The path less traveled

DSC02797
“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

DSC01510

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!!!

DSC01551DSC01571DSC01580

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.

DSC01594DSC01609DSC01629

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.

DSC01646DSC01647DSC01648

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

DSC01777DSC01786DSC01788DSC01793DSC01795DSC01927

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!

You are equipped

IMG_5199.PNG

“By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭13:21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God provided for the Israelites to travel by DAY or NIGHT. It doesn’t matter the time of day, the season, the amount of light there is or lack thereof, ; you have the resources to travel by day OR night. God doesn’t leave His children without. There is NOTHING stopping you from continuing forward. You cannot make excuses for something you already have. God has equipped you for the journey, it’s up to you to use the resources. Locate the cloud and find the pillar of fire, this is your heavenly compass. You have it in your spiritual tool box. You have your faith, your godly confidence, your resilience, your experiences. Let me encourage you today that you are NOT stuck. You are equipped to move forward.

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. 

Life Planner

DSC00208

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!!!

DSC00201

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!

DSC00209

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.

DSC00207

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.

DSC00203

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.

DSC00217

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!

DSC00215

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

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?

Love is patient, Love is kind.

e9b768f0-cb9b-4a7b-9d90-4f88d6712b30

Being that Valentine’s day just passed, I want to address the huge elephant in the room. The one in the form of bubbly hearts, expensive chocolates, even pricier roses, and cuddly teddy bears. One thing you should know about me is I love valentines day; not for the excuse to eat chocolate but because it’s a great reminder to show love and be love. And to put it simply, we all need reminders. We need to be reminded to be kind and patient. But mostly, we need to be reminded to love even when it’s hardest to love because that’s when it counts. But what exactly is love? Not that artificial, high caloric, sugar drenched love made by humans on valentines day but that real, authentic, raw, unconditional love.

The other day I was watching a movie on Netflix that really got me thinking about human love versus godly love. In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul the apostle was writing a letter to the church at Corinth. In this letter, he addresses many things the Corinthians were concerned about. One of those things was love. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, it says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always, hopes, always perseveres.”
I’m sure you’ve heard or read this somewhere. But I believe God wants to remind you what you have forgotten or maybe what you haven’t known. Let’s break down these verses and really reflect on the nature of Gods love and how we can reflect the love of Christ.

  1. Love is humble and zealous. That means you lay down your own desire and eagerly desire the well-being of the one you love.
  2. Love is self-less and slow to anger. This means it isn’t selfish or quick tempered. Next time you do or say something to someone, question your intentions. Is it for personal gain or godly reward?
  3. Love does not keep a checklist of what people have done to you. It is forgiving.
  4. Love is always honest. It isn’t merited on human standards but on biblical truth.

Godly love is without conditions. This simply means whatever you do cannot exempt you from the love of God. In the same way, our love for others should not be contingent upon what they can do for us or what we’ve done for them. It should rest on who our foundation should be: Jesus Christ. 1 John 4:8-9 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” We need to love as if we are living through Jesus. This means we must be his hands and feet, his heart and ears. But this can only happen when you place God as “the one” for you before a wife, a husband, a girlfriend, or a fiancé. Knowing the love of God first hand places you in a position to spread love the godly way. Let us strive to love as God loves us.

Watch my spoken word poem “The One” on youtube here