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Cheryl Mendoza

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

Otter Noir…

This is what happens when you make up stories using the things you see.  The fog really made me think of film noir…. and the only other characters around were some otters and a couple of scuba divers.  Enjoy!

It was a day like any other day.  The fog had rolled in and even the sun couldn’t break

_DSC3329 through the gloom.  It was early.  Like those first moments when you wake up and are caught between the heaven of sleep and the hell of wakefulness.   I always tried to get out before they came.  Those strange creatures that walk upon the land.  With their glowing white skin and strange seaweed hanging from their bodies.

They came and stared, and it always creeped a guy out.  Some threw rocks.  I am not sure why?  Rocks never did me any good.  Throw a guy some food…something to help break up the monotony of the day.

CayucosAs I glided along the water, keeping an eye on the three headed monster that seemed to always be there, my morning was interrupted by the two.  They were always here, always wrestling, always disturbing my morning.

I turned my head the other way and grunted a reply when they greeted me with their incessant chatter.  And that is when I saw her.  She was laying on her back, but her breathing was ragged.  What caught my attention was the look in her eyes.  I had seen it before, more times than I care to remember.  Fear.  She had the kind of look that says swim before it’s too late.  I couldn’t though, I was never the kind of otter to swim away.  Not from a fight, and not from a damsel in distress.  It had gotten me into scraps in the past, but I was still here, so why change a good thing.

As I started toward her, she slowly sunk below the surface.  After the splash of her exit, it was then I saw it.    It was just a small disturbance, rippling along the surface.  Bubbles.  Air was coming to the surface.  Was it her?  Was she in trouble?

Aw hell, I thought, this probably wasn’t going to end well.  It was like the time I was caught in that damned net.  I thought that was the last trip to the surface for me, but that strange creature grabbed me and so I bit him.  He let go of me as fast as a shark comes out of the gloom.

In that split second I knew, I would go after her.  Hey, there aren’t that many fish in the sea, and an otter’s gotta do what an otters gotta do.  So I dove, and there I came face to face with two creatures that I had never seen before in my life.  They had long skinny fins and were black as seals, with a huge eye and some kind of shell on their backs.  Bubbles floated up all around them.  When they saw me, they started moving forward.  Their double tails swishing back and forth moving slowly, steadily, through the murky water towards me.

They were slow, and that gave me an advantage.  So I quickly maneuvered out their reach and dove down beneath them.  It was then I saw her.  She was slowly making her way back up toward the strange creatures.  She didn’t look scared anymore?  She looked, chagrined.  Like when you find out that the dark shape you have been running from in the kelp, is really your cousin Lou Seal and not one of those filthy sharks.

She swam near, lowered her lashes and I knew I was hooked.  I knew she wasn’t afraid_DSC3380.jpg any more, and with that look I knew I was the one who was in trouble.  She was the hunter and I was the prey.  It was then that I envisioned my future.  Nightly grooming, babies, no more independence, the old ball and chain.  How could this have happened?  As I looked into her eyes, I thought, how could it not have happened.  Those eyes, that fur, and her knowing smile.

As we surfaced, the fog had lifted.  The sun was shining and we both watched as two of the land creatures climbed onto the shore.  Water cascading off their slippery black skin.  It was then that they looked back at us.  And you can imagine our surprise when they pulled off their one eye, and we saw that they looked totally different.  They were staring, baring their teeth.  They were very ugly creatures, like something you see when you go to the depths.

Well boys, deal me out.  This old otter has a place to go tonight, and it ain’t with you bums.  And while the chase was interesting, I can’t imagine what will come up next.   I think this will be the start of a beautiful…well you know.

 

California’s Central Coast

Brains day off….

IMG_5156What happens when in one day, you are going from the mid eighties to the mid ninties, after weeks of  the mid seventies?  You head to the coast.  And when your hubby wants to take sunrise pictures, you get up at dark thirty so that you can make it to the coast before the sun comes up.

IMG_5163At 3:30 this morning, I was really not in the mood to worry about my own camera, so I just decided to use my iphone.  I snapped a good amount of pictures, but not too many.  It had been a long week.  My brain had been on overload and I wanted to spend some time just enjoying the beauty that surrounded me.

IMG_5157The area of California’s central coast that we love to visit is packed
with trails, oaks, scenery and cool (freezing) ocean breezes.  This trip we traveled up to Ragged Point in the north, and on down to Avila Beach in the south.  We stopped for coffee in Cambria and visited the Vault Gallery.  If you are ever in that area, it is a great place to stop, we saw some amazing art!  It was definitely worth the extra time to visit and enjoy some great photos and paintings.

I do love the pictures I took, although  they are not fantastic.  The fog really does not help when you want to take landscapes.  It does though give you some moody pictures, if you can catch it right.  This time, luck was on my side for a couple of the pics.

IMG_5202Truthfully, the quality matters little to me, as the most important thing was to relax and just enjoy the beauty that God created.

Only one thing gonna set you free…

I feel like God has really been trying to convince me how important images-6His love is.  I know that seems really silly, of course His love is important.  I mean really, He so loved the world.  This is Jesus 101.  Where the problem lies is not if I “get it” or not, but if I really choose to accept it and just do it.

Now I was really encouraged by a song I heard on Tuesday, and on Wednesday I looked a little more into it.  The song?  Well it is not your typical “christian” song.  It is “Let My Love Open the Door” by Pete Townshend.  What I find so interesting in this song, is that he writes it from God’s viewpoint.

“Let my love open the door to your heart,” says the chorus.

And my favorite line of the song:

“When everything feels all over, everybody seems unkind.

I’ll give you a four leaf clover, take all worry out of your mind.”

 I know it seems weird, but when things are rough and I do not feel like I have it together, God always shows me something that “takes all worry out of my mind.”

Now this song was not written by a person with an orthodox view of God, by any stretch of the imagination.  But… that does not mean that the words do not capture what is true about God.  One of the images-5lines seems to be what my mind is struggling with a lot these days, “Love can cure your problems.”  Do we really believe that?  Do I really believe that?

I would like to think I do, but I look around me and do not see love curing our problems.  I wanted to write this whole smart article about it, but I couldn’t.  Why?  Well, I used the song as a starting place, then I googled information about the song, why he wrote it, blah blah, etc etc.  And I think that may have been the problem.  Maybe the song wasn’t the place where I was supposed to start, maybe it was the place where I was supposed to end.

No matter what the question is, or the situation, it just doesn’t matter.  When you get images-7through all the arguments and perspectives there is only one thing that makes sense.  And that is His love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What color glasses?

IMG_3575 (1)I have those transitions lenses.  You know, the kind that automatically get dark in sunlight.  On one hand I love them, but on the other, they are kind of a pain sometimes.

I find that in the summer, when the sun is very strong, the lenses become very dark.  That is great when I am outside, but if I run into the house, a store, or my personal favorite into church, I am concerned for my safety.  Why?  Well, my glasses are still so dark that I am hindered from seeing clearly.  Like I said, the worst is church.  When I go to my seat, the lights are low making it impossible to see anything well with my glasses on.

So as I read opinions and observe others, I started thinking about the lenses we all see through.  You know, that mixture of values, knowledge, worldview, and experience that gives us the perspective that we decipher life though.  The lens that helps us come up with how we feel about things and issues in the greater world around us.

3D man near red question markThat is when I thought of my glasses, and it made me wonder.  Can the lens we see through become a hindrance to us?

I would think that at times the answer could be yes.  If we allow the lens to be so colored by one thought, it may be hard to see any other view.

I think of the religious figures from Jesus day.  They had a very strong viewpoint.  They neither listened nor took the time to see through the lens that Jesus was presenting to them.  Even though “He was teaching them as one having authority…” Matthew 7:29

So I think our lens can be a hindrance.  Sometimes we may have to 795349look through the lens of one another.  It does not have to be a whole hearted acceptance, of some other view.  All that might be needed is just the willingness to glance over and gain some understanding.

I again thought of my glasses.  There are times that they are so dark after being outside that they are a problem.  When it becomes unsafe because they are too dark, I take them off.  Now for me, that is still somewhat risky because I do not have the best eye sight.  What do I do in that instance?  I compensate by going slow and holding on to what I know is solid.  Then even if I stumble while looking through another lens (even the distorted lens of my own eyes) I know that I will not fall.

 

#MakeTodayBetterIn4Words

images-5You know this writing thing is not all that it’s cracked up to be.  I sit, I ponder and usually out come words.  Then I am stuck.  No, it’s not writers block, I just know that I am going to start deleting words.  I guess it keeps me humble?  So I’m gonna start where I think God wants me to, and delete those other 400 words.

“May God continue the unity of our country, as this railroad unites the two great oceans of the world.”

IMG_5121

This is the engraving on the Golden Spike, which is the last spike that was driven during the ceremony connecting the Transcontinental Railroad.   I happened to be in Sacramento a couple of weekends ago, and saw its twin, the Lost Spike.  The original is at Stanford University, but the Lost Spike is in the California Railroad Museum.  I had never seen it before, but was surprised by its beauty and of course by the inscription.

I was actually shocked when I read it.  I am not sure what I expected to find on this piece of history, but I was not expecting that!  The words made me think.  How can this engraving, one hundred and forty- eight years old, still be the cry of our heart today?   Or wait, maybe that is the problem.  Maybe we have such contention because it is not the cry of our heart?

Now I know we don’t all think alike, have differing opinions on some very serious matters, and those issues are incredibly important.  So what kind of unity can I really expect in this day and age?

Well, as a Christian, I guess I am really looking for unity from the church.  And there I am stumped, just like I am when I look at the world at large.  So where can I go?  Well, I guess I just should have started with Jesus.  He is the ultimate in unity.  I mean really, He’s got that whole trinity thing going on. And there I find what I am looking for, the one thing that is echoed from the old testament into the new.

Love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.    Matthew 22:36-39

Come on Church, it is four simple words.  Love God, love others.  We can debate a whole lot of issues, theology and what our government should or should not be doing.  There is one thing that that we should be able to rally around, and live out.  That is loving God and being a good neighbor.

