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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: Being mindful….

images-2You know, sometimes this writing part of my life is not easy!  I try to come up with something interesting, or thought provoking, not preachy and above all not too opinionated.  I try to frame what I write as my experience, and hope it either encourages or at least gives someone a different perspective.

It is hard though, because I am pretty opinionated.   I’d like to think that I have some pretty good ideas, because I have common sense, and in some ways I am pretty smart.  So I am thinking my opinions are wise…. Right?   Also, according to my pastor since I am so old, I am a good mentor figure.  (that kills me)

Well over the last few years as social media has exploded, I am less and less impressed with my own opinion.  Why?  Because I am so tired of hearing everyone else’s, I can imagine how people feel hearing mine.  I am lucky though, as I have an easier time holding my tongue than others do.  (don’t get me wrong, I came by this trait the hard way.  But God has taken hurt and made it into a useful part of my life.)

Why did I bring this up?  I really don’t know….I just started writing?  I guess it was the imagesphone call I got last night.  I am typically the one who is messaging or talking to someone to encourage them, but last night the call was for me.  Someone wanted to ask how I was, and check up on me and the family. I appreciated it so much!  And at the end she prayed for me, and it was cool because it showed growth in her faith.

 

 

_DSC9219Why these two topics together?  Well, I guess it’s because I hear much more ”opinion” than encouragement. And since I am like most people, I tend to think we are all looking for more encouragement, love, kindness and lack of judgment than we are looking for another opinion.  So today be mindful of the words you say.  Be a shoulder to lean on, cry on or just be a good listener. Leave your opinions behind, and see how you can be an encouragement to someone today.

Was that a little preachy?  Not sure…… will try better tomorrow.

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: Remember, reboot, refocus…

What to write….what to write? Sometimes it feels like different topics are warring in my mind to be what I wwhiskey-typewriter-shutterstock-570x380rite about, but it never really takes shape till my fingers start typing on the keys.

My emotions are in a bit of a roller coaster this morning, and it all started last night.  While it was nothing specific, there was a general feeling of anxiety. I would put it in the class of “anxiety attack” although last night’s version was pretty mild. I started to get a little panicky and was feeling hot.  I even slept on the couch last night because when I feel this way, I just need a little more space, cooler air and not stressing over waking my hubby.

I have general anxiety like most people do, but a couple of years ago I started having what I call attacks.  Immediately stressed, can’t breathe, hot sweaty periods of time where I have to work to bring myself to some kind of control.  It is hard, and they are scary.  It mostly happened at night, when distractions were taken away and my subconscious could do its worst.  So this morning, I was really interested in taking time to spend time with the Big Guy and find some type of peace.

So I was reading about Jesus and his nighttime encounter with this religious leader, Nicodemus.  It’s kind of funny how it starts out.  Nicodemus comes to Jesus and is like, “hey….we know you are sent by God because you do these great miracles.”  And instead of saying something logical like, “thanks….glad to be here,” Jesus gives an answer to a question.  The problem is, no question has been asked?  What?  Now you can go in and check out the answer and what Jesus explains to him, but that is not the point of my little writing this morning.

So what is?

Well, I love the fact that Jesus gave him the answer, before Nicodemus even knew he IMG_5206wanted to ask the question!  God knows us, and so does His Son.  Jesus knew Nicodemus deepest, darkest, subconscious thoughts, dreams, stress and heart’s desire.  He knows mine too.

And in reading that this morning, I realized that even before I knew I would have a night of anxiety, He did.  And in what I wrote yesterday, He has already given me the answer for the peace I need today.   So this morning, I’m taking the time to remember, reboot and refocus on what is true.  The God who provided yesterday is the same one who will continue to do so today and in the future.

imageWhat’s going on in your life today?  Do you really need an answer to that question, situation or stress?  Look back!  Remember, reboot and refocus.  You might be surprised at what answers you may find!

 

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

Seasonal focus….

I needed some focus for the last part of the year, so I am taking a page from Lent.  I use Lent as a way to focus and write daily, and this December I really need some focus. Why?  Well the Christmas season is upon us, I have a big family celebration at the end of the month that I am in charge of, and I am also studying for a test for work.   That is not even the half of it, but I can only say so much.  So while I use Lent in the spring to bring focus to my life, I decided that Advent might help me do the same this winter.

dsc_0835-2So I was thinking, December 1st I would be on it!  But…. I missed the date.  Ugh!  Needless to say, it is all good, since today is officially the start of Advent. Who knew? Well obviously not me.
So what am I pondering on this first day of Advent?  Well, Christmas of course!  Specifically what this season means to me and really the effect it has had on my life.  I just finished writing a small vignette (?) for lack of a better word. While some of it is fictionalized, it is based on some things that have happened to me.  It was like God put them together for me one day, to give me perspective. It helped to remind me that God was with me.  And in reminding me of where we have been, He reminds me that He knows where we will go.  That gives me hope!  And isn’t that what the season is all about?  Hope?

For in the velvety darkness of winter, a star is seen and hope is born. The hope that the separation between us and God is about to be put to an end. That the love of God is brought to earth as a baby.  To start the transition from separation to reconciliation.

Life…and what it makes you.

I hate puzzles.  Maybe hate is a strong word, but I have never been a big fan of doing Unknownthem.  What I do like about puzzles is the what they show……A complete picture.  You have all these pieces that go together but they are in such weird shapes, it is not easy to see how everything fits.  But they do.

IMG_5203Life is like a puzzle.  All the days and everything that happens to you become pieces that are fitted together to create you.  How you think, how you feel and how you live.

Sometimes it is hard to see how some things fit in your life.  Death, pain and struggle, but they do.   They belong.  Without those pieces, it is hard to appreciate the simple things.  We have the tendency to take them for granted.  But when you place them beside the hard things, sunshine, green grass, laughter, food on the table, or holding hands with your love one, you see them for the wonder they are.

So here is today…..and another piece added to the puzzle!autism-puzzle-piece-clip-art-cliparts-co-lilgLt-clipart

 “One day I’ll stand before You and look back on the life I’ve lived.  I can’t wait to enjoy the view and see how all the pieces fit.”
Casting Crowns 

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

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