Enough with the Surprises Already (Part 3)

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. (Psalms 91:5-6)

They say seconds always third themselves. I wasn’t wanting to prove that old adage correct at 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning at the cabin. We had had enough surprises Friday night with unexpected guests and Saturday morning with two flat tires. Who needed any more disturbances?

HunterNevertheless, at 2:30 a.m., Hunter started to bark … and growl. I wasn’t about to get up and check outside. As long as whatever was outside stayed outside, I was perfectly fine. Did I mention the lady who took us for the tires told us about a nuisance bear in the area. He had gotten into her trash more than once. Nice story. I didn’t need one of my own. So I buried my head under my pillow and tried to go back to sleep.

Hunter growled again.

Gene jumped out of bed like someone branded him with a hot iron.

I thought, Hide Hunter. He’s coming for you.

Instead, Gene braced himself on the top bunk beside our bed and moaned. I knew immediately his leg was cramping. Wrong! Both legs cramped. Poor Gene couldn’t move. If you’ve never had leg cramps, trust me you don’t want them.

I got Gene some tonic water and leg cramp pills. About 20 minutes later, he was able to relax enough to go back to sleep.

On the way home late Sunday morning, I spent a lot of time in prayer: “Please, Lord, don’t let thirds forth themselves. We’ve had enough.”

God is good always, all ways. We arrived home safe.

In retrospect, God had the weekend planned. He knew those people would be there. But He showed me I don’t need to let unexpected circumstances distract me from my time with Him.

God also knew we’d have two flat tires. Nevertheless, He enabled Gene to return to the cabin safely, and He led us to an honest tire dealer who gave us a great deal on four new tires, which, by the way, we would’ve had to buy in a few weeks anyway.

As for Hunter’s barking and Gene’s leg cramps … somethings just don’t seem to have an obvious purpose. However, whatever was outside stayed outside, and we didn’t find anything disturbed. God’s protection? I think so. And God eased Gene’s pain quickly through the medication.

There’s always something to thank the Lord for.

How about you? What are you thankful for today?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Enough with the Surprises Already (Part 2)

Let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. (Romans 5:3-4 AMP)

Bear with Me

Gene and I enjoy the cabin for different reasons.

He goes to work. He mows in the summer and shovels snow in the winter. He tinkers with maintenance jobs. But mostly, he either hunts or checks his trail cams depending of the time of year. Regardless, he spends a good part of his time traipsing around in thigh-high brush, searching for signs of deer and bear, and breathing the fresh mountain air.

This trip appears no different. He departs from the cabin about 5:00 a.m., leaving Hunter and me still sound asleep.

I awake about two hours later, pour myself a cup of coffee, and start typing away, content to have the cabin to myself.

Hunter raises an eyebrow, nestles deeper into the couch, and dreams on.

I finish my synopsis about 9:15 as the truck roars in the lane. Hunter jumps off the couch and, in anticipation of his favorite human’s entrance, stands at the door, trying desperately to wag his crooked, stubby tail.

Gene enters all grins and hands me the cards from his trail cams. “I got some beautiful pictures. We’ll look at them after breakfast.”

I follow him to the door.

He steps outside and says, “Oh my word!”

I step out and gasp, not once, but twice. Once for each flat tire on the passenger’s side of the truck. We quietly proceed around the other side and breathe a sigh of relief. Two flat tires are enough for one trip.

Gene stands in front of the truck, moves slowly around it, accessing and obviously praying.

I stand to the side and pray.

Everyone in the other cabins has gone on a four-wheeler trail ride. Gene walks up the road to the landowner’s house. He returns in another truck and explains the landowner’s wife is willing to take us to the garage to get tires. He wants me to go along—so much for writing.

If you’ve ever been in northern PA, you know the towns are few and far between, and businesses are even more scarce.

About 30 minutes or so later, we arrive at the garage. Gene discusses the options and decides to get four new tires since the dealer gives us a good bargain. Plus, we need new tires anyway, no sense in buying used then coming home and buying new.

We get back to the cabin about 1:40. Gene changes the tires and makes supper. Who needs breakfast? Nevertheless, Gene passes his test on patience with flying colors.

By bedtime, I complete my synopsis, a Bible study lesson I’m writing, and half of the bear painting above.

All is well, until around 2:00 a.m. when Hunter barks and growls at something outside. I’ll tell you about that next time.

How about you? How have you managed your latest surprise?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Enough with the Surprises Already (Part 1)

Be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2)

Surprise!

unexpected guestsFriday evening as we approach our cabin, a car has taken up residence in our yard along with its driver and passenger, who are sitting in beach chairs, sipping wine coolers, and enjoying a campfire.

If you know me, you know I need solitude … not company at the cabin.

Gene looks at me before climbing out of the truck and says, “Who is that?”

Too befuddled to speak, I shrug.

“Hey! I haven’t seen you in years. How are you? Brenda, this is one of my hunting buddies …”

Turns out the intruder had been invited several times to hunt, but hadn’t been there for about 5 years. He and his fiancé had dropped his daughter off at a college in northwestern PA. Our cabin was closer than traveling home. So they thought they’d spend the night. I guess, since he knew where we kept the extra key, he assumed he didn’t need permission to use it.

Excuse me—not your cabin. There’s a name for this. It’s called trespassing. I say little and make my way into the cabin, laptop in tow.

Another Surprise

Gene, however, offers them our Bar-BQ sauce for their hot dogs, sits with them all evening, chatting about old times, and shows them pictures he’s captured with trail cams.

Meanwhile, I’m in the cabin, screaming in my spirit—“Why are they still here?” Yes, I am an introvert. I thrive on solitude. Gene comes in and assures me they’ll be gone in the morning.

In the morning? Seriously? The morning begins at 12:00 a.m. and ends at 11:59 a.m. During what part of that 11 hours and 59 minutes do they intend to depart? Gene gets up at 5:00 a.m. to check his trail cams. That means I’ll be alone with these people for … . Will they expect coffee, eggs, pancakes, and pleasant conversation? Yikes! I’m not prepared for this.

By now I’m in tears. I know I should be more like Jesus and Gene, accepting the uninvited guests with open arms. Show them kindness. Show them hospitality. But all I want to do is show them the road.

The Biggest Surprise

So I pray for forgiveness. I get an unexpected answer as I sense the Lord speak to my spirit.

What did you come here for?

I came to spend some time with you, Lord, to write, and maybe get a painting done.

So why aren’t you doing that?

I pause. This isn’t a test of hospitality. It’s a deterrent to keep me from doing what I’d come to do. If I let my emotions control the situation, I’ll waste precious writing and painting time. Peace floods my soul. I get busy on my synopsis and get it about halfway finished before bedtime.

The woman comes in for blankets. They’ve decided to sleep outside—under the stars or in their SUV, I’m not sure. Gene hands her an armload of blankets and pillows. I offer her sleeping bags for extra cushion and tell her they’ll be more comfortable outside because it’s so stuffy in the cabin, especially in the bedrooms with their small sealed windows. In the summer, humidity is almost unbearable back there.

I wake up the next morning about 7:00 a.m. to find the blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows on a tidy pile on the coach closest to the door. I have the cabin and a couple hours to myself. I finish my synopsis and two cups of coffee.

Then Gene comes back from his mountain excursion with another surprise. I’ll tell you about it next time.

How about you? How have you handled one of life’s surprises?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Worth the Wait

The Lord does not delay [as though He were unable to act] and is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is [extraordinarily] patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 AMP)

DSCN5168A week without a kitchen sink constitutes an interesting lifestyle to say the least. Our new cupboards are in place and functional—we put the knobs on them this evening. I even put a few items in their new homes. The microwave, stove, and refrigerator make it somewhat feasible to prepare meals. But the lack of a counter top and sink creates some difficulty in cleanup as well as food preparation.

Nevertheless, the dismantled kitchen is taking its toll me. I can’t find ¾ of our pantry supplies and utensils. I know everything is in boxes in the basement … but which box? The disorganization of that part of our house has flooded into the remainder of the house, including my brain. I find it more difficult than usual to concentrate, plan my day, and shift through priorities. Thus, my patience is growing thin. I’m anxious to see the finished product. I’m anxious to have full use of my kitchen. I’m anxious to reorganize. I’m anxious to have some sort of normalcy back in my life. I don’t want to wait for the contractor to come back to do the final adjustments. I don’t want to wait for the designer to install the counter top and sink. I don’t want to wait for the back-ordered faucet to arrive. I know it’ll be worth the wait. But still … I WANT IT FINISHED NOW!

In Jesus' EyesLet’s face it, remodeling isn’t the only aspect of life in which I grow impatient. When crisis strikes, God begins a new work in me, and I feel like a kitchen in the remodeling process. He has to tear out old habits, the shabby attitude, and the broken emotions before He can install a Christlike image in my heart.

Reconstruction takes time. My usefulness seems limited, almost dysfunctional even. Now and then, I sense His adjustments as His works. But I wonder if anyone notices the changes He’s making in me. I wonder if I’ll ever love and forgive others as God has loved and forgiven me. I wonder if I’ll ever get the hang of being Christlike.

Yeah, I know it’ll be worth the wait. But still …

How about you? How is God remodeling your heart into the image of Christ?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Exposed

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)

DSCN5157Gene and I are in the process of remodeling our kitchen. He loathes the dirt, clutter, and disorganization. Of course, all that is part of the process. You just cannot avoid the mess. Knowing the inconvenience is part of the package, we’re dealing with it just like everyone else who has gone through the process.

I also knew, when they moved the large appliances, we’d face an “angry,” grime-covered dust bunny or two. But I didn’t expect to find the cobwebs lacing the walls when they removed the cupboards.

The crud gave me pause, at least in the photo shooting. I’ve been taking pictures of the process to share on Facebook (yeah, just like everyone else). However, I thought I’d clean before snapping any shots of the bear wall and the area behind the stove. I didn’t want anyone to see my dirt.DSCN5159

I’m the same way with my flaws … my sins. I don’t want anyone to know, to see how painfully short I fall from God’s glory. I want to keep my spiritual “cupboards” in place. Soul remodeling exposes the angry, grime-covered dust bunnies within me that I don’t want to face. I don’t want anyone else to know about. And I especially want to hide them from God.

But that’s ridiculous. God already knows what’s lurking deep within my heart. He’s the one urging me to allow Him to cleanse and remodel me from the inside out. What is exposed, God covers with Jesus’ righteousness. He promises, everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light (Ephesians 5:13).

Therefore, I have nothing to fear. I only need to cry out to the Lord as did the Psalmist: Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7).

How about you? How has God been remodeling you into the image of Christ?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Speak with Grace

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)

Niagara Falls 2Saturday, my husband and I went on a bus trip to Niagara Falls. It had been 42 years since our last visit. To say things had changed would be an understatement. Where small souvenir shops existed, casinos now breakup the horizon. Motels in the form of skyscrapers replace single-dwelling houses. Giant Ferris wheels and water slides occupy areas where trees once lived.

But one thing remained the same—the falls. It’s majesty, power, and breath-taking beauty stood in stark contrast to all the manmade hoopla. God’s creation never ceases to amaze and inspire me.

After riding the Maid of the Midst, Gene and I walked through the aquarium. The clerk said we had about 40 minutes to browse before it closed for the evening. I snapped pictures of most of the underwater creatures, taking a few minutes to admire the unique designs of each exhibit … seahorses, poisonous frogs, and lion fish to name a few. In the last tank, the nimble appendages of coral danced, entrancing any onlookers. One lady stood close to the tank, like a small child who had never seen such a performance, truly mesmerized by it.

coral 6I watched with her a moment then said, “I don’t know about you, but I believe God created all of this.”

A huge smile lit up her face. “Yes, I believe it too.”

“How anyone can observe such wonder and beauty and think it just happened is beyond me.”

The lady nodded in agreement then said to her husband sitting on a nearby bench, “Did you hear what she said?” He shook his head. She repeated our conversation with enthusiasm.

I don’t know why I talked to that lady. I don’t often speak to strangers. Let’s face it, I don’t often speak to people I know unless they speak to me first. Nevertheless, I felt an urge to express my joy of the Creator at that moment. It seemed to be something she needed to hear. And for a brief moment, the lady and I connected. Our hearts sang a spiritual song of praise to our Lord without the spoken word.

How about you? How has God used you to make a stranger’s heart sing?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Be a Service Dog

All Scripture is God-breathe and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)

Lab 3 4 webBecause of a disabling disease, my friend Joan employs a service dog. This dog tirelessly caters to her every need from handing her shoes in the morning to replacing them at night. There seems to be no task he can’t accomplish short of driving her van and paying her bills. Impressive animal in deed, but he’s new at this. Although he’d been trained for two years and had earned service dog status before entering Joan’s household, he still has somethings to learn. You see, Joan is also deathly allergic to latex. The agency, which trained him, did not train him to detect latex. Joan has to do that herself. Not to worry, she trained her previous dog for her specific requirements. No doubt, she can train her new companion.

Joan hasn’t told me exactly how she managed to train her first dog to sniff out latex. But the end result saved her life more than once. One of the funniest stories she told me about it was, the dog grabbed a bag of chips from her and won’t let her open it. The only thing Joan and her husband could figure out was the company must’ve changed the ingredients in the glue used to seal the bag to include latex. Now that’s a sensitive sniffer. Joan could tell you many instances where that dog spared her a trip to the hospital and perhaps saved her life.

Like Joan’s dog, we are in service to our Master. He is training us to “sniff out” dangerous situations and warn those around us. We need to heed our Master’s voice. We need to develop sensitivity to demonic activity and satanic devices that could potentially destroy not only our faith, but also other’s souls. We need to warn those around us of the pitfalls set in their paths.

The only way to accomplish the “service dog” status is by studying God’s word and praying for discernment. Then put into practice what we’ve learned.

How about you? What have you noticed about your environment that could be a potential threat to those around you, and how have you shared your concerns?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks