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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

Advent 2016

My apologies for falling behind on our Advent 2016 devotions. I’ve missed them. But sometimes life gets in the way of our good intentions, causing us to fail at the things we value most.

I have, however, found the time to create a short time-lapse art video to wish you a blessed Christmas.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

(Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

Advent 2016 Day 8

“Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer.” (Ruth 4:14)

Read: Ruth 3:1-11; 4:9-10

Jesus Loves Even Me

Jesus Loves Even Me

After the death of her husband, Ruth decided to leave her home and family to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, also widowed, back to Bethlehem. With no men to take care of them, Naomi sent Ruth to glean what she could from a relative’s field as was the custom of the culture. Ruth did as she was told and soon gained the attention of the field’s owner , Boaz. He made daily provisions for the widows, indicating his interest in Ruth.

Again, Naomi instructed Ruth in the Israelite customs, telling her to go to Boaz at night and sleep at his feet. Boaz knew Ruth was asking him to be her guardian-redeemer and agreed to settle the matter in the morning. Becoming Ruth’s guardian-redeemer meant Boaz agreed to buy Naomi’s deceased husband’s property and marry Ruth. Thus, Boaz committed to taking care of and providing for both Naomi and Ruth for life.

In comparison, Jesus is our guardian-redeemer. He has redeemed us and calls us His own. In Him, we have all we need for this life and for eternity.

Today, let’s find ways to honor our guardian-redeemer.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

 

Advent 2016 Day 6

 And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. (Romans 8:28 AMP)

Read: Genesis 37:1-36

Almighty God is He

Almighty God is He

It’s not hard to recognize Joseph as a type of Christ. Joseph was ridiculed, beaten, and betrayed by his brothers just like Jesus had been. Joseph was thrown into prison, which depicts the time Jesus spent in the tomb. When released from prison, Joseph rose in power and became the ruler of Egypt and all his brothers, second only to Pharaoh.

Similarly, when Jesus rose from the grave, He took His place beside God the Father and will someday rule all the nations, including Israel–His brothers.

Today, let’s worship Him for who He is … the sovereign King of the universe.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Advent 2016 Day 5

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:15)

Read: Genesis 28:10-22

Angel 1 4 webWhile Jacob slept, he dreamed of angels ascending and descending on a ladder that reached to heaven. God spoke to him, giving him a promise of prosperity and many descendants.

This promise God gave to a man who deceived his father and robbed his twin brother of his inheritance. Jacob had to flee for his life. He had the dream while on his way to Paddan Aram.

There, Jacob took up residence with his mother’s brother Laban. Jacob immediately fell in love with Laban’s daughter Rachel and agreed to work seven years for her to become his wife. However, Laban was a ruthless man, besides it was a disgrace to marry a younger daughter off before the elder according to their customs. So Laban “pulled the wool” over Jacob’s eyes. Poor Jacob got a taste of his own medicine when his bride removed her veil, revealing her identity as Leah, Rachel’s older sister. Although perplexed, Jacob agreed to work seven more years to earn the love of his life. Laban had more schemes up his sleeve to keep Jacob employed for several more years. You see, Laban realized his herds increased because of God’s blessing on Jacob.

Two lessons pop out with Jacob’s life story:

  1. We reap what we sow. Jacob dealt dishonestly and ruthlessly with his brother and father. God taught Jacob a life lesson through Laban’s ruthless behavior. We often get back 10 fold what we hand out to others. God chastises those He loves for the same reasons we punish our children — to build character, compassion, and a sense of fairness.
  2. God keeps His promises in unexpected ways. While Jacob worked for Laban, God prospered both men, but He prospered Jacob more. During this time, the Lord not only taught Jacob valuable lessons in compassion and fairness, but He prepared Jacob to return to the promised land with great wealth.

God always keeps His promises, and very often, He does so in unexpected ways. The Jews believed God would send a deliverer at the time of their persecution during the Roman empire. They just didn’t expect Him to come in manner in which He did.

Today, look for and expect to find surprising answers to your prayers.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Advent 2016 Day 3

 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Read: Genesis 6:11-14, 7:17-8:3, 9:8-13

From the moment Cain killed Abel to the time of Noah, the evilness of the human soul grew worse. God could no longer overlook the fallen state of His glorious creation. He had determined to destroy the earth and everything in it. Everything, that is, except Noah, his wife, his sons, and their wives. God also preserved a pair of every kind of animal.

Although the word destroyed is used, God didn’t intend to obliterate the earth and all living creatures or He wouldn’t have told Noah to build an ark and take a pair of every living creature into the ark to preserve each species. Therefore, it’s obvious God intended to purge the earth … cleanse it and give humans a new start.

Of course, God had a bigger plan — a plan to purge our hearts and to preserve our souls for eternity.

Jesus is the fulfillment of that plan. When we accept His offer of eternal life, His spirit cleanses us from sin and prepares us for eternity in His kingdom.

How about you? Have you been purged by the blood of the Lamb?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks