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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: Noel….

IMG_7016“Maybe I am a woman searching for a word?”  I love words, so when I heard the line from the movie Eat, Pray, Love….it obviously caught my attention!  So on my laptop, I just keep it open to notes, and when things catch my attention I write them down.  Sometimes I expand on them, and sometimes I don’t.

So it is early Christmas morning and I tried to get up before the whole household to write a post.   It didn’t work.  Ugh!  So after they were settled in with some coffee, I started writing about the fog again.  I guess I really do have it on the brain!  As I was trying to put some thoughts together, I read it again.  “Maybe I am a woman searching for a word?” and right below where I had written that, was a word.  I started laughing…. Really?  It had been there all the time, but it was like I had only just saw it.

IMG_7838The word was Noel.  For the past few weeks it had caught my eye in stores, and on cards.  As I was out, and when I was in.  I heard it on tv and in songs.  So being the word nerd I am, I had to look it up!

A noel is a Christmas carol, but if the word is capitalized, then it refers to Christmastime or the celebration of the birth of Christ.  There is a reverence to the word, and a spirit about it.  Maybe I think that because it is a French word?  Just sounds so cool!  Christmas is such a special time.  As someone who believes the whole “reason for the season” thing, I am struck by the spirit around Christmastime.  I know, I know….there is a lot of stress, sadness, and unmet expectations during this time.  But…there is a general sense of fun, wonder, and joy that surrounds Christmas.  I think that the spirit of God, just can’t be contained!  Just like the angels on the night of His birth.  Heaven could not contain the party, and I think it’s the same today.

So today, it you celebrate the birth of Christ….then CELEBRATE!  Don’t hold back!  The angels couldn’t contain themselves and we shouldn’t either.  So eat, drink and be merry!  Love today.  People you know, and those you don’t.  Be silly, fun, and give grace.  And did I say LOVE?  Because the bumper sticker on your car, the cross around your neck, the book in your hand and where you sit on a Sunday morning says nothing about God.  But when you love?  That is how the world will see Him!  The only way.

images-1 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2:10

 

Advent: Fog on the brain…

5D810706-7880-4A05-94ECFE5693596D2B_sourceI love the fog….it is such a great metaphor.  I do hate to drive in it though.  The fog we have here in Central California is called Tule Fog, and when it comes in, it can be a nightmare.  Yesterday while driving in it, I couldn’t help but think how like life it is.  You are going along, going down one path with a destination in mind, but not quite seeing where the road is taking you.

So I am in the left hand lane, and I was following the lines, because I COUND NOT SEE!  Anyway, as I did I kept with the white line to my left and it started to curve a bit, and I started to follow.  Now it was only a split second because I pulled it back to the right when I realized that the line was shifting for a turn lane.  And it was a turn I did not want to take.

It was so easy to follow the line.  What started as a little shift in direction, was going to take me to the left hand turn lane.  That turn? Well that was going to take me to somewhere I really didn’t want to go. (and really couldn’t see) Luckily I realized quickly what it was and was able to correct my course.  It seems to be that way in life too.  If you are following the wrong line, you could end up in a place you don’t want to be.  There are times, like yesterday, where to fix your course takes just a little re-direction. It seems though the further you are into it, the harder it is to do.  That seems to go for many things in life, money, relationships, jobs or lifestyle. In the beginning, you have an easier time correcting the course, but as time goes on, the course corrections become bigger and more drastic.  And many times, more painful.

What course are you set on?  Are you unsure of where you are going?  Take a look for the little signs.  They will either be pointing you in the right direction or giving you a hint of upcoming danger.

IMG_4885Your own ears will hear him.  Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
whether to the right or to the left.

Isaiah 30:21

Advent: Note to SELF…..sin no more

IMG_5203There is such peace for me in the mornings, especially in the winter. The darkness closes in and envelops everything.  It magnifies the feeling of quiet and alone.  It’s different in summer and spring.  The sun comes up early and gives you the opportunity to get your day started.  You see all that needs to be done, and the light says “let’s get to work!” In winter, the darkness speaks to the world in inky blackness, “Sit and ponder,” she says.

It’s important to me to have this time.  I got up and saw a twitter notification and read a couple of tweets. I tend to follow people who encourage, but then things are retweeted and it just gets stupid.  I couldn’t think of a better word!  So after that kind of reading, and my thoughts traveling down the rabbit hole, I needed the quiet.  I feel like I needed an adjustment.  Kind of like the chiropractor, you know?  If your head is not aligned correctly there is pain, if all is lined up correctly, there is no pain.  Funny thing is, once you are in alignment, your body is back to optimal working conditions.

I think of how easily this world knocks us out of alignment.  It can be anything, from pain to pleasure, having too little or even too much.  Fear, sadness and even a life of ease can throw us off.  For me this morning, that “anything” was sin.  What got me started was someone calling out someone else’s sin.  Make sense?

dsc_0835You see the problem is, I know my sin, but you may not.  I am pretty quiet about it.  I mean really…. who wants people to know what they do that misses the mark?  Most people I know don’t really want to confront their own sin, let alone have someone else confront it.  So why do we feel the need to mention it on Twitter?  If you know someone is dealing with something, talk to them about it. Study with them.  Love them!  If that sin is so grievous to you, meet people where they are.   Jesus did! He met people where they were, not after the healing.  And when He met them, He brought grace and love.  He eventually showed them the sign, but it was after they felt His care for them.

So just a friendly reminder.  Sometimes our shortcomings are less hidden than we thought.  It is messy for all of us in the midst of our sin.  And while you may not want to wade in to meet me in mine, don’t forget, someone could be debating whether it’s worth it to meet you in yours.

Advent: Wider focus….

IMG_7564Where you choose to look, has such an impact on your life.  Yesterday, I did not write.  I was not up as early as I needed to be, and by the time I got home I was tired.  I think I got a little down, and so I got up this morning with purpose to do this morning differently.  But… My first thoughts seemed to be all centered around me, (crazy huh?) so I knew I needed to widen my focus.

Cameras do that.  My hubby takes pictures and he rents different lenses all the time.  I didn’t really get it till he started taking pictures on the same spot with different lenses.  Some lenses produce pictures that make the subject pop, and all the background is really fuzzy.  It is very trendy today, and it is really a cool looking shot.  You can guess what the background is showing, because you see the color and shapes in it, but the real star of the picture is the subject. It is great for pictures, but a horrible way to live life.

I was thinking of me this morning, and it seemed a lot like the picture.  My focus was on me, way too much!  What I have to do, the stresses of life, everyone’s opinion of me, pain, fatigue. Ugh!  Everything else was there, but it was obscured in the background.

IMG_7566So this morning, it is time to put on a different lens.  I really think I need one with a much wider angle. One that will let me see what’s in the background.  The people, activity and the good that He is doing all around me.

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: 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: 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

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