There is a Season

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Today my paternal Grandma died.

She hasn't been well for sometime, but today at 2:30, she slipped away peacefully. My parents had just been to visit a couple of weeks ago, and my aunt and uncle arrived yesterday, so it seemed as though she was just waiting to see her children one last time.

She was 93, and had lived a long and full life, raised two children and had a career as a nurse. She outlived her first husband, my grandfather, by 33 years, and married another wonderful man, whom she outlived by nearly 15 years.

She was born in Minnesota to Finnish parents, and with my grandpa, raised my father and his sister in the suburbs of Chicago. By the time I remember them, they lived in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts.

They weren't the kind of grandparents that you played ball with, but I can remember working out in the yard with her. She used to say that her beautiful nails were the result of working in her garden. She took great pride in all of her flowers, but she loved her roses. Her backyard was covered in a bed of pine needles, which I used to love shuffling around in, much to her chagrin. She told me that ladies picked their feet up when they walked.

I can remember going to her house for Sunday Dinner. We probably didn't have roast lamb every week, but oh, I do remember it. Roast Lamb (no mint jelly, thankyouverymuch), mashed potatoes and gravy (with mushrooms) and steamed cauliflower with cheese sauce. For dessert, it was pie. Her pies were legendary. Blueberry, apple, peach. Even when she moved into a retirement community, people still loved getting dinner invitations from she and her husband, because they knew "Tulie's pies" were on the menu.

And then there was the biscuit. Her Finnish mother taught her how to make it, and when I asked Grandma to teach me, it was difficult, because she had to figure out the measurements. The tradition of Finnish Pulla will continue, Grandma.

I hadn't seen her since October 2000, when she met her first great-grandchild, my oldest son, who was three months old at the time. As of today, she had seven great-grandchildren: six boys and a girl. One of my prized photos is our "four generation" photo with my son, me, my father and my grandmother. She was so proud to have great-grandchildren.

Sweet Son #1 doesn't remember his great-grandma, and The Manimal has never met her, but my memories are sweet, and will live forever.

I love you Grandma.

Rest peacefully.

Lepuuttaa rauhallinen.


Baby Boy

The Bible is filled with stories of Jesus as a man. A grown man. Very few times does it have Him questioning Mary, His mother. Even with my limited scriptural knowledge, I know of no place in the Holy Book where it has him blatantly defying Mary, Joseph or God Himself.

Watching my own boys grow, however, makes me wonder. Did Mary ever have to put Jesus in time out? Did Joseph ever have to take Him to the wood shed to "have a talk"? Was Jesus ever sassy to His mom and dad? Did He ever not do his homework, then lie about it?

Because, seriously? If I'm to believe that Jesus was born an infant and walked the earth for 33 years, I have to assume that He was a pretty normal kid. Even as an adult, He got pretty peeved at the moneychangers and merchants in the temple, flipping over tables, chairs and all that. So I'm pretty sure He was "all boy".

I'm pretty sure that Mary, in all her virginal calmness got frustrated with her little guy when she was potty training him. I'm certain that when Joseph told Jesus to do His chores, He didn't always do them without complaining.

And yet, somehow, things turned out alright for the Holy Family.

Something to remember when I'm so frustrated with The Manimal and Sweet Son #1 that I could just spit.

Get the Bean!

I usually post different things on my two blogs, but sometimes, there are things worth saying twice. And seriously, if this woman isn't living on sheer faith and enthusiastically, I don't know who is!

Meaghan left a comment on a previous post, so like a good blogger, I checked hers out. This woman is such an inspiration. In 2007, at age 28, she was diagnosed with Stage 3B Cervical Cancer. She battled long and hard, and against all odds, she beat it! You can read her touching story at her personal blog, I Kicked Cancer's Ass.

Not one to let a little thing like cancer get her down, Meaghan and her boyfriend Bryan, started a company called "Get the Bean!", specializing in organically grown coffee. Here's the cool part. They are using GTB to help fight cancer. How exactly does selling coffee fight cancer? From the GTB Website:

We at G.T.B understand Meaghan's story is not unique. There are many men and women fighting battles against cancer. At Get The Bean we want to do whatever we can to help fight cancer. We have decided to donate a portion of our proceeds to various cancer charities.


1. Tell us about yours or a loved ones battle against cancer
2. We will then post your story on
3. Each month we will pick one story to feature
4. If we pick your story you get to pick your favorite G.T.B coffee flavor
5. Next we will ask you to pick the Cancer Charity you would like G.T.B to donate proceeds to
6. For the next year we will donate .50 for every bag purchased of your chosen flavor to your
chosen charity
7. To enter your story email us at

How cool is that?! This is such a perfect example of one of my favorite quotes:

"Never doubt that a small, committed group of people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." (Margaret Mead)

If you are as inspired by Meaghan's story as I was, go forth and buy beans!

OK, so as a little postscript, I have to say that I was looking to buy the "coffee of the month" so I called GTB's customer service number, and guess what?! I talked to Meaghan! :) She is so excited about this project, and they are LITERALLY just getting underway, so the first story of the month hasn't yet been chosen. Stay tuned, though, I'm sure she'll let everyone know when it's up and running!

In Me, In Him

Sarah introduced me to a beautiful song today. It is such a good reminder that I can do nothing on my own. All my strength comes from Him.

This is something that I, as a bit of a control freak, struggle with on a daily (hourly) basis. I plan for a living, so when something is overwhelming, I resort to what I know. I plan. Lately, I've come to realize that, while God doesn't expect us to throw up our hands and do nothing, relying only on what we know is truly the antithesis of faith.

As quoted in one of my favorite movies, faith is "believing in things when common sense tells you not to." When I've given my best and still much is left to accomplish, I can only rely on my faith in God. He has told me that I needn't worry. He will take care of me. As the song goes "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me."

In my busy life, I can look at it this way. God isn't asking me to tear my hair out or gnash my teeth worrying about things. He doesn't NEED me to have faith in Him, he WANTS me to have faith in Him. Because when I have faith that my God will handle things, I am free. Free from worry and fear. And because I don't have to worry, I can do things like be with my family. Play with my children. Help those in need. Spend time with Him.

Look at these lines:

"How refreshing to know You don't need me.

How amazing to find that You want me."

Isn't it amazing, that the God of the Universe, the Savior of the World, the Creator of Everything would want ME? Crazy, control freak ME? How wonderfully humbling.

If you ask me to leap
Out of my boat on the crashing waves
If You ask me to go
Preach to the lost world that Jesus saves

I'll go, but I cannot go alone
Cause I know I'm nothing on my own
But the power of Christ in me makes me strong
Makes me strong

Cause when I'm weak,
You make me strong
When I'm blind,
You shine Your light on me
Cause I'll never get by living on my own ability
How refreshing to know You don't need me
How amazing to find that You want me
So I'll stand on Your truth,
and I'll fight with Your strength
Until You bring the victory,
by the power of Christ in me

If You ask me to run
And carry Your light into foreign land
If You ask me to fight
Deliver Your people from Satan's hand

To reach out with Your hands
To learn through Your eyes
To love with the love of a savior
To feel with Your heart
And to think with Your mind
I'd give my last breath for Your glory

Always In Him...


Truly a Miracle

Those were the words that Julie's mother spoke when she was told that money had been raised to take care of her daughter's surgery.

In Haiti, where the average annual income is $300 USD, $2000 for a little girl's surgery may as well be a million dollars, but thanks to the generosity of some wonderful folks, Julie will have a chance to live up to her God-given potential.

And that, in the abject poverty, of Haiti, is truly a miracle.


Meet Julie

I've posted before about New Life for Haiti. Our 3rd Annual Chicagoland Gala is rapidly approaching, so my free time (along with many others') is pretty much consumed by auction items, menus, RSVP's, dinner requests, etc.

In this time of last-minute planning, several members of our church community took a quick trip down to Haiti to help move our full-time missionary couple into their new home, Kai bo Rivye (house on the river), which will also serve as housing quarters for work teams. One of our church members, Todd Pierson, who is an amazing photographer, was on the team to take photos for use in the NLH materials and at the banquets. Five others, including an electrician, were on the trip as well.

Sometimes it's important to slow down the activity and remember exactly WHY we are focusing so much time and effort on one small village in Haiti.

Meet Julie.

Julie is a special needs girl I met last week in Haiti. She has a cleft palate and is in the need of surgery to correct her condition. I currently have a campaign running to raise the funds to help pay for the procedure which is only $1000 U.S. and can be done in Port au Prince. She is so sweet and was waving to use (after she got over her fear) as we shot her photo. Her mom is currently overwhelmed with buying formula and trying to figure out how to pay for it. This is one chance to make a difference in one child's life. We can't fix it all, but this one is right in front of us. It was pretty emotional to be there on Friday afternoon knowing by just shooting these images, this child has a shot at growing and developing normally. If you would like to help, shoot me an email and tell me how much you are donating. The check should be made out to "New Life for Haiti" and sent to with a note indicating it's for Julie to this address:

New Life for Haiti

PO Box 33

Plainfield, IL 60544


Julie is only one beautiful little girl living in the village of Marfranc. Sometimes, though, it's easy to get caught up in the masses and forget that the masses are made up of individuals. In trying to make life better and bring the love of God to this village, we often forget that they have real, pressing life issues.

Dearest Lord of the poor, as we work to bring Your love to a country so ravaged by poverty that day-to-day needs are not being met, please help us to remember all of the Julies living there. The sweet little children who truly are the future of a good and beautiful Haiti. Touch our hearts, as we work to touch the lives of this tiny country.