Johnny Depp v Amber Heard

The Body Language Guy on YouTube

By: Gabriela Yareliz

As many of you know, I have been following the Johnny Depp v Amber Heard trial. (Nerding out and feeling like I am in law school again). I get a thrill out of a good cross-examination that corners someone into telling the truth.

Shout-out to The Body Language Guy (Jesus Enrique Rosas) who has hosted three viewing parties during Ms. Heard’s cross examination and AH’s sister’s direct and cross so far, and his commentary has been so fun and educational. He has cultivated an incredible community of thinkers. It has given me all the feels like being on a fun camping trip with a youth group or something. I have laughed out loud and also pondered hard during his analysis with some of the connections he has made. The truth is that while some dismiss this as celebrity stupidity, there is a lot that can be learned by observing behavior and listening closely to the search for truth, no matter who is involved.

It’s clear to me that if you are really listening to the evidence, then you have an idea of who the true victim was in this relationship. That’s what trials are for, to unload admissible evidence. You get to show all your cards.

AH’s testimony has been a train wreck without corroboration, even from the medical providers who surrounded her constantly. Those listening probably get chills when thinking of her taunting tone and demonic sounding laugh in the audio shared.

“You’ve got everybody out here almost fooled…”

Rumor has it the jury won’t even look at her, which makes it a more wild scene given that she constantly whipped her head around and tried to make eye contact with the jury. I have faith in the jury. It’s a captive audience. And if you have been paying attention for even an hour, you know what is up. But the truth is that even if the jury sides with her, those of us from the public who have been intellectually invested and know what abuse looks like won’t change our minds. You can’t unsee and unhear this stuff.

Those who still side with her, I am convinced, are not paying attention or are influenced not by the facts but by their own biases and trauma.

“Johnny had cops, nurses, security and drs testify for him… Amber’s witnesses are a few friends she doesn’t speak to anymore that didn’t even want to turn up in court. If you are still Team Amber, just think about that for a moment.”

@ReptilianToast via Twitter

I started to think about several elements tucked into the controversy of the two parties. Many victims of abuse have come out publicly to state that people like Ms. Heard do a disservice to actual victims of abuse. She pulled a Jussie Smollett so to speak, some allege. Others refuse to believe Johnny, and in their posts reveal a strong anti-man bias (not sure who hurt these folks) so strong that they can’t seem to sympathize with whom the evidence actually points to as a victim of abuse. They would rather side with a woman because it confirms their own biases or trauma.

Some posts state that even if she is lying, we can’t side with anyone else or it has a detrimental effect on all women, ignoring that men can be victims of domestic violence and narcissism, as well. They should be recipients of justice, too. Shouldn’t we just be believing whomever has the facts and evidence on his/her side? These days, we tend to seek a narrative not truth. We want to be comforted in our beliefs, not challenged. Not a shred of credible evidence has yet to be produced that vindicates Ms. Heard. Even her own witnesses (freeloading friends and a sister who all lived and did drugs off of (all expenses paid by) Mr. Depp, for years) testify to not seeing the things alleged in tense rehearsed testimony. And after all the staged photos she has presented, one has to wonder why. There are photos in the public domain and public appearances out there for all to see that dramatically discredit her testimony.

Then, there is the fact that she was cross-examined, and she confirmed herself that she hasn’t paid out what she stated she had paid out to her charities of choice. Piers Morgan had a headline stating something along the lines of: if she lied about paying money to charity, why should we believe anything else she has said. She stiffed the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles for crying out loud.

“So Amber Heard’s a liar.. and if she’s lying about paying money to charity, why should we believe anything else she says?”

Piers Morgan

This brings me to another point that society likes to ignore, but is (thankfully) still relevant in court: impeaching someone’s credibility in one thing damages their credibility as a whole.

We seem to have lost this very logical mindset in society. Scripture highlights this concept– we are always the same people.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

Luke 16:10

If you lie about one thing, you won’t hesitate to lie about another. And you will rationalize it, too.

Then, you have AH’s legal team panicking and unable to ask a simple question that will elicit the testimony they want. We are all tired of Elaine.

Many of us are waiting to see what will come out of this trial. Hopefully, truth and truth alone. It has been a wild ride.

Clearly, I have already mentally chosen the winner. And I chose this not based on being a fan (because I really couldn’t care less), it became so clear after listening to testimony, listening to audio and seeing these photos and the contempt, arrogance and covert anger during testimony. I hope Johnny Depp gets justice. This trial really makes one wonder how relationships can get this bad and how people stay to the point of almost losing it all. Maybe the reason so many of us (fans and non-fans alike) are so invested is because we believe in truth, and more than that, we also believe in stories of redemption. These are my scattered thoughts. Thanks for coming to my TEDtalk.

“Amber Heard wants us to believe that she was abused and terrified, yet invited her friends and fam to live next door in Johnny’s apartments, bought him a knife, and took many photos of him sleeping but none of her broken nose or other major injuries. Umm, sure.” #DeppvHeard

@JiaWertz via Twitter

The Creative Bride

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I’ve got bridal stuff on my mind. Something that has always captured my attention are unique bridal looks. There are brides that sort of pick a more cookie-cutter route (nothing wrong with that; it’s classic). But there are brides that bring an iconic feel to how they look.

My mind immediately goes to Bianca Jagger, Laila Gohar, Margherita Missoni, Sofia Coppola, Lauryn Bosstick, Shiva Safai and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. These women were not afraid to be very original in their bridal looks, and I adore their looks.

Bianca Jagger via Pinterest
Biana Jagger via Blogspot
Laila Gohar via Pinterest
Laila Gohar Reception Look Pinterest
Vogue Margherita Missoni Wedding
Margherita Missoni Reception Look
Sofia Coppola Wedding Look via Pinterest
Lauryn Evarts Bosstick delcaboweddings.com
Shiva Safai’s Wedding Dress via her Instagram
Image of Shiva Safai via Emirateswoman.com
Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy via Pinterest (simplicity and elegance at its finest)

As I have been digging around and gathering inspiration for my own future look, I found some shops that have some unique vibes. Sharing them below. None of this is sponsored. Just sharing some stuff I have dug up. (Special shoutout to Instagram ads targeting this future bride).

Some of these shops carry some unique inspiration.

Anne-Louise Boutique: Aphrodite Dress

DISSH: AISLE WHITE LINEN BACK BOW DRESS

DISSH: MACCA WHITE LINEN MIDI DRESS

Flora Bride: Taya Gown

Mac Duggal: One Shoulder Ruffle Mermaid Gown

IvyCity Co.: Short Whimsical Dress In White: This dress gave me major Laila Gohar wedding dress vibes (hers was Simone Rocha).

Whether the bride goes traditional or a bit less traditional (or a mix of both)– the best way to be iconic is to feel like yourself. It’s a recipe for success, always.

The Jagged Lines

Photo by oxana v on Unsplash

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Erwin McManus wrote recently that we pick certain studies and professions because something deep inside of us sort of seeks something in that. He gives the example of his wife, a woman who was orphaned at 8 years old, who then went on to be a teacher for eight-year-old kids. While she was abandoned at that age, she was determined to make the lives of other children special and to nurture them. It’s a touching (and slightly cliche thought), this thought of seeking to fill our holes. And it rings true. We see if fulfilled in many lives, including his wife’s life. A remarkable life, indeed. What do these little lines on a map say about us? In some cases, they take us down into a valley, in others, they take us up the mountain.

There is also another fact, and it’s that we can often end up where we don’t expect to. We didn’t initially position ourselves for it, but– bam– we end up there. Or perhaps, we positioned ourselves for it without an agenda, unknowingly. The past had less recipes for life. These days, if you want to become a designer, you go to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). And yet– none of the old greats really graduated from there with the exception of Calvin Klein. In the old guard, you just sort of fell into things. Sort of how Johnny Depp became an actor by accident. That caught my attention when he told the story on the stand. The Studio 54 crowd didn’t get there because they marched in a straight line– there was a strange little jagged path that took them there. The artists who influenced a generation did it because they dared.

But let’s say there is something in the subconscious that takes us in the direction we need to go or the hand of providence gives us the nudge we need, and we do end up filling those holes… what does that look like– what does it really look like? And what should it mean? We can establish that we desire or have a need for something, but then what does it mean to actually pursue it? What should we be getting out of it, and what should we leave behind to it?

And what makes certain choices different from another? I mean, to start off, I studied journalism. So, you could argue I like the truth, finding it, questioning it, and sharing it. What made me different from another major? Does one sit back in the stacks or in a lab and question and does the other question the masses? I hate a liar, but do I give myself up for truth as Socrates did? Does it mean I have enough humility to know that one person cannot know it all? Or am I skeptical? Does it mean I am not embarrassed to bluntly state I don’t understand and let the expert do the talking? An attorney seeks justice. Does this mean I suffered deep injustice that bothered me to no end? Do I have some unsatiable need to fix things for others and ensure they are treated with dignity and leave with something in hand? Did I lose so hard I now need to win? Do any of these questions matter?

What do our tiny choices mean? What do they reveal about us? When do the tiny choices become the big ones? Why do humans forget they have a right to live life, and instead settle for crumbs and beg for permission until it’s over?

I truly think that we have become the ones who go to that one school for that one thing because we can’t deal with life. With really living it. We want safety. We want surety. We want the straight line that goes nowhere. A map to a destination is not one filled with straight lines.

Maybe, the sooner we realize that life is all the little jagged lines, we will accept the assignment. We will go on the adventure. We will take the risk and fill our lungs up with the cool damp air that screams to us that we must live, live, LIVE!

Overheard in the Courthouse

By: Gabriela Yareliz

It’s rainy. The kind of rain that makes all of my baby hair curl up. I am sitting in front of a judge I had stood next to at an intersection this morning. We both had the unpleasant realization that we were standing in the splash zone. A car went by that made puddle water go into the judge’s face. I saw him when he turned in horror. We didn’t make eye contact.

It was one of those mornings where one eats one’s breakfast under a scaffold. I walked into the court, and sat in the back of a room to submit an emergency motion on my tablet.

A man stepped up for his case and told the judge he was asking for more time to move. His voice broke. He mentioned he had a young son.

“Show me a picture,” the judge said. The officer and clerk exchanged glances. The judge gave them some side-eye. The officer stood up and took the man’s phone once he had settled on the photo he would show the judge.

“You took him to a concert?” the judge asked smiling. “No, your honor, it’s Peppa Pig,” the man said.

The judge allowed the opposing attorney to state her argument. He continued to look at the photo with the slightest smile.

“I know he doesn’t have defenses, so I know my hands are tied as to what I can do legally, but this is a man with a minor child. I can’t just put them on the street. It comes down to grace, you see,” the judge said to the attorney.

The man broke down sobbing. The judge told him that he admired what he was doing for his son, and that he needed to make his efforts and hold on a little longer. The man apologized for his loud sobs. “You don’t have to apologize,” the judge said. “I know you are under a lot of pressure and scared. Things will get better.” The judge suggested some resources.

He sent everyone to take a step back while he deliberated and wrote his decision. You could have heard a pin drop in there.

Sometimes, that’s all there is— grace. It comes down to grace. Grace is that magical thing that rescues us. It can hold us together when we are at our breaking point. It’s a gift. It’s more than enough. It overwhelms us.

It certainly comes down to grace.

April 2022 Favorites

theconstitutionalalamo.com

Hello fellow journeyers,

Another month in the 2022 books. Chapter five starts tomorrow. This month was one of very early mornings (4 a.m. early), crazy train rides (shootings and all), skipped lunches (gonna work on that), and plenty of court time. Not only was I in court for my cases, but I have been engrossed in the Johnny Depp defamation trial. Binging it. I haven’t missed a minute.

I did an interview with Professor Karen Swallow Prior (second interview) that I am really proud of. Linking it here. We talked about abuse, disillusionment in the church and so many other complex and deep topics. I loved it. I have completed 33 books contributing to my yearly goal of 100. Currently, I am learning a lot and savoring an Eric Metaxas book on 7 Women. The Johnny Depp trial also took me back to Hunter S. Thompson and thinking about how weird it is when someone reads your text messages out loud with no context.

Image via Tenor

And here we are. The world sort of gets more maddening with every passing minute.

This month’s most read post was Safe, all about my crazy missed train experience. Additionally, below you have some of the quotes that caught my attention and the things that stirred my heart in April.

The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.” C.S. Lewis

I found this quote to be profound. God is so loving– we can’t understand it. His desire for us is liberation and true freedom. As humans, our softness often turns into a laziness and neglect that allows for weeds to take over our mental garden. God takes the time to weed us. We get annoyed when he rips out a chunk, until we realize the weeds he took out were suffocating us. They were blocking the light and stealing from us all along.

