Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Grainy B&W image of supposed UFO, Passoria, Ne...

Image via Wikipedia

And now for something totally different. As life would have it, things happen to show who you really are, not who you would like to be. Quick caveat: By no means do any of the following statements refer to the writer, far be it from me! Enjoy and comment if you have more ideas along these lines!

You might be middle-aged if…

…you start seeing more and more younger people than yourself everywhere.

…you wake up one morning with UFOs (Unidentified Fighting Objects) running around your home. You have no idea how they got there. They have a lot in common with their more space-y siblings: They can go at warp speed, turn on a dime against all the laws of physics, and their heads are disproportionally big for their bodies. Oh, and they also have big, wide eyes and they may talk in a foreign language!

…you end up driving a big honkin’ SUV or even better, a family van that you desperately try to call your “man van” (who the heck came up with that stupid name anyway?) Sorry, dude, you can call it whatever you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that while driving it, you look enviously at other guys in their real cars and imagine the roar of a real engine instead of the 4-cylinder you had to settle with, because your kids ate up all your car savings!

…your hair stops growing where it should and starts growing where it shouldn’t.

…your “me time” consists of endless “yes dears”, referee sessions with the aforementioned UFO’s and falling on your bed before it all hits you again in the morning.

…your body starts telling you what you can and can’t do instead of the other way around.

…you start finding out that most all of your favorite foods and drinks will not just be passing through, but are deviously setting up permanent residence above your buttocks (love handles) or/and around your bellybutton (heart-attack fat!) Cheeks and necks are also favorite spots for these permanent vacationers, and that’s just for men. By this time, self-preservation instinct has taught this writer to not even go to the ladies!

…you have a cup of coffee at 7PM thinking it won’t affect your sleep, but the caffeine ends up keeping you awake until 2AM while you keep thinking about the endless possibilities of writing a blog titled “You Might Be Middle-aged If…”

…one of the aforementioned UFOs ends up waking up to a nightmare or getting sick, keeping you up in the middle of the night. Hey, that was your “me time!”

…the same UFO wakes up at 6AM and jumps on your bed playing his video game. Hey, that was your “me time!”

…you find out that your scepter, the tv remote, starts mysteriously levitating all around your home, never to be found in the crucial last minutes and seconds before start of the game. In time, it will pass permanently into the hands of the aforementioned UFOs to symbolize the switch of power on the throne of your home.

…you start finding out that more and more of your favorite foods will give you heartburn or mess with your body in unending ways.

…you start realizing that it takes less and less luck and more and more hard work and focus to reach your goals.

…you look enviously at younger guys with ripped bodies and can’t even make it to the gym three times a week to stay in some kind of decent shape, not to mention just stepping out the door and taking a short walk!

…you convert your garage into a “man cave.” Cut it off! The last time men lived in caves, they were cavemen. (A joke, lighten up, you religious readers!)

…you work your butt off to bring in the bread only to find that it ran out because the store didn’t happen to have it that day.

…you realize that the lyrics in the old song, “Yeah, money talks, mine always says goodbye” are not only true, but that it feels like you’re the only one it happens to. Rest assured, you’re definitely not! The more money, the bigger the pile it says “goodbye” in!

This might just be the tip of the iceberg. Chime in and leave a comment if you have ideas about the issue!

Hotel / Casino New York-New York in Las Vegas.

Image via Wikipedia

Our friends gave us a week in their Las Vegas time-share, which was a real blessing as we had no money for a vacation after buying a car, so thanks so much, guys! There’s not much to see in between L.A. and Vegas, unless you count the world’s largest thermometer or a 50’s diner with a dinosaur park…

Yes, somebody had to make one...

…or a splitting image of FINLAND on the side of a Nevada mountain. (I guess you’d have to be Finnish to really appreciate it!)

The map of Finland on the side of a mountain. Amazing!

Having spent just a week in Vegas, I really don’t get how people are able to live here! It’s been over 110 degrees Fahrenheit (That’s 43 degrees Celsius to you Europeans!) most of the week, and we’ve had a very testing time here. This really puts Jesus’ 40 days in the desert in perspective! Both kids have been sick, but that hasn’t kept us from the hotel pool, which has just about the balmiest water you could imagine…

Stepping outside, the heat clings your shirt to your skin as soon as you hit the sidewalk. We’ve taken short walks as we’re only a block away from the Strip. That, by the way, is a very appropriate name, since the newspaper boxes are full of girl catalogs and sidewalks are full of people in t-shirts screaming “GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!” and other variations of the same theme, while the people wearing them slap their “business cards” and try to hand them over to guys, girls and yes, sometimes this husband and father of two, who is WALKING WITH HIS WIFE AND TWO KIDS! Sin City, for sure, but God is even there. In the middle of it, I suddenly heard a quiet voice in my heart say, “You don’t belong in this world.” What an awesome moment. Then I looked at my family around me, and the same quiet voice said, “Strength.” Looking at the peddlers with their cards, one last word, “Weakness.” It felt amazing to hear God protect and guide us through this maze. We did our best to walk by the rag mag boxes, blocking them from the view of our 5-year-old son Miro. You might think he wouldn’t get it, but when it comes to protecting our kids, you are talking to a tiger. I will do whatever it takes to allow our children to grow up healthy and free of junk, thank you very much!

Downtown Las Vegas

Las Vegas has been built up like you wouldn’t believe, and it isn’t all pretty. Just because you have money, it doesn’t mean you’ll create something beautiful. What used to be is now covered by ritzy skyscrapers and shopping malls that look generic and unwelcoming. To me, it kinda sums up living life without God. You end up with a lot of things, both material and immaterial, but there’s no heart, no redemption, no eternity. I wouldn’t choose it…

Where's the soul?

It seems no coincidence that the “New Center of Las Vegas” is in trouble, some of its cold, steel structures even before they open up. Just check this article on the Harmon Hotel. Not even opened yet, it might be demolished before receiving its first guest! Talking about construction, this building caught our eye by the North Premium Outlets:

Would you like to live in here?

Even with all the gloominess, there are still some great things in Vegas. Check out the lions at the MGM Grand:

Thank God for the glass in between!

A 1/3 replica of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Casino is a personal favorite:

The Other Eiffel Tower

The Twin Towers

The greatest thing about Las Vegas? Meeting with God! We just returned from a Sunday morning visit at Central Christian Church and heard some amazing worship by their band and a great teaching by Jud Wilhite about making time for what really matters. Their creativity was inspiring, and they reach people from strippers and addicts on, God is doing amazing work there!

Central Christian Church in Las Vegas

Even better than going to church was a moment on holy ground right on the Strip the other day. We were walking by the M&M store (13 bucks for a pound, what’s up with that?!?) and saw a young man dancing on the sidewalk. Thinking nothing of it, we passed him by the next day and heard a worship song about Jesus blasting loud in the middle of people dressed up as anything from Iron Man to strippers in cop uniforms, earning their living from tips by letting people take photos with them. I had to walk up to Jeffrey, as he then introduced himself. We said a quick hello, I told him how much I loved what he was doing, and we parted ways saying that we’d be meeting up in heaven one day (God willing!) It was an amazing moment in the desert heat surrounded by a city that thrives on sin and it reminds me of God’s words about how grace abounds even more where darkness reigns. God adds life to everything, and it’s awesome to experience Vegas with Him.

Mango drinks for everyone!

Look at me, daddy!

It’s been a few weeks since Father’s Day, but what happened to us is so huge that it deserves to be blogged: Our  son Miro got saved just before his 5th birthday on Friday, June 17th!

Miro always wanted to hear stories of Spider-Man, Iron Man or other superheroes of the day, but a couple of months earlier he all of a sudden started asking for “Jesus stories.” Having read the Bible for years, I found myself racking my brain to remember the details, but still succeeded to tell the stories to him fairly accurately. On that special night, when the story was done, he simply said, “I just love Jesus.” My heart stopped and I was filled with amazement and awe. I asked, “You know, if you really do, you can do something about it. Would you like to pray and ask Jesus to come into your heart?” He simply replied, “Yes.” Then we prayed the sinner’s prayer, and our lives changed forever.

As a father, I try my best to show my faith to my kids, wife and others. Still, how they pick up on it is a total mystery to me. I remember talking to our kid’s pastor at church as I was concerned about Miro’s faith. She gave me the greatest reply, “It’s not a matter of if but when.” I was filled with instant peace and left my son’s faith to God while doing what I sensed was right on my part. It felt awesome.

At the end of the day, what happened was the result of many important things in Miro’s life. He sees the faith of dad and mom in action every day, goes to church every Sunday and hangs out in our small group with adults and other kids every week. He goes to a pre-school where Jesus is a part of life through the year. On top of this, his best friend believes in Jesus. The two of them have so much fun together and are inseparable whenever they get together. They remind me of David and Jonathan, and God used Miro’s best friend to introduce him to Jesus. I want to thank our church and everyone involved for showing my son the way to God, his life will never be the same!

Only God can do such things, and to top it off, He started giving me a new song that same morning. Titled “Sound of Celebration”, it is about the joy that erupts in heaven every time a person puts their faith in Jesus. I had written the first verse and chorus before noon:

You were there when all was made
Hear how all creation sings
A beautiful song of praise to You

Let the sound fill every space
Let it ring out from our hearts
All the world will hear of Jesus’ name

We bring our joy to you

You’re the One we celebrate
You have given us this day
We lift up Your precious name
Lord Jesus

You’re the One that we live for
You have opened up the door
Now we hear the sound of celebration

Little did I know that the same night I would finish the song based on sharing my own son’s salvation!

Our salvation comes from you
You give it to the humble heart
Calling out Your name, You set us free

All of heaven sings so loud
Giving glory to the One
For the soul that only You can save

We bring our joy to you
We bring our joy to you

You’re the One we celebrate
You have given us this day
We lift up Your precious name
Lord Jesus

You’re the One that we live for
You have opened up the door
Now we hear the sound of celebration

(c) 2011 WaterWalk Music / Petri Nauha

So now this “Sound of Celebration” echoes in our hearts as our firstborn has entered God’s Kingdom. I can hardly wait to see what God has in store for his life, I am so proud to be his dad.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Posted: December 23, 2010 in Family, God
Tags: , , ,

From our family to you, and from the bottom of our hearts, Merry Christmas! We get to celebrate the birth of our Savior and the Son of God in freedom again. Let’s never take it for granted!

Almost a month without a blog, dang. That tells you how busy this season can get. Even though we’re busy just surviving with the kids, somehow God has been able to move us towards embracing Christmas and its true meaning, and I am so glad. I believe it’s got everything to do with what’s going on in our church and with our kids. You can’t help but be moved towards Jesus and the spirit of Christmas when this kind of stuff is going on!

Miro saw the dentist, who found two cavities. I was not prepared for the shock, it felt horrible to hear that after all the brushing we couldn’t prevent it. The dentist was awesome and I was there, but Miro was really scared and cried through the whole 15-minute affair. Afterward, he got the eye-patch from the dentist and this pool table from daddy for bravery.

At the soccer season closing party, Miro was awarded as “The Most Likely To Save The Day.” Why, you ask? Because instead of running after the ball like the rest of the boys, he opted to shoot it with his laser and play different superheroes during the games… Daddy was so proud!  😀

Miro the Superhero gets his trophy at the end of soccer season...

Our dog Dora smelled something good on the table. She found her way up, but only to get really confused.

Nothing brings Christmas home like the church on Sundays.Tea got close to the Christmas tree there:

The Crescenta Valley Community Church is having a Live Nativity scene on every day this week. They started right after the services, and Miro is a shepherd. Once again, daddy is way proud, though not totally sure if he’s that into it.

They also have live animals, the sheep are at the top of the blog, and Tea met the 30-year-old donkey.

And last but not least, we jumped in the car and drove to the Americana in Glendale. They have the tallest Christmas tree in America, and they actually shoot the words “Merry Christmas” on their tower for all to see. I’m so glad they’re not going politically correct like so many during Christmas!

They were also going to have snow (as much as a single cannon can shoot out in California weather), but the rain proved to be more powerful, so it got cancelled. Little did I care, ’cause we just decided to visit Santa! It’s weird, but after 12 years in Southern California, I’ve started equating rain with Christmas. So here’s our unofficial Christmas photo:

Yesterday was our 12th anniversary. Man, 12th… Rarely do you realize how fast time flies until it is gone. It has been an amazing ride. After getting married in Finland on August 15th, 1998, we moved to California the very next month. It has affected our marriage in many ways, as we haven’t had family close and are only able to see some of them, and only once or twice a year. It has made our marriage stronger, as we’ve had to make things work in a new country by the two of us. I remember struggling through the legal immigration process – for the first years Uncle Sam basically wanted me here working and paying taxes, while my wife would have had to wait in Finland for 3.5 years, and all this in the very beginning of our marriage! It seems to be easier to move here illegally than legally. There’s definitely something wrong with that picture…

During the years, I’ve worked and led worship, written worship songs, and seen my wife turn from a fresh immigrant to an incredible mom of two and a part-time working dietitian with a degree from Cal State LA. I am so proud of her, as she worked the 4AM shift at Starbucks to pay for her tuition and books! Both of our kids (Miro, now 4, and Tea, now 1,5) were born here at a hospital just a quarter mile away from our place. They are such a joy in our lives and make our family complete! I watch my wife take care of them with such love, and it fills my heart with joy.

When I was younger, I remember thinking that marriage and kids weren’t for me. Then I met God and my future wife, and they changed everything. God helped me drop all the insane ideas I had about life and marriage, and my wife made it really easy to propose – she is hot!  😀  Today, after 12 years, I honestly think that God created us all for marriage and for relationships, because they make us better people. In my marriage, I get blessed, challenged, stretched and nurtured in ways that I never did in my single years. I am having the greatest adventure of my life, and after 12 years, I am still madly in love with my wife!