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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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faith

How did I get here?

IMG_0171Today is the start of the Lenten season, and in the past couple of years, I’ve come to really love it!  I almost missed the beginning, since we have been a little busy around our house.  My hubby reminded me yesterday was Fat Tuesday, and its kind of become a tradition to have red beans and rice for dinner.  I am glad that we didn’t miss it because we needed a little fun this week, and I needed a little reminder of what Lent means to me.

Not being Catholic, Lent is something that I’ve adopted as an adult. I typically don’t give anything up, cuz that just didn’t seem right for me.   What I try to do is write daily and this year is no different.  It seems like the perfect time to process all the things that have been going on in my life and in the lives around me.  Since December, our world has been knocked off its axis. What with my hubby’s tumor diagnosis and even some upheaval at the church I attend, chaos has entered places where I had felt pretty darn safe.  The funny thing is, while I should have felt fear, I have only felt peace.  Like I told a friend today, “I am not sure how it works, but all I can do is point to God and say it’s all Him!”

So for the next 40 days I am going to try my best to listen and write.  To try and see how we got here, how God is getting us through and look into the future to see where He may lead us next on this crazy journey!

Only time will tell…..

accurate alarm alarm clock analogue
Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem on Pexels.com

There is a song I’ve really liked since I was a teenager, “Only time will tell” by ASIA.  It came out in my MTV years, and I must have watched the video a hundred times or more. I hadn’t heard it in years, but out of nowhere it popped into my head.  Well not totally out of nowhere, as it seemed to sum up what I had been reading pretty nicely.

It’s something I started learning last year when I read about David. He was being run out of town, as his son was forcefully taking over.  As he is leaving, he is heckled by a certain man who was a relative of the previous king.  When David’s men wanted to kill the man for his words, David stops them.  He tells his men that what this guy is saying may be true.  God may even have told him to say it.  So who am I, says David, to do anything about it?

I was really struck by David’s attitude.  It was like he realized that God could have told this guy to say these things.  That maybe this guy could be speaking truth, and until David knew if it was true or not, then he was going to leave this guy alone.   We see later that when time had gone by, the man did get his comeuppance by David’s other son, Solomon.

It was like David understood that, “only time will tell.”   And David’s life is a prime example.  God says of David, “he is a man after my own heart.”  Really?  Looking at David’s story, there are plenty of times where he looked anything but that kind of man.  We can only somewhat understand what God means when we look at David’s life as a whole.

So I had read that last year, and for some reason it really stuck with me. That sometimes you really have to wait to see the whole picture.  Sometimes the real truth or even the real personality only comes out through time.

Only time will tell.  I was glad to be pondering what God was saying to me. This seemed to be a lesson I needed to learn, although at the time I wasn’t sure why.  It did give me hope that truth will eventually be made known. It made me think though, what will happen in the “only time will tell” portion of the story?  How will that effect people?  It made me nervous.

God is in control, but sometimes His work seems slow in coming.   Really, that “slowness” is His mercy.  Sometimes I am not obedient to what He is asking, and instead of dealing with it immediately, He gives me a little time to get my act together.  Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t.  When I do, it is pretty good.  I learn, grow and get closer to God.  If I don’t?  Well, then typically God has to do a bit of work in my life to bring me around to His way of thinking.  Many times it’s painful.  If something shouldn’t be in my life, and if I don’t let it go, well then God has a way of taking it out of my hands. It is for my own good, but it hurts when that happens.  Even more concerning, it has the potential of hurting others.

It is the potential harm to others that really made me wonder.  How can that be averted?  I have seen where God had to do this with people and depending on who it is and their position, it can be a confusing time.  I know, I’ve lived it.  By God’s grace, I was able to get through it by having someone whom I respected taking the time to walk through it with me.  We would talk, bringing me wisdom when all I felt was confusion. I don’t even remember what she said, but her willingness to be a sounding board is what kept me on track. One thing I know we did not do, well that was get into a session where we just blamed people.

The funny thing was, I didn’t know the whole story back then and I don’t even know it now.  One thing is for sure though, I made it through.  I still love Jesus, go to church and even still serve.  This did not make me turn sour on the church or the people involved or following God.

It really made me wonder why?

I am not sure, but I remember that it wasn’t long after this that I learned something very important to me.  It was a comment that I took to heart.  “Don’t be spoon fed the gospel.”

It really drove home to me that the responsibility for my spiritual growth, journey and beliefs was mine.  Oh….and God’s of course!  I wasn’t to sit back and let someone tell me what Jesus was saying, I needed to see for myself.  I needed to use the brain that God had given me to read, listen, study and seek the Holy Spirits guidance.    I can listen to others, but I was also to run what was said through the Holy Spirit to see if it made sense.  To use scripture as a means to know this God I follow, so that I can make decisions that would honor Him.

Without realizing it, I just kept looking up.  I started to learn things through God’s word.  Not by someone else teaching them to me, but by the Holy Spirit making me see things.  To hear truth in His word and see it reflected in His creation, people, and even in a song with a really bad music video.

While this post has been weeks in the making, I was not sure how to end. So it has sat for a bit.  I was able to get a bit of perspective on this when I was reading on Thursday.  It was just one line, but it gave me peace in the midst of questions.  “Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread…”  Acts 12:24a

 

New year…..same playlist

Idsc_0808 wondered if this would be my last post for 2018 or actually be the first of 2019?  I have plenty of time to make it before the new year, but I don’t seem to be  very focused.  Like other times when I am writing, I seem to have a hard time starting. If I can get my brain to relax and just type, then I can actually get something done.

So our Christmas is finally over.  It was a weird year, but not in a bad way or anything, just different.  We planned to have my extended family down this weekend, so a few of my boys got into town to be here when everyone else was. So for Christmas itself, we were not all together.  Since there was only my husband and two of the boys, we hung out and went out for a fabulous dinner.  It was fun, but different.

It’s also been a little mellow because my hubby isn’t feeling well. Constant headaches and dizziness are really taking a toll on how he is feeling.  So we stayed close to home and just kept a low profile.  This weekend though was full of extended family, babies, nieces, nephews and pierogi.  While it was kind of hard on my hubby with so many people in the house, I could not have been given a better Christmas present.  We typically get together during this time of year, but it’s always somewhere else.  This year, they all made the drive to see us.  It was great because now I have all those good memories of Christmas fun, in my own home.  That was worth everything to me!

IMG_5037I was able to talk to my oldest son for a while last night.  We stood outside beneath the stars, wondering at the beauty of the night sky.  We talked of the new year and the feeling that something was coming.  It was a bit foreboding, but we both agreed that no matter if it’s good or bad in store, God would have our backs.

As I dropped him off at the train station this morning, we somewhat felt the same way, and continued to talk of what the new year would bring.  We encouraged each other and then I left him at the station.  I started the car and I drove away.  The radio was turned all the way down, so I turned it up and had to laugh at the song on that was playing.  It was “Faith” by George Michael.  It was a reminder that no matter what’s in store, faith was going to get us through. I pulled over so I could text my son right then, and he texted me right back, loving the message in the song.  It was then I let him know the very next song….. “I will survive.”  And in those lyrics I knew whatever is coming this new year, God already knows and has the way through it.

imagesHis response to my second text?  “God is the best DJ!”  And it’s so true!

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: Freedom…..

whiskey-typewriter-shutterstock-570x380You know the funniest thing about God?  He wants to talk to us!  I don’t get it…. Why?  If I am who I am and He is who He is…. Why is He so big on trying to communicate with me?

He will speak to me anywhere.  I have a tendency to pop the TV on during my quiet time on a Friday. Funny thing is, whatever I watch, I tend to get something more than I bargained FOR.  Kinda like God won’t let Himself be silenced, even if I am slacking.

This morning I caught a few minutes of “Eat, Pray, Love.”  Now I’ve never seen this whole movie, but I was drawn to the setting and the food they were eating.  As I watched, I got  caught up in the conversations of the characters.  The lead character is eating her way through Italy (dream!) and she says, “I am through with the guilt.”

UnknownI loved it!  We women get so many mixed messages, it’s hard to keep our heads on straight.   Here was a woman who was trying to really live.  Her motivation was not going to be out of a sense of guilt, but out of love. Well for her, the love was for pizza. For me, it is the love of God.  Or better put, the way that God loves me.

If I look to see how I am loved, it is totally, fully and in the complete knowledge of who I am.  There are no secrets between Him and I, He knows it all.  The good, bad and ugly to borrow a phrase.  Even that full knowledge doesn’t dissuade Him from loving me. That is the kind of love that gives a person freedom.

UnknownI struggle with this a lot.  While I believe I am so loved, I have a hard time trusting in it.  While His love is perfect, our worldly version is not.  And that my friends has left a mark.  I still chase after it though.  I want that kind of freedom!  To trust so much in that love, gives me the confidence to become the person He made me to be.  The one that’s inside of me.  The one that I find it hard to let out. The one who laughs too loud, eats too much, cry’s too easily and doesn’t want to wear a mask.  She is kind and just wants to encourage you, whether she knows you or not.  She loves Jesus, but she drinks a little.  She is scared to be vulnerable with you, because she cares what you think.  Her feelings get hurt easily and she lets them hurt.  That’s because it’s either hurt or anger, and she never wants the anger to have life.  I know I am not the only one who wants this freedom.  I see it in myself, and I see it in other women.  I see it in the bible.

 

I was reading about the woman Jesus met by a well.  I see it in her.  When she is face to face with that kind of love, she can’t help but let everyone know.  It doesn’t matter that Jesus knew all about her life, her husbands and the man she was living with.  That love gave her a different perspective.  That Love gave her freedom!!

images-7

So here is to perfect LOVE that gives freedom and the amazing life that comes from it!

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.

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