Bar Trip

By: Gabriela Yareliz

It’s a tradition, I guess, that frustrated and relieved law graduates take a trip after graduation and after taking the bar exam. Many go; whether broke, well off, employed, unemployed– August is jet-set time.

I got lucky that I got a special gift from above (after all, the Bible says all good gifts come from our Father in heaven). The world came to me.

I had the pleasure and privilege of participating in this year’s Youth For Human Rights International Human Rights Summit at the United Nations. I met delegations from around the world and extraordinary people who are doing noble and honorable things for their fellow man in the face of threats, danger and lack of resources.

The experience was surreal. I saw incredible performances, met government leaders from abroad and passionate young professionals who are independent thinkers.

What a week! I will never forget this experience. It’s one that money can’t buy or even get you into. The people I met, the photos and stories I absorbed… It was extraordinary. A huge thank you to the United Nations for offering me such an epic experience.

This week confirmed what Paul says in Ephesians, and I encourage you to think on these words for whatever you are facing:

“Now unto Him (God) who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21.

He is able. And not only able, but He can do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.

That is truth.

I conclude with the lyrics of a song that was performed at the UN, “The Impossible Dream.” May these words inspire us all.

“To dream the impossible dream; to fight the unbeatable foe; to bear with unbearable sorrow; to run where the brave dare not go.

To right the unrightable wrong;
To love pure and chaste from afar;
To try when your arms are too weary,
To reach the unreachable star.

This is my quest,
To follow that star;
No matter how hopeless–
No matter how far.

To fight for the right,
Without question or pause;
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause.

And I know if I’ll only be true,
To this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm,
When I’m laid to my rest.

And the world will be better for this,
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove with his last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable star.”

Go for that impossible dream, because with God, all things are possible.

Like the Leper

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I was reading the account of the ten lepers who called out to Jesus for healing in Luke 17:11-19. Instead of healing them, there, right on the spot (as we would expect), Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priest (who was the person who deemed people clean or unclean when it came to diseases like leprosy). The Bible says that it was as they went to see the priest that they were healed, and one, a Samaritan, immediately turned around and went back to Jesus to express his gratitude.

This account reminded me about how life works. Sometimes, things don’t happen the way we envision them or think they should. We aren’t healed on the spot. Instead, things happen in unusual ways that we didn’t plan on. While we are on the way, we are healed.

It made me realize that it takes a lot of humility and faith to walk obedient to what God asks of us. Things are often not happening the way we think they should because our ways are not His ways. But that is where humility becomes key. The healing and miracle comes, except it comes in an unusual way, perhaps after our faith has been tested. We just need to turn our ideas of what should be into hope for what He is doing, and in humility, we should turn the disappointments in life into trust; trust that God knows best. Then, when God rewards our faith, we need to be as the Samaritan leper. Let’s be the one who immediately turns his focus to the blessing Giver, and let us praise in gratitude. The leper who came back to Jesus never made it to the priest because scripture says he immediately upon being healed on the path turned back around. Instead, he went to the true high priest; the One we all have equal access to; the One who holds all power in His hands; the One who withholds nothing good from us; the One who deserves all of our gratitude.

It’s never about the blessing in itself. It’s always about our souls and our relationship with the blessing Giver.

Reflections Before Bedtime #35

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Sometimes, when we are making an important decision, we sit and weigh our options. I do this a lot. In the light of the current decision I must make, Moses came to mind.

Hebrews 11:23-29English Standard Version (ESV)

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.

In Hebrews 11, the chapter of faith heroes, one sees a lot of what many would call irrational choices. Choices made by faith, purpose and providence. Many choices were uncomfortable choices. Moses’ parents were fearless, and then later, we see a fearless Moses. He gives up comfort, status– everything really. He does this by faith. He decides to walk by faith and endure with difficulties and a difficult people. His people.

Many times, we don’t realize that a lot of walking by faith is really putting God to the test. It’s giving up everything, and letting God have us walk through the Red Sea on dry ground.

God’s glory shines and our faith grows the most when we accept God’s call to do what looks like the impossible.

By faith…

By faith many things were done. By faith many battles were won. By faith certain people’s journeys became legendary, and they gave tribute to a God who can do wonders through those humble and willing enough. A God so good and loving that He chooses to work through the finite and weak to accomplish His eternal purposes.

How the Sequel Began: Part II

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I was standing on the street waiting. I was waiting for the real estate agents who were supposed to meet me at that particular apartment. It was the day right after the traumatic two-day bar exam marathon.

As I waited on the hot, sunny sidewalk, I observed the rundown but bursting at the seems liquor store next to me. There was an African hair braiding place, a fortune teller nook, and two women chattering in the midday sun who were sitting in two aluminum chairs strategically placed on the sidewalk near an awning. A metal fence was dancing insecurely in front of the place, and I could hear a mixture of the remodelers’ music, both Indian and Latin music mixing outside their respective windows.

I waited impatiently. When the agents arrived, they proved to be rude. They seemed to find the fact that I graduated from a Jewish institution disconcerting (they were Jewish themselves). Even more disconcerting was the fact that I know how to sue people.

This is how my days went. I met countless agents. People wonder how to get that summer “glow.” Try walking an entire NYC borough on foot in the heat of the summer. That will give you the summer glow. I am two shades darker, and my shoulders and feet are about four shades darker. I would walk, feeling the sun burning my shoulders and marking the line of where my book bag straps dug into my skin.

I collected many agents cards, and when I would get to the place where I was staying, I would sit and browse about five websites worth of listings. I would email and text back and forth with agents. I was surprised at how many agents I had to practically stalk. They weren’t the hustlers I thought them out to be.

I would always get “home” exhausted. I was also worried. The “peak” renting season had passed, and there were less and less new places popping up on the listings. I would walk and jot down numbers and places I passed that said, “Apartment for rent.” One of the ones I followed up on was a $3,500 studio. Rents aren’t cheap in NYC.

When you are looking for a place to live, you have to balance out the price (make sure you can live and eat), make sure it’s a neighborhood where they won’t shoot you dead the day after you sign the lease, and make sure it’s close to the trains and you have easy transport to your school or job (because winter will surely come, and with a vengeance).

I walked for days. Each day, I was darker, more exhausted and more confused as to what I should do or where I should go.

I walked through neighborhoods that looked like fresh crime scenes. I walked through streets full of men yelling the most absurd and dirty things at me. And soon enough, I was narrowing my already narrow options to certain neighborhoods.

One day came, and I told my mom I was going to put a deadline on the apartment hunting. This could seriously go on forever, or I would be stuck with one of the expensive studios in the crime scene neighborhoods. And I am not kidding, many evenings I would see the news or read the crime reports, and people were literally shot on the streets I had walked hours prior.

I decided I would end my apartment showings on a Monday, pray all of Tuesday and make a move on Wednesday. I was banking on the fact that I was prayerfully doing this. If it was for me, it would be there. “Lo che succede succede,” as the Italians say.

That Monday, I went to a showing of a studio in a ritzy neighborhood. The streets were a dream. Women with strollers everywhere. I saw the studio, and it was what one would call a mini-studio. It didn’t even have a full kitchen or full fridge. I winced when I saw the fridge. I cook, and I knew full well nothing would fit. But I loved the neighborhood, and it was safe.

Then, I visited an apartment that was the lower level of a house. I loved the space, but it was far from the train, and I would have to take two trains to work. I was frazzled. I kept bouncing between them both. Mentally, I knew I preferred the mini-studio even though someone on one side could accidentally spatter saliva while talking by the entrance and it would have no problem reaching the other wall; it was that small.

I prayed and talked it over with my mother ad nauseum. I decided I would spend my day in serious prayer and then make my move.

After much prayer and weighing, I called up the mini-studio agent, and I immediately heard on the line, “I am sorry, it’s unavailable. We just got an application for it this morning.”

I swallowed hard. What was I going to do? I hung up and sat at the table numbly. I got a call from an agent whose number I did not recognize.

“Hi, listen, I got this great place I want you to see. You talked to Evita, right?” The agent sort of yelled into the phone.

I was confused. I had never spoken to a woman named Evita or Eva. I shuffled through my agent business cards. Nothing.

“No,” I said. The agent mumbled something confused on the other side.

“Listen, are you looking for an apartment?” He asked.

I was. I had nothing. I answered affirmatively. He said he was going to send me some photos, and he hung up.

He texted me some incredible photos of a spacious and sunny place. The price was a bargain. I asked him if he was available for a showing, and he told me to come by.

I went. He picked me up in his car as I was making my way toward the place from the train station. I was nervous with my little purple notebook in my hands.

“Is that your little notebook, with all your little questions?” He asked me in a mocking but funny tone.

This guy thinks I am a total nerd, I thought. The apartment was lovely, just like in the photos. I asked my list of questions and skeptically tested outlets with my cell phone charger. The agent observed me as if I was a complete freak.

“How old are these appliances?” I asked.

“Baby, you aren’t buying the apartment. If it breaks just tell management, and they will fix it or switch it out,” he said with an amused look on his face.

That was it. It was all I had prayed for. It was better than anything I had seen, (it had a full kitchen and everything). It was close to the train and the neighborhood was great and safe.

The agent fought managment for me on speaker phone when it tried to raise the price before I submitted the application, and the fact that I know how to sue for a living didn’t scare him one bit (which shows he isn’t sketchy like many others were). My experience was surreal. I finally met Evita, and we verified that I had never spoken to her.

The way all this came together remains another mystery in my life. It all came about when I had reached my breaking point. I didn’t know what to do except pray and complain to my mother in detail of the horrors I had seen throughout my long days. It was an insane journey. Thank God I wasn’t alone because my family and God were with me every step of the way.

He is there, every step. He is a God who specializes in the impossible. His ways are mysterious but sure. God can truly make something out of nothing. And He is willing to have us wait and realize that without Him, we can do nothing.

My life is all but simple. It has had its complex twists and turns. I will say that something is simple. I wouldn’t be where I am with all that I have without God. I am so grateful He works with me, through and through.

I am just a simple young woman, trying to live a life that pleases and honors God because all He has ever done for me is provide and show me His merciful love. His love always comes in to save the day.

I have my meltdown moments. When the apartment I wanted was unavailable, that was one of them. Yet still, I knew His hand was in control. I was and am in His hands, and there is no better place to be.

Dark Tunnels

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I was sitting on the train, looking out at the dark, graffiti-filled tunnels it goes through. The dark tunnels reminded me of how, oftentimes, in life, when we want to go somewhere, we end up having to travel dark, dark tunnels. Strangely, even in the darkness, there is art and all kinds of unexpected things.

So, the next time you find yourself in darkness, remember you aren’t there to stay. It’s a time to keep moving, because dark tunnels take us places.

It may be dark, but God wants us to trust Him.