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Butterflies

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Caterpillars inch their way through their existence, gorge themselves on foliage. It’s all they know. They’re content with life as they know it. They have no clue there is a better way, a better form of living awaiting them. All they can perceive is they most indulge in the things surrounding them, and then, they spin a cocoon. To them, this entrapment is death. They wake up a changed creature in a new world where they have wings to fly.

Like a caterpillar, we seek the pleasures of this world, indulging ourselves in all sorts of delights to satisfy our human cravings. We can’t help ourselves any more than caterpillars can keep themselves from gorging on leaves. It’s caterpillar nature. And seeking to satisfy our own desires is human nature.

Many people never look beyond this world. They have a caterpillar mindset. This is all there is. Enjoy the lusts of your hearts while you can for tomorrow you die.

But those of us who know Jesus have a different mindset. He has created a new creature in us. We look at things anew. Our existence no longer consists of just what this world has to offer. Although we still enjoy and embrace much of the wonders of the world, they are no longer our main focus. We know there is something much grander in store for us.

In a sense, when we submit to Christ, He wraps us in a cocoon. In whom [Christ] ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13), Now we consider our new life on earth our cocoon existence. We have put of the old and put on the new. We are sealed in the Holy Spirit. God is creating the image of Christ in us as we live out our lives. We don’t know what we will be when we break free from this entrapment. But we do know we’ll be like Him. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself (Philippians 3:20-21).

As He creates Christ’s image in us, He delights in His creation. He sees us differently than we see ourselves.

I developed an acronym, using the word butterfly, to remind you and me of how our Father sees us.

B-beautiful. You are beautiful in God’s eyes because Jesus has cloaked you in His righteousness. Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe (Romans 3:22).

U-unique. You are unique in God’s sight. He has created each of us with unique looks, abilities, and personalities. Just like butterflies, there are no two exactly alike. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works (Psalms 139:14).

T-teachable. God never stops teaching life lessons. Therefore it’s safe to say you are teachable. We never stop learning. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation (Psalm 25:5).

T-Talented. By God’s design you are talented. He has gifted you with special abilities, interests and desires to accomplish your purpose. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4).

E-empowered. The Holy Spirit has empowered you to fight the battles you face in this world and guarantees you the victory. That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16).

R-Radiant. When God looks at you, He sees the glory of Jesus. His Light shines in and through you. You radiate. We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).

F-Flawless. God has forgiven you. In His eyes, you are flawless through the work of Jesus on the cross. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).

L-Lowly. Yes, God sees you as a lowly, meek creature. One who needs provisions, protection, and lots of grace. But cheer up. Lowliness was one of Jesus’ earthly attributes (Mark 11:29). Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly (Psalm 138:6).

Y-You. God sees you in your little cocoon. He loves what He sees with all His heart. Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee (Jeremiah 31:3).

How about you? How does God see you?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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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

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

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

Joy in Sorrow

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:1-4)

celebrating-life-eternal-4-webSix weeks have passed since my mother met Jesus face-to-face. We who remain are in the process of settling her estate. Not that she had much with which to contend, but there are possessions to disburse or to sell. My sisters, brother, and I have agreed to give the grandchildren whatever they’d like as memorabilia including furniture.

Last Saturday, I had the privilege to meet my daughters and one of my nephews at my parent’s house to allow them to make their selections. It was interesting to watch them pick and choose items that brought back precious memories. My older daughter, Melinda, chose Gram’s rolling pin with only one handle. My younger daughter, Rachel, chose Gram’s colander and wants to learn how to make Gram’s applesauce. My nephew, Bill, chose a silly, plastic, cartoonish statue with a saying on it about fishermen. He said it reminded him of Papa. Of course, they chose somethings of more value. But it was those items that amused me.

The time spent with those three “next-generation” adults was precious to me. There was no arguing over the more valuable items. They exemplified Paul’s instructions in Philippians 2:1-4.

But for me, I had the honor to say, “Here is your inheritance. Pick whatever you want as a token and memory of Gram and Papa’s love for you.” Each one came with items, “Can I have this?” With the exception of a few things that were promised to someone else, I replied, “Yes. Take it.” It delighted me to grant their wishes and to see the delight in their faces as they packed up their treasures.

As I reflected on this process the other day, I realized a deeper meaning … a foreshadowing if you will. It is our privilege, as Christians, to do the same thing with people we witness to. We have the keys to open heavens gates to fellow believers and non-believers and say look at your inheritance. It’s yours for the taking. Come. Receive. Drink. Eat. Embrace the love of God. Cherish it is as the great treasure it is from the Father who loves you with an everlasting love. Keep it in your heart. Display it for all the world to see. It’s yours. It’s mine. There is more than enough for everyone. His house is abundant with treasures and always shall be.

How about you? How have you found joy in sorrow?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Words Matter

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18

Man and Woman 4 WebThere’s a fine line between reckless words and wise ones, especially when those words appear on social media. This is a difficult post to write because I want to end up on the healing side of that line.

Here’s what happened:

One of my mother’s friends visited her during the final days of her life. The friend sat on a chair at the foot of my mother’s bed and posted on Facebook that she was saying her final goodbyes to a dying friend. She mentioned my mother’s name and tagged my sister in the post. Her words were then read not only by her own “friends” but by all my sister’s acquaintances, include my mother’s oldest living sister. She and a number of other readers misinterpreted the message to mean that Mother had already died. To make matters worse, all my aunts thought we deliberately did not contact them with the news.

Another family member took it upon herself to make the announcement to the rest of the family again using the vice of a Facebook page. After she submitted the post she thought it reasonable to find out the facts, but never thought to contact the administrator of the page to delete the post after she found out the information was false.

The post appeared again two weeks after my mother’s funeral. I was very distraught about it and requested the post be removed from the family page. Admittedly, I was as bad as the others, although I did most of my damage in a private message to the family member. Yes, my words were more reckless than healing at one point. And I’m not making up excuses for my actions.

In the wake of all of this, some relatives have unfriended one another. There has been a lot of needless hurt and stress at a time when we should all be pulling together. Why? Because of one reckless post on Facebook. So unnecessary.

Here’s the takeaway:

  1. Your words matter whether spoken or written. People take your messages seriously.
  2. Never post someone else’s private matters on social media even if they’re true!
  3. Respect the rights of others. If the immediate family has remained silent about their situation, you have no right to publicize it.
  4. Verify everything you read on Facebook before sharing. Ask those involved, NOT relatives, when you can. If you can’t, don’t assume the message is correct and re-post it. Let it alone!
  5. Mind your own business. I don’t mean to be harsh here, but you can see how much suffering one reckless word has caused our family. Just tend to your own matters and let others tend to theirs.
  6. Ask for permission to re-post personal information and photos. Regardless of who posted the information, you don’t have the right to re-post personal information or photos on your timeline without permission.
  7. Put your mind in gear before you put your mouth, or fingers in motion.
  8. Gossip hurts. Stop it.

Social media would be so much more enjoyable if we’d all use words of the wise to bring healing.

How about you? How have you used your words today?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks