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Can We All Say Plot Twist?

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

 

 

For those of you who neither write nor read fiction, a plot twist occurs when the main character in the story appears to be heading on an obvious course. Suddenly, through the craftiness of the writer, the character’s path takes an unexpected turn, forcing her to fight against unbelievable odds. That’s great writing. It imitates life.

The Author and Finisher of my faith and my life has been using plot twists a lot lately, just to keep my role interesting.

Plot Twist!

After the biopsy and the radiologist assuring us I’d need more chemo, I prepared to hear “we’ll start tomorrow” from the oncologist. Instead he said, “No chemo at this point.”

I know it was good news. But in the moment, I felt let down as though I had prepared myself to receive a powerful punch in the gut, only to have my opponent pull back, gently stroke my cheek, and say, “Psych.”

The doctor explained there were other options to receive the desirable results just as quickly without the harshness of IV chemo. He would save that as a last resort. He would start me on a new hormone therapy called Faslodex, which consists of two shots in the fleshy part of my anatomy (yes butt). Plus, he prescribed an immunotherapy (oral chemo) to accompany the Faslodex. Apparently for some patients, the combination works well.

Plot Twist!

Three days later, I arrived at the clinic to receive my first 2 shots and the information about the side effects of the immunotherapy. The nurse entered the room, looked a little grave, and said, “I have nothing to tell you. Your insurance won’t cover this new immunotherapy because we had to take you off Ibrance.”

But! Wait. What?

That’s when I learned the real reason they took me off Ibrance was not because it was making my neuropathy worse, but rather it had a attacked my immune system, causing my white blood cell count to drop to one. And all this time, I thought they were just being nice not wanting to worsen my neuropathy. Silly me. Turns out since, Ibrance did that, there’s a very high risk that any similar drug will do the same. So no immunotherapy for me.

Exit nurse one. Enter nurses two and three. I knew I was scheduled for two shots that day. I had to laugh when two nurses came into the room. I don’t know—it just struck me funny. So I said, “What two shots—two nurses?”

“Yeah. Unless you’d rather have one at a time. We usually give both at the same time because it takes two minutes per shot.”

“Sounds good. Let’s gitter done.”

And that’s how I learned to be careful what I tell friends at church. I told one friend that it reminded me of when I took my granddaughter to get her ears pierced. Two ladies stood on either side, counted to three, and just like that the task accomplished without giving the child a chance to change her mind.

That friend told another friend I had my backside double pierced and wanted to know if she should buy me hoops or studs as a gift. The second friend looked at me with puzzlement and deep concern. She wasn’t sure if it was some kind of joke or if I had honestly gotten into body piercing. I shook my head, as I told her what had happened. We shared a good laugh—good medicine for the soul, right?

These two friends have suffered through their share of hardships. They persevered. And now, they’re definitely characters. They give me hope. I sure love them.

How about you? What plot twist is God using to develop a strong character in you?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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Enough with the Surprises Already (Part 1)

Be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2)

Surprise!

unexpected guestsFriday evening as we approach our cabin, a car has taken up residence in our yard along with its driver and passenger, who are sitting in beach chairs, sipping wine coolers, and enjoying a campfire.

If you know me, you know I need solitude … not company at the cabin.

Gene looks at me before climbing out of the truck and says, “Who is that?”

Too befuddled to speak, I shrug.

“Hey! I haven’t seen you in years. How are you? Brenda, this is one of my hunting buddies …”

Turns out the intruder had been invited several times to hunt, but hadn’t been there for about 5 years. He and his fiancé had dropped his daughter off at a college in northwestern PA. Our cabin was closer than traveling home. So they thought they’d spend the night. I guess, since he knew where we kept the extra key, he assumed he didn’t need permission to use it.

Excuse me—not your cabin. There’s a name for this. It’s called trespassing. I say little and make my way into the cabin, laptop in tow.

Another Surprise

Gene, however, offers them our Bar-BQ sauce for their hot dogs, sits with them all evening, chatting about old times, and shows them pictures he’s captured with trail cams.

Meanwhile, I’m in the cabin, screaming in my spirit—“Why are they still here?” Yes, I am an introvert. I thrive on solitude. Gene comes in and assures me they’ll be gone in the morning.

In the morning? Seriously? The morning begins at 12:00 a.m. and ends at 11:59 a.m. During what part of that 11 hours and 59 minutes do they intend to depart? Gene gets up at 5:00 a.m. to check his trail cams. That means I’ll be alone with these people for … . Will they expect coffee, eggs, pancakes, and pleasant conversation? Yikes! I’m not prepared for this.

