Archives

We Shall Wear Crowns

I recently discovered I missed posting this when I wrote it almost nine months ago. God brought it to my attention today. Someone must need to read it. His timing is always perfect.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

As I write this, I celebrate the first-week anniversary of my last chemo treatment. Hooray!

You might assume that my last treatment brought cheer, hope, and excitement to be finished with the ordeal. And you’d be right to some degree. But a bag full of emotions accompanied me to that appointment.

You see, while happiness and congratulations abounded, so did tears of closure. The oncology staff had been my social life, my friends, and my support system for the past six months. We exchanged personal struggles, funny stories, and future dreams. We had built relationships that transcended the normal patient-clinical staff affiliation. The receptionists gave me a paper-star necklace, and the phlebotomist made me a crown…both to commemorate my perseverance. Although I’m sure they do these types of things for others and I looked rather silly, I felt like queen for the day. So, my last treatment became a time of celebration and a time for sorrow.

Such is the way of life. We build relationships only to have them fade into the past like the morning fog gives way to the burning sun. Some human connections, like that of the oncology staff, are meant to last short-term, while others last a lifetime.

These lifetime-ships end in death, causing great grief to those who loved them. Mixed with the sorrow is great joy in knowing our loved ones, if they are believers, are with our Lord. Again, our last experience becomes one of sorrow and one of celebration. As we say our goodbyes here, we receive a crown there for perseverance—a crown far grander than any we can imagine—a crown of righteousness to present to the King of kings.

How about you? What has brought you joy and sorrow recently?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Advertisements

Who? Me?

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Elephants momma and baby

How do you carry each other’s burdens?

The picture that comes to my mind is one picking up a heavy sack, tossing it over his/her shoulder, and carrying if for someone else. Or maybe Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, who was forced to carry Jesus’ cross (Mark 15:21). Or maybe simply praying for a friend in need. Sometimes, prayer is the best way to carry another’s burdens, especially when it comes to circumstances to great for us to change. But sometimes prayer becomes a type of cop-out. I believe in prayer. I also believe God wants us to be the hands, feet, shoulders, backs, arms of prayer. In other words, we are to personify prayer.

There are things only God can fix or change. Never stop praying for help in those areas. But there are things He expects us to do for ourselves and for one another. Thus, He commands us to carry one another’s burdens.

I’ve been a long-time fan of Christians organizing groups to go into disaster-stricken areas to help clean up and fix up. However, none of us has to leave our community to help clean, garden, mow grass, etc. I often thought and even commented that our churches ought to find the needs of our local communities, even people within our congregations and offer assistance. To my shame, I never followed up on it.

Nevertheless, I was delighted to hear our church was moving forward in this type of ministry. How did I find out about it? The young mother who is heading it up contacted me on Facebook Messenger. Not with: Would you like to be on the committee to seek out people in need? Or would you like to help clean Sister Misfortunate’s house? Or would you be able to drive Brother Sicklee to a doctor’s appointment Tuesday? Nope, none of that. She asked me what the church could do for ME. Seriously?

The Father has been teaching me all about humility for the past several months (see Humble Pie). Apparently, I still have some learning to do. Plus, I really want to see this new-to-our-church program be successful. So Gene and I agreed to be one of the first on the list to receive assistance. It’s very humbling to admit you can do the things you used to do like houseclean your kitchen or wash your own windows. But for now, I just can’t do it. I DO need help. And it’s not fair to expect Gene to do it all. They offered to help with the flower beds and houseclean my grooming shop as well. The most humbling part of the deal is seeing the names on the list of volunteers, including our pastor’s wife who also had a bout with cancer this fall. She had surgery and extensive radiation. I feel like I should be cleaning her house.

I’m learning to humbly accept assistance when offered. I’m also learning to see the needs of others and offer my help when possible.

How about you? What is God teaching you about humility?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Forecast: Hail

And there shall be a booth for a shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge, and for a hiding place from storm and rain. (Isaiah 4:6)

I didn’t see the storm brewing.

A few weeks ago, a hail storm hit my friend’s area. Both his vehicles sustained damage. Jed complained if he’d known it was coming he would’ve taking precautions like covering his car and truck with blankets. But the weather forecaster never mentioned hail. The following week another storm hit the area. This time the forecaster predicted damaging, downfall of ice pellets. Jed rushed out and covered both vehicles with heavy blankets. The wind blew. Rain fell. But no hail pelted his autos. Jed seemed almost disappointed when he told us about his efforts. He said wet blankets were all he got.

Like Jed, our efforts to prepare for the storms of life often seem fruitless. We work hard making sure we’re covered when calamity happens only to find our sweat amounted to just that sweat.

The truth is, like the weather forecaster, no matter how well informed we are. we cannot predict how hard and fast or when the storms of life are going to strike.

But we have a Father who, not only knows all about our storms, He controls them. He also prepares us for them in ways in which we are not aware. It’s like being covered with a heavy blanket. Hail falls. Damage occurs. But we receive far less wounds than we would’ve had we not put our trust in the Lord prior to the onset of the tempest.

I never saw the storm of cancer coming. Every year for sixteen years, I had gone for my yearly mammogram and checkup with the same results—0% chance of breast cancer according to my family history and other information gathered through the years. But this year something peculiar happened. This year my lymph nodes were enlarged. This year the storm hit. The hail fell. Damage occurred. But I know my Father has me covered. I sense His presence every day. I enjoy His peace, rest, and protection continually. Because He has been busy preparing me for this billowy time of my life, I have no fear of this disease, the treatments, or the outcome. I cannot tell you the exact steps He has taken to bring me to this point. Previous trials have definitely taught me to trust His decisions. Through it all, I’m learning the deeper meaning of Philippians 1:21—For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

How about you? How has our Father prepared you for your current storm?

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

It’s 2017???

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

moms-masterpieceI feel like I’ve slipped on a snow-covered mountain, landed on a heated fanny pack, and slid from November into the middle of January. That fanny pack had no brakes or controls. But it sure melted the snow, creating a fast, slippery path to the bottom of the virtual mountain. The only thing possible to do was hang on and pray God had the reins and no trees or boulders jumped out in front of me.

It was a rough ride. But here I am … standing to tell about it. Praise God for guiding us and making our paths straight.

On November 3, my mother injured her leg, which became sore and infected. The first night in a week she spent alone, she fell. No new injuries occurred. But her long-term degenerative disc disease became agitated. Unable to walk because of the pain, they placed her in a nursing home for rehab. Thanksgiving Day, we brought her home for the family meal. She went into A-fib and spent almost 2 weeks in the hospital until they got her heart rate calmed down enough to send her back to the nursing. More determined than ever to get back on her feet, Mom worked hard during her PT appointments. Progress was slow. But we saw some improvements. Christmas Day, she got out of bed and walked, with the aid of a walker, to the recliner across the room. It was like a marvelous Christmas present God had sent to all of us. She was so proud of her accomplishment.

2:00 a.m. December 26, the call woke me. Mom was having trouble breathing, and they had put her on oxygen. Later that morning, a phone call reassured me her breathing was easier. That evening, another call, this one from my sister, requesting we come into the nursing home. Mom said she was dying and wanted to see us. About 11:00 that night, another ambulance ride took her to the hospital again.

Ten painful days of watching her slowly inch her way into heaven took their toll on my sisters, brother, and me. But her suffering made it easier for us to say goodbye.

During all the heartache and grief, I could see God’s hand working in my mother’s Passover and in my own life.

He loves us all so much. He even takes care of small things that cause us extra stress.

There were two parts of planning her funeral that concerned me more than the rest. 1. The Sunday of her burial was to be bitter cold. And yes, I complained to my Father. I hate the cold. How could I stand outside on a hill for a half hour or so? 2. I didn’t want to pick out her coffin. The thought of going into a room filled with empty coffins made me cringe. I really didn’t want to go there.

Father knew my concerns even before I expressed them to him. He arranged for my pastor to perform the services when the pastor of my mother’s church declined do to previous commitments. Pastor Roger knew nothing about my anxiety about the weather. But he suggested the entire service be done at the church rather than going to the grave site. I felt a God-hug at that moment seriously.

Father also took care of the coffin selection without me even asking. My sister asked the funeral director if we could have the service on Sunday because of two different members of our family starting radiation treatments the next day. The director said, “Yes, on two conditions. One, you have the service at your mother’s church (we intended to do so anyway.) Two because of the rush, would you be okay if we simply did for your mom what we had done for your dad.” That meant they’d pick the coffin for us–the one we had for Dad. We knew these people personally and knew they could be trusted to do it right.

What a relief to put all things great and small in our Father’s hands. He does take care of us and gives us rest when we go to Him.

How about you? How has the Father given you rest and comfort recently?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Advent 2016 Day 9

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)

Read: Isaiah 11:1-10

No Greater Love

 

Jesse was the grandson of Ruth and the father of King David to whom God promised one of his heirs would reign over Israel forever. But David’s immediate heirs proved rebellious and corrupt. Isaiah prophesied about a “Branch” coming forth out of Jesse’s roots who would rule, not only Israel, but the entire world.

Jesus’ genealogy can be traced back to Jesse from Mary as well as Joseph. Usually, women were not mentioned in bloodlines, but God preserved the bloodline of Mary to eliminate any doubt that Jesus was the one of whom the prophets spoke.

Today: Hail King Jesus!

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Advent 2016 Day 8

“Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer.” (Ruth 4:14)

Read: Ruth 3:1-11; 4:9-10

Jesus Loves Even Me

Jesus Loves Even Me

After the death of her husband, Ruth decided to leave her home and family to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, also widowed, back to Bethlehem. With no men to take care of them, Naomi sent Ruth to glean what she could from a relative’s field as was the custom of the culture. Ruth did as she was told and soon gained the attention of the field’s owner , Boaz. He made daily provisions for the widows, indicating his interest in Ruth.

Again, Naomi instructed Ruth in the Israelite customs, telling her to go to Boaz at night and sleep at his feet. Boaz knew Ruth was asking him to be her guardian-redeemer and agreed to settle the matter in the morning. Becoming Ruth’s guardian-redeemer meant Boaz agreed to buy Naomi’s deceased husband’s property and marry Ruth. Thus, Boaz committed to taking care of and providing for both Naomi and Ruth for life.

In comparison, Jesus is our guardian-redeemer. He has redeemed us and calls us His own. In Him, we have all we need for this life and for eternity.

Today, let’s find ways to honor our guardian-redeemer.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks