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I Looked in a Mirror and What Did I See …

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

I looked in a mirror and what did I see … a monkey looking back at me.

Well, not a monkey exactly. But I do have to laugh at myself. Currently my hair sticks up in all directions. It seems to have a mind of its own and does as it pleases. I wonder how my husband can sit across from me at the table and not burst into laughter.

Sometimes I see a different me though. Sometimes I see a confident, attractive woman who’s ready to face the world head-on. I wonder what life will throw at me today. But it doesn’t matter because the Lord and I can handle it

Sometimes I see an older woman, whom I barely recognize. She’s homely and insecure. And I wonder how Gene can still find beauty in such a body. But he does. He says I have inner beauty my health can’t touch and that’s what he sees when he looks at me.

I squint at the image in the mirror. I still can’t see the inner me.

Why do I focus on my outward appearance when the ones I care most about don’t see me as I see myself?

God says I’m wonderfully and fearfully made (Psalm 139:14). He also says I’m created in His image (Genesis 1:26). That’s pretty special. He says I’m worth dying for (Romans 5:8). That’s almost unbelievable. He says I’m His handiwork—His masterpiece—created to do good work (Ephesians 2:10). If God says all these good things and more about me, why should I question my appearance or demerit His creation in me?

Where do the negative thoughts about my appearance come from?

He [the devil] was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Satan wants to destroy believers. He attacks us physically by means of diseases, broken relationships, financial ruin and intellectually by means of the lies we tell ourselves.

The Lord reminds us to not conform to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). That verse continues with proving God’s will…His good and perfect will. His will is not for us to condemn or belittle ourselves. His will is for us to be confident, battle-ready servants of Christ.

Now I have a choice to make. Do I believe the father of lies or Jesus Christ, who is Truth (John 14:6)? Of course, I choose truth. I have to work on renewing my mind to believe what God says about me and to see what Gene sees in me.

How about you? What lies has the enemy told you in an attempt to destroy your confidence in who you are in our Risen Savior?

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

Little Things Matter

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid. (Luke 12:7)

 

Little things like eyelashes matter a lot to God.

Even your eyelashes are numbered

We take many little things for granted until we don’t have them … take eyelashes and eyebrows for example. Those little hairs that adorn our faces give us expression and, yes, beauty. I missed my lashes and brows to the point of drawing them on every day to avoid that blank look. I even took a class to learn how to apply eye makeup effectively so they wouldn’t look fake.

About three months ago, I noticed dark “shadows” above my eyes. I tried scrubbing them off, thinking the eyebrow pencil had stained my skin. A couple of weeks later, I realized those “shadows” were tiny hairs. My brows had returned. I showed my almost nine-year-old granddaughter who replied, “Cool. Now you can raise your eyebrows at people again.”

A week before Christmas, a friend mentioned my eyelashes, which I hadn’t noticed until then. I was all smiles Christmas Day when I applied mascara for the first time in six months.

Vanity. Vanity. Perhaps. But think about this. Little things matter to God. He is so concerned about the details of our being that He even numbers the hairs on our heads. I always thought of the hairs on my scalp when I read that portion of Scripture. Now I realize my eyebrows, lashes, and even the forbidden chin hair are included in the hairs of my head.

The knowledge of God numbering the hairs of my head flabbergasts me. Imagine, he knows every detail of our beings, not only how many hairs are on our heads, but how many cells in our bodies. He was aware of the cancer cells in my body and revealed them to the diagnostic doctor so He could demonstrate His sovereignty over all things concerning me.

How about you? How has God shown His love to you?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

The World is Dark,,,Be the Light

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

I’ve learned a lot of lessons on this cancer journey. One pertains to light.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). It amazes me how true this verse has become to me. Although darkness has encompassed me every day, I have never walked in darkness because of the Light of Life within me.

Somewhere along the way, I realized the darker the path seemed to grow, the brighter the Light shone. Now, that’s not rocket science or even a huge revelation. Yet, for me, it became an epiphany of sorts. Not only was the Light within me bursting forth to guide me along the path, it seemed to lift me higher…above the path. That’s when I understood the purpose of the Light was not so much for me, but for the lost souls, the wanderers, those shipwrecked, and those who searching for rest.

A deeper meaning of Light dawned upon me. I formed an acronym to remind myself of the Light Jesus give to each of us:

Life is the gift of Light. Jesus is the Light and in Him is Life. Without light nothing worthwhile can grow. All life forms have seeds to reproduce. Seeds insure life. Jesus planted seeds of faith within every believer.

Integrity is the first seed. We must be morally sound and united with Christ in total allegiance to bring others to Him.

Grace brought us to safely to Him. Likewise, we must extend that same grace to others no matter how much they seem unworthy. We too were unworthy, but He said we were worthwhile.

Hope for a future belongs to the believer. It’s our responsibility to plant this seed in the hearts of the lost and dying.

Truth comes from fellowship with Christ. It partners with hope to bring Life and Light to the world of darkness.

How has your light shined in the darkness to help others find their way?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K Hendricks

Humble Pie, Anyone?

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:10)

 

 

One of the inconveniences I acquired through chemo treatments is neuropathy in my feet and hands. I’m learning to deal with it … slowly. My feet bother me more than my hands. I hear that’s how it normally works. If I could detach my feet and stand them in the corner until they promised to behave, I would.

So my husband, bless his heart, does what he can to encourage me and keep me comfortable when we go out.

