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!! 🙂

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?