want to intrude on their business, or I'd wish and pray that someone inside this family will sort it out.

Sharing our lives with followers helps us to be accountable, enjoy living and avoid sinning. You have shown me as an example and I have seen fruit that it grows. From your insipiration I would recommend myself and every couple to learn to be accountable to each other. There is no darkness in the light. Sin likes to grow in the shadows.
 Thank you for being an example. Wouldn't be possible if we too, would have "respected" each others space and not been involved in each others lives.

How wonderful that you included here "Anything embarrassing happen lately?" section...  
You didn't warn me about it. I have lived here for half a year now and keep messing with the names and faces. Just the other day we watched a movie and for all that time I thought that the actor in it was Heath Ledger, but apparently it was James Franco. This was not embarresing , just showing how badly my memory can be. 
I just put a sink in our front yard. (But I'm putting flowers on it, so no reason to worry about my taste about decorating.)
I could show how I managed to move to a 20 square meters smaller home that doesn't have as many 
storage room spaces.

Greetings from an island far far away!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Viikkorahat Lapsille {Weekly Chore Money for Kids}

There is no question about it, my man is the math and numbers guy. Business major, and look, his parents are excellent with numbers. He sees the big picture. I get excited if I save money on a pair of shoes, he is like, um so what.

Before we married, we found it really helpful to go to pre-marital counseling and talk about all the issues that married couples need to face. A big one: Money. We both agreed not to start out with credit cards as we ourselves saw how others were being eaten alive by them.

Then we started to have children. As they got older we began discussing money and where it comes from. As a child, I thought you just go to the bank and get out money. Simple as that right? I had a pretty poor understanding of saving, needs and wants, etc.

Now Mikko takes the kids every other week and gives them their chore money. We have a saying here, "If you don't work, you don't eat." Trust me, they really do eat {like hobbits}, the phrase is more about instilling the idea that it is good and right to work. So we not only discuss money but also ask how they think their weekly chores are going. Mikko then proceeds with the distribution of pay. Here is how we divide it:

10%     Missions/Lähetystyö
10%     Church/Kirkko
10%     Friends/Kavereille
20%     Savings/Säästöt
50%     For self/Oma Raha

The money is put in envelopes and then put in savings once their savings reaches a certain amount. What I am sharing here is a start and helps them see where their money goes. The amount you give them is up to you and/or your spouse depending on your budget. Once, our boys put their heads together and invested their own spending money plus money from the recycling bottles they collected to purchase a fun toy to work on together.

I bring this up because I feel and sense that A LOT of parents rely heavily upon the "lapsilisä¨ {Money the government gives for every child until they are 15, which has been recently cut} and other governmental help. I think if it is really helping you, GREAT! But it may help to also slowly build upon your own account by distributing your wealth in ways that promote, self-control, and good stewardship toward money that God has given you. Eventually you want to see government money as only "extra" as much as it is possible. I know others who have had nearly next to nothing slowly climb back out of the debt hole by slowly increasing their tithes and savings.

The main thing is that it is never too late to teach these things to your children {or yourself}. There may have to be apologies about how you yourself have been spending your money unwisely and that it is time to get back on track {It is humbling, trust me}. Knowing the difference between needs and wants is a good start too. Hopefully when they leave the house they can do the same with their own household economy.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Birthday/Year's Wishlist 2014

My birthday is just around the corner! Although most Finns don't make a big deal about their 36th birthday. I will! Boohoowaha! Here is my top ten wishlist for the year, or hey, even possibly years to come {keeping my expectations low}...Didn't I say I was practical and helpful!?:

1. Donate to Itu-projekti. Volunteers work hard to help women in pregnancy crisis, and  babies in need of love and support. Women who have gone through an abortion also go through a lot of emotional, mental, and physical pain. Itu wants to help them find healing and hope. Call today:

Valtakunnallinen puhelinpäivystys 050 401 5567 ma-pe 9-21

Giving info: 

Find it here.

2. Ikea Bojne chairs. This company is intelligent, they put their chairs in their cafeteria so you can try them out. As I was sitting there one morning and it dawned on me, ¨Oh, my, these are the ones!¨ 

3. Arikka beaded necklace. Pink, White, Orange or yellow. Wooden pearls are fun!

4. Korres Black Volcanic Minerals Mascara (Black)

5. Korres Wild Rose  24-hour Moisturising Brightening Cream

6. Pirkka's Dark Chocolate with Cocoa bits {Tumma Suklaata ja kaakaokrokanttia} It's Fair Trade too!

7. Prisma has a a guilt-free brand {Sorry, do not remember the name} of DARK Chocolate with stevia

8. Invite me for coffee or tea! :) (Ladies only please)

9. Take me flea market shopping! (Ladies only please)

10. Hand Craft or Eco friendly products!

What are your 1-10 top favorites this year?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Siivouspäivä 2014! {cleaning day is coming!}

It was some April fool's joke yesterday. It had been totally getting warmer and I was making plans to plant flower bulbs.
However, when I arrived home from the town it was lightly snowing!
Brrr! Ha Ha Ha! Really?

Never-the-less, I get excited around spring.
Especially when Siivouspäivä {Cleaning Day} edges around the corner {24.5.2014}
It will be a busy weekend. Naistenkymppi {Women's 10k} is the next day! Yikes!

