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Disappointments—Consider Them Pure Joy

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3)

Two weeks ago, we left the house for about three hours. The sun blazed in the cloudless sky. Although the weatherman mentioned a possibility of thunder storms in selected areas, we felt safe in letting our awning extended. They’d been calling for sudden storms all week. They missed the mark every day.

On our way home, we drove slowly through a downpour we used to call a gully washer. In some spots, water streamed across the road like a river.

When we got home, I walked into the kitchen. A white curtain blocked my view from the window. I gasped as I heard Gene yell, “Oh no!”

The weight of the rain gathered in our awning snapped the roll bar in half.

Needless to say, we were disappointed. We had debated about getting an awning for our deck several years before we finally purchasing one. A neighbor had helped Gene install it just a month prior to the incident.

It was a small commodity really. We knew that.

However the loss of our swimming pool didn’t seem like a small thing to our granddaughter.

We kept a nice size, inexpensive, blowup, pool (the blue and white stripe at the bottom of the picture) on the deck for the grandactives to cool off in. The sharp, broken edge of the roll bar punctured the pool. Of course, it’s irreparable. And shame on Bee and Pap for not buying a new one and having it set up, ready to go for the kids when they got there two days later. Our granddaughter, Sydney sulked for more than an hour.

I asked her if she was upset about the pool.

“No.” She sniffled. “It’s just that I wanted to have fun this summer. But no. That just can’t happen.”

“But we went to Sight and Sound yesterday. Didn’t you enjoy the show?”

“Yes. But that was the only fun I had all summer.”

I reminded her of some of the other activities her family did this summer. None of that seemed to matter. She wanted to play in the water, but the pool was destroyed.

“The awning was destroyed too,” I said. “Pap and I were pretty disappointed about that. But it doesn’t take away all the good times we had this summer. It’s your choice, Sydney. You can find other fun things to do today at Bee’s house. Or you can pout all day. But that still doesn’t take away from all the other days you had fun.”

Sydney didn’t say anything for a long time after our conversation. Eventually, she got out of her mood and played with her brother and sister. I think she actually had fun.

Life is full of disappointments. Some are small, like a destroyed awning and kids’ pool. Some are huge, like being diagnosed with cancer or losing a loved one. But even the worst disappointment cannot rob us of our joy when we put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must grieve. We must count our loss. We must rebuild and restore what we can. But our joy remains intact. Our joy does not depend on outside sources. Our joy comes from the Lord. He dwells in us. He completes our joy.

How about you? How have you learned to face hardships with joy?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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Humble Pie, Anyone?

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:10)

 

 

One of the inconveniences I acquired through chemo treatments is neuropathy in my feet and hands. I’m learning to deal with it … slowly. My feet bother me more than my hands. I hear that’s how it normally works. If I could detach my feet and stand them in the corner until they promised to behave, I would.

So my husband, bless his heart, does what he can to encourage me and keep me comfortable when we go out.

Humble Pie in Three Slices:

  1.  Ride the wheelchair he said. I had a doctor’s appointment at a fairly large hospital. She sent me for blood work at the opposite end of the building. Gene insisted on pushing me in a wheelchair. I protested a little, then took a seat. A humbling experience. When we reached our destination, I admitted he was right. I never could’ve made it on my feet.
  2. Use the scooter cart he said. Every time we went to Wal-Mart the past several weeks, Gene suggested I use one of those scooter/carts. I proudly said I’ll be okay, walked half way around, went to the front of the store, found a bench, and sat until he finished the shopping. The last time I went with him, I barely made it to the back of the store. I looked up at him and admitted I couldn’t go any further. Tears welled up in my eyes as we walked to the entrance where I had a lesson in driving a scooter/cart from a sweet lady who had just finished her shopping in one. I buzzed back into the store and swiped the tears from my cheeks as I swallowed that big hunk of humble pie. Again, I had to admit he was right. I was so silly to have tortured myself rather than accept the help available to me.
  3. Buy a shower chair he said. We had discussed buying a shower chair for a couple of months because taking a shower exhausted me. My nerves will heal in time. I’m getting stronger. I can take a shower without sitting down. The trouble was I couldn’t. I had to lean on the shower wall to wash. And I struggled to get out of the tub when I finished. One day Gene put on his coat and said he was going to get me a shower chair. That was that. I bit into another slice of humble pie and, like the other times, was thankful I had. I only wished I had listened sooner.
    My neuropathy keep me from living life the way I used to live it. I eat more humble pie because of it. But it’s not going to stop me from doing what God created me to do. It won’t rob me of my joy. It won’t keep me from loving and being loved. As long as I can draw pictures like the above goat, I know God has a plan for me.
    How about you? What has caused you to eat a little humble pie lately?
    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

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

 

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 5

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:15)

Read: Genesis 28:10-22

Angel 1 4 webWhile Jacob slept, he dreamed of angels ascending and descending on a ladder that reached to heaven. God spoke to him, giving him a promise of prosperity and many descendants.

This promise God gave to a man who deceived his father and robbed his twin brother of his inheritance. Jacob had to flee for his life. He had the dream while on his way to Paddan Aram.

There, Jacob took up residence with his mother’s brother Laban. Jacob immediately fell in love with Laban’s daughter Rachel and agreed to work seven years for her to become his wife. However, Laban was a ruthless man, besides it was a disgrace to marry a younger daughter off before the elder according to their customs. So Laban “pulled the wool” over Jacob’s eyes. Poor Jacob got a taste of his own medicine when his bride removed her veil, revealing her identity as Leah, Rachel’s older sister. Although perplexed, Jacob agreed to work seven more years to earn the love of his life. Laban had more schemes up his sleeve to keep Jacob employed for several more years. You see, Laban realized his herds increased because of God’s blessing on Jacob.

Two lessons pop out with Jacob’s life story:

  1. We reap what we sow. Jacob dealt dishonestly and ruthlessly with his brother and father. God taught Jacob a life lesson through Laban’s ruthless behavior. We often get back 10 fold what we hand out to others. God chastises those He loves for the same reasons we punish our children — to build character, compassion, and a sense of fairness.
  2. God keeps His promises in unexpected ways. While Jacob worked for Laban, God prospered both men, but He prospered Jacob more. During this time, the Lord not only taught Jacob valuable lessons in compassion and fairness, but He prepared Jacob to return to the promised land with great wealth.

God always keeps His promises, and very often, He does so in unexpected ways. The Jews believed God would send a deliverer at the time of their persecution during the Roman empire. They just didn’t expect Him to come in manner in which He did.

Today, look for and expect to find surprising answers to your prayers.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Advent 2016 Day 4

“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together. (Genesis 22:8)

Read: Genesis 22:1-14

God’s Provision

Every time I read the account of Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac, I wonder if I’d be as obedient and as trusting as Abraham was. He took the promised son to the altar as an offering to God. But in his heart, Abraham believed even if he’d slay Isaac, the Lord would bring him back to life. He trusted God for the promise. And he trusted God to provide all that was needed to hold that promise in place.

God met Abraham’s expectations and provided the necessary ram for the burnt offering. He has also provided the necessary atonement for our sins through Jesus Christ.

We can trust Him to meet our needs far beyond our expectations.

How about you? How has God met your needs today?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks