I was talking with a friend the other day. It had been a while so we chatted about this and that, but we eventually came to the situation that had been happening at my church. We’ve known each other for years, and during that time I have always gone there. She felt bad. She knew of my love for my church and how it is a big part of my life. It is where I worship, learn and serve. I mean, that is part of my life everywhere I go, but church is obviously the place I naturally live out my faith.
It’s so funny how God speaks to me. Or maybe what’s really funny is how I listen? I told my husband the other day that I had never dreamed about being a writer. Like, that is what I want to do when I grow up! Nope….never felt that way. Writing for me is more about submission and therapy? I write to submit my thoughts and feelings to God, and ask Him to help me sort through them. To move from knowledge to wisdom. Well…hopefully.
We had visitors and commitments this past weekend. While it is good to see people, it was even better when we were alone and driving up into the mountains. Ok… well the foothills at least. We went to one of our favorites spots, and I couldn’t believe the changes. It was the last place we visited right before Mike’s surgery and it was his first solo drive after. So much though had changed.
Where we typically go is more like a creek than a lake. Monday though, it was definitely a lake! We’ve been going to this spot for the past few years now, and I’d never seen it so full! Beautiful water! I guess we aren’t in a drought any more. We typically climb down from the parking lot and explore a bit, but today it was all under many feet of water. So we found a spot, and just sat. The surroundings had drastically changed, and so had we.
It’s Mother’s Day, and I am sitting here listening to Christmas music. I know it’s crazy, but in some way it brings me comfort. It reminds me that there’s hope for this world.
It’s been quite a year packed with all sorts of crazy happenings, but also some of the sweetest moments. And you know, the older I get, the more I see that it all goes hand in hand. Life, death, pain and pleasure. Love, fear, failure and triumph. All these things occupy the same space at the same time, and it’s right that they do so. It’s not always fun, but it’s the way it happens in this world.
There has been pressure this year. With tumors, surgeries and unfortunately a lot of pain, but as Mike said the other day, “I don’t think I’ve laughed so much.” It’s pretty weird because we typically laugh a lot!
I think this is the feeling you get when you truly feel loved. I know about the whole “God so loved the world” thing, but I don’t think I’ve ever come as close to understanding it than I do right now. We are loved by the Creator of all, and He is on my side. Our side. Even while we walk through scary times, I know that His love keeps us safe. Things aren’t perfect, but I trust Him, and that gives me peace. Because of that, we look to the future and laugh. ‘Cuz it’s been mind blowing so far, and we still have a ways to go.
And for the record, I am listening to “Jazz Musicians Christmas” on Pandora….. so it’s not really like listening to Christmas music. Right?
So I had a bit of a revelation the other day. I was hurt by someone I didn’t even know. They commented on something that wasn’t a big deal, and it bugged me. Now luckily I worked my way through the hurt, but it made me wonder. “Do you know who I am? “
I mean obviously, she didn’t know me at all. The question came to my mind because of an exercise this speaker did at the conference I was attending. It was the same conference where this lady approached me. The speaker had spoken about insecurities, bullying, anxiety and how we might be playing a role like an actor, instead of being our authentic selves. So she asked us to take a nametag and write down all the names we called ourselves, and exchange them for what God says of us. So here we are writing down the real and perceived flaws or inadequacies that pretty much most of us feel, ready to exchange them for something better. As I went through the process, I thought of my encounter, and laughed when that question popped into my head. “Do you know who I am?”
And no, not in the hands on hips, attitude filled, head bobbing way. No, it was more like the hurt, sad or broken woman who was writing on the nametag. She didn’t know if I was worthless, fearful or abused. She didn’t ask if I was anxious, stupid, ugly or unwanted. She just came up to me and made a comment that could wound, without intending to. In that moment, whoever I thought I was, may have just been confirmed by a complete stranger and a silly exchange. Worthless, not good enough, different.
It was sad to feel this way in the midst of this gathering where I should have felt safe. It was even sadder to think that those words may have found more fertile soil in someone else.
It made me mad for a couple of weeks. Not in the I am mad and going to be in a state of anger kind of way, but in the way where I couldn’t write about it until now. Where I could actually write clearly about the encounter, and not be harsh with my words.
