January 2023 Favorites

Hello friends!

The year started with a bang. It sort of felt like when a horse race starts and they pop that gun. My horse was a bit disoriented, though, and slow. It was a sort of meander. I started off the year sick, but that is ok. I don’t get sick often, so this was my getting-it-out-of-the-way moment. That’s the thing about feeling under-the-weather, it forces the body to stop. And I really stopped. Due to nausea, I couldn’t even read, so I stared at the wall.

So, while everyone’s horse was off to the races, and folks were goal planning aggressively, I was giggling to Frasier under the covers with a box of tissues. Still, I did my thing. I attended Anna Bey’s New Year Level-Up Bootcamp. I always love the things Anna does, so this was fun, and I met a nice community of women online. I also attended The Duchess Academy’s New Year series. I did my homework, and met new people. Other sessions I attended included the Christy Muller Monday meetings based on her book En la Oscuridad Resplandeceras. It has been a really moving and lovely experience. This continues into February. So yeah, I have been busy.

I started the year reading like five books at the same time. One was on world empires, and another on personalities and managing people with differing ones. Another was on motherhood. It really ran the gamut. Very me.

This month, I ate yummy food, fed many squirrels, and had some incredibly unique experiences. My fiance took me to the Golden Girls Kitchen, and I ate on the lanai. The food was delish, and it was an absolutely lovely and unique experience. I got to be my inner Dorothy for an afternoon.

Wedding planning has continued full throttle. I tried on wedding dresses, ordered mine and finished designing the invite. Things are falling into place, little by little.

I found a photographer, read her contract (which sucked), and decided not to sign. My gut feeling was that something was so off. Then, in about 24hrs after I decided I wasn’t going to sign after much back-and-forth with the photog, I found another photographer who was amazing and kind (and her contract didn’t suck). So it’s official, that is done, too. I am sitting here in silent celebration of the small things accomplished this month.

Everything has been happening while I have been in and out of court fighting with people on mics, in trials, in halls and in back rooms. It has been BUSY. That is the understatement of the century.

I’m still standing, though. February has knocked on our door and arrived. My fiance’s birthday month and the month of lurve. (Couldn’t help myself– I know). I am excited to start a new year with you all. So much good stuff to come.

January’s top post was Rise. In this post, if you missed it, you can read about my word of the year.


We are constantly acting out our picture of God. We treat others the way we believe God treats us.” Arise Bible Study I loved this quote. I am a big believer in that the way we treat others shows the connection or lack of connection that we have with God and the divine.

Read a thousand books and your words will flow like a river.” Virginia Woolf

Courage is the mastery of fear— not the absence of fear.” Mark Twain

Kids aren’t practicing to be people, they are just people with less practice. Give them the gift of experiences and conversations that allow that practice to be meaningful, and you’ll find a budding adult far sooner than average.” Matt Beaudreau

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” Anthony Bourdain

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” Mark Twain

In the end, we’ll all become stories.” Margaret Atwood

Our choices, not just our words, but our choices have meaning. They are modeling something. They model a certain form of trade-off.” Ron Lieber

Timidity is dangerous: Better to enter with boldness. Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity. Everyone admires the bold; no one honors the timid.” 48 Laws of Power

Want better outcomes in relationships? The best way to get better outcomes is to change our own behaviors. So many sit around complaining about the behaviors of others without any thought of changing their own. The key: fix yourself before you try and fix someone else.” Michael Bosstick

The first miracle that Jesus did was turning water into wine at a wedding. But if there is something that impacts me, it is that the wine did not go back to being water. So the healing that He offers you is perpetual. Your healing will not turn back into your sickness, in the name of Jesus.” Christy Muller

The two things about war that one can be most confident in are 1) that it won’t go as planned and 2) that it will be far worse than imagined.” Ray Dalio

The prayer of a human being can alter history by releasing legions of angels into the earth. If we really grasped this truth, we would pray with intensity, and we would pray constantly.” John Dawson

The reason you need profound things is that life is actually a profound problem for everyone. You can shelter back and live a very conservative existence, but that does not stop you from having to face the ultimate questions of life.” Jordan B. Peterson

Articles and Stuff

This decor.

