A blog of thoughts by Kristi Finch

Friday, November 14, 2014

One Year

I recently came across this on Pinterest.

Could this be any more true in my life?

A year ago today, a chapter ended that I didn't want to end.  I didn't see how there was going to be a happy ending if that chapter was over.  I knew it could happen, but I just didn't see how just yet.

I am so thankful for time.  For perspective.  For healing. 

Fast forward from that day one year ago to today.  I am immeasurably thankful that chapter is over.  Because I didn't know it then, but there was a much more amazing story to be written in my life, and last year's chapter had to end so this one could begin.  

Days like today are such a good reminder to me that the Lord is ultimately in control and truly does have a bigger and better plan than we can see.  Even now I'm sure I don't know what seeds are being planted today in order that they might blossom beautifully in the days to come.  Either way, I can trust the heartbreaks, joys, disappointments, and celebrations in life to the God of both individual moments and the whole picture.  He has a plan for the highest highs and the lowest lows and is weaving them together in our lives for his glory.  How I respond to them is the only part I can control, and how I choose to face each day can bring even more glory to him.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (ESV) says this:

 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
What a great reminder that the Lord is always at work, fulfilling his plan for me that he will be glorified!

So how was this time last year different for you?  Can you see how the Lord was writing a beautiful story in your life? Are you choosing to glorify the Lord in the midst of whatever it is you're facing today, looking forward to being able to see the bigger picture as time goes on and perspective changes?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Falling into Sweater Weather

Though a few days this week are still topping out above the 80 degree mark, September is here and with it is coming cool nights and not-so-hot days.  I adore fall and the crispness in the air, pumpkin everything (Despite its rampant trendiness that usually makes me stop liking something, I'm still a fan.  Even the PSL.  Though I've only had one and will probably not have any more because after tax the grande I got topped $5.  Unacceptable.), layering up with sweaters and boots, all the amazing candle scents that came out months ago but are only appropriate to start burning now, and the reminiscence that always seems to come with the season.

But as much as I love autumn (#autumnbliss is a favorite hashtag), I'm still mourning the end of summer.  Summer was full of fun and traveling and sunshine and tan lines (that only stay visible for a couple weeks max when you're as pale as I am) and smiles and memories, and I'm not sure I'm ready to let that go.  

There's nothing like a last hoorah to finish out a great summer though.  And this year it was a beach trip/family visit combo.  Not only did I get to spend a handful of sunny days in the Outer Banks with some great friends, but I got to make a marathon of a road trip (read: one fifteen-hour-drive day and two eight-hour-drive days for the return with only two days in between) to meet my brand new, oh-so-lovely, week-old niece.  Playing in the waves and lounging by the pool can only be improved by snuggling a sweet new little one a couple days later.  It was maybe the best week of events ever. 

Beach days with my crew!
Sometimes I feel like I spend my life in a car or a plane or somewhere besides my own house, but I love the craziness of traveling from place to place.  This next month is going to be no exception since trips to Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Florida are peppering my calendar.  

Amid the hectic travel schedule, this fall is bringing new opportunities to learn and grow.  Last night marked the beginning of a new Bible study my ladies group is doing for the next several weeks that promises to be a challenge in all the best ways.  There are books to be read, people to learn to love better, places to visit, and obstacles to embrace.  Last week I was reading in the book of Philippians, and found these words to be encouraging and a good reminder as I look forward to the busyness of the days set before me:

"...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
No matter how crazy things get or how much I might feel like I'm not making any progress, I can have assurance that my Lord is not done with me yet.  I can hope in expectant confidence that every day is one day closer to the day I will be complete in Christ.  I'm so much looking forward to that day!

So here's to the sun setting on a beautiful summer and the start of a delightful autumn. 

Nothing beats a sunset over the water.

Monday, August 25, 2014


It's Monday.

Honestly, Mondays are one of my favorite days.  There are lots of reasons I typically enjoy Mondays, but one of the best is Monday Night Dinner (MND).  MND is a long-standing tradition at ChezMK where Miranda and I host 10-15 of our closest friends for an evening of dinner and fun.  I think we've been doing it for something like four years, just about every Monday night with very few exceptions.

I love traditions like this because it's one of the reasons our group of friends feels more like a family.  We watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and see how many questions we can get right.  We try a bunch of different kinds of food but have a few favorites that we keep coming back to.  The evening activities vary...trivia night, a TV show, Monday Night Football, games, just chatting and hanging out.

We've seen wonderful friends join the MND crew, and sadly, we've seen some move away.  I think we've even had up to 18 people on a Monday night.  And if you've ever seen ChezMK, it is certainly should not be able to fit that many people, but we make a way, and we make it fun.

I love all the memories ChezMK holds, but the ones made at MND are some of my favorites.  

Love. my. friends.  

This was a special, birthday edition of MND a couple years ago when we went out instead of eating at home, but it's still most of the crew and some of my most favorite people.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two Years at LBM!

A couple months ago, I sat down with Patricia Spangler from Missions Radio to share about my work with Living Bread.  It was a privilege to tell her about how I transitioned into this position and how it's been a blessing to me to serve with this ministry!  You can listen to this brief interview here!  I didn't realize it's timeliness right away, it was released within a day or two of my two year anniversary at Living Bread!

As this anniversary passed (as did the four-year anniversary of my first trip to Brazil), I remain amazed at how the Lord has brought me to this place and how he continues to remind me that he is sovereign over every aspect of my life!  Despite whatever challenges may come my way, he is in control and has a plan.  He cares about the details.  He wants me to trust him with even the smallest things that I allow to fill my mind with worry and stress.  

At the moment, I'm in the middle of a painstakingly long and discouraging process of car selling/buying.  I have finally been able to sell the car I had and am now in the process of trying to find another vehicle.  If my tone doesn't communicate well in writing, let me just tell you that car issues are among my least favorite kind of trouble in the whole world.  Despite my distain for these things, I am constantly being reminded that God has a plan, even for my troublesome car situation.  He will provide just the right vehicle that will meet my needs and in just the right timing.  I just have to be faithful and trust him throughout this process.  I don't know how it will be resolved, but I am looking forward to finding out!  

Such is the truth I am learning to apply to this scenario and everything else in my life and ministry: trusting him for financial provision, relational wisdom and guidance, discernment for day-to-day decision-making.  If I had all the answers, I'm sure I would be convinced that I don't need the Lord's guidance.  Au contraire.  I am not even close to having everything figured out, and I am abundantly thankful that I don't have to.  

So, two years later, I'm still trusting the Lord that this is where he wants me to be and trusting him to provide all I need for each day and thankful for the opportunities he has given me to be part of his kingdom work!

From my first trip to Brazil in July 2010
From my 2011 trip - This little girl's family isn't at our church any more, and I miss her sweet face!
From our 2012 trip - Tracy is one of our pastor's daughter and is such a precious child! 
This is from our most recent trip in March 2014.  Getting to love on kids when we visit is great, but knowing that they are being consistently cared for because there is a church right in their neighborhood is even better.
In other ministry news... It continues to be an exciting year for Living Bread, our 10th anniversary year!  Right now our founders, Patrick and Bárbara Hubbard, are in Thailand working with our leadership there to serve the poor and finalize our plan of ministry.  Later this week, Patrick will travel to Kenya to make some initial contacts with potential leadership team members.  Please keep them in your prayers as he travels to Kenya and their whole family returns home next week!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Keep Walking

I have a wonderful friend who I meet every week to talk together, encourage each other, and challenge each other.  We usually try to add a little structure to our weekly meetings by reading through a book together.  We've gone through all kinds of reads together, and right now we're tackling Believing God by Beth Moore.  One of the chapters I read for our meeting today really resonated with me, so I thought I'd share a little about it here.  Maybe it will have an impact on you, too.

The chapter is called "Believing God When Routine Follows Revelation."  Sometimes we have big moments with God.  But usually we don't.  Most of our lives are made up with the "normal" times in between the A HA! moments.  Most of the time we just have to keep going with what we know we should do without any major indicators we're on the right track, just trusting that we are being faithful and that it will ultimately be rewarded.  While talking about Joshua leading God's people in their fight against Jericho by walking (seemingly for no reason) over and over around the city walls, Beth says:

Sometimes God requires us to follow a fair amount of repetition for a considerable amount of time until He deems a season complete.  Then all of the sudden He seems to do something profound or miraculous, and we can't figure out what changed.
We may not see any value in the repetitive walking around the wall, but there is value in it because God told them to do it.  The great thing about this specific example from Joshua is that God told the Israelites the outcome.  He gave them a seven-day plan to follow with the guarantee that if they followed the plan, they would win the battle and overtake the city.  Unfortunately, however, we don't usually get such a prescriptive outline from the Lord about the battles we face.  We don't get the timeline for when we'll have this need met or that longing fulfilled.  We just have to trust that we need to do what the Lord has called us to do right here, right now, and he will take care of knocking down the wall that is in the way.  To this Beth says:

