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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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influence

Of Billy and influence….

thSo the day finally came, and my first reaction was sadness, then I pondered and then I laughed.   I was sad because I know that at the loss of Billy Graham, his family and friends will be going through a grieving process.  The first moments of separation are the worst.  I was also sad because it seems that these are the days that we need a Billy Graham.

But that didn’t sound right.  As I started to ponder the thought, I realized that what we really needed are “men and women like Billy Graham.” Continue reading “Of Billy and influence….”

A Study in Pink – Michelle 

So you know when you think you know someone, and then you realize that you’ve just scratched the surface? Well, that’s what happened when I got together with Michelle for another entry in “A Study in Pink”.

Michelle Dove is the Head Start/Child Development Director for Kings Community Action Organization. While her title sounds pretty fancy, it all started in the simplest of ways. She was a mom, coming to a new town when her husband was stationed at NAS Lemoore. She was a stay at home mom, but soon she started watching children from other families. It was then she pursued being certified as a family childcare provider. That simple step, was the beginning of a path that would see her change her educational focus and eventually bring her to something that is so much more than a just a career.

Continue reading “A Study in Pink – Michelle “

Choose to Influence

influence-graphic-300x169“10 Historical Records That Tell Another Side of Bible Stories”, was the name of the article that showed up in my Yahoo news feed this morning. The article went through ten Bible stories, and matched them with some historical accounts that were written by non-biblical sources.  The one that caught my eye was the story of Esther, and the historical account of the man most likely that was her husband, King Xerxes I of Persia.

What do you wish? Whatever it is, I will give it to you, even if it is half of my kingdom!” Esther 7:2 NLT

When Esther goes in to see the king, she is greeted warmly and he is delighted to see her.  How do we know?  Well, it is because he says that he will “give her anything up to half of the kingdom.”  So I think we can safely assume that he was glad she was there.  As her story goes, she asks him to a banquet, where there will be a guest list of three.  Her intention is to use her influence to save her people.  After the banquet, she invites him to another with the same three attendees, the king, herself and her enemy Haman.

When she had shown care, kindness and hospitality to not only her husband but her enemy also, the king asks her again “What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!”  Talk about influence!  It was then our story comes to its conclusion.  Queen Esther unmasks Haman’s cruel plot to kill all of the Jews and the King is outraged.  Long story short, Haman is executed and the Jewish people are safe.

As I read the story, I thought about the position of influence God had given her, and how she used it for good.  My morning thoughts did not stop there though.  The King’s statement sounded familiar, like I had heard it somewhere else.  I looked and confirmed that there is another record in the bible where another person had said pretty much the same thing.  Where influence was used, but the outcome was markedly different.

“Ask me for anything you like,” the king vowed, “even half of my kingdom, and I will give it to you!”  Mark 6:23 NLT

 

Now these words were spoken by King Herod.  He too was at a banquet, but this one was very different from the one Esther had given. There were many people attending, and that included Queen Herodias and her daughter.  It is written that at this banquet, the daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased Herod.  When she was done, Herod told her to make her request known.

Again, another woman, another banquet, another King with ultimate power.  What would she use this great moment to ask for?  The power of influence right then is staggering.  He was surrounded by people that would be a witness to whatever she asks, and they would then be looking to Herod to grant that request.  There was only one problem.  Someone else had influence over this young woman, her mother Herodias.  She went and asked her mother what should she request?  Herodias’ fatal answer meant death for John the Baptist.

I know most of us may never have that kind of history making influence, but that does not let us off the hook.  While our circles of influence may seem small, how we use it can still have far reaching effects.  So it is important to ask, how do I use my influence?

This morning as I think of the continuing message series about mercy I am hearing at church, I know that influence is part of that equation.  Where do I have influence?  How can I use my influence to show God’s mercy to someone else?  Maybe even more important, will I use my influence for my own promotion or will I use it for someone else’s benefit?

We all have influence in various circles in our lives, through work, church, family and friends.   Sometimes we may have a little, and at other times much more, but I believe that one thing is true.  God does not give me influence to squander only on myself, but to help those around me.  And while I may not feel that I have much, I do know that the right thing for me is to advocate for those who may have even less.  Small amount or not, I believe God gives each of us just the right amount.  All it has to be is enough, for “such a time as this”.

A bigger circle…

new-member-to-circle-image-white-background-34649901I wound up helping in a pre-K/Kindergarten Sunday school class this weekend.  I was not teaching the lesson, but was just helping to wrangle kids into their places and have some fun while they learned.  It was pretty funny though, because where has God taught me the most?  It has been from serving in this classroom.  What does that say about my maturity? I don’t really think I want to know, but I am glad He uses this room to speak to me.

So as we gathered the kids for circle time, we began to run out of room.  It was then I said, “let’s make our circle bigger, so that we can let more friends in”.  As we continued to adjust kids in the circle, I was thanking God for those words.  They are a lesson to me, and a prayer for those kids.

I can close my eyes and picture that circle of kids.  Hands that are holding their friends, releasing and letting go.  Bodies that shift, for more room, to let another friend enter and then hands are clasped again.  We have a pretty diverse makeup of students in the class, and to see them let go of hands to let others join in, seemed like a small glimpse into heaven.   I am thankful that He uses the kids in that room to speak to me!

 

 

Not to be silent

My son called to check on me this past Tuesday.  He wanted to see how my writin
g was going and how I was feeling.  We are a lot alike, so he knows how mental I can get.

He was frustrated, and it was over a Facebook post with someone that he restthects.  He said that they had a “discussion” and he had gotten irritated.  He said that he was glad that the post was taken down, but he was frustrated with himself. So he was thinking about just deleting his account for a while, which I think is a good idea.  It is hard.  I am his mom and know about the potential I see in him, but I also know of the demons he fights.

So I asked him about his voice?  You see, I started to write about my own voice the other day.  Not the one I sing with, as it is nothing to write home about.  It is the one that is heard by what I communicate with my life.  I was unable to finish the thoughts, but I decided to share with him what I started to write.

We all have a voice.  It is the things we think and feel.  It is our views, the things we consider important and our character.  Our voice comes through the words we speak, what we may write and how we act.  Some people have a voice that reaches millions, but most of us have a much smaller circle where we are heard.   My son has some good verbal skills.  He is a pretty good talker, and because of that, I encourage him to use his words wisely.  He has yet to fully adopt this advice, but I am hoping that he will one day.

Each of our voices are important, but there are times where I believe that my voice was silent.  When I was young, I was afraid to ask questions, to give answers or just in general talk to those in authority.  It made going to school very hard.  I told my son the story of not wanting to sneeze in class when I was in fifth grade.  Why?  Well my teacher would say snape001“God bless you”, and he would expect you to say “thank you”.  I can remember sitting there, trying so hard not to sneeze.  It was supposed to be all very pleasant, but because of his authority over me, it was breathtakingly scary.  I shared a few other anecdotes to give him a better picture, but they are much more embarrassing, so I will keep those between us.

 

I told him that even now, I have to fight to put my voice out there.  That my intent is to use my voice as a means to glorify God, and to the gifts He has given me to encourage people.

Since encouragement comes through my words I am working hard, not to be silent. A fact to which my husband and boys can attest.  I told my son that his voice is important too.  That there is someone, that he hasn’t met yet, that will need to hear what he has to say.  That he should not let things that are not important silence that voice.  Through my life there have been times that I have been made silent by fear.  I suggested to him that because of anger, he may effectively silence himself.

Why is it so important?

We are a world that has a lot of problems, but I believe there is a God who can transform.  I told my son that when he talks with people with differing views, the point is not to get them to change their minds, it is to make them think.  To spur them to seek wisdom from God, not to just win the argument.

He thanked me and we got off the phone, and I was pleased with the conversation.  The th-1last thing I asked him was to really think about what I had said, and even consider the effect his voice could have on his community.  I listed the problems we had discussed, and reminded him that there is a way for these problems to disappear.  It takes people loving God and then loving our neighbor as ourselves.  In his community, it can start with him.  In mine, it can start with me.  And even though I write in a blog that effectively, anyone around the world can read.  My real sphere of influence is right here in my own community.  This is where my voice can be heard best, and those around me get to see if I truly live according to my words.

Influencing faith?

Ok…so there is some crazy things about this whole writing gig.  I have a love hate relationship with it.  I love when I am done.  When I feel like what I wanted to say is clear, it honors God and is not too embarrassing about myself.  If I hit all three ofwhiskey-typewriter-shutterstock-570x380
those criteria, I am ecstatic.  I feel like I am doing what God is calling me to do.  To make it even better, if I can get a catchy last line to sum it all up, I treat myself to some ice cream.  When I am working through something though, I cannot stand it.  Maybe this is why some writers drink so much?   Maybe I should skip the ice cream and move on to scotch?  No.

At first, I am typically inspired by something that happens, but as I continue to write, I feel inept, unsure and have no idea why God is calling me to write anything?  It is weird.  It is why I try to write as fast as I can, so that I can finish it quickly while I still feel the excitement of that first discovery. how-often-blog-why-blogging-writing-ideasWell today I was not so much inspired, but compelled.  You see I was cruising my FaceBook, cuz ya know I have the dreaded disease, FOMO.  Fear of missing out.  So instead of just attacking my lap top to write I start scrolling, and at times it stresses me out.  So why do I do it?  FOMO.  Anyway, I was reading a post by a blogger, who was talking about a Christian blogger who had posted that she was separating from her spouse.  OK, so that is guaranteed to get my attention.  Neither of these bloggers are anyone that I “follow”(man I hate that term) but I know I have read posts by them before.   So because I am like a cat, totally curious, I went to the post where she announces her separation to see what she wrote.  OK, to tell you the truth, I just skimmed it.  She is not someone that I know personally or follow, so her decision does not produce any other emotion than just heart break for her situation.  What I did think was ironic is her new book that was just being released.   It was about her marriage, the problems they had and how they have walked through it.  It was then I wondered about the influence she hoped to have with women, and how this new turn in her story affected that?

I really wondered about this whole online community thing, especially since I am trying to wiggle my way into it.  Is it a good way to influence people?  Is it bad?  I am not sure what the answers are to the questions, but it reminded me of how I want my online presence to be perceived.  I am not here to tell people what to do, or even what I think God is telling them to do.  There is more than enough of that already. (My hubby and kids can ignore this part, I am so totally here to tell them what to do)   I am not here to say that I have the answers to any aspect of life.  All I am here to do is relay what God is teaching me.  That being a Christian can look pretty messy, but it is a lovely mess.  I am here to tell my story, and the simple ways that God speaks to me in my boring everyday life.  It is a glimpse of what faith looks like for me, but it is not necessarily a template for what it should look like for you.  What I am thankful for most in my life, is what I want to encourage everyone to seek.  Their own faith.  God is good, and if you seek Him you better believe you are going to find Him.   Just don’t be shocked by where He might show up.

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If you agree, disagree, I have irritated you or made you think, leave me a comment.  I would be interested to hear any feedback on the topic or how it was written.   Thanks!

Someone else’s box.

So I really love to write, and I typically have 20 things going through my head at one time, so I always feel like it should come freely and with ease.  The only problem is, most time it doesn’t.  By the end, it feels more like child birth than anything else.  Times of struggle, gasping for each new line.  Then at times there is rest and a moment where new insight is revealed.  So for me, it is not always easy.

This morning though, I was really inspired and wanted to just sit and get my thoughts down on paper.  It all started when I read a blog, “Fcuk Pretty.” Well the title had me interested, and when I went to read it, the post had me hooked.  I enjoyed the writing and honesty, but most of all I loved the commonality.  In my own life, I could relate to some of the feelings and statements that she was relaying in the post.  What is the best part though?   It was her.  I looked at some of the information about her, and I knew that I would not naturally be a part of her circle of friends.  (influence?)  To me though, that is exciting.

Again, we find so many ways to separate ourselves from each other, and I am done with that.   It is boring.  I want to risk meeting people who are different than me, the ones that I am not “supposed” to talk to.  I want to know their story, and how it may have hurt them or brought them strength.  I want to hear about the things that separate us, because when I look at them through the lens of eternity, those things become meaningless.

What do you think?  Are you tired of being labeled and put in someone else’s box?

Here is the link to the original post: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/33316213/posts/1045939154

Seems the link may be having issues.  Where is my IT guy?  Please cut and paste…it will get you there.  Sorry for the difficulties….but I do recommend reading it.  Thanks!!

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