Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Strange times

It's been too long! Thank you for still sticking with my blog even though I have been so neglecting. 

The winter passed and it was a strange winter. So warm and so little snow! 

Indi turned five. We are living in our small apartment and I know some of you wanted new pictures of our home but it's exactly the same as when we moved. I still have the same duvet covers hanging in the bedroom window. 
Not very interesting :)

Our life is pretty normal, pretty quiet. 

The world around us though, it seems to have gone off the rails lately. I know it's not just me.

I thought it was pretty crazy before, so many horrendous things happening in many countries, the wars and cruelty and the natural disasters and disasters caused by humans. And then this stuff with Russia escalated. 

It is surreal to suddenly notice people here actually worried and nervous. We are so used to stuff happening far away, a safe distance away. Sharing a border with Russia, and having been part of Russia before 1917 when we gained independence, are facts that make people watch the situation closely. The Baltic countries are really worried since they were part of the Soviet Union not so long ago. In Finland there has been a sudden increase in interest in discussing a possible application for NATO membership. Others are saying we should apply like yesterday, and others are saying it would only provoke Russia and it would guarantee no protection anyway.  Yet others are saying that we have nothing to worry about.    

What do I think?

I think that God has everything under control. 
His children never need to fear.
I think that He is trying to get us to see that

We will never stop the wars      
We will never save the environment
We will never stop being greedy     
We will never change for the better on our own
We are not evolving into a moral and good people 
There is no goodness hidden inside of us, waiting to get out
We are lost sinners
Needing a Savior
We need to admit this, repent and accept the atoning work accomplished by his only Son at the cross, so that we will be forgiven our sins and given a new heart and the promise of an eternal life. We need to let go of our pride and make Jesus Christ the Lord in our lives. 

You see, I used to think that I was a pretty good person. I consider it pure grace that my eyes were opened to see my true condition of sin and selfishness. I got a chance to see myself with His eyes and feel the sorrow and repent. I stumble a lot, but each time I am convicted in my heart, I am thankful. I am so thankful that I am so loved that I get a chance to repent, be forgiven and try again. That is Grace. I get to live with a clean conscience because of that.

The offer still stands, and it is amazing. Sadly, not many people will take it. I know this because it says so in my Bible. But you can take it, if you have not already. And then you can live with incredible peace in this raging world, because the shepherd that is leading you is good and trustworthy.

For He says:
“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:2

John 3.16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Our Daily Bread

There are people in this world, who after paying bills and putting food on the table, give away the rest of their paycheck. They don't keep savings or retirement funds or stocks. They don't put their trust in money, belongings, property, stock market, insurances, themselves or other people. They trust the Lord to keep providing for them, taking care of their needs.

Wow, it's possible to live like that. Isn't it so inspiring?  Imagine what freedom and calm you can experience when you put your trust in the sovereign God of the universe, and not on yourself, not on the stuff that this world wants to make you think you cannot live without.

Some people think that when they have a bulging bank account or stock portfolio, they are safe. But that is a false sense of security. Just think about where the world is today. I'm not an financial expert (nor any other kind of expert) but many people who are experts in the financial realm, are saying that the world economy will collapse, that it's inevitable. In any case, it is a very real possibility.

Anything you have can be taken away. No material thing can offer real security. It's okay to have some material things, but don't put your trust in them.
Even your life is not your own.

Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread. He didn't tell us to pray for  a big house, two BMW's, and lots of savings. We are to live our lives trusting him, taking each step in life in faith. We are not shown the whole picture of our life and what the future will hold for us. If we knew, we wouldn't be living in faith.

And you know what? He WILL lead those who are faithful to him.

He is a living God.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Answers on Basics

Hi there! I promised to answer a few questions for Kate. Sorry I'm a bit late, my husband was away on a trip for a couple of weeks and I just felt like I had my hands full... We did some fun things like staying overnight with my brother and his wife and digging in their potato garden! Our time alone, just the two of us, actually went really nicely. We prayed for help in being kind and patient towards each other, and it helped :)

As for the questions, here they are:

minimum clothes items?
toiletries what are the basics?
jewelry how much is too much?

First off, I must say that this is a difficult question because each person has different needs and lifestyle. I am in no way an expert, so take this as one person's experience and opinion.
For clothes, it depends on the climate you live in, your hobbies, how often you do laundry, and how often you can stand to shop. Yes, I've come to realize it is also one factor. I've lived with very little clothing for almost one and half years, so I'm staring to have some new insight into this. The thing is, if you have two pairs of pants and five tops, you are constantly wearing the same thing and they wear out quickly. You may end up feeling like you are always having to replace some item, be it socks, panties, a t-shirt, whatever. 

Right now my only pair of jeans have a zipper that will not stay closed at all. Replacing  zippers in jeans is notoriously difficult, so I am putting off trying to do it.. But I have also been putting off buying a second pair of jeans. 

And my only pair of sweatpants have several small holes in them. 

So while you can easily live with very little, say, 15 items, in the long run it can get tedious because not only are you having to keep up with doing the laundry constantly, but also having to shop for replacements at times when you really don't feel like it, or when you just can't find the thing you are trying to replace, if it's something specific, like comfy underwear or pants that fit you well. You may end up having to only wear a tunic top with your jeans so that the open zipper doesn't show, and when your tunic top is in the laundry, you can't wear the jeans either :)

I have come a long way from a person who liked to shop for entertainment... I prefer buying things on-line, and using the local equivalent of ebay for secondhand kids clothes. (Just yesterday I bought leather sneakers and gore tex winter boots for Indiana there. We are about to take her too small winter clothes and a few other things to the refugee arrival center.) But yesterday I went to an actual brick-and-mortar shop, with the hope that I would actually find several clothing items in that one place. And I did!  I bought two pairs of corduroy pants, two jersey tops and one long sleeved dress. I'm totally becoming a person who wears clothes from a couple of different places only, because it's so easy. So what if majority of my clothes comes from the same place.. who cares. I'm way past trying to "express myself" through my clothing. I just want it comfortable and simple and practical.

A quick look at my winter clothes now reveals that I have

2 corduroy pants
1 black wool jersey slim leg pants
2 tights
1 velour lounge pants
7 jersey/knit long sleeve tops 
4 blouse/tunic tops
1 checked flannel shirt
3 dresses fit for winter
2 cardigans, one thick and one thin

Not counting the hole-y sweatpants and jeans with a broken zipper ;)
So that's 23 items now and I feel like it's a pretty good amount and I feel like I have some variety and I have enough to not have to worry about running out of clean clothes all the time. 

So around 20-25 clothing items excluding outerwear. I would not want to go for much less than this, for the reasons I explained, though someone else may be happy to.

I didn't include summer clothes because we have such distinct seasons here. (And it's amazingly nice beginning of fall this year, I'm so happy about the warm sunny weather!) We need a separate wardrobe for summer, but I have a little less of summer clothing because summer is so much shorter, and some of the "winter" stuff is really all-year stuff.. 

For outerwear, it really depends on the climate. I need

winter boots
walking shoes/sneakers
sandals for summer
ballerina flats for fancier occasions

thin water repellent coat
thick winter coat
outerwear pants for outdoorsy stuff in winter time or in rainy weather


For this summer I had 

4 dresses
1 pair of cut-off sweatpants 
1 pair of clam digger pants
4 t-shirts/short sleeve tops
3 tank tops
1 thin long sleeve blouse
1 linen-cotton cardigan

So that's 15 pieces of summer clothing.

The key to living with a small wardrobe is making everything mix together, and multi-functional items. A lot of patterned colorful pieces just won't work. Make most of your wardrobe solid colors and limit the patterned pieces. A patterned dress is okay, but if you only have patterned tights and a patterned cardigan as well, and to top it off all of them are in different color schemes, then you will always have trouble coming up with outfits. I'm not saying that minimalists should only dress in black and grey. If you love bright colors, and you love all of them and don't want to pick just two, then you could, for example, have only neutral colored bottoms and have a rainbow of colored tops. Solid colors can work in a surprising combination, but patterns are very hard to mix.

I have noticed the same goes for kids' clothes as well. Indi's favorite color is red and she has a lot of red clothes, but also other colors, mostly solids, some stripes and a few patterned tops. I know a lot of children love clothes with prints and pictures, but I've never noticed that to be a major factor for her, so I don't feel like I'm a boring mum who only gets her boring clothes. For children who are not peeing their pants three times a day anymore, but are still making a mess of themselves occasionally, I'd say seven pants and seven tops is pretty good amount. No more than ten, anyway. A couple of dresses for girls, or even more of course if they are girls who like to wear dresses every day. Then just have less tops and more dresses. 

As for toiletries, then..

A deodorant
Conditioner (if you use any)

I would say those are the essentials. However, many people prefer to wash their face with something else besides soap, and a lot of people need moisturizer, especially in harsh climates. I went over a year without any specific facial cleansers, but my skin was suffering a little and a few months ago I got a cleanser, toner and moisturizer, but I don't use them all every day. Mostly because I'm lazy. I have a small bottle of almond oil that I use on my skin and hair as well (it can be some other oil as well, like avocado or coconut, I just happen to have almond oil right now).
I would not count make-up as essential by any means. I hardly ever wear make-up anymore, but I do have a concealer for dark under-eyes, a make-up powder, blush and two lipsticks. No mascara because it inevitably goes bad before I get around to using it more than a couple of times and makes my eyes itchy. I'm getting more and more used to going bare faced. Indi doesn't like me wearing lipstick either, and she says I'm prettier without. The under-eye concealer is my most often used make-up item, and the one I will probably keep using occasionally even if I give up all other make-up. 

And jewelry, how much is too much, huh?

If the question was similarly about the MINIMUM amount of jewelry, the answer would have been easy! None, that is. Except your wedding band if you are married. Because we all know that jewelry is not necessary at all and there is no minimum amount that we should have! 

Again, this is highly subjective. I wear two simple silver bands on my ring finger, and a pair of small drop diamond earrings that I inherited from my grandmother and which I love because they are comfortable to sleep in, and a silver cross necklace. 

But I have more than this stored in a small box.  I like to wear the same jewelry all the time and only on a rare occasion put on another larger piece.  I have two bigger necklaces and a large silver ring that I can wear to make a simple outfit more special, and I have some old inherited jewelry that I'm keeping to give to my daughter and nieces later. 

As for what is too much, well, if you don't wear it or if it is not special in some way (for example inherited) that you really want to keep it, then it's too much. Also, if you already have a lot and are still buying more, then it's too much. If it doesn't fit in a shoe box it might be too much.

Too much of anything is when it's not being used or worn or appreciated, or when it is rather a hindrance than a blessing.

A minimum is an amount that is helpful to your life, not limiting it for a lack that is consuming your time and thoughts.

I would still say this: It doesn't matter whether you have fifteen pieces of clothing or fifty. 

What matters most is the attitude you have. Appreciate and use what you have. Be thankful. Be willing to part with it too if you don't need it but don't end up in a cycle of shopping and discarding, that is a crying shame that we westerners engage in way too much... There is pleasure in actually using up a piece of clothing so that it's good for nothing except a rag. And I don't mean those cheap, poorly made clothes that barely last two washes that we should not buy in the first place.

I hope some you found this helpful :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Biblical Stewardship of Money

10 Myths About Money & Giving - Tim Conway

It's quite long, but really good teaching. 
And it ties into simple living. 
We all know it, when we don't buy so much stuff, we have more money to give. 
I'm not giving in order to get more. We should never do that, besides, I doubt it would work. God sees our hearts and He loves a joyful giver. He even loves the giver who gives because it's the right thing to do, even though it may sting ;) But the one who gives in order to gain, out of selfish reasons, thinking it's like a magic trick, or that then God would be in debt to him or obliged to give him back manyfold is utterly deluded.

But nevertheless, I gave more last year than ever before, and we now have more than ever before. My husband got a new job that is location independent and pays well. So now we can live anywhere, and we can give more. It is God's money, He gives and takes as He wishes. We are called to give freely. We can pray for Jesus to lead needy people to us and lead us to good causes to support. We can pray for a more generous heart, one that has complete trust that our needs will be met by our Lord. Giving freely is love. Just like giving your child all the wild strawberries you pick.

It's amazing how often we Christians don't "see" the passages in bible concerning money. How Jesus told the rich man to sell everything and give to the poor, how John the Baptist told that if you have two shirts and someone has none, to give the other away. Again and again we are told not to hoard treasures on Earth.. Yet what does nearly every one of us do? I admit I do this too. Sometimes it feels "crazy" to give away a large chunk of money, but not crazy in a weird way. It feels right, and joyful.

