Cheryl Mendoza

How He speaks to me…..Or… can't He just call my cell when He wants to talk?

Wake up sleeper….

So someone asked me earlier this month if I was joking, which I typically am, after I had posted a comment to fb. So after going through my blog and seeing that this subject had yet to be written about, I decided to finally put words to paper.

You see, May is Zombie Appreciation Month. So I posted my favorite zombie verse, Ephesians 5:14, and reminded people of the unique remembrance of the month. Her response of “you have to be joking” was quite appropriate except that for me zombies are creatures of utmost interest. 

You see when I was very young, I made the mistake of watching Night of the Living Dead. Even worse was the fact that my Aunt, who we used to visit a lot, lived right around the corner from the cemetery. For years after I was never fully comfortable at her house after dark. Also, as a teenager in the 80’s a few new zombie movies were released, and I again was reminded to lock the doors at night.

So how has my appreciation for zombies made such a dramatic turn? Well it all happened with a little movie named Shaun of the Dead. I was alone one day, and while flipping through the channels I caught the end of this movie. It was silly and inappropriate but my attention was caught, watching this young man Shaun go from a slacker to a hero. All while fighting zombies trying to rescue family and friends. A zombie movie with a message, or something like that. Well, I enjoyed it enough that when it was on again I sat down to watch from the beginning. It was then that I saw the scene that made me love this movie! There are actually two scenes and they are both nearly identical except for one detail, and that is zombies.

In the first scene we see Shaun walking his usual route to the store passing people as they each go about their daily business. He barely notices those around him, let alone having any meaningful interaction with those he encounters. It’s not so obvious the first time you see it, but the next day when he goes to the store again, it becomes painfully clear. We see a man who is so wrapped up in his little world, that he doesn’t even see the chaos around him. 

It struck me as comical that our hero seemed to be living the life of a zombie, except for the brain eating part. He thoughtlessly did the same things every day. He worked the same job, went to the same pub, kept the same lazy friend and expected his girlfriend and family to accept his careless attitude. Our hero knew that he needed to make some changes, but he didn’t have the courage to do them. That is until the zombies struck and he had to think quick and find the courage to save family, friends and himself. 

That’s why I like zombies now, well maybe only as a metaphor. They remind me that if I am not careful, I can live just as dead a life as a zombie. Walking through my days accepting shallow relationships, giving as little of myself as possible and hiding from the challenges God has for me. All of these things that make me a part of society and hopefully a light in this world. So as the month of May comes to a close I would again ask you to remember Ephesians 5:14…..”Awake sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you”.


I had a question I needed to ask, but I was a bit scared.  I know…. scared might be a bit overblown, but that’s me!   I think it really came down to the possibility of being disappointed or maybe even hating the answer!  

And lets face it, that’s why most of us don’t ask…. We want our answer, not really the one we may be given.   I eventually knew I had to let go of the outcome and let God handle that, I just had to ask the question. 

And it’s in that word “eventually” where I am amazed.  The wealth of meaning in that little word is huge.  The time I spent in “eventually” was longer than it needed to be.  It was full of realization, wrestling, uncertainty, prayer, irritation and eventually a clear message of “get moving”.  Even when I try to ignore God, He steps in and inserts Himself where I can’t ignore Him.  

So Fridays are such a mellow day, that even in the morning I just want to chill a bit.  So I decided instead of reading my bible, I’d watch HGTV.  And that isn’t holy ghost TV.  

So I start watching some random show that’s doing a remodel of an old home.  The original structure was built in the 1700’s, and through the years a kitchen and carriage house had been added.  The first thing they were doing was opening up walls and flooring.  The structure just didn’t look right, so to figure out how to fix it, they needed to see how it had been built.  He said “There were no building codes.  So it doesn’t mean they didn’t build it right, it’s just that we don’t know how they built it”.   

They didn’t know how they built it?  That statement just stuck with me, because it really played in to the question God had put on my heart.  And with that message I knew that I had to leave the land of “eventually,” and ask my question.  I did… and it was a good conversation.  For me though, it was an even better lesson.  When God gives me a question, task or way to serve Him, He will also give me a way to make whatever I need to do happen.  There is a goal for the rest of the year…. Don’t spend time in “eventually”.  I need to take the advice of the GOAT and JUST DO IT!  And Michael Jordan notwithstanding, I need to rest in the confidence of who God is, and what I know He has already done in my life.  

 A time to mourn….

Uvalde.  When these things happen we say a lot of things.  We are shocked and saddened, but do we really take the time to mourn?  For a few days, let’s try that.  Let’s just mourn together. I know as American’s we really hate the whole death/mourning thing.  We are all so focused on moving on, and maybe that’s part of the problem.  Instead, let our collective shock and sadness be our common ground.  Let the pain of the victims families and the pain in our communities move us to resolve, that no one should know this pain again!

I get it, no one wants to sit in that pain for any amount of time.  Until we all do, I wonder if we will ever find the common ground needed to make a real difference. Let’s not start debating immediately. All that happens then is the defenses come up and nothings happens.  We need to take a long look in the mirror, grieve together and seek wisdom from above.  All of us can agree that this should be the last school shooting ever! No one ever wants this to happen again, yet it seems we refuse to stay united in our grief.  It seems we’re more worried about our own rights, than the lives of others.  Than the lives of children…..

May God grant us mercy and wisdom……To which we say Amen. 

A little Community…..

Being an introvert, sometimes it’s hard to remember that I really like people, and enjoy simply being with others.  And on Saturday, it was even better, since we were eating too!  I have joined in a small group from my church.  It has now been over two years, and it is becoming more and more a group of people that bring me joy!  Since the church was having a mens breakfast and the guys from our group would be going to that,  we ladies decided to get together for breakfast too.  

It was great!  We ate, talked and enjoyed killing a few hours on a Saturday morning with each other.   I barely had time to ponder the time we spent together, when Mike was home and ready to go for a drive.  He has joined an online photography challenge, so every week he has a different assignment and wanted my company as he searched out inspiration.  So we drove, and I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.  

We wound up at  Colonel Allensworth State Historical Park, just south of Corcoran on highway 43.  As we walked around, I was just happy to be outside enjoying the day.  The sky had some clouds, giving it some interest and the air was cool.  It rained recently, so the grass was green and there were swaths of small wildflowers  carpeting areas around the buildings.  From there I could see the snow on the Sierra’s through the haze.  As I admired the view I had, I could imagine what it would have been like just a little over 100 years ago.  

Out in the middle of the valley where it’s located, I could see clear skies giving the population of this small community a breathtaking sight of the far off mountains.   I thought of the safety and comfort of this special place.  You see, Allensworth was a town conceived, funded and built by and for African Americans.  And today as I walked through the houses and buildings that remain, I really thought about that community, and the concept of community in general.  

I could imagine the people in those houses, and the troubles, trials and possibly outright horror they may have already faced in their lives.  In Allensworth though, I wondered what did they find?  Was this finally a place where they had safety and peace?  A place where their children would be educated? A place where they could work hard and be rewarded for that work?  The town did not survive, but it wasn’t because of the community within, but the forces from without.  What would have happened if those forces had worked for and not against Allensworth?   What more amazing things would have been a part of their story?  

The older I get, the more I know that we are all the same. We all look for that place where our families will be safe, our children will be educated well, and we can achieve whatever we dare to dream.   All of this happens in the midst of community.  The people you work with, the children in our schools, the teller, cashier and the sanitation worker.  All of them, your neighbors.  And where goes one part of the community, more than likely will go all.  So …… where do we want to go?   

This weekend reminded me so much that I want it all…. For my family, those I know and for our community to thrive!  And I am grateful because I believe that that God has put enough “thrive” in this world for all of us.  I don’t have to hold on to mine so tightly afraid to lose it to someone else.  So if you look and don’t see yourself, don’t feel discouraged, your community is out there!  It may take some searching, but you can do it!  Go out and find them.  And when you do hold on tight, because your world will be open to so many new possibilities!  And in the end, your life and the lives in our community will be better for it! 

Looking for a comeback….

I am looking forward to Christmas.  I am looking forward to Joy!  I was in a bad way the other day.  I’ve found it very hard lately to write.  God made me the person I am and when I can’t be that person, I tend to get really quiet.  Because of that…I can’t write.  

Why was I in a bad way?  Well I feel like the people who should be salt and light, well….. aren’t.  We sound just like the rest of the world.  Opinionated, angry, judgemental, side choosing, and prideful.  It hurt, and it made me feel out of place.  Even worse, since I don’t like either the hurt or the out of place feeling, I got prideful.  I got angry.  Those two things go hand in hand for me, and because they do, I know I am not in the space where God wants me.  When that happens, I know it is time to SHUT UP,  and that is not where God wants me either.  

My pastor said something to the effect of who have you not shown grace to?   I knew immediately who that was in my life, but I wasn’t really ready to do anything about it until I stuck my nose in the book of Joel.  Such a small book in the bible, but so much for me to wrap my head around.  

The land is stripped bare.  There is no grain or wine to offer a sacrifice to God.  Times are beyond hard, but in this small book,  Joel is the messenger calling the people to repentance.  “Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Joel 2:13.  It’s funny….I had been thinking of how people used to wear sackcloth and ashes to reflect an inner mourning.  I wanted to do that to show people, that I felt the mourning of these days.  Whether that mourning was for life lost or just life as we know it being lost.  What really made me want to mourn was the time lost from my own sin.  

When I got to that point, God was finally able to bring me the hope in the form of His Spirit!  “I will pour out my spirit on every kind of people.” Joel 2:28a

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, gentleness,  patience, goodness, kindness, self control, faithfulness.  I feel like we’ve been missing a lot of this nowadays, but I know that it can make a comeback, starting with a little repentance.  And if I really want that comeback, I know repentance starts with me.  

Love some community…

So Mike is working today.  Well not exactly working, but using his camera to document a community event which really  means I am on my own.  So while I enjoy some music, dancing and an amazing lunch I decided to bring my laptop and write a bit.  It has really been a long time, but sitting here watching the kids perform and seeing the enjoyment of the families watching, I just had to tap out my thoughts.  Anything to keep my head from exploding.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about family, community and love the past few days, and it’s due to a book I just finished reading called the Storyteller, by Dave Grohl.  Those of you who know who he is, you may be a little shocked by my reaction to the book.  So if you are, you should pick it up and read it.  He is quite a storyteller, but please expect some craziness, copious use of the F word and of course a lot of Rock n Roll thrown in. You can also expect a lot of  stories, that overflow with thankfulness, family, friends and love communicated  through them.

And that brings me to today, and the celebration of Dia de los Muertos that we have attended for the past few years.  A Mexican tradition that we have now fallen in love with.  After a year and a half of Covid, taking time to think of those who are gone, and their impact on our lives is very appropriate.  Something that many times in American culture, we don’t take the time to really explore.  

So while I didn’t grow up in this community, the music, food and gathering of  people feels like home to me.  Now this may not be in your comfort zone, but maybe it’s time for us all to be a little less than comfortable.  Maybe it’s time to take the lessons from a year and half of separation, and find community.  And not just the community you know, but the community that is new to you or different from the one you’re used to.  To find joy in being together.  Sharing time, talents and our very selves with each other! 

Kindness leads to repentance……

So she’s an athlete that has a problem with the American flag and anthem?  So many opinions are thrown around, but since I don’t know this woman I don’t really worry about it.   

I did see a post, and it seemed unkind.  In thinking of the post I wondered,  did you take her struggle and confusion and make it into some kind of easy choice? 

What if God made her a gifted athlete?  Well we know He did, because she wouldn’t be doing what she’s doing if He hadn’t!  Does she see it as a gift from God?  Maybe, maybe not?  It really doesn’t matter, because God has a plan for peoples lives.  He gives gifts and abilities even if they (we) don’t use them for God’s glory.  We all still have them and still feel that pull to use them.  

She’s conflicted…. She has the abilities and the drive, but the only avenue to use them leads her to this position.  Competing for the country, that through it’s history, has a horrendous past with her people.  How can she not be conflicted?   

 It’s kinda like God and people.  I’ve met those who are angry with God, but still acknowledge Him.  And I would rather see someone wrestling with God than just dismiss Him.   So when you have someone who is mad at their country, don’t you think they can still be a good citizen or even an olympic athlete? 

Above all, this day is not the end of her story.  She’s in the middle and the end isn’t written yet.  And above all, my perceived end to her story is not God’s ending.  We don’t get to judge her in the middle of hers, as we hope we are not judged in the middle of ours! 

What this brings me to is Jesus, and influence.    Why should I worry about trying to influence  this woman to honor a flag?  That’s an earthly symbol that will pass away.  

Why would I use my influence for something that is temporal and will not last forever?  My influence is better used for something that is eternal.  So for me, my prayer is that I never let the earthly overshadow the eternal.  And truth be told, that’s my hope for you too!

More than hope….

So I have these blocks with letters.  Every year at Christmastime I take them out and spell words with them.  I feel like I am missing some letters, because I can only spell two words every year?  So my choice is limited, but every few years these letters speak to me.  (No….not audibly…just metaphorically)  

A couple of years ago I started using them to spell JOY, and it really was a reflection of what God was talking to me about in that season.  Typically the other word I spell is LOVE since that is a favorite of mine, but this year was different.  What jumped out at me immediately was HOPE!

When I sat the letters on my hearth, I knew it was meant to be.  HOPE is a word is that brings its own energy.  There’s power, action and new beginnings imbued in that one word.   And right now, a lot of us can use some of that in our lives, me included.  It was on Saturday, and I was just getting my Christmas decorations out.  I am so behind this year, but that seems to be the way with everything in 2020.  Just off a bit…. or even off a lot!  I just don’t feel like I can catch up!  It didn’t take long though to get wrapped up in what I was doing.  Enjoying the memories that the decorations evoked.  So many good times!  There were also a few items that reminded me of harder days.  Even with those memories, I could remember how God brought us through the difficulties.  

And that is really where my HOPE lies….. 

“Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the showdown of death, and to guide us to the path of peace”

Luke 1:78 & 79

Advent: Hope

I told someone today that we are in the middle.  And if you ask most people, the middle is the hardest part.  It’s at that point where you feel like you can’t go back to where you started, but still can’t see the finish line.  It can be a place of frustration, fear and sadness.  The waiting during this period can be so hard, and it doesn’t even matter what you’re waiting for!  At this point in the pandemic, even waiting in line at that new Dutch Bros can bring about  a slight depression!

Years ago, we went hiking once at the Pinnacles.  It’s a very interesting national park in California.  I say interesting because it’s not the spectacular landscape of say a Yosemite, but the beauty is there just the same.   It’s claim to fame are talus caves that you can hike through, which are pretty fun, unless of course you like to see your hand in front of your face!  And yes…that’s not my type of hiking.  I could choose not to do it, but the only problem is that I wasn’t alone.  So what do you do when your partner is much more adventurous than you?  Well that’s how I wound up in the middle of a cave, with no light and very little courage.  That’s the scary part of the middle…sometimes you aren’t even sure you’re there yet.  At what point can we differentiate between the walking in, and the point when we’re finally making our way out.  

When we were far enough into the cave where no natural light reached, I was scared.  It was an unnatural fear that’s beyond what is normal.  Crazy as it sounds, the rocks themselves gave me peace.  “…You are my rock,”  says part of Psalm 31.  That portion of verse gave me hope.  I kept repeating that to myself as I carefully found my way through the rocks.  Once I got through the cave to the other side, I really didn’t fear it any more.  I was still a bit uncomfortable with the darkness, but since I now knew about where the middle was, I was able to enjoy the cave instead of being so anxious to get out.  

We’re in the middle, but are we still headed in or on our way out?  That’s the question!  As we continue to live through this painful time in our history, I think back to that cave and the God who is my Rock.  Remembering gives me hope, and isn’t that what this time of the year’s all about?  Redemption, light in the darkness, joy, peace…..The HOPE of Christ!  

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