Life anaesthetizes. Deep wounds and repeated pains administer the drug in an instant, or over time; without realizing it you’ve fallen under the spell caused by hurts, losses, tragedies, broken hearts, and disappointments. As time goes by you may learn to live, love, laugh again, but it no longer comes from a place of innocence. Your heart has been shattered. Putting it back together isn’t easy, even though you are doing the best you can. ‘It’ has left you changed.

You protect your heart by not allowing yourself to feel anything as deeply as you did before. You don’t realize you’re doing this; or, if you do, you don’t know how to change it. The anaesthesia dullens highs, and intensifies lows. Emotions, those God-given signals to alert us to good and bad in our lives, can no longer be trusted. They cannot function properly while the anaesthesia is at work.

And so you coast along, superficially living, loving, laughing, not allowing any person or feeling to get past a level you’ve deemed as your acceptable safe zone. Sometimes you are aware that things don’t register with you the way they do with other people. Depth is missing from your life, because to allow it would mean opening up the deep parts of you where the wounds, pain, loss, and disappointments lie buried. And you dare not go there. Letting them stay there, uncovered, untouched, is life’s anaesthesia.

What options do you have when you recognize that your heart has reached this stage? How do you get out of this place? Do you stay there and go to your grave with it, or, do you pull your heart up by its bootstraps and knock some sense into it? Do you tell your heart to ‘Grow up!’ and teach yourself to start feeling again?

It would be great if it were so easy!

Do you want to feel again? To love deeply again? To experience life’s highs and lows without the continuous dullening drip of life’s anaesthesia? Have you tried everything you know to do, but nothing has worked?

I believe in the power of the simple prayer of faith and surrender. No fancy words; no special place. Just prayers uttered right where you are when you understand that the help and healing you crave is out of your hands.

God desires our hearts because that is where real work begins. It is the wellspring of life. David’s cry, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.’(Ps 51:10), is met with I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ez 36:26). This is a cry He wants us to make because it is a work that He wants to do in us.

It doesn’t matter where you find yourself on the Christianity scale: you may have been a Christian for many years, or you maybe you haven’t said a prayer in a very long time. God wants your heart, again. That is the business He is in.

‘Here’s my heart Lord, speak what is true’. (Lauren Daigle).
©Debbie Mendoza, March 2018.image

Get a copy of Debbie Mendoza’s Exodus: A Journey Through Divorce on Amazon if you need spiritual help for yourself or for someone going through a divorce.
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double minded

2017 was a year of major painful change for some of you. God’s hand was visible as He provided for you, and comforted you with family and friends, and in many other ways.

You love the place where you find yourself, in the midst of change that you would never have predicted or even desired for yourself. There you are, surrounded by a life you love but that looks nothing like you would have put on your bucket list or in a note titled, ‘Where I see myself in five years’.

Still, every now and then there is a haunting call that makes you look backward at what could have been, and you wonder how those two can live in the same heart: love for where you are, and desire for what was.

Do you want to get to a place where your heart and desire are not divided? It is possible to get stuck here, allowing your ‘what was’ to limit your ‘what could be’. It must be natural, but as a Christian, any longing you have for the past is really a reflection of how you see God. If you long for other than His will then you’re not submitting to His bigger plan for you. Have you had enough of that yet?
Bring your confused heart to God and ask Him to change it. May there be no room inside you for the what might have been because you’ll be filled to overflowing with gratitude for what is, and for what He has done for you.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

©Debbie Mendoza, December 2017.

Debbie Mendoza is the author of Exodus: A Journey Through Divorce.


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Isaiah 54

Picture this: two little ones asleep beside me on the bed in a windowless hotel room. Emotional life in shambles. Spiritual life newly rededicated to Jesus. Figuring out life in an area totally remote from anything familiar. New life, old worries.

I pick up my Bible. After so many years away from anything Christ-related I can’t get enough of this Book. I am no longer deaf to the Father speaking to me, and He is happy that I am listening, and to see me come eagerly to his presence, and so He tells me something that in 36 yrs of life I’ve never heard before.

I do that thing that young Christians do: Just pick up the Bible and read whatever page it falls open to. I expect it to be something soothing to calm the turmoil but instead it is Isaiah 54. In that quiet hotel room, my children in bed beside me, I hear the Father speak to me clearly through His Word as if He had been waiting to tell me this particular thing.

I recognize this as a special moment in my life. I gasp, sit up straight. Shallow breaths. Hand on my chest. Disbelief. Amazement, But I open my heart and receive it all. I allow Isaiah 54 and its promises to be planted, and take root, in my heart.

As a new Christian I had no idea what was happening but knew that I had had an experience that would stay with me for life. I did like Mary did and “pondered these things in my heart”. Isaiah 54 has been with me for 16 years. It has influenced decisions, given me hope when all I could see was darkness. At times one of its verses carries me for a while.

When my times were bad I imagined Him saying v11 and 12 to me: “O afflicted one, it won’t always be this way”. When I’ve sinned against him, I hear v9 and remember that His kindness remains and He won’t be angry with me. V4 has helped me to keep my head up in tough situations. He gave me a bunch of specific promises before I needed or even understood them.

This week I think of a kairos moment when I took a step I now see in hindsight as one that was defining. I sit in the early morning quiet and remember that PG hotel room and that experience so many years ago. My heart is full of gratitude for God’s goodness in my life. I think to myself, “He came back for me”. My Father saw the mess I was in, and He didn’t leave me there. His face may have been turned away from me in anger for a while when I walked away from Him, (v8), but that changed and He kept His Word and came back for me. I have not been alone, (even though sometimes it felt like it), and His plan has been better than anything I could ever have imagined on my own.

These days v17 is the one I hold onto and remind myself of often. Some versions use the word,”heritage”, while others use “vindication”. I’ll take either one.

As grateful as I am that I have a refuge in Isaiah 54 given to me years ago, I am also very aware of the happenings in the world around us. I realize that people do not get better when left to their natural state. We all need help to improve, to heal, to get out of our messes. We may think it’s antiquated and unnecessary in this technological age, but the Word of God is (still) living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12). It’s easy to focus on the effects of man’s fallen state, but the Word of God gives hope, life, and the ability to change. It’s easy to miss that when we think we have outgrown it.

I was given Isaiah 54 not because I am special, but because the timing was perfect and I was listening and receptive. There are many people who have stories similar to mine. Maybe the Father is waiting for you to be like the young Samuel so He may say something to you that He’s wanted to say to you for some time now. (1 Samuel 3). Maybe He’s already been speaking and you just haven’t been listening.

Will you consider opening the Bible for yourself, believing that God will actually speak to you through it? Maybe you haven’t outgrown it after all.

But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. – (1 John 2:27).
©Debbie Mendoza, February 2018.

Get a copy of Debbie Mendoza’s Exodus: A Journey Through Divorce on Amazon if you need spiritual help for yourself or for someone going through a divorce.
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Fasting is possible

I’ve seen the great benefits of fasting and praying. Big moments in my life, turning points even, came after times of prayer and fasting. Jesus Himself said there are some demons that don’t leave except through prayer and fasting. I know it works. I don’t know why it does, but it does.

The body adapts. It appears to be happy for the break from meat, bread, rice, potatoes, sugar, dairy, eggs. The dangerous playground is the mind and all the senses. On the days I’m fasting, every morning between eleven and eleven thirty I imagine I can smell rice and beans and stewed chicken on someone’s stove somewhere, yet my stomach gladly accepts the serving of whatever I feed it, even if it’s only beans.

On some days during a fast you will wake up feeling victorious, on other days you will have to fight a sense of futility about why you are doing this anyway. Some days you can sense walls coming down, on others all you will want to do is sleep and let it all happen without you. But at all times, be aware that this is not for naught, and that just because you can’t see what effects your fasting and praying has in the spiritual and physical, doesn’t mean that grand things aren’t in fact taking place. You don’t have to be able to see them with your own eyes to know that they are real.

Self-deprivation might make it look like the duration of your fast is stretching out unbearably beyond the horizon of your imagination. Being forced to not have something is one thing, but choosing to not have is quite another. It is an invaluable lesson, and I can only imagine how much fruit it could have if learned during a person’s teenage years.

We live in a society where, if something is in our power to grasp and we want it, we should reach for it and have it. Self-deprivation is alien to our society even though it is healthy for us. When we choose to fast and pray we are choosing to abstain from things that are commonplace to life all around us without telling anyone we come in contact with that we are indeed, abstaining. According to Jesus, when we are fasting we are to get up and go out as if these are ordinary days, (Matthew 6:16-18). We are not to be open about our fasting, or mope to gain the praise of people who might think we are more holy because of it. So, for a set time, we choose to deprive ourselves of what is commonplace around us, and we can’t tell anyone about it.

For years I made the excuse that I couldn’t fast for health reasons; but because Jesus spoke about it in terms of ‘when you fast, not if’, I knew that I’d have to get on that train. I started with baby steps, the first time fasting only social media and some foods. Then I moved up to liquids only from six am-six pm and no meat for the duration of the fast. Our latest fast was the most difficult I’ve ever done; and it got me to thinking about the valuable lesson of self-deprivation.

Self-deprivation teaches us that we don’t have to eat it, or take part in it, do it, just because it’s available and everyone else is eating it, taking part in it, and doing it. It is not about losing weight, cleansing the body, or being healthy; it is about choosing to join our Father in what He wants to do in and around our lives. It’s saying that we care enough about that to go without for a season. It’s joining the battle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places, (Eph 6:11-13) by proactively choosing what to eat, drink, partake of, and enjoy. It’s being deliberate about saying I can wait to have ‘that’ until after the time of fasting is over.

This is a real grown-up lesson you can learn from a time of fasting and prayer. Choosing to fast and pray is counter cultural, so if you can choose to deprive your body of food for a season, and pray while you are doing so, you can probably discipline yourself to stay away from anything. A season of fasting and praying is no fun, but another benefit is the spiritual clarity that you get during that time that makes it worth it.

To fast successfully, make a list of the foods and drinks you will allow yourself and at what times of the day you can have them, what you will abstain from, and what it is that you are praying for. Will social media be a part of the fast? Also, predetermine the length of the fast. I think the most important thing isn’t that our fast is extreme, but that it shouldn’t be easy to do, and that we stick to it. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be self-deprivation, and that would defeat the whole purpose.

This is an invaluable lesson I wish (1) I had learned when I was a teenager, and, (2) that it had become a habitual part of my life long ago. Fasting and praying is a valuable spiritual tool that I ignored, not because it wasn’t taught, but because I believed I just couldn’t do it. To be honest though, I also thought I didn’t need it. I was wrong.

As we approach Lent if you decide to give fasting a try, first do some research, then go for it. And be sure to let me know how it goes for you.

©Debbie Mendoza, February 2018.


Get a copy of Debbie Mendoza’s Exodus: A Journey Through Divorce on Amazon if you need spiritual help for yourself or for someone going through a divorce.



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Why you should visit La Isla de Flores, Guatemala


We’ve made at least four trips to Flores already this year. Before that, I had not been to Flores in about fifteen years. I thought the only reason one would go to Flores would be as a side trip to Tikal. I assumed the roads were still bad, and feared the presence and actions of ‘bandidos’. For a very long time, Flores didn’t even appear on my radar of places I’d like to visit. That changed last year when photos of day trips to Flores started popping up in my Instagram feed. It piqued my interest, and I jumped at the chance to go see the island for myself after so many years.

Flores is an island just off of Santa Elena, Petén. It has a variety of restaurants with prices that range from cheap to moderate. There are many places to stay, some of which overlook the water. Across the bridge, in Santa Elena, you can have Pollo Campero, or American food chain franchise options like Pizza Hut. There is also a Katok Restaurant just outside of Santa Elena.



Flores sits on Lake Petén Itza. The bright colors of the painted buildings and the lake effect together make for great pictures. The sunrises and sunsets are stunning. The island does have a problem with an over-abundance of birds in the evenings, so be careful as you walk around at that time of the day. They will mess on you.

Flores floods in spots sometimes. That is an infrastructural problem, and visitors just have to flow with it.

One of the main attractions is a boat ride around the island for Q150-Q200, (around US25). You have the option to stop at different places, including being able to make the short uphill walk to ‘El Mirador’ from where you get an extraordinary view of the island.  


The distance from Melchor to Flores is about fifty miles. To drive into Guatemala from Belize there is a process in place that has to be rigorously followed step by step. The first time you go through is the most tedious, but the process remains the same each time you go through after that. The Guatemalan Immigration and staff who handle the licenses are the friendliest and warmest government workers I have ever encountered. They follow their guidelines, but they seem to want things to run as smoothly and quickly as you do.


The owner of the vehicle has to be the one who applies for the sticker. Approach the left side of the Immigration desk on the Guatemalan side. You should have the vehicle ownership title, proof of insurance, and driver’s licences for each of the persons who will be driving the vehicle in Guatemala. You will be pointed over to a small window on the right side of Guatemalan Immigration to pay for the sticker. (If I remember correctly that one time payment is Q165, about US$23). Return to the processing area, and in a matter of minutes you will get a paper that you will have to hold on to as long as you’ll be going back and forth across the border. This is good for three months. They will keep it valid by adding three month increments if you use it regularly. However, if you only use it infrequently, or, if you don’t go back to that desk and close out the authorization before the end date, you will be penalized US$300 the next time you try to get another one of those documents.


That first time you will also get the sticker for your windshield. Place it where it is easy for the authorities to spot. Every time you plan to cross the border, you will need two copies of that original document. You will use one to go into Guatemala, and the other to return to Belize. The officer will stamp both the original and the copy; they keep the copy and give you back the original. When that is done, cross the street to OIRSA and pay a Q17, (US$2.50 approx) fee. Once your passports and the authorization are stamped, and you’ve paid the fee and gotten a receipt, you can then cross the border. Just before entering Melchor, you will pay Q5 at the booth on the bridge. After that, you’re good to go, and Guatemala lies before you. Of course, fuel is cheaper in Guatemala, so you might want to fill up in Melchor instead of on the Belize side.


The road to Flores is mostly smooth. It has some potholes caused by Hurricane Earl. One five minute patch not very far outside of Melchor is very bad, and you will have to drive extremely slowly. There is an armed checkpoint that you may or may not have to stop at. Unlike in Belize,  these posts have three layers,  which means you have to drive past three sets of uniformed and armed police/soldiers. They usually let you pass through without stopping you. You will drive through many small villages; each village has speed bumps and pedestrian ramps, so keep your eyes open for those.

Flores feels a world away from Belize, even though it is only an hour’s drive from the border. There, you will be among tourists from Guatemala and from many other countries around the world. We have never experienced any anti-Belize sentiment from anyone there. Service providers are welcoming. Be careful to check bill totals to make sure that you are the one who decides how much tip to leave.


WiFi is available everywhere. Some restaurants will have the password very visibly located; if you don’t see it, just ask for it.

Restaurant recommendations so far: La Tortuga for breakfast; El Terrazzo for lunch or dinner, (try their avocado salad); and La Villa del Chef (try their kabobs).

P.S. Use your credit card to pay for stuff. The exchange rate is best that way.