God often directs us to keep walking around that Jericho day after day, repeating the same fundamental steps while nothing seems to happen.  Oh, it will.  We must never stop believing it will.  But in the meantime, we've got to keep walking and keep circling no matter how many times we've done it before and no matter how many times we're yet to do it.
She goes on to discuss that regularity and repetition are not bad things but are important fundamentals of our faith.  Nor do they require that creativity and passion are set aside.  She explains:

God likes order.  He likes repetition.  A God of fundamentals, He brings up the sun every morning and the moon every evening, but His creativity within that order is gorgeously displayed in the changing sunsets and sunrises surrounding them.  The same is true for us.  Faithfulness in our Christian walk requires order, some black-and-white fundamentals, but within that order is glorious room for color and creativity.
Being faithful can seem mundane or tiresome at times, but it is always worth it.  The reward may be just around the next corner or may not be revealed on this side of eternity, but it will be rewarded.  Remember these words from Galatians 6:9 (ESV)

Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
I needed this truth today.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Days of June

I woke up this morning, and it was July!  June slipped away from me but for all the best reasons.  I spent my June days away doing the usual with a few wonderful additions to the schedule.  We celebrated birthdays and beginnings and summertime and soccer.  There were a couple surprise parties, a pirate party, group breakfast outings, group dinner outings, chocolate tastings, visits to the pool and the lake and the river.  

The biggest adventures of June were the parts where I had a couple extra tagalongs.  For a week and a half in the middle of the month, I kept my friends' two kiddos while they were traveling and working.  It has become a little bit of a summer tradition (and I hope it stays that way!), and we simply had the best time.  

Here's a little taste of my time with Scout and Jude.  So lovely in so many ways!  Check out some of our shenanigans!  (There are more on my Instagram...search #scoutandjude)  These two are so, so special to me.  Can't wait for our next adventures together!

After the 7+ hour trip from their house to mine, they were still smiling! (For the most part, anyway!)

The splash park was a big favorite!

Breakfast time was one of my favorites...though I wasn't used to waking up to a little smiling face ready to tackle the day long before I had even found my slippers yet.

I miss all those Godzilla attacks! (Please excuse the part where we were jumping on the bed...)

A little outdoor fun!  Girlfriend loved gathering pinecones and pine needles and building things out of them.

"Do you like my mustache?"

Baking and frosting cookies!  So proud of their creations!

Slip and slide with fun friends!  Loved getting to hang out with so many people!

Miss Sassypants was a well-deserved nickname.  Love. this. girl.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How I Got Here

Recently, I was asked if I had a ministry bio/testimony.  I didn't really have anything already written up, so I took some time over the past few days to put this together.  Here's a bit of my background and how I came to be where I am today.

My story is anything but normal.  But I don’t think I would have it any other way. 

I was born to a missionary family in Lipa City, Philippines.  My parents were in language school at the time, studying Tagalog in order to serve Filipinos at a mission hospital where my dad would serve as a practitioner and an administrator. (Oh the stories we shared around our dinner table of the adventures of practicing medicine in a third world country!)  I had two older brothers, Stephen and Peter, who were four and two when I was born.  My little brother Paul would be born on our next furlough in the States when I was three.

My earliest memories are in the Philippines, and I had (and still have) a very positive perception of our family’s experience there.  I remember running around and playing with my brothers and other playmates until Mom rang the bell for dinner.  I remember pilling into our truck and driving across the island to a church where my dad would preach on the weekends.  I remember all kinds of run-ins with local wildlife like monkeys and cobras.  I remember going to school in our one room schoolhouse where all four of us were taught together by either my mom or one of the short-term teachers who came from the States.

Our family on furlough in 1990, shortly before my little brother was born.
From the very beginning, I saw my parents living by faith.  I didn’t really understand what that meant and couldn’t have verbalized it if you’d asked me because it was just our way of life.  If we had a need, we trusted that the Lord would meet it in one way or another.  And we saw God come through for us over and over again.  When we traveled to our supporting churches on our furloughs, the song that played behind my parents’ slide show was “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”  This was their theme song, and now I understand why.  They trusted the Lord and saw his great faithfulness in their lives more times than we can count.  Ultimately, it was this trust in the Lord and total commitment to his work that lead me to give my heart to Christ and continue to live a life dedicated to God’s plan for me.

