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I Don’t Want to Be a Cancer Survivor

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 43:5)

March 28 marked the anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis. The entire month of March was gloomy for me. I could contribute my funk to the weather as some suggested. But the weather usually doesn’t affect my moods so much. And I feel better since Easter even though the sky still displays a grey overcast most days. Therefore, it’s safe to say the weather had little to do with my downcast spirit.

Since I had gone through a depression several years ago due to my thyroid, and now chemo had messed up my thyroid again, my thoughts drifted toward another dark season on the horizon. That is one place I never want to return to. I consulted the doctor and, after blood tests, found out my numbers were all good, ruling out the thyroid theory.

What was causing my blues?

The memories of the past two years, last year more so, darkened my soul and mind, making my days dreary and arduous. I wanted to cry most of the time and had no desire to do anything other than read or sleep.

I had no choice but to ride out the emotional storm and pray it wouldn’t last long.

Throughout the month of March and the first week in April, my memory ran rampant. The doctor’s voice telling me my test came back positive for breast cancer and his statement, “It was a miracle we even found it” replayed in my mind. The oncologist’s encouraging words echoed in my ears as he prepared me for treatment. The vision of Gene almost collapsing when I told him the cancer had metastasized to my lung. The brain MRI, thankfully, showed a sinus infection and nothing else. Then treatment started.

At the time, everything flashed so quickly I had not time to think about what was happening. During the next six months of treatment and the following five months of recuperation, I concentrated on healing, getting my strength and my life back to a recognizable normal. I’m still not there, but it’s getting better. But now, the memories replayed in slow motion as I relived every detail.

Today I’m writing this post, thinking I don’t want to be a cancer survivor. That statement might sound odd to you. But I really don’t. I don’t want to have cancer at all. Yes, I’m grateful beyond words to be as healthy as I am. I have no regrets, not even after having going through chemo. I know it was the treatment God wanted me to have. He has taken care of me through it and because of it. But I still don’t want to be a cancer survivor.

Here’s why:

1. Cancer is for brave souls who can withstand a great deal of discomfort. I’m not one of them.
2. I want to be the prayer warrior who takes them to the throne room and kneels before the Lord and requests healing, peace, and comfort for them.
3. I want to be the arms that wrap around them, giving reassurance that they’re loved and not alone in this battle.
4. I want to be the mouth that speaks comforting words.
5. I want to be the hands that bring needed meals.
6. I want to be the feet that do the shopping when they can’t
7. I want to be the shoulder they cry on.

I don’t want to be the survivor in need, wondering when cancer will put me in that place again. I want to go back to health and no worries.

But we can’t go back, only forward.

I’ll be okay. The funk has past, enabling me to write this post.

God is awesome all ways, always. I love Him. I know He loves me too. He has carried me through. And I remember the peace that enveloped me for the past year. I am blessed and thankful for all He has done, and yes, I’m thankful to be a cancer survivor, even though I don’t like wearing that label.

How about you? What label do you wear that you’re not thrilled about, but thankful for all the same?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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Let’s Lament

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. (Lamentations 3:19-20)

There comes a time in everyone’s life when we just have to vocalize all that’s wrong with the world and everything in it. It Today is the Day of Lamentation.

In the past few months, our country has suffered horrific fires in the west, hurricanes in the east, tornados in the middle. We’ve been threatened with nuclear warfare from foreign countries. Civil war pends at the hand of radicals. All authority is questioned and under fire. We’ve seen terrorist attacks from our own countrymen.

My heart breaks for our nation, our children, and all of humanity.

During 2017, my mother passed into eternity, my sister had breast cancer, my daughter had radiation for thyroid cancer, my nephew was treated for leukemia, and currently, I’m going through chemo treatments for breast cancer.

These treatments have taken my otherwise healthy body and made it a wreck. My fingers and feet are numb. My bones ache. My vision’s blurry. I have no energy. I struggle to put two thoughts together to make a paragraph. And even if I manage to do that, I can’t stay awake long enough to actually get it written.

To make matters worse, my best friend’s husband is in critical condition, and I can do nothing to help her. I can’t even sit by her side to comfort her because of my own health issues. And there are my daughters who also have situations I cannot fix for them. I feel weak and oh, so insignificant.

My heart breaks for my friend, her husband, and my own daughters.

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, knew the heartbreak of a fallen nation and the anguish caused by the inability to fix his people’s circumstances. He wrote an entire book about it. While penning his lament for Israel, he reached a point where he confessed his hope in the Lord. That’s where our laments should lead us as well.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone (Lamentations 3: 21-26, 31-33).

How about you? What are you lamenting about until it turns your head back to the Lord’s love?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Putting Myself in Timeout

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)

 “Will you hold me, Mommy?” Eli said.

“Sure, come here.”

“I can’t. I’m in timeout.” Eli made a pouty face and looked at his grandfather.

Mommy looked up at her dad. “Can he get down now?”

Grandfather shrugged. “I’m not the one who put him in timeout. He put himself on the chair.”

Eli had misbehaved. Anticipating the typical response to his behavior, he climbed up on the chair, putting himself in timeout. This wasn’t the first time he had done so. He knows when he ignores instructions and continues to do what he’s don’t supposed to do, he eventually receives timeout as his reward. So to save us all from the aggravation of scolding and sitting him on a chair, he does it himself. The funny thing is, he often does so when we (the adults in charge) have no intentions of giving him timeout.

This little routine taught me a lesson about being a child of God. Occasionally, I do things that most likely don’t … perhaps don’t … well, okay, definitely don’t line up to my Father’s standards. Take procrastinating for example. I know He has specific tasks for me to do and guidelines for me to follow everyday. But I get sidetracked. I do things my way. I don’t get the tasks completed.

Then my guilt steps up to confuse the issue, allowing the enemy a foothold. The enemy tells me I’m lazy and unworthy of the task. So I put myself in timeout … procrastinating all the more.

Eventually, I confess to the Father that I’ve been worthless, unfaithful, and deserve to be punished. Do you know how He answers me? He answers by bring to mind the Scripture above–“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” He also says, “I have not put you in timeout. Now get up and get busy doing the work I have called you to do.”

How about you? What’s keeping you from doing the work the Father has called you to do?

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

 

 

It Left a Scar

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29 & 32)

Experiences Drives a Deeper Understanding

Experience Drives Deeper Understanding

Sunday was an exciting day for me. I drove our pickup truck, not once, but three times. We’ve had this truck for 3 years, and I only drove it one other time. Before this truck, we had another truck for 16 years, which I only drove once or twice.

So why the truck-driving reluctancy you ask.

It’s not so much the size of the vehicle. I drove Gene’s pickup truck a lot when we first got married. But almost forty years ago, a car barreled off the bypass into our truck at an estimated speed of 55 or 60 miles an hour. It knocked the left front wheel off the axil. Amazingly, no one was hurt, including my 18-month-old daughter. Did I mention we didn’t have the fancy-schmancy car seats for small children they have nowadays? Our guardian angels were working overtime that day for sure

With or without angels guarding me, cars and trucks, approaching me from a left-side street panicked me for years. And obviously, I still struggle with getting behind the wheel of a larger-than-a-sedan vehicle.

It amazes me how incidents like that accident continue to affect our lives decades later. We can’t prevent mishaps, tragedies, or trauma. Nor can we eliminate the scars they leave. However, we are commissioned to do whatever we can to minimize the impact of such events in one another’s lives. Unfortunately, by our words, actions, and attitudes, we sometimes contribute to or are the cause of someone else’s lifelong struggles.

We can’t take back our thoughtless words. We can’t undo our inconsiderate deeds. We cannot erase the past.

Nevertheless, by God’s grace, we can start today to show genuine compassion. Speak edifying words. Touch others with Christlike healing hands.

How about you? How can you minimize someone else’s pain today?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Fine China Breaks Easily–The Past Not So Much

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

 Every family seems to have at least one person who is directed to the sturdiest chair in the house and given a paper plate for his/her meal, while everyone else is eating off of fine China. Some people have a knack for breaking things. They’re the reason plastic was invented, I’m sure of it.

If only the past could be broken as easily as fine China. We’d all line up, eager to hand our past to these I-break-everything-I-get-my-hands-on people. They’d be commended for their special gift and mostly likely well paid.

At least, I’d be glad and grateful to paid someone to break my past for me.

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Next week:

We’ll discuss being alive in Christ. Prepare by studying Romans 8:9-17

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendrick

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.

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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