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Being deformed rather than transformed

shattered doll

I recall back in my high school years I loved wearing high heels. Back then they were called pumps. This girl had a struct like a runway model always feeling ready for a show.

Several years ago I began having pain on my left foot, so I decided to see a podiatrist. I am embarrassed to be putting this out there for the world to read. He said, “Sandy, you have a bunion growing on your foot.” I quickly said, “A who, come again, an onion.” I’m laughing as I am typing this. He could see the puzzling look on my face. So I asked him, “What in the world is that, how did that happen and how do we get rid of it?” He mentioned, “It a bony profusion that forms in the joint at the base of the big toe.” Then it begins to put pressure on the big toe causing it to grow outward. I had this confused look on my face; it was not registering.

Here are some stats, do you know that about 8% of women over the age of 21 reports having this condition. I thought to myself, “I am not trying to be part of this girl’s club. The analytical in me kicked in and pondered on that percentage being low. Well, come to find out that it is about 18 million women, and I was one of them.

I was still waiting for how did it happen part, and he mentioned several things. Then the light bulb went off when he said that it could come from the high-heeled, pointy toe, poorly designed or ill-fitting shoes. Remember that runway model back in high school. The doctor recommended not wearing those cute high heels caused the bunion would continue to grow. My feathers were already ruffled and sprawled out like a peacock having to let go of the crown of my days as a runway model, and now all those beautiful heels pointed shoes to go away.

Then he said, “It is a slow process, and you have no control when it begins to a happen and over time the toe starts to shape itself to the right. Toes are not supposed to do that! That day I was not about to let not podiatrist tell me what to wear let alone take my runway crown. Then it began to happen as he predicted. Have you ever seen a bunion on someone’s foot? Let’s say it is not attractive no matter if you are wearing the prettiest sandals. Those beautiful heels became so uncomfortable to wear and would hurt. I quickly made that call when I began to notice this take place and wanted that ugly thing gone. I had to have surgery. Throughout the years, I have not worn those pretty heels as much I as would wish too; the doctor did state that it can come back.

Have you ever had something in your life happen that grew on you without having any control over it, as that bunion did for me? I can not tell you how many people I speak to that life took a turn that changed them: an unexpected illness, a divorce, or a loss of a loved one. Seeing the warning signs and having no control of what direction it’s going. That ugly thing did not have permission to be there.

As I was reflecting on one of my journal entries back in December of 2009, I recall going through such a hard time. I had recently lost my mother about two years to cancer and my neighbors were killed by a drunk driver, leaving behind three beautiful children. Life was hard, and I wanted answers, I was angry and felt like life was not fair. I was mad at people, God and did want no spiel of “only God knows or this is part of life, it happens.” So many emotions were taking place, and everything seemed so out of control. It began to deform a lot of areas in my life. To grow and take shape into parts of me that started to change who I was — not seeing it grow on me and then not knowing how to remove them.

I wish I can say, that I went back to the doctor and had surgery to get it removed. If only it were that easy, right? It took a lot of time to heal, and at times things still come up from those hard years. I had learned to permit myself to grieve those things, to allow the anger and hurt to be expressed versus keeping it bottled in or putting it in a file to deal with later. Then as time went on, I ask God, to help me heal and let it go. I was not allowing the analytical Sandy to want all the questions answered before moving forward. I was tired of being angry.

One of the most significant things that took place was that it brought a lot of transformation in my life. It allowed me to have compassion for those who are grieving the loss of something whether it was a death or not. Something was birthed in me in wanting to help others identify those deformities that take place. Then to begin to have surgery on callous areas and use those things to cause the transformation to take place.

I have had a lot of deformities take place in my life and eventually I became so tired of having them there. I was afraid to have to go and get them looked at. I want to ask a question, “Are you afraid of being deformed rather than transformed?” I am not sure what you’re facing, but I want to encourage you to permit yourself to feel those things that have happened in your life. To take a look at the deformities and ask yourself has this cause a transformation or is still deforming different parts of your life?

Beloved, know that you have a story to share just as I am sharing some of the chapters of mine. Begin by picking up the phone, or send an email or text and ask someone to help come alongside and help you with those deformities. How much longer before you have them removed?

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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Who’s chomping on my crop?

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When I visited Indiana I was amazed by how many crop fields there were. There were miles and miles of nothing but crop, farmhouses and tractors.  I saw vegetables like corn and tomatoes it was pretty neat. Then I wondered about the work that goes behind in having to maintain those fields.

As a farmer they engage in raising organisms for food or raw materials. A farmer helps to promote or improve its growth of a (plant, crop, etc). They invest a lot of labor and attention to their crop so that it will flourish. But there are certain threats that the farmer has to be on the lookout for. One in particular insect that can pose a threat are locusts.

They enjoy damaging green plants and putting pressure on the crops and are very susceptible to green pastures. Locust are not dangerous or deadly insects but will damage most green plants. They pose a threat that’s more indirect and horrifying to farmers. They enjoy swarming around into their fields and literally eating away at the crop. That all the years of hard work and labor instantly gone and useless. Locust really enjoy the eating away at the crop and destroying them. Basically leaving a farmer to starve to death.

Locust fly away during the cutting and bailing process but are smart little insects.  They are clever and lay their egg beds alongside tracks, fence lines, and even in uncropped areas. So they can continue to reproduce.  See they are very sly insects and can make a farmer believe that there gone and boom there right in the area.  The locusts are pretty smart and I never knew how powerful they can be. Imagine being a farmer and thinking everything looks great with the crops, but yet these little bugs are eating away at your livelihood.