The more contentious we get, both in and out of the church, the more I believe that this Unknown-1is the only way.  If we want things fixed that are broken?  Love God, love others.  Do you want safe schools and better test scores?  Love God, love others.  How about widows and orphans?  Love God, love others.  Our environment? (And yes, I think that needs fixing) Love God, love others.

I know.  How is that supposed to work?  Well to tell you the truth…. Beats the heck out of me?  All I know is that every time my heart feels a burden about anything, whether it is healthcare, the environment, the homeless, they hungry, the poor, schools, crime…whatever!  God brings me back to those four words.  Love God, love others.  For the last week I have actually been trying to find my way around it.  I know…..I am not a very good Christian.  My problem with this solution is how is it going to fix the big picture?   Yes, I just read what I wrote.  How can God NOT know how to fix the big picture?  Well, I still have lots of questions.  What I do know is that every time I asked God the questions He still pointed to the same answer.

imagesSo I think to myself?  How is this going to look?  I don’t know, but I really want to find out.  So are you or do you know someone who is living that “Love God, Love Others” kind of life?  Please leave a comment, and tell me your story.  It would be an encouragement to me, and I am hoping that it would do the same for others.

 

 

 

A good look in the mirror…

Dear Church (not the building, but those who make up the body),

Is it ok to laugh?  No, not the joyful kind of laughter, but that nervous giggle that has to do with truth.  You know.  You are sitting in service and the pastor says something that images-4holds up a mirror.  And instead of taking a breath and looking full into that mirror, you glance over thinking you know what it shows and just give a nervous giggle.  I don’t know when I stopped giggling and started being sad, but it happened at some point.

In the church we talk about sin quite a bit.  Sometimes it seems that we tend to talk about other people’s sin more than our own, and we have chosen some particular ones as our favorites.  I think the biggest problem though is when we do bring up sin that is present in the church, we seem to be met with a more relaxed attitude toward it.  Something like, no one is perfect, but that is why we have Jesus to “wash them all away”.   What I guess I am trying to say is, while God forgives, shouldn’t we be more brokenhearted by our own wrongdoings?

That is where the giggle comes in.  I hear it all the time on the podcasts I listen too.  And I guess to be honest, it rubs me the wrong way.  I must read the prophets too much.  I see the effects of Israel’s sin and know that what applied to them, applies to me.  Why am I not broken hearted over my own sin?  Why church aren’t we?

These were the thoughts that came over me the past couple of days.  This afternoon my images-5attention was caught by a note I scribbled in my bible in the book of Isaiah.  All it said was “weight of your sin”.  It was not by a verse or anything, just written at the top.  So as I scanned the words, I saw a therefore.  “Therefore justice is far from us…”  That sentence made me sad, because justice is important.  Since the sentence started with therefore, I went back to the verses before it to see what it was “there for”.  The verses speak of God’s people and all of the things that they were doing wrong.  It spoke of all of their sin.  It gave me the answer as to why there was no justice.  It makes me wonder if the same could be said for today?

 

 

Earth and exploring my little part of it.

I was motivated to post a couple of pictures because the original challenge had showed pictures of Northern California.  Not to be out done by my northern neighbors, I had to post a couple that I had taken this past week here in the middle of the state.  They are from two different trips within one week….. from the plains to the mountains.

via Photo Challenge: Earth

Ready to worship?

Unknown-1I was challenged this Easter, but it was done in a very round about manner.  It started off as a feeling I got from a couple of comments made in an Easter service.  The comments gave the impression that the congregations response was somewhat lacking.  They kind of irritated me, but then I started to ponder what was said.  I went back to the old advice that I would always give my sons.  They would do something wrong, Dad would yell a bit and then I would remind them…..”Don’t listen to how he said it, but what he said”.  If there is truth in the words, even if they were said a little harshly, then listen to the truth.

So I started to look for the truth in the words.  It has taken about three days and about 1600 words that were deleted, but I did finally come to what I knew was some truth.  It was something I kind of already knew, but had been using in a different context.  What did I learn?  Well, it was that He is God, and I am not.  No matter how well I was prepared, or how eloquent I was, without the Holy Spirit whatever I had to say would fall short.

When I taught in the preschool class at church, we would have a circle time to start off all of our activities and story time.  When we were in the circle, the first thing we would do is pray.  Why?  Well, have you ever tried to wrangle 40 or so preschoolers for activities?  We would all get into a circle, and I would remind them that this was our time to talk to God.  We would invite Him to come to our class, help us to learn and to help us have fun.  For me the key was always including that invitation to be in our class.  I wasn’t expecting God to come down on a cloud, but I always trusted that the Holy Spirit would take the words, activities, music, fun and make an impact.   I was not the one who was able to do it, He was.

How did this concept apply to now?  Well, those comments that may have irritated me at first, also made me think.  My first thoughts went to whatimages-3 they could “do”, but then I wondered…..When I come in to church, am I ready to worship?   Have I taken the time like I did with those kids, to bring my own heart into a place where I was ready to listen, learn and have fun?  It is a question that I had not been previously thought about, but I know now that it is a question that is not only important to ask, but make sure I continue to answer in the future.

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