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The Right to Cry

Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. (Psalm 6:2)

July 3, I cried nearly all day. Couldn’t stop myself. I was facing my last chemo treatment with a great deal of reluctance. Each treatment thus far had brought more nausea, dry-mouth (accompanied by nasty, muddy-metal taste), and other discomforts that lasted longer than the previous treatment. I simply did not want to go through it again, not knowing what the side effects would entail.

So I wept. I pleaded with the Lord to stop this madness, to tell me I didn’t have to go through it one last time, to rescue me.

Finally sometime that evening, I recommitted the situation to the Lord. I knew there was no way out. I had to face the gauntlet one more time, come what may. And trust. Isn’t that where true faith lies—trusting without knowing what’s beyond the next summit?

July 5, I walked into the clinic with the most cheerful disposition I could muster. Gene’s presence brought comfort even though we talked little. He was there. And so was my Father. I wasn’t as much aware of Father’s presence at the time … a little preoccupied with my surroundings I suspect. But I know He was holding me closer than Gene could’ve.

Here’s what He did for me the week of my final treatment:

  1. Very little side effects. This was the mildest of all my treatments. God wrapped His loving arms around me and kept the nasties away. I’m believing the medication accomplished even more because of it.
  2. The Saturday after treatment, my family walked in a march against breast cancer. What support and love! Plus, we had a picnic at my sister’s house afterward. The event boosted my spirits tremendously.
  3. The next day, almost every lady in our church wore a hat! Their expression of love and support … for ME … overwhelmed me. At the onset of my diagnosis, I told my daughters I thought it’d be cool if someone would have a hat party for me. No one in the church knew that. I can’t begin to tell you how much those ladies showed the love of our Father to me that day. I pray I never forget the power of His love through His faithful daughters.

More tears flowed that Sunday than on the previous Monday. For the past two weeks, I sang His praises and cried … because of His merciful love He showed me through this last treatment.

So, why do we hold back tears as though they’re forbidden? Why do we choke on them as though they’re shameful? Why do we mask them as though they represent weakness?

We have the right to cry out to the Lord. He hears and answers in unexpected ways.

How about you? How has Father responded to your cries?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Words—the Power to Change Lives

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:15-16)

My hatA couple of weeks ago, I wore this hat to my doctor’s appoint and received several favorable comments. Later that day, someone made a negative dig. It shattered the positive remarks—all of them. I wrestled with my response for hours. Why had one ill-mannered knock overridden the many positive reinforcements? Why do we take such disagreeable tones into our spirits and allow them to push out what brings peace and assurance? Why did I?

It took a lot of self-talk to overcome the potential destruction. Did the offender mean to cause me hurt? No. I really don’t think so. Although her remark stabbed me like a knife, she thought she was being funny. I held back tears as I struggled to put things into proper perspective.

Here’s the thing:

  1. This person has always enjoyed making crude remarks just to get a reaction from her target (by her own admission). I had to consider her nature.
  2. Forgiveness is the only key to unlocking the chains that can enter our spirits from such attacks. I had to count her as innocent … as though she didn’t know what she was doing.
  3. I had to reassess all the positive input. Sure, some people give compliments as unthinkingly as others give insults. Nevertheless, there are just as many sincere people who, not only want to make us feel good, but truly are pleased or impressed with our choices of style. I worked hard to latch onto those comments, allowing them to nurture my spirit instead of permitting the condemning statement to tear me apart.

I need to move on from this experience, keeping in mind I’m not the only one sensitive to sarcastic comments. And my friend isn’t the only one prone to make them. I can’t change her. But I can bridle my own tongue.

God has given us a tremendous power and responsibility through words. Whether written or spoken they can destroy or build a life.

I want to be a builder.

How about you? How can you build someone else’s life with your words?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Speak Life

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. (Romans 8:10-12)

Join the Lord’s Army

This morning between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. I will receive my third chemo treatment. These treatments consist of Benadryl to prevent the reaction I had the first treatment, a drug to help prevent nausea, steroids, and two different types of chemo. That’s an arsenal of meds!

I’ve heard many people refer to these treatments as poison. And perhaps it is. But that seems like a negative outlook to me. Now, I’m not one to follow the positive and happy thoughts crowd. But I do believe our words carry punch. We can speak life or death into any situation. I also believe God wants us to speak life not death.

How do we do that?

Speak the truth according to God’s Word. What does the Bible teach about the situation I’m in? God has given me life and in Him I have life abundantly. Jesus heals through many different means. He also has a plan. He has numbered my days…not the doctors.

Speaking truth and life involves a positive attitude. When it comes to the drugs with which they’re filling my body, I’ve decided to look at it through a different lens. God has given the doctors the knowledge of how to use these drugs to combat the disease that has invaded my body. Therefore, I think of these treatments as an army—God’s army if you will—sent to fight the war going on within me. The enemy is sneaky and strong. I didn’t even know he had attacked. But I’m grateful the doctors discovered the invasion when they did. That was an act of God to start with.

Now, He has sent an arsenal of meds to combat the poison already in my system. Yes, the meds destroy the good with the bad. That’s the sad reality of any battle. However when the battle’s over and victory won, the good is restored. I know the Master Builder and trust Him to reconstruct my body. He lives in me. He is the Commander of the army and the Restorer of my soul.

I live in victory.

How about you? How do you speak life in your situation?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

 

 

Pink Fingernails and a Three-stranded Cord

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

The slopes of the pit of loneliness and despair are slick and steep. We trudge very close to them when going through deep trials, whether emotional or physical. Everyone else seems to be living his/her life to the fullest—unaffected by and unconcerned about the battle we’re fighting. Even those closest to us, go about their daily routines almost without missing a beat. They plan appointments, family gatherings, and vacations. Meanwhile, those of us in crisis find it difficult to plan our next day.

If we compare our current “norm” to others or even to our previous lives, we plod ever closer to the pit’s edge. All it’ll take is a little nudge from the enemy, and we’ll slide to the bottom.

Splat!

But we’ve nothing to fear. We’re not alone! We have a three-strand cord tied around us with an anchor securely fastened to the Rock.

Here is what my three-strand cord looks like:

  1. SELF—that’s right I have myself. I’m stronger than I think. I have my faith. I know Scripture and trust the Author. Yet as Ecclesiastes 4:12 states, my battle overpowers me. That’s why I need the other two strands.
  2. FAMILY/FRIENDS—so many people have stood with me since my diagnosis. I can’t begin to express my gratitude and sheer amazement. My husband agreed to paint his fingernail pink (the color for breast cancer) to show his support. He chose the nail on his wedding-ring finger. Since then, our pastor, along with countless friends and family members, has done the same. This small act of love holds me fast to the shore of hope and victory.
  3. JESUS—not only is He the third strand, He’s the Anchor and the Rock. He has secured me in His arms. He has given me a future and a promise. He has promised never to leave me ALONE nor to forsake me. All His promises are YES AND AMEN! Even when all else fails, I can count on the One Who Never Fails. My experiences of His presence in the midst of the storm confirm His presence in this one. He reveals His strength in my weakness. His grace is sufficient for me.

These three strands combine to make an unbreakable cord, over which the enemy is powerless.

How about you? What does your three-strand cord look like?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

 

Bald–Bitter or Better

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels (Isaiah 61:10).

The nurse told me the type of chemo treatments I’m having would cause my hair to fall out. She was fairly accurate in the timing. Two weeks after my first treatment, I noticed the beginning of the end of my hair. By Wednesday, I swiped handfuls of hair off the back of my head. I decided to shave it off rather than watch it fall out.

Surprisingly, I didn’t even cry while I cut my hair then ran clippers over my scalp. The prayers of all my family and friends kept me standing tall and brave at that time. Wednesday was a good day. I felt a sense of accomplishment and relief.

Thursday, however, all the expected emotions burst out of their cage and tumbled down my checks in the form of tears. Losing your hair because of chemo treatments is a bitter pill to swallow, even for men I’ve been told by some who’ve gone through it. Contrary to popular believe, the struggle is not so much about appearance and vanity.

The struggle stems from the outward sign of what’s happen inside my body. You see, other than the week of treatment, I don’t feel sick. I cannot even wrap my mind around the disease. But now … now that I’m bald, I can no longer live in the state of denial. Every time I look in the mirror, I face the monster living inside me.

Never too Many Hats

As dismal as that all sounds, I realized I was not without a covering. I had received a wig from the American Cancer Society a week before my first treatment. My sisters gave me a beautiful straw hat. My younger daughter gave me a white straw hat. My older daughter crocheted me a hat. A friend also offered to crochet me a hat. One cannot have enough head coverings at a time like this. Although I adore my wig, hats cheer me up and help me feel good about my appearance when it’s just too hot to wear the wig. I’ll never have to step out in public or even in my own backyard feeling shamefully exposed thanks to all the love people have shown me by providing hats for me to adorn myself.

As grateful as I am for the hats, I rejoice even more in my salvation through Jesus the Messiah. When the monster I’m facing threatens to unleash my bitter emotions, I’m going to remember Jesus’ beautiful robe of righteousness covering me so that I can approach God’s throne without fear. I know He’ll change the bitter into better as I praise Him for His mercy, grace, and love.

How about you? How have you changed from bitter to better through your trials?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Proactive: Partners with God

When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,  And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. (John 9:6-7)

I apologize for my lack of contributing to this blog.

Since my last post, I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer. The first diagnosis was difficult enough to hear. But then, it got worse. A pet scan showed the cancer had passed through my lymph nodes (our filtering system) into my blood stream. From there it invaded my lungs. The spots are small, which means it’s treatable and controllable.

I began chemo May 2.

Needless to say, a lot of emotions have been boiling up in our house. But God is faithful and is with me every step of the way.

When the doctor told me the biopsy tested positive for cancer in my lymph nodes, he said “it was a miracle they even found it. It never would’ve shown up on a routine mammogram.” Which I’ve had every year for the past fifteen years, by the way. My first thought was God has a plan.

He has surrounded me with a “cloud of witnesses” in every doctor’s office I’ve visited thus far, as He compels me forward through chemo treatments. Many believers ask why I’m going through medical treatments when God has the power to heal. Yes, I believe with all my heart that God could heal me immediately without an oncologist’s intervention. But which takes more faith to believe God can when He does? Or to still believe He can even when He doesn’t?

I’m not a super-saint by anyone’s standards. I’m simply trusting my Father to do what is best for me and what will bring Him the most glory. While I prayed about this, He showed me something quite amazing. During His earthly ministry, Jesus did not heal everyone who asked immediately. He told ten lepers to go and do whatever the law required. As they walked away in faith, they were healed (Luke 17:11-14). Similarly, Jesus made a mudpack, smeared it on a blind man’s eyes, and told him to go wash at the pool of Siloam. The man obeyed in faith and returned seeing (John 9:6-7).

Jesus wants us to be proactive in our healings and every other aspect of our lives. Yes, He can do all things. And He does them well. But He, more often than not, expects us to take an active part in His work within us. So I go to the center for my treatments. I try to follow the doctor’s advice. I even signed up for a Look Good, Feel Better class next month. But more than anything, I’m following Jesus’ instructions and trusting Him to heal my body, to strengthen my faith, and to hold me close when I’m overwhelmed with the process.

How about you? How are you actively participating in the Father’s work in your life?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Not by my Faith, but by His Faithfulness

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

lab-puppy-4-webThere are times when we have no choice but to trust. Trust doctors to have steady hands and the knowledge needed to perform their tasks. Trust God to guide the doctors and to hold our loved ones when we can’t.

My faith and trust has gotten plenty of exercise this year. In February, I was diagnosed with melanoma. It was in very early stages…an easy fix. God’s faithfulness brought me to the dermatologist that day.

In April, Gene’s prostate cancer appeared on the charts again…eight years after he had his prostate removed. Again early detection made the process of 38 radiation treatments doable. His recent blood work proved the procedure successful. God’s faithfulness showed the doctors Gene’s need for treatment in early stages of cancer.

Also in April, my sister became very ill. At first, they thought she had food poisoning. However, tests showed a growth on her adrenal gland. They removed both the growth and the gland…no cancer! Again, God’s faithfulness led my sister to the hospital for early diagnosis.

All of these events tested my faith and exercised my trust. But I have not had my faith tested as strongly as it has been since May. My younger daughter Rachel was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Like the other issues mentioned, her diagnosis came through a rather unexpectedly. Her allergies were out of control this spring so she decided to see a specialist. He checked her thyroid and told her to see her family doctor because it was hard on the one side. Sure enough, she had cancer.

September 26, they removed her thyroid and the lymph nodes on the right side of her neck. The tight quarters in the prep room made her husband and her father uncomfortable so I stayed with her until they took her to the OR. As I walked back the vacant corridor to sit with the men in the waiting room, my spirit sank. I had left my baby in the hands of two strangers to perform a six-hour procedure. The only thing I could do was pray. But that truly is the best thing to do. God is faithful in all His ways. He washed me with peace of mind.

Rachel’s surgeon is very pleased with the success of the operation. She’s regaining mobility in her neck and is growing stronger every day.

I’ve spent the weekdays with her and her small children for the past three weeks, thus the reason I’ve neglected my blog. Sorry. Somethings take precedence, while other things fall to the wayside.

Your prayers for Rachel as she continues to heal and as she faces radiation later are greatly appreciated.

How about you? What has exercised your faith and trust recently?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks