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Cheryl Mendoza

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

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cherylmendoza

To laugh or not to laugh….

img_4462It’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 16939225_10211261381504215_4523643083069843847_npain, 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. IMG_0171Right?

 

 

Love IS the answer…..

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.

 

A little peace….

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?  

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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.  

….isn’t written yet!

“So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time, before the Lord returns.”   ! Corinthians 4:6

UnknownI’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 haveIMG_5237 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.

Know before you go….

Cayucos
Cayucos

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?

IMG_0151Sometimes 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!”

 

 

 

Good or bad….with Hope!

3D man near red question mark

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/.

brown valley during a grey cloudy sky
Photo by Josh Sorenson on Pexels.com

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!

…quickly torn apart.

“Isn’t it amazing how long it takes to build something, and how quickly it can be torn apart.”

I had a sermon playing on my phone as I was pulling weeds.  It’s funny. I’ve listened to it a couple of times before but this was the first time I remember hearing the quote.   Maybe it caught my attention because of circumstances.  I tried to keep listening, but the quote kept turning in my head, so I turned it off and put on some music.

DSC_1782We’ve had so much rain lately that the weeds have taken over.  So it was past time to get out and clean them up.  They were easy to pull, as the ground is soft and the weeds were pretty big. Some of it was small and kind of reminded me of ground cover. It was more delicate and harder to pull out.  It was such a pain!  I had half a mind to let it stay, but I knew no matter what they looked like, they were still weeds.  As green as they were, I knew that it would take over and that wouldn’t be good.  Plus, it would have gotten me into huge trouble! My son worked one spring to get the area all dug out and the mulch put down, so I want to honor the work he did by keeping it cleaned out and looking good.

I think of how upset he would be if I just let it all go to the weeds.  It took him time, sweat and a lot of hard work to get it all completed.  Like the quote, he had built something that took effort, and as I looked at the mulch, I saw how easy it could be ruined.

It’s a lot like life.  Even things that are developed, worked on and cultivated can be ruined when we leave the habits, activities or even people that shouldn’t be there.

God help me to keep the weeds pulled!

Time to encourage…..

IMG_7943Timing is everything.  I’ve really been amazed at the people we’ve met over the past couple of months.  How they encouraged us, provided good care for Mike and helped us navigate the process.  One of my favorites was an older lady I met while Mike was having an MRI. This was before we had his diagnosis.  We had gotten to the office where the MRI would be done, and I can remember thinking for the first time how fragile Mike seemed.  We both got out of the car and he waited for me.  We’ve always held hands when we walked, but now it was different. We walked slower, more carefully. I was holding his hand more to help him, than simply out of affection.  When we finally got into the back, Mike went into get the MRI done, and I sat out in a small waiting area.  No one was out there with me until an older couple came back and were waiting. Ugh!  I did not want to talk to anyone!  So I kept looking straight ahead and did all I could not to make eye contact. When the man was called back, I was doing great, keeping my eyes to myself and not attracting any attention. Well, that was until I started laughing.

I mean it wasn’t my fault!  It was the technician that was taking people back. So he finishes up with a patient, and tells him he can go.  Right at that time a doctor comes up and wants to talk to the technician, so he tells the patient to just sit down.  The patient, confused now that he is getting two different sets of instructions, stands there unsure of what to do?  When the doctor steps away, the technician sees the poor man and asks why he is still there? The patient says “well the doctor told me to sit,” and the tech just says, “what does he know, he’s only a doctor?” The patient then leaves, and I start cracking up watching this play out in front of me.  I then made my mistake, and made eye contact with the lady that was sitting there.  When I relayed why I was laughing, she couldn’t hear me, so of course I had to sit next to her and share the story.  By that time it was all over, I was trapped into a conversation that I didn’t want.  For that, I am so grateful!

IMG_0143So we talked, or at least I listened while she talked.  She shared a lot of her life in just a few minutes.  We also got to talking about her moving into a new “adult community” and her fears of finding a place with the new people she would meet.  We also talked about her son, and the new woman in his life.  She had liked her, was impressed with her education and intelligence, but was unsure because she had tattoos.  She was a good Catholic lady, and this seemed to bug her a lot.  So I did what I do best, and told her what I had learned along the way.  Encouraging her to remember the times she had been the new person in the past, and how she had found a place then.  I told her that this would be the same, and not to worry.  I also told her about my own son and his many tattoos.  She seemed to be comforted by the words and my own experiences.  It was a great conversation, distracting for me and encouraging for her!

By the time my hubby was coming out where we were waiting, she was giving me a hug goodbye and telling me she “loved me”.  She was adorable, and it was such a fun conversation!  Mike asked who she was, and I told him that we had just met.  He just gave me a look?  That was a moment though that I just thanked God for perspective.  It was the last time I would try to cut myself off from the people around me.  I realized that God may have put them in my path to help me cope. Even more important, God may have put me in their path for the exact same reason.

Laughing all the way to the…hospital?

whiskey-typewriter-shutterstock-570x380So day 2 is always hard.  I always wonder, what will I write about now?  I also feel behind the eight ball because I am tired. Taking care of someone can be tiring. Part of it is physical, but it’s also a mental tired.  Since I tend to overthink things, I am sure that is a lot of it!  There is a spiritual aspect to it too.  The word “spiritual” makes it sound very serious, but it really hasn’t felt that way.

The spiritual in our journey has included a lot of laughter.  Just to give you a little background, my hubby started having headaches that progressively became worse over the last half of 2018.  He never really had headaches as a rule, so we felt that something was up.  He started missing out on work, and it was really affecting how he was able to live his life.  To see him get weaker and become a bit like a little old man, it was hard to watch.  So you can imagine the excitement when we had a diagnosis.  A brain tumor?  All right! And he can have surgery? Fantastic!

red ribbon on brown cardboard box
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

I can remember watching his face as he talked with the doctor that Saturday morning.  It lit up like Christmas!  We had just been given a present.  It was hope!  With that hope, what was ahead held no concern. We knew that it was all out of our hands, so we rested in those who took care of him.  The nurses, doctors and God.

 

At some point I thought of the verse that is quoted so often, “peace that passes all understanding.”  At that point I totally got it.  I mean really, brain surgery?  This is serious stuff, but we wanted it!  We had peace though, and I really didn’t understand how we could be feeling that way?  I didn’t argue though, it was a place I was glad to be.

IMG_7989The neurologist gave us an idea to fastrack the whole thing.  So he called a doctor at the local emergency room to get us in.  My hubby was so excited, we would go to the ER and they would transfer us to a larger hospital.  It would be there that they would see the big mass in his head and they may even do surgery this weekend.  Isn’t it great?  There was not one tear, one moment of hesitation or fear.  We looked at each other shook our heads with smiles on our faces.

It wasn’t long till we got ready and were walking up to the emergency room.  Before we got in I asked my hubby, “who are we supposed to see?”  He looked at me with a smile and said, “Doctor Martin.” When I heard that we both started laughing and I knew it was going to be all right.    Doc Martin is a TV show we watch, and the doctor is such a character!  And of course as soon as the doctor came in we had to greet him as “Doc Martin.”  The doctor laughed…..he knew exactly who we were talking about!  I always knew God had a great sense of humor and today He proved it again!

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