In the summer of 1991 on our trip back to the Philippines from our furlough in Rochester, New York, we stayed in Manila at a missionary guesthouse for a few days before making the rest of the trek home to the island of Palawan where we lived in Roxas.  I can distinctly remember playing with my older brother Peter at the house; we were standing on opposite ends of a stairway (He was at the top, and I was at the bottom.), tossing a ball back and forth.  Seemingly out of the blue, he asked me if I would go to heaven when I died.  I didn’t have the slightest idea and didn’t know what he was talking about, so he proceeded to share with me how God sacrificed his Son to die on the cross for my sins so that I could spend eternity with Him.  I accepted Christ into my heart that day.  I didn’t even come close to understanding completely the ramifications of that decision, but that day marks the beginning of my journey with the Lord. 

Our family stayed in the Philippines for a four-year term and a one-year term (with a one-year furlough between) after that stopover in Manila.  We returned to the States permanently in 1997 when I was 10 years old.  Because my dad decided to go back to school for a master’s degree in rural health care, we moved to a small town in West Virginia (a requirement for his degree program).  It was there, in Welch, West Virginia, where we first attended public school.  I was in sixth grade and distinctly remember thinking the day we learned about exponents in math class, “Wow! This is the only thing we’ve ‘learned’ this year that I didn’t already know!”  Needless to say, that year was more of a growing opportunity socially than academically.

The completion of Dad’s degree brought new job opportunity and place to live for our family.  We ended up in the western Pennsylvania town of Clarion.  We’d visited Clarion several times growing up because my great aunt and uncle lived there, so it was neat to move to a quasi-familiar place.  The house where we lived there was the first my parents had ever bought, after almost 20 years of marriage.  We were moving there to settle for the first time in my life.  At this point, my brothers were going into 12th, 10th, and 4th grades, and I was headed into 8th grade. 

Our time in Pennsylvania was a huge growing chapter for me.  This was the first place where I went to the same school for two sequential years (I actually went to Clarion Area Junior Senior High School from 8th grade until high school graduation.  Unbelievable!) and had the opportunity to put down any sort of roots in to friendships or a physical place.  This was also a place where I grew into my faith more than ever before.  It was here that I had to make the decision of whether I was truly going to follow Christ myself or if I was going to give up on my parents’ views as I became capable of making my own way in the world.  Ultimately, Dad and Mom’s Jesus became my Jesus as I built intentional relationships with friends and mentors, got involved in ministry at my church, and learned more and more about what it means to follow Christ.  Not that future years wouldn’t present challenges and opportunities growth, but these years held such significant foundation-challenging and –reinforcing situations and decisions that I will always maintain them as the years my faith became my own and my walk with Christ diverted from just following my parents’ footsteps.

My college years took me to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia where I continued to grow through the challenges of school, my family moving away from our Pennsylvania home I loved so dearly, a break-up with my college boyfriend, and learning how to be a grown-up and living on my own.  Also during the college years, I had to start making and acting on decisions about what I wanted to do with my life vocationally.  Having grown up around ministry and have been involved in different kinds of ministry throughout high school and college, I decided that’s what I would want to do.  However, my parents, being experienced with ministry, encouraged me not to get a ministry-related degree because you can do ministry no matter what degree is listed on your diploma.  So instead of getting a ministry degree, I worked toward the more marketable education degree.

After completing my degree in Elementary Education, I didn’t really want to enter the field of education.  An opportunity opened up for me to work at the University, so I accepted the position and stayed in Lynchburg.  This wasn’t my original plan of going to school, finishing, and moving away to start a new adventure.  But clearly, the Lord had a plan for me to stay here.  I didn’t know what that plan was for a while, but within a couple years, I learned a little bit more of why I stayed in Lynchburg instead of moving away.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the Lord used that position to help me ultimately end up in the ministry position where I find myself now.  It was there as I worked in an academic department where I was encouraged to pursue my master’s degree in Human Services (tuition fees being one of the benefits of my employment at the university) and teach online.  This provided a means for me to pay off my student loans more quickly than I would have otherwise.  The Lord was laying the groundwork for me to be able to transition into ministry in the years to come.

