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Photo by Matthias Ripp

By Diana Gee

A few months ago, I was in conflict with my credit card company. I was taken by a fraudulent website masquerading as a well-known brand. Even though I immediately reported the mistake my credit card company still requested absurd documentation before they would reverse the charges. After several email chains and months of going back and forth, I had enough. I finally demanded my credit card company reconcile my credit otherwise I will close my account and take my business elsewhere. (more…)

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Photo by Rosmarie Voegtli

By Ajung Sojwal

Having been born and raised in a deeply communal culture, self-assertion was not one of the qualities we were encouraged to cultivate. Consensus building and collaborative leadership was much more the ideals espoused. So, when I started my journey toward ordination to the priesthood in this deeply individualistic culture, it became a problem. (more…)

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Photo by Mayr

By Angela Ryo

Growing up, I was painfully shy. I could never make eye contact with anyone, even when they were speaking to me directly. My default position was to have my head bowed, staring at my shoes as if to burn a hole into them. Immigrating to the States from Korea when I was nine and having to learn a new language didn’t help at all. (more…)

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Photo by Incase

By Casey Iwanaga

Do I stand up and speak out?
Do I sit still, stay accepted and be okay?
If I don’t stand up, I lose myself
If I sit, I gain nothing (more…)

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By Sarah D. Park

I’d like to share a bit about my little brother Andrew. He is someone who gives delight and inspires admiration — the most charming person I know — and because it will please me that you all will get to know him, well, we’re going to run with that for this month’s topic. (more…)

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Photo by Dean Hochman

By Diana Kim

Though it only began a few weeks ago, the chaos amidst COVID-19 seems to have lasted much longer. While news of the virus spreading overseas was known, it didn’t become a reality for us until we witnessed our neighbors massively buying water and toilet paper, as if they were preparing for the apocalypse. Watching others in this pursuit, we joined in on the hoarding, leaving shelves at grocery stores and pharmacies empty, desolate. It wasn’t enough for us to have the necessary supplies; we demanded more. In our demand for more toilet paper, we yelled at grocery store employees, fought with other customers, and took away resources from those desperate just so we could feel a sense of peace during a confusing time.  (more…)

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Photo by Make 65

By Wendy Choy-Chan

There is a Chinese saying that one greets the clothing of another person before one greets the person, meaning what we wear represents who we are. Another one says the clothes on a man is as important as the gold on a buddha’s statue.

When I was an engineering student in college, sweatpants and a baseball cap were the go-to outfit, especially after a late night’s work. Also, a morning shower was not as important as the extra 30 minutes of sleep I would get if I were to go without. According to the Chinese proverbs, I wouldn’t consider myself “charming” as I did not pay any attention to how I dressed or how I looked.

To be honest, I have very little fashion sense, not knowing how to match my outfits and having no interest in shopping for clothes. I don’t put on make-up and my facial routine consists of only a cleanser and facial moisturizer. (I am not against dressing up and make-up; it’s just that these things don’t appeal to me and I am bad at it.)

When I started preaching and teaching, I struggled with what to wear for these occasions. If I could, I would preach in my jeans, but out of respect (especially for Chinese churches), I went out to buy dress pants and nice tops and dress shoes. Someone had suggested to me that I should wear a suit to look more “professional.” I wondered what “professional” meant, and how would that help my preaching?

My struggle ended, interestingly, when I was invited to teach at a place but someone there was opposed because I was not a man, I was not Caucasian, and I did not hold a doctorate degree. My struggle ended because I realized that I could only do so much to my outer appearance if my goal was to “charm” others to see me as someone I was not. I could not dress myself to be a male caucasian PhD. I was so upset that I purposely dressed down a little bit when I taught that time, but the teaching went well.

The person who opposed my speaking engagement actually said to me right after class that my teaching was powerful and effective. His remarks reminded me of another struggle I had before. I am a person of simple mind and simple words, and I had once admired those who could articulate difficult theological concepts, using long and hard-to-pronounce theological terms. And then, I realized there are really two groups of these people: one group is naturally charming (or that they are charming because they are natural) while the other I could just tell they are dressing up their speech with fancy words to act like the first group.

Charm is in the being, not the doing. People are charming, whether wearing jeans or wearing suits — if that’s who they are. People are charming, whether they say “Pauline corpus” or “the letters that Paul wrote” — if that’s who they are.

Instead of doing something to become someone charming, my being will drive my doing, and that is the real charm!

Wendy Choy-Chan came to North America from Hong Kong when she was 15. After graduating with a MScE, she worked as a telecommunications engineer for a few years before becoming a full-time mom. She earned her MA in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in 2016, and is now serving with Becoming What God Intended Ministries. Despite living in the coffee capital (Seattle), Wendy enjoys scouting out tea shops with her husband and two daughters.

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Photo by Theo Crazzolara

By Tina Teng-Henson

We have often wondered, is this the way life should be? The way life should feel?

At the end of my life, my husband John would be the one I’d want to tell our story. He’s been the primary witness to it all, the main observer, my key partner.  He’d remember exactly why one chapter would end and how the next one would begin. (more…)

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Photo by Frédérique Voisin-Demery

By Liz Chang

For starters, my mind first goes to the fact that we all long for connection. We crave a sense of belonging, to be loved and accepted for who we are. When we feel accepted and loved, our fears of inadequacy and unlovability dissipate. And what a pleasure it is to make a new friend—to get along with someone and to feel a connection with them. (more…)

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Photo by Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida

By Joy Wong

Gender stereotypes pertaining to women have often been upsetting to me, especially in the ways that I did not fit into them. I distinctly remember a time when a male elder in our church said something to the effect that “all women were talkative and gossipy” and I was highly offended — especially because I myself am quite the opposite. In fact, most of our friends know that my husband is the more talkative one, and more interested in gossip too! In jest, I often dub him as a “gossip boy,” my spin on the coined term “gossip girl.” (more…)

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