When people ask author Jonalyn Fincher (M.A. ’03) what she and her husband, Dale (M.A. ’02), hope to achieve with their nonprofit, Soulation, she says, "We help people have healthy souls." She recently shared with Biola Magazine what this looks like in her life and ministry.
"Soulation" is a word my husband Dale and I made up for our nonprofit, combining the words "soul" and "formation" or "celebration" or "foundation." Soulation began in the spring of 2005 when Dale resigned from working with Ravi Zacharias to partner with me as a husband-wife apologetics team. Now we have a strong handful of volunteers and freelancers who hold down the fort when we travel nationally to speak, helping us offer imaginative apologetic articles, blogs, podcasts, online chat sessions and hundreds of free resources at soulation.org to help build up better souls.
A sub-topic and my favorite area is "women and spirituality." For instance, I like to compare Jesus and other religious founders on their treatment of women. I like to speak on what makes women unique image bearers of God.
My first book, Ruby Slippers: How the Soul of a Woman Brings Her Home, covers the way a woman's soul is unique, different from a man's and different from other women. It’s an alternative to the Eldredges’ Captivating and includes gender studies, spiritual formation and my own "coming of age" story. Coffee Shop Conversations: Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk is our most recent book project. Dale and I co-wrote this one to help Christians who might be discouraged about talking about Jesus, especially in this post-Christian culture.
Writing changed my views about men and women because I came in contact with theologians, Scripture, women, churches and studies that didn’t fit my cherished beliefs. I couldn't understand how God could have made men and women equally valuable and still include verses like 1 Tim. 2:11–15 in his Word. I wrote to reconcile my intuition (yes, women are significant and as valuable as men) with my love for God and Scripture.
I came to see God as a hero for women. I learned that Jesus championed females more than I would have dared expected. And I came to find the Holy Spirit unrelenting in asking me to keep telling the truth as I found it, even if neither side (complementarian or egalitarian) wanted to claim me.
For the past three years we've made our home in Steamboat Springs, Colo. The Rocky Mountains offer so many differences we never experienced in Los Angeles, from golden aspen in the fall to sliding down icy driveways. A typical day starts with me taking our son, Finn, for my morning "on duty" time while Dale hits as many blog comments, e-mails and articles he can. I get the afternoons to catch up. I try to blog at least once a month about women and spirituality (www.jonalynfincher.com) and we travel regularly. So when you don't find us tucked away in our tiny cabin in the woods, we’re on the road speaking together.
Finn just turned five months old. Having a baby helped me feel more included in all those stereotypically mom things (play dates, a birth story, nursing, etc.), but Finn also surprised me by not being as invasive, turn-your-world-upside-down as most people told me a baby would be. I still work for Soulation; I still partner on the stage with Dale; we still do radio interviews and writing together. We're both just part time for now.
Our dream is to build a Soulation retreat center in the 100-acre aspen forest where we live, which we call the White Woods. We want to build a group of cabins for the gathering of people from all over the country, a dozen at a time, to taste rich food and rich beauty in community and discuss ways to build (not simply engage) lasting human culture.
Online, we just launched a Soulation forum to cover hundreds of excellent questions we personally respond to on e-mail into a more publicly beneficial and accessible place (soulation.org/forum). We hope that the new thread "My Faith Hurdle" (also accessible through myfaithhurdle.com) will bring more people — believers and non-believers — the safety to discuss their real questions and doubts.
I'm getting ready to launch a new blog with a psychologist friend of mine, focusing exclusively on female friendships. I've also been working on a book on women and friendship for the last several years, how girlfriends can be our best friends (and worst enemies). I finished the proposal last December.