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Cancer Reveals God

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3)

A friend of mine commented my last blog post: Dandelions, I learned when I began teaching outdoor ed, are not native to North America. The settlers brought them here, because they didn’t know what kinds of greens would be safe to eat here in the New World, but they knew they could eat the greens of dandelions in the spring, and they were prolific. They’re prolific alright. Thank goodness the bees like them, otherwise they’d have one less redeeming quality.

Although I confessed my love for dandelions last week, I understand why others dislike them. Dandelions show up in one spot and, if not dealt with properly, they show up in other areas. They invade and take over until everything is infested. They’re hard to get rid of and seem to always return no matter what you try or how successful you think you are at getting rid of them.

Cancer’s a lot like dandelions. If not treated, the malignant cells multiply and show up in unexpected areas. No matter how successful your treatments are at getting rid of them, the abnormal cells often return with a vengeance.
This dreaded disease has far less good characteristics than do dandelions. In fact, I can only think of one…

Cancer happens so the works of God might be displayed in us. I’ve said it before and if time continues, I’ll say it again and again. God reveals many of His magnificent attributes to us during times of crisis.

Jesus Will Carry You

One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had to date while going through this cancer journey is God’s peace. It enveloped me during my chemo treatments, like the calmness in the eye of the storm. It sustains me now. When I feel overwhelmed about “what ifs,” the Lord reminds me of His peace. He didn’t calm the storm. He carried me through it. He’s not going to leave me now or ever.

How about you? What has God taught you during your storm?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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Who? Me?

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Elephants momma and baby

How do you carry each other’s burdens?

The picture that comes to my mind is one picking up a heavy sack, tossing it over his/her shoulder, and carrying if for someone else. Or maybe Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, who was forced to carry Jesus’ cross (Mark 15:21). Or maybe simply praying for a friend in need. Sometimes, prayer is the best way to carry another’s burdens, especially when it comes to circumstances to great for us to change. But sometimes prayer becomes a type of cop-out. I believe in prayer. I also believe God wants us to be the hands, feet, shoulders, backs, arms of prayer. In other words, we are to personify prayer.

There are things only God can fix or change. Never stop praying for help in those areas. But there are things He expects us to do for ourselves and for one another. Thus, He commands us to carry one another’s burdens.

I’ve been a long-time fan of Christians organizing groups to go into disaster-stricken areas to help clean up and fix up. However, none of us has to leave our community to help clean, garden, mow grass, etc. I often thought and even commented that our churches ought to find the needs of our local communities, even people within our congregations and offer assistance. To my shame, I never followed up on it.

Nevertheless, I was delighted to hear our church was moving forward in this type of ministry. How did I find out about it? The young mother who is heading it up contacted me on Facebook Messenger. Not with: Would you like to be on the committee to seek out people in need? Or would you like to help clean Sister Misfortunate’s house? Or would you be able to drive Brother Sicklee to a doctor’s appointment Tuesday? Nope, none of that. She asked me what the church could do for ME. Seriously?

The Father has been teaching me all about humility for the past several months (see Humble Pie). Apparently, I still have some learning to do. Plus, I really want to see this new-to-our-church program be successful. So Gene and I agreed to be one of the first on the list to receive assistance. It’s very humbling to admit you can do the things you used to do like houseclean your kitchen or wash your own windows. But for now, I just can’t do it. I DO need help. And it’s not fair to expect Gene to do it all. They offered to help with the flower beds and houseclean my grooming shop as well. The most humbling part of the deal is seeing the names on the list of volunteers, including our pastor’s wife who also had a bout with cancer this fall. She had surgery and extensive radiation. I feel like I should be cleaning her house.

I’m learning to humbly accept assistance when offered. I’m also learning to see the needs of others and offer my help when possible.

How about you? What is God teaching you about humility?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

A Firm Foundation

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11)

 

Hands are amazing.

A few days ago, my two-year-old granddaughter fascinated herself with my hands for about 30 minutes. She bent my fingers ever-so gently this way and that. She flip-flopped my hands at the wrists and patty-caked them. She hid her hands in mine and pretended she didn’t know where they were. It delighted me to watch her. Hands have always fascinated me too. Just think about all the things we do with them.

Feet, however, haven’t been so interesting to me. Yeah, I can pick things up with them, or at least I could, and wiggle my toes. Other than that, my feet carry me from here to there. Nowhere near as mesmerizing as my hands. I never really thought too much about my feet until now.

Now, I realize they are my foundation, and my foundation currently feels as though it’s crumbling. Wiggling my toes has become a blessing. A couple of months ago I could barely move them. Like I said in a previous post, it’s the little things that become huge when you have gone through a crisis. Still, walking is difficult. I’m reminded many times a day how important my foundation is.

Unlike my physical foundation, my spiritual foundation is built on the firm foundation that cannot crumble—Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaiah foretold of God’s plan to build a foundation using His Son. So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic” (Isaiah 28:16). I trust that promise as I rely on the Precious Cornerstone.

I may be stricken with health issues. But I am not stricken with panic. I rest in the assurance that God is in control of every aspect of my life. That doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of despair when irrepressible tears flow. It means I’m damaged. I need help from the only one who is truly capable of restoring my physical foundation. It means my Firm Foundation is still intact and holds me up and will never let me fall.

How about you? On what foundation does your faith rest?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Time Out!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

It’s been three months since my last post! Hard to believe. I went through six months of chemo treatments with little discomfort or anxiety, like super woman or something. About one week after being told I’m in remission, I crashed…mentally, physically, emotionally. I was done.

Apparently, my system had had enough, and that’s totally normal. I couldn’t do much, other than sleep and eat. To make matters worse, I didn’t really care. Sure I wanted to do something, feel productive in some way. But honestly, I didn’t have the energy to care enough to move my body from the couch or to form coherent thoughts. People told me it was part of the healing process and I should relax and allow my body time to heal. So I did right through Christmas shopping, baking, and decorating … guilt free. It’ll be a Christmas easily forgotten. Not meaningless, just uneventful.

Yet, God arranged some pretty amazing treats for our family over the Holiday. We were able to go to an Aaron Shust concert, which was even more special because my older daughter went to college with him. He remembered her, making her super mom in her sons’ eyes (and even her mother’s) for the weekend. Our grandson was accepted into his two top-choice colleges. What a decision he has to make. But what a Christmas blessing. Among the normal Christmas goings-on, there were peace and joy that we rarely experience. Or maybe, we just don’t recognize them. I can’t explain it. I barely noticed it until just now while I was pondering the past month.

There are times we need to rest. Simply rest. Jesus provides that time when we fail to notice our need. He says sit by my side, breathe, trust, heal. That’s it. That’s what He wants us to do … sometimes.

How about you? When was the last time you basked in the Savior’s peace and joy?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

If Not For Cancer (Part 2)

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Romans 6:13)

If not for cancer …

  • I wouldn’t know surrender … at least not the full extent to which God wants me to relinquish to Him. Throughout our lives we surrender to authority. During early childhood, we learn to yield to our parents’ instructions. Next, we learn to follow teachers’ orders. Then we understand government laws and concede to their demands. None of these authoritative figures require total submission. But God does. He wants us to give up control of every aspect of our being. That’s a difficult requirement. We may even assume we’ve done so … until hardship strikes. Somethings, like cancer, are out of our control. We have no choice but to put the situation into someone else’s hands. That could be a doctor, a manufacturer of natural cure products, or a prayer team. These are all beneficial. Still, God is calling. Surrendering my circumstances entirely to Him makes trusting the humans on my team easier.

If not for cancer…

  •  I wouldn’t know commitment … at least not the full extent to which God wants me to devote to Him. Surrender and commitment are like the two tires on a bicycle. We won’t move without a back tire on our bike. Nor will we move in our journey with the Lord without commitment Throughout my treatment, I’ve watched the nurses tend to the patients in their charge. The team is devoted to the task of making each individual comfortable as well as treating them for their cancer. They’re all about making a difficult experience as enjoyable as possible. Their dedication to that task has impressed me and helped me to be more determined to hold fast to my commitment to the Lord. Many obstacles, during the past six months, tested my loyalty to the Lord. Every time something unexpected roared defeat and threatened my progress, I panicked. Then, I heard the Lord’s still small voice, “Surrender.” I need to pedal hard with lots of determination to get past those doubts and fears the enemy hurtles at me to continue the course the Lord has set before me.

If not for cancer …

  • I wouldn’t know joy … at least not to the full extent to which God wants me to experience it. When we learn to

      Jesus Will Carry You

    fully surrender our lives to Him and totally rely on Him to fight all of our battles for us, we rest in Jesus as He intended us to do from the beginning of time. Joy comes in knowing He’s taking care of situations that are out of our hands. Joy comes when we know victory is ours no matter what comes our way. Joy comes when we realize it doesn’t depend on our surroundings but on our surrender to the King of kings. Even when we’re sad or depressed, joy, unlike happiness, remains. It resides with the peace that passes all understanding.

How about you? What has proven the joy unspeakable and full of glory resides in your heart?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Wigs and Miracles

The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness, but is long-suffering toward us, not purposing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Wigs don’t feel comfortable in hot weather. They make you sweat. So I haven’t worn mine since the onset of summer heat and humidity.

However the past few days, low humidity and tempts drew my attention back to fake hair. I’ve grown so accustomed to wearing hats, having a full-head of hair looks almost as peculiar to me as being bald did in the being of my treatments. But my mother used to say, after not feeling well for a few days, how doing her hair rejuvenated her. So I thought wearing my wig would give me the same sort of pick me up. And it did.

Nevertheless on Sunday, I hesitated to wear it to church. You see, there’s a sweet, six-year old, with luxurious thick, curly hair, who has told me several times she’s praying for me to have hair—so I can be like everyone else she added one time. I appreciate her innocence as well as her prayers. I didn’t want her to think God had performed a miracle and made my hair grow thick and quick. Children at that age are very observant and take everything exactly as they see it. Knowing this, I don’t want little Sadie to be devastated or bewildered the next time it’s too hot for a wig on Sunday, and I show up sporting a hat to cover my baldness. I want her to continue praying and believing God can make my hair grow again. I want her to see the true miracle He performs when it does.

I’m trusting God that sometime between October and January I’ll see signs of that miracle in progress. In the meantime, I’ll wear my wig with thanksgiving in my heart for the Lord’s provision.

My wig now serves as a reminder of how we often grow impatient with God when it comes to waiting on His promises. We want instant gratification. It’s our society’s new norm. Everything happens in the blink of an eye these days. So we try to apply the same timeline to the Lord. He does not comply to our standards or our timetables. He works out His promises according to His ideal for our situation. He’s never reluctant, slow, or late. But that’s not fast enough for us. We attempt to rush, even force the promise into existence. The outcome usually is as effective as putting a wig on a bald head—close but not the real thing.

Instead, let’s remember God is not slow in fulfilling His promises to us as we consider slowness. He has a purpose in His timing which cannot be altered. Our time will be better spent in praising Him for the promise as though it has already been completed.

How about you? What promises are you waiting for God to fulfill in your life?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Forecast: Hail

And there shall be a booth for a shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge, and for a hiding place from storm and rain. (Isaiah 4:6)

I didn’t see the storm brewing.

A few weeks ago, a hail storm hit my friend’s area. Both his vehicles sustained damage. Jed complained if he’d known it was coming he would’ve taking precautions like covering his car and truck with blankets. But the weather forecaster never mentioned hail. The following week another storm hit the area. This time the forecaster predicted damaging, downfall of ice pellets. Jed rushed out and covered both vehicles with heavy blankets. The wind blew. Rain fell. But no hail pelted his autos. Jed seemed almost disappointed when he told us about his efforts. He said wet blankets were all he got.

Like Jed, our efforts to prepare for the storms of life often seem fruitless. We work hard making sure we’re covered when calamity happens only to find our sweat amounted to just that sweat.

The truth is, like the weather forecaster, no matter how well informed we are. we cannot predict how hard and fast or when the storms of life are going to strike.

But we have a Father who, not only knows all about our storms, He controls them. He also prepares us for them in ways in which we are not aware. It’s like being covered with a heavy blanket. Hail falls. Damage occurs. But we receive far less wounds than we would’ve had we not put our trust in the Lord prior to the onset of the tempest.

I never saw the storm of cancer coming. Every year for sixteen years, I had gone for my yearly mammogram and checkup with the same results—0% chance of breast cancer according to my family history and other information gathered through the years. But this year something peculiar happened. This year my lymph nodes were enlarged. This year the storm hit. The hail fell. Damage occurred. But I know my Father has me covered. I sense His presence every day. I enjoy His peace, rest, and protection continually. Because He has been busy preparing me for this billowy time of my life, I have no fear of this disease, the treatments, or the outcome. I cannot tell you the exact steps He has taken to bring me to this point. Previous trials have definitely taught me to trust His decisions. Through it all, I’m learning the deeper meaning of Philippians 1:21—For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

How about you? How has our Father prepared you for your current storm?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks