It’s Friday Night And I Just – Just – Juuuust Got Paid

Note: How appropriate that I made a mistake with the title. Got, not God. Geez.

(The title to the blog: ‘Nsync, anyone? No Strings Attached album? No? Yea, I never really listened to ‘Nsync either……………..)

Some time last week, I received a check for the Bible study I wrote on prayer for the Converge Bible Study series. It wasn’t like I made bank, but I was very grateful for the opportunity (don’t tell Shane this, but I would’ve done it for free…) and even more grateful for the check that came in the mail.

It was a surreal moment.

I wanted to frame it — like business folks do with the first dollar they made — but I’m too cheap for that and we need a new vacuum.

I got paid for writing. That’s a weird feeling. I mean, I once got paid for a small book review I did for my friend’s Annual Conference. But this is different. This reached a scope beyond one Annual Conference and beyond my 3 readers on this blog (thanks wife and mom).

Even though I got paid for writing something — I don’t think I could ever consider myself a “writer.” Because I’m a horrible writer. Like my religion professor told me in undergrad, “You write the way you speak, and the way you speak is incorrect.” (He might’ve said it more grammatically correct.)

I can’t believe how that one little statement has hung over my head for so many years.

Turns out, writing like how I speak has become a necessity when I write my sermons. (So, ha! Dr. Crawford! — though he was one of my favorite professors. Maybe that’s why the words hang around after all these years).

And me speaking in a wrongly way? (bad sentence on purpose… give me some credit). In honor of my pidgin speaking friends: ainokea. (I no care).

Well — I do. I mean, I don’t want to sound like a complete moron. I’m okay with moron — just not a complete moron.

And, in the words of Juan Pablo — English is my second language. I’m a product of ESL. Ees okay.

Actually, I only joke about ESL. I think I’ve taken 1 ESL class or however it was done in my life and that was in the first grade. So, 20 years ago. Okay, another lie, 20 years ago would make me 26.

About 3-5 years ago, I remember how I really wanted to write a book. I was looking at all sorts of opportunities for me to pitch an idea. And I never really had an idea for a book. I had a few decent ones, but they were more suited for a series of blog posts, not a book. One thought I toyed with was how jealousy can destroy a team ministry by using people like King Saul as an example. His obsession and jealousy towards David destroyed him. But again a good blog post, not deep enough for a book.

I can’t really tell you why I so wanted to be a published writer. But, it most likely had to do with boosting my ego and self worth.

I gave up the thought of writing a book when I realized (through someone’s blog post) that in many ways, we preachers are writers (also when I realized I had nothing to write about. And when I realized I’m not that great of a writer.)

We write a sermon week in and week out. Although this pastor blogger said that pastors write 15 pages of manuscript each week. 15 pages? My sermon manuscripts come out to an average of 1500 words (2.5 pages at most). It only becomes over 15 pages on Sunday mornings when the font size is changed to 24 so that I can use it to preach. 15 pages?! Per sermon?! Am I doing something wrong…?

It’s funny how things happen when you let go of it.

I was approached by Shane, not once but twice, to write a bible study for the Converge series. Both times (especially the second time) I was floored, humbled, and grateful. Really? Me? Again?

Through this experience, I am learning that I don’t think I could ever write a book.

Writing the Bible studies (particularly the new one) was difficult and beyond my intellectual capacity (please note: I’m not complaining). And that’s with a 2000 word limit per session and only 4 sessions at that (I can math this: that’s 8000 words per study! Math, like English, also not my strongest subject. I bring dishonor to my ethnicity).

I know writing a book goes deeper and takes more effort. It’ll feel like going to school. And school and I are not the best of friends. On top of that, my church used the Practical Prayer study for a small group study. What they loved the best was the questions each session asked. And I had nothing to do with the questions. That was all Shane and Co.

I think my wheelhouse is in blogging. Of course, if the chance to write a book ever comes up, I won’t deny it. Hopefully that’ll mean I’ll have something worthy to share. But if it never does, I got other things (real things) to be concerned about than doing something that ultimately promotes me as a person. That can’t ever be what my life is about. I got bigger and more important things to push and promote — like God’s love and restoring grace.

And that’s done best through actions than words.

5 Years and 10.8 Months Ago…

January of 2013 will mark 6 years of having this blog. 6 years.

I don’t know why I started a blog, but I always had one throughout college with xanga and blogspot. But in January of 2007, I started this particular blog to… I guess more to reflect and hash out my thoughts and feelings. It was a new life for me. I was married and had my first full-time ministry gig. So, I figured I had lots to reflect about and lots of things to hash out. Regarding the full-time ministry gig– not the marriage.

My very first post was about my hesitation (which I realized, today, that the title of the post and, hence, the URL of the post is misspelled. “HESITIATION.” Go figure…) to go visit a 12 year old who had cancer — and ultimately died before I got to see her again, which I briefly shared in a post about the passing of a parishioner here at St. Mark.

The funny thing is, I hated writing all throughout my school career. I didn’t like English. I didn’t like all of my writing classes that I was forced to take. Couldn’t avoid grammar mistakes. Was told by one professor that I write the way I speak, and the way I speak is wrong. What can you do with that?

Yet, since the age of 12, I kept a personal journal. When I was 14 or so, I kept 2 separate journals, because I discovered that my parents were reading my journals. Tsk. Tsk. So I kept a dummy one out where anyone could find them, filled with mundane entries. “School was okay, but I don’t like school. I like seeing my friends and hanging out. And I like doodling in class. Here’s a picture of Mario.” I kept the real one hidden where no one could find it and in that one, I wrote my deepest and darkest of secrets. Not really. It was still the same as the dummy one. Except, with this one, I knew that no one was reading it but me and had the comfort of knowing that I could write something very secretive that no one would know. Oh. I would use expletives here and there. “School was okay, but I @#$&!*% hate school.”

I had no idea why I put in so much effort to maintain this blog. It was fun. It was a release, too. And there was this struggle within me — I wanted as many people to read it, but at the same time, I wanted to keep my anonymity as much as possible, therefore wanting no one to read it.

During the early days (years) I would obsessively keep track of the visits to the blog, all the while hoping that no one from church would discover it. I was frustrated that no one seeing this blog — and tried all the free ways to boost traffic. Blogging can be such a vain medium. I mean, really, what can I offer? What impact can my voice (writing) really have in the sea of millions of better bloggers? Even more in the early days when all I wanted was heavy traffic to my blog.

I’ve made mistakes here and there through these almost 6 years. Some posts — they remain private now– should have never been made public, particularly one about the events that took place at the end of my tenure at one church. My good friend who worked at the church had to call me and ask me to take it down because kids had found that post and were asking the leaders about certain things.

I don’t post as much as I used to. I don’t know why I tried to have one post per day during those early stages. Currently, I shoot for at least 2 a week. I read that consistency keeps the blog alive. Also the experts on blogging said that I should have a clear theme/purpose for this blog. Which I don’t have. It’s about my thoughts and experiences. And again, it’s vanity to think that people would want to read it.

I’ve also stop being obsessive about the traffic to my blog. It wasn’t helping. And I realized how narcissistic I was being. It also gave me a freedom to talk about whatever I want to talk about. Instead of fussing over traffic numbers, I used that energy to really think. (And that takes a lot of energy for me).

It’s been a nice hobby to have. I’ve never really been creative but always yearned to be. This blog has served as an outlet for whatever creativity I have. It also has been an outlet to think and reflect and document things that are happening in my life. But the real deep things — things that I don’t want public or might hurt people or incriminate me somehow, someway — I still have a personal journal for that. It has also open a few small doors and opportunities here and there, and every opportunity and doors opened, I am extremely grateful for.

Thanks for being part of this, rather vain and narcissistic, journey with me. I apologize for all those posts that made you think you wasted precious moments of your life. And I am grateful and humbled if any of my posts made you think and go, “huh, that was interesting.” Even if it was used in a negative way. And also, I should apologize for all the grammatical errors that run rampant on this blog. It happens when I speak, too. English just hasn’t been a good, good friend of mine.

But, really, honestly and truly — thanks for reading.