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A Witness in the Devil’s Den

Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9)

Although most bars stir my spirit in a negative way, I occasionally enter one for the food. I don’t know why they have such good cooks. Such was the case at a bar near our cabin, that and the fact that there are few places to eat out in the northern tier. I must admit I felt very uncomfortable the first time we went there to eat. I didn’t even enjoy my meal. Regardless, I agreed to go there several more times and found certain foods to my liking.

This spring Gene offered to take me there again. It was a slow night. The owner/waitress paused at our table for conversation. It led to Gene telling her about my cancer experience. She was most sympathetic as I added the events of the previous year. In 2016, I was treated for melanoma. Gene’s psa began to climb again, eight years after having his prostate removed. He had to have 38 radiation treatments, Our younger daughter had thyroid cancer and had to have the gland and all the lymph nodes on the right side of her neck removed and radiation three months later. My one sister had a benign tumor on her adrenal gland and had to have surgery. My other sister was also diagnosed with breast cancer, had a lumpectomy, and radiation. My mother fell, was placed in a nursing home in November and met Jesus January 5, 2017.

The waitress shook her head in dismay and said, “Some say God won’t give you more than you can bear. I never understood that. It seems to me He gave you and many other people I know more than you can handle.”

I may have read too much between the lines, but I heard a cry of despair and a desire to believe. She looked so puzzled and forlorn. Her heart obviously ached and struggled with why God expected people she cared about to bear up under great hardships.

I agreed with her and told her so. “God does give us more than we can handle. It’s His intent to bring us to a place where we have to give up on our own resources and strengths and fully rely on Him. That was what this journey through cancer wastelands taught Gene and me.”

The waitress smiled and nodded. Her eyes glistened. “That makes a lot of sense to me. I can believe that.”
She seemed to have had a great burden lifted from her shoulders at that moment. And so did I.

Jesus would eat there. He would share His message of repentance, love and grace with her. He wouldn’t judge me for going there either. In fact, I believe He sent Gene and me there that evening to have that conversation with His bewildered child. Too often we limit our area of witness because of self-righteous thinking.

I look forward to going to that establishment now, not because of the food, but because of the waitress and other people I may meet. Who knows. God may have another opportunity waiting for Gene and me to share His wonderful news of salvation.

How about you? What unlikely place have you found opportunity to witness?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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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

Cancer Reveals God

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3)

A friend of mine commented my last blog post: Dandelions, I learned when I began teaching outdoor ed, are not native to North America. The settlers brought them here, because they didn’t know what kinds of greens would be safe to eat here in the New World, but they knew they could eat the greens of dandelions in the spring, and they were prolific. They’re prolific alright. Thank goodness the bees like them, otherwise they’d have one less redeeming quality.

Although I confessed my love for dandelions last week, I understand why others dislike them. Dandelions show up in one spot and, if not dealt with properly, they show up in other areas. They invade and take over until everything is infested. They’re hard to get rid of and seem to always return no matter what you try or how successful you think you are at getting rid of them.

Cancer’s a lot like dandelions. If not treated, the malignant cells multiply and show up in unexpected areas. No matter how successful your treatments are at getting rid of them, the abnormal cells often return with a vengeance.
This dreaded disease has far less good characteristics than do dandelions. In fact, I can only think of one…

Cancer happens so the works of God might be displayed in us. I’ve said it before and if time continues, I’ll say it again and again. God reveals many of His magnificent attributes to us during times of crisis.

Jesus Will Carry You

One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had to date while going through this cancer journey is God’s peace. It enveloped me during my chemo treatments, like the calmness in the eye of the storm. It sustains me now. When I feel overwhelmed about “what ifs,” the Lord reminds me of His peace. He didn’t calm the storm. He carried me through it. He’s not going to leave me now or ever.

How about you? What has God taught you during your storm?

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

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