Anyway, I just found out you can print out all these fun materials if one were interested in planning a kirppis {flea market}. I think though, I will be checking out Helsinki's action. I found last year the clothes to be higher quality and good prices. Soon the website will show the locations hosting the cleaning day in your area. 
Are you buying or selling this year on Siivouspäivä? What has been your experience?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dear Maria {Part I}

"Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of  the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him - to the only wise God be glory for ever through Jesus Christ! Amen." Romans 16:25-27 {NIV}

Dear Maria,

                   It was so good to see you in Utö Island. Now I have a feel for what life is like there. For some reason I was welled up in tears the morning after our return as I ended Paul's letter to Romans. Perhaps I felt the longing Paul had to see the saints, just as I wanted to see you and your family. I realized how much of a sister you are to me. I always wanted a little sister, but now I see that the Church: the body of Christ is filled with sisters all over this planet. Thank you God, for the Church, your bride! Someone in small group asked if I missed you, and I felt I was sincerely happy for you and your family. But sometimes we just have to cry!

I am finding it a challenge to get to know the rest of the mutual friendships due to schedules and distances. Keep me accountable, hope to see more of them before summer! By the way, I love your idea to write back and forth via blog. Often in blogs, you see an extreme of perfectionism {If you are looking for that here, sorry to disappoint you}. If you are looking for our political view points, well, I might write about societal problems or what not. But because we are artists and creatives most of our work will be here. We hope it inspires you and hope it is something you can create too. If you cannot, then rejoice on our creative behalves!

This is not a forum to put down people. All people have value {even those that do not care for us}, therefore if anyone is made fun of, it is of ourselves. My husband says, "It is better to make less of yourself, and more of God." And we hope to do that. Humor is good for the heart, so laugh with us. 

Our readers do not have to be housewives. If they work outside the home, we pray they would be encouraged to still be keepers of the home {I know that will be a stretch for some, some think the kitchen just happened to come with the house}, discipleship makers, community developers, etc. Readers will  see what life is like for both of us in two different environments. They will also meet indirectly a lot of really cool people.

You will not find me on social media (except WhatsAPP). So if you do use social media, feel free to share our articles. I stopped some social media to help me concentrate and invest my time elsewhere. So far the house is cleaner, I am more attentive to the children and Mikko finds home to be more of a haven. Mission accomplished! {I am sure still more to learn}.

So back to you, Maria. What am I sensing with all the senses lately?

Hearing: Wednesday the guy who played the guitar under the Leppävaara train station sounded really good! His voice was beautiful and I am not sure if he was the same one Mikko took out for lunch but hope he does well.

Seeing: B is reading more Risto Räppääjä {A Finnish children's series). T is learning to master chess. P is looking for more panttipullot {recycling bottles}, as well as developing her jump rope skills and S constantly wants to stand on the seisomalauta {standing board to pram} when we go out.

Smelling: At kotipiiri {home group} we had V's famous lasagna. It was fabulous! You can make it with whatever filling meat or tofu, awesome stuff. 

Feeling: Lately I have been wrapping thin birch branches over chicken wire {I was about to give it away} shaped into hearts after soaking them in warm water {the longer the better}. You know me, I was just trying to tackle my "list" when my randomness kicked in. Ha ha ha. Surprise! By the way, these kind of things you sell in boutiques or at least ask the person if they need one. I gave one to a friend who just got married now she has twelve {American exaggeration}. I am normally a very practical person, should of asked. {Also reminds what all our newly wed friends gave us at our wedding, but that is for another blog post. Did I say I was random?}

Anything embarrassing happen lately? Well, this week I left the gym with the feeling that I left my dirty underwear in the locker. Fortunately, when I got home it was in my bag. I had the same feeling at music club when I couldn't find my purse. Instead of searching I say out loud, "Minä hävin mun lauku!" {I lost my purse!} Gasp. Me and my big mouth, I had four mothers arriving on the scene kindly offering their services. But atlas it was in the same room on a table. Put a group of mothers together to figure out something and you will see they are amazing detectives! 

Sorry this is a bit long, but for starter's sake I pass you this post and look forward to your reply,

Greetings from dusty dirty Leppävaara, Heidi 

 Kaverini! {My friend!}
Lighthouse outside our friend's place. The top floor was a chapel where we held our worship service.

 Shaving my legs...just kidding. Soaking thin birch branches in hot water.
Finished product.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Weekend Projects

Happy St. Patrick's Day every one! These days I need to prioritize projects and crafts in ways that help my family and encourage home life. 
Anyway this weekend I did a lot of hand stitching, crocheting, gluing, laminating, etc. This week's focus will be on physical therapy and packing for a trip to Utö Island
So what did I do?
 Super fun girl party! There was a disco (Ok, any excuse to dance right!) 
Our girls and I had so much fun.
 Before heading long into projects, project play steps in. The weather has been dry and warm until we woke-up one morning to a winter wonder land.  ¨Again! Again!¨ the toddler says.
 "Mom, this is for the bad guys who walk-by and gets bonked on the head!"
 Piling snowballs on the playhouse cabin.
 Quite a natural climber!
 Could not believe all the sweats and jeans that got holes. Used new and old fabric using an double-stick iron-on patch fabric (Eurokangas).
 Got a used stationary bike {kuntopyörä} for my physical therapy. However, one of the support straps broke so I just took the handle off our detergent box and punched holes on the other side! Ta-da!
 Made a donation tube out of our feta cheese container. This magazine:


 My husband now contributes to it. Would you like a copy? You can ask me too.
I learned simple crochet from one of my Aunts, an ex-neighbor, and my anopi {mother-in-law}. Some of our towels were from the states and did not have those nifty hooks so I made my own!
 {Americans often put them on racks NOT hooks}