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💛

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 

Life Planner

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Three years ago, my sister got me my first planner. To be honest, I didn’t know what the hype was but the moment, I opened it up and started planning out my days and decorating each week, I fell in love! I decided to do this post because so many girls always ask me where my planner is from and it always brings me so much joy to let them in on my planner addiction. Fellow planner addicts know you just can’t stay shut about it. 🙂

My very first planner was the Erin Condren one and I thought I would never trade her in. But these planners are on the pricier side ranging from $50-$55 so the following year, I was on the hunt for a functional, pretty, and cheaper planner. This is when I found The happy planner which range from $20-$35. I loved her too! But of course, my inner planner addiction was just searching for something more. Something that was more interactive and christian based. This is when someone told me about The horacio printing planner. This planner has genuinely been my favorite thus far!!!

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When I first got her in the mail, I was obsessed. I fell in love immediately and couldn’t wait to find something, anything, to write in the pages. The planner I got is The lovely planner. It’s hardcover with gold coil binding and opens up to a little message from the creator Polly, which is super cute. But what I love so much about this planner is how interactive it is!

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Before going into the actual week-to-week and month-to-month planning section, there are pages dedicated to exercises of dream planning, a yearly bucket list, a refocus cloud, generosity planning, a heart check, and even a list for your fears. This planner got me thinking about my present spiritual life and how it’s reflecting on my everyday daily life. I was able to sit down and pray through my God-given dreams and goals to visualize how to accomplish them. But what was even greater, is how this planner includes a page where I can write out what is distracting me from putting forth the action to achieve my dreams and goals. I loved how where you list your fears, you can also write out a verse to counteract that fear because the truth is, we need reminders. A professor once told my class that God doesn’t help you remember what you first haven’t forgotten so this planner helps me remember. It doesn’t just help me keep track of classes, appointments, goals, homework, papers, to-do lists, exams, birthdays, and important dates but it helps me remember the things that truly matter; the people I love, the things that influence my spiritual life, the dreams I have, and the things I should do more of. It helps me prioritize and manage my time wisely without overemphasizing my schedule but what God wants me to do with the time He’s given me.

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I love how it also includes monthly praise reports! This is so essential because it helps build a heart of gratitude and praise which is crucial for a healthy christian life. It also has bible verses on each page which is a major plus.

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If there is one thing I love most about this planner is how minimal it is because you can just decorate away to your hearts content. I love stickers, washi tape, and colorful pens so this is great. I get my stickers and notepads from michaels, etsy, and target. I get all of my washi tape from michaels as well.

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If you’re looking for an interactive, christian based, functional, pretty planner then I highly suggest the horacio printing planner! Not to mention that 10% of ALL sales goes towards fighting human trafficking efforts; I mean, how awesome is that!

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I recommend this planner to moms-on-the-go, students, people with super busy schedules, the average 9-5 working girl, and anyone who loves planning! This planner is for everyone 🙂

Walk with me

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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?

The way everlasting

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“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24

This is a dangerous prayer. David was so bold when he asked God to search him. I’m in a season of God revealing to me things within me that need work; things that do not lead to the way everlasting and it’s hard. You feel bare and naked. You feel exposed. But here David is giving God access because without that invitation, God is not going to force His way in. God is patient and has given you free will for a reason. So if you don’t give Him access to search you, healing won’t happen. Now God doesn’t need to search you, He already knows your heart. But David is saying, “Okay God, you can come in. I invite you in to help me, to mold me, and ultimately to heal me.”

Because the moment you give God that invitation, you are on the road to healing. You are on the road to wholeness. David says, “Lead me in the way everlasting.” What he’s saying is that he can’t get himself to wholeness. Another yoga class or deep breathing exercise is not gonna get him on the right path. Another bible study class or life group isn’t going to open the door to fulfillment. Another diet or self help book isn’t going to set him on the straight and narrow. But Jesus is. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the light.” These things might help but you need to allow God to search you so that He can heal you from the inside out.

Jesus can bring light where there is darkness. He can set you on the right road when you are lost. He can guide you out of the lies and into the truth. And the truth is, we all need work. I know I do! We are all a project only God can take on and bring to full completion. The bible says God brings every good work He begins in us to completion; you know why? Because He loves you, He cares for you, and He’s concerned about the smallest details of your life. He wants you healed that others may be Healed too. The way everlasting is to say “Hey, Jesus, come on in. There’s more than enough room for you.”