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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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“Did I just say that?”

In the line of work that I do, it requires me to speak, address, and encourage. At times this can be a challenge for me, especially when you see someone making the same decisions over and over again, knowing that this has not been beneficial for that individual or the situation.

I have been guilty of saying something that I did not utilize wisdom in the way I spoke towards myself, with my children, spouse, and my influence of friends. Where the words just came spewing out of my mouth. You know that feeling you get when you were wanting to kick yourself and are saying, “Did I just say that out loud.” Knowing that no matter what, I said, it wouldn’t change anything, and I can’t take it back.

I am quickly learning that I have to use wisdom in the things I say and that my tongue can steer what direction I want to go in and not. It is like a rudder on a ship in how it determines the direction a ship will go. My tongue has the power to steer a conversation in a positive or opposite direction. I have been guilty of hitting many avalanches, and my ship quickly sinking like the titanic.

Our tongue has the power to produce life and death. It can speak words of encouragement to people and their circumstances or can crush an individual’s spirit and create discouragement and the will to fight the good fight on their growth. It is so easy to spew out words out of frustration.

I am becoming more conscious of watching what I say. Asking myself, “Is this going to edify or tear down whatever that is that is that I am facing.” I am completely transparent here at times I want to go straight to tearing down whether it is to myself that I am speaking to or speaking of others. Then the light bulb begins to flash, and I have to ask, “Is this helping the situation,” and I do walk away feeling any better? The answer is, “No.”

So I want to challenge you today to come on this journey with me. To be conscious and watch what you are saying and then ask yourself, is this helping the situation or tearing it down? Let’s speak life into our situation and whatever it is your facing today. There is already enough negativity in this world; let’s be the light and shine in the midst of those dark moments of our lives, so we can help others shine the light on theirs.

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!

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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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Are you letting your junk build up?

Have you ever felt like there so many things going on all at the same time?

Then that one little thing sets you off and you reflect on everything that’s not going right.  What do we do with that? Do you deal with things as they come up or are we just continuing to stuff things and tell ourselves I’ll deal with that later? Yet later never comes!

I know from personal experience I have been one to stuff what I was feeling and then never come to address it ever again.  Either because I was afraid of having to go there and relive that experience or those feelings of being angry would come up all over again.  What I have learned on this journey is that by holding on to things in and never addressing them it begins to create a hardened heart.  It begins to take away from who you were called to be.  You begin to become complacent and believe that this new journey is a part of you.  When in reality it is taking the life out of you.  You become hopeless in the process and start losing the fight.

Like the rest of the world we are all struggling with some type of brokenness, wound or challenges in our lives.  The suicide rate continues to  escalate or people begin turning to things that they believe can numb or fix the pain.  Then to circle right back around and stay stuck in the same place we  started.

I want to advice you to change your thinking and change the lane your on and head towards the path of bettering yourself.  Remember we are all a work in progress.  Learn to deal with stuff along the way or kill the pride and ask someone to walk alongside this journey so your not going at it alone!  Two are better than one!

Take time today to deal with one thing that you can change and have control over versus the opposite of that.  Your worth it!

Carrier’s of Hope

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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What is your verdict?

Today I was convicted in how many times in my own life I have judged, condemned or looked down upon others. Whether they have done something that was not according to my standards. I have been quick to express my opinion, even when the person has not asked for it. Or I have turned my nose up at people. I know I’m not the only one in the world to do this, but the conviction I feel is real.

As I was sitting in class and was reading about different cultures. The chapter discussed about having self awareness when working with people and their culture. As a counselor I have to flow and know my audience and become familiar with their culture. By being open and understanding certain decisions and why they choose certain beliefs, lifestyles within their culture.

The more I read the more I was I raising my nose up as if I was better. I actually said, “Those people need to straighten up and that just won’t work for me”.

I had to quickly tell myself “Get over yourself”. In order for me to be an effective counselor, leader and friend, I have to be able to accept others no matter what”. By putting aside my own opinions, beliefs and not being bias. Or act as if I’m better than whoever.

A perfect example that comes to mind is with my Hispanic culture. Hispanics are known to be late. I’m not saying all hispanics so please hear me I’m saying in the Puerto Rican culture or community. Perpetual lateness has always been acceptable and this is one of pet peeve.

At that moment is when I realized, “What are you talking about sister? “You use to be late all the time and many times have been in a crisis situation that you couldn’t control not being late. I have also made poor choices throughout life that weren’t the best. I quickly said, “Sandy, get over yourself”. Just like that I had to shut down every time she tries to speak foolishness!

I was totally convicted by a book that I am reading called “What if we start over”, by Ricardo & Susana Rodriguez.

Here is what it said,”Keep in mind that by the way you respond to someone’s else sin you can either spark the process of restoration in their lives or create further pain and worsen the wound. Our words and attitudes are decisive. The worst mistake is to judge

My prayer today would be that we are quick to not judge or condemn. That when we do that we are quick to repent and ask the Lord to forgive us.

Jesus laid on the cross and indicated, “Forgive them for they know not what they are doing”. This is the same response we should have with others that we may not approve their lifestyle or decisions.

Let’s mimic Christ in this and ask the Lord to lead us to those who need that unconditional love and compassion as Christ has with us..

Carriers of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing one Life at a Time!