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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The path less traveled

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“Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of ever lasting life.” – Psalm 139:24 NLT

I like to think of myself as a Giants football fan by association.  This means I have no idea who the players are or how the game is actually played but because my sister is a die hard fan, I’m also a Giants supporter. I’m the person asking a thousand questions during a game and yelling “yessss” at the most insignificant times. But nonetheless, I’m a fan by association. If there’s anything I’ve learned with the football season just a month away, is how offense and defense works in a game. To put it simply, the team with the ball is on offense trying to score points while defense is the opposing team trying to stop offense from scoring a touchdown. Which side are you on? 
By definition, offense is that which serves as a hindrance or obstacle.
In Psalm 139:24, the Psalmist David is essentially praying to God and he says God, “point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of ever lasting life.” If you’ve ever been offended by someone then you know how powerful an offense is. They stir up and provoke uncomfortable feelings that can cause someone to shut down, fight back, ignore, or run. But if they aren’t addressed, they will fester and become a hindrance or an obstacle to you. Offenses essentially tell us something is wrong and it needs to be repaired or restored. In the spiritual sense, being on offense, you automatically attract defense which hinders you from scoring spiritual goals. Being on offense you are carrying a burden that was never meant for you to carry. If you are carrying an offense against someone, it needs to be addressed because that offense will serve as a hindrance and an obstacle from you achieving your goals and reaching spiritual maturity. It will stop you from learning very vital lessons about yourself. They will cripple your ability to have healthy friendships and relationships. An offense can be something within you that isn’t allowing you to move forward.
For me, it was something I recently needed to address with someone in my family. This person hurt me in the past and that hurt wasn’t allowing me to have a healthy relationship with them. Every time I prayed, I didn’t feel close to God because there was this issue I wasn’t facing. When I finally addressed it, I was able to see that I too had some things within me that needed work. God was using the facing of that offense to refine me and heal me! When you face your offenses, you clear the pathway toward righteousness. When you do this, there is nothing hindering or obstructing your view.
How offenses hinder us:

  1. Harboring offenses mask how you’re really feeling by giving you a false sense of security.
  2. Offenses cloud your vision.
  3. Offenses stunt communication.
  4. Offenses attract defense which serve as obstacles toward achieving your God-given goals and dreams.
  5. Offenses limit you from having a healthy relationship with the Lord and with loved ones. They make you feel like you’ve been separated from God. This is a lie because there is NOTHING that can separate you from God but offenses can cloud your vision and hinder you from getting full access into wholeness and spiritual victory.
  6. Offenses will weigh you down and make you feel prideful. They will make you feel like you’re carrying a burden greater than yourself but also make you feel as if you’re too proud to surrender to God.
Identifying your offenses requires a willingness to learn about yourself and the truth is, there are some things you won’t like. But it is necessary to know because then you access freedom from your offenses and your vision becomes clear.
How to work through offenses
  1. Ask God to reveal to you what needs work within you and what area of your life needs healing.
  2. Identify any feelings of discomfort toward a particular thing, situation, or person. This is a huge indicator that there is an underlying offense. Once you identify them, surrender them to the Lord.
  3. Explore if there is someone you need to forgive or ask for forgiveness from. Forgiving someone requires strength and courage while asking for forgiveness requires self-awareness and humility. When you do this, you are identifying the very thing that may be offending God within you! God is a God of unity and reconciliation. If there is division in an area of your life, call it out!
  4. Be willing to go on a journey of self-reflection, self-acceptance, and most importantly self-love.
  5. Open a line of communication with yourself by writing out what triggers you emotionally and how you can respond in a healthy way.
Reflection: Is there something offensive within you that you need to address? What is hindering you or serving as an obstacle in your life and stopping you from being whole? In what ways can you work through your offenses?
Let’s explore this together! Email me to my personal email and let’s talk about it. 🙂 My email isNeli.Betancourt@outlook.com 

Blowing Rocks

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Sometime in mid-May of this year, I went to visit my sister and nieces in West Palm Beach, Florida. I went to just spend time with my family but because my sister is amazing, she really catered to what I wanted to do. We both researched places we could go to that were inexpensive and close by. After doing a few other things, we decided to head over to the blowing rocks preserve. It was about a 45 minute drive from west palm to Jupiter beach where the blowing rocks preserve is. We closely monitored when high tide would be (Thanks google!!) and we went on a Friday morning. I can honestly say I’ve never seen something more incredible and amazing!!!

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These rocks were formed thousands of years ago and when the water hits against the rocks, it shoots up which is what gave it its name; blowing rocks.

I remember standing there, taking photos, and God whispering into my Spirit, “Be present and in the moment. Take it all in.” I was so intensely aware of God’s presence looking out at the ocean and realizing how great God is and how small I am. God is so majestic and I couldn’t help but be awed by His creations. The great measures He takes to get our attention is so humbling.

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The photos don’t really capture how turquoise the water was but I’ve never seen a water more blue than this day. To see the strength of the waves as they crashed against the rocks and hearing it’s hushing was so empowering.

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I took these photos of my sister and you can actually see the sequence of the waves as they rose up!! How amazing!!!

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If you’re in the west palm or Jupiter beach area, please visit! I promise you won’t regret it! This place is every photographers dream. Even though I’m a wannabe photographer, it really is photo worthy. I highly recommend it!

Old Westbury Garden

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My mother and I meet up every Saturday, or at least we try to. We go on little adventures or we just have a shopping day and get lunch. But a few weeks ago, my mom tells me about old Westbury garden. She saw it on someone’s Facebook and because I have no social media, I’d never heard of this place. I researched it and decided, it’s a go. So come 10am, my mom, sister, and I jump in the car and put it in waze. If you’re in the New York City area or Long Island, then I HIGHLY suggest you visit! It is one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever visited. It’s perfectly nestled in Old Westbury, Long Island; about an hour or so drive from the city. This was the home of John S. Phipps, his wife, and their four children in the early 1900’s. It’s $12 per person and worth EVERY penny!

It is an estate of over 200 acres comprised of gardens, lakes, and ponds. The home contains some of the families personal antique items that were well preserved. It’s so beautiful and feels as if you’re stepping back in time the moment you step foot into the home. Every where you turn it’s something else that catches your eye.

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There are beautiful vintage paintings all over the home filled with perfect little touches of lamps, clocks, and antique bedding. All over the estate, as you walk around, there are also life size sculptures incredibly designed by Seward Johnson. They’re kind of these surprises waiting for you to inspect and take photos with them. I think this was my mother’s favorite part, to be honest. She was always on the hunt for the next statue. It was as if each one told a different story. My mom even narrated a story for some of them which was hilarious to say the least. It was amazing!!

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This was honestly one of my favorite statues! As we were walking up to it, my mom says, “Oh wow, he’s going to war and she’s so sad”, in her perfect Spanish accent. I laughed but after really letting it sink in and looking at the details on their faces, it made the statue that much more real for me. I was in awe.

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This is my absolute favorite photo of my mom and I!!! How beautiful is she? 🙂

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We walked the entire estate and then some! It was about 2-3 hours but it was so beautiful and interactive because of the statues. I was obsessed with every little thing! I was in awe by Gods amazingly artistic hand in the rose garden which was what I loved the most. If you’re looking to get away but still stay close then I highly recommend taking a little trip to Old Westbury Garden. You wont regret it!! 🙂