This cloud cake. [Image via Country Living]

People dislike Pam from The Office. So do I. This video had me thinking about it. Unlike his premise that the viewers of the show are sexist, I believe the writers of the show are sexist. They made every female character weak, unlikable and the ones that were great like Jan, they destroyed them and their storyline. What do you think? The men were constantly developing and on an upward trajectory, even the idiots like Andy and Ryan. The women were on a downward spiral.

I don’t think people dislike Pam more and more because she finds her voice. I do think that in many ways she held Jim back. I find her to be flailing and purposeless as the seasons progress. But people have so many different opinions. Keeps things interesting. Just wanted to share this video because it made me think, even though I disagreed with its conclusions.

People I am Intrigued By

Robert Slovak (loved this podcast on EMF, minerals and govt)

Ed Mylett (I am currently reading his latest book!)

Let’s keep the momentum going! Off to the races!!


Photo by Sapan Patel on Unsplash

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Despair seems to be as available as the air we breathe. It feels palpable. I see it in the faces of strangers, colleagues, clients. I sense it, too, in those I love. I sense it in myself, at times. The thing about despair is that when we breathe it in, it seems to grip our throat and choke us out like dust. We find ourselves gasping for air. Fighting an invisible force that threatens to overpower us. All of us.

That’s the thing, though. Is despair a force or is it nothing, like the concept of cold? Is it actually the absence of something? If one looks it up in the dictionary, the definition of “despair” reads, “the absence of hope.” Just like “cold” is the absence of heat. And “darkness” is the absence of light.

There are some years where a word sort of resonates with me, as a theme. I have had years where it was words like “strength,” “cultivate” and “boldness.” Boldness is something that I believe God is personally growing in me, still. That was last year’s word. Boldness continues to pop up for me. Just this weekend, I heard a sermon that had a beautiful passage on boldness:

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:29-30)

Boldness continues to come up, and it is sort of tied to the word that has anchored itself in my heart for this year, “(A)RISE.” Rise/arise has been resonating in my head like an echo. I thought about it prayerfully. I do Arise Bible studies, and sometimes, I have asked myself, what does it mean to “arise”?

A verse that is beautifully sung in a Selah song says, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.” (Isaiah 60:1-2)

This word sort of evokes different types of imagery. It reminds one of the sunrise. The process of light dispelling darkness after a long night. Colors, splendor, clarity.

Also, to rise is a verb. It can mean to move from a lower position and to move higher. It can also mean “cease to be submissive, obedient, or peaceful.”

I continue to feel God work on my character. It has been a strange turning around. I started, as a very self-assured person. I have always been bold. Even when I was a kid. I am, by nature, an assertive person. And then, I felt God calling me into a season of softening. Real softening. I felt like something shattered the old me. It was a call to be led, to be meeker (or meek, period), and a call to humility and a self-awareness of my own pride, at times.

In these difficult and turbulent times, globally, I felt like God was putting me back together. It felt like He broke me and then was like, Ok, remember that boldness? We are going to channel that properly, now. He made me see things I hadn’t seen before. In the darkest times of uncertainty, I spent nights in prayer for clarity, for discernment, for the lives of people whose lives around me hung in a balance it felt like. There were days I would stop midday and just pour my heart out to Him in anguish, but my outpouring was my gesture of hope. Sometimes, we don’t even know what to pray anymore. So we just release our emotions in a posture of humility, knowing He makes intercession for us at the throne of God.

A story that has kept coming back to me is the story of Lazarus. That story, as I have stated before on this page, holds a great deal of significance for me. For many reasons and in many ways. It is my favorite of Jesus’ miracles. I think it reached a deeper meaning for me when I felt alone and was praying fervently for answers and guidance while in law school as I contemplated the future with all of its fog. There was a church I visited often on University Place and 10th St. I would sit in a pew and read the hymn and prayer book. I would pray. Sometimes, I would cry. The janitor knew me. I always sat in the same pew. Early on, while praying, rather than watching some people who would come in off the street and walk to the front, I looked up. I realized that above the pew where I always sat was a stained glass depiction of the story of Lazarus.

Recently, in a moment where I felt alone, I opened a book and there it was– John chapter 11. The story of Lazarus. The story we can all identify with. The one where, just like Martha, when something goes wrong, we identify with her words when she says, “Lord, if you had been here…” This misconception in our suffering, where we have deceived ourselves into thinking that our loss or suffering is the absence of God’s presence or awareness, when it is not so. In this story, Jesus shows us the heart of God.

In this story, we find the shortest verse in Scripture, “Jesus wept.” (v. 35). We also find the words of Jesus that rattle me to my core, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

That’s the thing about this story. Belief changes everything. Faith was the difference between quite literally death and life. Faith changes the end of the story. Always. There is no exception. No exceptions. That is something I feel in my very depth.

I heard a song recently (though it is old), whose title is “Rise Up (Lazarus).” It moved me deeply. Because just as the darkness’ blanket is broken by a sun that rises, to rise means to have strength and power. It means to be alive. It means whatever held you down no longer has power over you.

Like Lazarus, we may be alone or in a dark place. We may be done for; end of the rope. We may literally feel dead inside. There are many things in this life that entomb us. Death doesn’t have to be literal. It can be a state of paralysis, comfort and sleep, ignorance, disappointment, grief– it takes many shapes and forms.

It is my belief that God has a purpose for every life. He stands and calls us by name. He prepares us and takes us on a journey with Him if we let Him. He calls us to step out. He makes us truly alive.

He tells us, “Arise, shine…”

I don’t know what this year has in store for me. Only He knows what we are walking toward. All I do know is I have felt a shift inside of me; I have felt His calling on my heart. It keeps telling me to “rise.”

I don’t know what He has placed on your heart. It may be an extremely different season for you. My wish for you is that you embrace whatever He has placed in you. Run with it. Do all He wants you to do. Take the risks. Take the journey. Trust that He is the life and resurrection. That you may feel His presence and His light.

At Christmas, we remember hope and promise fulfilled in the most unexpected way. As we leave Christmas behind, we march toward Easter. We journey toward a breaking of our damnation. We journey toward the end of death and the bursting forth of life, and the offering of life eternal to all of us. He lives. And if you are reading this, you are breathing. May you allow Him to make you truly alive. May whatever we embark on collectively and whatever we do for Him, reflect that life, love and redemption we find at the cross. That’s the funny irony about the cross. We wear it and celebrate it, when in reality, it is an instrument for death. We cling to and cherish it because it brought us life.

Life is hope. There is no room for despair. Arise.

Sweeping Winter Transitions

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Winter was always a season of transition. There were many instances where we were moving or something was happening mid-school year. Some sort of transition. Often, it was a dramatic move, from one state to another. The whole school situation is sort of a blur to me now. I can’t remember exactly what it was like to start mid-year or what my thoughts were around it, but it was a thing.

This year, the transition into the new year felt like a blur as well. It didn’t exactly happen the way I envisioned it. I had this picture of myself spending my last unmarried New Year’s Eve in some cute outfit, stuffing my face and definitely wearing lipstick. Instead, I was in bed by eight pm with a box of tissues next to me, and I probably fell asleep to someone like Piers Morgan yelling about something. (Probably yelling about the ridiculous Harkles).

I am sitting back and reflecting on the year gone, and the year ahead, and I know this year will also carry its own dramatic transitions and changes. I am currently planning some of them and feeling the pressure. In some ways, the future feels the way the unknown often feels, and in other ways, change itself is familiar to me.

Do you associate winter with transition? Did 2023 start the way you pictured it? Let me know in the comments.

December 2022 Favorites


We are at the end of another month, and more importantly, another year. December was an eventful month. Winter slammed into us. States were affected by major snow storms. I saw a meme that accurately summed it up, saying:

“Winter is coming. The entire thing. All at once. In one weekend.”

The month felt like a boomerang video of me packing up my files in my rolling bag, and taking them out and hearing them smack against the court room table, and then shoving them back into the bag. Exhibits, folders and paper cuts. My fiance gifted me a gorgeous advent calendar dedicated to people who take care of others (the detail was exquisite). It was absolutely lovely. It sparked joy every day. Every morning, I did the Hallow App The Chosen Advent reading/meditation and used The Daily Grace Co.‘s Hope has Come book.

I got a box of vianda from my grandfather, and I made sancocho (a Puerto Rican stew) for the first time. It was delicious. I was proud of that. Aside from the sancocho, I also ate some pretty incredible meals this months. I am grateful for that.

This time of year always reminds me of these planners my grandmother would send me when I was a kid. It had a comic book type story at the beginning and a theme for the year with illustrations and story continuation. It followed the life of Pascualina. I couldn’t remember her name for the longest time, and I kept typing “Paula” and “Pamela” into Google. Finally, the name hit me like bricks, and I found it! PASCUALINA!! Turns out the planners are still a thing. It brought back a lot of nostalgia.

This month, we somehow attended more tree lightings than ever before. (Also a menorah lighting). We hilariously stumbled across one tree lighting by accident. We were wandering down the dark street and heard Santa go “ho, ho, ho” and realized what was going on down the block. (Have you ever walked down the street and been like, “Santa?!” It is surreal.) These events revealed to me the deep need for actual music teachers in America. Kids no longer sing. They shout. Also, the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer song always annoys me because the other reindeer only loved him at the end because he was suddenly useful, popular and favored by Santa. (The reindeer were little dweebs, but accurately reflect human nature, I suppose).

Despite some carols whose messages are deeply annoying and flawed, the city was magical this year. (I wrote about it here). I wish we could keep the lights up all winter. When Christmas is gone, we are left with darkness.

This time of year reminds us to give, and not just gift to loved ones but to also give to the less fortunate. I was super impressed by the latest Barna data:

Christian philanthropy accounted for 70% of all American philanthropy in 2022 at $300 billion total. Christians out-gave the U.S. Government in addressing global poverty.” Barna, Additional info: Christians are the most generous Americans

This was a powerful reminder that the church is still incredibly impactful in the world.

The Chosen is back (I am two episodes behind, but I am so excited it is back). I got my fix of The Holiday, and I enjoyed lots of reading on the train.

Winter makes me want to read for hours, watch old movies and sip yummy tea. I was gifted some lovely teas this Christmas.

As I look forward, I wonder what lies ahead (don’t we all), but I am excited and grateful. This past month flew by even in its intensity. I sit here in disbelief that I am typing one of these posts again.

The post of the month was As Autumn Departs, and my personal favorite was Full of Trees.

You know the drill… not to sound like Julie Andrews, but here are a few of my favorite things:


What I have discovered is that God is the God of the magi not of the kings. He hides Himself in the people who think they deserve it, and He always sends signs to the people who are desperate to find Him. And if you don’t need God, you’re just never going to find Him. If you’ve got it covered, you got it taken care of and so you don’t need God, you’ll never see the signs. But if you are desperate, if you are broken, if you know that you need someone other than yourself to make it through the day, to make it through life, to make it beyond this life– you’ll be amazed how much God shows up.” Erwin McManus

Being strong or weak is a personal decision. Don’t let anyone fool you into believing you don’t have the choice. You do and you can make it now. Victim mentality is for the birds.” Michael Bosstick

If we can learn to wait through the ‘natural silences’ of life, we will be surprised by what awaits us on the other side.” Mister Fred Rogers

While loss in life is the great equalizer, it also opens doors for us to connect with others.” Amy Hollingsworth, The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers

A love language for anyone trying to heal from trauma is: personal accountability.” @the.holistic.psychologist

We are being invited to constantly forget.” Russell Brand

I think I’m probably deeply conservative. It’s a philosophical conviction. I do not necessarily think that change is for the better. Culturally, I am conservative.” Joan Didion

Sometimes when people speak, the impact of their words is so strong and goes so deep that they seem to have a quality of eternity about them.” Thomas Moore, The Soul’s Religion

But an inheritance is nothing we ask for or earn or deserve. It is something we are given by the testator, and we can either accept of betray the responsbility.” Madeline L’Engle, The Irrational Season

Adventure can be scary and unpredictable, but the more you continue in it, the more you lose that sense of fear and doubt (and the less you care about being late for dinner). You begin to gather up your internal resources with confidence.” The Hobbit

