What would I say to my 9 year old self?

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“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe.” Psalm 107:2

Time stood still. The clock didn’t tick. My lungs didn’t inhale another breath of air. My body was moving but my mind froze. This is what trauma does; someway, somehow time doesn’t move forward. I mean, it moves but you’re stuck. Physically your skin ages. The wrinkles around your eyes that creep up like vines when you smile tell the world you’re no longer a child. Your responsibilities speak volumes into the level of adulthood you’ve reached. But emotionally? Emotionally, something didn’t move when the clock struck 12. I was 9 when the force of reality hit me like the titanic striking the iceberg. My security was smothered, my voice was silenced, and my control was stripped from me. Life doesn’t cater to how something will affect you. You have to make a choice once it hits; you can either use it to grow and you allow that thing to develop you or you run, you hide, and you stuff it all deep down in the trenches of your soul. For years, I chose the latter. . .

The thing is when God meets you where you are, He doesn’t leave you the same way He found you. His grace reworks your heart and His love transforms you. His hands mold healing into those deep places that wounds have festered. But the result of past hurts begin to surface in order for Him to work. I’ve learned God reveals to heal. For Him to heal those areas of your life, you will be triggered. But the trigger is what exposes that which needs to be healed. If you are self-aware, you can identify it, dig at it’s root, feel it’s pain, process it, and begin to heal. It never feels good but I can guarantee God is with you through the process as He is with me. Healing is not the goal, it’s the process and the journey. Wholeness is the goal.

As I sat before God this morning, He reminded me of what a classmate said just a few weeks ago. She said while she was in therapy, her counselor asked her, “What would you say to your 6 year old self?” As she shared, tears flowed down my round cheeks. It struck a chord in my own heart and instead of condemning that little girl in me, my soul ached for her. God ushered me this morning to talk to my 9 year old self. I’ll tell the truth. I didn’t want to. I didn’t know what to say. But as He walked me through, I spoke to her. I said:

“It’s not your fault. You are not to blame. . . You are not at fault. You are loved. I love you. . .” 

That’s all that came out. I had nothing more to say. I wish I had brilliant eloquent words that I told her but those are the only words I could say. You’re probably wondering why I chose the age of 9 but that was the turning point for me. I don’t remember much from my childhood. That’s what trauma does but I remember this day to a fault. I remember coming home and all of my things were packed. Everything except my father’s things. Now, I grew up in a Christian home but the truth is it was chaotic. It was unhealthy. And with all this, I loved my parents. I love my parents tremendously now more than ever. I understand now. And by the power of God’s redeeming hand, I now have a beautiful relationship with my father and with my mother. God is bringing wholeness where there were fragmented pieces. Sometimes there needs to be a break down in order for God to build it back up His way that is perfect. If this is the first time you read this, let me tell you, God is mighty redeemer. He can restore that which was broken. He can redeem what was lost. This day, my mother decided she would finally leave my father. She couldn’t take it anymore. I remember looking at my room completely empty except for a crayon on the floor. Like a scene from a movie, I picked it up, walked to my father’s bedroom, grabbed an envelope and wrote “I’m sorry” and put it on his pillow. I thought I was at fault. Now, my “I’m to blame” mentality was already years in the making because of past hurt. So when I had to speak to my 9 year old self, I had to remind her this wasn’t her fault. All those other things before that day, she was not to blame for. I had to tell her that she was loved because I can’t move forward in time, I can’t move forward in my healing today, if she doesn’t know that she was loved. . . 

What would you say to your child self?

 

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Anyway, any way

“When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”” – Luke‬ ‭19:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬ –

As I walk into 2018, I’m reminded of the story of Zacchaeus. Nothing stands out to me more today than Jesus telling him that He MUST stay at his house. Let that sink in. . . Jesus was intentional about entering into his world, flaws and all. During Jesus’ Ministry, He never made it about Him. He always made it about the person(s) He was ministering to as He did with Zacchaeus.

