Perspective

By: Gabriela Yareliz

As we listen and witness the brokenness around us, may we never forget the supernatural power that intervenes to restore us from the damage. It’s the supernatural that saves us.

Reaching Impressionable Minds With Hope

By: Gabriela Yareliz

How do we help children who have suffered the trauma of a broken home to have a vision for a better future?

This was something I was meditating on. Maybe you have thought about this if you come from a broken home or if you are parenting, co-parenting or step-parenting a child who has seen a broken home.

Can we inspire young people to something beyond what they have witnessed? And sadly, many of these children just keep seeing unhappy unions and unhappy homes all around them (life, media, etc.).

I was reflecting on this. How do we equip children? These were some of my thoughts:

1. First, we do ourselves a disservice when we act like we are responsible for our children’s future choices. That’s not the case, at all. Life happens. Circumstances happen. We can’t control whether the person our child marries turns out to be a rotten apple (or as we say in NYC, “an a**hole”) or whether our child will choose what is in their best interest. That was never our responsibility to begin with. That is never in our control. They aren’t robots, and kids from great, two-parent homes end up making some weird choices. Having a broken home isn’t the determining factor. (Of course, it can be a factor. That is why we are here. Life is full of factors.)

2. What can we do?

a. We can have conversations with them, to let them know when we (or others) haven’t made the best choices or to let them know that life can be different for them, despite anything they have seen. It’s good to establish a standard of what is ideal. Something to strive for.

b. We can be an example and show them the difference. We can start fresh and show them a life that reflects healthy relationships, personal growth, humility, and staying power (commitment).

3. And lastly, it may seem like conversations about theoretical scenarios and hypotheticals are useless in a generation whose attention is fleeting and hard to capture. And maybe, morale is low or we don’t yet have the ability to show a child in our life something different. Or maybe, the person who needs convincing is us, the adult.

How do we really reach a young impressionable mind with hope for the future and an opportunity to do things differently? My thoughts led me back to myself. I come from a single-parent home. My father and I were estranged for pretty much a decade. So, what I saw wasn’t an ideal. Interestingly, I still grew up with this sense of: I can have a good life, and I can get married forever and have a family. “My story doesn’t end here.” I can heal and grow and help others find healing. (It’s so important for us to use our experiences to help others— even if, at times, it can be a bit triggering— we are human). And while life is unpredictable and there are no guarantees, I am talking about hope and vision.

What gave me the hope I have was not so much what I saw around me in my reality in the humans in my life, but what I saw around me in the reality of the God in my life.

The answer is that the only prayer we can have to know something better is possible is through God.

You can’t control how your child will behave in the world or whether they will repeat your mistakes or act out on their worst traits or whatever— they are their own person. What you can do is make sure you are connecting them in a real and profound way to the source of all good things and transformation— GOD.

God was what made the difference in my life. So, while I saw things that weren’t encouraging, if we keep our sights and hearts connected to the source of life, we are filled with hope and the knowledge that we aren’t predestined to do certain things, or be a certain person, but that we can have the life we want. More importantly, we can have the life God wants for us.

4. God is the ultimate healer, Father, guide and lover of our soul. He fights for us. When you give a child the tools to connect with the ultimate source of ALL things, you give a child access to unlimited power and resources.

It’s true that children emulate and gather their vision from what they see around them, and that is why it’s so important to make sure they see God. It will always be that child’s choice to seek God in a grown capacity, but our responsibility is great when they are young. Again, we are talking about what we can control and what can make the difference. What made the difference in my life was that I was taught to seek God, earnestly. He was a source of solace, strength and power. I kept seeking Him, and He redefined my vision of what was possible for me (and continues to do so), no matter what I saw, elsewhere. This stands true, today. The point is I am not perfect, but I know who is. I know He wants good things for me, and I know what traits are marks of holiness and true love because I have been overwhelmed with His love in my heart. God is faithful, and He reaches us where we are.

This is the greatest gift you can give any person, and a game changer for those who have felt the darkness enclose around them. God is the key. He is the difference between a life of emulating and a life of creating. He created us to create, and He showed us first hand what it means to have love drive out all fear.

May He help us to have a godly vision of what life can be in Him, and may He help us raise children with the tools to seek Him and live out their best life possible.

It’s never our responsibility to have others make good choices. It’s our responsibility to simply teach them about the One who can empower them to do so. We are responsible for ourselves, and that is a separate topic, all on its own.

xoxo for now

“God is the key. He is the difference between a life of emulating and a life of creating. He created us to create”

True Influence

“Marcus Aurelius talked over and over again about the best way to influence and inspire other people. It was not with force, but by example. If you want to be free from the tyranny of other people’s opinions and bad behavior, feel free to set a better example.” From The Daily Stoic

Liberation

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Sometimes, life feels like some weird social experiment. Have you noticed? People seem to get less caring and crazier, by the minute. And by crazy, I don’t mean funny-cute-wild, but reckless-not appreciating-consequences-and-mental-health-issue crazy. Life on this sinful planet can make us a bit crazy.

Life’s pain and unpredictability can leave us like a nauseated person on a boat: Unable to lift our heads and paralyzed.

This reminds me of this month’s holidays. During the Passover, Israel was quite literally enslaved, and there didn’t seem to be a way out. During Easter, people were enslaved by their expectations and another foreign power’s yoke.

But you see, if we are going to celebrate Passover and Easter, we don’t so much celebrate some ancient story, but instead, we celebrate what the story means for us, today.

Do you celebrate Passover?

Remember:

We may be slaves, but we serve a mighty God who has heard our cry.

The promise has been made: Liberation is coming.

The blood of the Lamb is on the doorway.

You and those in your home will be saved by your faith and intercession.

Step into the Red Sea, to see it part.

You will reach the other side.

You will be victorious.

You will sing your song.

You are chosen.

You are being led by the cloud by day and fire, by night.

He will take you to the fulfillment of His promise because He is faithful.

Do you celebrate Easter?

Remember:

The Lamb came. Love risked it all.

The cross is before us.

The price has been paid by His blood. God gave Himself to redeem His own creation.

The stone of the tomb is gone.

The men who walked with Him were forever changed.

Those men changed the world, by their witness.

They saw him.

He is ALIVE.

He has conquered everything, including death.

He is sitting on the throne.

He has made a promise.

He offers us the free gift of redemption.

The Lamb is here.

God with us– leaving the Holy Spirit, God in us.

Whatever you are thinking about or celebrating, know victory is HERE. This season is all about hope. Not empty hope, but hope that literally infuses us with life. Hope that changes our lives. Hope that takes us to victory. Hope that points to the Lamb of God. Hope that frees us.

This season, know that He lives. If you feel abandoned. If you feel far from your purpose or your promise, call on Him. He hasn’t forgotten you. Liberation is promised. Liberation is now. Liberation is inevitable because He is alive forevermore. He reigns.

HE IS THE BEGINNING AND THE END.

HE IS THE ALMIGHTY GOD WHO HOLDS YOU. No one stops this God from coming through. He loves us in our weakness.

He was. He is. He will be.

Today, He reminds you of the freedom He offers. It’s the only freedom that is real.

Weaponizing Race

By: Gabriela Yareliz

This is probably not a spiel you are used to, so hear me out:

Today, I witnessed a disturbing thing on a playground. Let me set up the scene: It was a new playground, with a very cool and unique swing. There was only one of these swings, and two sisters were on the swing, constantly. They monopolized it. The sisters were girls of color (this is an important detail, and that is the only reason why I am being specific).

Many kids waited for a turn on this one unique swing, but they often walked away disappointed because the girls on the swing would taunt them, would stick their tongues out and tell them to go away and were essentially bullying other children away from the swing. These girls were taller and appeared to be older than the other children.

A young boy and his sister (both white) wanted to go on this swing, and when the mother of the two sisters, who were monopolizing the swing, came to check on them, they made up a story that the young boy and his sister had cursed them out. That didn’t happen. I was watching the entire time. The young boy and his sister had waited patiently, and they had even twirled in place, like little nerds, as they waited, with high hopes, to ride the swing.

The young boy and his sister got a turn on the swing, but the bullying girls were upset they were forced to give up the swing, so they told their father the young boy had called them the “N-Word”.

At this point, I was like you have got to be kidding me. I wanted to get involved, but then, the accused children’s father finally showed up.

Observations from me (a woman of color– so don’t come at me like I don’t know what is going on here):

1. This issue wouldn’t have occurred had the parents actually been watching what was going on with their children. WATCH YOUR KIDS!

2. The young black girls were bullying other children, and when they didn’t get what they wanted, they tried to hurt the children and retaliate by lying. What was worse was that they used their race and weaponized it. As someone who has experienced genuine racism, this is just disgusting. These girls lied and said innocent kids they had bullied had used a racial slur on them.

I hope that parents everywhere will pay attention and not raise entitled children who instead of empowering their race, choose to weaponized it. This was horrible, and if this is the world we are creating and the children we are raising, then man, we people of color need to do a better job. That world is no better than the world of white privilege and oppression.

Racism is real and it stings, however lying about it should never be used as a weapon to your advantage. Lying about anything should never be used to your advantage. It will always be wrong, and what happened today on the playground seems to be a reflection of so many larger and publicized issues in the news, lately (Jussie Smollett).

Where have integrity and honesty landed? I am asking because I really don’t see it around here, in any color.

Spring

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Somehow, I ended up in that train car. It’s one I seldom end up on. It’s the one that starts in the Upper East Side and goes to Brooklyn filled with young, hip, beautiful people.

You have the friends who are chatty and distracted, standing at the poll, giggling every time they almost fall. They are the ones who laugh when they miss their stop. There is the model looking girl with her Zara bags and phone glow on her falsies, as she is glued to her phone when we enter the dark tunnel.

The cool girl with the natural hair, with the military green jacket and Louis Vuitton satchel, the want-to-be athletic ones that wear their athleisure to brunch but not to an actual workout, and the international students who switch from Hindi to English, who are having a serious conversation about subway ads.

Even though it’s just as cold as it was a month ago (if not more), people are sticking to the “it’s spring” program. That means wearing shorts, t-shirts under thin minimalist hoodies and those pants that are cropped enough to make your ankles turn blue, despite the spray tan. (Are people seriously not cold?)

Here in NYC, we are forcing spring upon ourselves, at any cost. However, when we sneeze, it’s cold enough to wonder if it’s the flu or allergies.

Seasons are a magical thing, especially when we are in the middle of the transition. (Here, that transition from winter to spring lasts through June).

King Solomon wrote there is a season for everything. Spring, we are ready for you (as you can probably tell by our wardrobe choices). And just as seasons come and go, and there is a rhythm we have learned to expect from nature, though sometimes tainted by predictions from that groundhog that politicians are constantly “accidentally” killing, life has it’s rhythms, growth and transition. There is no point in forcing it, and a date certainly doesn’t magically turn everything into something different. The first day of spring certainly didn’t kill the NYC winter that has us in its arctic grip. But we can certainly prepare for the transition. There is nothing wrong with being ready for more life.

Time trickles by, and the sun comes out. We are called from our rest, darkness and lethargy to sunshine, life and action.

Spring has always been my favorite. Easter comes with it. It’s a time of new beginnings, resurrection and new life. The old gets put away, the heavy layers and protection are folded neatly and stored away, and we make way for transformation.

Camping

By: Gabriela Yareliz

In our camp, no one needs people to throw water on their fire. No. The world is full of those people. The people we need in our camp are the ones who love good conversation, love the warmth of the fire (and some s’mores), they do a little dance, and the ones who will feed the fire with new wood when the flame starts getting weak.