The Vietnam Vet on the 1 Train

The other night, the night before my 24th birthday to be exact, I held a piping hot cup of masala chai on the 1 train. I had just left an evening of Korean fried chicken and boy talk with one of my good guy friends. My head was full of possible solutions to boy problems (so dumb and a waste of my precious time) and, while holding the pole, my book, and my chai (no small feat), I glanced down and saw an elderly man with a Vietnam veteran hat.

Now I had just rewatched Forrest Gump, and while that’s obviously not a film solely about the Vietnam war, it does showcase the brutality of the war and the ways it mentally or physically ruined these young men. I looked at him and wondered, “Did he enlist?” “Was he drafted?” “I wonder how old he was when he served. He must have been in his early 20s.”

I had to say something. “Excuse me, sir? Thank you for your service.”

This elderly man merely gave me a half-smile, shrugged his slight shoulders and said, “Someone had to do it.”

He then went on to exhort me to join the military (not happening) and he explained that in life, you do what you need to do because it has to be done. That’s it. No discussion.

 

When he left, I sat in his spot and thought if I could ever fill that role of fighter. I definitely have no interest in the military, but God has called us to fight this fight of faith until the day He returns or calls us home. We must stick to this battle, remembering that the war has been won.

This is a battle we enlisted in when we signed up to be followers of Jesus. Jesus promised us that we would have to fight and we would often be hurt or killed for His name’s sake.

 

“Jesus asked, ‘Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.  I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.'” – John 16:31-33

 

Take heart! Be brave. Be valiant. Christ is WITH YOU! We do not fight this battle alone. We are a part of a larger army than we know. Believers around the world are praying at all times, quite literally because of time zone differences, and although you do not know your brother in the Congo or in India, he prays for you. Pray for him and for your sister in Pakistan who cannot speak the name of Jesus. Pray for your siblings in Christ like you would pray for your own flesh and blood. They are your eternal family. ❤

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

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The Woman, the Watermelon, and the WTF??

Readers,

Yesterday was my 24th birthday. Now what should have been a time of utter joy and good vibes was marred by a sexually suggestive comment from an older man. I know, I know. I’m sure most of you women experience these types of comments every day. I know I do. But, the one day I just didn’t want to be bothered was my birthday.

Before I left my apartment to head toward the restaurant, I knew that men would stare at me. I looked beautiful! My dress was short and sparkly, my hair lavishly picked out into an afro, and my eyeliner made my eyes look large and expressive. On the train, men stared a little but no one dared to make any remark toward me. Thank God! Maybe I’ll be spared that little burst of terror that comes with a catcall!

Running to the restaurant, tripping and almost spraining my ankle, I forgot about the possibility of being harassed inside the restaurant. The only people who do this are men on the street, right? No employee would bother me.

I wasn’t inside the restaurant for five seconds before an employee, an older Latino man, made a sexually suggestive comment about my…wait for it…can you guess?

My body! Nope.

My hair! Nope.

My lips! Nope.

This man talked about my watermelon purse. Ah yes, the sexy and provocative watermelon purse, known for centuries as the best way to illicit a man’s desire. Seriously?

He said to me, verbatim, “I want to eat your watermelon.” and then he pretended to eat it, while staring me down. This brought back a memory of the last time I had worn this purse. A man on the street had yelled, “Can I taste your watermelon?”

Okay. What? I’m being threatened with oral sex by strange men because they like my watermelon purse? WTF??

This just adds to the long list of “proof”, not that we need it, that clothing does not dictate how a man will treat you. If I can receive borderline explicit sexual remarks because of  a watermelon purse, I’m not sure what WON’T turn men on.

These predators need to take about ten steps back, because otherwise they’ll have to catch these hands.

 

Ladies, be safe. Carry pepper spray. Take self-defense lessons. And talk right back to them!

 

Gabrielle G.

Cultivating Divine Gratitude

Readers,

 

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! (If you’re in my time zone, that is.) What a problematic holiday, am I right? Native and indigenous rights are being discussed more and more as each Thanksgiving passes and I love it. This piece isn’t about that, but it is about something we all need to read right now. After you read my piece, go read up on the Dakota pipeline news.

 

The fabulous Jenay, the creator of the Afro-Latina blog “HashtagIAmEnough”, asked me to write a piece of thankfulness and God. I’ve never been ASKED to write about God before so this was certainly a thrill for me! Head on over to her blog to read it and check out her other amazing posts.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

 

Cultivating Divine Gratitude by Gabrielle Greiner

Hussain and His Mom (NYC Homeless)

I had an incredible encounter today. As I took an unusual route home, I came across a young undocumented woman with her baby, a boy named Hussain. I initially walked by but the Spirit of the Lord was thickly upon me! I bought a snack and some water for them and turned around to go back to them. Sitting on the ground with her, I learned that because she’s undocumented, she can’t find a place to stay. She can receive food stamps for her U.S. citizen baby, but nothing for herself. She told me where she was from and because of that and her son’s name, I assumed that she was Muslim.

Her precious baby, Hussain, was crying a lot, but the moment he saw me, he smiled so brightly. I called his name and he giggled, putting his finger to my lips. I kissed his finger. He reached out both of his arms toward me. He wanted me to hold him. Me! A stranger! I believe he saw the face of Christ through me.

Before giving this woman the names of some faith-based places she can go, I asked if we could pray together. I wanted to put my hand on her shoulder, but she wanted to hold hands. Well, we held hands and prayed to FATHER God through Jesus the Messiah and Son of God together! This was the first time I EVER prayed to Abba, through Jesus, with a Muslim person. Please pray for her physical needs and salvation!

 

 

Photo used is for representation only. They aren’t the people I met.

Blessings,

Gabrielle G.

Mass Shootings (A Millennial’s Perspective)

I’m 23-years old, so I suppose that classifies me as a “millennial.” Now, this isn’t a term I cling to with pride and joy. I am typically averse to being labeled as one of “those hipster lazy, non-committal, freeloaders.” However, my position as a millennial has afforded me the ability to be a witness to some of the worst events in modern history. This has caused a numbing effect on my sensibilities: I hardly react anymore to shocking news of mass shootings, bombings, stabbings, etc.

I was a child when the school shooting at Columbine happened in 1999. Although I wasn’t in high school, like the victims and shooters were, my school made it perfectly clear that a shooting could happen at my precious elementary school in Upstate New York. In fact, the perceived threat was so palpable throughout the school halls that we practiced what to do in an active shooter situation. The teacher would place a dark cloth over the small window in our door, preventing the shooter from seeing inside our classroom. We were to stay in the classroom, of course, and if at any point a shooter began attacking while we were in the halls, we were to run into the nearest open classroom and take cover. We would be reunited with our teacher after the shooter was…taken care of.

Soon after Columbine, 9/11 broke my beloved New York down to its core. My father worked close to the Twin Towers. Praise God that he didn’t have to work that day. I remember the day exactly. My brother and I were called out of our respective classes at our elementary school and we were met by our anxious father in the lobby. Once at home, we were glued to the television, just in time to see the second plane slide through the second tower.

When the US entered war with Iraq and Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11, the threat of school bombings was discussed. Should the Middle East decide to bomb my elementary school, we were to take cover in the halls, by our lockers. We were to crouch to the ground, cover the back of our necks with our hands and keep our heads down.

Throughout my entire educational career, various shootings and bombings appeared on the daily newspaper, then on the TV, and soon shifted to the Internet. Now, I get most of this information via social media, which can’t always be trusted.

In the wake of today’s mass shooting at a Baptist church in Texas, I’ve realized something quite disturbing about my generation, especially myself. Because I have seen so many shootings, bombings, hijackings, and stabbings, the effect is nearly lost on me. I feel a twinge of sadness when I read those headlines. I say a short, silent prayer for the families of the victims. Then I move on. I can’t sit in those feelings for a long time. I actually don’t have much feeling to reside in. All that sets in is deep, profound, numbness. A numbness I can’t shake off. A numbness I feel ashamed of. My generation is traumatized. We were traumatized in our infancy. It is something we live with each day, knowing that as we ride the subway, sit in class, or drive down the highway, someone could decide to take our life.