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Calculate your prey…

I was fascinated as I was watching a documentary about Lions. Did you know that a lion is a large cat and are known as “king of the beasts?” They are very territorial and truly defend their area against intruding lions and other animals. One of the ways a lion proclaims an area is by their roaring and scent marking on trees or different regions. Interesting enough the lions were calculating how to take down their prey, and then all of a sudden lunged at the neck and bit down until the animal was strangled.

This documentary was such a great illustration of how easily individuals can become prey and be killed. It made me reflect on how easy it is to fall prey to certain things in our lives. One downfall the lions have is that they do not keep track of the direction of the wind blowing. Which leads the bigger prey to them due to their scent marking. Reflecting on the enemies in our lives we tend to not see coming and are caught off guard.

I know one of my enemies has been “thoughts.” Did you know that we get anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts a day? Seems overwhelming and exhausting all at the same time. Experts say, typically it is more negative thoughts than positive that come and can change your whole outlook on life. Those thoughts usually come in at the midnight hours, while sitting dormant or when facing difficulties.

I know for me it is tough to shake some of those enemies off. I have watched people lose touch with who they were because this “enemy” crept in and took the life right out of them literally. Not realizing how damaging that “enemy” can be to our well-being. In the line of work that I do” thoughts” are the number one cause that enables people to remain stuck and from growing.

I have learned to decipher things and become a good listener, be more observant of where I am at mentally and watch my behaviors as well as others. At times it can be disheartening to see how people change due to the enemy that has come in and sapped who they were called to be versus who they are. We get so bombarded that one has to be intentional about deciphering what those enemies are so that they do not sap the life right out of us.

So I want to propose these questions to you:

What are some of the things that you did not calculate that have changed who you are?

Are you sitting with those feelings of defeat because you lost sight of the enemy and life has strangled who you are?

Learn to be alert and calculate how to take down your prey, so it does not take you out.

Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8, AMP).

Carriers of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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A death must take place

One of the hardest things to have to face is the death of a loved one. I know it is a part of life, but it is tough to go through. In 2007, my mother died of cancer, and there were so many different emotions that were taking place. I recall being numb and in denial, then came the outpouring feelings of rage and anger. The only way I know how to describe it is when you go on a rollercoaster and like it so much that you decide you want to ride it again and again. That is how I felt with my emotions, yet I had not permitted myself to go on that ride.

I am not one to go and visit the grave where my mother is buried. Every time I have gone, it brings pain that she is no longer here. I feel like she was buried before her time. I begin to reminisce of all our memories together some which are good and others that are not. I can hear her laughter and see her smile. It is a sad and hurtful experience for me. Emotions are raw, and technically her remains are there, but she is not. Even if I were to pull her out of the casket, it would not bring her back to life.

How about those emotional deaths that take place in our lives that we were not prepared for? The death of something that was done. Something that was buried before it’s time. Never taking the time to grieve the loss of whatever that was. Whether it was a betrayal, a relationship that ended or an unexpected loss of a home or a job, or a family member that decided to disown you at a young age. Do we ever really take the time to grieve the loss of those wounds. That pain is so unbearable that we disassociate ourselves from it and act like it never happened.

At the beginning of the year I decided to go back to school to get my Master’s in Counseling. Little did I know that I was playing two roles, the student and the client. You know that feeling of “Surprise,” but there are no balloons or party favors and realize this is not a celebration. Yes, that was my party and I was the only one attending! It has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions that have been oozing out of my pores. Things that I had buried before it’s time and never grieved.

Brene Brown says, “One must grieve the loss of what that was for something new to be born.” In my mind, this did not make any sense to me. Until I started pondering on the meaning of this. When things happen in our lives, it creates emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that came from that death that took place in our lives. Somehow we recreate this new identity due from that death that took place.

Remember that part of not liking to visit my mother’s gravesite, well this has been the process for the past 12 weeks. I have had to go to the gravesite of my deaths that have taken place and pull out the casket and look at those things in the face and mourn, cry, and scream. At times it is as if I am revisiting those same deaths. It has been one of the hardest things to face, harder than the emotions of the actual death of my mother. Different waves of emotion that surface without an invitation. I am not sure if I have ever felt so broken and to my recollection, I thought I had buried those things for good.

What I am learning from my schooling, and the wonderful Brene Brown is learning how to visit those deaths in the face and grieve the loss of what occurred and then close the casket. As you are reading this, I am praying that this particular blog touched your heart today. I am not sure where you are in visiting those areas of your life that caused death to take place, but I do want you to let you know that it may be painful at first but at the same it is so liberating. For something to be born something must die in us first!

So I say to you, “Do it afraid!” Face whatever that is, whether it is fear, bitterness, resentment or unforgiveness and mourn the loss of whoever caused it and go back and close that casket for good! I promise you it will feel so liberating and bring freedom and something new will be born out of it!

Sandy Cortes

Carrier’s of Hope,

Breathing Hope One Life at Time!

Why do you keep ringing that bell?

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Have you ever read the story of Corrie Ten Boom? She was a Holocaust Survivor. Corrie was in a concentration camp with her sister. They were mistreated and eventually her sister died.  There was a guard that mistreated Corrie and her sister for many years. On one particular day she was scheduled to die and somehow they made a mistake and released her from the camp.   For many years she held unto what that guard had done to her and replayed it over and over in her mind.

Have you ever seen those beautiful large bells and how beautiful they sound when you pull on them?  She used an illustration of letting things go. Well the ringing of the bell was her feelings that continue to remind her of what was done. Once she began to let go of the rope, the noises of the bell seem to begin to slow down and eventually stop. Meaning her feelings began to subside and she no longer heard the noise.

Well forgiveness is like letting go of the bell rope. It is not easy to just stop pulling on the rope.  I can relate in being a professional at pulling that rope.  Many years of my life I recall being so angry at my step father for all he had done to me.  I believed that if I forgave my dad that it meant that what he did was okay.  See, forgiveness is not about what was done to you it is about letting go of the person that did what they did to you. That sounds so simple right? Wrong, if I can be completely vulnerable here, whenever anyone has done something to me, it has always been a challenge to just let it go.

I held my position my at the bell post and God called out things pertaining to my stepfather and I refuse to leave the position.  This was an area of my life that was dead to me.  My heart was calloused and there was no heartbeat there.  When the Lord asked me to forgive, I was having a tantrum and refused to give him that area of my life.  I believed that if I trusted once and people hurt me then there would not be a second chance and basically your dead to me!

When the Lord asked me to forgive, I refused to give him that area of my life.  Then he gently reminded me, “I have forgiven you and have not turned my back or closed my heart towards you”.  That was like a scene out of the Wizard of Oz where the witch is saying, “I’m melting”.  It was one of the toughest things for me to do.It was really hard to forgive and even today I have to remind myself, “Let it go”.

Forgiveness is not about forgetting. Forgiveness is a process that can take years to overcome.  By extending forgiveness it doesn’t make things right or say that the person who caused the offense won’t do it again. Or that the person will ever come to you and ask for your forgiveness.  You may be saying Sandy, “You don’t understand what this person did” or maybe this person continues to hurt you.  Please know I don’t expect for you to be a doormat and allow that person to continue hurting you, not at all!

I knew I could not do it in my own strength and needed help.  I am reminded of the words that he said as he was laying on that cross, “Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing”.  He chose to forgive even with what was happening to him. I wish I could say that I have been that quick to forgive, but I am working at letting it go a lot faster than where I once was.  I have resigned of my position at the post.

So are you ready to stop pulling on the rope?  I promise you it takes a lot more energy continuing to remind yourself of what was done versus releasing it to God and allowing him to teach you how to forgive.

Beloved, I am not sure what you are facing today but God knows.  He is such a gentleman and extends a hand in the process to help you forgive.  Maybe your father or mother abandoned you, or maybe you experienced some type of trauma, or you’re in a relationship that person continues to hurt you. Or just maybe you need to forgive yourself!  Whatever it is God is here and says, “It’s time to let go”.  He will be right there as you release it to him and will help bring healing and restoration to your heart.

Life Application

  • Identify if you’re a professional at pulling on the rope or have a position at the bell post
  • What are those areas that you have held unto to, that it is time to give to him.
  • Allow the Lord to bring healing and restoration to those areas of your life.
  • Share with someone so that they can help walk alongside this process.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13, NIV).

I pray this has ministered to your life.  Help me by sharing it to someone who can use a word of encouragement!

Be Blessed,

Sandy Cortes, Carrier’s of Hope

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

 

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History vs His-Story

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How many times have you gone to one of the social media sites and looked up one of your friends or a friend of a friends post or timeline?  Somehow we all have a way of choosing the profession of suddenly becoming a private investigator.  We become so good at it, that we should be getting paid for it!  Have you ever noticed the way people post their lives? You scroll down to see their history.  You see the beautiful pictures and things that are happening. Then there are other people with their posts and you think, “Why did they post that or how many selfies did it take for that perfect looking picture?” I still do not understand the whole selfie thing with women, but that’s another blog for another day.

By the looks of things, people seem to have it all together.  Those flawless pictures, postings, events and parties, you name it’s there.  How often do you read or see what is truly going on? Why do people not post those challenges or hard moments? Only those perfect moments.  Could it be fear of being judged, ridiculed, or are ashamed to confess those hidden challenges? I mean who likes to put their life out there on blast for the world to see?  Who wants to be looked at that way, right?  I have been that person who posted those pretty moments in the midst of a dark time. Where I felt like I am not going to make it out of this storm, but let me give myself a boost and get the acknowledgment I may be seeking at that moment.  I do not recall ever posting a dark moment and if I did it was more like a “Prayer request: Please pray for me or my family” type of thing.  I have been afraid of being judged or the perfectionist side of me kicks in and says “I have to always display “looking perfect” at all times!” Instead of my name being Sandy Cortes, it was more like “Perfect Patty”.  Major identity crisis and such a lie I have bought into and that I am challenged by!  Did I mention I am a recovering perfectionist and still recovering? Yes, that me!

I am reminded of Jesus today.  Jesus went through hard times, faced abandonment, betrayal, disappointment, rejection and was humiliated and yet was perfect! Jesus sat with the ones who were dysfunctional, broken and did not have it all together, but this was all put part of his timeline in history.  Imagine sitting in a History class listening to a synopsis of a famous person. You hear how they began and struggled along the way. Those challenges sharpen them and made history.  Jesus made history!

One of the things I tell my clients, “We cannot change what has gone on in your life, what matters is what you do with it”.  This life of ours is part of the story, part of HIS-STORY. Every circumstance and challenge we face will glorify God! Every situation goes into a file and is tucked away. Then one day you pull it out and share a chapter of your story, you share your History!  I am not sure what you may be covering up or are being challenged by or are afraid of sharing but remember “This is part of the story “His Story”. It will be part of History and be used for his glory.  Think about that History class, the synopsis of that famous person is YOU!

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” ‭‭(2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIV).  ‬‬

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16).

Life Application

  • What is on your timeline?
  • What are some of this challenges?
  • Keep a record of them.
  • Imagine sitting in that History class.
  • Listening to that famous person, YOU!
  • Know when it’s time to bring out that chapter out in your life!
  • Then you share your History.
  • Recognizing that it was part of His Story for your life.

God Bless!

Carrier’s of Hope

Breathing Hope one Life at a Time!