I Saw Them (Mi Gente)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about an incredible and brief encounter I had with a young lady at a famous restaurant in Atlanta. She saw me and stood by me.

You can read about that here:

https://parakajol.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/she-saw-me/

Just yesterday, I had the opportunity to perform this same service to a pair of young Latino men in a Quik Trip parking lot. 

I’m constantly amazed at how God uses random people to ignite passion in me, to comfort me, and to challenge me. However, I always doubt that I’m actually “good enough” to be used like this for another person. 

Well God isn’t satisfied with that. Yesterday afternoon, my mother and I made a quick trip to Quik Trip, as my mother is obsessed with the fact that you can get free water there. While she pulled into a parking spot, I saw two young Latino men exiting the store and heading toward their white pickup truck. They both had white t-shirts on and white ball-caps on their heads. If I had to make an educated guess based on their clothing and car, I would assume that they were day laborers, or at least men who worked outside for a living.

Throughout my day, almost every day, I see Latinos working outside. They blow leaves, trim hedges, mow lawns, fix fences, construct buildings, and essentially keep everything running smoothly for us. When I see these people, I immediately feel a deep sadness while a fervent passion simultaneously sparks inside my heart. I see them and think:

“I wonder how many people talk to them every day.”

“Does anyone greet them as these Latinos work so hard for us?”

“We’re in Georgia, so there are few Spanish speakers here to converse with them.”

“I should say hello!”

I try my best to greet every Latino immigrant I see throughout my day. I am well aware that 99% of the time, no one else does. So, yesterday I saw these men, obviously hard workers, enter their white pickup truck that was so conveniently parked next to my mom’s car. (I see You, God.)

As I left the passenger side of the car, I glanced up at them sitting in their seats and simply said, “Hola.” They both smiled and replied “Hola!” I walked into the Quik Trip and saw them watching me go.

Now obviously I’m beautiful and I’m sure they were looking at me for that reason. But, I also believe that they were so happy to greet me for a few reasons:

  1. I saw them as they were.
  2. I recognized them as equally human and as part of my own group.
  3. I deemed them worthy enough of a greeting in their native tongue.
  4. My greeting showed them that I was for them and with them.

You guys probably think that I think entirely too deeply about these things, and normally you’d be right. But today? No way Jose! (see what I did there?) 

Imagine living in a country whose government is against your existence. The President has referred to you as a rapist, a drug dealer, a criminal, uneducated, an animal. You’ve heard of neighbors and friends being deported for lack of documentation. You walk around every day with the knowledge that the majority culture looks at you as a leech upon the economy (oh, how it’s totally the opposite!) and upon society in general. At the very least, they look at you as “other.”

They don’t speak your language. In fact, the way they speak English makes you wonder if they’re really speaking English! (sorry, Southerners but it’s true.) You know that any moment, a Caucasian man with power can strip you of the life you’ve created for yourself and your family here. He can even rob you of your life on this planet and will most likely get away with it. So you keep your head down. Make little eye contact. Speak only to those who will understand you. Live your own life apart from these Americans who don’t trust you on sight. 

But, today, an American looked at you. She looked like a Caribbean Latina, but she was certainly as Latino as you. She greeted you in your language, with a smile. For a brief moment, you felt a little less unnoticed. You felt a little more important and welcome. You thought that you could become an equal part of the greatness that does exist in this country. For a second, you were seen. And it felt good. 

 

 

THIS, my dear readers, is why I’m passionate about Latinos in this country. Because I can’t imagine walking around every day with this heavy weight on my shoulders. But our beautiful Latino immigrant neighbors do and so I will honor them with a proper greeting and conversation, if possible, to show them that I see them. I am with them. I am for them. I am of them. 

 

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

 

 

Picture from The New York Times

When Satan Comes At Night

At my most vulnerable, at my most fragile, he comes. When I allow the doubts to creep in, he makes his presence known. He doesn’t come in the form of a terrifying fallen angel. Oh no, he comes in the form of a lover, an amante, a desire, a forbidden passion.

As I walk around my quaint neighborhood, admiring the clusters of houses and little gardens, he comes to mind:

“Maybe you should text him.”

“Perhaps you were wrong to reject him before.”

“God could have sent you to show him the Way, couldn’t He have? God can do anything, right?”

 

Washing my hair and listening to Latin music, I picture us dancing to the tune. I don’t change the song.

Hearing the Spanish love songs I adore and imagining him wanting me like the singer wants his muse.

The sky falls, the sun drops, the stars peek their heads into the wide God-fashioned expanse.

“Text him. You can’t stop thinking about him, so it must be a sign from God.”

Five months had passed since we last spoke. His ridiculous romantic advances were disgusting to me and I had rejected him.

But, the connection.

But, the feeling.

But, the passion. 

We exchanged pleasantries for a few moments before the former flattering words spewed forth from his mouth. 

“What do you want?” I asked.

“All of you. I want to know everything about you.”

Now, this man doesn’t know Christ and he is almost 40-years old. Everything in me told me not to respond to that, but I did. Why did I? He promised love. He promised passion. He promised fire. His words stirred the desire in me that I had suppressed for so long.

After a night of forsaken sleep and fervent text messages, the Holy Spirit spoke clearly to my heart by giving me a feeling of utter disgust with this situation. I felt it in the pit of my stomach and it gurgled up to my throat. I texted the man and restated that I’m not the one for him.

Not today, Satan. Not today.

When Satan comes, he doesn’t come as a figure of fear or destruction, WHICH IS WHAT HE IS. He comes as your greatest fleshly desire. In my case, it was romantic love and physical passion. Remember that Satan is the father of lies and all he wants to do is steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He prowls around, looking for someone to devour (I Peter 5:8). Who does he want to destroy? Believers. He hates us with an everlasting hatred because we are God’s beloved, and he hates God. 

Brothers and sisters, there is hope. That hope comes in the person of Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God. Through His sacrifice on the cross, we no longer have to identify by our sins and shortcomings. I am not Gabrielle, the girl who succumbs when a man sweet talks her in Spanish. I am Gabrielle, daughter of the King, furtherer of God’s kingdom, and heavenly princess. Your sins do not define you if you believe in Jesus Christ. Accept His free gift of healing, liberation, and peace. This gift is something we believers must accept every day. Every day we have to say NO to identifying by our sins and say YES to identifying by our God. Preach yourself the Gospel every day. Lord knows I need His Good News every moment.

You will be tempted because you are human and prone to sin. We all are. But, God promises to give us a way out of temptation. That is through Himself. (1 Corinthians 10:13).

 

Be encouraged. You are NEVER too dirty or too much for God. He made you and He LOVES you!

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

Being a Bruja Isn’t Cute

Dear readers, there is a disturbing trend going around the young Latino community: Brujeria (witchcraft). Now, brujeria has been in Latino culture since the African slaves came to the various Latino countries and brought it with them. Latinos have mixed brujeria and Catholicism together, culminating in a different religion called Santeria (still witchcraft). I have a previous blog post on Santeria, which I’ll link here:

https://parakajol.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/restoring-distorted-family-legacies/

 

In this post, I want to discuss the trend that is becoming popular lately. Young Latin women are “reclaiming” the word “bruja” (witch) and using it as a way to identify themselves. To them, “bruja” means a strong, assertive, culturally-aware femme. Some of these women may participate in brujeria, but some may just use the term to describe themselves.

Readers, being a bruja isn’t cute. These modern-day brujas have turned withcraft into an aesthetic they can try on for a while, but they are certainly not prepared for the intense spiritually evil ramifications that come with this “play”. They play with crystals, tarot cards, and Ouija boards, thinking that they’re connecting with their culture.

To be frank, if a person calls themselves a bruja and they engage in brujeria, they are inviting demonic spirits to inhabit their bodies and ruin their lives/the lives of those around them. Even if the person claims to practice “white magic” (magic for the benefit of people), magic is magic. Magic is evil. Magic is wrong. Just because a culture claims it as a cultural practice does not mean that it’s beneficial for you or for anyone around you. The spirits may be your friends in the beginning, but they will turn on you and abuse your mind and body to get what they want, which ultimately is human destruction.

If we’re honest, we have to admit that not every aspect of every culture is beneficial or positive. I’m sure no one would argue that the gender inequality in the Middle East or South Asia is acceptable because “that’s just their culture.” So, why are we accepting witchcraft as a potential pastime for Latinos just because it is a part of our culture?