In May of 2010 I finished my master’s degree.  I wondered if this would be a good time to transition into a ministry role.  But I loved my job.  I had been promoted to an academic coordinator position and thoroughly enjoyed what I did and the people with whom I worked.  I prayed that if the Lord wanted me to transition to something else that he would provide the right opportunity and change my attachment to my job and release me from my current position.  Little did I know, he was doing just that.

That summer, I traveled with Living Bread Ministries on a short-term mission trip to Brazil.  I wasn’t extremely familiar with Living Bread, so while we were on our trip, I observed different aspects of the ministry.  I also spent time getting to know the founders of the ministry, Patrick and Bárbara Hubbard.  Shortly after the trip, the Hubbards approached me about coming on staff with the ministry.  The idea sounded wonderful, but there seemed to be a few obstacles in the way.  I still loved my job and couldn’t see myself just quitting a job that I enjoyed so much.  Also, Living Bread is completely support-based, so my position would require me to raise support.  Because I still had student loan debt, I didn’t feel comfortable asking people to support my ministry and help me pay off my education.  I continued to pray that if the Lord wanted me to transition into a ministry role, he would put all the pieces in place for that to happen.

Over the next two years, all those pieces fell into place.  I was able to completely pay off my student loans.  Some things changed in my job situation that landed me in a different position at the university. Though I still enjoyed my role very much, I didn’t have the same level of attachment to what I was doing.  So, when the time came for me to leave, I didn’t have nearly as much hesitation to putting in my notice. 

June 30, 2012 was my last day on staff at Liberty University.  I began working full-time as Administrative Coordinator for Living Bread Ministries in July.

Over the last two years, I have continued to love my role with Living Bread and the opportunities it has provided.  Though I am still working to raise full-time support so I am not as dependent on supplemental income, the Lord has always provided and met my needs. 

My transition to Living Bread was not without challenges and adjustments.  I thought my biggest challenge would be going from working in a busy office environment with lots of people all day to a home office environment where some days I work by myself during the day.  This did take some getting used to, but my biggest challenge was the newfound flexibility I had in my schedule.  I wasn’t married to an eight to five, Monday through Friday workweek.  Instead, I could plan my days differently and use my flexibility to meet others’ needs.

Despite the ups and downs of transitions and new beginnings, the Lord has been faithful to me through all the adventures he has brought my way.  I never thought I would be in Lynchburg 10 years, but I have been.  I never thought I would be able to enjoy working with a missions organization right here in my home town and still have the opportunity to travel overseas, but I do.  I never thought the Lord would take me so far from what I thought my life would look like and still be so content with his provision and his timing, but I am.   

My story is anything but normal.  But I don’t think I would have it any other way.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Taking the Plunge

Remember how I recently got my Open Water Diving Certification?  Well, I just got to use it for the first time!  It was bit of an impromptu (and quick) trip, but it felt great to put my certification to use!  Here's a a play-by-play of my Key West diving adventure!

I met up with a couple friends on the way to the Keys, but before hitting the road, we stopped to make some new friends in the Everglades.  This one is named Jackson.

A well-timed dinner stop in Key Largo along with outdoor seating made for a beautiful welcome to our brief visit to the islands.

We got up at 3am to walk down to the beach to watch the lunar eclipse, aka the Blood Moon.

Our first day there we spent hanging around the island, enjoying some beach time and soaking in the sun!

We rented scooters to ride around the island for the day.  I may have nearly killed myself learning how to drive it, but once I got the hang of it, it was a good time.

Another sunset dinner, this time on the pier.  Can't go wrong with views like this one.

A little Key Lime pie for dessert.  We may have tried as many different Key Lime pies as possible.  I believe my total was 6.

We were up bright and early the next day for our diving adventure, only after a delicious cuban breakfast and coffee.

It's time to go!  After a 40 minute boat ride, we were out at the reef ready to jump in.

Getting in and out of a wet suit may be the hardest part of diving.

I was a little excited.  Also, flippers are favorite.

And so our diving fun began!

Flag = divers in the water!  Apparently, there is also a reef shark that lives in those waters.  I didn't see her, and I can't quite decide if I'm glad about that or a little disappointed.

After diving, we enjoyed a little more pool time before it was time to pack up and go home.

Dear Key West, thanks for a fun, quick trip and my first ocean dive!