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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

 

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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

 

 

Advent 2016 Day 2

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

Read: Genesis 3:1-21

The Blood of the LambThe above passage records the fall of man. Yesterday, we saw that humans were created in God’s image … and they were good. Yet, they fell into temptation. God had no choice but to punish them. Thus we live in a corrupt world full of sorrow, disease, and death.

Although God had to punish Adam and Eve for their disobedience, He never stopped loving them. Even in their sinful, shameful state, He provided for them by sacrificing an animal to make them garments to cover their nakedness. While the Bible doesn’t state what kind of animal He sacrificed at the time, I believe it was a lamb because He demanded a lamb be sacrificed as a sin offering when He gave the commandments to Moses. We also know He accepted Abel’s offerings from the first born of his flocks, but not Cain’s offerings of fruits and vegetables.

These sacrifices are the foreshadowing of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins. He is the Lamb of God worth to be praised (Revelation 5:12-13).

Today, praise the Lamb who willing laid down His life so you and I may live.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Do You Love Me More?

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7)

 

Not Sparrows

Not Sparrows

When my daughter Rachel was in college, she became distraught and wear almost to the point of quitting mid-way through her first semester. One day, the phone rang, and I heard a different tone in Rachel’s voice.

“Wait until I tell you what happened, Mom. I went to the ball field alone, sat on the bleachers, and watched streamer clouds float across the sky. ‘Why am I here?’ I grumbled. ‘What makes me think I can do this stuff?’ I searched the heavens for answers, like God was going to write a message in the sky just for me. Then I noticed two sparrows flutter across the clouds. I remembered Luke 12:6-7, ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’ Then I asked God, ‘Do You really love me more than those sparrows?’ And guess what happened, Mom! Small black dots speckled the sky, as though God shook His peppershaker over the clouds like Dad peppers his eggs. There were sparrows everywhere. I’m sure I heard God say, ‘Rachel, I love you even more than all of these.’ Isn’t that cool?”

True story … still brings tears to my eyes. Rachel is that special to God. However, she’s not the only one. You and I are too. When we feel powerless, overwhelmed, and alone, perhaps all we need to do is to ask how much God loves us. I believe He wants to show us just like He did Rachel that day—through something as simple as a flock of sparrows.

Have you considered the sparrow? What a plain bird! Unappealing, even the male … feathers painted in shades of brown. Beaks polished in drab, dark brown. No bright blues or yellows like the blue tit I chose for this painting. Admittedly, I chose the blue tit because of its beautiful hues after considering the homely sparrow. I wanted an eye-catching, cheerful subject. Like I said, the sparrow has little to offer. Who marvels at the sight of it or even notices it?

Yet, the Creator noticed and marveled, giving the sparrow a special honor as an example of His care. Not because the sparrow is so plentiful or unattractive, but because that little bird presents the poor, the wretched, the undesirable so well.

If God accepts and honors the sparrow, how much more will He accept you and me? Jesus said we are much more valuable than many sparrows. No matter how we feel about ourselves. No matter how dismayed, overwhelmed, or depressed we are. No matter how much we messed up our lives. God still notices and marvels at us as His creation. He can use us as acceptable sacrifices for His purpose to seek and save the lost, to comfort those that hurt, to feed and clothe the needy.

How about you? How is God using you to bring Him glory and to uplift others?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks