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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

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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

Wigs and Righteousness

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 NIV)

My wig complements me—or so I’ve been told. I feel more like myself with it in place or at least, I look more like myself. When I began wearing it, many people didn’t even realize I had a wig on, it’s that close to my hair color and style. But it’s cumbersome. It’s hot in warm weather. It’s heavier than it looks. And it feels like it’s slipping off my head, so I’m constantly fidgeting with it. I guess it needs an adjustment that I’m not quite getting right.

Even still, it feels almost right … normal. But, it’s only a coverup. Underneath, my head still glistens from lack of hair. The fix is temporary, and at the end of the day, I’m happy to rid myself of the facade.

Nevertheless at the end of the day, I have to once again look at my bald head in the mirror. Likewise at the end of the day, I have to face the fact that my normal isn’t my normal anymore. As much as I’d like to go back to my previous self, I can’t. I’ve been changed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have a new normal to live with … like it or not.

For the most part, I’m okay with the new me. However there are some changes I’m not too keen on like my lack of hair, weakened immune system, achy bones, and neuropathy, all of which nurses have assured me will reverse in time, after treatments are finished … even the neuropathy.

The emotional and spiritual changes have been more positive than negative and definitely more permanent than the physical discomforts. I don’t expect the emotional or spiritual alterations to reverse, instead, I expect them to grow stronger and more reliable by the grace of God. You see, Jesus’s righteousness covers and heals our defective souls, unlike my wig that only establishes a reasonable facsimile of good health.

I find great comfort in knowing my soul is covered in Jesus’ righteousness that assures me of complete and permanent well-being. It’s my source of strength and peace as I go through my treatments and an uncertain future. This physical body is only a temporary tent. It shows wear and tear with time. It has holes. Eventually, it’s not going to withstand the repairs and be gone. But my soul … my soul will live on. My spirit will soar beyond the sun.

How about you? What has Jesus’ righteousness done for you?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

No Rest for the Weary—or Is There?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

“Get plenty of rest,” they say as they pump my body full of steroids. Personally, I don’t see how the nurses can keep a straight face while doing so. Anyone who’s been on steroids knows rest is NOT part of the package. Those meds wire you, make you think you can run a marathon—and win without any training.

They also give you Benadryl, which does make you sleepy. Perhaps that’s how the nurses are capable of wearing that straight-faced mask.

Regardless, upon returning home after treatment, I’m fall-asleep-on-my-feet tired. I lie down on the couch with the intentions of sleeping off the effects of the meds. My legs, arms, and mind suddenly kick into high energy mode. I get up. I walk into another room and want to fall asleep on my feet again. So the war between Benadryl and the steroids begins.

Unfortunately, I don’t get enough energy to actually accomplish anything…just enough to stay awake into the wee-hours of the night. I toss and turn until I can no longer lie in bed. I retreat to the living room and, stretching out on the recliner, open the Bible. I read for an hour or so before the steroids concede defeat. When I wake a short time later, I dodder drowsily back to my bed. The steroids seize the opportunity to regain their control. Then I remember Jesus promised to give me rest if I come to Him. Then I pray. He’s faithful. I sleep.

How about you? What motivates you to claim Jesus’ promises?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Right to Cry

Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. (Psalm 6:2)

July 3, I cried nearly all day. Couldn’t stop myself. I was facing my last chemo treatment with a great deal of reluctance. Each treatment thus far had brought more nausea, dry-mouth (accompanied by nasty, muddy-metal taste), and other discomforts that lasted longer than the previous treatment. I simply did not want to go through it again, not knowing what the side effects would entail.

So I wept. I pleaded with the Lord to stop this madness, to tell me I didn’t have to go through it one last time, to rescue me.

Finally sometime that evening, I recommitted the situation to the Lord. I knew there was no way out. I had to face the gauntlet one more time, come what may. And trust. Isn’t that where true faith lies—trusting without knowing what’s beyond the next summit?

July 5, I walked into the clinic with the most cheerful disposition I could muster. Gene’s presence brought comfort even though we talked little. He was there. And so was my Father. I wasn’t as much aware of Father’s presence at the time … a little preoccupied with my surroundings I suspect. But I know He was holding me closer than Gene could’ve.

Here’s what He did for me the week of my final treatment:

  1. Very little side effects. This was the mildest of all my treatments. God wrapped His loving arms around me and kept the nasties away. I’m believing the medication accomplished even more because of it.
  2. The Saturday after treatment, my family walked in a march against breast cancer. What support and love! Plus, we had a picnic at my sister’s house afterward. The event boosted my spirits tremendously.
  3. The next day, almost every lady in our church wore a hat! Their expression of love and support … for ME … overwhelmed me. At the onset of my diagnosis, I told my daughters I thought it’d be cool if someone would have a hat party for me. No one in the church knew that. I can’t begin to tell you how much those ladies showed the love of our Father to me that day. I pray I never forget the power of His love through His faithful daughters.

More tears flowed that Sunday than on the previous Monday. For the past two weeks, I sang His praises and cried … because of His merciful love He showed me through this last treatment.

So, why do we hold back tears as though they’re forbidden? Why do we choke on them as though they’re shameful? Why do we mask them as though they represent weakness?

We have the right to cry out to the Lord. He hears and answers in unexpected ways.

How about you? How has Father responded to your cries?

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