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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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Religion

Darkness and light

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I am more of a sunshine type of girl, but now we are in December, and I marvel at how dark it gets. Even now as I look out the window, there are storm clouds in the sky with patches of the dark sky showing through. The clouds, sky and even the trees in my yard are all shades of black and gray. Cold, dark and somewhat ominous. In the clouds there is a promise of storms, but also of life giving rain. There is also a reflection in my window, it is the Christmas tree with it’s pure white lights. A distinct contrast to the darkness outside.

I thank God today for the birth of His Son, and for the work that would take 32 years to accomplish on earth. I am thankful on that day so long ago…that the work was already done. That there was nothing in heaven or earth to stop the blessing that would come forth.

I also thank God that, even though we may not know the exact day of His birth, we celebrate it in winter. At the time of year that truly reflects our fallen state; darkness, cold and separation. Against this backdrop we contrast the light of the world.  Where He is truly reflected for who He is. Light, peace and above all hope.

**This was something that I wrote a couple of years ago, but it came back to me as I was looking at this picture.  The day was a combination of shadows and light.  It was warm in the light, but very cold when you stepped into the dark shadows.  I had cropped this picture to get some of the light out of it, so that I could have a uniform look.   I was not totally successful, as you will see that there is just a hint of sunshine in the left hand corner.

Acknowledging loss

I am always amazed by the way life ends.  Today, a mother lost a son.  In her grief, she will drop everything.  Her world has narrowed down to a small point of focus.  As a mom, I hurt with her.  I can feel some of her pain.  I shed tears and know that in the back of my mind that it could have been my son.  It could have been any of our sons.

As I sit here though, in the first few minutes of shock, I hear birds singing and the hum of our pool filter.  Outside are cars, a dog barking and the faraway engine of a plane.  The sounds of people going through their normal routine as the work day is winding down.  I always wonder….why doesn’t time stop?  How can life still go on so normally, when so much pain has been unleashed?  When a precious life is no more.

I know.  This happens every day, all over the world.  There is loss, and there is grief.  And yes, that loss and that grief deserves that same kind of respect, but it is something that the world gives to no man.

So today I grieve with my friend, for her beautiful son.  And if no one else will or can, I an going to take this moment to stop and to pray.  To put aside my normal life and acknowledge the great loss that is not only hers, but all of ours.

Enjoying the joy!

So today I was thinking, I haven’t written in my blog in a couple of days.  How can I be a writer if I don’t write?    Since my blog is typically the things that I see God teaching me, I was kinda stressed that I did not have anything to write about.  Is He ignoring me?  Am I ignoring Him?  I then took a good look at my week and calmed down.

I have been working on a children’s story that I wrote about eight years ago, so I really haven’t been idle, but   it is hard though when there is no feedback.  When I write in the blog, I at least feel like I accomplish something when I hit the post button.  Editing a story, is much less satisfying.  I am telling you, every day is a battle in my own brain.

This evening though, I felt that my mind is in a better pla63419-keep-calm-and-love-cookingce.  How do I know?  Well it has to do with some of the other things I have been doing this week.  I have been doing some deep cleaning in my kitchen, tap dancing and cooking.   Why are these things important?  Well if I am not writing, I feel guilty.  When I feel guilty, I start getting fearful, I doubt and have a hard time being productive in anything I am doing.  This week though, I tried to find some balance.  The balance that I need between writing, taking care of my family, working on my own insecurities and trying to be who I think God wants me to be.  I am not sure if I got the balance right this week, but I feel like I made a better attempt.

It then hit me that God had been speaking to me this week, I just needed all of the pieces to come together to see it.   He gave me a vision of what my life can look like, when I am not living in the land of doubt and fear.  When I choose to live like I say I believe, and trust Him.  From the outside it may not look really different, but to the inside of me, it is like night and day.

But make everyone rejoice who puts his trust in you. Keep them shouting for joy because you are defending them. Fill all who love you with your happiness.  Psalm 51:11 NLT

A bigger circle…

new-member-to-circle-image-white-background-34649901I wound up helping in a pre-K/Kindergarten Sunday school class this weekend.  I was not teaching the lesson, but was just helping to wrangle kids into their places and have some fun while they learned.  It was pretty funny though, because where has God taught me the most?  It has been from serving in this classroom.  What does that say about my maturity? I don’t really think I want to know, but I am glad He uses this room to speak to me.

So as we gathered the kids for circle time, we began to run out of room.  It was then I said, “let’s make our circle bigger, so that we can let more friends in”.  As we continued to adjust kids in the circle, I was thanking God for those words.  They are a lesson to me, and a prayer for those kids.

I can close my eyes and picture that circle of kids.  Hands that are holding their friends, releasing and letting go.  Bodies that shift, for more room, to let another friend enter and then hands are clasped again.  We have a pretty diverse makeup of students in the class, and to see them let go of hands to let others join in, seemed like a small glimpse into heaven.   I am thankful that He uses the kids in that room to speak to me!

 

 

Stressed?

This morning I was getting ready, as it is a new commitment of mine, to walk every day.  I am getting older, and totally feeling it, so I am trying to somewhat slow that process.  During these walks, I typically pray and listen to music.  Depending on the day, I could be listening to 70’s light rock, Christian rock, classical, jazz, well the list goes on.  I have just put into Pandora the Henry Mancini station, and I am loving it!  If you do not know who that is, and you love movie music, Google him.

I was listening to Good Morning America as I was putting on my shoes, and they were imagestalking about kids and stress.  They gave a few suggestions on how to help them deal with it, like meditation or yoga, and getting out into nature.  They also pointed out that the parents stress level and how they dealt with it was an important factor.  Which I think could be THE most important factor.  Anyway, as I sat there I thought she had missed something.  There was no mention of God.   Now I understand that He is not everyone’s cup of tea, but isn’t He at least an option?

So I finished getting ready and grabbed my phone and turned Pandora from the country station (Eww!) that my son was listening to, and thought about what station I would put it on this morning.  I was about to put in Henry Mancini, (they always play the Magnificent 7 theme and it always gets me fiyzwzkhqyfhwikccpi9going) but I changed my mind.  I had already been feeling a little sad, mad, and irritated this morning, so I decided that I would need some encouragement.  So the Christian rock station was the choice for today.  While at times I have to admit, I am a little bored with the station, this morning I knew I probably needed it.  While I don’t always love the music, I cannot argue with the lyrics.  Well on some I probably can, but that is a whole different post.

The first song this morning was exactly what I needed to hear.  It talked about holding on to God, and those are exactly the words He has been using lately to give me hope.  So off I went with a smile on my face and a lighter step than just five minutes before.  It was then God reminded me of Good Morning America, and stress.  Now I know for me, turning to God seems like a natural reaction because I am a Christian.  It ain’t so simple though.  I don’t know about other Christians, but I struggle to seek God first for the clarity, comfort and peace in times of stress.  (And I would guess that I am not the only one) This morning was a great example of how I want to do it every day.  Looking to God, even before emotions and stress overtake me.

images-1I did like some of the suggestions from the show this morning, but I would add to them.  If you or your child are feeling the inevitable stress of life, why don’t you give God a chance?   Seek out a church, a Christian friend, a bible study or just sit down and have a chat with Him.  You may find some peace, comfort, and rest from the stress that is plaguing you.

“…..May God bless you richly and grant you increasing freedom from all anxiety and fear.”  1 Peter 1:2b

Holding on…

“I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  Genesis 32:26b

These past few weeks I have been watching a lot of the Olympics.  I have not sat down for long stretches of time, but if I was able to catch a few minutes, I did.  One of those times included watching the end of a wrestling match between Russia and Uzbekistan.  At the end of the match, the Uzbek athlete lost, and proceeded to lay in the middle of the mat inconsolable.  The referee or umpire or whatever they are called in wrestling, stood there offering a hand that was ignored.  Finally, after what seemed a long time, he got up and stood there as the other athlete was called the winner.  I made note of his actions, and didn’t think of them again until today.

I have been listening to a sermon podcast from church, and that is what brought the wrestler back to mind.  Why?  Well, after listening to this sermon, I really could relate to the guy on the mat.  It was like if he stayed on the mat, then the match wasn’t really over.  As he laid there, I wondered what was going through his mind?  Maybe he was wrestling with his own emotions and thoughts.  Then when he could bear the outcome, he was finally able to get up.  It gave me a better picture of the story of Jacob and the night he wrestled with God.  Even better than that, the whole story seemed to give me a better picture of my own wrestling with God.

Here is the quick rundown.  Esau and Jacob were brothers, and Esau being the oldest was in line for the birthright and blessing from his father.  These two brothers had two different mothers so there were a whole bunch of dysfunctional family dynamics going on.  What winds up happening is that Jacob manipulates the situation and steals both the birthright and blessing.  At that point Esau is mad as all get out and vows to kill his brother, so Jacob runs away.

While Jacob is gone, God guides him and blesses him, but It is not always pretty.  He gets conned by his father in law, Laban.  Then he is able to do some conning of his own, since he had been taken advantage of.  God eventually tells him to return home, back to the land of his father and grandfather, where God promises to be with him.  Jacob is now husband to two wives, baby daddy to two servants and father to many children.  He came home very wealthy as he had flocks of many animals and lots of servants.

One thing he did not have was the knowledge of what waited for him at home.  Would Esau welcome him?  Would he still be calling for Jacobs blood? Jacob was terrified.  So what does he do?  Well he reminds God of all the promises that He made to Jacob and his family.  The one’s where God said He would protect Jacob if he returned home, and that He would multiply Jacob’s descendants until they were as many as the sand on the beach.   So Jacob then slept peacefully reminded of all God’s promises, right? Continue reading “Holding on…”

Stranger things to post….

 

So I started watching a Netflix program yesterday called Stranger Things.  It is one of those original series that they now produce, and I have to admit, I am totally hooked.  It is a suspenseful, horror, sci fi kind of series.  So basically, stuff I don’t tend to watch.  I like suspense, but I stay away from horror, because it is not good for me.  This one though had me hooked quickly, and I couldn’t figure out why?  I wondered if it was because I so totally related to the setting. It is set in 1980, so I feel like I am looking at my childhood.  (or at least Jr. High)  The clothes, bikes, cars, homes, music and TV were all so familiar to me.  I looked at clothes that I probably wore, and hairstyles that I totally had.  In the show, I was in a setting that made so much sense to me.  Not like Sesame Street.  I know you are thinking, Sesame Street?  How did we get here? Continue reading “Stranger things to post….”

Right time, right place.

Today was a day of encouragement.  Some of it I gave, and some of it I received.  The events were nothing spectacular, but it is typically the small things that can have the most impact. This morning, I went to the grocery store, and by the time I came out, my car was in the shade.  It was a simple thing, but in the heat of the Central Valley, it provided welcome relief even from this morning’s heat.

When I came home, I had to hurry and get cleaned up, as I had a massage appointment to get to.  It was only twenty minutes, but after the stress that I put myself through this week, it was like a little slice of heaven.  This week my regular therapist was back from a maternity sabbatical, and I was happy to see her.  After my massage, we sat and talked for a few minutes.  First she gave me the update about the new baby and the challenges of being a new mom.  I told her some of my experiences with the boys, and encouraged her to use her own good sense to make decisions.  I advised her to not worry about what other people say she should do, but to take the advice and use her best judgement.  I then told her that I had quit my job, and that I was working at blogging and trying to “reinvent” myself.  It was then that she was able to give some encouraging words to me.  It was a great conversation, and I left feeling better in both body and spirit. Continue reading “Right time, right place.”

Tap dance as life.

Viva La Revolution!!  And I do not mean some kind of violent upheaval, I mean the spinning around till you get back to the start.  That is where I am today, back to getting some tapping done.  I am trying to be mindful of everything that is going on in the world, but life goes on.  And isn’t that why we continue to address the same issues?  Life must go on.  I have to work, pay bills, care for my family, exercise, eat right and try to encourage/instruct my children.  (still!!)

I was tapping this morning (yikes) and I found that one step was really hard for me, because of one little problem.  I was having a hard time with my weight on my heel and bringing my other foot off the floor.  It was all a matter of balance.  I felt awkward and terribly clumsy, but kept working on it.  After thinking it through, watching the video and practicing that one part repeatedly it finally felt better.  It probably did not look perfect, but it did feel a little more natural. Continue reading “Tap dance as life.”

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