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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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Women

The Mystery of it all…..

We had visitors and commitments this past weekend. While it is good to see people, it was even better when we were alone and driving up into the mountains.  Ok… well the foothills at least.  We went to one of our favorites spots, and I couldn’t believe the changes.  It was the last place we visited right before Mike’s surgery and it was his first solo drive after.  So much though had changed.

Where we typically go is more like a creek than a lake.  Monday though, it was definitely a lake!  We’ve been going to this spot for the past few years now, and I’d never seen it so full! Beautiful water!  I guess we aren’t in a drought any more.  We typically climb down from the parking lot and explore a bit, but today it was all under many feet of water.  So we found a spot, and just sat.  The surroundings had drastically changed, and so had we.

60874093_10217777558244561_7147374966990700544_n Continue reading “The Mystery of it all…..”

….isn’t written yet!

“So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time, before the Lord returns.”   ! Corinthians 4:6

UnknownI’ve said it a bit recently to those around me, “it’s not how you start, but how you finish.”  And don’t get me wrong…. It’s easier to finish well when you get out of the blocks cleanly.

We judge a person on today or their past, but we have no idea of their future and where that will lead.  The choices, experiences and people that will all come together to make a complete picture in a life.

 

I know it’s hard, but as I read the verse this morning I wondered if we judge in life, when we should just have discernment?  So I got out the old dictionary and looked at the difference between judge and discern.

Basically, discern is to recognize something as opposed to judging where you form a conclusion about it.  I mean, I can discern that someone else is doing something that is harmful or full out wrong.  I can then take steps to not be harmed by these actions, but I just can’t pronounce judgement.  The end isn’t written yet!  If I do judge, does that contribute to an environment that pushes them towards a not so good result?

I am not sure….but it makes me think?  There have been people in my life that haveIMG_5237 judged me prematurely, and I think there has been a bit of an impact.  I am grateful though for those who have been on the other side.  The one’s that have given me the chance to change, grow and mature.  Those are the ones that didn’t write me off, but gave me the time, love and encouragement to fulfill the potential they saw and hoped to see bloom.

Good or bad….with Hope!

3D man near red question mark

So it’s so hard to be me sometimes.  It must be even harder to be my hubby, having to put up with me!  I have a tendency to ponder things.  Ok, I tend to ponder EVERYTHING!    I think it’s irritating sometimes, but it’s who I am and so I try to embrace it.

I was sitting in church the on Sunday, and we were looking in the book of Revelation.  The imagery in the book is always a pretty trippy experience, but of course it got me to thinking?  I know…..what doesn’t get me thinking?

In a nutshell, we have John seeing into heaven and he’s upset because this important scroll can’t be opened.   What does the scroll contain?  Of course there are some very good educated answers, but what made me think was John’s reaction.  Why would he be so upset?  Did he know what was in the scroll?  I am not sure, but what I do know is that, because there was no one worthy he was distraught. He lacked hope.

“We have hope….rebellions are built on hope!”  Jyn Erso “Rogue One”

Yep, the geek came out of me at that point and all I could think of was the quote from the movie Rogue One.  Oh, and my hubby.  You see when he got the phone call from the doctor, his reaction was pretty funny.  He was so happy!  He was smiling and talking excitedly!  I could hardly believe I was looking at a person who’d just been told they have a brain tumor!   It was crazy, but I realized that the excitement on his face was what that diagnosis really meant for him. Hope!  He was in a bad place, as the pain became progressively worse in the past couple of months.  It didn’t help that he was frustrated by not being able to work a full day, his deteriorating eyesight and trying to find a doctor who could help him.  It was the holidays, but it was hard to find the “happy” during that time.  So with the diagnosis, everything changed.

Hope is such a powerful thing.  It can take the gravest of circumstances and give you a different perspective.  It gives you the strength to move forward, and face what you never thought you could. Hope is a beautiful thing!

There is of course a caveat to hope…you need to be careful where you put it.  Let me be clear, at this point my hope was not in the doctor, not in the diagnosis or whether it was cancer or not.  There was only one place where I could truly put my hope, and know that I would never be let down.  And that was in the Lord.  I knew at that time, no matter what happened, from the best outcome to the worst we would be OK.  We would survive!  I knew that because of how God had provided for our lives in the past, and from what I knew He had told me about the future.   It was actually the first thing I wrote about this year, https://cherylmendoza.com/2019/01/01/new-year-same-playlist/.

brown valley during a grey cloudy sky
Photo by Josh Sorenson on Pexels.com

We are still not done with the process.  My hubby is still recovering and will have radiation later this year, so this chapter of our story is still being written. Even so, before we were out of the hospital we were making plans.  New places to visit, a family wedding, concert tickets bought and a much more “happy” holiday season.

We look forward to it all, good and bad, with hope!

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!!

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

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: 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: Trusting the gardner

Unknown
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.

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 loved 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 

Believe=Live

DSC_0132“I gotta live how I say I believe.”  It doesn’t roll off the tongue very easily, but t’s something I’ve been saying a lot lately.  It’s mainly due to my children and their struggles or downright danger they put themselves into.  Ok, honestly? Some of it just has to do with me and my response to the world around me.

I was reading this morning and came across the story about the friends who bring a crippled man to Jesus.  These guys did everything they could to get their friend into the room where Jesus was teaching.   They let nothing get in their way, not even someone else’s roof. I’ve told this story and heard it many times, but something about it hit me differently today.  When I tell the story to kids, we always used the word “friends” when describing the men who carried the guy in.  I even used the word friend when I started writing this, but the bible never uses the word friend?  It always says men.

images-2What’s the difference?  Well, it seems to me that it’s all about perspective.  If I see these men bringing in their friend, that makes sense to me.  I can “help” my friend see who Jesus is in my life and maybe they will be like “cool….tell me more”.   Sounds great! But I checked out 5 or 6 different translations and they all just said MEN not friend.

So what might the story really have looked like? There’s a couple of guys, and they’re hurrying off to see this teacher they’ve heard about.  He says the craziest things, but what they’ve heard has them thinking.  I know….four men thinking…. Who would have thunk it?  So either they know each other or better yet….maybe they don’t?  Probably at least 2 did and they were walking together. Maybe then third and fourth are just walking that way too and they all converge at this intersection that is just down the street from the house.  It is so close they can see it.  They are intent on getting there before too many more people show up.  Picture Disneyland when they first open in the morning. Some are walking enjoying Main Street, some are doing that funny walk/run and some are downright sprinting to be first in line at Indiana Jones.  Well as these guys get to the intersection, they are greeted by someone who can’t walk.

Maybe he is calling out to Jesus because he has heard the scuttlebutt.  Or maybe this guy is calling out for money? For whatever reason, they choose to do something. They see that he is laying on a blanket and they grab the corners and go.  They walk for just a bit but stop.  It is really hard with just the two of them and they put him down.  They’re panting, thinking “this is harder than the WOD,” and as they catch their breath a shadow falls across them.  Two more men have stopped.  They all look at each other and without another word they each grab a corner of the blanket, mat, whatever the guy was on and well you know the end of the story.  Jesus, forgiveness and healing.  The end seems to point to the conclusion that maybe they don’t know each other.  When the man is healed, he just gets up and just walks out.  Maybe these guys go and have some goats milk together at the local whatever was back then, or just maybe after listening to Jesus they go their separate ways.

IMG_0143It seems to me this is kind of how life works.  We are all in need of healing and could use a little Jesus to do that.  Along the way people can come beside us and take a corner to help us get to where we need to be.  If we see this story only through the lens of helping a “friend” then we might miss out on all of the other opportunities to help people we don’t know see Jesus.

Sometimes it takes a long time for someone to make that complete journey to forgiveness and healing.   And every day is a new opportunity to pick up the mat of those around you.  Whether they are technically a friend or not.

So how does this relate to “I gotta live how I say I believe?”  Well if I believe that everyone around me is someone I can “bring” to Jesus, it should really influence how I treat everyone.  Right?  And that means in every situation.  School, work, grocery store, politics, baseball field, FREEWAY and even in church.  Sometimes it takes a long time for someone to make the complete journey, and everyone I meet is another opportunity.  A new chance for me to pick up the mat and help them on their way.

16939225_10211261381504215_4523643083069843847_nThat is the plan, and it is way harder to do than it sounds.  But you know… gotta live how you say you believe!

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