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Remission—a Time to Rest

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken (Psalms 62:5-6)

 

Rest, Dream, Refresh

I’ve been in remission for nine months. Seems odd to say. I’m still having trouble wrapping my mind around having been diagnosed with cancer. It’s weird really. I have no pain, other than the neuropathy I acquired from treatment. I don’t feel sick. I have no restrictions.

I do tire easily. I’m told my body is still recovering from the chemo. I am also getting older. So who’s knows if my mild fatigue is from chemo or aging?

All I know is being in remission doesn’t feel much different than not having cancer.

There’s one small difference. I have a lot more appointments to contend with now. Every six weeks, my medi-port needs flushed. Every three months, blood work, a CT or PET scan, and a nice chat with my oncologist fills my calendar.

Wow! I never thought any of those terms would be part of my norm, especially an oncologist. But here it is. And I’m adjusting. I’m in remissions. I’m at rest.

On Wednesday, I go for another CT scan. The following week, I visit the oncologist for the results. Am I a little nervous? Yes.

Every time I go through the process, my nerves rattle a little bit. Will something show up this time? What treatments will they recommend? How long will the treatments last? How will my system react this time? Will the neuropathy worsen? And on and on my mind whirls with concerns. There’s always the possibility cancer will show up somewhere else, sending me back to the clinic as a regular.

Those thoughts might disrupt my rest, but they never jerk me out of God’s arms and the true rest He gives.
I hope the cancer never rears its ugly face in my body or in anyone else’s body for the remainder of my life. But the doctors can’t guarantee it won’t. That’s okay. My hope doesn’t rest on the doctors’ word. My hope rests in God. Even if the disease returns, my hope rests in God. He never fails, nor does He sleep. He took me by the hand and led me this far. He promised to stay with me, protect me, provide for me, and comfort me. He was proven faithful.

How about you? How has God proven faithful to you?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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Why I Love Dandelions

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3)

Some people consider dandelions an annoying weed that they most destroy at all costs. Our neighbor had been one of those, out every day with herbicides and garden tools killing the plant the moment it popped its tiny head above the ground’s surface.

I, on the other hand, love dandelions.

They mark spring with their bright yellow faces. But that’s not why I love them. They make good wine. But that’s not why I love them. Served with a hot bacon dressing, they make a fine side dish for ham. But that’s not why I love them. They also make mighty tasty jelly. But that’s not why I love them.

                          Dandelion Smiles

I love dandelions because nothing puts a smile on a child’s face more than giving her mother a bouquet of freshly picked flowers. And what kind of flowers are readily available to children? Dandelions.

This week, my daughter and her two-year-old daughter ushered me down memory lane about thirty-five years, as I watched them pick dandelions. Little Lilly’s eyes sparkled with delight with each pluck of a stem just like her mother’s eyes sparkled when she and I picked dandelions so many years ago. She was so proud of her accomplishment. What a cherished memory.

In many ways, dandelions remind me of me.

Cancer has left me with the mark of suffering. I’m not as strong and vibrant as I had been. I don’t have the motivation to do the things I once did. I can’t even walk like I did. I lack stamina. To make matters worse, like a dandelion, my yellow hair has turned white and flighty.

It may be difficult to find beauty and value in my current condition, but my Father loves me with an everlasting love. When He looks at me, His eyes sparkle with delight. He draws me near and holds me when I’m feeling down. Even when I’m feeling good, He’s there admiring me. Oh not because of anything I’ve done or how I look but because of who He is and what Jesus has done for and in me. When He looks on me, His glory shines over me. I’m precious in His sight.

That’s why I love dandelions.

How about you? What flower that speaks to your heart?

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

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

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