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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: 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

Reading the heart…..

UnknownHow do you talk to people?  Especially people you don’t agree with?  As I was reading, I was struck by two conversations this morning. Two conversations, two different outcomes.  Two different questions, with two different intents.  And one Jesus.

One question was asked to trick and catch him saying something wrong.  The other was asked seeking an honest answer.

One was asked to show how wise they were.  The other to gain wisdom.

One was asked, but the answer didn’t really matter to those who asked it.  The other was asked, with the answer being of the utmost importance.

Two answers were given that day, but only one truly listened.  I was struck by both questions, their intent and the reaction to the answers.

When you talk to people, what is your intention? Is it to prove them wrong?  Or is it to understand?

thWhen the one man heard wisdom in the answer, Jesus said “you are not far from the kingdom of God.”  Sounds like a mile marker to me.  How the man approached the question and reacted to Jesus’ response, showed something about his heart.

I wonder…..what do our questions and responses show about ours?

Mark 12:18-35

Believe=Live

DSC_0132“I gotta live how I say I believe.”  It doesn’t roll off the tongue very easily, but t’s something I’ve been saying a lot lately.  It’s mainly due to my children and their struggles or downright danger they put themselves into.  Ok, 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 guy in.  I even used the word friend when I started writing this, but the bible never uses the word friend?  It always says men.

images-2What’s the difference?  Well, it seems to me that it’s all about perspective.  If I see these men bringing in their friend, that makes sense to me.  I can “help” my friend see who Jesus is in my life and maybe they will be like “cool….tell me more”.   Sounds great! But I checked out 5 or 6 different translations and they all just said MEN not friend.

So what might the story really have looked like? 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….four 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 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 is so close they can see it.  They are 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 some are downright sprinting to be first in line at Indiana Jones.  Well as these guys get to the intersection, they are greeted by someone who can’t walk.

Maybe he is calling out to Jesus because he has heard the scuttlebutt.  Or maybe this guy is calling out for money? For whatever reason, they choose to do something. They see that he is laying on a blanket and they grab the corners and go.  They walk for just a bit but stop.  It is 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 don’t know each other.  When the man is healed, he just gets up and just walks out.  Maybe these guys go and have some goats milk together at the local whatever was back then, 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 are 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 to help people we don’t know see Jesus.

Sometimes it takes a long time for someone to make that complete journey to forgiveness and healing.   And every day is a new opportunity to pick up the mat of those around you.  Whether they are technically a friend or not.

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 “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.  Sometimes it takes a long time for someone to make the complete journey, and everyone I meet is another opportunity.  A new chance for me to pick up the mat and help them on their way.

16939225_10211261381504215_4523643083069843847_nThat is the plan, and it is way harder to do than it sounds.  But you know… gotta live how you say you believe!

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”

Of Beauty and pain…

IMG_6847I think it is going to be an interesting year.  There are things that I am looking forward to, but I also feel a little concerned.  Why?  Well it all comes down to themes.  When I read or see things, sometimes themes appear.  So far this year, I have seen this thread of beauty through pain, and it has caught my attention.

It was reflected in the conversation of mother who is watching the cancer spread through her daughter’s body, but showed such strength, love and hope in that same conversation.  Continue reading “Of Beauty and pain…”

How you look at it…..

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It is all about your view.  The first two pictures were taken during the summer inYosemite, by Mirror Lake.  There is a whole area where people have stacked rocks. (Much to many people’s irritation….but that is a story for a different time)

 

 

 

 

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The third was a stack that was done by the Merced River in the park. (Ok…I did that one)  I liked how much bigger it looked when I snapped a picture from a low angle.  It made the rocks look only slightly shorter than the trees.   I was pretty impressed with all those piles of rocks, as they seemed like a memorial of some sort, put there to remind someone of something.   That was of course until our last visit this week.

 

 

 

Continue reading “How you look at it…..”

A Study in Pink – Jamie Pierce Tulak

_DSC9028So when your husband leaves a home store and says, “that place is really cute,” then you gotta know it’s something special!  That was my husband’s response when we went into Studio 12 Homes in downtown Lemoore.  It was time to get back in the “pink” and see what the professional women of Kings County have going on.

Continue reading “A Study in Pink – Jamie Pierce Tulak”

A Dream of Their Own – Zulema

After a too long pause in writing (or at least editing)….I am back at it.    When I hear people discuss DACA I don’t think of these people in a group……I think of their individual stories.  I think of a spunky, fun loving young lady that my husband coached in volleyball.  I think of Zulema…….

Zulema - Hidden ValleyMy name is Zulema. I was born in Michoacán, Mexico, and I am 20 years old. I was brought to the U.S shortly after my fifth birthday along with my brother and sister, who were also very young. My dad had already been to the U.S. a couple of times in an effort to support our family and give us things he never had as a child. While we stayed behind with our mother, she did everything she could to make sure we were okay. With our dad being thousands of miles away from it wasn’t easy for her, and we knew it.  Continue reading “A Dream of Their Own – Zulema”

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