Converting to Catholicism

Thursday, August 8, 2019

A trip to Mexico City to Our Lady Guadalupe in April 2018

Oh my Lord, help me, guide me, why am I such a mess hahaha?

Has been a quick prayer to God in the last 7 mos of my life. I knew early on of dating Aaron, that at some point we would need to talk about our same views of God and faith, but different ways in which we practice, what I refer to as religion.

Aaron is Catholic and I am Christian, and although in the way I was raised, I was taught we are both Christian, but Aaron belongs to a denomination of Christianity. He was taught that Catholicism is its own religion.

But this isn't the place to debate that.

We already have so many beautiful, but definitely differences - country of origin, language, cultural norms, flour vs corn tortillas - you know, the important stuff! The last thing we need going into marriage with the plan to have kids one day is to be different in practice of how we love God, aka our religion.

It boiled down to the fact that it was easier for me to convert to Catholicism in the sense that being a non-denominational Christian, I have more fluidity in how I practice. But Aaron does not, and I don't think that's a bad thing at all. I think it gives me an opportunity to grow and learn through study, practice, and connection.

I am openly sharing this because I get so many opinions, probably 3-4 messages a day and maybe a phone call a week about all the different opinions of Aaron's and my race, nationality, citizenship, age difference, and all the other things people seem to be experts in our relationship. Also, stop asking me if he is an American citizen; he is a dual citizen of the USA and Mexico, and it's none of your business. Let's not forget that I am the naturalized citizen, NOT born on this soil due to my adoption. I also get "you're so happy", "you're glowing", "you're so in love"...all of which are very true, but all of it has come like anything, with compromise, negotiating, identity forming and reforming...and everything else that goes into both an intercultural and interracial marriage.

So many people I know struggle with these, and I am so grateful they've reached out to me, I have felt less alone in this journey than the beginning.

We discussed at length of what we do agree on in terms of our different religious practices:
We pray to the same God.
We love people and believe and try as much as we can to practice the same scripture, from the same Bible.
We love our faith in God and what God has planned for our life.
We believe in the communion, baptism, and belonging.

So, becoming Catholic, will not change how much I love people. How much I value scripture/literature/devotions/journaling/praying and so forth in my roots as a non denominational Christian. It will not change the way I see the importance of Church in my life or in my future family's life.

If anything, it just enhances it. Academically and socially, I've always aligned with Jesuit values. I believe in assisting those in need, and I believe Jesus would want us to take care of those around us. I believe in heaven and hell...and guess what? Becoming Catholic doesn't change my beliefs in any of that.

Will it change the type of Sunday service I experience? Yes. Will it teach me about rituals, steadiness, and more structured learning? Yes. Will it give me the opportunity to understand the history Jesus has on this earth more? Yes.

I will never understand that in a stereotypical Christian world, Catholicism isn't deemed as "real Christianity", and I do not understand in a stereotypical Catholic world, that Christians are deemed as "Not real believers of Christ".

Me, and others, and probably people you know are living proof that we are tired of this vs them. If we are all of God, our denominations serve God, and speak, teach, and practice love because of think when we get to heaven, God is going to care if I stay non-denominational or Catholic? ...

I believe God is so big that God doesn't put limits on how people worship, but has given people ideas in how to organize it so people can connect to it in modern time. I have found God in a multitude of ways, and it never had a denomination of Christianity tied to it.

Whether it was in college attending mass with a best friend and she would come to Sunday service with me later or post college and I'd attend another mass with another best friend and she would come to church with me was just proof that our Sunday services and day to day practices are different - but our hearts, intent, and love for our Lord was the same.

I am so excited to start my journey here soon. Love may be a motivator for why I am converting, but anyone that truly knows me, my free spirit, and my extreme hard headedness, I don't do anything I don't want to do. No one is forcing me to do anything.

I am choosing to learn. I am choosing to be open for what God has for me. I am choosing to stay true to my values while understanding that a marriage is more than just my free spirit and liberty.

What an honor to live in a country where I can pursue a religion, the freedom to marry someone of a different race and culture, and freedom to marry for love and not for convenience or security.

Cathedral of Aguascalientes - Where we hope to get married!

My body is a sin, my body is a temple.

Monday, February 19, 2018

This month's author, is my beloved friend Cherie. Cherie and I met when I was visiting Azusa Pacific University during a graduate school interview weekend. She was my host. Later in life, Cherie and I ended up working together at San Francisco State University - and besides our work, Cherie and I are kindred's in 2 ways - body image and our Christian Faith. Cherie was my Church for many Sundays in the last 2 years. You'll find her message thought provoking, beautiful, and gusty, and easily how I describe her, and how she draws people into her space.

Cherie Bachman has always had a passion for people but that has been expressed in different ways through out her life. She began her work in child care and then worked with college students. Most recently, she has changed gears in her career to work in clothing retail. This shift still allows her to focus on her love for people, but now specifically with plus size people in helping them feel comfortable and beautiful in their own skin. In the past year, Cherie was inspired to start her own fashion and body positive blog and Instagram with one of her good friends, Erin. They consistently strive to be vulnerable in their journeys of self love and excitement for fashion in order to inspire others to do the same! 

Two truths about me:
I’ve always been fat.
I’ve always been closely knit to people of Christian faith.

One thing that I have always been shown:
My body is a sin.

One thing that I have always been told:

My body is temple.

At my on campus job when I started, someone said, “We have a dress code here, you must dress in business casual. No T-shirts or jeans.”

After a couple weeks of abiding by the dress code, “It was brought to our attention by many who work here that the clothes you are wearing expose more than we’d prefer to see. Please dress more appropriately.” I cried the whole way back to my dorm and then proceeded to wear t-shirts and jeans.

My body is a sin.

At Church, listening to the pastor speak, “Now, ladies, you come to church with your chest all out just causing temptation and pushing our brothers to sin”...Is he looking at me? I swear, he’s looking at me.  

My body is a sin.

“Are you really going to wear THAT out? Shouldn’t you try to cover up more? You don’t want to be a distraction”...

My body is a sin.  

“I don’t think she is going to find anyone who will find her attractive enough to marry her unless she loses weight.”

My body is a sin.

I have been treated as if my body is a sin, immoral and pulling others into its black hole of filth and disgust. Having a fat body full of curves that peak out of my clothes, I'm constantly told that it's “too much”, and to hide my body. I'm told that me, just being, affects men. Men who can't seem to control their own bodies and do things and say things to me that I don't want them to do and say. I'm shown that my body isn't welcome unless it is edited by making it smaller or invisible if I can.

Cherie was recently featured on Torrid through her styling on @Thickfunandfabulous
When, I was living in L.A., it felt like everyone was thin and perfect. I whispered to myself, “You're either going to love or hate yourself.  What do you choose?” I can't imagine hating myself. So, I choose love.

So actually, my body is a temple, and this is how I know...

My mom gently traced the freckles on my back, “your shoulders are beautiful.”

Yes, my body is a temple.  

I reach for my toes, arch my back, stretch my hands high, breathing - Giving myself space, giving myself relief.

My body is a temple.

With the Golden Gate bridge as a backdrop, he pulled me off the trail and under a tree. He pulled me close and kissed me. My body tingled from my lips to my toes.

Yes, my body is a temple.

I have always been told that my body is a temple, that I should take care of it, treat it with love, and present it well.

My body is a place of worship. A place to be grateful, it has been a shelter for weathering my storms. It has been a shelter for others when they can't build it for themselves. My body is comfort. My body is love. My body is empowerment for me, and others. My body is beauty in whatever forms it has. My body is a sin...No, my body is a temple.

Follow Cherie's IG @Thickfunandfabulous

This is not a phase

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Oakland's First Fridays Unity Wall
Note: This is not my view on the Church I attend, my Pastor, or the select people I've connected with on a real level. This is solely part of my journey of Christ, church, and my sense of belonging...and this post has been sitting in my inbox for almost 2 years.

10 years ago I sat in my parents living room and told them that I would respect their wishes to attend church until I was 18, then I wanted to seek my own relationship with God and explore my spiritual life.

You must know, as a Midwesterner who grew up in the Heartland, where there are more or equal amounts of churches than bars, this was not a popular sentiment.

But, I have always been a searcher...and searchers question, seek, and find. Which is exactly what I wanted to do with my faith in Christ.

Let me start off by saying, to me, God = very real to me. But this is about my struggles with how I experience and understand God and how others respond to my struggles within my spiritual life.

Organized religion, although important for so many of my loved ones who love Jesus, has always been difficult for me.

For me, I experience Christ in the small moments. While brushing my teeth saying my prayers for all the people I love. Or when I am driving in the car with a friend listening to music. Or in deep conversation about purpose, identity, and real life ish - that is when I feel closest to God.

And this is okay. This is what is so rich in my relationship with the Lord. This is what makes my spirit bright, my heart full, and my soul feel alive. But it took me a long time to get there...

Growing up I was the only public school kid while all the other kids went to the Christian church at our church. I was told that I'd likely be in prison as an adult because that is how public school kids ended up. As angry as I get from these hurtful moments, I know that God serves justice best.

In college, I was too liberal to belong to conservative church America. Apparently my belief that the church should love people in the Lesbian, Gay, BiSexual, Trans, Queer (LGBTQ+) community was too much for people to handle. I was vocal anyway, even though that value was also not popular...

And now? In adulthood, my thoughts are so different that it scares other Christians. Even though doubts, questions, and thinking shouldn't scare people...because my doubts don't invalidate someone else's belief in Christ...But unfortunately that has been my repeated experience.

Then, when I moved to California whether it be Southern, Central, or Northern, I wasn't hipster enough or I definitely didn't make enough money or have the right career to fall into the churches where I believed in their vision, their pastor, and a select group of people within those communities...but was considered not in the "cool" circle at church...

And honestly, it baffles me that in all my niches, I've always felt like I belonged to all my niches, but church?

I've never felt more like an outsider, an impostor.

And when history has a problem with repeating itself in my experiences, to me, church is a place that rewards those who fit in, even the churches that are considered not the social norm in the church world.

And if you know me, social norms aren't my thing. Endorsing systems that reward people for fitting the mold are also not my thing. If it was, I'd have a very different life.

I am not walking away from God, church, or from those who attend it, although many have walked away from me when I start to question organized religion.

And truthfully, I am accepting that is okay. Most of my friends who are Christian I never met in church anyway...

And no, this is not the case where I think there is something wrong with any church I go to, I am attending a great church and I've been to many solid churches. But I also can't deny my challenges to feel like I belong to any or one.

I am a searcher and I am a norm breaker.

This is not a phase. A decade is a long time to be in a phase.

The Home Team vs the Home Crowd

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Home Team. Also, known as your crew, squad, tribe, village, however you want to name the group of people who you reciprocally participate in each other's lives.

Each year, I evaluate the home team. Who is on it? Who needs to be benched, transferred, moved, or added? Why are they there? Was I a good person/friend to them and them to me?

And each year it has gotten more difficult to determine. Not necessarily if someone belongs on my home team, but rather, am I working on my relationships with my home team or am I too busy trying to impress the home crowd?

I've been thinking a lot about the home crowd and how it's easy to confuse the home crowd with the home team. The home crowd is very present in your life. You may actually spend more minutes with the home crowd, but the content within the minutes is what differentiates if someone is on your home team or the home crowd. 

I mean, I love the home crowd. 

They are your cheerleaders when you need a celebration or a pick-me-up. The home crowd is fun, convenient, and at times, seasonal. They make you feel important, after all they are rooting for you - the good side they see of you or I should say, the only side you decide to expose to them. 

So, in the last couple of years, I've been consciously working on being a better home team member. Creating time, prioritizing, and ensuring that the home team gets appreciated before I even acknowledge the home crowd. 

Because the home team? They experience the real you. They are the ones you share way too much about yourself and experience your wrath after a bad day, but care for you anyway. They are the ones who will sass you to your face, but sing your praises behind your back. They are your go-to's, the ones you can reach out to at any point of the day and no matter what still support you - even if they want to throat punch you for being stupid...I mean that never happens ;)

Life has been more peaceful learning to appreciate the home crowd while honoring the home team first.

Who do you root for?

No to reality tv, yes to my reality.

Monday, April 11, 2016

2016 ... HA HA HA. Let’s start there. This post is all over, which if you know me, at least it aligns with my personality ;)

March 11-14....In that 4 day turn over I left my former job, moved to a new city, and started a new job. I was also hiring a manager for a non-profit my friend and I are handing off as well as signing off my clientele to a new consultant with a few pageant systems. Essentially, I was leaving an industry I have been involved in for 17 years...OH and on top of that, my mother and family had been anxiously awaiting to see if she still had cancer. Then to add to the bizarreness of my life, a reality tv show wanted to follow my life for 2 weeks so they could cast me on a tv show about love. Because apparently I was nominated, passed 4 screening interviews, and they were in the process of filming my story........Yeah what a normal 4 days.....
My cute former office evolved a lot in the last 3 yrs.
Now I am in San Francisco. I am no longer in the honeymoon phase. It has hit me that I am no longer visiting...I am going to live, work, and breathe here...

Ready, set, PANIC......WHY GOD?! 

It doesn't even make sense. I liked my life. I was comfortable. I was living in one of the most beautiful places. I had a huge apartment, lived next to the ocean, worked a job that I had more seniority in, had a deep community of people who I loved and adored and it was instantly returned. I was going to be on reality tv with this cute little picturesque life.

And I exchanged all of this for....

A job that I have 0 clue what I am doing. Instead of overlooking the rugged California coastline, I walk through a homeless camp every day. I stepped on a bundle of used needles that people disposed of on the curb. I live with a family that doesn't speak English and not to mention I live in a very run down (sketchy) part of the city. I went from no commute to commuting on public transit every day. I went from nonprofit to for profit/corporate and when you consider cost of living, I am actually taking a $500 deficient each month paycheck wise - which also means I'm living on a smaller budget than when I was in college! 

I also left a guy that could give me the life I dreamt of since I was a little girl and traded that dream in for a life I wanted to create from scratch, possibly on my own...and finally, I threw out or gave away between 40-50 boxes of "stuff" to my students, the womens shelter, or the dumpster. I only took with me 2 car fulls of items and as I am unpacking, I'm still finding I could have gotten rid of more items. 

NOTHING SEEMS LOGICAL, yet I am INFINITELY happier, more joyful, and more rested. I am more gratuitous, light hearted, and giving. I can't stop giving away my possessions, food, money, clean water, clothing, and positivity. 

But my illogical decision has also led me to the following:

A personal life. 

Time to chase my dreams/goals. 

My career now does not own me. When I leave work, I have my best energy for my family and friends. I get to focus on being a better daughter, sister, and a more engaged friend. Someone who is able to treat others with a 100% presence. 

A better understanding of my Korean heritage. What is more emerging than living in an all Asian neighborhood? My cul de sac speaks Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, and Korean. When I go to the bank, the bank teller greets me in Korean. So, maybe this city is not teaching me about my specific country of origin, but I am absolutely getting a cultural experience with my continent of origin. 

Dating. Creating an Alumni Chapter for my Alma Mater. Cultivating friendships and  acquaintanceships into deeper relationships. Exploring the city without a time crunch. Finding a Church home that I later have found out is a church plant - something I've always desired to be apart of! Oh and finding an awesome community group from the Church to boot!

Another layer to my ministry. For those of you who are a bit lost, in my Christian faith, ministry can also translate into purpose. I have been trying to be more inclusive in my wording in my blog posts while still remaining true to my Christian faith.

The opportunity to share my lunch on Tuesdays with a homeless family or any day that I find the other half of my lunch can be given to the person who was digging through the trash to find left overs. 

Having more time to love/live/speak/be.

Making connections on public transportation or in uber. One woman invited me over for her daughter's 2nd birthday just because I was the first person to ask how her day was...We really are in need of connection with others.

So yes, this life I am living seems illogical, yet I am obsessed with every minute of it. Even the messy minutes. The lonely ones. The minutes I yearn for my old life. 

I may have said no to reality tv and my life may not be documented for the world to see, but it can be documented through living what I consider an honest life and that is enough for me, my reality. 

Quick video from my birthday & going away party!

~ Sharyn ~

Monday, February 29, 2016

Sharyn is the one in pink :)

I can't think of a better way to celebrate the extra day in February than to post about beloved Sharyn. It's been a couple of months and due to student leader training, I wasn't able to attend her services, so I wanted to write a post dedicated to Sharyn as I have been in a reflection mode as I transition into my next role.

Sharyn was the program director/faculty member for the graduate program I graduated from a few years ago. This was her formal title, but many of us referred to her as a second mom, homie, mentor, friend, and role model. She was incredibly kind, spiritually wealthy, and a norm breaker.

When I was doing my grad school search, this particular university wasn't on my radar.  I mean, I could barely pronounce the school name...

I spoke with Sharyn on the phone the summer going into my senior year of college and she was convincing, but I was not convinced enough to apply. Then, December rolled around...and I was panicking that out of the 6 universities I applied to, I was only feeling at peace with 2 of them. I kept thinking I wasted money on application fees and that maybe I should defer a year.

After a nudge from a mentor, he told me to look back into this particular university because he knew former employees who loved this grad program and they were similar to me in values. Sure enough, I talk to Sharyn again and she encouraged me that it wouldn't hurt to apply and that if I wanted to, she could talk through some of the other programs I'd applied to...

WHAT?! I kept thinking...shouldn't this person be convincing me that THIS school is where I should go?! Instead, Sharyn offered to talk through EVERY school choice I had and why I thought it was a good fit. From very early on, Sharyn has and always made it about the student. 8 months later, I ended up moving to East Los Angeles for this grad program.

I could go on about small meaningful interactions with Sharyn, but when it came down to the go big or don't graduate portion of this story, Sharyn was my number one advocate.

I was the type of person who loved my graduate internships, but I was never the best student in the classroom. I was an A & B student...and didn't obsess about the A+. Shout out to my High School AP English teacher Mrs. Ballenger who taught me about the breadth of my learning, not the letter grade.

 I love learning, but I am an experience based learner - I learn by doing, creating, moving, etc.. Sitting in a classroom for 5 hours was a S-T-R-U-G-G-L-E. So, to summarize this, Sharyn was the ONLY reason I graduated on time and submitted a capstone I could be proud of. The day I turned in my capstone, she emailed it back to me and told me I was capable of producing a better final product and that I am underselling my experiences...UMMM...WHAT?!

Initially, I was upset, like temper tantrum upset, it's a little embarrassing looking back. All I wanted was to be done and I wasn't about this whole re-doing my capstone that I had been working on for months.

But being the Educator she was, she saw the potential in me that I never saw. She saw my strengths and abilities and encouraged me to utilize them. That is what an ally does. This is what an Educator is. Telling you what you need to hear even if it upsets you.

In the end, I ended up presenting a capstone I was incredibly proud of. 
 I can't say enough grateful things about Sharyn. I owe her my career, diploma, and my love for sharing Jesus with my students. She also ACKNOWLEDGED my struggles as a womxn of color. She gave me credit for my work and didn't undercut my achievements or take credit for them. She was an ally. A radical, progressive ally.

She will be missed, very very missed.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Being selective does not mean being rude, disrespectful, or neglectful, it means choosing and choosing well.

Being selective can also be interpreted in several ways. However, I want to keep it simple:

I spend time with people who care about me and who inspire me to better and in return I do the same for them. Don't settle, you adapt your tribe's habits, make sure they're at least good ones. 

I only add people/events/things to my calendar that I like. 

I love being in a variety of time consuming roles. This means cutting out the unnecessary obligations from my life. This doesn't mean burning bridges or pissing people off, it just means being diligent in how I utilize time. Example - I stopped getting coffee with so many people. People who I started to feel obligated to see. Removing these hangouts made my schedule more free for people I wanted to actually connect with.

I make my own decisions.
I may ask others questions or for their thoughts, but I make my own decisions and I've stopped feeling bad for disappointing people who were upset I didn't make the decision they had for my life...Because it was never theirs to have.

26: Take more risks, Do what makes me more happy & holy

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

2015 has been a gem. Turning 26 in March hasn't been so bad either. I haven't blogged in awhile, but a sweet friend and my first and former boss from graduate school just started one with her husband. You can read their story here: Life as a famiLee

Her writing has inspired me to start somewhere again, and I've decided to talk about 26. With a great friend passing in April, I've been thinking of the good memories I've had with him, including this past winter getting stranded in Denver and he came over to entertain me until my flight...laughing as I type this. I also think about what I loved about him and how I can help his legacy.

I decided like several of his family and friends, the best way to keep his legacy is to live like him. In his 23 years of life, he lived more than most people do with 80 years.

So, this is how I plan to Live Like Jannik:
  • Take risks and experience more firsts
  • Do more of what makes me happy & holy
  • "No rules"...I will get to that one later ;)
May's Living Like Jannik...

How I took risks or experienced more firsts 
- I started volunteering at my Church to connect new people into our congregation. I typically like more personal roles in Church like a small group leader or a Sunday School Teacher, but this is good re-energizer for me. Trying a new role, mixin' it up :)
- I cut off a friendship that was toxic to me and it has almost been a month. I feel myself healing every day and it's liberating.
- I inherited a lovely pet named Olive!

What I did that made me happy 
- I took my staff to a San Francisco Giants game! I loved getting to experience the beautiful game of baseball with them.
- Met my baby nephew for the first time.
What I tried to encourage myself to be more "Holy" 
- I started reading about my Christian Faith more devoutly and praying more intentionally for others. Asking people specifically what I can pray for them, even if it was awkward to ask because I didn't know them well.

....Now, the only rebel at heart, but external rule follower in me can't completely embrace Jannik's "no rules" life philosophy, but it has encouraged me to live life the way I want to, not the way I should.
This photo has been used at several memorial services and captures exactly who he is.
Cheers bud, 26 is for you!

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