As I enter 2018, I acknowledge I am broken. I am flawed. I am imperfect. Yet God still loves me anyway. He calls me to Him anyway. He wants to spend time with me anyway. He enters into my home anyway. In any way and every way, anyway, God always seeks to stay at our house; to lift heads, to mend brokenness, to heal wounds, to save by grace, to simply be close; closer than the skin on our bones and the breath in our lungs. . .

I want this to be the prayer of my heart for 2018 and forward: I pray I would put others first as God puts me first when I enter into His throne room. I hope I would be intentional about meeting people where they are and responding to their need in His way and not my own. I pray to love people with His heart & listen with His ears.

With 2018 in front of me and 364 days ahead, I surrender it all at the feet of Jesus. I praise God for the valleys and the mountain tops to come. I praise Him for the losses and the gains, the good and the bad, the victories and the failures; I praise Him in advance because God is always God and even in the struggle, He is there.

I pray this is the year of intentional grace. . .

2017, you were a year of many many lessons. God, thank you. Thank you for the wonderful experiences. Thank you for the blessings. Thank you for listening to my hearts cry every morning. Thank you for the closeness in the grief. Thank you for the growing pains. Thank you for showing me me through your eyes; even if it was difficult. Thank you for molding me and refining me. Thank you for the work in process. Thank you for the healing. Thank you for the stretching that made me feel wiggly. Thank you for it all. Thank you for who You are.

I’ve cried much. I’ve learned much. I’ve hurt much. I’ve loved much. I’ve laughed much. I’ve been blessed much. I’ve been loved much. In 2017, I lived much & learned I have so much to learn . . . With my heart full, I share some of my favorite moments with you beloved. . . . .

In 2017, my relationship with my mother has slowly been mended. There has been much healing, much growth, and much love. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’ve learned I’m very much like her. Through accepting that, I’ve seen how beautiful and wise she really is. Thank you my sweet, kind, and patient mami. Eres mi paño de lágrimas y mi vaso de fuerza.

In 2017, I got even closer with my Sister Sister, if that’s even possible. You are Gods greatest gift to me. Simply, thank you.

In 2017, I learned the value of being present in the moment with those you love. Each time I wanted to hurry through a moment because of everything I had to do, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to remain still & take it all in. I learned to be intentional with my family who teach me most how to love with the love of Christ.

In 2017, I learned the true meaning of presence. I understood how to love with a hug.

In 2017, I learned when God gives you a position of leadership, it exposes your faults, your weaknesses, your imperfections, and your shortcomings. But where I fell short, God made up the distance. I learned He exposes to heal.

I learned the beginning of what it means to be a leader: it means to call out purpose, influence greatness, kickstart the healing of others, and love unconditionally when its most difficult. Lord, thank you for these amazing children of Yours You have entrusted into my care. I do not take it lightly even when I doubt why.

In 2017, I learned how to truly value friendship & blessings. I was blessed beyond measure with an amazing roommate and beautiful sisters in Christ.

In 2017, I learned why my name means “shining light” because God intentionally created me to shine His light in the darkness but I have to be willing to walk into where it’s darkest. . .

In 2017, I learned to embrace a part of my story & began learning how to live loved. . . Thank you for penning this Lord.

Happy new year beloved💛

Living Loved

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“He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.”

– Psalm 107:20

At the beginning of this year, I read or heard somewhere you should choose a focus word(s) that would define the year; words God would bring to fruition in your life. Having read “Uninvited” by Lysa Terkeurst, I chose the words “living loved.” I had no idea how God would use these words in my life but it’s now November and those words have echoed so loudly throughout the year. I didn’t truly understand what it meant to live loved through God’s eyes. I’m not sure I fully understand it now but I’m on this journey to live loved hand in hand with the Lord.

Part of this journey was going to my first ever eating disorder walk here in New York. For a few years I wanted to go but was never fully ready. This year was different. This year, I’d vowed to follow God into the deep. As I write this, my heart is being tugged at because this is the most vulnerable I’ve felt in a long time. But I trust God has already written this in my book He has in heaven. . .

