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 
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On your mark, Get set, Goal!

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Happy Friday ! 🙂

As I was waiting for the infamous G train this morning on my way to work, I started reading “IF” by Mark Batterson. Now Mark Batterson is one of my favorite authors and I’ve read about 5 books of his. You can see which ones here. He’s one of those humorous inspirational kinda writers that really cause you to reevaluate where you are in life. Not the “You gotta change your life or else” but more like he challenges you to focus on the things that matter spiritually and relation-ally. So as I’m reading, I stop myself, close the book, and grab my phone (Typical New Yorker thing to do). And I wrote out this question, “What would happen if I did everything I wanted to do for 31 days?”

To be honest, I always start bucket lists and goals but hardly follow through. Am I the only one who does this? But this time, I’ve vowed to pray through each thing and put it in Gods hands. Because the truth is, when you put something into God’s hands, he will oversupply and over-multiply. I mean, let’s face it, God is a multiplying God that gives abundantly. He takes the little we have and feeds the multitudes. So here I am, waiting for a train that’s half an hour late during rush hour, and I have an “AHA” moment. And because I live in New York City, the City of dreams come true where the buildings touch the sky and the lights never go out; I have decided to do 31 things for the entire month of May. Things I’ve always wanted to do but have never done that make me feel like a tourist in my own city.

Although my list of goals isn’t nearly halfway done, here it is:

  1. Visit the empire state building and take a selfie with my city
  2. Have a girls “life giving” picnic at Brooklyn bridge park
  3. Take a ballet class
  4. Find the coolest graffiti street and take a picture
  5. Visit the botanical gardens with my family
  6. Catch a show at BAM
  7. Catch a show at Carnegie Hall
  8. Visit the statue of liberty
  9. Visit the MOMA
  10. Visit the transit museum
  11. Paint a canvas with my nieces
  12. Write a chapter of my book in my favorite cafe
  13. Walk all of central park with a friend

I’ll be updating my list and posting my progress but I think it would be really awesome if you joined me too. Maybe you can make your own list and vow to stick to it regardless of how you feel.

As always, be encouraged. Be empowered. And be blessed. 🙂

 

Confessions of a girl and her hot chocolate

I’ve been meaning to write this post for weeks but as my procrastination and perfectionism has it, I’m just now getting around to it. It’s been an interesting start to 2016 & to put it simply, a little difficult. I’ll be the first to admit that I love to put pretty pink bows on the days when I struggle. When I struggle to read my word, to make time to pray, and to drag myself to church; I like to put a nice smile on and act as if I’m not at all pushing my feet that feel as heavy as iron. So I’ve vowed to God & to myself that I’ll be as transparent as possible in this post.

About a month ago, my grandma passed, so off I went to Puerto Rico. To be honest, I didn’t want to go. All I wanted to do was pawn off the responsibility to someone else like my sister. I didn’t want to be the “strong one”. I didn’t want to “carry the load”. I didn’t want to be the shoulder that my dad had to cry on. I didn’t want to be the very person that I’m studying to become: a counselor. But as the day got closer to get on that 3 1/2 hour flight, I prayed God would fill me up with his peace and confidence. I prayed that I would be the leader that I needed to be for my family. I prayed for strength. And ultimately, I prayed God would use this trip to reveal His greatness. And because God is so faithful, he answered every prayer.

I don’t remember much about my grandmother except that she was a devoted woman to God. I can remember maybe 3 occasions where I met with my grandmother and it all had to do with God. She wore a white veil over her head to pray. But I don’t remember kindness or love. And that’s the truth. My grandmother was a prayer warrior. She left behind a great legacy that are far and few in between. She didn’t have riches, great possessions, or wealth. But she did leave behind planted seeds of prayer. And prayers don’t have expiration dates. They don’t have death certificates. So although I didn’t know her, I know of her and what I know may not include love, kindness, or patience; she did leave behind a legacy of prayer.

As I was on this trip, I came face to face with what it means to live a set apart life. It means giving up all that your flesh loves and desires. It means choosing to pray when you don’t want to. It means dressing modestly because you love to represent God. It means not gossiping or taking part in it because it hurts God, it hurts the other person, and it hurts you . It means giving without expecting in return. And how many of us give and expect at least a thank you? I want to live a life that when I give to someone in need, they thank God first. But living a set apart life means choosing to set your sights on heavenly things above. It means choosing to intercede for those you love day and night. It means picking up your armor and choosing to fight the very real spiritual battle that is going on. Living a set apart life means accepting where someone is, not necessarily liking it, and loving them anyway. It means showing love to the least and the greatest. Jesus didn’t discriminate. He was set apart by glory and we are set apart by love.

God confronted me with the truth that He chose me, just as he chose you, because He loves me. He chose me not because of the gifts He’s given me but because He’s placed His love within me. And I’m not meant to keep that love. I’m supposed to give it away. I’m supposed to show it to others.

I’d like to say that I came back completely delving into Gods plans but the truth is, I’m a work in progress and as long as I’m here, I’ll always be a work in progress. And I can’t make any promises because I fail everyday but I hope that I can love on people because Jesus chose to love on me. I want to leave behind a legacy of not only being a prayer warrior but of someone that loved people regardless of where they are, someone who gave selflessly because that’s what Jesus would do. I want to leave behind a legacy that doesn’t draw the attention to me but points straight to God. My prayer is that my life would always reflect God and His love.

Here are some pictures from my trip to Puerto Rico 🙂

  
  

As always, I pray you are encouraged, empowered, and most of all blessed ! 🙂

Dear God Daughter

Dear Bella,

Your name defines you so well. I’m learning that sometimes God creates something beautiful out of chaos and you are that something beautiful. You came into our lives like a rushing wind and maybe even turned it a little upside down. But love, true love, shakes us up and makes us realize we were missing something great. As you were twirling your dress at the altar on Sunday, I saw exactly what that something was. It was you. All of you. You see, God placed greatness inside of you. So with all of your tenacity and fierceness, we are each learning the wonders of life, even in the moments where you’re stubborn. And because your mom has given me the honor of being your godmother, there are a few things I want to share with you; things I hope you’ll learn and others that I hope you’ll never forget.

I heard somewhere that mothers choose godmothers because they hope their child will be a little like that person (all the good things, I hope). But as I grow more, I realize I wouldn’t want you to be anything like me. I grew up thinking I needed to be like everyone else to fit in and belong. But the truth is, if you live life this way, you’ll never truly belong. I’ve learned the only place you’ll ever fit in, is in Gods hands. He made you perfectly to fit into them. So let yourself find who you are in Him. And if you ever forget for a second who you are, I hope you’ll always look up. . .

I hope you learn that mistakes are powerful and necessary. Don’t distance yourself from them because it’s how you learn best. But remember that mistakes don’t define who you are, they’re just meant to teach you valuable lessons. It took me a long time to learn this one. So I hope you find freedom in letting God teach you His lessons through your mistakes. And whatever you learn, it’s never yours to keep. God teaches us things so we may pass it on. So always, always, pass it along.

I hope you never forget that your sister will always be your best friend. You don’t always have to follow her advice but listen to it anyway. She’ll frustrate you, upset you, and maybe even make you cry sometimes, but in the end, she’s the person that will love you even when you’re a little difficult to love.

I hope you learn that your value is never going to be found in people’s compliments, criticisms, or judgements. Your worth lies in what God says about you. So learn more about God and I promise you’ll find exactly how valuable you are in spite of what people say.

I pray you learn that even though people have bad days, it doesn’t make them bad. Those are the days they need love the most. And loving people is actually pretty simple. Just listen and let them be themselves. You don’t have the power to change people or you, only God can do that. So let it all go and love people anyway.

I hope you learn the power of words. So use them for healing, even when you want to hurt someone for hurting you. Use your words to build people up because that’s what they’ll remember.

Never forget that mom really does know best. No one on this earth will love you as much as she does. So listen even when you want to walk away. And you know there will be moments when you just want to call mom & cry right? Don’t second guess it. Just call her. She’s the only person that will let you cry and scream and love you anyway. Always call mom, everyday. No matter how busy you get. She’ll always expect that call.

I hope you never forget where you came from and just because you aren’t sure what your next step is, doesn’t mean you aren’t exactly where you’re supposed to be. I hope you learn that being in the moment is what counts. I hope you never lose sight of how beautiful the clouds are. I hope you look at the wonder of nature and learn that you are Gods masterpiece too. I hope you fall in love with the sound of your laughter because it really is beautiful. I hope you never live by how you feel but always stick to your commitments. People will respect you for it and you’ll learn to respect you too.

I pray that your faith is renewed every morning. I pray that you see the great things that you will accomplish even before you see them. I hope you have the patience to plant flowers and wait for them to grow. I hope you learn to see the details in the big picture because that is what makes up everything. I pray you learn that a man is a desire not a need because only God can give you exactly what you need at just the perfect time. I pray you never forget that unconditional love can only be found in God. I hope you learn that you are never ever alone because you always have Jesus. I hope you learn that fairy tales do exist but only in Gods kingdom. So remember , always look up. I hope you never stop searching for the treasures that God placed within you. But most of all, I pray you always spread love and be love because THAT is what God has blessed you with.

Love,your godmother.