Cheryl Mendoza

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

Life…and what it makes you.

I hate puzzles.  Maybe hate is a strong word, but I have never been a big fan of doing Unknownthem.  What I do like about puzzles is the what they show……A complete picture.  You have all these pieces that go together but they are in such weird shapes, it is not easy to see how everything fits.  But they do.

IMG_5203Life is like a puzzle.  All the days and everything that happens to you become pieces that are fitted together to create you.  How you think, how you feel and how you live.

Sometimes it is hard to see how some things fit in your life.  Death, pain and struggle, but they do.   They belong.  Without those pieces, it is hard to appreciate the simple things.  We have the tendency to take them for granted.  But when you place them beside the hard things, sunshine, green grass, laughter, food on the table, or holding hands with your love one, you see them for the wonder they are.


So here is today…..and another piece added to the puzzle!autism-puzzle-piece-clip-art-cliparts-co-lilgLt-clipart

 “One day I’ll stand before You and look back on the life I’ve lived.  I can’t wait to enjoy the view and see how all the pieces fit.”
Casting Crowns 


Reading the heart…..

UnknownHow do you talk to people?  Especially people you don’t agree with?  As I was reading, I was struck by two conversations this morning. Two conversations, two different outcomes.  Two different questions, with two different intents.  And one Jesus.

One question was asked to trick and catch him saying something wrong.  The other was asked seeking an honest answer.

One was asked to show how wise they were.  The other to gain wisdom.

One was asked, but the answer didn’t really matter to those who asked it.  The other was asked, with the answer being of the utmost importance.

Two answers were given that day, but only one truly listened.  I was struck by both questions, their intent and the reaction to the answers.

When you talk to people, what is your intention? Is it to prove them wrong?  Or is it to understand?

thWhen the one man heard wisdom in the answer, Jesus said “you are not far from the kingdom of God.”  Sounds like a mile marker to me.  How the man approached the question and reacted to Jesus’ response, showed something about his heart.

I wonder…..what do our questions and responses show about ours?

Mark 12:18-35


DSC_0132“I gotta live how I say I believe.”  It doesn’t roll off the tongue very easily, but t’s something I’ve been saying a lot lately.  It’s mainly due to my children and their struggles or downright danger they put themselves into.  Ok, honestly? Some of it just has to do with me and my response to the world around me.

I was reading this morning and came across the story about the friends who bring a crippled man to Jesus.  These guys did everything they could to get their friend into the room where Jesus was teaching.   They let nothing get in their way, not even someone else’s roof. I’ve told this story and heard it many times, but something about it hit me differently today.  When I tell the story to kids, we always used the word “friends” when describing the men who carried the guy in.  I even used the word friend when I started writing this, but the bible never uses the word friend?  It always says men.

images-2What’s the difference?  Well, it seems to me that it’s all about perspective.  If I see these men bringing in their friend, that makes sense to me.  I can “help” my friend see who Jesus is in my life and maybe they will be like “cool….tell me more”.   Sounds great! But I checked out 5 or 6 different translations and they all just said MEN not friend.

So what might the story really have looked like? There’s a couple of guys, and they’re hurrying off to see this teacher they’ve heard about.  He says the craziest things, but what they’ve heard has them thinking.  I know….four men thinking…. Who would have thunk it?  So either they know each other or better yet….maybe they don’t?  Probably at least 2 did and they were walking together. Maybe then third and fourth are just walking that way too and they all converge at this intersection that is just down the street from the house.  It is so close they can see it.  They are intent on getting there before too many more people show up.  Picture Disneyland when they first open in the morning. Some are walking enjoying Main Street, some are doing that funny walk/run and some are downright sprinting to be first in line at Indiana Jones.  Well as these guys get to the intersection, they are greeted by someone who can’t walk.

Maybe he is calling out to Jesus because he has heard the scuttlebutt.  Or maybe this guy is calling out for money? For whatever reason, they choose to do something. They see that he is laying on a blanket and they grab the corners and go.  They walk for just a bit but stop.  It is really hard with just the two of them and they put him down.  They’re panting, thinking “this is harder than the WOD,” and as they catch their breath a shadow falls across them.  Two more men have stopped.  They all look at each other and without another word they each grab a corner of the blanket, mat, whatever the guy was on and well you know the end of the story.  Jesus, forgiveness and healing.  The end seems to point to the conclusion that maybe they don’t know each other.  When the man is healed, he just gets up and just walks out.  Maybe these guys go and have some goats milk together at the local whatever was back then, or just maybe after listening to Jesus they go their separate ways.

IMG_0143It seems to me this is kind of how life works.  We are all in need of healing and could use a little Jesus to do that.  Along the way people can come beside us and take a corner to help us get to where we need to be.  If we see this story only through the lens of helping a “friend” then we might miss out on all of the other opportunities to help people we don’t know see Jesus.

Sometimes it takes a long time for someone to make that complete journey to forgiveness and healing.   And every day is a new opportunity to pick up the mat of those around you.  Whether they are technically a friend or not.

So how does this relate to “I gotta live how I say I believe?”  Well if I believe that everyone around me is someone I can “bring” to Jesus, it should really influence how I treat everyone.  Right?  And that means in every situation.  School, work, grocery store, politics, baseball field, FREEWAY and even in church.  Sometimes it takes a long time for someone to make the complete journey, and everyone I meet is another opportunity.  A new chance for me to pick up the mat and help them on their way.

16939225_10211261381504215_4523643083069843847_nThat is the plan, and it is way harder to do than it sounds.  But you know… gotta live how you say you believe!

Study in Pink – Sophia Medina

_DSC0032Is this really a “Study in Pink”?  Well I think so.  I spoke with this young lady because of her intention of becoming a pediatrician, but was also interested by the stage she is on right now.  The Miss America pageant system is going through a transformation.  The “beauty” pageant is going away, and there will be more focus on the WHO these ladies are and less on HOW they look.   What will that truly look like in the future?  Not sure, but today, I know it looks like the accomplished young lady I spoke with a few weeks ago……


I met Sophia Medina when she wasn’t royalty. Her family lives in Hanford, and are founders of the Kings Cultural Center in Armona. She started dancing at age 4, and now spends time promoting the cultural center and the benefit it brings to the community.  That is where I met her, and came to know so much more about this talented and focused young woman.

_DSC0009She just graduated from UC Santa Cruz, and is studying for the MCAT.  Yes….that is to get into medical school!  While dance is a passion for her, so is science.  “I am a nerd like that,” she told me.  After taking the MCAT Sophia will be attending medical school with the intention of becoming a pediatrician.  “I love science,” she said, “Anatomy is awesome!”  She is not only inspired by science but also her father, who is a doctor, and the time she spends at KCC.  Teaching dance to kids at the cultural center showed her how much she enjoyed working with children.  So why not combine her passions?   She is excited about becoming a pediatrician, “you have to communicate with parents and kids,” she told me.  And communication has been something she is working on lately.

When the idea of running for Miss Outstanding teen in 2012 was presented to her, she wasn’t sure at first.  “I am not the most girlie girl,” she said, but when the event was framed as a scholarship opportunity she felt that she wanted to give it a try. She was also motivated by the opportunity to “break out of my shell.”


_DSC0090She described herself as “not the most outgoing,” and she had growing sense that she “felt necessary to speak my mind.” In running for Miss Outstanding teen and then for Miss Kings County, she told me that it has “helped with my style and presenting myself.”  One of the most exciting aspects for her is the platform that each contestant seeks to promote during their reign.  “Getting to share about Cultural Appreciation is something I am passionate about.”   For Sophia, Cultural Appreciation is not just a platform, but is something that has been passed down from her parents.  “My parents are super supportive in anything we do,” she said.

So what are her hopes for the outcome of the pageant?  “Just enjoy the experience, and connect with the other girls.”  I of course am hoping to be speaking to the next Miss California, but she has a much more grounded answer.  “With 75% of the girls being returnees,” she said, “I would be happy to break the top 15.”

_DSC0060No matter where she winds up in the standings, it does not matter, she is already inspiring and encouraging in so many ways. So good luck and many blessings to her this weekend in the Miss California pageant.  And may that luck and blessing continue as you bring beauty, healing and grace into your community.


Yes…we are better than this……

While None of us has all the answers, the fact that the children cannot be held or comforted is an ABOMINABLE act.

Please ask the people of Romania…..they can tell you the true cost of the lack of human contact.

I may not know what should be done….but at least I know what should not be done.

I know God is in control and I grieve for our country and the cost we may pay. I was talking to my son the other day when God was used to justify the response of our government. I wondered to him if this was a test…..was God possibly asking us to show mercy to those who needed it? And if we did….maybe He would redeem those efforts. How? Maybe by bringing a new spirit of love to the U.S. and even more maybe He would redeem what has been lost to our neighbors.‘america-is-better-than-this’-what-a-doctor-saw-in-a-texas-shelter-for-migrant-children/ar-AAyJpWv?li=BBnb7Kz

The road to Manzanar….


It is beautiful as the landscape changes from desert only, to mountains on either side.  The Inyo’s were to the east, and on the west the Sierras.  The eastern view of the Sierra’s is so much different than from the western view from the valley. They are snowcapped, ragged mountains that jut out of the landscape.  They are shockingly beautiful, but after my initial awe, I thought about how foreboding they look at the same time.



Continue reading “The road to Manzanar….”

A cuppa JOY!

IMG_7020So we have been doing some sprucing up of our home, and with each new task completed, we are more and more comfortable. (Really…we have only been here 13 years!)  Our latest venture was bringing some interest to a kitchen wall, over the counter where we keep the coffee pot.  (Or our coffee shrine as I call it)

I had seen a couple of different metal signs done with sayings, and I really liked them.   So I set out to find someone local who made them and came across Vintage Metal Co. out of Visalia. (you can find them on Etsy)  They could do a custom saying and the cost was pretty reasonable.  Now the problem…what would I have it say?

It really didn’t take long, because I had seen it somewhere before.  So I ordered our sign, and it came out perfectly.  I have seen the Cuppa Joy done by lots of people, but for my husband and myself, it has meaning far beyond coffee. Continue reading “A cuppa JOY!”

Of Billy and influence….

thSo the day finally came, and my first reaction was sadness, then I pondered and then I laughed.   I was sad because I know that at the loss of Billy Graham, his family and friends will be going through a grieving process.  The first moments of separation are the worst.  I was also sad because it seems that these are the days that we need a Billy Graham.

But that didn’t sound right.  As I started to ponder the thought, I realized that what we really needed are “men and women like Billy Graham.” Continue reading “Of Billy and influence….”

What’s the fuel to your fire?

I hate when I get stuck on the hook.  I mean really…. I am human!  So… I might not have
been totally awake yesterday as I was sitting in church.  In my defense, I had just gotten out of a Sunday school class with 26 pre-schoolers that morning, so I was exhausted!  As I was listening, the pastor brought up the words we use and how they can affect people.  Since I am all about words, both written and spoken (a lot of them according to Mike) I make an effort to pay attention when the subject is brought up.  Well he noted the verse:

It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire.  A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that.  James 3:5 Continue reading “What’s the fuel to your fire?”

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