Going to this eating disorder walk was so vital to my walk with Christ. It was a physical declaration I am more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus. It was a living testimonial God walked with me through my 13 year battle with an eating disorder. It was a vital component of my healing journey. Recently, God reminded me of the story of Jacob who I identify with because he was a fighter. God showed me how in my greatest fight, He was there in the struggle with me and the scars are evidence of His physical presence in that struggle. I am no longer ashamed of my scars because they proclaim I belong to Jesus. Galatians 6:17 says, “For I bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus.”

The eating disorder is one of my scars. It was my identity. My identity was founded on what the eating disorder did for me. I didn’t know who I was outside of the eating disorder. It became who I was.  It was how I dealt with issues and problems. It was how I essentially became the abuser to myself. I developed such a self hatred I didn’t care if I lived or died. I hated myself, my body,  and who God created. I was driven to break myself down because I grew up thinking love was abuse and abuse was love. The eating disorder essentially robbed me of my sanity. It stole my innocence and my passions. It took my relationships and my loves. It destroyed my light. And for a long time, I couldn’t ever talk about it because there was such shame attached to the eating disorder. Being a Latina with an eating disorder was unheard of. Being a Puerto Rican with bulimia or anorexia was ridiculous. Yet, here I was fighting for my very life because of it.  Having to crawl out of that was a difficult process as a Latina woman because being Puerto Rican, “You don’t get eating disorders because that’s a white woman’s disease.” It was an internal battle that no one could comprehend. Yet God saw fit to rescue me from the grave. He saw fit to snatch me from enemy territory and call me freed and loved.

I remember on my birthday, March 29th, God Himself met me exactly where I was. I did not know this day would change my life’s trajectory; that what the enemy meant for bad, God would be glorified through. I woke up that morning with an emptiness so heavy, I sobbed. I sobbed as if I were mourning the loss of myself. It went on for what seemed like hours before I would finally cry out, “God if you really love me, then why do I feel so broken?” It was in that moment God came to meet me where I was and I felt a love so tangible and so thick, it was as if Jesus Himself stepped off the throne and wrapped me in His arms. His love began to heal me.

I grew up thinking God didn’t love me. I grew up thinking abuse was love. I thought God just wanted to punish me. Yet here I was fully known by God and He loved me enough to mend my brokenness. He loved me enough to show Himself as lover of my soul and healer of my life. This is where my healing journey began.

The healing is lifelong but going to this walk was so symbolic to how Christ walked with me through the wilderness. That walk was a key component to knowing how to truly live loved.

To live loved means to tell your story with freedom and boldness; whatever it may be. It means knowing without a shadow of a doubt you are loved by God so even if you are rejected by those you love, you won’t be shaken. It means choosing to see life through the lenses of our Savior. It’s  choosing to be intentional about giving love when it’s most difficult. Living loved means embracing the pain and feeling the hurt but moving forward with Christ anyway. To live loved is to be vulnerable and transparent that others may see God through you. Living loved requires self sacrifice; it’s not focusing on how you are being perceived but how God is being perceived through you.

In order to live loved, you choose to undergo self-examination that you would develop a Godly character and a Jesus filled heart. You give God access into those shameful broken places so the light of Christ would radiate through you. Living loved is all about the work God does IN you that you would know healing and live whole. When we allow God into those secret places, we have to be willing to go through the refiners fire, the potters molding, the surgeons touch, and to be drenched in the healers salve. We allow the restorer of our souls to mend what has been broken and take back what has been stolen.

Living loved is a process of learning who you are in Christ which is a result of committing to knowing God intimately everyday. It’s a difficult process because you have to come face to face with things about yourself that are heart wrenching, things that hurt, things that ache your soul, but it’s so so worth it. In her book Unashamed, Christine Caine states, “I now know that the only way to get to the promised land of freedom is to walk through the wilderness and to embrace the pain of recovery as a part of the healing process.” (p.110)

Living loved comes as a result of choosing to know God in the wilderness to get to your promised land. Living loved is having a teachable spirit in order to teach others how to live freely clinging to the one God who has never and will never let you go. Living loved is standing on Christ the solid rock. To live loved, you learn to live life with an eternal mindset honed in on God’s truths.

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My mom and my sisters! LRG_DSC04081

My mom is my rock and the person God gave the strength to push me forward when I could not walk on my own. IMG_7335

My little sister writing a letter to someone in an inpatient unit. She is the joy of my life!
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I can sit here confidently saying I am healed from my eating disorder. Will it always be the limp I walk with like Jacob? I believe it will be because it keeps me dependent on God. I have good days and bad days but I am healed and I have chosen to live from a place I know I am loved, I am accepted, and I am regarded by my God more deeply than I will ever comprehend.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, visit https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

You are loved!

Love yourself

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.” – ‭‭James‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I think the hardest thing for me was learning to love myself. I’m 27 & God is showing me how to do this. He’s showing me the ins and outs of my heart & it’s been an adventure to say the least. The kind that is breathtaking but takes time to get to that beautiful mountain top view. He’s teaching me who I am. He’s showing me myself through His eyes. He’s demonstrating how to have healthy boundaries and even healthier relationships. I’m learning loving yourself takes intention. It takes purpose. It’s the same way when you love someone else. It’s not by accident or by mistake. You have to choose everyday to learn who you are. Loving yourself isn’t an overnight success. It’s a life long process of learning what it means to be comfortable in your own skin, in your words, in hearing the sound of your own laughter, and allowing yourself to feel all of those feelings that encompass your emotions. It’s a daily decision of picking up your cross and learning what that cross entails. It’s learning to meet yourself exactly where you are. Loving yourself is the greatest lesson you’ll ever learn because you are heavenly royalty. Spread love the Christ way. 

Walk with me

Processed with Rookie Cam

6:45 AM alarm nudges me awake. So I wake up. Shower. Pray. Make lunch. Get ready. And rush out the door. This is my Monday through Friday morning schedule. 10 times out of 10, I’m always running late. But the odd thing is, before this job, I was an on-time punctual kinda girl. At the onset of this job, I was that girl. The kind that shows up bright eyed and fresh faced half an hour early with a smile on my face. The kind that sings through the Monday morning blues and laughs through the Thursday afternoon anticipation. But something shifted the more time I spent at this office and while I am filled with gratitude to have had this job, my morning glow has faded. I’ve become that always-rushing-to-work typical New Yorker. And I hate it.

I hate rushing past the freshly bloomed tulips on the corner. I hate looking down at the concrete as my feet hit the pavement. I hate missing the clear blue skies after a rainy yesterday. I hate missing the faces waiting for the infamous G train. I hate ignoring the guy drawing on the train or the girl painting her face with concealer with a dog between her feet. I hate not being in the moment.

As I was quickly walking down to the train this morning at the exact time I had to be at work, my head was full of thoughts. My round eyes caught the sight of the orange and yellow tulips but I didn’t take it in. My legs were doing a fast dance with the rain as if I were competing in a salsa show. And my brain was full to the brim with thought after thought and it was exhausting. The kind of exhausted that grabs you after you’ve jogged 5 miles on an 85 degree sunny morning.

In a split second, I had the most challenging thought I’ve had in a while. I felt Jesus ask me, “What if I were walking with you right now?” Just like that, I slowed down and pictured Jesus walking to the right of me. God challenged me in that moment to be in the here-and-now; in the present. And as I became intentional about walking with Jesus, I felt such peace. There is something powerful about walking with  a friend and allowing yourself to be in the moment. You see and hear things differently. You experience life in a whole new light.