I wanted the anger at my hurt to be gone, and just be left with the sadness of how we treat each other. Now I have no illusions that this woman was trying to hurt me on purpose, but she did on accident. It made me wonder how many times we do that with other people?
Now to be perfectly clear, this was a Christian women’s conference. A quick weekend event that is meant to encourage and uplift. So you can really imagine my chagrin to have had this little hiccup in the proceedings. Now, she may have thought that what she did was no big deal, but remember my question, “Do you know who I am?”
When we don’t know someone, it is really hard to know how to approach them. Quite frankly, it’s impossible! We don’t know their personality, history or the day they’ve had. Multiple factors that all add up to who we are and how we filter information. So how can we talk to each other? Well, I would give my most favorite example, and that was a guy named John.
You see, we meet John through the bible. For many of us, his words are the first we memorize about Jesus. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son….. John 3:16.
He writes the ultimate words on how God loves us, and it’s a good thing, because later in his life John is called again to give some hard truth. In the book of Revelation, heaven is opened and John sees what is to come. Some of it is hard truth, but it’s truth we can handle. How? Well because we go back to where John started, “For God so loved…..” We can handle the truth when we know that someone loves us. If there is even a bit of doubt of that love? Well then you can almost guarantee a bad reception to anything you say. Hard truth, or even a simple comment in the middle of a crowd.
So friends, check your heart when you make that observation, comment or give advice. Make sure that person knows you’re speaking out of love. If there is any possibility of doubt, maybe you shouldn’t be saying it? Take the time to lay that groundwork of love first. Then you will have the ability to speak into their life in a way that will encourage, uplift and bring wisdom at the exact time they need it.
One of my favorite parts of the Easter story is of the last supper. I have always loved how John relays how Jesus washed their feet. I can imagine how uncomfortable they would have been, but how relaxed by the end. I mean really….who doesn’t love a foot massage?
I think of the simple task of Jesus washing and drying their feet. These men who walk everywhere, but not with the comfortable shoes of today. No. They are walking many miles with leather sandals of ancient times. Can you imagine? Ouch! So they are sitting there, uncomfortable in the first place with Jesus assuming the role of servant. Then as they are willing him to finish, they start to relax and kind of enjoy the slight massage of their sore and tired feet. Before they know it, their eyes snap open and they realize that they were in total comfort. They lock eyes with Jesus, and I can imagine the slight smile on His face.
I think that is how He is with our lives. We (I) fight him when he asks us (me) to do something. I struggle like Peter with the appropriateness of the idea, and then before I know it, I am in the middle of His will and my life is filled with His peace. I am in total comfort, and I can imagine His eyes on me. And that same slight smile is on His face.
“So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time, before the Lord returns.” ! Corinthians 4:6
I’ve said it a bit recently to those around me, “it’s not how you start, but how you finish.” And don’t get me wrong…. It’s easier to finish well when you get out of the blocks cleanly.
We judge a person on today or their past, but we have no idea of their future and where that will lead. The choices, experiences and people that will all come together to make a complete picture in a life.
I know it’s hard, but as I read the verse this morning I wondered if we judge in life, when we should just have discernment? So I got out the old dictionary and looked at the difference between judge and discern.
Basically, discern is to recognize something as opposed to judging where you form a conclusion about it. I mean, I can discern that someone else is doing something that is harmful or full out wrong. I can then take steps to not be harmed by these actions, but I just can’t pronounce judgement. The end isn’t written yet! If I do judge, does that contribute to an environment that pushes them towards a not so good result?
I am not sure….but it makes me think? There have been people in my life that have judged me prematurely, and I think there has been a bit of an impact. I am grateful though for those who have been on the other side. The one’s that have given me the chance to change, grow and mature. Those are the ones that didn’t write me off, but gave me the time, love and encouragement to fulfill the potential they saw and hoped to see bloom.
I was driving through the fog and couldn’t believe all the cars with their headlights off. It was crazy to me, and I thought, “your lights aren’t for you to see better, they are for me to see you!”
I totally knew that was important, but I wasn’t sure why? It was just one of those statements that seemed bigger than the moment for me. Bigger than just lights in the fog. So I’ve been thinking about it off and on again, why is it so important to be seen?
Well in the fog it’s pretty obvious, so I don’t get hit! But what about in life?
Part of it was something I already knew, but I kept skipping over it, because I was looking for other meaning. “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
So in life the light isn’t really for me to be seen, but to show off God. I knew that though, so it really didn’t seem like the whole answer. Well, that was until this morning. Since my hubby’s surgery, I don’t sleep really well. So at 3:30am, my brain went to the WHY people didn’t have their headlights on.
Worst invention ever, automatic headlights! You see now that people have automatic lights, they don’t have to turn them on when they get in the car. At night it works great, but when it’s daytime and foggy, those lights don’t function correctly. People are driving around assuming they’re on. They assume, they can be seen.
That was the perspective I was looking for. So God wants to be seen through the lives of His people, and that happens through how we live. So what if our lights aren’t on? What if like the automatic headlights, we assume we can be seen and in that assumption we believe Jesus can be seen. So that’s the question, are my lights on? And what am I showing the world? Are we hoping going to church on Sunday shows the world we love Jesus? Maybe it’s the verse we post on Facebook, or the fish we have on our car?
Sometimes I think much of the things we hope shows people that we love Jesus, just doesn’t. Just like the headlights, we assume they are on, because they’re supposed to come on. We don’t bother to check our lights before we go.
My friend Kay just went through a bout with breast cancer and came through fighting. A couple of weeks ago she posted something that was cute, but to the point. “Check your coconuts!” She’s an island girl so it’s perfect for her. I want to steal that for myself, but change it up a bit. So today I don’t want to assume my lights are on, and I would encourage you to do the same. So don’t forget, “check your light!”
So it’s so hard to be me sometimes. It must be even harder to be my hubby, having to put up with me! I have a tendency to ponder things. Ok, I tend to ponder EVERYTHING! I think it’s irritating sometimes, but it’s who I am and so I try to embrace it.
I was sitting in church the on Sunday, and we were looking in the book of Revelation. The imagery in the book is always a pretty trippy experience, but of course it got me to thinking? I know…..what doesn’t get me thinking?
In a nutshell, we have John seeing into heaven and he’s upset because this important scroll can’t be opened. What does the scroll contain? Of course there are some very good educated answers, but what made me think was John’s reaction. Why would he be so upset? Did he know what was in the scroll? I am not sure, but what I do know is that, because there was no one worthy he was distraught. He lacked hope.
“We have hope….rebellions are built on hope!” Jyn Erso “Rogue One”
Yep, the geek came out of me at that point and all I could think of was the quote from the movie Rogue One. Oh, and my hubby. You see when he got the phone call from the doctor, his reaction was pretty funny. He was so happy! He was smiling and talking excitedly! I could hardly believe I was looking at a person who’d just been told they have a brain tumor! It was crazy, but I realized that the excitement on his face was what that diagnosis really meant for him. Hope! He was in a bad place, as the pain became progressively worse in the past couple of months. It didn’t help that he was frustrated by not being able to work a full day, his deteriorating eyesight and trying to find a doctor who could help him. It was the holidays, but it was hard to find the “happy” during that time. So with the diagnosis, everything changed.
Hope is such a powerful thing. It can take the gravest of circumstances and give you a different perspective. It gives you the strength to move forward, and face what you never thought you could. Hope is a beautiful thing!
There is of course a caveat to hope…you need to be careful where you put it. Let me be clear, at this point my hope was not in the doctor, not in the diagnosis or whether it was cancer or not. There was only one place where I could truly put my hope, and know that I would never be let down. And that was in the Lord. I knew at that time, no matter what happened, from the best outcome to the worst we would be OK. We would survive! I knew that because of how God had provided for our lives in the past, and from what I knew He had told me about the future. It was actually the first thing I wrote about this year, https://cherylmendoza.com/2019/01/01/new-year-same-playlist/.
We are still not done with the process. My hubby is still recovering and will have radiation later this year, so this chapter of our story is still being written. Even so, before we were out of the hospital we were making plans. New places to visit, a family wedding, concert tickets bought and a much more “happy” holiday season.
We look forward to it all, good and bad, with hope!