Disasters teach us humility.” St. Anselm

Once a government commits to the principle of silencing opposition, it has only one way to go, and that’s down the path of increasingly repressive measures until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens.” Harry Truman

The truth of Jesus should be the gift we give most generously this Christmas season. We have an opportunity each December to draw our hearts and attention beyond the gifts. We have the chance to share that though these gifts are such a small display of love, God generously gives much more.Hope has Come, pg.106

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.Jack Kornfield 

For God, there are no outsiders, there are only seekers.” Erwin McManus

Love. That’s what makes persons know who they are.A Wind in the Door

Articles and Things

This article was interesting. It was about how film and art reflect the state of the New York City. There are some interesting past films reflecting different eras of NYC, (the rom-com era, etc.) and thoughts on why Scream 6 being set in the city is a reflection of something deeper and troubling.

This was a fun article (reminded me of my Joan Didion and Jean Damas book dive). It analyzes the stack of books Amanda Woods has with her in the film, The Holiday.

The Rothschild family was so mysterious. This article raised some eyebrows.

This video by Shallon Lester was iconic. She is right on the money:

People I am Intrigued By

Joan Collins

Alex from HRH Collection

We continue to journey into the future together. The world is a different place from the time I started this page. I was also different. I am sure you are, too. What are your dreams?

I hope one thing does not change. That Thomas Moore quote– “Sometimes when people speak, the impact of their words is so strong and goes so deep that they seem to have a quality of eternity about them”– I hope you find words that have a quality of eternity in them here, always. I am honored to share my heart and thoughts with you. Gracias.


An Old Friend

By: Gabriela Yareliz


I have been itching to get back here. My little fingers, burning to hit those keys in nonwork related matters. Typically, I am furiously plucking at my keyboard editing a motion while having a work Zoom meeting on in the background. I am also skilled at balancing my iPad on my lap while I type in court (the clerk shooting me dirty looks because I am efficient). And by the time all is said and done, I don’t want to sit in the glow of the computer screen any longer. Today, I finally felt up to it. My whole heart and brain are here.

‘Hello’ to my friends in the snowy Midwest. Earlier in the week, my grandfather sent me a video of the snow falling, an inch a minute. He told me then he was so sick of the snow already. I wonder how he feels now that there is a full blown bomb cyclone with more snowfall covering the area. The Midwest is white and slushy, apparently. Meanwhile, here in the Northeast, we can’t get enough of the rain. It was the same last week. I just went out to get water because, you know, when you get that little mental nudge and Alexa tells you a half dozen times that there are weather advisories, you listen. So, I am stocked up on water like the apocalpyse is coming. I will sip tea into any crisis.

When I saw all the snow falling in Michigan, I got nostalgic. I Google street viewed my grandfather’s house. Then, I couldn’t remember my old street in Michigan, so I googled an Arby’s in that town that arrived in 1999 (it is still there– when I would fake run away from home through my window, I liked going there), and I found my old street and house. I wondered where my old nice neighbors were and what became of them. I wondered if the grape vine was there on the fence still. Places shape us, and yet they are constantly changing and leaving us behind.

I then found my old house and street in another state. I couldn’t find the Air Force Base house because no street view goes in there, I assume, for security reasons. I wondered how my old teacher was and whether the golf course on base was still green as ever. I wondered what changed without me. I have, over the years, realized there is no place I can really go back to that feels just like my memory.

That’s the thing, when you move a lot– you are constantly leaving places and people behind and changing, but then, you realize the places change without you, too. The last time I went home, even Central Florida felt so different. Gainesville was an entirely different place from my college days. I felt like it had left me behind. I was a stranger. That’s the thing about change, we don’t realize how encompassing it is. It creeps up on us.

This week, as I wandered around Manhattan, I got the opposite feeling. I mean, don’t get me wrong, parts of the City are different from when I got here. There are different businesses and places that close and pop up. But this week, it felt strangely familiar. It felt like it used to. It felt festive and glitzy and extended its hand out to me. The island whispered softly, dream, with all of its sparkling lights glowing adoringly. That familiarity felt comforting. It was the first time I ever really did feel comforted by the City. I didn’t feel like I was leaving it behind or like it was leaving me behind. It felt like we were in sync, moving together.

She felt like a friend who, after a long crisis and stage of self-abandonment, puts on a party dress, blows out her hair and puts on her best makeup. She winked, she danced, and she greeted me with the warmest, most familiar, yet unexpected hug.

Full of Trees

[Image via Pinterest, The Magician’s Nephew, by C.S. Lewis]

“And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves.”

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Trees stand like buildings, their branches like floors where little squirrels abide and munch on their snacks. In the summer, they are private buildings. In the autumn, the fallen leaves have left gaps in the levels of branches, making little window pockets between the yellow leafy remains that endure the wind.

Trees in the spring and autumn grow musical. In spring, you can hear the budding happening. Insects buzz around soft blossoms. In autumn, the rustle of the leaves is melodious as they cling and fall, a certain song. In the winter, the trees’ music stops. Silence grows like a pause in music. Rest.

Trees have their arms out, reaching toward one another, whispering sweet secrets to each other from the beginning of time, and they embrace and hold the little creatures who shelter themselves. Their hollow parts a little cove.

Trees, in every season, always welcome us. Their leaves change, like a change of clothes, their frame, steady, remains.

Sometimes, I think about the trees in Genesis. They held fruits of knowledge, good and evil, and fruit of life. Trees have always been present in our history. They held mysterious fruits that changed the course of the universe. They have always drawn us to them and will be steady fixture for the human race. Revelation tells us that when all is said and done, a tree’s leaves will be used for the healing of the nations. Their power remains. They have been our downfall, our company in death and decay, and will be our healing. Their melody and friendship never stops. They have witnessed and shared our history.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

Revelation 22:1-5

As Autumn Departs…

[Image via Pinterest]

By: Gabriela Yareliz

This evening, I saw another tree lighting (I have been to four now!). The singers were amazing and actually harmonized unlike some of the shouting children I have seen at other tree lightings (the quality of music teachers has severely declined. Our old music teachers made us sound like a choir of angels by comparison…) I saw a holiday market (all of this was witnessed on the walk to the train), and I rode the train with a guy who called us all strippers and decidedly told us all we were trash. (Do you love it?)

As he yelled weird insults, I reflected on how autumn is coming to a close. This season, I didn’t eat a single apple. I suppose this isn’t weird for people who have braces or retainers. (Can you imagine not being able to bite into an apple?! I guess many of you can). Wild. I started to think about what I would miss from autumn and the rhythm of change. Winter is almost here. You can feel it in the damp chilly air. The way time has flown by has mesmerized me.

Was there something you missed this autumn? I mean, it isn’t too late. As for me, I think this weekend, I will buy myself one apple to calm the craving and fulfill that desire. Do you have a favorite kind?

Things Everyone Seems to Have

There are some things that it feels like everyone has. This is mostly a humorous post, but you will agree with me on at least one, I am sure.

  1. Gift Guide: Doesn’t it feel like everyone has one during this time of year? #affiliatelinks Time to unsubscribe from all of them (except the good ones).
  2. Makeup/Skincare Brand: Everyone and their mother has one. Sephora doesn’t know how many more celebrity shelves it can fit in its store.
  3. Website: Maybe it is because I interview people often, but I am shocked at the amount of people who have a full on website. The world is full of domains.
  4. Cosmetic Procedures: Everyone who is famous (and now also nonfamous) has a before and after photo. No one looks the same. Some people have become entirely different humans. (See Adele)
  5. Podcast: Everyone has a podcast these days. And everyone wants some kind of exclusive platform for it.
  6. Streaming Service: We went from cable to a million different subscription services. Sigh.
  7. BMW: I don’t get it, but they are everywhere in Brooklyn.

