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“Caution, don’t get caught in the conflict jungle”

There is so much going on in our world today. People are being hypervigilant are in a state of increased anxiety which can cause so many different emotions due to what is going on with the CoronaVirus. Creating conflict in areas that we did not plan and were unprepared for. People are having to social distancing themselves, not by choice. Organizations and places of business are closing shop for a minimum of two weeks, and are up for reevaluating, which can mean no income coming in for many, kids having to be home, individuals and parents worried about the bills, Which creates isolation, stress, fear, anxiety, and scarcity, the way we respond to what is going on in the world around us is crucial.

I am working on a study with my middle schooler, yet before this whole thing with the Coronavirus, it had been one of the hardest challenges to set time aside. Other things were taking up our time, which seemed to take precedent or more critical. But luckily, since we have a lot more time in our hands, it has allowed some deep conversations to take place. As we came upon one of the chapters, it discussed conflict. It was a great eye-opener to realize that we all handle conflict very differently. Some handle conflict by being explosive, shutting down, feeling annoyed, and having feelings of being attacked. We are discovering conflict is not the underlying issue but revealing what is underneath.

This whole child-rearing a middle schooler has definitely been a challenge as a mother for me. Growing up, I did not have a good relationship with my mother. Yet that has been one of my greatest desires is to establish that with my daughter. In my upbringing, conflict was handled by screaming or being physical or given the silent treatment. I did not know how to handle conflict or adequately taught. A lot of self-reflection within my upbringing, parenting skills, and how I currently managed conflict. I would not say I was like my parents but handle conflict in other ways by shutting down or even having that fourth of July experience that takes place once a year, in losing control and yelling, not proud of those moments. Especially in a heated situation, you honestly can tell what is underneath by what a person is saying, and then once you have spoken, you can not take back what was said. 

It was beautiful to see my daughter, and I discover what conflict is genuinely about and that despite the attitudes or the silent treatment, it was not what I saw through my own eyes but finding what is underneath all of that is taking place. I walked away with a valuable lesson that I am sharing with you today. It caused me to seek more in-depth and approaching things humbly once I discovered what was underneath it. We even created keywords when we sensed conflict coming knowing when to take a step back and reflect. 

So our keyword is “chili pepper.” I wish I can take credit, but my daughter came up with that one. As I reflected on a chili pepper, chili peppers are hot; we agreed that when we would use the word, it could not be directly said as chili pepper, hello chili peppers! That would create more spicyness in our environment, but use it against our surroundings. For example, did you notice that there’s a lot of chili peppers growing on the tree outside? Or look at how big those chili pepper are, silly, I know, but having this in place allows us to see if we can help defuse the situation and then identify what is truly going on that is causing the conflict.  

Conflicts can seem more straightforward than we think or complicated and, at times, hits you out of nowhere one moment you are okay, and the next thing you are in a heated argument asking yourself what just happened. We came to an understanding that conflict doesn’t create the problem; they reveal the problem and expose what is in our hearts. A lot of times, we want our way or are annoyed, and you have to ask yourself what it is that you are craving at this moment while this conflict is going on that you are not getting.

How many times in our lives do we feel like we were are not getting our way, want to be left alone, or feel like we are not understood, or we want to be in control? Or feeling unappreciated, or perhaps you wish to get even or inflict pain or win the argument. It is a question hearing the noise that is happening and seeking what is going on underneath the sound?  

So I want to leave you with these few tips:

  • Reflect on if your conflict is more profound than what you are hearing? 
  • Work quickly to resolve your inner conflicts. 
  • Choose to walk into them humbly.
  • Come up with a keyword when things begin to become spicy.
  • Do not allow fear to paralyze what you are facing, but stand in faith that this too shall pass. 
  • You decide how you want trespond to the noise that is happening.

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes 

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time

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Invisible vs Visible

Have you learned to live with your mask? Or maybe you wear many different masks? Because your hustling for worthiness and continue to numb yourselves so that you do not feel or show your vulnerability to others. By holding a mask at all costs, because what if they would discover the real you? 

Who is the real you? Have you been hurt due to someone shaming, putting you down, or downright did something to you? It is so exhausting to live an unauthentic life and hide behind a mask. I had many masks and a tendency to put on at times, even now, as your reading this blog. Why? Because then people would read or see my pain, and then I would have to hear the criticism of showing my vulnerability to others. People can be downright mean in this world. I understand how hard it is to be vulnerable. Society teaches you not to show vulnerability as it is a sign of weakness.

I was raised by a father never to show any feelings in front of others. Anything outside of that was considered a weakness. So, do you understand now why I had to wear a mask? There was enough criticism to paralyze me for life and continue on this path of always wearing a mask. Eventually, I had to look at myself in the mirror and ask myself, “Why are you hiding behind this mask? I knew it was a matter of time where it would call for me to put down my mask. There was an enormous amount of fear within me. Risk of people not liking me if I shared my vulnerability or them having thoughts of being messed up. I had to do some soul searching and figure out why I was so afraid of people seeing the real me. Of always remaining invisible, yet I was visible in front of others. I even had these twisted thoughts of somehow my father finding out and hearing his disapproval voice.   

I had to learn to lay that all down and be free to be me. One of the things I recall God telling me one day was, “Whatever you do, remain true to who you are and keep things real.” Being authentic to yourself and in front of others. That is hard to do in this day in age where there is this plague of comparison, not enough or vulnerability is such a bad thing you can see it in magazines, reality shows, and even social media.  

A mask is usually worn on the face as protection and to disguise yourself, so no one sees the real you. 

Life Application

  • Do you love the mask you put on every day?
  • Why do you wear your mask? 
  • Do you not want to be visible in this world? 
  • Or do you feel like your going through this world as invisible? 

Therefore, you put on your mask? Those are some big questions right, but a great way to cause some self-reflection on why you are wearing that mask. No more pretending and being invisible, choose to be visible to the world, and allow them to see how beautiful you are.

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes 

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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What road are you on?

I like having control over things, like what my upcoming weeks look like or knowing when and how I am going to handle a particular project. Or how to get my kids or husband to get them to do something I want them to do. I can predict the outcome and prepare accordingly for attitudes and negotiation and even compromising. Yet there have been other things that I had no control over. I have mentored and counseled many individuals throughout life. But, how about when you can not control an unexpected issue like a terrible break-up, a divorce of a couple, a severe illness, a loss of a job, or a loss of a loved one. Listen to the news and hear all the things that are taking place in our day to day society. But what do you do when it happens and it mainly affects you?

I woke up thinking about the tragic accident that took place yesterday with Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the other six passengers. I am a mother and wife, and my heart hurts for those families. I think of the call that was made to his wife and envision what may have gone through her mind to not only receive the news of her husband but then in the very next breath hearing that her daughter passed away too — the same with the other families. Life will never be the same for them. A part of them will be missing that will not be given back. I have no relationship with any of these individuals. However, I know the pain of losing a loved one. My heart and prayer go out to the families.

How does one deal when you receive news like this? How does one deal with all the emotions that come from those situations of trauma or tragedy?

With my own experiences, I recall being so angry when I got the news of good friends of ours that were killed by a drunk driver and when my mother passed away from cancer. Devastation kicked in, and I had all these mixed emotions. I did not know how to process what was said, yet let alone how does one grieve, and go back to day to day life without that person no longer being in their life. How does one hold and process everything that they are feeling, thinking, and wishing it was a bad nightmare? Then evenutally coming to terms, and realizing that it happened and that those loved ones are not coming back.

I wish I had those answers on what to do. I know for me, I was in a state of shock, and the world stopped at that moment. Nothing else mattered, and nothing could soothe the pain of losing someone you love. Then all the should of, could of the sit-in and you try to remember the last conversation or last thing said. For me, it took many years to talk about what happened, I went through a dark time of being depressed. I do not know if it was that I was just not ready to procesd and/or just trying to survive, in denial, or just not go there because of the pain I felt. Eventually, I had to learn to go to that place of torment. I am one who, when I begin to cry, and I am trying to express myself, all I can do is cry, and there goes the end of that conversation. That when I finally do share, it is ugly and hard. Yet it is therapeutic; it didn’t make the people I love come back but help soothe and made it easier to process the emotions I felt.

I have learned the importance of accountability. Yes, I did say accountability. It is going to require you to speak about those things that have occurred throughout life. You are not truly going to know how to process or handle what has happened. Having someone in your life helps hold your challenges, and that will guide and be there with you through the aftermath. Many times the risk of being accountable and authentic is hard for individuals. Being on the receiving side at times, we feel that we have to have the right words or have to say something, but it is okay to sit and just listen. Just being there for that individual can bring healing to their life. But one of the things that can help me help others is putting myself in their shoes and being in that moment per say in what they are vocalizing.

Beloved, I am not sure what you are facing today, I am hoping that you would be ready and open to share those hard places of your life. Reflecting on the importance of going to a friend or relative or yes, a counselor/therapist. That you feel you can share that brave space with and share your pain and sufferings with is so therapeutic. It is the first step forward in beginning your healing process. There is not a timeline of when to no longer hurt and mourn over the loved ones you have lost. Embrace each day as it comes. I know when the holidays come, I often think of my loved ones and become sad, and I embrace it and I know there in a much better place than I am. From these hardships, I have learned that life is too short and learning to be present at the moment with those loved ones that are still here. Life goes by very quickly.

There was a meta anayalis done and it stated, “The average person who received therapy is better off at the end of it than 80% of those who do not”. This is something I can vouch for as I have taken therapy and believe in it. It has help me to cope and heal and given me tools to utlize when those unexpected things come up. So take time out today and make that call and share those things that are holding you back and/or that have been hard to deal with. I promise you will not regret it!

Carriers of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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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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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!