Friday, March 20, 2009
Whew! What a week it's been. I've been packing for practically 6 months, but when it came down to the very end... I didn't feel prepared. There's just so much last minute stuff to do! At 11:00 pm of the evening that we were supposed to go to bed early because we were leaving at 3:00 am, I began feeling very overwhelmed!!
Lost in a swirl of chaos, I neglected to charge my camera battery before we got on the road. Therefore, I have no pics to share. What a bummer. Mom took a bunch, though, so when she sends them to me, I'll share hers.
Joe drove the truck, of course, towing his car behind it; and Dexie road shotgun with him. Though Joe had him completely setup with three comfy dog beds for his travelling comfort, he barely slept the whole way! He was a good boy, though.
I drove our car towing a trailor with our John Deer on it, and had the three girls with me (Zeila, Emma and Sara). I've never seen those girls sleep so much! They were a dream to travel with! I kept catching the lawn mower in my peripheral vision, though, through the rear view mirror and never got over the feeling that some little green car was getting awfully close! It was a weird sensation.
Mom had the three boys, BooBoo, Riley and Blaze, with her. She said they were perfect... so well behaved. No trouble at all... except BooBoo's little (major, actually) diarrhea episode. Poor guy, we were just about to cross the Florida border when the castrophe occured. Nervous tummy? Car sickness? We're not sure, but it was explosive! Other than that, though, all was well.
We spent all day Wednesday unloading the truck, trying to somewhat organize furniture and getting the kitchen functional. We managed to do a little sightseeing with mom on Thursday since she intended to, and did in fact, leave this morning to spend a few days in Crystal River before heading back home.
After saying goodbye to mom, Joe and I took a little more time to explore the area this afternoon. We wished we had mom with us today, too; we saw such beautiful sights! We headed west on Hwy 64 toward Cleveland (and actually did get all the way to Cleveland, TN). The gorgeous part was driving along the Ocoee River through the Cherokee National Forest. Mmmm, so pretty!
Of course, I have pictures to share. But, I need my computer to upload them. This computer won't let me do it since my software isn't loaded. Darn.
I'll just have to hurry with getting my computer set up and share them later!
That's all for now. I need to catch up on my Names of God bible study (haven't looked at it all week!), since I'm late in getting this week's chapter posted.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Today, it's about creation... God's beautiful creation; sometimes it simply causes a gentle smile to warm my face, like when the little yellow-breasted birds and brightly colored butterflies flutter and flit about my patio. At other times I've been moved to tears by the sight of a majestic mountain range in autumn, and there have been times I heard the voice of God in my spirit when presented with a glimpse of one of His artistic sunsets. I can stand forever at shore's edge, and the sense of awe I feel never diminishes.
The smell of a flower, the warmth of the sun, the sound and the smell of the rain, the beauty in the changing seasons, the taste of my favorite foods, the wiggly wag of my dogs' tails, the rumble in my cat's chest when she purrs, the sound of my daughter's laughter, and the warmth of my husband's smile; these are but a few of the things I treasure as a gift from God, my Creator.
Enjoy this rendition of Louis Armstong's, Wonderful World, sung by Eva Cassidy. She's one of my favorite female vocalists (truthfully, there isn't an artist, male or female, whose CDs I own more of). God gave her a marvelous talent.
(Don't forget to turn off the blog music... right column. And make sure you click the little speaker on this photoshow if the music is not playing...there'll be a little red line through it.)
(Well, the way this music is loading with the Roxio photoshow is disappointing me. Depending on your computer, it may be fine; or it may take a long time to load, making the timing off; or, it may just not play for you - in which case you can hear it here. PS - all of these photos are ones that I have taken over the years, except the one of Joe, which Kristiina took, and the one of Nic and Kristiina, which the hired professional took.)
There's much angst in the world today, but if you strip away the jealousies, the power struggles, the selfishness, the carelessness, you'll find that what God created is good, very good. It's a wonderful world.
Thank you, God, for thinking enough of us to give us not just what we need, but also delighting in giving us joy in experiencing it. May I never take it for granted.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Happy Anniversay, Nic and Kristiina!!
Enjoy the memories...
(You'll want to pause the blog music when you view the video.)
"Who gives this woman?"
We gained a son that day.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Today is the first day. The focus this week is Elohim... God, our Creator.
It'll be difficult to "do it with them" since I'll be 800 miles away, but when I had my last evening with them this past Thursday, picking up my new book to take with me to NC and sharing final, hearty hugs, we decided that I'd blog my thoughts about each chapter weekly, and they'll share theirs in the comments. I'm looking forward to seeing how that will play out.
In the meantime, I found another jewel in mom's photo albums... "One of the messages from Akseli Skutnabb's book 'Hanessa' (In Him)"
It's aptly titled 'Prayerlife.'
"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask
or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the
churches by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
Ephesians 3: 20-21
It is very comforting to know that God does much beyond that which we can
pray for or what we can think to ask for. If He would give us only what we
request, we would remain very poor. He does much more. He does not
need our requests and petitions. We need them in order to stay
alive. Many people ask why we need to pray at all since God would give us
anyway what we need. Yes, He would do that. But if we would receive
everything without asking for it, we would become very careless just like
children who receive everything in overabundance. In order that this will
not happen to us, God has given us the prayerlife. We have observed that
our enemy, Satan, is working hard to try to hinder our prayerlife.
Prayerlife does not basically consist of a multitude of petitions to
God. Prayer is much more a matter of stillness before God, waiting on
God. We human beings need moments when we quietly concentrate on listening
to what God wants to tell us. The oriental religions put much emphasis on
meditation, on the art of quiet reflection. The western world has received
that as something new. In a way it might be new for many Christians
because they are beginners in the word of God. But we need not go to the
orient to learn this art. If we would but understand our position in
Christ, the Holy Spirit of God would teach us to meditate on God's Word.
It is amazing what happens when we are still before God. We might not
be consciously aware of receiving anything at the time but we become richer and
we have received strength for everyday life, for life's temptations and
difficulties. We sink into a wonderful God-consciousness. We let God
control us. Without this, life would be very poor. Even though we
believe that Christ lives in us we would direct our attention only
outward. Christ would become a stranger to us if we would not practice
stillness before Him to hear what He wants to communicate to us.
The quakers have learned to practice stillness before God. It is a
healthy contrast to the world that makes too much noise speaking. there
are so few people who can be quiet. When they then should speak out, then
they stay silent. Jesus kept silent at the most important moments of His
The early Christians called themselves "theoforus," the "carriers" of
God. How could we carry eternity in our heart without expressing it?
The Holy Spirit of God in us will manifest Himself through us.
"In order that Christ might dwell in our hearts 'by faith,'" we read in the
bible. Why does it say "by faith?" The answer is that we don't
always feel it. It is not a matter of feeling or emotion. When we
understand the meaning of the cross of Christ, then can we comprehend the truth
that Christ is in us and we are in Him. This is a matter of faith just as
the fact that every bornagain person has the Holy Spirit.
That's all we have from 'In Him.' The foreword, which I blogged about previously, and this portion regarding prayerlife. How I wish I could get my hands on this book. Not only this one, but Helmi's novel, as well. What treasures they would be. Granted, I wouldn't be able to understand them... but I'd have them translated. It'd be so worth it.
My search begins... (any idea where to start?!). Maybe it'll prove to be futile, but you never know till you try!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Mom and I just watched a real sweet movie: Dear Frankie. ...makes you sigh. The story line was good, but the musical score, composed by Alex Heffes, was great. Here's a sample:
(Don't forget to go pause the blog music. ...in the right column.)
We had to go straight to Amazon.com to order the CD. Of course, you only get free shipping when you order more than $25.00. We needed to find one more... and decided on Chris Botti. Whoa, is he good!!
- - - - - -
Well, that's all good... but check out something I read recently... Oh, this is a sad story; and the reason my chickens won't be free-rangers.
Joe and I have decided we want to raise chickens. We looove eggs. All forms of eggs. And we're looking forward to having our very own "farm-fresh" eggs. But for their own good, our chickens will be constrained to the coop and their run. We'll make it large enough that they don't feel "cooped up." (Ha... no pun intended).
Nah, we can't have free-rangers, especially after reading Bumblebee's blog... not in those hills where bear have been said to roam freely through back yards, knocking down fences and wrecking all kinds of havoc. Oh geez... I can't even think of it. The employees at the feed store where much of our fence materials were purchased said, "Be careful... check the fence before you let 'dem dawgs oouut. The bears will just walk right through it if'n they want on your property." Mercy.
These chickens, however, fell prey to fowl, not bear. Mmmm.
Bumblebee chickens attacked…news of an injury and a loss
- - - - - -
Enough of that. I promised a blog post about Blaze's Big Day at Grandma's House. Well, sorry, but I'm not ready. I still have to tweak the pics.
Here's just one, though, to whet your palette.
His Big Day at Grandma's House... included Giggle Bear!
Do you see why I love him?
- - - - - -
Good night... sleep tight.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Helmi Svedberg Skutnabb, March 18, 1880 - January 28, 1953
But first, this photograph has me wondering at what point in history the first photographer said, "Smile!" before snapping the picture. They're all so serious.
Take a closer look at great grandma, Helmi, though...
I think she's trying to contain a grin... !
Well, anyway, while I was perusing the photo albums yesterday, I came across so many interesting documents.
What follows is a section of a newspaper article about Helmi Skutnabb, which my grandmother, Eva, translated into English. It was published to commemorate my great grandmother's 70th birthday...
Helmi Skutnabb - 70 Years
Helmit Svedberg Skutnabb was born in Tikkurila on March 18, 1880. By reading anti-christian literature in her youth, she was taken in by that spirit. However, while attending teachers' training school in Tammisaari, Helmi Svedberg, at the age of 20, heard the gospel message which changed her life. With great joy, she shared her faith in Jesus with others. She desired to enter into deeper knowledge of God. She prayed with the words of the psalmist for God to open her eyes and widen her understanding of the riches in Christ.
--- Regrettably, here the message of the article is interrupted, as the newspaper clipping was torn. It continues. ---
Helmi Svedberg was tutoring in private homes in Tikkurila when a preacher by the name of Akseli Skutnabb came to the area. Through his ministry, she obtained answers to many spiritual questions and, more than that, soon the relationship developed to personal friendship, and in 1905, to marriage. Akseli Skutnabb's residence was in Tampere, which then became the home town to both of them.
The following years were spent, for the most part, in raising the family. But time
was left for other interests, as well. A tangible proof of that is her religious novel published in 1921 in her mother-tongue of Swedish, by the name "Mot Vida Vyer" and also in Finnish, by the name "Valjille Vesille" (To Wide Horizons, in English).
After her husband's death in 1929, Helmi Skutnabb was active in public witnessing in Tampere and other areas, until she and her children, in 1931, moved to a recently established Finnish colony in Dominican Republic on the island of Haiti. Life there, however, did not meet with the expectations and the family returned home the following year. Two of the children have since gone back to Dominican
Today, our sister, Helmi, lives with her daughter, Zeila, in Tampere.
Friends far and near join each other with best wishes for God's blessing on our sister in Christ on her 70th birthday.
- published March , 1950
To think she was lured away from the truth in her early years by deceptive literature, but the Spirit of God pursued her until, at 20, the eyes of her heart were opened to the truth of the gospel. Such a testimony!
The two children that returned to Dominican Republic* were my grandfather, Erik (with his wife, Eva), and his sister, Birgit (standing on the right in the photo), plus six other adults. However, it wasn't their intention to return to the island. The nine of them, crossing the Atlantic in their 32-foot fishing vessel, were destined for America, when they shipwrecked...
But I'll save that for another blog post!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
This is a photograph of the Skutnabb Family. The young man that looks to be in his teens is my maternal grandfather, Erik Anders Skutnabb.
"Zoinks..." you're thinking, "I thought Mel Staub was your maternal grandfather." Well, he was... he was the hugs-and-kisses, share-a-laugh, tell-me-a-story, sing-me-a-song, teach-me-a-life-lesson grandpa, whom I cherish. And he was my grandma's second husband. As a matter of fact, I was at their wedding (at three years old).
Erik A. Skutnabb is my biological grandfather who passed away when my mother was just 5 years old. I look forward to someday having the opportunity to meet him in heaven.
Today, though, I want to share something about his father... my great grandfather, Akseli Skutnabb.
Akseli Alfred Skutnabb, December 27, 1875 - November 23, 1929
I was going through old photo albums at mom's house because I promised my second cousin, Tapani (his grandma is Irma, the one standing on the left), that I would scan and forward photos of Erik for his family-tree project. That promise was way overdue in being fulfilled!
Anyway, in poring over those old albums I was struck by the amazing Christian heritage I possess. Included in the albums, among other things, was an "excerpt from the biographical forward of the book In Him by Akseli Skutnabb." It's as follows (and if you don't enjoy human-interest, biographical-type stories, this might be where you want to click off and come back another day):
"Akseli Skutnabb (originally Axel Alfred), one of the most gifted speakers of God's Word of his time in Finland, was born in Tikkurila on December 27, 1875. Axel Alfred was the youngest son of engineer Petter Anders, who was a strict and strong-willed man. Shortly after the birth of his youngest son, Axel, Petter Skutnabb and family moved to Hameenlinna. There, he organized the work, and was in charge of, building of bridges and canals over the entire country.
Akseli Skutnabb went to school in Hameenlinna Normaslilysee which was an all male, private school. He graduated in 1895, together with Eine Leine and Larin Kyosti (both famous writers of prose and poetry). All three graduated at the top of their class. In the fall of the same year, A. Skutnabb registered at the Helsinki University Theological Seminary with the intention of becoming an Evangelical Lutheran minister. This he did at his father's request.
From his early childhood, young Axel was influenced by his mother's godly example. During his early school years, Axel Skutnabb attended Free Church revival services which swept Finland during those years. As a young lad, he, together with some classmates, attended meetings held in the city by a Swedish evangelist F. Franson. Young Skutnabb was very impressed by, and receptive to, the message of this man who was on fire for God. Later, Axel Skutnabb traveled with Mr. Franson as an interpreter at the revival meetings all over Finland.
At fifteen years of age, Axel Skutnabb, for the first time, experienced the joy of salvation while studying the Bible. As a result, he, together with a classmate, started a Bible study to which they gave the name "Societas Juvenum Christianorum" (latin for "Society of Young Christians"). Several schoolmates belonged to this group. Their goal was to become ministers of the gospel. The fellows came together on Saturdays to read the Bible, pray, and give small sermons. In this small circle, A. Skutnabb gave his first sermon.
This immature excitement, however, faded away later and it was not until 1893 that Skutnabb experienced a genuine and lasting conversion in the Free Church circles. In the meetings of the Free Church, Skutnabb developed principles which disagreed with the teaching of the Lutheran State Church. This caused inner conflict in the young man; especially when his strong, highchurch, father wanted his talented son to become a Lutheran minister. One of the outstanding characteristics of Akseli Skutnabb, however, through all of his life, was his uncompromising desire for truth, and he was consistently willing to sacrifice all for what he knew to be the truth. This same love for truth would later on bring him to public confession when he found himself to be in error. The inner demand for truth hindered A. Skutnabb from becoming a Lutheran minister. He could not support all of the Lutheran doctrine. For this reason, he gave up his schooling. He returned to his father the money provided for his studies and joined the Free Church itinerary preachers in 1895.
However, here also, differences of opinion developed of which Skutnabb, in his memoirs, speaks as follows: 'There I found myself belonging to an extreme leftist wing, which supported a so-called sinlessness theory. This teaching caused dissension and separation among the Free Church leaders. Although torn by inner conflict, I still stayed with the Free Church for some time. But, when my personal conviction regarding "sinlessness issue" became intolerable, a difficult inner crisis arose, which led to my eyes being opened to understand God's free grace in Christ Jesus which was given to us in Him. This happened in year 1898. The leaders of the Free Church did not accept the teaching of salvation in Christ alone and as a free gift of God's grace. As other matters of disagreement arose I, with several others, was dismissed from the Free Church in 1901.'
As a result, a new spiritual movement was born in Finland; a so-called "Free Evangelical Mission." During the time of Bobricoff (a Russian official), the members were forced to use this name. From the very beginning, the principal purpose of this movement was the belonging to the Kingdom of God without separation from other believers. For this reason, after that first forced name, no official name has been accepted for this group of God's children.
Akseli Skutnab officiated, until his death, as the leader of this group. He became known as a gifted speaker and brave seeker of truth who until the end, dove deeper into the knowledge of God, not being satisfied with past experiences and blessings. It was typical of Akseli Skutnabb's seeking spirit that when people wanted him to write a creed of their beliefs, he refused. He explained that because we only know and understand in part, the knowledge of the truth must always expand. Thus, we cannot categorically say: 'this is what I believe.'
Akseli Skutnabb was a man of faith and prayer. He spent many hours a day in the Bible and prayer. Complaints due to lack of faith, he did not tolerate in his home or among the believers.
Akseli Skutnabb followed up, with constant interest, on spiritual writings and corresponded with many deeply spiritual Christians in various countries, regardless of their church affiliations. "
Wow... what a guy! How I would have loved to sit and chat with him for an afternoon (or many afternoons)! I'm proud and thankful to have a godly heritage that ascends for generations. Tomorrow, I'll tell you about his wife, my great grandmother, Helmi.
But before I go, here's another interesting tidbit about Akseli... In 1912, he was booked with passage to US on the Titanic! However, the plans were changed and he took another ship over the Atlantic. Here, he spent some time with religious leaders in Chicago, and he preached in the Moody Church there. He also met the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Dr. A.B. Simpson. His daughter, Zeila, says that the two men were "kindred spirits." They corresponded often and Akseli visited him here in the states.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
It was really such a lovely day. I learned much about the "younger Mel" that I didn't know previously, and it makes him all the more dear to me.
My Aunt Sheri spoke about what it was like to grow up in the shelter of his wing. It was really precious.
After singing one of grandpa's favorite hymns, my cousin, Erin, and I, together with four of his great grandchildren, got up to share some of grandpa's favorite scriptures and remembrances. The younger ones just shared a verse, while Erin and I elaborated a bit on some of our fond memories. We later said to each other, "I didn't know that...!" referring to what we had shared during the service.
One of the men from the Life Group (a bible study) that grandpa guided for eighteen years, also shared some of his favorite memories. Finally, grandpa's nephew, Doug Miller, whom I referred to in this post, delivered the eulogy and message. He did such a great job... we were all riveted to his sharing of their personal history and the kind of man he knew grandpa to be ... as his uncle, and as a fellow beliver in Christ.
Following the service, the family and Life Group members went to my cousins', Alana and Rob's, house for "food and fellowship!" The Life Group members prepared all the food... and what a spread they put on! We had a really nice afternoon.
Here are some photos from the day...
The church vestibule , displaying a beautiful flower arrangement and photograph of grandpa I took at his 90th birthday celebration, two years prior.
A closer look of the flowers and photo.
The table at the pulpit with flowers from the family.
My grandma, aunt and mom greeting grandpa's two sisters. They are such lovely ladies. The one seated looks just like grandpa!
This is grandpa's nephew, Doug Miller, and his wife, Edie, with grandma.
Ladies from the Life Group... prepared all the yummy food!
Men from the Life Group. George Bruce is seated to the left... he's the one that spoke at the service.
Four generations of Brown men. This is Uncle Ron; my cousin, Erik; his son, Ryon; and the newest addition to our family, Ryon's son, Braydon. Braydon, born in December, is the little guy that made grandpa a great, great grandfather!
My cousins, Alana and Erika, with Erika's daughter, Kristen.
My cousin, Heather, Mom, and a friend of mom's from long ago (youth group!) in Syracuse.
Mom, my cousin, Erin, Uncle Bill, and Aunt Sheri
Aunt Sheri, Alana, Aunt Mega, Mom and Me outside Alana's house. The afternoon is winding down.
This was actually taken the week prior to the service, the day after grandpa passed. Some of the family went to the mosoleum to see where grandpa was to be laid to rest.
The name plaque has actually been present for years. They'll just update it with the year of death.
It's hard to fathom that grandpa isn't with us any longer, but it's also delightful knowing he's in the presence of his Lord, Jesus.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Anyway, this time I'm choosing to memorize Psalm 145: 8-13. I know, that's a whole passage, not just a verse. Well, like I said, I got a late start so I figured it wouldn't hurt to go big.
"8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you.
11 They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might,
12 so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. "
I didn't know what I wanted to commit to memory until I went to church today. The guest speaker this morning, a missionary from India, preached on verses 11 and 12. His message was insightful and riveting (something I was due to be reminded of), so those verses are key to me. I looked them up to get the gist of the whole chapter, and just felt like I wanted to grab that whole section of 8-13.
The key verses, however, are what speak to me about doing our part to make Him known; tell of His glory.. speak of His might... that all my know... So, how do we do our part? Do we have to learn another language, get our shots and move to some faraway land? While that actually sounds appealing to me, the answer is no. His sermon reiterated that the so-called "mission field" is not just in distant countries, it's right here; in our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our families. There are people all around us hungry for the Truth. And in my opinion, it's not just preaching it... it's often (and probably more so) showing it; living it. After all, you know the saying; actions speak louder than words...
It reminds me of a story I heard at my grandfather's memorial service recently. I learned that my grandpa, as a young man in his twenties, was instrumental in his nephew, then 12, coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And because of grandpa's discernment and intuitiveness; his availability and obedience, that boy went on to become an ordained minister, a missionary in Africa, a church planter in France, and now is a senior pastor at a church in West Virginia. Grandpa did a seemingly small part... he was a source of encouragement to his nephew on a particular Sunday morning, but it's ripple effect has reached thousands and thousands of people over the past 6 decades, to the glory of God.
That ripple effect really impresses me. You just never know what future impact your act of kindness, personal testimony, or ounce of compassion will have. Of course, if we're going to make a difference, we have to start where we are (not wait till we're fluent in Swahili) and we have to do it with authenticity, in the power and grace of God. It's not about clinging to some ridiculous religion where man-made traditions and prayers replete with redundant words are tantamount to an actual relationship with the living God. It's being real and getting personal... that all may know."
- Pam O'Brien
- I'm a wife, mom, and grandma living in rural Vermont. I spend 40 hours of my week working outside my home and away from my garden, but am nevertheless passionate about healthy eating and sustainable living. By sourcing nutrient-dense food from local farms and avoiding processed foods, we are realizing how our over health is being impacted for the better. I’m excited to have you join me as I share what we’re learning and invite you to offer your insights in the comments. “…giving thanks in all circumstances…” 1 Thess 5:16-18