Whether you believe brujeria is real or not, whether you think the spiritual realm exists or not, I pray and hope that you understand that brujeria is not the way to get what you want. It is not the way to find the peace your soul seeks. We all want control; we want to feel like we have some say in what happens to us on Earth. This life is so hectic at times and we wonder what the purpose of it all actually is. Readers, the only One who can give you peace beyond human understanding is Jesus Christ. 

Jesus Christ says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

 

Here’s what the Bible says about witchcraft:

https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-witchcraft.html

I pray that you read this article with an open heart and mind. If you’re caught in witchcraft or know someone who is, call out to Jesus to set you free! He will answer those who call on His name in earnest.

 

Here’s the story of one Latino man who was caught in brujeria:

 

 

Blessings,
Gabrielle G.

Dear America: My Father is White (And That’s Okay)

This weekend has been jam packed with hospital visits and emergency surgeries, but I finally have a few moments to sit and breathe.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m “biracial.” My mother is Afro-Puerto Rican and my father is German-American. In other words, my mother is brown and my dad is white. Their union created me, ethnically ambiguous me, and I enjoy looking so distinct. Although my mixed heritage has been difficult to embrace at times, mostly because of others’ reactions to me, I love who God made me to be. I’m blessed to not be stuck in one culture and one mindset. Because I’m mixed, I can easily move between many cultures and believe that this will help me win souls for Christ. 

While being different is fabulous, there are aspects of the mixed life that are annoying and, at times, disturbing: some people think I’m my father’s wife. Yes, some people see me, a brown-skinned, curly-haired 23-year old woman out with a white 57-year old man and assume that any relationship between us must be of a sexual and romantic nature. Are you vomiting yet?

Growing up, I instinctually knew that society would perceive us in this way and when I became a teenager, I would make it a point to call my father “dad” or refer to “mom” whenever we were out in public. My fear of being mislabeled was profound. As a little girl, no one thought that anything inappropriate was happening between my father and I; we were just father and daughter. But, as I grew older, I knew that doubts would arise.

I could see it in people’s eyes when my dad and I shopped for groceries. I could feel their judgement on my back when I would hug my dad in public.

“Who is this little brown girl?”

“Is she some mail order bride?”

“That’s disgusting.” 

This fear subsided for some time because I lived in New York, and people were liberal. It was not inconceivable for a white man to have a brown child in New York. However, moving to Georgia has shown me a different side of America. Here, I go out with my father with the constant fear that someone will assume that our relationship is not familial. The other day, we went to Walmart (I hate them, but my dad’s a sucker for a bargain), and at the checkout line, we engaged in our typical witty banter, much to the amusement of the beautiful and sweet African-American cashier. When my dad left the checkout line to wash his hands (he got chicken blood on them -__-), the cashier asked me my age.

“I’m 23.”

“Oh, wow! I was going to say 17!” she laughed.

“Yeah, that’s just because I have my glasses on.” I replied, smiling.

. . .

“Are y’all close?”, she asked.

I was taken aback. In what way was she asking this question? I hope she knows he’s my dad.

“Yeah, we are…he’s a good dad.” I answered. Good job, Gabby. Clarify the relationship.

“Really? Aw, thats great. It’s hard to find good dads these days.” she said, with a little sadness in her tone.

Amen, sister.

When my dad came back, the cashier remarked to him that I said he was a good father and he in turn commended me as a daughter.

We left the store and I couldn’t stop thinking about the woman who saw my father and I together and immediately knew what our relationship was. That is rare.

 

This feeling didn’t last long. The next day, my father was rushed to the ER with what he thought were heart attack symptoms (turns out it was a panic attack), and the EMT who arrived at our house referred to me as my father’s wife. My dad immediately corrected him and he apologized.

Blunders like that happen often, but I asked myself why does this happen so often to us? It’s clear that my dad is almost 60 and I’ve been mistaken for a teenager countless times. Does anyone seriously think we’re married? If so, why?

I believe there’s only one reason that some people don’t understand our relationship: my skin color. If I were completely white, no one would doubt that this almost 60-year old white man and white 23-year old girl were father and daughter. In fact, if the genders were switched, I highly doubt that anyone would assume an older white woman would be in a relationship with a young brown man. They would see him as her son, wouldn’t they? No one would question it. But, because I have brown skin and I’m a woman, suddenly the relationship is not clear. This should not be so.

We live in an era where people freely marry people of other cultures and have babies with them. These babies grow into young adults and then adults who must deal with society’s perception of them and their parents for their entire lives. It is so damaging to a mixed person to be perceived as so incredibly “other” that we must not be related. We must be some young bride. Some sugar baby. Isn’t that the picture they have in their heads?