By now I’m in tears. I know I should be more like Jesus and Gene, accepting the uninvited guests with open arms. Show them kindness. Show them hospitality. But all I want to do is show them the road.

The Biggest Surprise

So I pray for forgiveness. I get an unexpected answer as I sense the Lord speak to my spirit.

What did you come here for?

I came to spend some time with you, Lord, to write, and maybe get a painting done.

So why aren’t you doing that?

I pause. This isn’t a test of hospitality. It’s a deterrent to keep me from doing what I’d come to do. If I let my emotions control the situation, I’ll waste precious writing and painting time. Peace floods my soul. I get busy on my synopsis and get it about halfway finished before bedtime.

The woman comes in for blankets. They’ve decided to sleep outside—under the stars or in their SUV, I’m not sure. Gene hands her an armload of blankets and pillows. I offer her sleeping bags for extra cushion and tell her they’ll be more comfortable outside because it’s so stuffy in the cabin, especially in the bedrooms with their small sealed windows. In the summer, humidity is almost unbearable back there.

I wake up the next morning about 7:00 a.m. to find the blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows on a tidy pile on the coach closest to the door. I have the cabin and a couple hours to myself. I finish my synopsis and two cups of coffee.

Then Gene comes back from his mountain excursion with another surprise. I’ll tell you about it next time.

How about you? How have you handled one of life’s surprises?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Words of Life—Words of Death

Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18-19)

Speak Life

Speak Life

As some of you know, my family is getting hit pretty hard with health issues currently. And friends want to comfort us with words of … of wisdom and encouragement? I know they mean well. However, they would do better if they’d remember the adage my mother hammered into my head—if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Here’s the thing:

When disaster strikes, whether it comes through sicknesses, finances, or relationships, we all have stories to tell. Either we’ve experienced the crisis first hand, or we know someone who has. And we’re eager to relate to a person in crisis. Or are we simply eager to retell our story.

Before Gene began his radiation treatments, co-workers told him how draining radiation is; how miserable he would feel; how he’d miss work and not be able to mow his own yard. It was depressing to say the least. He came home from work more than once in a gloomy mood and said, “Why can’t anyone say something encouraging?”

When I was diagnosed with melanoma, people said things like:

“I know someone who has that. Every time she goes back, the doctor cuts her. She has scars all over her body.”

“I know someone who was diagnosed with melanoma and died within 4 months.”

“Melanoma? Oh my, people die from that.”

People mean well.

I know that. But we “put our mouths in motion before we put our minds in gear.” We want to make a connection. We want to verify we’ve been there too. We want to qualify ourselves to speak with empathy. I get it. But, can’t we do all that while speaking words of life?

Can’t we say something uplifting like:

“I’m sorry you’re facing this. I’ve gone through that. It’s not an easy road, but look at me. I’m okay now. God strengthened me and carried me through that trial. He’ll do the same for you.”

Do we have to spew out gruesome details?

The details grab and stab our victims … our friends.

The comments Gene and I have endured recently have taught me to think about how to relate to others by relaying my story. Are my words encouraging and life breathing? Or, are they discouraging and destructive? Can I tell my story without gruesome details and leave my friend with hope, comfort, and peace?

If not, I best heed my mother’s words and say nothing at all.

How about you? What story can you tell that breathes life into someone in crisis?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

 

Seeing Ourselves Through God’s Eyes

What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. (2 Corinthians 5:11)

Mystery Eyes Seeing ourselves through God’s eyes isn’t always easy. In fact, for the most part it’s pretty difficult. Before we know Him, He sees us as crippled, blind, deaf, lost, and hungry and thirsty. We are empty and avoid of good. The best we can do appears as filth rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). Paul described us this way, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:1-2).

Dead! It’s very difficult to view ourselves as dead when we are living, breathing, feeling. But if we don’t know Jesus Christ on a personal level that’s exactly what we are…dead.

However, God loves us even though we are nothing more than dead. He wants to bring life, and not only life, but abundant life to us. So we accept His invitation through Jesus Christ to be born into eternal life. And our position changes. We no longer hunger and thirst, for He has filled us with the Bread of Life and has giving us Living Water to drink. We are no longer lost, for He has found us. We are no longer blind, deaf, or crippled, for by His stripes He healed us.

We now possess a crown and a garment of righteousness. We are children of the King of kings. And as difficult as it was to see ourselves in reality without Christ, it seems equally difficult to see ourselves as God sees us with Christ. Pure, worthwhile, royalty as well as servants, heirs to Christ, redeemed, and loved.

Looking at ourselves as God looks at us takes courage and practice.

However, our vision must also become farsighted. We must learn to look at others through Christ’s eyes. See the truth in their condition whether it be with or without Jesus. Then we should act with as much love, mercy, and grace as we received.

We are all unworthy. But not one of us is worthless as the enemy would have us believe.

How about you? Through which mirror do you see yourself?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

PS Guess whose eyes are in the picture and come back in a few days to find out. Better yet, follow me via email and be sure to get my updates. Thanks.

 

L is for Lamb and Lion

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.” (Revelation 5:5)

The Lamb and the Lion

The Lamb and the Lion

While waiting on his mommy at the doctor’s office, three-year-old Eli walked with me, exploring the halls of the hospital. I picked him up so he could see out the window. He wrapped his arms around my neck and said, “Yes, carry me,” an unusual request from that active little fellow. I relished the opportunity to snuggle him.

At home, the little lamb in Eli often sleeps while he chases the dogs, jumps off the furniture, and otherwise, terrorizes his mother. He’s a healthy, happy boy. We all understand healthy, happy boys run, rip, and roar. Not a problem. But then, the lion in the child shows up. And Eli not only roars, he attempts to add biting, hitting, kicking, and wrestling to the mix. Of course, the little cub finds himself in time out. Meanwhile, I scratch my head, wondering what happened to the little lamb.

We all have “lambs” and “lions” within, waiting for a cue from us as to which we’ll release in any given situation. It seems to be part of human nature.

Even so, can there be two animal natures less alike? A lamb—meek, vulnerable, dependent—relies on a shepherd for his very existence. However, a lion—independent, fierce, murderous—prowls around, seeking those he may devour.

Both characteristics fit most people at one time or another. Even the gentlest people have “lion” moments. Likewise the most ruthless person has a “lamb” moment every now and the. When we consider Jesus’ attributes, we often hear Jesus referenced as the Lamb. And that’s how we prefer to think of Him—meek, loving, and sacrificial. Nevertheless, the Bible also refers to Jesus as the Lion of Judah—a mighty force, a consuming fire, THE CONQUERING KING. When He returns, Jesus will be prepared for war and will destroy all those who oppose Him. If you don’t know Him, the thought should strike fear into your soul like the breath of a lion on your neck.

How about you? What “L” word comes to your mind that describes Jesus?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Victory

[youtube http://youtu.be/ZhT2j_1gJho]

 

 For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5 NIV)

The hope of victory over the curse of sin began centuries before King David sat on the throne. God had made a promise to Adam and Eve that a son would be born who would take away that curse, which sentenced them and everyone after them to hard labor. Decades later, Lamech, at the age of 182, prove his faith in the promise when he named his son Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed” (Genesis 5:28-29 NIV). This took place generations before God called out a nation unto Himself from Abraham’s seed.

Through the ages, the Hebrews failed, were enslaved, and freed many times; but they held onto the hope of Israel—a messiah would come to save them and to rule the nations.

Jesus was that Man. However, God’s plan of victory differed from that of the Jews.

  • They thought He came to overthrow Caesar, but He came to defeat the prince of the air.
  • They thought He’d ride a white warhorse, instead He rode a donkey of peace.
  • They thought He’d organize a mighty army, but He surrendered without a fight.
  • They thought He’d reign on earth, but His kingdom is in heaven.
  • They thought He died for a lost cause, instead He died for lost sinners.
  • They thought death won, but Jesus conquered death and lives today.

We are now on the other side of the cross looking back in awe with gratitude and looking forward to His second coming. Then He will return on that white warhorse as the conquering King the Jews anticipated. His army of saints will follow Him to war and celebrate the victory over the fall of the enemy—Satan.

How about you? Are you enjoying the victory that overcomes the world through faith in Jesus Christ?

Next time, we’ll review The Gift via another time-lapse art video that brings the whole subject together. Prepare by studying Romans 6:19-23.

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

But It’s Only a Tiny Stretch of the Truth

Spiritual Warfare

Part 18

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He 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 NIV)

Trust is like Blown Glass Once Broken, next to Impossible to Restore.

Trust is like Blown Glass Once Broken, next to Impossible to Restore.

I absolutely loathe being called a liar. Not that I’ve never misled someone or told an untruth, but I don’t deliberately lie. I have very deep feelings about lying. The practice stems from Satan himself. And I want no affiliation with that old snake.

Lying is by far the quickest way to break trust with our closest associates, friends, and family members. I used to drill my daughters about the importance of telling the truth in ALL situations, even if it meant punishment was sure to follow. I reinforced the significance of lying by promising a much more severe punishment if they chose to lie and I found out the truth. There are several reasons why I hammered them constantly with this concept.

Read More

Next Week:

We’ll consider some of the lies the enemy tells. Prepare by reading, pondering, and praying about 1 John 5:20.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks