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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What are you afraid of and how does it affect you?

It’s interesting to me how the word “change” means and affect people in different ways. One of my clients once told me, “That she wanted to apologize for the miscommunication she has had, but when she speaks to me that it is excellent, but it’s intimidating. She stated when she sees me; I represent change, a pleasant change one she feels she needs. But she knew this meant having to go within herself and do some changes which would be a tough task for her.

I realize that we are all trying to get through life with those fragmented pieces of our lives. Unknowing why we act a certain way or don’t know how to bring change. For many years, I believed I was damaged. I was comfortable with those fragmented pieces of me that weren’t healthy and thought those pieces would keep me safe. Until I couldn’t do it anymore, I was going down a destructive path of self-hatred and sabotaging and should have been dead. I could relate to my client and what it meant to change and had so many different fears towards change.

Change can be challenging and emotionally draining. Old patterns and habits are hard to break. I read this quote by Socrates, “The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Focus on what you need to do to orchestrate change in your life. For example, I began to allow someone to have access to my messiness and hold me accountable. Someone who would not judge or condemn me, but that would let me have a “brave space” that I could trust and be willing to facilitate change.

This is where change began to take place within me, and yes, a lot of times I would be kicking and screaming and felt very much like the witch in Wizard of Oz, melting away. It was hard to face those fragmented pieces of myself that I had been so comfortable with. Someone came alongside and walked through those fragmented parts of my life that needed healing and change.

Even today, I still have someone who holds me accountable whether a new season in my life has come that seems unbearable or challenges that I may be trying to walk out. Accountability has become part of my life because it is easy to get complacent and allow old patterns in. Decide to let go of some of those fragmented parts that you are tired of living with. I want to challenge you to evaluate where you are at today.

Are you afraid of change, ask yourself these questions:
-What if I change this part of me what will life look like?
-What will people say, if that is who I have been and change?
-What will I do, if that change is gone?
-Who will I be?
-Has this been part of my identity?
-Will people still love and accept me?

I am so passionate about helping and encouraging others, the same I was. I speak hope into the lives of those that are hopeless, stopped growing, and are stuck in defeat, believing that this was the life they were meant to live-assuming that they are damaged and that is the path of heading towards destruction. It is easy to hold onto those parts of our lives that we believe help keep us safe or prohibit us from growing. Remember the meaning of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Choose today to want change and you will get the results you have always wanted! You are worth it!

Sandy Cortes

Carrier’s of Hope

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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Imperfect Being

Lately, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching. Wondering where did this fragmented part of me called “perfectionist” come from? In my early years, I was all over the place, and “order” did not exist in my life. Not until I had children and got my first corporate job is when I started to understand the importance of order and how it needed to become part of my life. Then I began to notice that if there was something that was not in order or that was not done right; then I would come undone. I would become frustrated, or the little lie would whisper, “You could have done a better job at that.” Honestly, I never paid attention to why I would respond to certain things like that.

Growing up, I knew my parents always wanted the best for me and loved me. They wanted me to have a good-paying career, and an education which who doesn’t want that for their children. Both parents were hard workers. My stepfather was strict and had a lot of “do’s and “don’t.” So whenever something was not up to his standards, he would vocalize or demonstrate how disappointed he was of me and my behavior. It could have been the smallest things, like not washing the dishes properly. Then the harsh comments would come, “You can never do anything right or “You are so lazy, you will never amount to anything or my least favorite, “You will always be a failure.”

Earlier this year, I began the journey of self-discovery and started to search in places that had always been there but never had I visited. I have been on a quest of trying to connect the dots of why I do certain things or why I allow certain things to bother me. There is where I found that fragmented part of me called, perfectionist.” The connection in why things had to be a certain way. Whenever I would hear those words in my head, “You can never do anything right” the actions would follow right after where everything needed to be perffect for it to be considered right, how twisted is that? What saddens me the most is that I spent many years in that vicious cycle.

I even introduced this fragmented part of me to my children as well. I did not vocalize it but by giving a cold shoulder or my disapproval look, that said enough. I am quickly learning to extend grace and forgive myself and be an encourager to them when they have their moments. I find myself praying that they too will get the same revelation I have; not called to perfect. It is okay to want to have things in order, and it is reasonable to want to strive to achieve a specific goal for personal reasons that are healthy or that will help you grow. But when you attempt to be perfect or hard on yourself for falling short, that’s when it becomes unhealthy.

That is where that fragmented part gives birth and creeps in and eats at even the best parts of you. Everyone is imperfect, and there is not a perfect being on this earth. So why continue to strive after something that no matter how much you attempt to perfect never happens, and waste years achieving something that is a dead end. Everyone is flawed in their way and has challenges that they may or not recognize in them. But when you begin to get stressed out, or it becomes compulsive in reaching an absolute perfection, this becomes a weakness, and now that pesky little guy has gnawed his teeth inside of you and seeks to suck the life out of you, which hinders you from living a life of being content, fulfillment, and happiness.

So beloved, I want you to ask yourself what you are striving after? Who or what have you allowed to creep in that resides and is continually eating away at you?

I pray that you would know that you are enough and are loved. That you would know God sees you as his beautiful masterpiece and made no mistakes when he created you.

Carrier’s of Hope

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time.

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The importance of having friendships

Having friends in our lives is a necessity and can positively impact our lives. You can have acquaintances, which are more casual friends and than there are those that are worth chasing after to have a strong friendship. Some are closer to the heart. Those are the ones that have created influences in your life, are ones you can rely on and make time. Friendships take time to build and require effort. As long as your willing to put in the time and effort, those friendships can bless your lives.

I was one to never really have friends growing up. Maybe a handful is what I recall. I realized I needed to have friends. In meeting new people, this can be very hard and uncomfortable. It requires putting yourself out there and at times can be hard just to let loose. Will requires stepping out of your comfort zone. Some of the ways that you can step out are by joining a book club, or going to a social event and inviting a casual friend that you may have and want to grow the relationship. Alternatively, talking with people from your job or school.

My eyes have been enlightened to watch how people struggle with being rejected by others. I once was a product of that and would be quick to reject before someone would reject me. I am a grad student, and I have observed how people can be standoffish and to themselves. That I have purposely made it a point to conversate with my classmates and invited them over to my home, remember the part that I mentioned in having to step out of your comfort zone, well that is a huge stepping out for me inviting them too “Casa Cortes.” The more you share and spend time with one another the more it will blossom. You also begin to create memories. The other day I was thinking to myself, “It would be so awesome to have a slumber party or making a one day trip together. These are some ways to bond while doing some of the things you all can enjoy.

When making a new friend, take some time to get to know them. Ask about their family and things they like to do for fun. You are going to want to spend time with them and make plans together. This is how people begin to form bonds- by sharing experiences. The more time along the way the more the friendship will grow. It may take time, but it is worth it. Remember it is not about the quantity but about spending quality time with them and building relationships.

One of the most necessary things about friendships is being open and transparent without having those fears of being judged. The more you share with an individual, the more likely they are to share with you. If something is upsetting you call your friend and share with them. Alternatively, if your friend is bothered or upset make yourself available and express your concern and be that listening ear. It is vital to make sure you have a listening ear and avoid judging them as well.

Lately, I have begun practicing on my school nights acknowledging others and expressing, “How thankful I am to see and do life with them.” Especially those classmates that are harder to express their emotions, I go the extra mile to let them know I appreciative I am for them. One of the best things that you can give a new friend is making sure you are being authentic and keeping your word in what you tell them. Shows that the person is reliable and trustworthy and helps make the relationship stronger.

Lastly, be quick to reconcile versus allowing things to simmer within the friendship. Friends fight and have disagreements, and this is normal. It is okay to agree to disagree. It is essential to take the necessary step to reconcile and keep accounts short. As a friend, one must take responsibility and apologize and share your heart in the manner and finding ways to prevent a similar situation in the future.

Throughout my journey I have learned many things about myself and was one to be on my own island. Realizing that there were people across the island mingling. Friend that came along the way that God brought to my life to help, encourage and provide something in me that I was missing, to be loved and accepted and to feel apart of a community. It has been a blessing to have friends in my life that I consider my family. That I am able to be authentic and share from the heart still being friends after so many years.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time

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Magnified

I found myself struggling with a situation that as the minutes went by it became magnified. The thoughts began to creep into my heart. I felt my chest becoming tight and was feeling a lot of anxiety.

I kept replaying the movie over and over asking myself, “Am I making the right decision? What if I’m not qualified? What if I am not chosen?

I had to ask myself, “What are you allowing into your heart and mind? This is what is keeping you away from the very thing that you’re longing to do. The situation becomes so magnified to the point that you become paralyzed and do not go into what you’re wanting to do.

That enemy is called “FEAR”. It becomes magnified in our lives that it keeps us away from the things that we’ve been called to do. It prohibits us from pushing forward and going after those things that God has placed in your heart. Those desires didn’t come from you, God placed them there.

So, I decided to go and face the very thing that I was most afraid of doing. I got in my car and begin driving towards that very magnified situation. I had to stare fear in the face and tell it to get out of my way! In this particular situation I knew there would be prestige people there with high educational backgrounds. I knew that they were going to be probing and interviewing me to see if I’m qualified to get into their program. That was the fear that was eating at me. It was telling me, “Sandy” are you crazy, they will not pick you! “You were not called to do this”.

Not only did I take the action steps to go but regardless of what they said I had to make a decision that if I was not accepted into this program I had to know God had something better. Regardless of the decision I was not going to allow it to dictate who I am. I had to look at myself in the mirror and say, “There’s a lot of qualities about you that can help others. You were called to do great things and by allowing the leading of the Holy Spirit it will bring healing and hope to the lives of others. You have to know that if your not selected for this program, this is not the one God wants you to do!! That’s what I had to remain focused on”.

Typically the program will notify you in 24 hours with a decision. I thought to myself, “This is going to be a long 24 hours for me”. So what was suppose to be 24 hours later, came within 2 hours. I received an email that I had been accepted into the program to pursue to my Masters to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I quickly knew that God hand was all over this.

I thought to myself, “All the energy I was wasted prior to this! Did it make the situation come sooner? Did it help any by allowing fear to become magnified in my heart?

I want to ask you some questions:

• What is it that your most afraid of?

• What is it that you’re good at?

• What is one desire in your heart that you have wanted to do and haven’t done it due to fear?

• Focus on those things and those things will grow.

• Become more selective in your thoughts and more intentional on what you focus on.

• Stare fear in the face and walk into the very thing your afraid to do!

DO IT AFRAID!!!!

Carrier’s of Hope

Breathing Hope one Life at Time


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Retract or Come eat

animal-animal-photography-blur-1264060Have you ever wondered why a turtle retracts its neck back into its shell?  I believed that it was used as a source of protection from their predators.  Many years ago, I was one who would retract as a source of protection.  Just as the turtle if I sensed fear or danger, I would go into my shell.  By going inward, I was protecting myself from harm and keep others from harming me.  I was raised by a stepfather that was in leadership in our local church and a completely different man at home.  From the very beginning there was a lot of rejection.  So, I stayed away whenever I felt threaten and retreated to my shell.  It was a defensive mechanism for me.  Hiding became a way of living for me and subconsciously I did not know that I was doing that.

By the age of 24, I endured a lot of hardship.  I had a dysfunctional upbringing with abuse, was a wife, a mother of two children and on the brink of a divorce.  I was on a vicious cycle full of anger and shame oozed out of my pores.   I had major trust issues and always questioned people’s motives.  Everyone was considered a predator out to harm me.  I would flee the scene whenever I felt threaten by things in my environment.  This was a habit that was really hard to give up until I recognize the patterns in my life that I was constantly repeating.  My behaviors were out of control and I had to draw a line in the sand.  I had to decide that if I was going to continue to live this life or let people in.  I had to keep my heart from retracting and going into my shell.

In 1999, I decided to go visit a church that my mother in law had been attending for a number of years.  I wish it was because I voluntarily went I did it more out of obligation so that she would not ask me again.  I had a hard countenance and thought to myself, “This people are all being super nice, why”?  It was hard to not show on my face what I was thinking about all these crazy nice people.  I cannot recall the message the Pastor spoke on that day.  I can recall the intense look he was giving when he was making a call for people who wanted a fresh start in their life.  I found myself walking towards the front and saying “Yes” not knowing how or why I was up there.

Little by little I began to see who God truly was in my life and how he began to bring women who loved me unconditionally.  Who would challenge me to think and grow, but there I was going into my shell whenever people got to close.  I had to reprogram my mind and say to myself, “They are here to help you and not harm you”. They walked alongside me and can see that I struggled to let people in.  Thank God for their patience and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.  Which allowed them to usher in the healing I needed.  As well as allowed me to walk in the freedom I was intended to walk. I definitely feel it was a divine appointment when he brought me to that church.

Church is another tool that we can utilize that brings accountability if you are willing.  It can also bring healing if you are ready to allow others in and not retract into your shell.  So, would you like for me to tell you another reason why turtles retract their necks in and out?  New research suggests that its original purpose was likely not defense, but was to find food.  That is correct, I said, “food”. They would use it for hunting or attacking their prey.  I have heard of snapping turtles and I definitely came in with those characteristics and can act upon them at times, if were being honest.

Hebrews 5:12-14 says, “for though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil”.

When I came to this church, I needed to retract and put myself put there.  I sought guidance and needed someone to teach me the basic principles and spoon feed me.  In equipping and teaching me with the tools I needed to be able to stand on my two feet. As challenges came up, I sought guidance and knew that my community was there and so was the word of God as my nourishment.

It was important to not retract and come out and ask for help when I was stuck and trust me, I still do this today.  Church has been a great community for me and I want to challenge you to get involved and find a church home. I could no longer sit in the pew and remain spiritually fat.  I had to go out and give what God had given to me.  God has brought many “Sandys” around me that I have been able to be that source of community and accountability too.  I have been a member of this church for 19 years now. Those leaders played a huge role in my life and have a lot to do with the person I am today.

Life Application

  •  Have you found your home?
  • Ask God to lead you to your church home where your welcomed and people will not judge you and love you as you are.

This is what Jesus would do when he would hang out with the imperfect people.  He shared and communion with them and loved them unconditionally with nothing in return but for them to know him! And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Be Blessed,

Sandy Cortes

Carrier’s of Hope,

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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Here we go!

adrenaline-amusement-carnival-66143.jpg

There went the weekend and Monday was here.  Attempting to start another diet and telling myself, “I need to log my food”.  There I was dealing with the feelings of disappointment and failing once again.  I was on another roller coaster ride.  Yet, I was not holding my arms up screaming with excitement, they were more like feelings of defeat.  I asked myself, “Sandy, Why are you not taking care of yourself?”  Your not happy with yourself and do not like how you feel.  Those feelings of self-hatred began to taunt me.

Growing up, I believed this is who I was, due to what my step father would say, so this was normal to me.  When I looked in the mirror I always saw the “overweight girl”.  Yet, I was not overweight but partnered with this belief.  I wore it like a necklace around my neck it was part of my accessories.  I went through sexual trauma growing up and was bullied by a girl who continually molested me.  She would make threats that if I said anything she would beat me up.  So I believed that no one would no longer touch me inappropriately if I was overweight.

My father would say, “Your fat and no one likes a fat person”, “Do you know being fat is not attractive”.   Eating became a way of soothing and self sabotaging myself.  I slowly began to eat away the pain.  I did not realize I was an emotional eater.  At 17, I left my home and gained about a hundred and fifteen pounds.  I was finally able to hide behind the weight.  It created this self-hatred within me and can hear the lies of my stepfather.  Thank God I was able to lose that that weight.  Lately, I noticed some old behaviors coming back.  I was positioning myself to stand in line waiting for the roller coaster to arrive.

Have you ever done something where you knew what you had to do?  Yet, you don’t do it and go back to what feels comfortable.  Knowing full well your supposed to do.  It will make you happier, confident and being content with yourself.  I myself had to do some soul-searching lately.  Wondering, why I have been out of control with eating?  What is happening internally that is causing  me to respond this way?  I definitely do not want to gain all that weight back. Then I hear this scripture, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do”.

Somewhere along the line I became comfortable and complacent again.  I lost my focus of the goal and I stop believing that I can do this.  Just when you thought this girl was down, the fighter in me doesn’t just quit, quitting is not an option!  As I was standing there I saw the roller coaster go right by me.  Why? Because I decided to do something simple for myself and not get on the rollercoaster.  Today, I have not eaten any candy and I am back to drinking more water.  As humans we can complicate things more than we need too.  I have to keep things simple so that I don’t become overwhelm and quit on myself.  I walk away feeling like a winner and watching the roller coaster go by.

I want to encourage you, that if you are on a roller coaster ride, it’s okay.  Let’s do some soul-searching on whatever is oozing in your life or has become a struggle. The biggest part of this race on earth is to keep going and not quit.  Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize!

Life Application 

  • Are you on the roller coaster and ready to get off?
  • What promises have you made to yourself that you have not showed up too?
  • Start with something small you want to add to your life, maybe something simple like drinking more water or watching your thoughts, or mediate for 5 minutes on the good things that are happening in your life.
  • Once you have accomplished what you have added, focus on one thing you want to change and keep going.

No longer standing in line, waiting to get on the ride!

Sandy Cortes, Carrier’s of Hope

Breathing Hope one Life at a Time!