We need to cultivate a peace of mind that neuters fear and fosters discernment.” Jeff Krasno

First of all, the book the quote is pulled from is written like a devotional of sorts, and it begins April 9 (for some reason), and I happened to pick it up off the shelf on that exact date. I took it as a sign and have continued to read it since. ‘Discernment’ has definitely been a word of focus this year. It keeps coming up because it feels like it’s what society lacks the most. Half of the messes we find ourselves in as a society stem from man’s inability to be grounded and secure in something, regardless of the thoughts of others (very Blaise Pascal-y of me, I know). We have allowed fear to drive us to the point of illogical attitudes and beliefs. Fear has made men into shells, rather than authentic versions of themselves. We then get lost in the justification of the shell, not realizing we aren’t really living.

This photo of Sharon Tate caught my attention. Love the dress.

If you are struggling to trust God, it may be because you don’t really know God.” Martha Tennison

This quote again pointed me to God’s love. We distort who we are, and then are surprised to see that we have distorted the image of God in our minds, too. One of our greatest goals and prayers should be to see God as He truly is. Even if it’s just a glimpse. It really does change everything.

I am left, yet again, with a sense of wonder at the strange hospitalities of my own country, of these places that are becoming mine as I walk them. Or perhaps I am becoming theirs.” Katherine May

Katherine May’s last book really irritated me. She is still a brilliant writer, but it was basically one long complaint. This line was refreshing. I love to walk. Do places become ours or do we become theirs? Or both? My vote is with both.

Have some humility. Clean up your bedroom. Take care of your family. Follow your conscience. Straighten up your life. Find something productive and interesting to do and commit to it. When you can do all that, find a bigger problem and try to solve that if you dare. If that works, too, move on to even more ambitious projects. And, as the necessary beginning to that process… abandon ideology.” Jordan B. Peterson

Whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” C.S. Lewis

If anything has stood out in this Johnny Depp defamation trial, it’s that truth is simple but often in the nuance, and it fears nothing. We’ve seen countless of witnesses tell their stories and recount memories. They corroborate each other and each person and how they expressed it is original.

Truth gives a refreshing originality that is rare. Hoping more people can dare to be original, no matter the price, in a world that celebrates and accepts what is “same.”

Faith is about how you live your life in the meantime, how you make decisions when you don’t know for sure what’s next. What you do with yourself between the last time you heard from God and the next time you hear from God is the ongoing challenge of a life of faith.” CeCe Winans

I was talking to someone about what we do when we feel God is silent. I told her about that dark faith concept, where you continue to move and live with the knowledge you have about God rather than based on where you feel He is or how He is behaving toward you. Then, I read this quote. It once again confirmed that idea to me. That faith is made up of the dark, in-between moments and what we do with them. This is where we show what we truly believe.

I find it hard to believe that people can content themselves with unsubstantial things when there is so much wonder in the world.” Katherine May

As someone who can be easily entertained by a misplaced object or funny looking cloud, I believe Ms. May captures the thought well. There really is so much wonder in the world. If only we would look past the frivolity.

As we move toward the new month (my favorite month), I hope we can look beyond the unsubstantial, and see the substantial. Wasn’t it Antoine de Saint-Exupéry who said that the essential is seen with the heart and not the eyes? It’s one of my favorite lines from Le Petit Prince. The substantial and essential holds mysteries for us to unlock. And I am convinced that in mysteries we find lessons we cannot come across otherwise.

Be well, dear friends.

xx

Gabriela Yareliz

Hurry and Fear

By: Gabriela Yareliz

There are two things Joanna Weaver points out in her book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World that stayed with me:

Jesus was never in a hurry. I think of all the time I spend scurrying around like a mouse, and this gives me pause; and

Fear is like fog. Fog is made up of many droplets, and it can be so thick as to impair visibility profoundly. In fact, she writes, “it has the power to bring an entire city to a standstill.” Fear works the same way in our lives. She writes, “a life filled with fear has little room left for faith.”

I continue to ponder these thoughts. Clear the fog and slow down. It’s time to move at His pace with clear visibility.

Martha Service

By: Gabriela Yareliz

My mind has still be stirring with thoughts on service (that and the Johnny Depp trial). I have been enjoying the book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver.

It’s a story that is often told or talked about, especially in regards to women. I feel like most of us cringe a little when we read that verse where Martha tells Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?” (Luke 10:40)

And we often think of this story in cliché terms, and make it seem like Jesus was rebuking Martha for serving when He tells her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one this is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42) We read that and we are left with a question mark— or wondering who in the world was supposed to feed all the guests in that house if not Martha. We make it seem like Mary (who was sitting at Jesus’ feet and not serving with her sister) was the good one, and Martha was just the bad, stressed out one.

When I read this passage this time, it just sort of hit me differently, and it didn’t really have anything to do with the book I am reading but solely with the Scripture. (I just happened to be rereading the Scripture because of the book’s theme). What hit me was that the issue was never Martha’s service. Martha was giving her gift of service. Someone needed to feed all those guests and take care of everyone. That is a fact. You can’t just manifest food. Everyone in that room needed Martha.

The one thing Martha was missing was simply standing still in the presence of God. That was the one thing Mary got right. Turns out we need to be a combination of both. Mary should have been helping her sister. It would have lightened the load. But Martha wouldn’t have been as anxious and resentful had she too spent some time in Jesus’ presence.

This simply made me think about how we serve. How we often think the solution is not to serve or that something is wrong with the service itself or who we are serving, when we are failing to realize that we are missing an important thing: standing still in His presence. Being with Him changes our mindset, attitude and disposition. If we are serving and feeling no peace, then we need more time with Him.

Someone needs to feed the guests and take care of people. This is a gift we are called to. But let’s not forget the “one thing” that is necessary— the good portion. If we take the best from Martha and Mary, we are golden. Make sure you sit at His feet today. Lean in. Worship. Then, go feed the world.

Service

“The message of a risen Savior always ignites a mission of radical service in the one who believes.”

Dwight K. Nelson

By: Gabriela Yareliz

When all of the train chaos happened, this past week, I remember one of the first texts I got was from my fiancé telling me he was going to come get me. I was standing at a corner watching ambulances and police speed past me. I discouraged him and told him everything was gridlocked and impossible. There was no use in him coming down there only to be stuck in traffic. I would walk home; that is what made sense and had the highest probability of safety. But one thing I knew (that warmed my heart) was that this man was willing to do what it took to get to me. I knew he was serious. I talked him out of it due to the circumstances, but had I gone missing, he would have been there looking for me himself. It reminded me of how God ran straight into chaos for us, and how if we are to be imitators of Him, we are to do the same. He calls us to serve like that.

People nowadays think service to the point of sacrificial giving is toxic. It has built resentment in religious circles, and many are leaving the church over it.

I have been reading Jesus Over Everything by Lisa Whittle. It has been a good read so far (I am about halfway through). There was a chapter on service that made me smile and really made me reflect on what true service means (and not the way the world sees “healthy service”). Service is a complex topic, I feel. Churches tend to make the easy mistake of having small groups of people serving, where they want a handful of people to do everything and everyone else sits back. That is not the way to do things. It can lead to exhaustion. No one can do it all. Service requires a community-wide commitment. When it’s a widespread commitment, it leads to widespread transformation.

As someone who has held different types of leadership roles in the church, I know that there are seasons for some roles and pivots from others. Boundaries are definitely needed. But something that has been interesting to watch is how now everyone is like a mini-therapist, and there are a lot of tweets that get reposted about how churches who use volunteers are exploitative (and while some are, most are not). I think there are situations where people must use discernment to leave truly exploitative situations, but we also need to sort of come to the realization that service is always giving. Giving costs us something. A lot about how we serve starts with our mindset.

People nowadays want to serve if they are paid and praised. People literally want to be on payroll at the church, which is comical to me (and some churches operate like this– everyone is paid). Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up in churches like that, but this is weird to me. I grew up seeing churches that were all volunteers, sometimes even the lay pastor (or he made a miserable salary and had another job that provided for his family). So, this idea I have been seeing lately of ‘pay me or I leave’ is hilarious to me. I find that most churches who use this method are dying and superficial. And it’s not that I don’t believe in a living wage– I do. But I find many in ministry who want to make six figures. I disagree with this. My personal philosophy is that I don’t take from the church, I put what I have into it. I believe leaders in ministry should do the same. (That marks true leadership to me, personally).

We live in an age where people lack fortitude. Everything gives people ‘anxiety’, and people can’t handle simple things and concepts that people in the past saw as normal parts of life that you just needed to work through. People label any type of discomfort as “toxic” or authority as exploitative.

What I found interesting about Whittle’s chapter on service is the reminder that service is literally giving yourself away. (That more-often-than-not means without a paycheck and without a spotlight). Service is sacrificial. And if we take Scripture seriously when it says Christ is our example (1 Peter 2:21), Christ gave Himself over to the point of death. Folks want to be paid and praised, and yet Christ’s example is so opposite to this. We want a “clean” therapist-approved environment (maybe this is our sanitized Instagram mentality), while what we see in Scripture as the early church was born was messy. It was tough conversations and at times conflict, it was sharing to the point of losing ownership, it was inconveniencing oneself and showing up so differently it meant you were persecuted. Sacrifice transforms us, and Whittle points out it has the power to heal us. When we reject the messy service the way Scripture reveals it, we cheat ourselves out of transformation, and I think we cheat ourselves out of some of the most impressive demonstrations of love.

Being a volunteer has been spun into yet another reason why people are leaving the church. And if people have been truly exploited, it’s time to find another church, but that means actually finding a place where you can serve, not just stop attending. I think so much of our pride bubbles to the surface lately in so many ways. We can come up with a million excuses why not to serve or attend fellowship. I see it in real time, all the time.

I won’t pretend to be blind to some of the mess one sometimes has to wade through in a church setting. I have served at every church I attend because I believe that this is the whole point of church. It’s a community where you find out what you can give. It’s not about receiving. This may mean teaching or literally setting up and tearing down tables and chairs, cleaning, giving of your resources or informally counseling someone in need. Sometimes, a heart of service needs to leave one church to find one that better aligns with its missions and boundaries (nothing wrong with that– that is necessary) or sometimes, it means staying and serving in a church where people may not know or care to take a closer look at you or they dislike you. (Yep. I have served at churches where I knew people had disdain for me). The point is that service is a lifelong commitment when you follow Christ. It means you are always in community. It means you are always giving. There is no way around that. And no, that isn’t toxic, it’s what we are called to do. I think we often conflate our lack of discernment when it comes to whose leadership and authority we allow ourselves to fall under with service itself.

By today’s standards, people would see how Jesus, the disciples, apostles and early church operated and call it toxic. And yet, it was how God Himself served us and called us to serve each other. It’s not clean. It’s not perfect. It’s filled with people. It’s messy. It’s late nights in a hospital. It’s early mornings bringing food to someone.

I think one of the troubling aspects of our new self-proclaimed therapist role in society that we have assumed is a lot of our perspective becomes consumed in ourselves. It’s all about us. It’s a fine line between healthy and unbiblical, by today’s standard. We think we are butterflies. The service God calls His church to has nothing to do with us. We are spent, and it’s all about Him. He gave Himself, first.

This topic keeps spinning in my head. With the passage of time, I am seeing that the “healthier” people seem to think they are, the farther they seem to drift from God’s calling for us. The original one. None of that has changed. The calling is still the same. It’s still messy. We cocoon ourselves thinking the safety and change is away from the mess, only to realize we aren’t butterflies. We are worms not caterpillars. We are called to give it all in the mud. Our purpose is found in the mess. It’s in the dirt that things grow.

God is still looking for people who run toward the dysfunction, toward the chaos and danger. This is a rescue mission and the church has been drafted. I am not sure how we have come to forget this. If you aren’t serving, it’s time to realize you weren’t called to stay home.

“Nothing that you have not given away will really be yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.”

C.S. Lewis

Safe

Business Insider

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I was late. If you know me, you know I hate being late. I am never late, so I was also mad. I pulled up my tights a little too hard while exhaling loudly toward no one in particular and slipped on my ribbed black dress. Boots or loafers? I didn’t know or care. I chose the loafers. I couldn’t understand how I was late, but I was going to miss my train. It’s the last train I can take to still be on time. The 8:13 train. I had eaten breakfast and read my Bible and prayed for a bit. I stretched a little to avoid cramps. I made sure to pack my lunch. I threw my umbrella in the paper bag because it was cloudy (and I was sure Alexa was right this time– it was going to rain). I slung my keys into my left hand, locked the door and ran down the stairwell like that rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. I’m late!

The sky got darker, and I walked past a fast-food place where there was a fat pigeon sitting like a little king in one of the letters of the sign. How cute! I thought. I was going to stop and take a photo, but screw it, I was already late, so I ran past it toward the train stairs that take you underground.

At the stairs, I pulled out my phone to have my wallet ready to be scanned at the turnstile. I use my hips to push through the turnstile, lifting my paper lunch bag. As I go down another set of stairs taking me deeper into the underground belly of the subway system, I see the crowd of people. Yep. I am on the 8:30 train. Damn, I think to myself. My mind is racing, thinking of how I can get on an express train up ahead. I try to breathe to calm myself. I pull out my Kindle and start reading from it to distract myself.

It was April 12, Tuesday. I was on my way to the office that morning. I lucked out because I had been in court all day Monday. Another colleague was covering in-court appearances. You will get there when you get there, I told myself trying to convince myself that I was cool. Oh so cool.

The train pulled up, and I got lucky. I scooched into a small spot by the rail. At least I got a seat, I thought. Always a plus when you have period heaviness and pain. Thank you, Lord, I thought.

When you commute, you sort of see the same people around you on your usual train. I looked around and didn’t recognize anyone really. I continued reading. A few stops down, and we were stuck in a dark tunnel. The conductor apologized for “any inconvenience.” Ha, I thought. These people are going to make me even more late. I am visibly annoyed. I text my dad and wish him a good morning and tell him I am currently stuck underground. My dad is very punctual, so he gets my agitation. In a few moments, we start moving again. I start to ease back into my seat.

We stopped again, and this time, we are there for a while. The doors are closed. I get nervous when I feel trapped. The conductor tells us that there is now an investigation up ahead, and we have to stay put. Great, I thought. Someone tried to jump onto the tracks or something. God only knows.

I am reading my Lisa Whittle book. The last thing I read is at the top of the page. It reads, “I am safe with Jesus.” I stop reading and look up when I see police officers running down the train platform (the train doors are still closed). I slap my Kindle shut. This is not the typical run-of-the-mill investigation I feel. I put away my Kindle and pull out my work phone. I tell folks I am running late due to train delays.

There is smoke. “There is a fire up ahead,” the conductor says. A fire? I think. Oh no, probably some piece of trash or debris, I think to myself, rolling my eyes at whatever idiot is causing this delay.

I am nervous after seeing the police run toward the tunnel. I text my fiancé:

“Stuck at 45th Street. There is a fire in Sunset Park and an investigation at 36th Street. No power. We are stuck here. If more time passes and they open the doors, I may turn around and go back home. Waiting to see how this plays out.”

“At least I have signal,” I text minutes later.

“WE ARE NOT MOVING. PLEASE FIND ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION,” I hear over the loudspeaker. “THERE ARE MULTIPLE INJURIES AT 36th STREET” (the next station up). “WE HAVE NO POWER,” the conductor states. I can hear the alarm in his voice. I clutch my bags closer to my chest and almost start to stand up. The train doors open, and I run out with the floods of people who start flocking toward the stairs. There is a weird haze in the air that adds to the confusion. Old ladies are complaining in Spanish that they can’t get to 36th Street. No one knows what is happening.

As I am going up the stairs, I am texting my fiancé and emailing my mom at her work email to tell her what is happening. What happened at the next station is still unclear. The masses of people walk out and of course there is no other transport. Some folks gather and call family members, others look at their Uber app and realize that won’t be helpful. People just line the avenue. Firetrucks are rushing past us, police, ambulances, a tank looking vehicle that has NYPD Emergency Unit splayed across the side of it drives like wild past me. It’s pouring rain. I struggle to open my umbrella and stand there for a minute. I walk a bit. A school guard looks at me sympathetically. “You just got out of the train, sweetie?” she asks me. I nod, still looking around at all the people emerging from underground. “There was a shooting.”

“A what?!” I ask. She nods. I stand under the covering and pull up Citizen app on my phone. It reads, “Five People Shot at Train Station Undetonated Devices Located.” I shiver. I email this to my mom, and she calls me. I start spilling what I know, which is nothing, to her in an erratic and emotional fashion. I can’t remember what I said. I just know I was shaking and wet.

On a typical morning, I am at the station where the shooting happened, at the exact time the shooting happened. I am usually crossing the platform from my slow-as-hell train to the express train to another station where I make another switch. Had I been on time, I would have been there.

We later found out more. More people had been shot. Smoke bombs had been released. A manhunt began. I walked from 45th Street more than 50 blocks, home. I walked in the rain with my broken umbrella, shaken up. Some blocks, I felt disoriented. I tried to get away from the constant traffic and sirens. Some blocks, I just sobbed. I cried for my fellow commuters who had been hurt. I cried with anger at myself for my stupidity. I was so angry that morning because I was late, yet little did I know that had I been on time, I would have been in the middle of the insanity and crisis. Somehow, I was spared from that madness.

That morning, I was so sure of where I would be, when, and all I would do. Silly, right? The day and week, to be honest, ended up being so different from what I had envisioned on Monday. As I wandered through Sunset Park with a scab starting to form where my ankle met my loafer, I saw a man leaving his apartment. He reached the gate and stopped. He then crossed himself, as Catholics do. He bowed his head for a moment, and then opened the gate, ready to face his day. He has no idea what he is about to see out there, I think to myself. But he is ready.

I got home soaked by the slanted rain and my own menstrual cycle that had managed to escape its confines. Maybe it was the stress from the morning. Weirdly, I didn’t care. I stripped off my dress and tights and showered quickly. This would have upset me on another day, but that day, I was just grateful I wasn’t shot. Perspective does that to us.

Tuesday reminded me of God’s infinite wisdom and protection in spite of the evil that surrounds us, continually. God is behind the scenes when all is chaos, trying to guide our paths. He is also in the midst of the scene. He is everywhere. He is accessible. He is found when we seek Him. He listens. I was humbled. On most days, I do the impossible to get somewhere. I am pushy and stubborn. That day, I knew I wasn’t going anywhere. And I just wandered back home like a zombie.

Later that day, I reopened my Kindle and saw the last line I had read. “I am safe with Jesus.” I got a chill up my spine. No matter what happens, I know this to be true. I am His and He is mine.

March 2022 Favorites

Happy last day of March! It’s the warmest it has been all week and the sky is cloudy. Maybe it will rain. Here are some of the things that caught my eye in this last month:

Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up. But the writing is a way of not allowing those things to destroy you.” John Edgar Wideman

For those of us who write to process things, this quote rings true. Writing is like a purge or a cut that lets out “bad blood”. We release our poisons and unwrap the cord that threatens to suffocate the heart. Pure release.

There are people who write very mechanically and in a calculated fashion. I have always found this to be so interesting. There is no right or wrong way. But for me, writing has always been emotional.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot

A solid reminder that our focus is often so much on clinging to the temporary, when we would be wise to trade off its importance for that which is eternal.

It is the creative evolutionist, the Bergsonian or Shavian, or the Communist, who should tremble when the looks up at the night sky. For he really is committed to a sinking ship.” C.S. Lewis

This month, I have been reading a devotional made up of C.S. Lewis compilations called Preparing for Easter. I am an avid fan of C.S. Lewis since I was a child and my dad would read me the Narnia series before bed. He is a wise soul. This quote was more political in nature, but it drew my attention. C.S. Lewis was no stranger to war and conflict, and he had a lot of wise thoughts about it. Thoughts still relevant to today.

The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.” Ernest Hemingway

Wisdom from Hemingway that speaks for itself.

Labels are a way of filing people. I resist closed boxes. The reason I resist closed boxes is nature does not deal in closed boxes. I really do believe we all contain multitudes.” Margaret Atwood (in conversation with Tim Ferriss)

I loved the Tim Ferriss-Margaret Atwood podcast. It was a gem. I believe in what Atwood expressed. No one of us is just one thing. It’s terribly boring. This is part of the reason why the topics on this site run the gamut. We truly contain multitudes.

Perhaps, indeed, that is what ‘holy scripture’ really is– not a calm serene list of truths to be learned or commands to be obeyed, but a jagged book that forces you to grow up in your thinking as you grapple with it.” N.T. Wright

I just finished N.T. Wright’s book/biography on Paul. It truly expanded my vision on who Paul was, why he was how he was (his incredible courage, vulnerability, passion and how he was so misunderstood), and the Jewish worldview and how it connects to Christianity. The book has many incredible themes running through it. One is that Christianity was not a new and separate thing from Judaism. The early church did not see being a follower of Jesus as something separate from being Jewish. Instead, being a follower of Jesus was seen as the fulfillment of Judaism. It was Judaism’s fullest expression. The Messiah had come. God had kept His promise. I love in this quote how N.T. Wright forces us to look at Scripture perhaps differently than how we typically categorize the book. It’s not rounded, it’s jagged. The letters it contains are often written in a way that is not to instruct us plainly but to provoke us into new thinking and living. And in this process, we mature.

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.” Ernest Hemingway

This is a reminder to anyone who feels broken or is hurting.

For a good laugh, Steve Harvey’s DMV rant:

This piece on Charles Dickens (and his contemporaries).

It has been a busy month that at times felt fast and at times felt slow. Maybe we will get lucky here and April will be ushered in with warm rain. Wishing you a happy start to the new month. Keep thinking and walking toward the light.

xx