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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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“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!