So I began to ponder about the crops in my life and how I believed everything looked great!  But on the inside I was being eaten away. I can relate in being that farmer that was caught off guard and not seeing what was happening to my crop.  I recall going through a hard season in my life where everything was oozing out of my pores.  I was so angry and bitter at the world and felt I was handed a bad card in life. My countenance was not approachable and I would spew poison with my words.

About 19 years ago I was at a place in my life where everything was being eaten by those locusts.  It was very dark time and was also very overwhelming.  The only thing I could recognize was the seething and feelings that I was slowly dying. My husband and I were on the brink of a divorce and I wanted out. It was a combination of both bringing in our own baggage into the relationship, plus adding a little extra of our own dysfunction.  I remember wishing harm upon myself and little did I know those little insects were eating away at me.

My husband was an alcoholic and ran the streets.  He was raised without a father and never had any role models in his life.  I came from an upbringing of being so confined and naive to life.  My parents were super strict and my step father was very abusive but yet very religious. Life was all about rules and not relationship. I left my home at the age of 17 and vowed that I would never go back. Shortly after is when I met my husband and became pregnant. I was clueless and broken and all I wanted was for someone to love and accept me.

One day my mother in law asked me to go to church and my heart cringed every time she would ask me.  Last place I wanted to be was church and if I being completely honest I hated people from church. In my eyes they were all hypocrites.  But out of obligation so she would stop asking me I said, “That I would go”.  I remember walking into the church and my body language was saying, “Don’t even think about talking to me about God and that fluff. The only thing that came to my mind was, ‘Great now I can divorce my husband because people will see who he is and they will help me get a divorce.

Little did I know that moment was going to be the turning point for my life.  I felt so broken inside but yet uncomfortable.  You know when your mind is telling you to do something but your body does something else.  Yes, that was me.  I found myself walking to the front of where the Pastor was at and saying “Yes” to something that I couldn’t even explain.  But that was when the turning point came and I felt the love of God. The Pastor began telling me, “It was going to be okay”.  Then the he shared a passage from the Bible.

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten– the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you (Joel 2:25).  I was saying “A locust what”! What is this crazy man talking about.  See I had plenty of locusts in my life that were eating away at my crop.  They even took shelter and laid eggs alongside me.  I was completely clueless to what was going on inside, but I knew I was decaying away. I did not know what to do with what was happening in my life.  So I had to identify the locusts and see where they were destroying my crop and remove any debris left that were left, including their eggs.

I’m forever thankful for me walking into that church because something was deposited in me. I know who God is and he has kept the promises of giving back to me what the locust had stolen. He has restored my marriage and family. He has birth inside me compassion and hope.  He removed my heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. I am able to speak and breathe hope into the lives of people. Knowing fully well that he will bring restoration to their crop.

So today I want you to reflect on the locusts that are possibly eating away at your crop.

Life Application

Identify the locusts.

Allow God to be the farmer of your life and removed those locusts.

Stand on his word

I pray this ministered to your life. Help me spread the word to those that need an encouraging word.

Be Blessed,

Carrier’s of Hope

Breathing Hope One Life at A Time!

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Independent vs Interdependent

Every week my husband and I cover a marriage small group in our home.  We have a passion for marriages.  The topic we covered was “The Laws of Possession and Purity”.  Some of the common ways we violate the law of possession in relationships are in dominance, independence, and protection. The one that spoke to me the most was “Independence”.  Basically says, “I will do my own thing”.  We are born with the words “mine” and “yours” and live in a society where the world teaches us to be independent.  Where we do not need anyone and will do things our own way.

I am a student and I love to take dissect things.  So I decided to look up the words independent and interdependence. Independent is to not be influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct.  Not subject to another’s authority. While interdependence is the quality or condition upon another, or mutually reliant on one another.  They are the complete opposite of one another.

I remember turning seventeen years old and thinking I was an adult and left my home. I wanted to do things my way and I was angry at God for what I endured.  I also had witnessed my stepfather never relying on anyone, always figured things out and never took advice from others.  When it came to asking for help it was considered a sign of weakness. So I mastered how to do be self-reliant and live what I was modeled.  This created a place of being independent on myself and I spent many years being in control of my own life.

I have moments where I have turned into a three-year-old having a tantrum with my arms crossed saying, “I am not moving from here until someone gives me some answers, on why this is happening”.  This tantrum grew more and more towards God and others. I felt God and people had let me down and I felt abandoned throughout my life.  I did things my way and shut people out of my life.  In my world, my way was best and I did not want to seek advice from others.

Today, I reflect on relationships and on God. Have you ever felt that people or God have let you down and not come through for you?  This has a tendency to create a hard heart within us, right?  I have operated in doing my own thing due to unanswered prayers or letdowns.

When have you witnessed anything in this world that is operated by itself?  In everything we do, there has to be an extension of needing something or someone in order for it to work cohesively.  Especially with relationships, one must rely on each other. Today, I am reminded of being interdependent and walking mutually with God and leaning on others to help me.  This walk of life requires a process of being interdependent on each other.

Life Application

  • Which one are you?
  • In what areas of your life are you being dependent on yourself versus being interdependent on others?

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken (Ecclesiastics 4:12, NLT).

Breathing Hope one Life at a Time!

Carrier’s of Hope