I walked down the stairs into the subway station and I saw the girl with the lavender hair. I heard the conductors voice loud and clear, “Next stop, metropolitan avenue.” I saw the rain drops quickly falling. I was in the present not threatened by my every thought. In that moment, all that mattered was I was walking with Jesus. When Jesus was with His disciples, He walked with them. They talked and walked. They laughed and walked. They walked together. They were doing life together as they walked. They were all in the moment, in the here-and-now, in the present. They didn’t allow life’s demands to cloud their relationship with the Lord. They were intentional about spending time with Jesus. In the same way, we have to be intentional. We have to make time at this time, right now.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from group therapy, which is a requirement for my group therapy class; it’s how powerful it is to bask in the moment. In the moment is where working through happens. In the here-and-now is where you can feel what you feel. In the present is where you have the potential for growth, for healing, for love.

My question to you today is: if you were walking with Jesus, would that change your pace?

Perfect Peace

  • “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

Isaiah 26:3

This year has been difficult to say the least. It’s been full of tough decisions, taking leaps of faith, and things I have no control over. From death, cancer, to trusting God to do what only He can do; One thing that has remained constant is the peace I feel in my heart. Through the chaos of life this year and its sadnesses too, I have truly had a peace that surpasses all understanding. I’m learning if a decision you have to make is of God, you will have peace.

If you keep your mind and heart focused on the things above, on Jesus Christ, peace will guard your heart no matter the waves that threaten to overwhelm you. This peace comes as a direct result of having a relationship with Christ Jesus. The peace God gives isn’t like the peace the world gives. His peace is perfect and is constant. It does not mean you won’t mourn or cry but it does mean you won’t respond to your emotions first. With the peace of God, you’ll respond to His voice before anything.

  • “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27 NIV

  • “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

  • “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Psalm 61:2 NIV

Thank You

I want to take this time to extend my heart felt thank you’s to everyone who donated to my Cuba missions trip that I will be leaving for this Saturday. And also to everyone that has prayed and is praying. I am so blown away by everyone’s kindness and generosity. Because of my family, friends, and even strangers, I went over my $950 goal so thank you so much. I’ve learned many things during these past few months but there are three I’d love to share with you in this newsletter.

  1. The first thing I’ve learned is: God is faithful  – More than a few months ago, when this trip was just a small thought on my heart, I had a God given dream. In that dream, my father was giving me a $700 bill in my right hand. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a $700 bill. As the weeks went on, I thought maybe my dad would be generous and give me some money but I was thinking far too small. When I decided to make the gofundme account, I was extremely humbled because I don’t ever ask for money. On the contrary, I’m usually the one paying for friends when we’re out to dinner or the movies. So taking that leap of faith was difficult. Nonetheless I did it and one night after prayer my sister texts me and says to check my gofundme account. Faithfully enough, my donations went up to a total of $755. I’ve learned what the bible says is true; Gods word never returns to him void. Whatever God says will always be accomplished. God was and is still faithful.
  2. The second thing I’ve learned is: You have to be in need for God to provide – I’ve realized being in a position of need sets the atmosphere for God to provide and fill that need. If you don’t have a need larger than yourself, you don’t need God’s intervention. It isn’t a fun place to be but how else will you see God move unless you need a miracle to be performed in your life? There needs to be a lack of something in order for it to be supplied in abundance.
  3. The third thing I’ve learned is: The center does not mean comfort – I used to think the moment I got everything I wanted, I’d be the happiest girl in the world without any cares. But I was very wrong. I’ve learned being in the center of God’s will does not mean comfort-ability. You may be exactly where God wants you but that means you are filling a need greater than yourself. Being in the center of God’s will means being stretched, refined, and poured out for others to be built up. The moment I entered the center of Gods will meant achieving the purpose of Gods intentions for my life.

When I asked God if He really called me to this missions trip, I was reminded of Isaiah 43:1. It says, “I have called you by name; you are mine.” Just as God called me to Cuba, I know God has called you to do that thing you’ve been putting off. It may be to start school again, to accept that proposal, to take that trip, to leave your current job, say yes to starting that organization; whatever it is, God has called you by name. And the moment you say yes, it won’t be easy because anything worth doing will be difficult, but you are Gods and He will lead you and teach you along the way. . .

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