This is an area that I feel strongly about. I want to grow in it. I want to learn to spend even less on me and more on others. I still get "wants" sometimes. I stay away from magazines that prompt want. I notice it so clearly now that I hardly ever look at one. I was at the doctor yesterday for check-up and browsed an interior design magazine. I was filled with mixed emotions of "oh, that's really nice!! "  and "ugh, this is all so grossly materialistic!" Hahah. I'm not immune, so I stay away!!

It's not realistic for most people to think they can change over night from loving fancy stuff and shopping, to one that hates shopping and thinks of stuff only in terms of immediate usefullness. I have gone a long way (and have yet a way to go) and it's amazing. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Simple summer greetings

My husband's vacation started. We have not much plans. We will stay at my sister's house for a few days to take care of their animals while they are away. I think we should play tourists there and drive around the countryside and see sights. I hope the weather will be nice!

I am trying to learn to drive a car -my husband is teaching me. It's going well but it still makes me anxious. Hm. I will give it an honest shot though, and see if I can get used to it. Living in the city I will not need it much, but in case we decide move to a place where you need to drive to get to places.. well it's better to know now whether I will be comfortable driving or not!

Some of you asked about my old posts. I'm sorry to tell you that they are gone. I just acted on a whim and going through the 160 posts and reviewing the content just seemed like too much work, so I just deleted everything and started over. I hope I can write some new stuff of value to you. Perhaps I will occasionally post a picture of Indi as well, but not as much as before. I don't know yet.

I'm trying to make the most of this summer, even though I do miss having a garden and a sauna :)
On most days we spend time at the community playground (there is also free lunch every day for children in June and July, which is fun - sitting in the grass eating soup!) and at the beach. In mid-August Indi is going to start the church play group, three hours every morning. It will be good for all of us. She is getting a little bored, and I sometimes feel like going out of my mind with lack of personal space :) I think that three hours will make a big difference, even though it's not really enough time for me to do much.

So when she starts the play group I will just give myself some time to re-coup and then perhaps see if I can re-new some old interests, or find new ones, and I will pray for guidance. I do not want to end up chasing meaningless things. I'm taking part in a summer group exhibit because I was asked to.. but just old works.

I hope everyone is having a beautiful, blessed summer!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Two views of a room

Our living room. See how easy it is to take pictures and make everything seem calm and serene?
I'm keeping a blind eye to the mess on the other side (and this here is after a clean-up!). It spreads all over the floor and when I get tired of hopping over it we will clean it up. As much as she loves crafting, I'm happy that Indi is willing to trash the "crafts" she is done with. Some things she keeps for quite long. (Sometimes I clean by myself though and put stuff in a temporary holding spot before the final destination...)

And as unsightly as her craft is, it sure is simple too: she just pulls out empty cardboard containers from the recycling and glues and tapes and draws a bit. I don't have to worry about her "wasting" precious craft supplies, or keeping her handiworks forever.
I can let her go to town with it.
And she does.

Monday, May 6, 2013

First blooms

We went to see our woods for the first time in months. It was a cloudy and a little rainy day.
I found this peculiar blooming bush with the most delicate little flowers. I don't know what it is - none of the blooming trees and bushes I know are yet blooming.

I haven't posted anything in a while. I feel like I am starting to sound like a broken record. I feel like I shouldn't post unless I feel like I actually have something to say. I don't want to waste your time reading forced posts, which I wrote just to have something to post.

But the idea of simplicity is timeless. The idea that we shouldn't be greedy and hoard more than we need will never get old. The recent tragedy in Bangladesh, where a large clothing factory providing underpaid labor for many clothing brands, collapsed because it was not properly maintained and security checked, killing hundreds of workers, was another reminder that should really sting us deeply.

Do we know where the things we consumer are made?
Do we know how they are made, and what the real costs are?
Do we honestly think that other human beings should pay with their own lives so that we can have cheap clothing?
If not, why are we refusing to acknowledge the facts, why are we still continuing to support the brands using what is no better than slave labor? Is it because they are so far away from us, we can almost pretend they are not there?

I have been reading lots and lots. It's good, it reduces my time spent on the computer!

Honestly, lately I have been dwelling on spiritual matters much more than simplicity and minimalism. Simplicity makes room for this, obviously, as my mind isn't busy thinking about STUFF -or lack thereof- all the time.

I want to share this drawing of angels that Indiana made recently, and with this I wish you all a blessed spring time!