I wish this would stop. A girl shouldn’t fear going in public with her father simply because she’s of a certain age and different skin tone than he is. So, yes my dad is white. He’s my dad and will always be my papa bear. I’ll hug him in public and let them think what they will. He’s my dad and that’s all that matters.

NEGRA by Gabrielle Greiner

I never knew I was black.

Growing up, my blackness wasn’t taught to me, like how I wasn’t shown how to do my hair.

When I raised questions to my elders, “Why does my hair grow out? Like sideways, not down. And why is it so curly?”

The response glossed over centuries of relaxed history, denied the blackness in me, and simply was “Because you’re Puerto Rican.”

But, the Boricuas I saw on TV did not resemble me, rather they looked like they stepped out of a commercial for Pantene.

So, what does this mean?

I made my first Latino friend in college, when I was 19.

She was Mexican-American, with indigenous roots I could see.

See, the Latinos in high school did not like me.

I was too white, too educated, thought too much, and wanted too badly to be free.

Free from the stereotypes that the oppressor laid on me.

My back was tight and I could barely just be.

I was contending with my identity

Because I have the blood of both the oppressor and the oppressed inside of me.

I realized I was black just before 23.

Studying my Isla’s history had removed the blinders from me.

The Spaniards murdered the Tainos and through violent indigenous rape, eradicated them from our present reality.

They forced this foreign tongue down our throats and balked when we didn’t like the taste.

Spain did the same to my African ancestors, denying their humanity, refusing to set them free.

They claimed ownership of the black body, through slavery and forced intimacy.

Thus, a Puerto Rican came to be.

I think about my blackness and wonder, “Is this how the country sees me?” As black?

We all know what that means.

Or, am I midway between the binary? Inoffensive light skin. Beautifully standard English flowing off my tongue.

Oh, but that hair. Wild. Unprofessional. Must be tamed.

I doubt my blackness. My skin isn’t dark enough. My ancestors were slaves on an island, not here. I have privileges that my Jamaican-American friend will never have. But, she sees my blackness. She calls it out of me, nurtures it, sings to it while it grows.

My blackness cannot exist without my brother and sister. My blackness is a lover I call out to. My blackness follows the question marks. My blackness propels me toward eternity and calls to me throughout history.

Culture Can Be a Problem

Happy Monday, readers! Another day of life. Another day to help another soul on this journey. What a blessing.

As I took my mid-morning stroll around the neighborhood today, I listened to music on my iPhone, as I usually do. My music is an eclectic blend of Latin, Indian, Arabic, Christian, secular, and classical songs. The majority of the time, I listen to Christian music in English or Spanish and look around at the beautiful earth that God created. He made the bee that’s trying to stab me with its butt. He made the green grass that covers the ground, providing a cushion for my puppy’s paws. He constructed the clouds and forms them into various shapes for us. He’s pretty creative.

Since we’re made in His image, that means we’re also creative. God developed our minds to create insane things! I’m typing in a man-made language, on my laptop, while I’m connected to WiFi, as I sit on a couch in my house. All made by man. Incredible.

While I love creativity and thank God that He gave me the gift of writing, I recognize that our creativity can lead us down distorted paths to destruction. That escalated quickly. But, it’s really a problem for those of us who want to live Christ-glorifying lives. While I write words of life, another person is sitting on his/her laptop and writing erotic fiction which will channel lust in his/her readers. Some people sing worship songs that exalt Abba and others sing about sexual desires and activities they’d like to participate in with a total stranger they see on the dance floor. You see what I mean?

Now, typically it’s very easy for me to refrain from listening to sexual music. In fact, I refuse to listen to English pop songs if they have sexual undertones (which they typically do), but I’ve noticed something about my Spanish music choices. I’m half Puerto Rican which means I love Salsa and Bomba music, but I tend to enjoy my Dominican neighbors’ Bachata music as well. Listening to music in Spanish makes me feel connected to my culture and my Latino hermanos y hermanas (brothers and sisters). But, it becomes a problem when the sexual songs that the Latin music industry pumps out begin to reignite old flames of lust within me.

Let’s take a gander at this popular Latin song:

  1. The number one song in America is “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi (he sang at my mom’s friend’s wedding before he made it big #NoLie) and Daddy Yankee. Both of these Puerto Rican men are well known for their music and I was initially THRILLED to see two Rican men reach the number one spot on the charts! Yes! Representation! All good, right? Not quite.

“Despacito” infects our brains with its catchy tune and delightful rhyming, but the lyrics prove to be pretty dangerous to a person struggling with lust.

Spanish:

Despacito 
Quiero respirar tu cuello despacito 
Deja que te diga cosas al oído
Para que te acuerdes si no estás conmigo

Despacito
Quiero desnudarte a besos despacito
Firmo en las paredes de tu laberinto
Y hacer de tu cuerpo todo un manuscrito (sube, sube, sube)
(Sube, sube)

 

English:

Slowly
I want to breathe your neck slowly
Let me tell you things in your ears
So that you remember when you’re not with me
Slowly
I want to undress you with kisses slowly
Sign the walls of your labyrinth
And make your whole body a manuscript
Turn it up turn it up….. turn it up, turn it up

When a song has a catchy tune, it’s really hard to resist listening to it. It’s even harder when you feel pressured to engage in this practice because it’s ascribed to your culture. This blog post isn’t fully about the sexualization of Latin youth culture, because that would take ages to write, but I’ll touch on it here.

When you think of a Latin woman, what do you think of? Does this woman have a college degree? Is she kind, compassionate, Christ-serving, and humble? Or do you think of a curvaceous figure, a wild temper, and fiery passions? I’ll assume the latter. This stereotype occurs in our minds because of the way the worldwide media has portrayed Latinas.

We’re sexual objects. We exist for the pleasure of men. 

We may not outright say these things, but the songs we sing about Latin women say otherwise.

So, songs like “Despacito” are not just fun dance songs. They add to the painful and dangerous rhetoric that Latinas are only good for their bodies and that we enjoy being objectified in this way.

 

In addition to objectifying women, this song and countless others that are similar actually reignite old lusts that you may be trying to kill, with the help of the Holy Spirit. When you hear those sexual words, you may remember old trysts you had before you knew Christ. You may imagine dancing sexually with your crush to these songs. You may actually become physically aroused.

While walking around the neighborhood, listening to “Despacito”, “Safari”, “Propuesta Indecente”, “Solo Por Un Beso”, and “Hasta El Amanecer”, I began to slowly realize that the youth in my culture are hyper-sexualized. We are force fed these songs until we no longer need to be forced to enjoy them. We openly indulge in these sexual songs and we wonder why so many of our young girls are becoming pregnant and our young boys are becoming fathers before they turn 18. These songs have infected the culture so deeply that they are now synonymous with Latin culture. So, for a young Latina growing up in New York, I knew that to be Latina meant to be sexy, to dance, to wear tight clothes, and to be free with my sexuality, using it to emasculate men. These songs encourage that behavior. 

Because I follow Christ, the Holy Spirit in me rejects these songs and the portrayals of sexuality that they offer. Yet, breaking with them has been so difficult because they are indeed connected to my culture. Of course the Puerto Ricans of the 1960s would never have promoted a song like “Despacito”, but something has happened to the youth in these recent times. They are now dictating the future of our culture and it terrifies me.

I love culture and will always give a cultural practice the benefit of the doubt, unless it clearly goes against Scripture and human rights. We’re all different and that’s a thing to celebrate. But, my spiritual eyes have been opened to this aspect of my culture and even though it’s so enticing, I must break with it. In this respect, my culture is a problem. The Lord’s word supersedes Puerto Rican culture and I must honor Him first. I am Christian before I am Puerto Rican.

 

Blessings.

 

Gabrielle G.

 

She Saw Me

Hey, readers.

Since I’ve been here in Georgia, I’ve noticed how contentious my Black Lives Matter shirt can be. In NYC, multiple people would exclaim their approval of it whenever I left the house with it on. But, here, oh no. I get stares and scoffs from old white men and approving looks from young and old African-Americans. It’s rare that an African-American openly applauds my shirt here in Georgia.

This morning, after church, I stopped by Mary Mac’s Tea Room in downtown Atlanta for lunch with my mother. We sat at the bar and enjoyed southern classics: fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, macaroni and cheese, and peanut butter pie. Black southerners have given us amazing food, have they not? Lord have mercy!

In the restaurant, I noticed that all around me were people of various backgrounds, but mostly black and white, segregated. That’s right. While segregation isn’t technically legal anymore in this country, people will still segregate themselves. In the room, there were several full tables with black families and one table with a white family. While eating lunch with my mom, I noticed that a young white lady, probably early 20s, kept glancing over at me. Immediately I ran through the possible reasons for this:

  1. She sees my shirt and disapproves. 
  2. She thinks my mom and I are being too loud.
  3. She’s a racist.

I’m not happy to admit this. I think I assume most white southerners are racist, but God has been showing me otherwise. You know, when she came up to the black waiter in the room, I immediately assumed she was going to complain about the black family next to her. Maybe she thought they were seated too close to her? I don’t know what I thought. But I prepared myself to verbally defend them, if she was going to complain. But, she didn’t. She just asked for a peach cobbler.

Lord forgive me. I try not to be too hard on myself when it comes to this, but it’s difficult.

Before leaving, this young white lady approached me, tapped me on the arm, and said,

” I just wanted to say that I love your shirt.”

“Oh, thank you so much!” I exclaimed, stunned!

“I’m a huge supporter…” she said, her eyes telling me that she wanted to say, “I totally think the police are racist and no one understands that racism still exists!”

“Oh, wow. Thanks! I really appreciate that!”

She sat back down with her family and we waved at each other before I left.

 

While walking back to my mom’s car, several thoughts ran through my mind. Wow. First of all, wow. This young white lady came over to me, pointed out my BLM shirt, and verbally agreed with me. But, she was doing so much more than offering up a compliment. She stood by me. She saw me. She acknowledged my struggle and the struggle of my PoC brothers and sisters. She became an advocate, standing alongside me, a young black Latina woman. 

Thank You, Jesus, for showing me that there are people who will stand by me, even when I don’t expect them to. Forgive me, Lord, for stereotyping white southerners and expecting the worst from them. They surprise me every day.

 

Blessings.

 

Gabrielle G.

Menstruation Shame is Why We Need Feminism

Dear readers,

You know, because I live in the US, I often forget just how free I am to be a woman. I know that many feminists in this country would argue that women are not free, but when we look at other countries, nothing that we endure can compare to what happens to women around the globe.

I’m a woman of color, which means that I’m discriminated against twice over in this country. Sometimes people make ignorant comments about me or assume that I participate in Latino stereotypes about women. That gets pretty annoying. But, that’s not why I’m a feminist.

I’m so relieved that I live in a country where I don’t have to die because I have a period. I can easily go to the drugstore, purchase a pack of sanitary pads, and buy them without shame. No one will wrap them up in newspaper or hide them in a black plastic bag. My family members won’t shun me and cast me aside like a dirty thing to be avoided.

I’m a feminist because there are so many places in the world where this happens every day. Lately, I read about a young lady in Nepal, Tulasi Shahi, who recently died from a poisonous snake bite while exiled for having a period. Of course this was not planned by anyone so we can’t really blame someone, right?

Right. We can’t really blame a person. But, we can shed light on cultural practices that violate human rights. It’s difficult to point to these cultural practices and critique them because they aren’t objects detached from feelings or history. Real people practice these very real practices. So how can we respond to cultural practices that restrict human rights?

We look to Jesus. In Jesus’ culture, menstruating women were also viewed as dirty and shameful. They were shunned and cast aside by society for the duration of their period. Therefore when Jesus met a bleeding woman with love and acceptance, it rocked everyone around them.

In Luke 8:43-48, we’re told about a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. TWELVE YEARS! Can you imagine? That means for twelve years she has been excluded from society and treated as subhuman. She sees Jesus in the crowd, she’s heard of His power and love, and she knows that if she touches the hem of His garment, she will be healed.

Thinking that she’ll be cast aside if she openly asks Jesus for healing, as so many have done, she slipped into the crowd and gently touched the hem of His garment. Jesus felt healing power flow from Him and He asked her to identify herself as the one who touched Him. He didn’t just let her go away physically healed. He wanted her to speak, to show herself to the crowd, and to feel acknowledged. He tells her that her strong faith has healed her and she goes away in peace.

A Jewish man in 1st century Palestine healed a menstruating woman, spoke to her as an equal human being, and blessed her as she went on her way. He defied culture in order to bring healing to her body and her soul. That must be our reaction. Culture is not bad; God delights in the different ways we live and worship Him. But, when culture supersedes God’s call to love Him and love others as we love ourselves, it must be challenged. Culture must submit to God’s word, no matter how long the traditions have existed. 

Periods are awesome. God made them. Embrace them.

 

Gabrielle G.

 

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/10/asia/nepal-menstruation-hut-deaths-outrage/?iid=ob_homepage_deskrecommended_pool

 

When It All Falls Apart (Job)

Peace be with you, dear readers.

If you know me outside of my blog, you know that this past year has been incredibly difficult. I’ve been feeling quite a bit like Job, as dramatic as that sounds. Through my past and continual losses, I’m slowly learning about the sovereignty of God, His grace, and just how much of a threat I am to the kingdom of darkness.

Now, many of you are experiencing a difficult situation at the moment. I don’t know what that is, but let me tell you that it is certainly not meaningless. God takes our painful moments, that He allows to happen, and uses them for our benefit and His glory. How does He do this?

First, let’s take a look at my 2017 and then I can explain how God is restoring my life.

In 2017, thus far, these different tragedies have taken place:

  1. I lost my job teaching ESL because they didn’t have a class for me to teach.
  2. Grad school fell apart for me and I had to drop out.
  3. Because I was living off of my loans, that meant I had no more money to survive on.
  4. My parents’ marriage began falling apart and is now completely dissolved.
  5. My father was rushed to the hospital with a blood clot in his lung and is recovering.
  6. I was forced by circumstances to move to Atlanta because I could no longer afford my apartment, which means I left all of my friends.
  7. My favorite aunt, who has Lupus, feels that God is slowly calling her home.

Damn! That’s a lot, right?? It seems overwhelming when it’s written in a list. Trust me, experiencing it was even more overwhelming.

As each part of my life began falling apart, I began falling as well. I fell into a depression. My body rejected food. A few sips of soup were all I could take for a day. My mind craved sleep. I passed the afternoons with naps. All I could think was, “What’s the point anymore?” “Does life really matter?” “Maybe it would be better if it were all over.”

Lord Jesus that should have been the biggest red flag that I was being spiritually attacked! Think about the story of Job in the Bible. Job was a man who enjoyed earthly prosperity and comfort while recognizing that it was all from God and loving God deeply. He was a blameless man and had a solid reputation. Because of his love for God and his loyalty, Satan asked God if he could test Job. Satan told God that if God took away all of Job’s comforts and security, then Job would curse Him to His face.

Ouch.

Now God told Satan that he could take anything from Job except he couldn’t kill Job. So Satan destroyed every aspect of Job’s life. He lost it all! Yet, in the beginning, Job still praised God and worshipped Him through his pain.

When Job’s friends began to accuse him of committing some sin or Job’s wife doubted God, Job began to fall. Without any material pleasures or human companionship, Job fell into the darkness and cried out to the Lord. 

The Lord heard him, comforted him, and restored to Job twice of what was lost.

Some people may find it dramatic to compare myself to Job. I don’t. God didn’t give us Job’s story so we could look at it and think, “Oh wow, that sucks. Good thing I have Jesus and nothing bad can happen to me!” Sorry to burst your bubble, but when you sign up to be a Christian, you sign up for Jesus’ army. You are putting yourself out there to be attacked. Expect it.

Because we love Jesus and serve Him, we are a prime target for the enemy. Every moment of your life, he tries to take your eyes off of God. His ultimate goal is your destruction. As Jesus tells us in John 10:10, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” Satan wants to steal from you. He wants to kill you. He wants to destroy you and your life.

Scary, right? But it doesn’t have to be!

As believers in Christ Jesus, we have His Holy Spirit inside of us who protects us completely from Satan. We have been washed with the blood of the Lamb and no weapon formed against us can stand (Is. 54:17). Jesus has actually given us all authority over Satan and his demons. We have the power to tell Satan to leave, to cast out demons, and to break strongholds in Jesus’ name (Luke 10:19).

Believe in that authority, because it comes from God. It is not dependent on your strengths and weaknesses. In fact, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). Do not be fearful because fear is from the enemy. The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).

Earlier I mentioned that God takes brokenness and makes it beautiful again. He really does. That’s what He yearns to do. That’s who He is! That’s the whole point of the Gospel! We’re so incredibly broken and awful things happen to us, but Jesus restores us inwardly so we can restore things outwardly (He also takes care of outward things as well!).

He’s currently doing that in my life. Yes, all of those terrible aforementioned things have happened, but here’s what also happened:

  1. I have valuable bonding time with my family again.
  2. The Lord has provided me with a good Christian community.
  3. The Lord just gave me a new job today (I actually got the call today. Woo!)
  4. He is slowly revealing more of His lovingkindness and His plans for my life through our quiet time together.

So, brothers and sisters, take heart. Remember that no spiritual attack can come to you that God Himself has not allowed. Suffering grows our faith, if we choose to abide in Christ. Christ promised that He Himself will finish the good work He started in you (Phil. 1:6).

Remember that all of the Gospel greats have been viciously attacked because of their potential in Christ. Many of them were promised great things by God and died with that hope (Hebrews 11). But we finish our race well by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, looking at His suffering throughout His ministry and death, and keep running!! (Hebrews 12).

If you are a Christian and you’re being attacked by Satan, rejoice because your name is a threat to the kingdom of darkness. What Satan and the world mean for evil, God means for your GOOD! (Genesis 50:20).

Combat the enemy’s darts through prayer, reading the Word, fasting, staying in community, and just believing that God will redeem you. Behold, He is coming soon on His white horse, ready to reclaim His bride. Trust in that.

 

Be blessed.

 

Gabrielle G.

 

Check out what John Piper has to say on Job:

Restoring Distorted Family Legacies

If you ask me what my family has been known for throughout the generations, I could easily list several negative things: drug abuse, domestic violence, witchcraft, poverty, lack of education, etc.

We’re also known for our resilience. Many of us have served the US through military service. Most of the younger generation has dedicated their lives to serve The Lord. 

These positive aspects of my family’s legacy don’t really outweigh the negative aspects, especially when you consider the spiritual realm.

One of the more painful parts of my family’s legacy has been the involvement in witchcraft, or Santeria, as Latinos like to call it. Santeria is not considered witchcraft by many Latinos, rather it is viewed as the cultural expression of Latino Christianity. Yes, those who practice Santeria believe themselves to be Christian, most of the time. They pray to saints with candles (the ones you see at the botanicas on the street), they have statues of saints that they feed, give money to, or do some other type of ritual to. But, many of these people will tell you that they love Jesus and they do these rituals for good. This “religion” came from our African ancestors who were forced into Catholicism. Rather than give up their paganism, they simply molded the two together and worshipped their idols under the guise of Catholicism.

Readers, Santeria is NOT Christianity. Jesus tells us that we cannot mix light and dark. Light has no fellowship with darkness. (2 Cor. 6:14-17). Jesus repeatedly tells us in Scripture that He is the only way to God (John 14:6), and that He is the ONLY mediator (I Timothy 2:5). Scripture warns us in multiple passages against becoming involved in the occult and gives us examples of people who give up that life to follow Jesus. (Deut. 18:10-11, Lev. 19:31, Acts 16:16-18, Acts 19:19).

Santeria was the legacy of my family. It kept my Puerto Rican family in bondage for generations. The Lord in His tender lovingkindness looked upon my mother and chose her to be the one to break this generational sin. He did this by instructing her in His ways from her childhood and as a result, her mother (my abuela) came to faith as did I, also in my childhood.

Praise be to The Lord!

Since Santeria is witchcraft, we know that those who practice it are exposed to demonic activity and to possession by demons themselves. I have to wonder if the vicious cycles of drug abuse, domestic violence, molestation, poverty, and lack of education are all due to my family’s involvement with witchcraft. I’m inclined to believe that it’s the cause, because we know that The Lord brings restoration, peace, and comfort to our souls.

It’s tough for me to swallow this part of my family’s legacy. I wish it were not so, but then The Lord reminds me that He takes the most unlikely candidate and turns them into one of His fiercest and bravest soldiers. Although my family was bound in the past, the generations to come (should The Lord tarry), will not be bound by any of those generational sins and curses.

Who would have thought that the great-granddaughter of a woman who practiced Santeria would be a strong-minded, discerning, loyal follower of Jesus Christ? I thank God that He is restoring my family’s story through my mother and through my own life as well.

How does one restore their family’s legacy? Simple. Jesus! Give your life to Jesus and He breaks any generational sin and/or curse. He will restore what has been broken through His hand over your life.

 

Rest in His arms,

 

Gabrielle G.