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If Not For Cancer …

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10 KJV)

If not for cancer …
I wouldn’t know compassion. Through the gifts, visits, cards, and even a surprise hat party at our church, friends and family have shown me they care and want to ease my suffering. My medical team listens and treats my concerns with utmost care and respect, never brushing off my complaints as insignificant or annoying.
 These acts of kindness illuminate Jesus’ concern for me. He never brushes off even the simplest plea but handles each request with utmost care and respect. He loves me with an everlasting love and uses many people to show me how deep, how wide, and how enduring His great love is.
 Because of cancer, my own compassion for others burns within me along with the desire to emulate the mercy I’ve received.
If not for cancer …

I wouldn’t know the power of prayer. Many prayer warriors—family, friends, people I’ve never met—have picked up their swords and bowed their knees before Almighty God on my behalf. They’ve come together to fight for and to rescue the perishing.
 Their prayers cause Jesus to meet me in my darkest hour, straighten my path, carry me through the deep waters, and set my feet on the solid Rock.
 Because of cancer, I understand the importance of intercessory prayer and am more determined than ever to intercede for others.

 

If not for cancer …

I wouldn’t know peace. No matter how much others may want to provide me with peace, it’s an impossible gift. In this world of chaos, calamity, and turmoil, peace seems like an elusive butterfly at best. Add to the mix health issues, financial concerns, and/or emotional trauma and the concept of peace seems to fly out the window. As I watch, a hungry frog snatches it out of thin air … gone forever.
 No human can give peace to another person. Only Jesus has the ability to impart peace into the human soul and set our spirits at rest … not as the world offers, but an enduring peace despite what the world brings. World peace is contingent on feeble, frail people who make promises they can’t keep. When those promises crumble so does their peace. But Jesus’ peace relies solely on Him. He never changes His mind or breaches His contracts. His peace has no limits or end.
 Because of cancer, I have known His peace that passes all understanding. My heart and mind are at complete rest through Jesus Christ.

How about you? What has your suffering taught you about God?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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The Greater Miracle

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:17-18)

A Child’s Prayer

I appreciate all the prayers going up to the Father on my behalf. So many family members, friends, and people I’ve never met continuously ask God to spare me from the torment this disease can cause and to heal me immediately. I pray for His mercy as well.

Recently while making my request for deliverance, I heard these words in my mind, “I’m working on a greater miracle.” I thought a lot about those words since then. In our realm, what could be greater than a complete healing? I have no clue. That’s how I know it was God’s voice and not my own desires. Plus, the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego has not left my mind.

In case you don’t remember the events that surrounded their circumstances, read Daniel 3.

God preformed the greater miracle for them.

The fire, though it consumed the guards who throw the prisoners into the furnace, had no effect on them. Nebuchadnezzar saw them walking down there with another man who was like the son of gods to the king. He then told Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out. They didn’t even smell like smoke.

Now, that’s a great miracle! Far more of an impact than merely delivering them from going into the fire in the first place. But that’s not the greatest miracle God performed that day.

The greatest miracle God performed that day is found in verses 28-30. Nebuchadnezzar  immediately makes another decree declaring the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the God who saves like no other god can and anyone who speaks offensively against this God will be put to death. Then the king makes a profession of faith in Daniel chapter 4 verses 1-3.

Conclusion:

God didn’t permit the Hebrew men to be thrown into the fire to strengthen their faith. Their faith had already matured to the point of dying for their beliefs in their eternal Father. God’s purpose for all humanity is to bring praise, honor, and glory to Him. His purpose in this event was to draw praise, honor, and glory to Him from Nebuchadnezzar and from all the people in his earthly kingdom.

I rest in the assurance that my suffering will likewise fulfill God’s purpose for me by strengthening my faith and drawing out more praise, honor, and glory from me. But not only me, through my testimony, many others will see His mighty works in me and also bring Him praise, honor, and glory. He never works in one of us for our own benefit. He is concerned with everyone around us and will use whatever it takes to bring them to a realization of who He is and His plan and purpose for their lives.

Be of great courage when faced with trials, infirmities, and disasters. God is at work in your life to perform a greater miracle than you can imagine.

How about you? How is God using your current situation to bring praise, honor, and glory to Himself?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Wigs and Miracles

The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness, but is long-suffering toward us, not purposing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Wigs don’t feel comfortable in hot weather. They make you sweat. So I haven’t worn mine since the onset of summer heat and humidity.

However the past few days, low humidity and tempts drew my attention back to fake hair. I’ve grown so accustomed to wearing hats, having a full-head of hair looks almost as peculiar to me as being bald did in the being of my treatments. But my mother used to say, after not feeling well for a few days, how doing her hair rejuvenated her. So I thought wearing my wig would give me the same sort of pick me up. And it did.

Nevertheless on Sunday, I hesitated to wear it to church. You see, there’s a sweet, six-year old, with luxurious thick, curly hair, who has told me several times she’s praying for me to have hair—so I can be like everyone else she added one time. I appreciate her innocence as well as her prayers. I didn’t want her to think God had performed a miracle and made my hair grow thick and quick. Children at that age are very observant and take everything exactly as they see it. Knowing this, I don’t want little Sadie to be devastated or bewildered the next time it’s too hot for a wig on Sunday, and I show up sporting a hat to cover my baldness. I want her to continue praying and believing God can make my hair grow again. I want her to see the true miracle He performs when it does.

I’m trusting God that sometime between October and January I’ll see signs of that miracle in progress. In the meantime, I’ll wear my wig with thanksgiving in my heart for the Lord’s provision.

My wig now serves as a reminder of how we often grow impatient with God when it comes to waiting on His promises. We want instant gratification. It’s our society’s new norm. Everything happens in the blink of an eye these days. So we try to apply the same timeline to the Lord. He does not comply to our standards or our timetables. He works out His promises according to His ideal for our situation. He’s never reluctant, slow, or late. But that’s not fast enough for us. We attempt to rush, even force the promise into existence. The outcome usually is as effective as putting a wig on a bald head—close but not the real thing.

Instead, let’s remember God is not slow in fulfilling His promises to us as we consider slowness. He has a purpose in His timing which cannot be altered. Our time will be better spent in praising Him for the promise as though it has already been completed.

How about you? What promises are you waiting for God to fulfill in your life?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Disappointments Happen—Be Strong and Courageous

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

I visited my oncologist yesterday to get the results of my cat-scan. The lymph nodes with the cancer didn’t show up, which means the chemo wiped it out. GOOD NEWS! The chemo could’ve, BUT DIDN’T, damage my liver, kidneys, and/or heart. I’m as healthy as I was before my treatments. MORE GOOD NEWS! The spots on my lungs and sternum are still there. More good news … the doctor thinks. Since they didn’t disappear, they may not be cancer at all but something I’ve had all my life. MORE GOOD NEWS! However, they could be some other form of cancer, like melanoma since I had a spot of it removed a year ago from my chest. Not so good, but because they haven’t changed or grown in three months, it’s unlikely that they are melanoma or another form of cancer. MORE GOOD NEWS!

This all means I may not be stage-four, breast cancer after all. EXCELLENT NEWS!

     Jesus will carry you

So why am I disappointed? With all that good news, you’d think the doctor would’ve said go home and have a happy life, right? Nope. Instead, I heard, “We’ll start you next round of chemo, once a week for twelve weeks, on Wednesday.”

To which, I said, “The day after tomorrow?”

“Yes.”

“Wait. You said the cancer is gone in my lymph nodes. And you doubt if the other spots are cancer. So why more chemo?”

“We’re still in cure mode,” he said. “If the spots on the lung and sternum were gone, we’d know for sure the cancer had spread. Then we’d go into control mode. But they’re still there. So we have to continue with the cure mode in hopes that the cancer has not and will not go beyond the lymph nodes. We’ll do another pet-scan after these treatments. Then we’ll compare that one to the first one and get a clearer picture of what we’re dealing with.”

Ugh! The storm may have settled somewhat, but it’s still thundering. Like Peter when he stepped out of the boat to walk on the tempestuous sea with Jesus, I took my eyes off the Master when I heard more chemo and focused on the title wave threatening to engulf me. I panicked and began to sink in an emotional undercurrent.

Instead of concentrating on the unpleasantness of the upcoming chemo treatments, I have to re-surrender my life to the Divine Healer. He guided me through the previous three months of extensive treatments. He kept the side-effects to a minimum. He used the chemo as missiles to blast the cancer out of my lymph nodes and prevented it from damaging any of my organs. I can trust Him even more now … yes, I really can.

How about you? What has Jesus done for you in the past that will help you face your next storm?

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

Give Me an Inch

And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? (Luke 12:25-26)

Exchange Wishful ThinkingMeasuring in at five feet, three and a half inches tall, I was not only the youngest in my family, but the shortest—not by much mind you, but still the shortest. My next-to-the-oldest sister towered over me by two whole inches, while our older sister beat me by a mere quarter of an inch. Our brother, nearly six-feet tall, looked down on all of us.

Wish as I may I never could grow that extra quarter inch to match my older sister.

Then we entered the mysterious land called the Change of Life where women grow chin hairs and skin tags. We learn to tan one pixel at a time. (Some call these tanning marks age spots.) And, we shrink! Thus, my sisters began their slow decline in stature, each losing three or four inches of their adult height.

Now, I tower over them. I can’t begin to explain how weird this feels to me. You see, I haven’t lost so much as a quarter inch yet. In fact when the nurse measures me at the doctor’s office, she tells me I’m now five feet, four inches tall … in my stocking feet, no less. What? How did that happen? A delayed answer to prayer? No one grows in the Land of Change. And I’m not claiming the extra half inch. Something’s amiss in the equipment is my guess.

I firmly believe God assigned to each of us a body code in our DNA the moment of conception, which no one can alter. It regulates our bone structure including our height.

Here’s the thing:

We must embrace many things in this life, whether we like them or not. We grow to a predesignated height. People cut us to the core with unkind remarks during our greatest need for encouragement. And our bodies fail us.

Jesus confirms this assessment with these words, “In the world ye shall have tribulation. But He didn’t stop there. He added the most encouraging words ever spoken, “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

If I am to be of good cheer and stand with Jesus as an overcomer, I have to embrace my current health issues. The oncologist said I’ve done nothing wrong. Nothing could’ve prevented me from getting cancer.

Perhaps it was written in my DNA. I don’t know. But here it is. I have to accept it and learn to deal with whatever that may entail. It’s my new norm, part of my new territory, and definitely a piece of something bigger than I understand.

Nevertheless, I’m holding the hand of the One who wrote my DNA, knows the plans He has for me, and promised to give me a future and a hope.

How about you? How have you accepted your current troubles?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Words—the Power to Change Lives

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:15-16)

My hatA couple of weeks ago, I wore this hat to my doctor’s appoint and received several favorable comments. Later that day, someone made a negative dig. It shattered the positive remarks—all of them. I wrestled with my response for hours. Why had one ill-mannered knock overridden the many positive reinforcements? Why do we take such disagreeable tones into our spirits and allow them to push out what brings peace and assurance? Why did I?

It took a lot of self-talk to overcome the potential destruction. Did the offender mean to cause me hurt? No. I really don’t think so. Although her remark stabbed me like a knife, she thought she was being funny. I held back tears as I struggled to put things into proper perspective.

Here’s the thing:

  1. This person has always enjoyed making crude remarks just to get a reaction from her target (by her own admission). I had to consider her nature.
  2. Forgiveness is the only key to unlocking the chains that can enter our spirits from such attacks. I had to count her as innocent … as though she didn’t know what she was doing.
  3. I had to reassess all the positive input. Sure, some people give compliments as unthinkingly as others give insults. Nevertheless, there are just as many sincere people who, not only want to make us feel good, but truly are pleased or impressed with our choices of style. I worked hard to latch onto those comments, allowing them to nurture my spirit instead of permitting the condemning statement to tear me apart.

I need to move on from this experience, keeping in mind I’m not the only one sensitive to sarcastic comments. And my friend isn’t the only one prone to make them. I can’t change her. But I can bridle my own tongue.

God has given us a tremendous power and responsibility through words. Whether written or spoken they can destroy or build a life.

I want to be a builder.

How about you? How can you build someone else’s life with your words?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks