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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

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

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)

A is for Adore

 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)

fall-path-with-deer-4-webThe more we praise God the more we fall in love with Him. Remember, praise differs from thanksgiving in that while we thank Him for what He does, we praise Him for who He is. The more we realize who He is the more we adore Him. Which brings us to the second letter in our PATH acronym.

 Adore

How can we not adore, admire, and worship one so lovely as our Father, Savior, and King. The more we meditate on His attributes the more we want to embrace Him. The more we embrace to Him the more we love Him. The more we love Him the more we want to surrender our lives to Him and serve Him.

Love is an overused term in the English language. We tend to say “I love you” or “I love an object” with the same enthusiasm and emotion. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Because He demonstrates His love for us through His actions, He expects us to demonstrate our love for Him through our actions. It’s easy to say the words “l love you.” Demonstrating that love, however, is quite another matter. But we must learn to reach out to others, even to our enemies as God has done. It is the only way we have to embrace Him.

How about you? How do you demonstrate your love for God?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Continue on the Path

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:11 – 13 NIV)

fall-path-4-webDuring a painting session with my daughter, we worked on fall paintings in practice for an art party I had planned. Rachel, recuperating from surgery, enjoyed the calmness of the experience and worked diligently for two hours. Her energy spent, we called it a day and signed our “masterpieces.” Hers looked great.

Mine not so much. I lugged it home and analyzed it for several days. With the art party growing closer, I had to figure out what annoyed me so much with the painting and “get it right.” Gene pointed out that all my trees were basically the same size and color. I watched videos on YouTube. Studying the experts’ methods helped me determine what I had done wrong. I took Gene’s advice and varied the size and color of the trees. I incorporated some of the experts’ methods. I worked over five more hours on this painting until I was satisfied. Now, I’m ready to tackle another similar painting in preparation for the art party. And I’ve learned a valuable lesson—rushing through artwork can cost you a lot of time.

Rushing through life costs a lot of precious time as well. I think I know what I want to accomplish and how to achieve my goals. I rush in without much thought and even fewer plans. I fail. Then, I spend time researching the outcome. I seek advice from knowledgeable people. I even consult the Bible for answers from God. I work on fixing the problem, which now takes three times as long as it would’ve had I taken the time to do all those things before I messed up.

Ah, but all these things are part of the discipline our Father teaches us. No, it doesn’t feel good. In fact, repeating processes hurts. But God is at work in us, teaching us to turn to Him first. He’s producing righteousness and peace within us. He’s making our paths straight so we don’t stumble the next time or maybe the time after that. But eventually, we get it. Our wimpy arms and our shaky legs grow strong. And He places us on a path where we can reach out to others, teach them His ways, and encourage them to continue on course.

How about you? What discipline is the Father using in your life to strengthen you and to make your path straight?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

 

Exposed

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)

DSCN5157Gene and I are in the process of remodeling our kitchen. He loathes the dirt, clutter, and disorganization. Of course, all that is part of the process. You just cannot avoid the mess. Knowing the inconvenience is part of the package, we’re dealing with it just like everyone else who has gone through the process.

I also knew, when they moved the large appliances, we’d face an “angry,” grime-covered dust bunny or two. But I didn’t expect to find the cobwebs lacing the walls when they removed the cupboards.

The crud gave me pause, at least in the photo shooting. I’ve been taking pictures of the process to share on Facebook (yeah, just like everyone else). However, I thought I’d clean before snapping any shots of the bear wall and the area behind the stove. I didn’t want anyone to see my dirt.DSCN5159

I’m the same way with my flaws … my sins. I don’t want anyone to know, to see how painfully short I fall from God’s glory. I want to keep my spiritual “cupboards” in place. Soul remodeling exposes the angry, grime-covered dust bunnies within me that I don’t want to face. I don’t want anyone else to know about. And I especially want to hide them from God.

But that’s ridiculous. God already knows what’s lurking deep within my heart. He’s the one urging me to allow Him to cleanse and remodel me from the inside out. What is exposed, God covers with Jesus’ righteousness. He promises, everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light (Ephesians 5:13).

Therefore, I have nothing to fear. I only need to cry out to the Lord as did the Psalmist: Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7).

How about you? How has God been remodeling you into the image of Christ?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks