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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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Advent: Outside looking in…..

So yesterday I was thinking about the shepherds.  You know the ones?  Those “In the fields by night” kind of guys.  I had to teach kids about them once and to help them appreciate the shepherds position in life we talked about how smelly they would be.  I know….not very spiritual….but true.  Think how you would smell if you were in the fields outside of town with just big fluffy sheep for companions?

 

ca9583de30e2e850b492eff0c494a42d--nativity-silhouette-silhouette-cameoNow some put shepherds in a category of outcasts from society, but others say they are just another group among the poor.    Either way, they give us a picture of separation from other people and the normal rhythms of life.  To have a big flock, you would need a big area of grass to feed them.  Have you ever seen sheep go through a field?  And when that field is done, you need to move them to another one.  The life of a shepherd was not a normal one of home and family.

 

So…Why do the angels tell these guys?  Was heaven so crazy with excitement that it could not contain the celebration?  The party was so wild that the heavens split and the craziness spilled out into the hills of Bethlehem.  I don’t know about that, but all I do know is that these were the men who first heard confirmation of this incredible birth.   On that night, the angels could not contain the joy of heaven and brought day into night.  And they brought it to these men.  The outsiders, the humble, the poor single guys who might not have smelled really good.

 

While my life is nothing like the shepherds, I like their story because sometimes I feel like I am on the outside looking in.   I used to hate that feeling, but now I see that it has its advantages.  Many times it gives me a different perspective, and I am grateful for that view.  Sometimes, like those shepherds I feel like heaven opens up and gives me a view of something other worldly.  Something beautiful! Those are the times I am grateful for who God has made me, but I still fight it.  It feels lonely sometimes, trying to find a place where you fit.  Now don’t get me wrong, I seem to be able to pass through many groups but while I can do that I am never totally comfortable where I am. I guess that seems to be the way God means for it to be, so I try to be content.  And when I feel out of sorts about it, I remember the shepherds and the amazing thing that happened to them that day.   It was to them that the angels brought the best news of all…..

 

But the angel reassured them.  “Don’t be afraid!” he said.  “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”   Luke 2:10

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

Believe=Live

DSC_0132“I gotta live how I say I believe.”  It doesn’t roll off the tongue very easily, but it’s something I’ve been saying a lot lately.  It’s mainly due to my children and their struggles, or the downright danger they put themselves into.  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 paralytic in.  I even used the word friend when I started writing this, but the bible itself never uses the word friend.  It just says men.

images-2So what’s the difference between using men or friend?  Well, it seems that it’s all about perspective.  If I see these men bringing in their friend, that makes sense.  They love their friend, and are willing to go out on a limb for him.  Or when it comes to me, I can give my friend a picture of who Jesus is, by how I live.  Maybe they even think like “cool….tell me more”.  But I checked out 5 or 6 different translations and they all just said MEN and it changed my perspective.

So how could the story looked a little different?

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…. 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 a 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’s so close they can see it.  They’re 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 most are downright sprinting to be first in line at Indiana Jones.  Well, somehow these guys meet, and they’re greeted by someone who can’t walk.

Maybe he’s calling out to Jesus because he’s heard the scuttlebutt.  Or maybe this guy is calling out for money? For whatever reason, they choose to do something. They see that he’s laying on a blanket and they grab the corners and go.  They walk for just a bit but stop.  It’s 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 didn’t know each other.  When the man’s healed, he just gets up and just walks out.  Maybe these guys go and have some goats milk together at a local establishment 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’re 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 God brings our way.  Those chances to help people we don’t know, see Jesus.

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 help“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.

It may take a long time for people to make the complete journey to forgiveness and healing.  And every day is a new opportunity for me to pick up someones mat, whether they are technically a friend or not.  Truthfully, it’s a new chance for all of us to pick up the mat of someone else and help them on their way.

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

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?”

To Love and Mourn…Together

So I am going to try and be concise….not too wordy.  No promises though!

Unknown 8.24.28 PMThis year was kind of funny because Lent started on Valentine’s day.  Not coming from a liturgical background, I have only started following this tradition.  (In my own made up way)  So a couple days ago, I was reading a blog written by a young Catholic woman, and she made the connection between Valentines day, the whole “love” thing, and Lent which prepares us for the remembrance of the greatest act of love ever.  I thought that was kinda cool.  Up to that point, the only connection I had made about the coincidence was to tease my friend that she may need to celebrate Valentines on Tuesday.  Continue reading “To Love and Mourn…Together”

A time to hate?

So I am finding it hard to write.  Why?  Mostly because I seem to be…..how can I say this?  Wordy.

thSo today, since I am not feeling well (still feeling the effects of the flu) I am going to try and make these observations short.  These are just some things that have stood out to me the past few days, and they seemed appropriate to think about on this day we remember the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I read the following verse this morning…… Jeremiah 22:13  And woe to you, King Jehoiakim, for you are building your great palace with forced labor. By not paying wages you are building injustice into its walls and oppression into its doorframes and ceilings.  Continue reading “A time to hate?”

A Dream of Their Own – Zulema

After a too long pause in writing (or at least editing)….I am back at it.    When I hear people discuss DACA I don’t think of these people in a group……I think of their individual stories.  I think of a spunky, fun loving young lady that my husband coached in volleyball.  I think of Zulema…….

Zulema - Hidden ValleyMy name is Zulema. I was born in Michoacán, Mexico, and I am 20 years old. I was brought to the U.S shortly after my fifth birthday along with my brother and sister, who were also very young. My dad had already been to the U.S. a couple of times in an effort to support our family and give us things he never had as a child. While we stayed behind with our mother, she did everything she could to make sure we were okay. With our dad being thousands of miles away from it wasn’t easy for her, and we knew it.  Continue reading “A Dream of Their Own – Zulema”

Looking for a little relief….

IMG_5982So this morning when I woke up, there were clouds in the sky and some relief from the oppressive heat.  While it will still reach 100 degrees today, compared to yesterday, it is a much needed breath of fresh air.  (OK it’s the valley…the air is never really “fresh”)   According to the weather reports, we have at least nine more days of triple digits, which makes today’s cool breeze only a brief respite.  So where am I now?  I am sitting outside while I can!  There is a slight breeze and the clouds are doing a good job of keeping those scorching rays at bay. As I sit here enjoying the little bit of heaven, it reminded me of a prayer that I had yesterday.

There is a gal at our church who is going through cancer treatments.  As I was thinking IMG_5981and praying for her, I just asked God to give her some normalcy.  Just a little something that day to remind her of what life would be like after her treatments were done.  Just a little relief from the pain and stress she is going through.  It was exciting for me to hear her post later that morning, that she had taken a small but encouraging step.  It was not the “end of the tunnel” for her, but just a bit of light to keep on going.

It was just a bit of relief.  Sometimes though, that is all we get.  It’s hard, because what we
really want is that breakthrough.  That resolution to our problem, illness, finances or situation.  What we get though most of the time, is just a little relief.  That little bit of calm encouragement, in whatever form it takes, that allows us to continue down the road we are on.

IMG_5979So if you’re walking that tough road, whatever it may be, look for those moments of relief.  Don’t miss them.  They are hope given to you today, that gives strength for the steps you will take tomorrow.

The humble will see their God at work and be glad.  Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.  Psalm 69:32

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