Humble Pie in Three Slices:

  1.  Ride the wheelchair he said. I had a doctor’s appointment at a fairly large hospital. She sent me for blood work at the opposite end of the building. Gene insisted on pushing me in a wheelchair. I protested a little, then took a seat. A humbling experience. When we reached our destination, I admitted he was right. I never could’ve made it on my feet.
  2. Use the scooter cart he said. Every time we went to Wal-Mart the past several weeks, Gene suggested I use one of those scooter/carts. I proudly said I’ll be okay, walked half way around, went to the front of the store, found a bench, and sat until he finished the shopping. The last time I went with him, I barely made it to the back of the store. I looked up at him and admitted I couldn’t go any further. Tears welled up in my eyes as we walked to the entrance where I had a lesson in driving a scooter/cart from a sweet lady who had just finished her shopping in one. I buzzed back into the store and swiped the tears from my cheeks as I swallowed that big hunk of humble pie. Again, I had to admit he was right. I was so silly to have tortured myself rather than accept the help available to me.
  3. Buy a shower chair he said. We had discussed buying a shower chair for a couple of months because taking a shower exhausted me. My nerves will heal in time. I’m getting stronger. I can take a shower without sitting down. The trouble was I couldn’t. I had to lean on the shower wall to wash. And I struggled to get out of the tub when I finished. One day Gene put on his coat and said he was going to get me a shower chair. That was that. I bit into another slice of humble pie and, like the other times, was thankful I had. I only wished I had listened sooner.
    My neuropathy keep me from living life the way I used to live it. I eat more humble pie because of it. But it’s not going to stop me from doing what God created me to do. It won’t rob me of my joy. It won’t keep me from loving and being loved. As long as I can draw pictures like the above goat, I know God has a plan for me.
    How about you? What has caused you to eat a little humble pie lately?
    See you in a twinkling,
    Brenda K. Hendricks

If Not For Cancer …

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10 KJV)

If not for cancer …
I wouldn’t know compassion. Through the gifts, visits, cards, and even a surprise hat party at our church, friends and family have shown me they care and want to ease my suffering. My medical team listens and treats my concerns with utmost care and respect, never brushing off my complaints as insignificant or annoying.
 These acts of kindness illuminate Jesus’ concern for me. He never brushes off even the simplest plea but handles each request with utmost care and respect. He loves me with an everlasting love and uses many people to show me how deep, how wide, and how enduring His great love is.
 Because of cancer, my own compassion for others burns within me along with the desire to emulate the mercy I’ve received.
If not for cancer …

I wouldn’t know the power of prayer. Many prayer warriors—family, friends, people I’ve never met—have picked up their swords and bowed their knees before Almighty God on my behalf. They’ve come together to fight for and to rescue the perishing.
 Their prayers cause Jesus to meet me in my darkest hour, straighten my path, carry me through the deep waters, and set my feet on the solid Rock.
 Because of cancer, I understand the importance of intercessory prayer and am more determined than ever to intercede for others.

 

If not for cancer …

I wouldn’t know peace. No matter how much others may want to provide me with peace, it’s an impossible gift. In this world of chaos, calamity, and turmoil, peace seems like an elusive butterfly at best. Add to the mix health issues, financial concerns, and/or emotional trauma and the concept of peace seems to fly out the window. As I watch, a hungry frog snatches it out of thin air … gone forever.
 No human can give peace to another person. Only Jesus has the ability to impart peace into the human soul and set our spirits at rest … not as the world offers, but an enduring peace despite what the world brings. World peace is contingent on feeble, frail people who make promises they can’t keep. When those promises crumble so does their peace. But Jesus’ peace relies solely on Him. He never changes His mind or breaches His contracts. His peace has no limits or end.
 Because of cancer, I have known His peace that passes all understanding. My heart and mind are at complete rest through Jesus Christ.

How about you? What has your suffering taught you about God?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

The Greater Miracle

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:17-18)

A Child’s Prayer

I appreciate all the prayers going up to the Father on my behalf. So many family members, friends, and people I’ve never met continuously ask God to spare me from the torment this disease can cause and to heal me immediately. I pray for His mercy as well.

Recently while making my request for deliverance, I heard these words in my mind, “I’m working on a greater miracle.” I thought a lot about those words since then. In our realm, what could be greater than a complete healing? I have no clue. That’s how I know it was God’s voice and not my own desires. Plus, the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego has not left my mind.

In case you don’t remember the events that surrounded their circumstances, read Daniel 3.

God preformed the greater miracle for them.

The fire, though it consumed the guards who throw the prisoners into the furnace, had no effect on them. Nebuchadnezzar saw them walking down there with another man who was like the son of gods to the king. He then told Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out. They didn’t even smell like smoke.

Now, that’s a great miracle! Far more of an impact than merely delivering them from going into the fire in the first place. But that’s not the greatest miracle God performed that day.

The greatest miracle God performed that day is found in verses 28-30. Nebuchadnezzar  immediately makes another decree declaring the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the God who saves like no other god can and anyone who speaks offensively against this God will be put to death. Then the king makes a profession of faith in Daniel chapter 4 verses 1-3.

Conclusion:

God didn’t permit the Hebrew men to be thrown into the fire to strengthen their faith. Their faith had already matured to the point of dying for their beliefs in their eternal Father. God’s purpose for all humanity is to bring praise, honor, and glory to Him. His purpose in this event was to draw praise, honor, and glory to Him from Nebuchadnezzar and from all the people in his earthly kingdom.

I rest in the assurance that my suffering will likewise fulfill God’s purpose for me by strengthening my faith and drawing out more praise, honor, and glory from me. But not only me, through my testimony, many others will see His mighty works in me and also bring Him praise, honor, and glory. He never works in one of us for our own benefit. He is concerned with everyone around us and will use whatever it takes to bring them to a realization of who He is and His plan and purpose for their lives.

Be of great courage when faced with trials, infirmities, and disasters. God is at work in your life to perform a greater miracle than you can imagine.

How about you? How is God using your current situation to bring praise, honor, and glory to Himself?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks