Tag Archives: Christianity

Too Charming for Myself

Last time the a/c technician came to the office, he kind of asked me for my phone number and i kind of said No.
Today he is here again and i think i made him cry.
I told him no one told me he was coming.
It is unnerving for a guy to just show up and want to come in, and i think he got sad.
I just passed him down the hall and gave him my best fake smile i have to offer.
Charmed, no doubt.

This morning i went to do ministry work which is done this way in my congregation:
Whoever is a member of that congregation or an active member of another congregation can meet at a set time at our hall.
In our hall it is only in the mornings and since i work most mornings and oversleep the other mornings, (without mentioning the mornings on which i do both), i tend to only make my own arrangements and go out in the evenings.
But i try to show up Fridays and Saturdays to the group meetings when i can.
Today only one brother was going out in the ministry.
He is a Vietnam Vet and has a lot of stories.
(We don’t go to war but that was before he studied the Bible).
He is retired and married but his wife died twice and the paramedics brought her back to life.
(“Oh Well,” he says).
Now she is overweight and can’t really walk anymore, so he is always alone or with this single younger brother who is a little socially awkward, but i’ll leave his stories for another day.
So this brother is from Central America and he’s always contrasting his childhood on a coffee farm with the time he spent in trenches in Vietnam.
Later in life he had other jobs, the last of which was a lawyer.
Today we were speaking with a genuine hippie, the kind you only find in Ojai, Seattle or Oregon.
Mr. Hippie owns a big property (big by California standards) and feeds wild animals from scraps he finds in the neighbors’ trash bins.
He bathes in the creek or ocean with his clothes on.
(Thank God).
I’m pretty sure he was stoned the whole time we were talking to him.
You see, people round here are not that nice.
But he invited us to take a seat and the brother i was with was telling him his war stories while a woman who rents a room on the property overheard and was visibly disgusted.
That is the problem with people round here.
No one wants to hear the truth.
They just want to paint butterflies on their walls and build water fountains out of rocks they find in their neighbor’s driveway.
Still, despite his probably being stoned, we had a good conversation about making conscientious use of the earth’s natural resources.
He pretty much thinks everything humans do is damaging and we are bound to destroy ourselves.
I tried to read him a couple verses from the Bible about the future but if you are a woman, perhaps you can relate to the following:
There is a point when a woman is having a conversation with a man when you know he is dismissing your opinions as not having any serious weight to them because he is seeing you as a sex object.
Confirmation of this suspicion came when he proceeded to ask me my age.
What the hell, you go talk to people about God and stuff and guy just wants to know if you’re young enough to bear his offspring.
Of course i only put two and two together because he held his gaze for too long.
I was uncomfortable but the brother i was with didn’t seem to notice and kept sharing war anecdotes.
I don’t mind that the brother strays off topic because i wonder what his mind would be like if he didn’t have anyone to share his traumas with.
He could be one of those homeless guys who heckle my friend and me at the park.
Vets have been through a lot and though i am opposed to war, they do not get the social help they need- that is more than obvious.

I am still adjusting to the local small town artsy culture there is here.
I still haven’t decided if i have any friends yet.
One sister whom i spend a lot of time with and yeah, she’s pretty cool, kind of keeps hinting that she wants to see my twitter account but i don’t think our relationship is there yet.
At least i’m not.
(My account is public but i dunno. It’s a big step).
There is a sister who i was getting along great with but last time i saw her she kind of got on my case about not meeting in the mornings and i am the kind of person that usually doesn’t reply… but the more i think about it, the more i wish i had said, “Uhm some of us have to work.” and possibly even be more insulting because she lives off a trust her husband has and he is a little bit disabled, and she doesn’t work because she has asthma.
I have asthma too but i work.
So it is just irritating when people pressure you to do more and you already feel like you’re doing the best you can and instead of asking how they can support you, they focus on what you can’t do.
Don’t get me wrong, i love everybody, at least in theory.
But when things like that happen i don’t have anyone that i can talk to about it because i am supposed to be this model minister who gives discreet answers to stoned hippies and doesn’t tell off the homeless guys who heckle her at the park, she doesn’t tell people to mind their own business when they ask about her personal schedule and she doesn’t talk about her bouts of depression because she is supposed to be always happy and smiling and encouraging and God i hate everyone, i swear everything i do is all out of love to God and no one else.

Visiting Popsicles

I had mentioned several months ago that my church’s Spanish congregation had been dissolved in this particular town i am in.

Today we formally began to meet here, although for now it is only to visit those who were previously interested.

We are sent off in pairs but when there is an odd number of us, i get assigned to my husband and his pair.
I’m a third wheel of sorts.
Or the other brother is.
Depends on how you look at it.

I wait in the car while my husband and the third wheel visit a man who invites them to sit and chat.

Earlier, this elderly brother accompanying us complained that we’re just visiting popsicles, since most in this area are apathetic toward biblical topics.
He himself reasoned that we must still preach.
“So where are we going?” he asked.
My husband directed him toward said Popsicles.

This is the third home we visit.
I see my husband greet the man of the house like an old friend, though they’ve never met.
He takes personal interest in every word the man says.
After a couple minutes, the edges of the Popsicle-Man have melted and they are invited to sit.


I had gotten out of the car while writing the above introduction because of the heat.
My husband saw me leave and texted me to come join them.

They were speaking with a Catholic counselor (not sure what his formal title is).
The man was seemingly polite but he got agitated when i read him a text from his Bible.
He said i was showing-off and i had failed his psychological test.
I said i wasn’t sharing anything of my own but that it was out of his own Bible i had read the text.
He called me a show-off again and i perceived that he was not accustomed to a woman teaching him.
My husband told him we do not visit people to psycho-analyze them and God doesn’t test anyone, for it would be unkind of him to do so.
The man said, “One needs to be very humble to talk about these things.”
I assume he was saying that in regards to himself, since we all know i am as humble as they come.
I restrained from adding carbon to the fire and tried to shut up.
The man said he’s seen some from our church drinking a beer, and the elderly brother told him the Bible does not condemn drinking moderately.

That reminded me it was almost lunchtime, so on that note we left.


My husband said he was not satisfied with the way the conversation went.
I wonder if i made things worse when i joined them.
Probably.
But i tried not to dominate the conversation.
The man was criticizing us for preaching to the population at large, while saying he focuses on alcoholics and drug addicts- “those who really need it.”
I praised him for helping “those who really need it” before asking him for permission to use his Bible.
The text i read him lists nine sins that prevent people from inheriting God’s kingdom, not just one or two.
And i reiterated that some of our members had participated in those sins before becoming Christians, so it’s not like we’re not helping anyone.
He said he carries the Bible with him but doesn’t go around using it.
“That would be showing off.”

We meet different people everyday and i’ve been doing this for quite some time.
First time ever someone tells me i’m showing off.
I don’t think handling a Bible well is showing off, much like i don’t think people who are not familiar with the Bible are ignorant.

“I’m a nobody,” i had replied, “what could i possibly share as far as wisdom? All i can give comes from God’s knowledge, not mine.”

But when he told me again that i was showing off, i decided, again, to shut up.

It is not uncommon for our visits to leave a bitter taste in our mouths.
My husband’s demeanor throughout never seizes to impress me.
The way he discreetly but very effectively teaches about God leaves me in awe, like when he explained that God doesn’t test anyone.
This was, of course, in response to the man telling me i had failed his psychological test.

The same thing happens when i accompany my mother in the ministry.
Her calm demeanor when people are being flat out rude is just beyond me.
And her compassion tape runs three times longer than mine.

I am the opposite.
Sometimes i wonder if i do more harm than good.
I may not talk back but my personality can be somewhat transparent.
It’s easy for people to tell when they’ve exhausted my patience.
Especially if they follow me on Twitter.
As a minister, i am most effective with people who have low self-esteem.
Awesome people, like me.
Patience is not my thing.

The man asked me twice if i would go give a 3-hour sermon at his church and i replied that men head the congregation under Christ, not women, but that i minister by giving home Bible studies.

His wife had passed by twice without acknowledging our presence in any way.
It is not difficult to be Christian.
What God asks of us is straightforward and doable.
Yet, it is very difficult for me to be a minister’s wife.
It is very difficult to dominate my own wants and passions and subject them to the priorities of an imperfect human.
A Christian shepherd should always have serving God as his priority, and a large part of that is serving the congregation.
My husband does an amazing job at that but our own shortcomings can create frictions at home.

It is very difficult to not walk out and look for someone who makes me his priority instead of a large group of people.
It seemed unrealistic of me to maintain “platonic” friendships with guys who subtly or openly hit on me from time to time.
Almost half of the married friends i had ten years ago have ended up getting cheated on, having affairs or getting divorced.
I’m not so different.
I’m only human.
Close guy friends who never hit on me have come to ignore me all together.
So i cut off the ones that were left last November.
(I’m referring to local men i was friends with over several years, not people who live far away and i occasionally talk to online).

It is easy to get lost in my husband’s shadow.
For instance, a sister who has been in our congregation since January was surprised a couple weeks ago when i told her i worked.
“I thought only your husband worked,” she said.
Which would make perfect sense… if i was ill, had a baby or a zoo… or living off a rich uncle’s inheritance…
Anyway, what i’m trying to convey is that as a minister’s wife, much of my role in the congregation, which is also hard work, goes unnoticed and i just have to bite the bullet.
Or perhaps she thought i am so supportive, she just assumed i had all the time in the world.
?
My husband, who is a minister in two capacities, both in the preaching work and within the congregation, sometimes forgets to acknowledge my relevance.
Then i have to remind him that i exist and i need him around too.
He usually takes to it but sometimes he puts up a fight.
(That’s when i try to kick him.)

It is not easy being a minister’s wife.

I would recommend a life of self-sacrifice and social service to hardly anyone.
But when i look back at what i wanted from life when i was a teenager, i know this is it.
This is what i wanted.
This is what i got.
But there are people out there who make it worthwhile.
Now and then i’ll meet someone who reminds me of me, and they just melt my own popsicle heart away.

Hello! My Name Is Albi.

hellomynameisAlbi
This is depressing.
Just when I thought they had finally learned my name at Starbucks, I find myself waiting for minutes on end for my order, even though they had already called it.
Lucky for me there aren’t very many Albis in the world.

As I was walking to work this morning, I was looking at different Nativity scenes.
I don’t celebrate Christmas and I really don’t think the Bible Jesus has anything to do with Christmas, but for the people who do, I just wonder that their Nativity scenes are so out of proportion.
I mean, in some, baby Jesus is as big as some of the houses. It’s like- Jesus-zilla. I mean if I were Mary, (which I could never be Mary but if I were), I’d be terrified if I had a child that size! Assuming she would have survived the intense labor.
And Joseph would be like, “Who did you say the father was again?”

This reminds me of one of my favorite family childhood stories, which is the time my brother and my dad were playing football in the living room and they knocked the head off one of the three wise men. I think it was the Black one. By accident, of course- they’re not racist.
(Clarification: the Bible doesn’t say how many “wise men” there were and actually calls them “magi”- astrologers- a practice it condemns. Also by the time they arrived, the couple was no longer in the manger.)-Matthew 2:1-16; Isaiah 47:13,14.
We tried to crazy-glue the head back on but it looked kinda Frankenstein-esque and it kept falling off for the next couple of Christmases, until my mom changed religions and my dad, who had always been agnostic, didn’t really care.
Though the change must have been very hard on my brother, who was born on Christmas Eve and had to adapt to a world in which the end of the year does not revolve around him.
That goes against everything he ever taught me: that he is master of the universe and knows all.
It’s a good thing he’s given me his Starbucks card in an effort to make up for past psychological trauma 😊.

Lightning Strikes Vatican

Lightning Bolt Strikes the Vatican's St Peter's Basilica

Lightning Bolt Strikes the Vatican’s St Peter’s Basilica after Pope Benedict xvi announced retirement from papacy.