Brunch à la fin abode

Kat is a Pediatric Physical Therapist, and Andrew's a Radiographer, but my impetus behind beginning to share these blog posts, is to provide insight into people I've known who know their identity is not in their jobs. They are a daughter and a son of a King. The Finleys have led my and A's Gospel Community (small group) for the past two years. There's been many a meal, story, and bike ride shared with them, and they've become two of our dearest friends along the way. I photographed them in their home dubbed "La Fin Abode." They were brave enough to share about not only living here in Chicago, but seeing it through the lens of faith. They also cooked us a most delectable brunch.

Knowing your identities are not in your jobs, but as children of God, how does that lens help you see your days and work?
Kat: When I am consumed with self-doubt, lack of confidence, or I am not sure if a child is making good progress from my work, I remember that at least I can love them. If all I do is love them, and make them laugh for an hour a week when maybe most other people aren't, then I think I've done something as a child of God. That may not be justifiable to insurance or to the boss' boss lady, but at least I know I've spread a little love. On the flip side, if a child is acting up behavior-wise, and I'm at my wit's end, and I want to just put them in a corner (which is not effective, BTW). I (sometimes) remember that God gave me the opportunity to use MY hands to do HIS work—to actually, physically heal for Him—through me. Not a lot of people can say that. It's a very direct connection, so it helps me (sometimes) to be patient, and try again, so I'll have the opportunity in that session to do his works.
Andrew: I think it helps keep my work in perspective. When I have a bad day or make a mistake it helps me to not dwell on it and effect the rest of my life.

What are some of the most challenging parts of being a Chicagoan?
PARKING. Strangers yelling in your face when you walk down the street. Seeing the brokenness first hand, in both the poor AND the rich. Seeing so many other creatives and feeling inadequate in that sense...Which is also one of the best things, BTW.
A: Parking. Splitting your check at a restaurant. Going somewhere west and south. Sirens. Everyday is Garbage Pick-up Day. Horns. November through April. Bikers in the turning lane. Cars in the bike lane.  And pedestrians everywhere. Remembering that somewhere outside the city nature and fresh air do exist.

What are some of the best things about being a Chicagoan?
FOOD AND FLOWERS! Seriously...full tummies, happy hearts! And all the flower shops that spark creativity in even the least creative of people! Also, all the creatives. And community. Chicago has community. So many communities, deeply rooted and tucked away in tiny pockets of the city. It's a beautiful thing. Even the homeless have community (some). There are two guys who have been camped out under bridge down the street from us. Each day I watch them—sometimes setting up their tents, sometimes unlocking or locking up their stolen bikes (come on-bubblegum pink with a tiger stuffed animal tucked in the front...I don't think he picked that out at the store...)—sometimes eating, and my favorite is when they are playing cards on their table, made from a cardboard box. I'm scared of them, yet my heart longs to love on them.
A: Living in Chicago gives you an instant sense of community. The little parts of your life start to feel like a membership to some kind of club. When you meet people and share the different clubs you're in. "Yeah, I live in such-and-such neighborhood. I take the whatever train to work everyday. And I have a parking permit in Zone XYZ."

And oh yeah, the food. The food is really good.

What do you love most about your neighborhood?
Ah. To be honest, I was fearful to move this far north. Buena Park is part of Uptown, which mostly scares me when I walk through there by myself. But Buena Park has beautiful old homes. And it's close to the lake, which is what I love most about it. Close proximity to the lake takes precedent over a big closet! But also, this neighborhood allowed us the space to host. And hosting has brought us a community, friendships, and family. You can't replace that.
A: It's proximity to the lake. 

You and Andrew lead a Gospel Community / small group together in your home. What has it taught you about the importance of community and being rooted in a place?
K: Oh girl. I've already mentioned community twice in these clearly means a lot to me (and to us). When I first moved here, all I had was Andrew. He makes me so happy, but I was so lonely. An introvert, and still lonely. It allowed me to find my time with God, though. So I'll never take it back-even the sad days. But having community, and being rooted-it feeds our hearts. It completes us. No matter the size of the community. We need people to know us. To know our hearts—our strengths and weaknesses—in a judgement free zone. We need them to laugh with us, cry with us, pray with us, and bring us to Jesus. There have been many people who have come into our home. Some have stuck a short time, some not at all, some a very long time, and now forever. Those who have stuck haven't always been the ones we had instant connections with. Some yes, but some no. They are the ones who put forth the effort, the commitment. The ones who SHOWED UP. We have to show up for each matter how that looks.
A: I've learned that community is something that is often desired but not easily achieved. I'm not sure if I learned this from leading GC or not but one thing I've noticed the last couple years is that more often then not, we want to have community like we want to have a piece of pie. We want it brought to us. We want it to taste good so we can consume it. And we don't want to work for it. I've learned that having community is less like having pie and more like having a garden. It requires planning and maybe some hard work. But It's something you can get better at as seasons come and go. And after you put the work in, you get to enjoy the harvest.

... having community & being rooted, it feeds our hearts. We need people to know us. To know our hearts—our strengths & weaknesses—in a judgement-free zone. We need them to laugh with us, cry with us, pray with us, & bring us to Jesus.
— Kat

Tell us about a favorite spot or corner in your home.
K: This is hard. First thought is absolutely our patio. It's my sanctuary. The lights, and flowers, and tiny nook. I love drinking my morning coffee out there on summer weekends, and curling up when it's chilly with my Navajo blanket and the pup, and I'll sit in the sun all night. Whenever we grill or eat out there, our conversation always seems to be better. But I also love our guest room. All of the white, and simplicity and vintage the Jenny Lind bed we are refinishing, and the record player we found on the side of the road on one of our road trips back home. It also has a lot of heirlooms from my Grandparents in there, which is special. 
A: I like the dining room. It's usually where I have my morning coffee and read.

While a perfect work-life balance seems elusive, how do you strive for it / and when do you feel closest to it.
K: It honestly has never been elusive for me. It's something that has always been so important to me that I've almost always had one. Heck, I even chose a PT school whose values aligned with that. That's not to say that I don't think about, dream about, and often stress about some of my clients-but we always make time for each other during the week. Either during dinner or during weekend breakfast dates. (Because breakfast dates are a MUST for any happy marriage is my opinion!) We also make sure the Puggle feels loved too. Sometimes that's longer walks or dog parks, or extra tug-a-war time.
A: I'm not entirely sure I would know the perfect balance even if I had it right in front of me. But when Kat and I get ready for work together (or should I say, at the same time) and we have time to stop and have a really really long hug. That seems like a good work/life balance.

What's one characteristic each of you loves about the other?
THIS IS TOO HARD. I love that he demands extra, extra, extra long hugs from me (although he would say they are regularly-timed hugs). And also, that he always makes me laugh. 
A: I love how Kat will instantly start dancing to any random song I start singing.

Is there anything else you feel called to share with readers?
Cooking together, while listening to reggae, and having dance parties in the kitchen makes for the best nights, you guys! EVERYONE should try it!

I’ve learned that having community is less like having pie & more like having a garden. It requires planning & maybe some hard work. But It’s something you can get better at as seasons come and go. And after you put the work in, you get to enjoy the harvest.
— Andrew

This video was filmed and edited by my beau Andrew (@floewen). 

Rachel LoewenComment