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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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life

Advent: Freedom…..

whiskey-typewriter-shutterstock-570x380You know the funniest thing about God?  He wants to talk to us!  I don’t get it…. Why?  If I am who I am and He is who He is…. Why is He so big on trying to communicate with me?

He will speak to me anywhere.  I have a tendency to pop the TV on during my quiet time on a Friday. Funny thing is, whatever I watch, I tend to get something more than I bargained FOR.  Kinda like God won’t let Himself be silenced, even if I am slacking.

This morning I caught a few minutes of “Eat, Pray, Love.”  Now I’ve never seen this whole movie, but I was drawn to the setting and the food they were eating.  As I watched, I got  caught up in the conversations of the characters.  The lead character is eating her way through Italy (dream!) and she says, “I am through with the guilt.”

UnknownI loved it!  We women get so many mixed messages, it’s hard to keep our heads on straight.   Here was a woman who was trying to really live.  Her motivation was not going to be out of a sense of guilt, but out of love. Well for her, the love was for pizza. For me, it is the love of God.  Or better put, the way that God loves me.

If I look to see how I am loved, it is totally, fully and in the complete knowledge of who I am.  There are no secrets between Him and I, He knows it all.  The good, bad and ugly to borrow a phrase.  Even that full knowledge doesn’t dissuade Him from loving me. That is the kind of love that gives a person freedom.

UnknownI struggle with this a lot.  While I believe I am so loved, I have a hard time trusting in it.  While His love is perfect, our worldly version is not.  And that my friends has left a mark.  I still chase after it though.  I want that kind of freedom!  To trust so much in that love, gives me the confidence to become the person He made me to be.  The one that’s inside of me.  The one that I find it hard to let out. The one who laughs too loud, eats too much, cry’s too easily and doesn’t want to wear a mask.  She is kind and just wants to encourage you, whether she knows you or not.  She loves Jesus, but she drinks a little.  She is scared to be vulnerable with you, because she cares what you think.  Her feelings get hurt easily and she lets them hurt.  That’s because it’s either hurt or anger, and she never wants the anger to have life.  I know I am not the only one who wants this freedom.  I see it in myself, and I see it in other women.  I see it in the bible.

 

I was reading about the woman Jesus met by a well.  I see it in her.  When she is face to face with that kind of love, she can’t help but let everyone know.  It doesn’t matter that Jesus knew all about her life, her husbands and the man she was living with.  That love gave her a different perspective.  That Love gave her freedom!!

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So here is to perfect LOVE that gives freedom and the amazing life that comes from it!

Advent: What better way….

Unknown“Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him.”Mark 10:21a.

I love this verse.  Jesus was about to bring a hard lesson to someone, but before Jesus does that, the writer tells us that Jesus genuinely loved the man.

When was the last time I told a tough truth to someone in genuine love?  Is that how we typically talk to each other?  It just doesn’t seem like it.  And unfortunately, the Christian community doesn’t seem to be much different than the rest of the world.

So if I want to love people like Jesus, then I really need to love people!  Not with an agenda, or a plan to “reach them” but just with the love of God.  If I can’t?  then I really need to check that out!

Unknown 8.24.28 PMWhat about you?  What better way to start the day than to be seeking to love one another!

Wow….. this really isn’t where I thought I would end up when I started.

Advent: Being mindful….

images-2You know, sometimes this writing part of my life is not easy!  I try to come up with something interesting, or thought provoking, not preachy and above all not too opinionated.  I try to frame what I write as my experience, and hope it either encourages or at least gives someone a different perspective.

It is hard though, because I am pretty opinionated.   I’d like to think that I have some pretty good ideas, because I have common sense, and in some ways I am pretty smart.  So I am thinking my opinions are wise…. Right?   Also, according to my pastor since I am so old, I am a good mentor figure.  (that kills me)

Well over the last few years as social media has exploded, I am less and less impressed with my own opinion.  Why?  Because I am so tired of hearing everyone else’s, I can imagine how people feel hearing mine.  I am lucky though, as I have an easier time holding my tongue than others do.  (don’t get me wrong, I came by this trait the hard way.  But God has taken hurt and made it into a useful part of my life.)

Why did I bring this up?  I really don’t know….I just started writing?  I guess it was the imagesphone call I got last night.  I am typically the one who is messaging or talking to someone to encourage them, but last night the call was for me.  Someone wanted to ask how I was, and check up on me and the family. I appreciated it so much!  And at the end she prayed for me, and it was cool because it showed growth in her faith.

 

 

_DSC9219Why these two topics together?  Well, I guess it’s because I hear much more ”opinion” than encouragement. And since I am like most people, I tend to think we are all looking for more encouragement, love, kindness and lack of judgment than we are looking for another opinion.  So today be mindful of the words you say.  Be a shoulder to lean on, cry on or just be a good listener. Leave your opinions behind, and see how you can be an encouragement to someone today.

Was that a little preachy?  Not sure…… will try better tomorrow.

Advent: Loves a state of mind….

IMG_7051Anyway, as I sat there, in the tiniest seat ever, (ugh)  I was struck by a lyric from the song Rhiannon.  “Dreams unwind, loves a state of mind.”  I am sure I’ve heard that sung a thousand times before, but tonight it kept rolling around in my head.  “Dreams unwind, loves a state of mind.”  The more I thought about it, the more true I knew it was. IMG_0143

Life has a way of changing it up on us.  Taking our plans and making them nothing like we envisioned.  And it’s not “if” life throws you a curve ball, it’s really like “when.”   So when the “when” happens, what are you going to do with it?  When the “dreams unwind,” where do you go from there?

I think many times we just try to wind that same ball right back up. We want to recreate what we were trying to do in the first place.  As I was reading this morning, I was struck by people, their plans, and then God’s plans. They were not always on the same trajectory.  It’s hard! We want what we want, or at least what we think we want.  Life though has a way of unraveling.  The hard part is really not trying to wind it all back together, but giving it up to God. Making His love your “state of mind” and giving Him what’s left to knit together something new.

It’s amazing what you can hear when you’re listening.

Advent: Remember, reboot, refocus…

What to write….what to write? Sometimes it feels like different topics are warring in my mind to be what I wwhiskey-typewriter-shutterstock-570x380rite about, but it never really takes shape till my fingers start typing on the keys.

My emotions are in a bit of a roller coaster this morning, and it all started last night.  While it was nothing specific, there was a general feeling of anxiety. I would put it in the class of “anxiety attack” although last night’s version was pretty mild. I started to get a little panicky and was feeling hot.  I even slept on the couch last night because when I feel this way, I just need a little more space, cooler air and not stressing over waking my hubby.

I have general anxiety like most people do, but a couple of years ago I started having what I call attacks.  Immediately stressed, can’t breathe, hot sweaty periods of time where I have to work to bring myself to some kind of control.  It is hard, and they are scary.  It mostly happened at night, when distractions were taken away and my subconscious could do its worst.  So this morning, I was really interested in taking time to spend time with the Big Guy and find some type of peace.

So I was reading about Jesus and his nighttime encounter with this religious leader, Nicodemus.  It’s kind of funny how it starts out.  Nicodemus comes to Jesus and is like, “hey….we know you are sent by God because you do these great miracles.”  And instead of saying something logical like, “thanks….glad to be here,” Jesus gives an answer to a question.  The problem is, no question has been asked?  What?  Now you can go in and check out the answer and what Jesus explains to him, but that is not the point of my little writing this morning.

So what is?

Well, I love the fact that Jesus gave him the answer, before Nicodemus even knew he IMG_5206wanted to ask the question!  God knows us, and so does His Son.  Jesus knew Nicodemus deepest, darkest, subconscious thoughts, dreams, stress and heart’s desire.  He knows mine too.

And in reading that this morning, I realized that even before I knew I would have a night of anxiety, He did.  And in what I wrote yesterday, He has already given me the answer for the peace I need today.   So this morning, I’m taking the time to remember, reboot and refocus on what is true.  The God who provided yesterday is the same one who will continue to do so today and in the future.

imageWhat’s going on in your life today?  Do you really need an answer to that question, situation or stress?  Look back!  Remember, reboot and refocus.  You might be surprised at what answers you may find!

 

Advent: Huh?

thSo it is only 5:36 this morning, and I am already just amazed where my mind has gone.  It started as soon as I woke up.  I won’t be saying why I started thinking this morning, due to HIPPA laws, but I am anticipating a more tight month with money, so I was concerned.

As my brain started to kick into gear and see how we can work things to make it all work out.  So as I was wondering how this would work out, my mind went from thinking about it, to worrying about it.

3D man near red question mark

It was crazy how fast I went there.  I was barely awake and within seconds worry was standing at my doorstep. It was mind boggling!  While I lay there trying to work out how we could switch things up to make sure it would all work out, the worry did not go away. It only became worse!  And that is when I heard it.  NO!  It was not a voice, but I knew WHO it was.  Again, God reminded me of how He has cared for me and my family.  How it has not always been easy, but how in the end He has provided.  I was embarrassed, because I know this!  But it is amazing how fast worry can grab you! So I got up and started reading again this morning.  Today I was at the story of Jesus turning the water into wine at a wedding.  I was struck by the craziness of the story.  The wine is gone!  A serious faux pas!  Mary though had a plan.  She tells the servants to do whatever Jesus says, and what he asks them to do is weird! Fill up those jars with water, then take a cupful to the “master of ceremonies,” this guy must have been like the DJ(?)  When the servant does, the guy is like “yes!!  Rombauer!”  Sorry for those of you who don’t drink wine, all I can say that is not two buck chuck.

There it is again, Jesus asking us to do something that makes us go…..huh?   And we can either go with it in one of two ways.   We can either go with  worry or with trust.  Worry comes with stress and trust comes with….. well trust comes with a lot of things.  Sometimes trust looks like peace, joy, feeling tentative or maybe even laughter.

I laugh every time I think of the crazy things I think God is leading me to do, and what people must think.  But like the servant knowing that it was water in the cup, I am always excited to see the result of what I offer.  He offered water and found it was wine.  I offer words and find encouragement.

images-6So as I’m sitting here, I am shaking my head, not sure of where this day will go.  But yes….I’m laughing thinking that it’s going to be a crazy month full of writing, work, doctors, family, love and lots of lights…… Well it is Christmastime you know!

Advent: Trusting the gardner

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So another day…..another post.  It’s funny, because when I start these writing binges, I typically have a day or two of posts in my mind.  Day 3 though is always where there is surprise.  I typically have no idea where I am going, and it makes me nervous. What is going to happen?  Will I be able to write anything?  The funny thing is, something typically catches my attention.

So I have been reading through the Bible this year.  I’m not following a reading plan or anything, just reading along until I’m  too tired, or I find something that I want to ponder for a while.  Just going at my own pace.  Well as I started to read today, I wondered if I should go to the Nativity story since it’s that time of year?  That would make sense….right?

But…..I really wanted to keep reading where I was.  So back to the beginning of the gospel of John and what he wrote about John the Baptist.  Ah…another outsider.  I’m  intrigued by the path of the cousin of Jesus.   His mom getting pregnant way past her prime, his father doubting and struck speechless, the Angel and the news that this young man would be the forerunner.  The one who would come before the Messiah. Pretty cool….  You’d think he would be an important part of the temple and everything that surrounded it, but he wasn’t.  I’ve always wondered about that.  Why not? It is part of his family heritage, it would make sense….right?  The ultimate insider!

I ‘ve tried to get on the inside, but it’s never really worked. Isn’t the church where you IMG_5979use the gifts you have?  I’ve taught Sunday School and was pretty good at storytelling, but any role outside of that has never happened.  There have been times over the years where I’ve thought, I could be used for that!  Or I’ve being willing to say, use me!  For some reason though, I was never picked.  Or there wasn’t a place for me to use my gifts.  It used to bug me, and I wondered what’s wrong with them?

It was hard at times, but trust is a great thing.  And I had to work at trusting God.  I had to realize that it was not them, but really me.  If God didn’t open that door, there was a reason.   God used those times to help build trust in Him.  Not people, not pastors and not in church, but Him only.

I wonder if it was like that for John?  He knew that God was going to use him and even what his role was.  The real question was how was that going to look?  I can’t imagine his parents thinking it would be the way it played out. Your son, the one who is supposed to come before the Messiah, out in the wilderness, eating bugs and telling people to repent.   Where is his place in the temple?  Wouldn’t’ that be where the forerunner spoke from?

 

IMG_7061John though was an outsider, and I like him because of it.  Maybe because he was an outsider, he was able to be who God really needed him to be?   I like to think so.  It helps me to think that any time we may spend on the outside is just a proving ground. A place where God can weed, water and grow us to who He really wants us to be.

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

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 

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