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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!

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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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Where is that sharp pain coming from?

Man Wearing Polo Shirt Holding Left Chest

Have you ever walked into a room and there was a group of people laughing and having a conversation? Everyone stops, looks and then continues to laugh and carry on.  Or do you ever recall being in grade school and the teacher picks a different helper week after week and your never picked.  You begin to wonder “Why are they not associating or picking me, and begin to think something is wrong with you.  Rejection can take on a root system over the years that can happen in so many ways.

My mother had me at the age of 15.  I can not even imagine being so young and knowing how to raise a child at the age.  My grandmother raised me until I was about 8 years old. She was this short little Hispanic lady that her attitude was much taller than her height. She was strict and reminds me of “Edna Mode” from “The Incredible”.  At times my mother would pick me up and take me with her for the day and I would see my father. He would come in at late hours of the night from partying and then the arguments came that led him to striking my mother every time.

The next day my dad and I were sitting at the stairs with this big basket full of chocolate just talking and laughing.  Little did I know that was the last time I would see my father.  So my mother came back home to grandma and we were all a happy family.  I never wondered what had happen to my father.  Years went by and my mother meet a new guy that swept off her feet.  I began to see less of her and I was so jealous of him taking all the attention I was finally getting. Eventually my mother decided to relocate from New York to Florida and take me with her.

This is when the physical abuse came from my step father, but this time it was towards me.  He was angry all the time.  Then our family began to grow and my mother had two beautiful boys.  My step father was protective over his boys.  One day as we were sitting at the dinner table I asked, Dad, can you pass the green beans”, he quickly responded, “Do not call me your father, because I am not your father”.  Everyone continued to eat like nothing was said.

There was years of abuse and a lot of days of missing school.  There was name calling and jokes about my weight and my brothers being told, “Don’t turn out like your sister, She will always be a failure”.  My step father never communicated love to me and whenever I would go to hug my mother she would push me away.  This is when I began to wonder where is my dad?  I began to have those feelings of no one likes me and I am a bad kid!  Which created the belief that I was not wanted and was a mistake.

Rejection is to be cast aside and having no value; to refuse to give affection or recognize.  That day at the dinner table, those where the feelings that spoke to me in wondering why doesn’t he tell that to my brothers?  Why am I being treated so differently? Why does my mother push me away, is there something wrong with me? Those lies began to take root and created a system of beliefs that intertwined together.  I questioned who I was and wanted desperately to be loved, accepted and valued.

It became a vicious cycle trying to figure out who I was.  Spiraling out of control having an identity crisis, eating and throwing up my food in trying to fit in whatever was the perfect size.  I was broken and felt like such an outcast.  In 1999, is when I had an encounter with God and he took this broken, damaged girl and showed me who I was.  I had to allow God to rebuild who I was and allow his word to begin to dictate who I was. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

Maybe you were an unwanted or parents wanted a girl/boy instead or were adopted? Compared to your siblings (Why can’t you be like your brother/sister?) Maybe you were in a relationship that was unfaithful or a friend walked out on you.  Exposed to abuse or were withheld love?  Lastly, maybe you felt rejected by God that he didn’t come through for you.  Rejection can be so deeply imbedded in us and not even know the source of where it is growing from.

Beloved, I am not sure what you’re experiencing today.  I want to encourage you today and let you know I understand how hard this can be for you and I believe that God is wanting to bring healing to you today and know the truth.  You are loved and accepted!  I leave you with this scripture “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created YOU anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Grab ahold of the truths of who you are! 

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

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!