Cheryl Mendoza

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



A hand along the way…..

I saw a Facebook post tonight and it reminded me of something I’d been pondering lately.  The post spoke about this series, “The Chosen,” and how they portrayed the Bible story of the woman who’d been bleeding for 12 years.   Not only has she been physically ill, but because of the bleeding, she would have been considered unclean under the law.  Since she was unclean, that would’ve put actual physical barriers between her and other people.   No one could touch her or anything she had touched because that would make them unclean too.  Over the years she had gone to many doctors and none had made her any better, only worse.   By the time her path crosses Jesus’, she’s been sick for years, she’s broke and desperate.  She’s at the end of her rope and thinks, believes, knows that Jesus is her only answer for healing.  She goes to touch the hem of his robe and miraculously is healed! This is one of my favorite stories as the details paint a beautiful picture of how Jesus relates to the woman.

It was a tweet though that gave me a different perspective.  Someone had wondered about this woman and who would have been the first people after Jesus to speak to her?  Could it be the women who followed along with Jesus?  We have details of multiple women traveling with Him and the disciples during this time.  How would these women have responded to a woman, who because of her sickness, was considered unclean?  I imagined they watched with the rest of the crowd, transfixed as Jesus asked “who touched me?”  They saw as a woman came before Jesus, seeing fear in her face as she told her story.  They then saw Him gently call her daughter, and proclaim her whole!  

As sisters in Christ, we should be walking with each other, ready to come along side and hold out a hand to lift up and encourage.  As daughters, we should be ready to do that with anyone that God brings our way.  In this story it was a woman who was unclean, for us it may be a woman who’s just made the wrong choices for too long a season.  The mercy shown in an outstretched hand may just be what she needs to finally leave that season, and seek something good.  I watched “The Chosen” and could barely wait for the story line to reach this scene.  I quietly sobbed as I watched the show portray the story.  While I might have tweaked it a bit, I was so touched by how it was portrayed.  It confirmed something to me that I had been feeling since the tweet I’d read weeks earlier.  That’s the kind of woman I want to be!  Ready and willing to listen, love and be of service to the women God brings along my path! 

As women, they probably heard and sympathized as they knew what their own monthly bleeding meant and how it affected their lives.   I wonder though, did they pause before approaching her as she was technically unclean?  Was there a barrier in their minds, knowing what the law stated?  They may have paused in their actions, but I like to think that the care Jesus showed this woman, gave them the freedom to know what to do next!  That in the next moment when Jesus was called off to heal a young girl, they stepped forward and kneeled down next to this new sister in faith.  I can imagine they would have been making plans to get her fresh clothes, asking who her family was, and talking excitedly about her restoration to the community and home.   I was struck by the scene as I imagined it, and knew this is how it should be!  

Lent: Recipe to remember….

So yesterday I joined my small group for a Fat Tuesday menu of gumbo, rice and king cake.  It was delicious, and since my friend Paige cooked, it was quite authentic.  I love traditions!  And since Fat Tuesday is over, that means  it’s Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.   I love this season and try to use it as a time of focus.  Each year it’s had a little different look, but this year I’m really trying to get back in that writing habit.  I’ve had a hard time writing in the past few years for many reasons, but to tell you the truth, the biggest problem has been me!  So I am going back to the beginning, and that strange recipe that God has given me to make communication easier.  Strangely enough, it just comes down to three little words, wrestling, writing and encourage!

 The WWE acronym had me cracking up this morning since wrestling is the first step in the process.  Typically it’s something that comes to my attention, and I then wrestle with God to process, learn and maybe find some wisdom for my life.  I then write about the process in the hopes it would encourage someone else like it’s encouraged me.  I am not a bible scholar, and I am not here to tell you how to live.  I just hope what I say might make you think and start your own wrestling with God.  

So today, I felt like I had a directional adjustment!  Priorities were put back in place and how to use the time of Lent became a little clearer.  I was reminded of who I am and Whose I am in this world.  And while I was thankful for the clarity, I was even more thankful for the extremely funny way it was communicated! 

What will you see?

They just won’t see.  It kept rolling around in my head as I drove. It was pretty mellow as  Christmas vacations had started and there were less cars out on the road.  Up ahead though, I could see the flashing lights of the highway patrol, so I slowed down and stayed in the fast lane as the police were off on the right hand side.  As I got closer, I realized there was also a car parked next to the center median.  There had been an accident, and while it wasn’t serious, there were multiple cars and a semi stopped on both sides of the highway.  It was then I looked behind me.  Cars were starting to catch up, and I figured that they just hadn’t seen the wreck yet.  They didn’t know why we were slowing down and taking our time.  As soon as I passed the stopped cars, I got over to the right lane and watched as the cars behind me went past.  Some were like me taking it easy as they passed the wreck, while others were not being so careful.  They were driving as if the road was clear and they were not navigating an accident scene.  It was then that I thought, even with it right in their face, they just won’t see. It’s not that they can’t see, since by this time they were right in the middle of all the cars involved, but they won’t see.  It broke my heart, as I was immediately thought about God and how He shows Himself to each of us.  We see the miracle of this life, but do not see who created the miracle.  It’s not that we can’t see, we just won’t see! 

I thought about it again when I started listening to a book at lunch.  The first story in the book had me hooked immediately, since it’s a favorite historical moment of mine.  The quick version?  Well it’s 1914 and it’s Christmas Eve.  You know that war that was supposed to be over by Christmas?  Well, it wasn’t.  The men on the front lines are missing home, family and their own Christmas traditions.  During this evening and through Christmas Day, the men reach out to each other to “celebrate” Christmas.  It starts slowly, but soon they are exchanging food, cigarettes, playing football  (the English kind) and sharing photos of their loved ones back home.   That night, the men were given a reprieve from this new kind of nightmare.  The mechanized muddy stalemate of men and modern warfare.  For that short time, fear, hate, and the horrors of war were defeated by something greater.  The birth of a Savior!   When the powers that be on all sides found out about what occurred in the trenches, they vow that this will not happen again.  And it never did.   That moment on the battlefield where mercy and grace won out over hate was not allowed to be repeated.  Those in charge were much like the drivers on the road, they just won’t see.  Instead of seeing the miracle of the day, and acknowledging the power of the birth narrative, they doubled down on death.  

I love the truth in the story, because it shows the heavenly in sharp contrast to our humanity.  The human part of the story is full of war, death and brutality.  The heavenly part was what brought them together, the birth of Christ!  When I hear the story of that Christmas in 1914, I always think of the shepherds in the birth narrative.  Did the angels come to see them on purpose?  Or was the jubilation in heaven so boisterous that it spilled out into the night sky!  Even the heavens couldn’t contain the excitement over the fulfillment of this very special prophecy!   Someone left the back door of heaven open, and there were the shepherds watching in amazement! Maybe that’s what happened to the soldiers on that cold December night?  The back door of heaven opened, and mercy flowed from a gracious Heavenly Father.  The men didn’t see angels, but the Spirit was there.  Like the wind, it wasn’t visible, but history shows us the effect of the Spirit’s presence.   On that Christmas Eve, the same celebration that happened so many years ago was again awakened to overcome fear and death.  For those brief hours kindness, grace and mercy flowed straight from the throne of God.  

Lord I know we all have eyes that can see, but I ask you to give us eyes that WILL see! 

Wake up sleeper….

So someone asked me earlier this month if I was joking, which I typically am, after I had posted a comment to fb. So after going through my blog and seeing that this subject had yet to be written about, I decided to finally put words to paper.

You see, May is Zombie Appreciation Month. So I posted my favorite zombie verse, Ephesians 5:14, and reminded people of the unique remembrance of the month. Her response of “you have to be joking” was quite appropriate except that for me zombies are creatures of utmost interest. 

You see when I was very young, I made the mistake of watching Night of the Living Dead. Even worse was the fact that my Aunt, who we used to visit a lot, lived right around the corner from the cemetery. For years after I was never fully comfortable at her house after dark. Also, as a teenager in the 80’s a few new zombie movies were released, and I again was reminded to lock the doors at night.

So how has my appreciation for zombies made such a dramatic turn? Well it all happened with a little movie named Shaun of the Dead. I was alone one day, and while flipping through the channels I caught the end of this movie. It was silly and inappropriate but my attention was caught, watching this young man Shaun go from a slacker to a hero. All while fighting zombies trying to rescue family and friends. A zombie movie with a message, or something like that. Well, I enjoyed it enough that when it was on again I sat down to watch from the beginning. It was then that I saw the scene that made me love this movie! There are actually two scenes and they are both nearly identical except for one detail, and that is zombies.

In the first scene we see Shaun walking his usual route to the store passing people as they each go about their daily business. He barely notices those around him, let alone having any meaningful interaction with those he encounters. It’s not so obvious the first time you see it, but the next day when he goes to the store again, it becomes painfully clear. We see a man who is so wrapped up in his little world, that he doesn’t even see the chaos around him. 

It struck me as comical that our hero seemed to be living the life of a zombie, except for the brain eating part. He thoughtlessly did the same things every day. He worked the same job, went to the same pub, kept the same lazy friend and expected his girlfriend and family to accept his careless attitude. Our hero knew that he needed to make some changes, but he didn’t have the courage to do them. That is until the zombies struck and he had to think quick and find the courage to save family, friends and himself. 

That’s why I like zombies now, well maybe only as a metaphor. They remind me that if I am not careful, I can live just as dead a life as a zombie. Walking through my days accepting shallow relationships, giving as little of myself as possible and hiding from the challenges God has for me. All of these things that make me a part of society and hopefully a light in this world. So as the month of May comes to a close I would again ask you to remember Ephesians 5:14…..”Awake sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you”.

 A time to mourn….

Uvalde.  When these things happen we say a lot of things.  We are shocked and saddened, but do we really take the time to mourn?  For a few days, let’s try that.  Let’s just mourn together. I know as American’s we really hate the whole death/mourning thing.  We are all so focused on moving on, and maybe that’s part of the problem.  Instead, let our collective shock and sadness be our common ground.  Let the pain of the victims families and the pain in our communities move us to resolve, that no one should know this pain again!

I get it, no one wants to sit in that pain for any amount of time.  Until we all do, I wonder if we will ever find the common ground needed to make a real difference. Let’s not start debating immediately. All that happens then is the defenses come up and nothings happens.  We need to take a long look in the mirror, grieve together and seek wisdom from above.  All of us can agree that this should be the last school shooting ever! No one ever wants this to happen again, yet it seems we refuse to stay united in our grief.  It seems we’re more worried about our own rights, than the lives of others.  Than the lives of children…..

May God grant us mercy and wisdom……To which we say Amen. 

A little Community…..

Being an introvert, sometimes it’s hard to remember that I really like people, and enjoy simply being with others.  And on Saturday, it was even better, since we were eating too!  I have joined in a small group from my church.  It has now been over two years, and it is becoming more and more a group of people that bring me joy!  Since the church was having a mens breakfast and the guys from our group would be going to that,  we ladies decided to get together for breakfast too.  

It was great!  We ate, talked and enjoyed killing a few hours on a Saturday morning with each other.   I barely had time to ponder the time we spent together, when Mike was home and ready to go for a drive.  He has joined an online photography challenge, so every week he has a different assignment and wanted my company as he searched out inspiration.  So we drove, and I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.  

We wound up at  Colonel Allensworth State Historical Park, just south of Corcoran on highway 43.  As we walked around, I was just happy to be outside enjoying the day.  The sky had some clouds, giving it some interest and the air was cool.  It rained recently, so the grass was green and there were swaths of small wildflowers  carpeting areas around the buildings.  From there I could see the snow on the Sierra’s through the haze.  As I admired the view I had, I could imagine what it would have been like just a little over 100 years ago.  

Out in the middle of the valley where it’s located, I could see clear skies giving the population of this small community a breathtaking sight of the far off mountains.   I thought of the safety and comfort of this special place.  You see, Allensworth was a town conceived, funded and built by and for African Americans.  And today as I walked through the houses and buildings that remain, I really thought about that community, and the concept of community in general.  

I could imagine the people in those houses, and the troubles, trials and possibly outright horror they may have already faced in their lives.  In Allensworth though, I wondered what did they find?  Was this finally a place where they had safety and peace?  A place where their children would be educated? A place where they could work hard and be rewarded for that work?  The town did not survive, but it wasn’t because of the community within, but the forces from without.  What would have happened if those forces had worked for and not against Allensworth?   What more amazing things would have been a part of their story?  

The older I get, the more I know that we are all the same. We all look for that place where our families will be safe, our children will be educated well, and we can achieve whatever we dare to dream.   All of this happens in the midst of community.  The people you work with, the children in our schools, the teller, cashier and the sanitation worker.  All of them, your neighbors.  And where goes one part of the community, more than likely will go all.  So …… where do we want to go?   

This weekend reminded me so much that I want it all…. For my family, those I know and for our community to thrive!  And I am grateful because I believe that that God has put enough “thrive” in this world for all of us.  I don’t have to hold on to mine so tightly afraid to lose it to someone else.  So if you look and don’t see yourself, don’t feel discouraged, your community is out there!  It may take some searching, but you can do it!  Go out and find them.  And when you do hold on tight, because your world will be open to so many new possibilities!  And in the end, your life and the lives in our community will be better for it! 

Looking for a comeback….

I am looking forward to Christmas.  I am looking forward to Joy!  I was in a bad way the other day.  I’ve found it very hard lately to write.  God made me the person I am and when I can’t be that person, I tend to get really quiet.  Because of that…I can’t write.  

Why was I in a bad way?  Well I feel like the people who should be salt and light, well….. aren’t.  We sound just like the rest of the world.  Opinionated, angry, judgemental, side choosing, and prideful.  It hurt, and it made me feel out of place.  Even worse, since I don’t like either the hurt or the out of place feeling, I got prideful.  I got angry.  Those two things go hand in hand for me, and because they do, I know I am not in the space where God wants me.  When that happens, I know it is time to SHUT UP,  and that is not where God wants me either.  

My pastor said something to the effect of who have you not shown grace to?   I knew immediately who that was in my life, but I wasn’t really ready to do anything about it until I stuck my nose in the book of Joel.  Such a small book in the bible, but so much for me to wrap my head around.  

The land is stripped bare.  There is no grain or wine to offer a sacrifice to God.  Times are beyond hard, but in this small book,  Joel is the messenger calling the people to repentance.  “Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Joel 2:13.  It’s funny….I had been thinking of how people used to wear sackcloth and ashes to reflect an inner mourning.  I wanted to do that to show people, that I felt the mourning of these days.  Whether that mourning was for life lost or just life as we know it being lost.  What really made me want to mourn was the time lost from my own sin.  

When I got to that point, God was finally able to bring me the hope in the form of His Spirit!  “I will pour out my spirit on every kind of people.” Joel 2:28a

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, gentleness,  patience, goodness, kindness, self control, faithfulness.  I feel like we’ve been missing a lot of this nowadays, but I know that it can make a comeback, starting with a little repentance.  And if I really want that comeback, I know repentance starts with me.  

Love some community…

So Mike is working today.  Well not exactly working, but using his camera to document a community event which really  means I am on my own.  So while I enjoy some music, dancing and an amazing lunch I decided to bring my laptop and write a bit.  It has really been a long time, but sitting here watching the kids perform and seeing the enjoyment of the families watching, I just had to tap out my thoughts.  Anything to keep my head from exploding.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about family, community and love the past few days, and it’s due to a book I just finished reading called the Storyteller, by Dave Grohl.  Those of you who know who he is, you may be a little shocked by my reaction to the book.  So if you are, you should pick it up and read it.  He is quite a storyteller, but please expect some craziness, copious use of the F word and of course a lot of Rock n Roll thrown in. You can also expect a lot of  stories, that overflow with thankfulness, family, friends and love communicated  through them.

And that brings me to today, and the celebration of Dia de los Muertos that we have attended for the past few years.  A Mexican tradition that we have now fallen in love with.  After a year and a half of Covid, taking time to think of those who are gone, and their impact on our lives is very appropriate.  Something that many times in American culture, we don’t take the time to really explore.  

So while I didn’t grow up in this community, the music, food and gathering of  people feels like home to me.  Now this may not be in your comfort zone, but maybe it’s time for us all to be a little less than comfortable.  Maybe it’s time to take the lessons from a year and half of separation, and find community.  And not just the community you know, but the community that is new to you or different from the one you’re used to.  To find joy in being together.  Sharing time, talents and our very selves with each other! 

Kindness leads to repentance……

So she’s an athlete that has a problem with the American flag and anthem?  So many opinions are thrown around, but since I don’t know this woman I don’t really worry about it.   

I did see a post, and it seemed unkind.  In thinking of the post I wondered,  did you take her struggle and confusion and make it into some kind of easy choice? 

What if God made her a gifted athlete?  Well we know He did, because she wouldn’t be doing what she’s doing if He hadn’t!  Does she see it as a gift from God?  Maybe, maybe not?  It really doesn’t matter, because God has a plan for peoples lives.  He gives gifts and abilities even if they (we) don’t use them for God’s glory.  We all still have them and still feel that pull to use them.  

She’s conflicted…. She has the abilities and the drive, but the only avenue to use them leads her to this position.  Competing for the country, that through it’s history, has a horrendous past with her people.  How can she not be conflicted?   

 It’s kinda like God and people.  I’ve met those who are angry with God, but still acknowledge Him.  And I would rather see someone wrestling with God than just dismiss Him.   So when you have someone who is mad at their country, don’t you think they can still be a good citizen or even an olympic athlete? 

Above all, this day is not the end of her story.  She’s in the middle and the end isn’t written yet.  And above all, my perceived end to her story is not God’s ending.  We don’t get to judge her in the middle of hers, as we hope we are not judged in the middle of ours! 

What this brings me to is Jesus, and influence.    Why should I worry about trying to influence  this woman to honor a flag?  That’s an earthly symbol that will pass away.  

Why would I use my influence for something that is temporal and will not last forever?  My influence is better used for something that is eternal.  So for me, my prayer is that I never let the earthly overshadow the eternal.  And truth be told, that’s my hope for you too!

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