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Authentic Self

Have you struggled to share your authentic self with others? Do you even know who your authentic self is?

When I think of being authentic, I think of a person who wears no makeup. I am not saying that a person who wears makeup is not genuine. I am saying this is what comes to my mind. A fresh, clean face with nothing on it to cover it up. No highlighters, foundation, or concealer are covering up the imperfections or flaws.

So many times in our lives, we try to cover up our authentic self because of rejection, acceptance, or fear of being judged. So we create a counterfeit of who we think people will accept and approve. Or show up as a person we believe will fit in and be liked.

In some of my own experiences, people have ridiculed me for being authentic. Either when I have shared my heart on a matter, or my feelings got hurt, and I have expressed it to the offender. Or when I have been wholly misunderstood.

2019 has been about self-discovery. I had many counterfeit moments before embarking on this new journey. I thought if this is the response I get for being real? It’s better to be fake! But is it really? Your only cheating yourself!

Being authentic comes with a pretty hefty cost. There is a risk that comes with being authentic. That not a lot of people will buy or like you for it. Many years ago, God reminded me, whatever you do, Sandy keeps things real.” So this was brought back full circle in 2019.

What I discovered is that not a lot of people can handle someone being authentic or showing their vulnerability. It is like a mirror reflection of themselves, of them being counterfeit, hiding behind all the fluffs, titles, and whatever other concealers and become threatened. People, including myself, can say hurtful things that can scar us if we are not careful when we see our true reflection.

So, are YOU being your authentic self? If you have been a counterfeit, then its time to come out of hiding and get around people who are willing to take the risk and be authentic with you!

“Staying real” is one of the most courageous battles that we will ever fight.

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life At a Time!

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"WHY?"

Some many things happen in our lives that we don’t understand the reasoning behind. I am always making a mental list jotting down in my mind when things have not gone as planned. Or rather, as I prayed accordingly to my selfish desires or needs. Some of those specifics things made me question my faith and blame God. Seeing my mother healed once of cancer, and yet the next time, it completely took her out. Praying for marriage and seeing them go through the hardship of a divorce. Death of a loved one unexpectedly after we poured our hearts out and p[rayed and saw their entire family restored than all of sudden killed by a drunk driver. Those things left me feeling unheard or beating myself up, saying, I should have prayed or fast more — those times when I felt like God had not come through. Or these are the results of my poor choices throughout my life, and it being payback.

It was discouraging for me when the results were not what I had expected or prayed. Those things caused me to question his existence. I created no space to look outside of that and allowed my heart to become hardened and stagnant in my relationship with him. Envisioning myself that when I got to heaven, pulling out my list and telling the people behind me, “I need a few minutes so he can answer these questions. Things that I took to heart and did not understand why it did not come through. Being so angry at God and questioning his goodness.

Yet, the more I get to know him today, I realize his goodness and love for me and others in this world. The more I am on this earth and commune with him, I am learning that he is a good and kind father like no other I have ever known or experienced. The kind of father who loves me unconditional without walls or barriers. With my imperfections, questioning, doubts, and fears and yet meets me at my ugliest moments knowing how I feel. Do you recall when Jesus was on the cross and cried out to his father, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”? He questioned his father and felt abandoned.

I am so thankful that he rescued me from a life full of brokenness and searching for validation in all the wrong places. I should have been dead or not living the life I am today. I am learning to trust that he knows the “WHYS.” See, I know deep in my heart he has always looked out for me throughout different situations that have crossed my path. Yet, I have struggled with doubt, and my faith has waivered so many times.

I heard something so profound by Bill Johnson and thought, “Thank you for explaining to those that can be close-minded like myself and that have had a lack of faith, still learning to trust in taking him at his word. These words hit home, and it has begun to change my perspective about everything and silenced my doubts and questioning — something so profound but not as simple when you are in your head and has struggled with disbelief.

He stated, “When it doesn’t work, we don’t blame God. We celebrate and give him the glory. We celebrate his goodness. Nothing about our experiences, difficult or not, changes who he is”. Thank you, Bill Johnson, for setting me straight! Immediately that list came to mind, and I felt such a wave of peace with those words. I am laying to rest my list of questioning, struggles, and of blaming God for specific things. Giving Him glory and praising him for his goodness and that I will continue to see his glory.

Beloved, what is it that you have felt that God did not come through in your life? Is this what is holding you back from experiencing his goodness and from moving forward? Sometimes we have to take a step back and reflect and trust the process. We may never know why something occurred, but he knows the “WHYS”!

I want to encourage you to go deeper in your journey with him. Learn to share those hard moments with God in how your feeling and to help with disbelief. I encourage you to seek his face and goodness in those parts of your life that have been difficult? Throw away the list and embrace his goodness. Do not let the “WHYS” paralyze you! I am jumping from the sidelines, getting my praise, and waiting in expectation of what God is doing within you!!!

Carrier’s of Hope,


Sandy Cortes


Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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"You may bend, but you won't break."

So many times in our lives, things happen that are out of our control and make us feel like it is going to break us. Well, mine started at the beginning of this year and has been steadily moving daily. This year has been a year of change, pushing me to face fears, insecurities, and tons of self-discovery. I realized that things that are taking place are forcing me to be more of a well-rounded individual as a wife, mother, leader, and friend. I had to step back and look at it from a different perspective. It is recognizing that this season is refining and positioning me into my calling. I am learning to embrace the process, no matter how overwhelming it can be.

One of my professors said, “You may bend, but you won’t break.” This season is realigning me into the person I was called to be. I am learning to visit those areas that have been stagnant or that have been hard to face. By evaluating what has been beneficial and getting rid of the things that are choking me out. Those things have kept me from change. I am learning to put those things by the waste side as they are not supposed to be part of my life. That is where they need to go. I have started to prepare for the harvest that is coming my way. Excited and reflecting on how this season has brought good change and pushed me forward of what needed to happen within me.

So, I want to encourage you today and ask you:

  • What area in your life do you need to stop putting off and face?”
  • What do you need to put by the waste side?
  • Do you need someone keeping you accountable?

Reflect and reevaluate where you are today. Sometimes sharing those challenges will help us because that individual will ask you how you are doing? It keeps things shaking in our lives. It may be challenging what you have to face, but this may be the season to do that. Trust me; I get it sometimes we have to go backwards to move forward. Which can be very painful or exhausting. It will push you but yet bring renewal and refreshment to you. You will never know until you step forward and face it. Learn to trust the process and remember, “You may bend, but you won’t break.”

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time

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“Did I just say that?”

In the line of work that I do, it requires me to speak, address, and encourage. At times this can be a challenge for me, especially when you see someone making the same decisions over and over again, knowing that this has not been beneficial for that individual or the situation.

I have been guilty of saying something that I did not utilize wisdom in the way I spoke towards myself, with my children, spouse, and my influence of friends. Where the words just came spewing out of my mouth. You know that feeling you get when you were wanting to kick yourself and are saying, “Did I just say that out loud.” Knowing that no matter what, I said, it wouldn’t change anything, and I can’t take it back.

I am quickly learning that I have to use wisdom in the things I say and that my tongue can steer what direction I want to go in and not. It is like a rudder on a ship in how it determines the direction a ship will go. My tongue has the power to steer a conversation in a positive or opposite direction. I have been guilty of hitting many avalanches, and my ship quickly sinking like the titanic.

Our tongue has the power to produce life and death. It can speak words of encouragement to people and their circumstances or can crush an individual’s spirit and create discouragement and the will to fight the good fight on their growth. It is so easy to spew out words out of frustration.

I am becoming more conscious of watching what I say. Asking myself, “Is this going to edify or tear down whatever that is that is that I am facing.” I am completely transparent here at times I want to go straight to tearing down whether it is to myself that I am speaking to or speaking of others. Then the light bulb begins to flash, and I have to ask, “Is this helping the situation,” and I do walk away feeling any better? The answer is, “No.”

So I want to challenge you today to come on this journey with me. To be conscious and watch what you are saying and then ask yourself, is this helping the situation or tearing it down? Let’s speak life into our situation and whatever it is your facing today. There is already enough negativity in this world; let’s be the light and shine in the midst of those dark moments of our lives, so we can help others shine the light on theirs.

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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I can’t take it anymore!

There I was in the middle of the night my chest felt tight, my left arm became numb. I did not know what was going on and never felt this way before. Little did I know I was having an anxiety attack. There was a lot of late nights and that particular night I had many things on my mind. Things that I had to get done or that were not done. On top of all of that I was in the middle of a research class.

That day the signs in my body were telling me, this is too much and it is time to slow down. Lately, I have been reflecting how certain things in our life can be so crippling. The busyness and hustle to get things done. The endless to-do-list can be very exhausting and create so much tension and anxiety.

I am learning how anxiety is so dangerous for our bodies. It can weighs us down enabling us from moving forward.
It was time to take a step back and reflect on what was going on and how to minimize the anxiety and stressors. Figuring out a way to let go of certain things and being okay with that process.

I have identified something that has helped me along this journey with anxiety and my ginormous to do list. I like to call it the “dumping site”. Where I grab a sheet of paper and write down what I am feeling at that moment and/or things that need to get done. This allows me to reflect on what is on my mind and decide what to let go of, delegate or postpone for another day. Then I speak to myself and say, “Sandy, you can do this, or it is okay that it did not get done or this is something you have to say “no too”. If I am having negative self talk and being hard on myself, I replace those words with encouraging words and speak life into that negativity. This has empowered and has allowed me to continue moving forward.

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up! Learn to be kind and speak to yourself when your having those paralyzing moments in life. They will come, it’s just a matter of finding out what you do once it is here.

So, if you are struggling with anxiety or the stressors of life I want to challenge you to try visiting the dumping site. Write down your feelings in that moment and rewrite any negativity.

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

Take off the old self and grab ahold of the new!

This week I had a young man tell me that his soon to be mother-in-law didn’t want him to marry her daughter. I asked why, “He said, she still sees me like the old person I use to be”.

A few months back, this young man began to recognize things in him that he was no longer happy with. He began to focus on those areas and began to create change little by little.

When your in transition and someone still sees or remembers you as that old self that can be discouraging. No matter what you say they still define you as who they once knew. Which is understandable because they have never met the new you!

I know there are areas in my life that I struggle with and that I am working on. Some days are harder than others but I continue to press toward the goal.

Self reflection: Are there areas in your life that you are struggling with? That you no longer want it to define you as. Let’s hone in one thing at a time!

I said to this young man, “You do not have to prove that your a changed man. Allow others to see your behaviors and actions of who you have become”. Watch your thoughts and attitudes in your mind and continue to throw off the old self when it tries to creep back in and embrace the new self!

The key is continuing to move forward even if your afraid of embarking on the new you that you have never met. But do it, even if your doing it afraid!

In order to be world changers it has to begin within us. Here is quote I want to leave you with:

You can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending- C.S. Lewis

Carrier’s of Hope

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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The Bully Within

Throughout my upbringing, I recall having two physical bullies at my school. Every day they would find a way to pick at me, steal my lunch, or push me around. It was terrifying not knowing what was going to happen on any given day.

Until one day, I said, “No more, no more am I going to allow this.” I confronted those bullies. It was terrifying and I knew there was a risk of getting beat up. To my surprise, they were quite shocked that I took a stand, and from that day, they never bothered me again. I couldn’t believe that all those months I allowed them to bully me and push me around.

Those bullies left a scar on my heart with all the hurtful things that they would say to me. It was tough to shake those things off, and eventually those became a part of me.

Some of my bullies within have been “You are not enough, your not smart enough, and what makes you different from anyone else? Those bullies taunted me my entire life until I learned to face those bullies as I did in High School.

How often do you confront the bullies in your mind?

These bullies nag, criticize, judge, and take you down just if it was like a physical bully in front of you. Every day they show up to pick and fight. Those messages tear down our self-esteem and security. If we do not fight those bullies within, they hinder our emotional well being. We can remain stuck in life.

So what are some of the inner bully messages that keep you stuck and hamper your well-being?

Take action and stand up and fight that bully within.

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time