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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: 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 loved 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 

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!

The road to Manzanar….

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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?”

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 question of loyalty…

For a while, I have had a love/hate relationship with living in the Central Valley.  It may be because I bought into what people were saying….there is nothing to do!

IMG_6894Well, this isn’t the bay area, where there are plenty of museums, venues, and events, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do!

Case in point, the Kingsburg Historical Park is hosting an interesting exhibit on the Japanese internment experience.  While it may be small, it provides some perspectives and spurs questions that are applicable even today.

The few things that really stood out to me….. Continue reading “A question of loyalty…”

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