What ubiquitous item(s) have you spotted? #ACaseStudy

Waiting with Hope

“Therefore, we do not wait for the promise in despair but in hope. Hope, this glorious hope, rests in Jesus. As we consider His humble entrance into the world as a baby this Advent season, may we also eagerly await the day He returns in glory as King (Revelation 21:1-8). Like the Israelites rested for centuries in the promise of the Messiah, may we rest in the hope of His second coming. We wait. We trust. We hope. This is Advent.” Hope has Come, pg. 24

Today, as I was reflecting on these words, I thought about how important it is to not grow weary or despondent. It was only those who decided to hope who recognized Jesus when He walked among them.

American Wealth: Hope, Opportunity & Resilience

[Image via englishspeecheschannel.com]

Always do what you are afraid to do.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

By: Gabriela Yareliz

There was a JFK essay contest in high school. We learned about it through a newspaper we would read in English class. Those cute papers that had poems and featured other peer writing. I wanted in, and I read through his writings in my spare time. I read Profiles in Courage. I am not sure I processed it in the way I needed to, but I was amazed by some of the things our former president said. While I gave him some serious side-eye for the adulterous dalliances, I do remember quotes like:

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have paid it. And one path we shall never choose and that is the path of surrender, or submission.”

John F. Kennedy

I lost the essay contest. (Don’t worry, this isn’t my second stab at it).

The other day, I watched a series that showed (what I have heard) is a very accurate portrayal of communism (I can only be told because I have never lived it in the flesh). In films like these, you see the poverty, the snitches and betrayal, the corrupted and farcical caricature of a “legal system”. You see the hunger. The plainness of it all. How you can be intelligent and smart and be stripped of every opportunity because someone doesn’t like you or you have refused to conform. An incredibly frustrating cluster-f of a world.

The series left me sad. Not because of the poverty and events– poverty isn’t new to me, neither were some of the dynamics, circumstances and events depicted. I mean, even Latin America has its heavy history of political turmoil, disappearances, and censorship. And if we are honest, even the U.S. has participated in these activities abroad. Coups and all. You don’t have to go far. In Puerto Rico, dissidents and people who were pro-independence were black listed and raided by the U.S. forces. Leaders were imprisoned and experimented on. No one’s hands are clean.

What did leave me with a pit in my stomach as I watched was the level of despair and hopelessness I saw in the people in the series. It was a mindset and way of life. In a communist country, there was no light people looked to. I didn’t see any hope. This was unfamiliar to me, culturally. People in this series just lived from one tragic downfall to the next, as if all they were awaiting was death. It disturbed me. I once heard Yeonmi Park say that in North Korea, there is no word for “love.” Language and other factors can very much shape our reality and emotional development.

While this country (the U.S.) has played a dark hand in incidents abroad (not gonna sugarcoat it and lie to you, here), when you live here, you have opportunity (that is a fact). So many stories. We can start at those young men who fought in the revolution (cue The Patriot music), Frederick Douglas, and move through history and look at the remarkable stories of Americans (even in pop culture). People like Ben Carson, Manny Khoshbin, Dolly Parton, Bobby Bones, Steve Harvey… The stories of great Americans may have meager beginnings but when people are infused with hope and divine favor, they achieved remarkable things. You see, in ‘Merica, we have a word for hope. We live it. We breathe it. We die by it. It is the American way. This country was and has been untouched by the old world despondency. This is not the land of Dickens; it is the world of the adventurous Mark Twain. It has sparkles and a coat of many colors others dream of.

The mixture of opportunity with the nurturing of hope and faith is something we must never lose. It has made us unique. Resilience makes us strong. It changes resignation and despair into courage and initiative. This is what also makes so many of the immigrant stories to the U.S. so great.

“Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and, departing, leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time”


We live in this incredible country where the poorest person is rich in comparison to someone in a labor camp in China. I sometimes sit and read the more hidden news stories (the ones our government doesn’t want to acknowledge). The ones of people fighting for a better reality. You have courageous protestors in Iran, a genocide happening in China and the brave Chinese people protesting against a brutal tyrannical government some people in world government and officials in this very country have expressed that we should emulate. It disturbs me that the world is still fighting for freedom because it is what we desire as humans, yet others don’t see it and romanticize the oppressors of others. There is such a distorted view of what are actually corrupt iron grips on power, governments with no accountability. This grip threatens to smash what is in its reach to pieces, but hope is more powerful still.

Every night, I see those images. I see those faces being dragged away or smashed into the ground, and I pray for them. For the ones I see and for the ones I don’t see. I pray they somehow feel God’s presence with them in the dark as they strive for what God created them for– to be free. I want to acknowledge the countries I see on my stat board here on the blog. It has never been the U.S. only. I see you China, Iran, Yemen, Cuba… I see you. I see those closed countries in the Middle East. I see you.

[White paper protests in China, image via Yahoo]

Romans 15:13 says, Our hope comes from the Lord.

I’ve lived a very privileged life. I can’t begin to explain hope and the presence of God to someone who has endured the horrors of North Korea, Siberia, China or the Holocaust. I have only lived the life of an American girl, but I do know that God doesn’t just exist for one part of the world and not for another. No matter where you are, you were born for such a time as this. In some ways, I know I don’t have to explain hope. Many have already found more of it than I have ever held; they have ingested doses of it at levels that have kept them alive. I have heard too many stories of miracles, dreams and rays of light finding people in prisons, dark cells, on boats while being smuggled, in a desert under a sky that spells death. I lean on these stories and know that even in the darkest night, light has found a way.

There are mysteries I can’t unravel, and depths of wisdom I can’t swim in as I have never been thrown into those depths. But in this season, where we think of Christmas and the religious liberty this country offers us to know God deeply and experience Him, I can’t help but think that as we as a society move toward secularism and forms of government that celebrate that same secularism, we plunge ourselves deeper and deeper into a proven mire of despair, confusion and oppression. There is nothing for us there.

I mean have you read the latest in the Balenciaga scandal? That stylist tied to the brand who went viral for her disturbing images of children covered in blood– Lotta Volkova. One wonders how we have come to a place in American society where these disturbing notions are seen as art and not the depravity that they are (involving children, no less).

I sit here looking at slides of news slide past me, and I wonder. Will anything pump the brakes as we race toward our own pool of despair where nothing floats? Can we, in a day where we can’t even define a woman, hold onto opportunity and justice? The legal systems, the fairness, the consequences (you work hard, you pave your way) that made this country great– can we hold onto that? If you haven’t been paying attention, it is fading. The fact is it is unraveling quickly. And if we know Scripture, we know we hold onto these things with an open hand. None of this, in a world tarnished by sin, is made to last. It is by definition unsustainable. We are devouring ourselves. And yet– if an end brings a new beginning, and we trust our future in the hands of a good God who wants to rescue us, then what shall we fear?

My mind turns to the underground Christians in Rome who survived persecution. They communicated in hidden ways and kept spreading the hope they had found. They committed Scripture to memory. I remember them every time I recite a passage or verse from Scripture. I remember the power of hiding His Word in my mind and keeping a song in my heart. I heard recently that Christianity is a singing religion. This is how we have committed the truth of who God is to memory. I think of the underground Christians today.

I realize that people who grew up under other circumstances outside of this country look at me as a bit fantastical and no doubt an outrageous dreamer and believer. It’s true– I grew up with hope like oxygen. I am clinging to it always. Many of us have and are. You see, it hasn’t failed me yet, (so don’t fail me now).

This I know is true: Hope is not in circumstance. My hope is in God, who never fails, despite circumstance. I belong to a faith where a man who tragically lost every person he loved wrote a hymn that says, “It is well with my soul.” While observing no hope, I confirmed that there is something about living with hope that changes absolutely everything, on the inside and on the outside.

If you are reading this abroad, I pray I can share some of my hope with you. As I witness your stand, I am filled with courage and it confirms my hope that Jesus is coming soon. He is coming to flip this on its head.

Hope stands on what is not seen and believes in something beyond what is seen. Take it with you. Hold onto it. My prayers are with you.

Jesus promises to wipe every tear from our eyes. Perhaps there is something hidden in this Bible promise. Maybe this naturally means that those who have endured the most will be in God’s presence the longest. He will sit with them and make all things new.

For now, we cling to hope, we seize every opportunity and stand in resilience.

PS. Fun fact… there has been for years a category on this blog called “hope.” Stick around. We breathe that stuff here and we share.