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Cheryl Mendoza

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

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!  

Respond in Love….2020

“…..in their own self interests”  That was the part of the sentence that caught my eye.  As I make decisions regarding the pandemic and how it will shape how I act in the coming days, shouldn’t I take into account more than my own self interests?  

The book of Judges is one of my favorites in the Bible.  If you haven’t read it, I would encourage you to crack it open but don’t expect the warm fuzzies.  Why I like it so much is because it’s opened my eyes to how humanity acts, and why we so needed saving.  At the end of the book there is a tale of people who do “whatever seemed right in their own eyes” with horrific results.  Is that who we are?   

So as we go through this crazy time,   (I wanted to use unprecedented but didn’t since it’s so overused now) I would ask that instead of looking out for just yourself, you would also look to your community.  These are your neighbors.  The real people you know, laugh with, care for, put up with and love.  Let’s stop seeing this through the lens of the media, twitter, FB and our political filter.  

All those things add distortion to what you are seeing, and clarity is what we all need right now.  If you really want to know what’s going on, concentrate on those directly around you.  That is your truth!  Let’s work to keep each other safe, lend a helping hand and encourage one another!  

Above all else, respond in LOVE.  When we choose love, we’re giving back control to the One who is truly in control anyway.   And in His hands we can find truth, peace and the oh so needed love to share in a hurting world.  

Careless whisper…..

When people tell me they’re having problems with their kids, I try to listen a lot and not give an opinion.  The only one good piece of advice I really have is this; whatever happens never say anything to hurt.  There are some words that you can never take back, and apologies will never be enough to erase.  We’ve lived by that in our household and looking back, I think we are seeing good results. 

Our sons like us, and they like each other.  I attribute much of that to that one piece of advice, of how we talked to and about each other.  

– Please listen to the words coming out of your mouth.  They may be poisonous.  Choose to speak life!

I wrote that out on election day….just a series of things I thought would be wise to remember, but I wanted to revisit this one today.  As I listen to people speak, I wonder if we truly hear ourselves?  And more so, if we truly weigh the impact of carelessly spoken words?  I think about words a lot.  I like writing more than conversations, because it gives me the opportunity to delete those careless words before they wound.  

And do not mistake my meaning.  I believe our words are leaving a mark, and it’s not a good one.  I have thought about it before…. 

“…..But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.  And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire….. “  James 3: 5&6

I have wondered if the spiritual is having an effect on the physical.  The more we let fly with our mouths, the more this world is on fire.   And it’s effecting us all, both spiritually and physically.  

So I leave you with the struggle in my own life.  To stop setting fires with my mouth.  To stop before I carelessly criticize, judge or let the sarcasm fly.  To instead bring beauty, love, encouragement and most of all hope.  

“Careless words stab like a sword, but the words of wise people bring healing.”  Proverbs 12:18

Election advice….

So Scott left yesterday and before we went our separate ways, we had a conversation about the state of the union.  We are both realists, but I have a heavy dose of optimism that helps me deal with looking at the facts.  He does not.  It was strange to sit and listen to my son articulate so well a viewpoint that I can understand, but ultimately must fight against.  I must have hope!  So in that spirit, I am penning a few thoughts.  

 – Pray.  God is in control no matter who wins.  And neither candidate is His choice.

 – Please listen to the words coming out of your mouth.  They may be poisonous.  Choose to speak life!

 – Trust the process.  The election process is run by your neighbors.  You trust them to watch your home when you’re gone, they bring you soup when you’re sick and you celebrate the holidays with them.  They are not here to steal an election from you. 

 – Put away your fire arms.  People will get hurt.  (Jeez Louise!!)

 – Don’t be scared.  You can be concerned, but if you start acting because of fear, that is when it will hit the fan.  And unfortunately right now, both sides are peddling fear to us all.  

 – If you think all is lost because your candidate did not win, you are wrong.  Our country has some hard work to do, and the person in the Oval Office can help or hinder it.  The fact is though the hard work is ours to do regardless.  

 – You are not 100% right.  How can I know this?  Because none of us are!  

Scott told me of letters that he had read.  They were written by normal men who were fighting in a war.  They were shocked to realize they were fighting and killing people they knew.  Fighting their own neighbors.  People they had much in common with.  There is nothing civil about war, whether it be fought with guns or with words. 

Again, my hope is not in a person, but in a Creator.  And I believe He has created us all out of His great love for us!  So today and into the future we who look to Jesus and choose to follow His example get to only respond in one way.  And that’s in LOVE.  Anything else is garbage.  So if I see you today…. I love you!  And may God give me the strength to continue to respond in love to all people for the rest of my days!  

Ponderings: words I say

I really need a  nap, but I was compelled to write.  I was talking to Mike this morning, 51A62216-98FB-4FD3-A3ED-5897A2B839B0and I brought up the prophet Isaiah.  Like doesn’t everyone?  I have always been struck by this one interaction with God.  He says that one year he see’s the Lord.  Holy cow….to say the least!  Isaiah goes on to describe the scene, and eventually he realizes his own sin in comparison to the glory of God.  He says “I have filthy lips and live among a people with filthy lips.”  For some reason, that verse has always gotten to me.  It was like Jesus was saying, “girl…this verse is for you!”  At some point when I started actually posting what I write, I felt that Isaiah’s moment in time had lessons for me. 

 Eventually an angel takes a coal from the altar and touches Isaiah’s lips and “cleanses” them.  It is then the Lord asks “who shall I send?”  Isaiah steps forward to take the job.  

IMG_0143After reading this, I always tried to write what I think will honor God.  More importantly, I work hard to make sure what I say does not drag Jesus’ name through the mud.  Truthfully, because of this there are some thoughts in my head that have never made it to print.  When I am tempted to use sarcasm, a sharp wit or demeaning points to prove someone wrong, I think of Isaiah.  Of how he was burdened by his “unclean lips.”   And how I don’t want to live with that kind of burden.  Got enough other sin in my life to deal with.  

Plus I am reminded that in offering up my words to God, I am also in line to receive potential blessing from what I write.  The blessing of encouraging others, sharing strength and showing love to a world in such need.  Plus ya just never know.  He may even bless me with the opportunity to say something that is truly life changing. 

ca9583de30e2e850b492eff0c494a42d--nativity-silhouette-silhouette-cameo“All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign.  Look! The virgin will conceive a
child!  She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel, which means God is with us”. 

If you want to check it out for yourself…..  Isaish 6:1-7

 

A prayer for a lifetime

_DSC2940Lord this world needs you.  I need you.  Help me not to react, but to find the path that leads to shalom in my life and in the lives of all.  Today as we think of that day so long ago when You gave us the power to make “Your kingdom come,” help us to not be distracted.  Give us the strength to be a conduit of the Holy Spirit that gives us the power that can change the world.

The angels sang on the day You were born and told the outsider, “Don’t be afraid!”  They made it clear that the redemption you were offering was “GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY, FOR ALL PEOPLE.”  Forgive us who call you LORD, but do not proclaim YOUR good news.  Forgive us for muddying the waters.  Let this Pentecost be different.  Help us to lay down our lives (our opinions/rights/our idols)  for our brothers and sisters.  What is done in humble love, though imperfect it may be, will be honored by You….and in that there is HOPE. 

Turned away from it all like a blind man

Sat on a fence but it don’t work

Keep coming up with love but it’s so slashed and torn

Why, why, why?

Love, love, love, love, love

Insanity laughs under pressure we’re breaking

Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?

Why can’t we give love that one more chance?

Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love

Give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?

‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word

And love dares you to care for

The people on the edge of the night

And love dares you to change our way of

Caring about ourselves

This is our last dance

This is our last dance

This is ourselves under pressure

Under pressure

Pressure

Under Pressure….. Queen

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