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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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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: 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: 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.

The road to Manzanar….

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It is beautiful as the landscape changes from desert only, to mountains on either side.  The Inyo’s were to the east, and on the west the Sierras.  The eastern view of the Sierra’s is so much different than from the western view from the valley. They are snowcapped, ragged mountains that jut out of the landscape.  They are shockingly beautiful, but after my initial awe, I thought about how foreboding they look at the same time.

 

 

Continue reading “The road to Manzanar….”

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