The Embarrasment of Being a Christian

Visiting my church in the past brought not only peace of heart, but also joy.  Sadly this has changed, and has made me doubt the fundamentals of my whole life.

I’ve been visiting the same church for about thirty-seven years.

My first visit was when I was barely eleven years old.  If you do the math you’ll know I’m forty-seven years old.

I’ve felt embarrassed for some time now. Not only for those who proclaim they are Christians, but also for myself.

It has been something gradual, probably that’s where I stopped calling myself a Christian, but a believer.  In what do I believe in???  In Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit,  in mankind’s good nature, and in the fact that anyone who is still alive has an opportunity for redemption.  God’s love is extended not only the kind and compassionate, but also to  the cruel and sinister as well.

Some may think, “Wait hold your horses, is this lady off beat or what?”  Isn’t she Presbyterian, isn’t she from the “frozen chosen clan”?  Somebody, please tell her to read the manual!

Whoever said that we needed to believe in all dogma and theology that was ever drilled in our heads? My denomination has or never will control what I chose to believe in or not.  The good thing is that I actually get to chose what I want  to believe in!

However, it doesn’t stop there in just believing, it’s about doing something with my calling.   Trying to be as good as I can, and even if I fail,  picking up the pieces and trying all over again.  Trying hard to never be the same as I was before.

It’s about trying to find compassion within me to reach out to those in dire need.  However, if I can’t be the one that’s doing the work in the field being our Lord’s hands and voice, then I’ll have the blessing of  supporting or praying for  someone who can be.  The magic is all about finding my place in the big picture.

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Never judging others, and certainly trying to live up to Jesus’s highest preach, love to God above all things, and to our brother and sister as if they  were are own selves.

It has been often where I’ve heard the words, “those people” voiced by some members of my own congregation and others.  Referring not only to the homeless, drug addicts but also to the homosexuals.

Didn’t Jesus preach love and acceptance?  Didn’t He say that he came to all?  Didn’t he question each and one of the people who followed him.

Whereas our preach, is exactly what?

The homosexual population are attacked so often people think that’s the norm.  We’ve made them feel like aliens among us.  Isn’t being a Christian about love, honesty, courage, and faith.  Whereas love is the jewel of the crown.

Probably the worst I’ve felt in a while was after reading a hateful comment some Christians left on a receipt for the waiter that tended their table.  Industry Life made an important point when he posted it on his blog.  I felt overwhelmed for a moment, and then I thought “What the f&%ck happened there!”

We congregate together, we are united, but at the same time divided at heart.  Many little things have undermined my faith in Christianity and my congregation.  I know as a fact that many with their mouths,  bless the Lord, but with that same mouth condemn their brothers or sisters in faith and life.

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Now a days just saying I’m Christian doesn’t bring joy to my life.

I’ve tried with all my heart to re-find the joy and happiness that just sitting in church used to give me.  Yet, it’s gone and I’m heartbroken just to think it never will come back.

How can we be detached about all the wrong that goes on thinking that never in a lifetime will it happen to us.

All what is left is to stop, and ask ourselves as Jesus himself did when two of John’s disciples followed him after listening to John when he proclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God.”  He turned around and asked them,  “What are you looking for?”

That same question is still as valid today as it was two thousand years ago,  “What are we looking for?”.

Is it bad to question yourself?

If so, why was Jesus so famous for always asking questions?  Challenging what the people in his historical realm believed in.

And this my dear friend can only lead us to the following questions, what do YOU believe in and what are YOU looking for?

Death · family

When the Dead Take Turns to Say Hello

Our next door neighbor passed away yesterday. Julia made it to the very old age of 95.  She almost made it to the century.  I carry some fond and other not so fond memories of her (you know the ones related to when your growing up kind of thing).

Yet, the memory I will always carry is that she was the one who came over to my house to press my wedding dress.  Since she didn’t have daughters of her own  my mom let her press my dress and arrange it beautifully on my bed so a wedding picture could be taken.

You’ll need some background information to understand how this works.  When I’m referring to “our” I’m talking about my neighbor as I grew up in my parents’ house. I moved out almost 26 years ago, but Mom still wants me to go home each morning to have breakfast.  God forbid if I say to her  “to your house”.   She could give Big Bangs Theory’s character  Wolowitz’s mom a run for her money.

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Usually as I get out of my minivan, unbuckle the baby and get ready to enter my mom’s gate, I usually say hello to my neighbor’s son and to whoever is around taking care of her. We constantly see each other, that’s how close our houses are.

My mom has gained a status of “frequent flyer” for the times she’s over helping who ever is there with whatever is needed.  She not only pitches in, but also shares if we bake or if she’s cooking a special or any kind of  meal.  We’ve always had this type of relationship.

Some days ago, her nurse  told me and my mom,  in one of those over the fence conversations that Julia had told her that she had seen her sister Angela (who has been dead for a while), as well as other siblings who have passed away over the years.

Julia said that she had seen everybody except her mom.

Funny thing, she didn’t mention her husband once.  Probably she wanted to be single again in her afterlife.

Once we got inside the house, I told my mom,

“You know, probably she will be passing away soon, she’s beginning to have deathbed visions.”   I had witnessed this before when my great-aunt had passed away some years ago.

My mom just looked at me and said, “Do you think, that’s true?”.

“I really don’t know, maybe yes or maybe no.”  I replied carefully.

I really didn’t want to begin reading around in the internet about it because I thought it would spook me out.  Nevertheless I ended up trying to get some more information.  I stumbled along a great article written by Daniel Kessler titled “Do the dead greet the dying?”

Daniel recounts his own experience with his teacher and father as he was with them in their deathbeds.  He started out explaining that these visions were “most likely caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain or a side effect of morphine.”  But were they?  What do we really know?  We’re not the ones who are dying anyway.

He ended up publishing a book titled “Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms:Who and What You See Before You Die” .  It’s a collection of testimonials of deathbed visions, which seem to be very similar.

As my mom and me were having our conversation, my aunt dropped  by and made her contribution.  She didn’t want to say it wasn’t true, but felt the imminent necessity to establish her Bible knowledge of what our dear Lord said about the dead.

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I didn’t want to get caught in an argument I knew for sure I would lose.  Not because I couldn’t stand a healthy debate with her, but because no matter what information I threw at her she was going to bounce it back at me easily with whatever information (true or not so true) she believed in, logic does or will never have a place in any thing they argue about it.

So, I simply ended  it with an open question.  “Do we really know what happens after we die?”  That was a killer, and as a matter of fact it ended the argument.

Nevertheless, we pound our head with questions about life and death all the time, asking ourselves often many questions as,

Why do the dead come to say hello to the dying?  Are they the welcome committee?  Why are some in those visions and why some are not?

With the passing of each person that is close to us we face death and it’s mystery.  I certainly would want to see my loved ones welcoming me when my moment comes.  My mom has always been there for me (a little too much sometimes), but hey it’s okay.

I’m more than sure that as she always took care of me when I was alive, she sure is going to make it to my deathbed to welcome me into another life as she welcomed me into this world when she gave birth to me, and hopefully a bit further along the road,  the love of my life will also be there if he’s gone before me.  Love so unique and profound like ours are lived only once in a lifetime.  What can I say?

Bottom line, my blessings will be outstanding if my afterlife welcome committee is set up with the right people.

So my dear friends, what can I say other than our goodbyes are their hello into a world that remains a mystery to those of us who are among the living.

Memoirs of Carlos's Liver Transplant

“Siempre llueve sobre lo mojado”

Sometimes my husband likes to say,  “siempre llueve sobre lo mojado.”  Which literally means it always rains over what is  already wet.  This is a way of saying that whatever is bad per se is always bound to turn worse.

When whatever is bad turns to awful, it’s more than sure it will get on your nerves like it does on mine!

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We’ve lived through a couple of rain storms and have survived, but sometimes like my husband says you kind of get tired of always running into more trouble.  

One of the storms I just mentioned occurred shortly after coming back from New York (a couple of weeks after moving back into our home) the measles came to give us a visit.  My daughter was in Kinder and my two boys, who were than preschoolers, were at home with me. 

One day she came home from school with a single dot on her forehead, my mom assured me that she thought that Stephy had measles.  You know I had to rely on her expertise because I really didn’t know much about measles (until that moment, I would become an expert fairly soon).

To move fast forward quickly, all my three children got the measles.  One just a couple around their little bodies and others all over the place (Caladryl became a household name in my home!). Nevertheless, it really didn’t worry me because all of us get measles during our childhoods and it was a milestone my own children had to go through.  To my surprise, my mother in law commented “lightly” that my husband had never had measles.   Yikes!  This is when it began raining over the already wet ground.

I wasn’t surprised at all when my husband got the measles as well. 

Here we had to deal with a completely different situation. He had end stage liver disease.

I phoned his doctor right away and he briefed me on the things I needed to be aware of (which I barely remember), and what to do if they happened.  The worst cases scenario was that we would need to request some special medication from The Red Cross (which I’m not sure if it was a medication or some plasma).  Blame my long-term memory loss to menopause!  Don’t ask me for details because I’m afraid I can’t give them to you. The thing is that we were in a bad situation that was heading to get much worse in a couple of days. 

So, what did happen after all? 

Well, to our surprise (since all of you know our great record on scoring bad things) nothing happened.  Measles came and went and he survived them.  Our dear Lord decided to stop the rain and sent us instead a beautiful rainbow.  

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via morgueFile

 I opened my front door, waved the measles goodbye and told them to take the rain with them, and welcomed in a nice bright rainbow and pretty much enjoyed the break life gave us during a bumpy ride we were getting through during that period in our lives.