My First Loves – Reflection on a Trip to Houston

It has been twelve years since I left Houston, Texas. I have been reticent to return, perhaps because I associate the city with heat, conservative politics, uncomfortable holiday gatherings and the self-confidence I had as a high school student. IT was only recently, when I decided to begin Katallasso that I thought about returning. I knew that I’d be looking for a ‘base camp,’ some where I would spend one-two weeks/month and I toyed with the idea of making that Houston so I could be close to family. The musing became a reality when I was asked to leave Kenya on short notice due to some security concerns and I had to make a quick decision about where to live. Perhaps fortuitously, one of our dear family friends needed some one to move in and provide her with companionship at the exact same time. I didn’t want to move for the sake of settling uncertainty but prayer and reflection led me to believe that this would be a perfect opportunity to see what it was like to live closer to my family.

August 12th  I moved in with Peggy, a neighbor of ours recently diagnosed with a heart condition that makes moving around challenging. I helped prepare dinner, ran errands for her and spent most of the day working from home so I could check on her as needed. While this slowing down could be annoying to some for me it was the opposite, it gifted me with the time to reacquaint with some of my first loves that have been placed aside during the fast pace of my recent life: family, competitive exercise and fun.

The time I spent with family over the past month was refreshing and soothing – more so than on recent quick trips home from Kenya. I guess this is because the anxiety of having to ‘see everyone’ and ‘do everything’ lessened with the knowledge that I’ll be around the US for the foreseeable future. My favorite activities of this trip home were found in the everyday moments of laying by the pool with Lisa, chatting on the back porch with Paige, watching football with my parents or practicing yoga with Parker. I felt an ease there that I haven’t felt in a while, prompting me to think seriously about basing myself out of Houston for the next few years

Wine night at home with my sister Paige
Wine night at home with my sister Paige
Watching Sunday football with my precious parents - welcome back to Texas
Watching Sunday football with my precious parents – welcome back to Texas


It’s a common thought that the one trait all five Finstad sisters share is our competitive nature; the past few years my competitive energy had been funneled into building Tatua. While that’s been rewarding I have missed the push that comes from physical competition. This past month I decided to take-up competitive running and Bikram Yoga. Valerie and I are planning to run a half marathon in January and I began by training for a 5K in Houston on the 04 of October. I forget how much I love the intensity of running with time goals! On the bikram side I’m nowhere near ready to enter the competitions but I’ve given myself a goal of 365 practices in 365 days. Right now I’m at 35 classes in 34 days – rocking it! I can see a progression in my postures that is encouraging me and I’ve got plans to practice while I am in Boston over the next few weeks.


On target to reach my goal 5K time in October
Run on Town Lake in Austin – on target to reach my goal 5K time in October
Yoga master Naiomi and me after I completed my 30 day challenge at Bikram Yoga Westheimer - Namaste!
Yoga master Naiomi and me after I completed my 30 day challenge at Bikram Yoga Westheimer – Namaste!


A few weeks ago I was out to dinner with mom, Valerie and Faith. I noticed that I said two or three things that made them laugh. I paused for a moment and noticed the levity that was in our conversation… we were having fun. As much as I loved my life in Kenya the work was fairly all consuming and I didn’t find myself just having fun or being fun that often. Over the past month I’ve gone to the beach, played games, watched TV and even, gasp, gone out on some dates. I feel like a normal person again. I know it will be tempting as the Katallasso project kicks up to trade play for work but I’m committed to sticking to a 40 hour workweek.

In fact, one of the main facets of Katallasso is a reconciliation to self that opens up the possibility of the type of life that is offered to us in Christ. If I am to live into the boundless freedom that Christ modeled for us then I must be willing to acknowledge that working 60-80 hours/week is not fulfilling to me. Despite this change in work schedule I was still able to make a lot of progress on Katallasso while in Houston.

I’ve been on regular calls with Mary Beth, co-founder of Katallasso: A Movement for Reconciliation, and able to talk with other leaders in the church who are aware that the church needs to adapt to fully realize our mission of being an agent of reconciliation in the world. Those conversations have energized me and strengthened my vision of what might be possible. We are currently building an advisory team that will design the Katallasso Movement and identify the Episcopal Communities that we will work with to tell a collective narrative about the shift happening in the church.

Overall, a really great stay in Houston, one of connection, exactly what I needed – for more photos check out my facebook album. Now, I’m off to Boston to see friends, meet with of some of those incredible leaders and to be present for the consecration of the next Bishop for the Diocese of Massachusetts… and obviously run, yoga and have fun!

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