A blog of thoughts by Kristi Finch

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Come on Over!

It's one of my favorite phrases. I like saying it, and I like hearing it.  I love spending time with people I love.  I especially love spending time in their homes or having them spend time in my home.  Someone's home says a lot about them, so sharing these environments help you know people better.  My closest friends are the ones with whom I feel most at home, and I hope they feel at home with me.

I think this has a lot to do with the ministry of hospitality, which I feel like is a topic that I have come across over and over lately.  I've found that when there is a theme that becomes recurring in my life, I need to push pause and pay it some mind.  

I think this recurring concept of hospitality is related to my border-line obsession with the concept of home.  I love home.  I love my home (all of them).  I love visiting other people's homes.  I want a big house someday to make into a home.  

I've lived in a bunch of different places, so all of them have become home to some extent.  Clarion, Pennsylvania was the first place where I got to really settle down long enough to love a place and the people there, so it gets home status.  My parents live in Fort Myers, Florida, and if "Home is where your mom is," then it gets called home.  I have lived in Lynchburg, Virginia since I was a freshman in college (with the exceptions of a few summers), and now I've lived in the same house here for going on five years (shout out to ChezMK!), so this place is home.  Saying "I'm going home" could easily indication me going to any one of these three locations.

ChezMK - Home with my wonderful roommate
I have dreams of a future home.  Something I really, really want is a house.  A big, old farm house that I get to make my own and share with people I love.  And decorate it really cute and comfortable.  With lots of white furniture.  And tons of pictures.  And my little brother's paintings.  And my mom's quilts.  And plenty of purple.  But not too much.  And at least one window seat.  And sunshine in the windows.  With white, flowing curtains.  And a big dining room table.  With lots of chairs.  And a china cabinet full of white dishes that don't match.  And a front porch.  With rocking chairs.  And a porch swing.  I haven't thought about this or anything. 

All that to say, the place you call home matters.  But what you do with it matters more.  Home is an opportunity for ministry, the ministry of hospitality.  When we show hospitality, we have a chance to live the Gospel.  John Piper says:
Our homes need to be open.  Because our hearts are open.  And our hearts are open because God's heart is open to us.
As a lady, I think I have a unique opportunity to show hospitality. At least, I should make it a priority to ensure that my home is a welcoming place for guests.  Not just because I'm a girl but because I love Jesus.  Maybe it's just a little easier because I'm a girl.  In her book on biblical femininity Radical Womanhood, Carolyn McCulley says, as she discusses how our culture debates a woman's role at home:
The point of being a keeper at home is to provide a haven for a godly family to thrive, to offer hospitality to fellow Christians and non-Christians alike, and to provide a place for the church to meet. (p. 104)
She goes on to say:
No one will find fulfillment in the latest applications or gadgets that run a home. Nor will one find lasting fulfillment in attempting to decorate and entertain like the lastest hospitality doyenne.  Material goods and self-glorifying domestic perfection are definitely not the heart of the home.  The heart of the home is found in the relationships nurtured there and the comfort offered to one another--comfort we have first received from God, the Father of compassion, and then share with one another. (p. 115)
Ouch.  I can often get caught up in the desire for domestic perfection that I can forget that what I have in hostessing is an opportunity to love like Jesus loves not show off my latest crock pot recipe or apron-wearing cuteness.  It's less about a perfect-smelling candle or appropriately coordinating serving dishes than it is about sharing the comfort of home with people I love.  

I'm abundantly thankful for the people who continuously open their homes to me and the chances I have to open my home to others.  I desire to be someone who not only welcomes people into her home, but also takes advantage of these times to serve as Gospel-ministry.  

So, come on over! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bookshelf Report

I love to read.  But it hasn't always been that way.  I enjoyed books alright while I was growing up, but I wasn't usually the kid who hid a flashlight and the lasted story by my bed to read at night.  In high school and college, I disliked my literature classes because they told me what I had to read and when to read it.  Where's the enjoyment in that?

A couple years ago with determination to become more cultured and well-read, my roommate and I came up with a reading list of 50 books, mostly classic novels with a few other things thrown in there.  While she valiantly read the 50 books in a year, I didn't quite make it through the list.  Actually, I did terribly. I started well and went strong for a couple months, but I got stuck on Gone with the Wind (which I did end up finishing) then Three Cups of Tea (which I did not end up finishing).  From there I deviated from the list and just read whatever I felt like, lacking much discipline at all.  

All that to say, I like to read now though it has been inconsistent at best.  And though I have failed on the finishing-a-book-list front, I have been reaching the back cover of several books lately.  I do a lot better without a here's-what-you-have-to-read expectations.  Here are a few of my recents reads:

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures.  Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things!  Make you late for dinner! I can't think what anybody sees in them.
I tried to find one; but warriors are busy fighting one another in distant lands, and in this neighbourhood heroes are scarce, or simply not to be found.
I read this one because I wanted to see the movie already knowing the story.  I'm very glad I did because I was able to actually enjoy the film (instead of falling asleep like I have for ALL of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  I have yet to see one of them in their entirety.  Maybe reading the books first would help.).   Though I don't usually pick fantasy books, I do enjoy getting caught up in a good story, and The Hobbit was just that. 

Crazy Love by Francis Chan
Something mysterious, even supernatural must happen in order for genuine love for God to grow in our hearts.  The Holy Spirit has to move in our lives.
You do not need to preach to your pastor or congregation; you simply need to live out in your daily life the love and obedience that God has asked of you.
I read this one with my accountability partner.  She and I like to read different books or do different studies together, so this was the one we finished up right before Christmas.  We were challenged by it and appreciated Chan's perspective.  It is a big part of what inspired this post last fall, and the principles of it continue to challenge my mindset on a daily basis.

Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World by Carolyn McCulley
To live according to biblical principles today requires women to be bold enough to stand against philosophies and strongholds that seek to undermine God's Word and his authority.
Our brains confirm what Scripture tells us: men and women are equal in essence but are created to function differently.
I picked this one up at the Desiring God conference I attended last September.  Carolyn McCulley was one of the speakers, and I was curious to know more about her ministry.  She's also written Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God with a Hope Deferred, but I decided not to get that one since I feel like I been overloaded by singleness books and kinda over that as a book-topic.  

I enjoyed Radical Womanhood because it addresses our culture in light of the recent waves of feminism and how our thinking can be subconsciously impacted by this mindset without even being aware of how we have strayed away from God's perfect plan for women and how we should relate to men.  Definitely an interesting read.

So there are a few of my recent reads!  I'm in the middle of a couple more now and have a pile waiting to be read.  But that doesn't stop me from wanting to find more that I'd like to read!  I just got a kindle, so I'm sure I'll be filling it up with books waiting to be read. (Aside: My jury's still out on the e-reader, but I'm giving it a go.  I think my challenge will be paying money for a book that I don't get to hold in my hands or put my book stamp in.  I'll have to get over that, me thinks.) 

What are some of your favorite reads?  Any recommendations for me?  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Travel Map

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. – St. Augustine
I have a little bit of wanderlust in me.  It's my dad's fault.  We grew up in the Philippines, often traveling to different places on the weekends.  While we were on furlough in the States, we traveled all over visiting the churches that supported our family's ministry.  It was always an adventure, not matter what went wrong or came up unexpectedly.  I grew up in the back seat of a minivan, enamored by the experiences of seeing new places and people.  

So, now I'm a grown-up who still likes to hop in the car to go somewhere for the weekend, often on a whim.  I would love to visit as many places as I can...some of which are reflected on this list I shared before.  There are a few things I would add to that list, but I can share those another day.  

Today I felt the need to literally (observe my correct use of this word) map out my progress on the "Visit all 50 states" item on my list.  

Here it is.  I felt like it was going to be more filled in than that, but when I actually got these places down, I realized how many states I have yet to check out!

States Visited: 21
States to Go: 29

For the record: Hawaii would be yellow.  Alaska would be white.

What's your favorite state to visit?  Any recommendations on things to do in the states I have yet to see?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Let's Hear it for the Boy(s)!

Note: I am writing this post while sipping tea from my "I only date superheroes" mug. Just thought that would be good to throw out there.  Now on to the real thing!

The other day I was talking to my mom about a lady she knows who had been married for twenty-something years, had grown children, and whose husband was moving out. Sad. Seriously sad. I don't know this lady, her children, or her husband, but my heart was genuinely sad for her. I simply cannot imagine sharing years and years of my life with someone only to have him give up on us when the children grow up and move away, or when he decides that there may be something better out there, or when fighting for me and for us isn't worth it anymore.

And then my mom said something for which I am so, so thankful but rarely say out loud: "It just makes me so thankful for Dad and how blessed I am." (I can't remember her exact wording, but this is a pretty accurate paraphrase.) And she's right. Our family has been abundantly blessed by the consistency and leadership my dad has provided for 30+ years. We Finches are not without our quirks, but if nothing else, we can say we have always had a great example of godliness in our home.

This conversation with my mom reminded me of a verse I wrote in my journal a few weeks ago:

Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? Proverbs 20:6

When I read that, I immediately thought, "Well, I am blessed to know many faithful men!" First there's my dad, and my brother, then the wonderful men my good friends have chosen to marry. There are also my own guy friends, and men from my church. These men are faithful to the Lord, their families (those who have them), their jobs, their friends, and their local church bodies. They are even faithful to me in some ways (if I ever need something that I can't or would rather not take care of as a single lady, I can call one of them to help me out, and they are ready and willing to lend a hand).

I often read about how there is a shortage of good, Christian men in churches and in families and how many men are failing to lead or initiate properly (and I think to some extent, this is true), but reading this verse made me abundantly grateful for the guys I know who don't fall into the traps of passivity or unfaithfulness.

Though I don't yet know who my faithful man will be, I am so, so thankful for the other faithful men in my life. And, for the record, I think they are real-life superheroes. They may not be able to fly or have laser vision, but they play a part in saving the world from impending doom, fighting for what is good and honoring to the Lord despite the world around them tempting them to take the easy way out.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

2013 - More than Enough

In the spirit of new years posts...here's mine.  

I don't like to make resolutions.  I do, however, like the new-start feeling that comes along with starting a new calendar.  Also, I like to have some kind of theme for the year.  Nothing too crazy, but some sort of catch phrase or the like to guide my mindset for the next twelve months.  This was my theme from last year.  Maybe I'll do a reflection post on how that went for me.

Over the past couple weeks, I have been praying about what this year's theme (or whatever you want to call it) would be.  Without the A-HA! moment I was hoping for, I've settled on this:  More than Enough.

The theme is twofold.  

First is the issue of contentment in Christ.  He is more than enough for me.  I think of Chris Tomlin's song "Enough":

All of you is more than enough for all of me, For every thirst and every need. You satisfy me with your love, And all I have in you is more than enough.

Every longing and desire I have should ultimately be met in Christ.  He may use other people or things in the process, but in him I should find my satisfaction and wholeness and completeness and contentment.  I am created to need him to be whole, and he can fill that need in my life.  So this year, in the midst of whatever longings or desires in which I find myself, I need to turn to Christ because he is more than enough to meet my needs.  

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us... Ephesians 3:20

Second is the issue of excess.  I'm not sure why this is so much at the forefront of my mind lately, but it is.  I have more than I need in most areas of my life.  More clothes than I need.  More shoes than I need.  More mugs than I need.  More pillows than I need. More you-name-it than I need.  

I have so much stuff.  I like to call myself a keeper instead of something crazy like a hoarder, but seriously.  So. much. stuff.  The issue is that I become sentimentally attached to things because of the memories attached to them.  For example, I don't want to get rid of that shirt I never wear anymore because so-and-so gave it to me or because I wore it this one time to this one place and if I get rid of it, I'll never remember that thing with the guy at the place (Ocean's Eleven reference, anyone?).  And I need to fight that.  I am not called to cram my house with stuff so that I can remember or feel comfortable or fulfilled or proud.  I am called to generosity and simplicity so that I am not distracted by comfort or convenience or even memories at the expense of my life bringing glory to the Lord.

I've started fighting this fight.  I have gone through my closet, taken pictures of things I want to remember instead of keeping them forever, and become much more acutely aware of my stuff.  But I still have a long way to go, and this year, I want to be consistently reminded of this battle.  Because it's not so much a battle against having too many pairs of shoes as much as it is a battle in my heart not to value things as an idol.  I may want a bigger, beautiful house that can more easily fit all my stuff and has a dining room so I can use placemats, but that is not as important as me trusting the Lord to provide for my needs and seeing my things as tools with which I can bless others.  He has given me more than enough to meet my needs, so I need to turn around and give to others instead of keeping things for myself for whatever silly reason I can think of.

And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.  Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse or barn, and yet God feeds them.  Of how much more value are you than the birds! [...] And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.  For all the  nations of the world seek these things, and your Father knows you need them.  Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. [...] For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Luke 12: 22-24, 29-31, 34

So there you have it, folks!  2013 - More than Enough