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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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Good News, Great Joy, All People!

images-2.jpegSo to make a long story short, I have a bit of a new purpose statement for this new year.  It really kind of came to me a little before Christmas, and it seemed to make an impression for multiple reasons.  I actually could not get away from it because it is a bible verse that is part of the traditional Christmas story.  Wow…this short story seems to be getting longer by the minute!

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

I was looking for a verse to make some wall art, and this one popped onto my radar.  I knew it would be awesome, so I would use “Glad Tidings, Great Joy” on a picture.  It is actually one of my favorite verses out of the Christmas story, because of a church production that I was in many moons ago.  One of the children said the line, like sixteen times, over the two weeks that the show ran. “I bring you glad tidings of great joy!”  Every time he said that part, we laughed.  The way he emphasized the words was so …joyful!  To this day, the memory still makes me happy.

This time though, I was struck by a different note in the verse.  It was the end that seemed to jump off the page and stick in my mind. I totally remember the “glad tidings and great joy” part, but I didn’t remember hearing the “all people”? At that point, I was thinking that something important was missing from my project.  The “all people” was not something that I felt could be left off the photo.

images.pngWhy?  Well maybe it was a reaction to this whole year of anger, fear, with so much talking and not enough loving.  In this past year of election noise, I wondered if that proclamation of “good news” was clearly heard?  Did I see “great joy” when I looked in the mirror?  Or in the church pews?  And were “all people” able to hear and see those things?  We may have thought so, but in watching and listening, I really wasn’t so sure?

Continue reading “Good News, Great Joy, All People!”

I am NOT…..

I AM.  God’s name.  I have always thought it was kind of a weird name, I mean really…. I AM.  Well of course you are?

It was not until this week, when I was actually doing a script for our preK class, that I got a better idea of what it meant for me. So as I read the story of Moses, a new sentence jumped out at me.  It was something that I don’t remember ever thinking about before, but today I heard something different.d2ca09d8868423819bd7b85d27b29d6e

It wasn’t really what God said, but it was something that Moses said.  God had just told Moses that he was going to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt.  Moses then starts arguing with God, telling him all the reasons why he was the wrong man for the job.   Moses asks, “who am I”, and in that question, I found a different way to look at God’s name.
God is the I AM.  You can put anything you need after that statement, and it works.  I AM holy.  I AM truth.  I AM wise.  The I AM statement about God is always true, but like Moses, for me it does not work so well.  The I am statement does not fully describe me, there is always an asterisk.

 

I am encouraging.*  Except when I am tired, have given it all out already and have not gotten encouragement from God.

I am patient.*  Except when I have done all the calculations in my brain already, made a decision and have to wait for others to make theirs.

I am generous.*  After God has to remind me that He has my back, and the resources at my disposal are truly to share.

I am a good listener.*  Except when I have to listen too long.  Ugh!

These are things that I strive to be.  Some of these are even my gifts and come fairly easily to me, but can I do them right all the time?  NO.  God is all those things and more, and He can do them right all of the time.  He fulfills the purpose of his name perfectly.  I AM.

Everything I need, hope for, dream about and strive to share is found in that name.

Election Fog….

imagesSo it is the day after the election.  For us here in Central California, it is a foggy day.  Now when I first moved to Lemoore, people warned me about the fog, but I didn’t really listen.  I mean, I grew up in San Jose, where fog would roll in from the Santa Cruz mountains.  How much worse could it be?  Well, it is like night and day!  The Tule fog in the valley can be truly dangerous.  After being in both types of fog, it seems to me that the fog here goes all the way to the ground.  Driving in it is awful because you can only see so much in front of you, and then you cannot even see the lines to get a good bearing as to where you are. And at nighttime?  Well to tell you the truth, after the Christmas in 2005 when the fog rolled in while I was shopping, and then I could not find my car in the parking lot?   I don’t really drive in the fog at night.

Today though was not a horrible fog day.   It was patchy, and did not go all the way down to the ground.  As I walked though, it was interesting to look ahead and see how the fog distorted what was ahead of me.  Now I walk the same way pretty much every day, so I know what is to come, even before seeing it.

The barber shop is always open, people are stopping by the ATM at the bank, there is a clock in town that has the wrong time and kids are on their way to school.  There is so much that I expect to see when I walk, and even in the fog, I know it will be there.

So as I was walking, I thought that the fog was a good analogy for the near future.  We know some of what to expect, but there are some details that are a little hazy the farther we look ahead.  In the distance we can see things moving, but we don’t necessarily see the details or how it may all fit together.

We don’t have the whole picture.

That may make some of us uncomfortable, and others downright scared.  Then there are others that think they know what is ahead.  They will travel under the assumption that things will be just how they expect.  They may or may not be surprised by what they find.

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For me, I am optimistic.  Is it because my candidate won?  No.  It is because I have used the only power that I have in politics.  And that my friends, was my vote.  I did what I was supposed to do in the election process, and I cast my vote in the best way I knew how.  In that sense, I am content, but my job is not done.

Today is another day where I have the opportunity to live like I say I believe.  This is really where I think we have the most impact on our communities, the country and the world.

So today is really just another day.  No better or worse than yesterday.  Today is a day where I am going to try and continue to live out who God made me to be.

I want to love God, and love my neighbor more than myself.  To seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly.

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Stressed?

This morning I was getting ready, as it is a new commitment of mine, to walk every day.  I am getting older, and totally feeling it, so I am trying to somewhat slow that process.  During these walks, I typically pray and listen to music.  Depending on the day, I could be listening to 70’s light rock, Christian rock, classical, jazz, well the list goes on.  I have just put into Pandora the Henry Mancini station, and I am loving it!  If you do not know who that is, and you love movie music, Google him.

I was listening to Good Morning America as I was putting on my shoes, and they were imagestalking about kids and stress.  They gave a few suggestions on how to help them deal with it, like meditation or yoga, and getting out into nature.  They also pointed out that the parents stress level and how they dealt with it was an important factor.  Which I think could be THE most important factor.  Anyway, as I sat there I thought she had missed something.  There was no mention of God.   Now I understand that He is not everyone’s cup of tea, but isn’t He at least an option?

So I finished getting ready and grabbed my phone and turned Pandora from the country station (Eww!) that my son was listening to, and thought about what station I would put it on this morning.  I was about to put in Henry Mancini, (they always play the Magnificent 7 theme and it always gets me fiyzwzkhqyfhwikccpi9going) but I changed my mind.  I had already been feeling a little sad, mad, and irritated this morning, so I decided that I would need some encouragement.  So the Christian rock station was the choice for today.  While at times I have to admit, I am a little bored with the station, this morning I knew I probably needed it.  While I don’t always love the music, I cannot argue with the lyrics.  Well on some I probably can, but that is a whole different post.

The first song this morning was exactly what I needed to hear.  It talked about holding on to God, and those are exactly the words He has been using lately to give me hope.  So off I went with a smile on my face and a lighter step than just five minutes before.  It was then God reminded me of Good Morning America, and stress.  Now I know for me, turning to God seems like a natural reaction because I am a Christian.  It ain’t so simple though.  I don’t know about other Christians, but I struggle to seek God first for the clarity, comfort and peace in times of stress.  (And I would guess that I am not the only one) This morning was a great example of how I want to do it every day.  Looking to God, even before emotions and stress overtake me.

images-1I did like some of the suggestions from the show this morning, but I would add to them.  If you or your child are feeling the inevitable stress of life, why don’t you give God a chance?   Seek out a church, a Christian friend, a bible study or just sit down and have a chat with Him.  You may find some peace, comfort, and rest from the stress that is plaguing you.

“…..May God bless you richly and grant you increasing freedom from all anxiety and fear.”  1 Peter 1:2b

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.

What I will remember

cropped-cropped-image311.jpegI found it really hard to write my thoughts today, so I thought I would keep it really short.  What I will “Never Forget” from September 11, 2001.

I will never forget to pray for those who lost family and friends on this day.

I will never forget the heroes that ran into danger, and not away from it.

I will never forget the time when we all put our collective hopes and prayers together, for the safety and well-being of people we didn’t even know.

I will never forget the time when everyone asked, “Is there something I can do?”

I will never forget the time where so many people did so many little things, to create one large effort to care for our fellow citizens.

I will never forget to be prepared.  To ask God now to give me the strength for the future, where I may need to run to and not from danger.

#RespondinLove

 

Of men and joy

And so my children, listen to me, for all who follow my ways are joyful.  Proverbs 8:32

So I enjoy being a mom.   I am not one of the mom’s that laments the fact that her

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Not sure where the floating bunny ears came from.

children have grown.  I loved them when they were little, but as they grew, each age brought its own joy and pain.  I wouldn’t say that I have enjoyed all the stages of their growth, some stages were better than others, but each new screw up brings wisdom.  Or so one hopes.

So one of my oldest son was stressing at work the other day, and had sent me a text to pray.  It was great, because not only did I pray for him, but I was able to give him some encouragement from a blog I had just written. I love when God gives the answer, even before you knew there was a question.  During the conversation, I told him that he should think long and hard about pursuing something that he loved.  That he should spend some time dreaming or imagining what it would look like to make that dream a reality.

So the next day I texted him to check out his stress level and he let me know that he was good.  Me though, I was a different story.  It was a bad day for me, and so by the time I was talking to him, I was finally getting some writing done.  It was then that he said he had been thinking about my writing.  Since he was contemplating his own dreams, he started thinking about my own pursuit.  He asked what kind of writing I wanted to do?  He then proceeded to tell me how Prince wrote two songs a day, even though some were never published.  He then pointed out how very left-brain my writing seemed to be, and that maybe I needed to use the right side for some short fictional stories.  When I told him that I was not sure what I wanted to write, he brought up JK Rowling and how he doubted that she knew exactly what she was writing that first day in the coffee shop.

Our texts finally tapered off and I felt good.  He had given me a different perspective, and that seemed to give me some energy.  I was able to finish a blog post and it was a little different than others I had posted, so I felt good.  Accomplished.

It wasn’t till today that I went back to revisit the texts from my son.  I am so used to being the encouraging one, that to be on the receiving end is a different angle for me.  It was funny, I don’t think he meant to encourage me, I just think he was asking queimg_3126-1stions.  It gives me hope.  Not only for myself and the path that I am taking, but for him and his path of growing and learning who God made him to be.
No, I don’t miss those little boys at all.  They were adorable and I loved them very much, but it is the men that they are growing into that is so much more exciting.   While they still make a lot of mistakes and are not perfect, I can see growth as they continue to learn and gain wisdom.  That above all else brings me joy and gives me hope.

 

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!

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