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Welcome to Your New Norm

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

April 2017, I had my first brain MRI. The technician said, “Welcome to your new norm,” as she strapped me onto the bed of the machine.

Her comment stunned me. I tried to pass it off. But like a pesky fly buzzing around my head, that comment tormented me for the past year and a half. This can’t be my new norm. I refuse to accept it. I have better things to do, a life to live without all these annoying tests.

It doesn’t matter how much I argue. My old norm has gone. The new norm is here.

As you read this, I’m lying on another table at another medical facility. My CT scan from two weeks ago revealed a few new spots on my right lung. Yep, my concerns were validated. And here I am. Tomorrow, I go for a lung biopsy. My oncologist said not to jump to conclusions. He’ll give us the results and the plans on September 10th. Meanwhile, we wait.

I’m trying very hard to stay focused, to trust, to wait, to pray.

I find it much easier to wait on the Lord than to wait on a doctor’s report. But there isn’t anything else I can do. Just go along with the suggested tests and pray.

And I’m working on total surrender, not to the disease, but to the Lord. I know He can heal me immediately. I know that because the other night, I felt the Lord’s hand on my shoulder and the pain subside. I’d been having pain in my shoulder for quite some time. I assume it was arthritis acting up. It doesn’t matter. I prayed in Jesus’ name for the pain to let up. And it did. I have slept pain-free for the past two nights. Praise the Lord.

But healing my cancer might not be His best plan for me or for those He has for me to encourage. Jesus said hardships will come. We shouldn’t be surprised when they do. The Father has purpose in them.

Hardships teach us things about God and about ourselves we wouldn’t otherwise learn. They, also, give us opportunity to reach out to others in ways we couldn’t do without difficult experiences of our own. These are dark times. But we shouldn’t fear the dark. We should be thankful for the opportunity to let our lights shine.

He has turned my thoughts concerning hardships around. He has taught me to trust Him. He has kept my mind steadfast and in perfect peace.

How about you? What are your hardships teaching you?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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If Not For Cancer (Part 2)

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Romans 6:13)

If not for cancer …

  • I wouldn’t know surrender … at least not the full extent to which God wants me to relinquish to Him. Throughout our lives we surrender to authority. During early childhood, we learn to yield to our parents’ instructions. Next, we learn to follow teachers’ orders. Then we understand government laws and concede to their demands. None of these authoritative figures require total submission. But God does. He wants us to give up control of every aspect of our being. That’s a difficult requirement. We may even assume we’ve done so … until hardship strikes. Somethings, like cancer, are out of our control. We have no choice but to put the situation into someone else’s hands. That could be a doctor, a manufacturer of natural cure products, or a prayer team. These are all beneficial. Still, God is calling. Surrendering my circumstances entirely to Him makes trusting the humans on my team easier.

If not for cancer…

  •  I wouldn’t know commitment … at least not the full extent to which God wants me to devote to Him. Surrender and commitment are like the two tires on a bicycle. We won’t move without a back tire on our bike. Nor will we move in our journey with the Lord without commitment Throughout my treatment, I’ve watched the nurses tend to the patients in their charge. The team is devoted to the task of making each individual comfortable as well as treating them for their cancer. They’re all about making a difficult experience as enjoyable as possible. Their dedication to that task has impressed me and helped me to be more determined to hold fast to my commitment to the Lord. Many obstacles, during the past six months, tested my loyalty to the Lord. Every time something unexpected roared defeat and threatened my progress, I panicked. Then, I heard the Lord’s still small voice, “Surrender.” I need to pedal hard with lots of determination to get past those doubts and fears the enemy hurtles at me to continue the course the Lord has set before me.

If not for cancer …

  • I wouldn’t know joy … at least not to the full extent to which God wants me to experience it. When we learn to

      Jesus Will Carry You

    fully surrender our lives to Him and totally rely on Him to fight all of our battles for us, we rest in Jesus as He intended us to do from the beginning of time. Joy comes in knowing He’s taking care of situations that are out of our hands. Joy comes when we know victory is ours no matter what comes our way. Joy comes when we realize it doesn’t depend on our surroundings but on our surrender to the King of kings. Even when we’re sad or depressed, joy, unlike happiness, remains. It resides with the peace that passes all understanding.

How about you? What has proven the joy unspeakable and full of glory resides in your heart?

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

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

H is for Honor

“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Revelations 7:12)

fall-path-4-webThe final letter in our P.A.T.H. acronym is honor. Praise opens the door to Adoration. Adoration leads to Trust. When we learn to trust God, we surrender our lives to Him. At that point, our lives take on a new dimension. We change our thinking to align with His precepts. We strive to do what pleases Him. We want to honor Him with our very existence.

Unfortunately, our human nature, which is in enmity with God, rebels, causing us to bring dishonor to the One we most want to honor. When that happens, God willingly, lovingly forgives us if we confess our failures to Him and seek restitution with Him.

The truly amazing thing about honoring God is He wants to honor us as well by calling us His children. What an honor indeed!

How about you? How do you bring honor to God?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Be a Service Dog

All Scripture is God-breathe and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)

Lab 3 4 webBecause of a disabling disease, my friend Joan employs a service dog. This dog tirelessly caters to her every need from handing her shoes in the morning to replacing them at night. There seems to be no task he can’t accomplish short of driving her van and paying her bills. Impressive animal in deed, but he’s new at this. Although he’d been trained for two years and had earned service dog status before entering Joan’s household, he still has somethings to learn. You see, Joan is also deathly allergic to latex. The agency, which trained him, did not train him to detect latex. Joan has to do that herself. Not to worry, she trained her previous dog for her specific requirements. No doubt, she can train her new companion.

Joan hasn’t told me exactly how she managed to train her first dog to sniff out latex. But the end result saved her life more than once. One of the funniest stories she told me about it was, the dog grabbed a bag of chips from her and won’t let her open it. The only thing Joan and her husband could figure out was the company must’ve changed the ingredients in the glue used to seal the bag to include latex. Now that’s a sensitive sniffer. Joan could tell you many instances where that dog spared her a trip to the hospital and perhaps saved her life.

Like Joan’s dog, we are in service to our Master. He is training us to “sniff out” dangerous situations and warn those around us. We need to heed our Master’s voice. We need to develop sensitivity to demonic activity and satanic devices that could potentially destroy not only our faith, but also other’s souls. We need to warn those around us of the pitfalls set in their paths.

The only way to accomplish the “service dog” status is by studying God’s word and praying for discernment. Then put into practice what we’ve learned.

How about you? What have you noticed about your environment that could be a potential threat to those around you, and how have you shared your concerns?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

 

The Dogwood

Dogwood Blossoms

Dogwood Blossoms

The Legend of the Dogwood is a heartwarming tale. But it is just a legend. Nothing is recorded concerning the type of trees used in the days of Roman crucifixions. Nor is there any proof that dogwood ever grew in Israel.

Nevertheless, the legend reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice. Most who have heard the story think of the cross when they examine the flower—the drops of “blood” on each pedal and the crown of thorns in the center.

A closer look at the legend reveals so much more about the tree and about humanity. The dogwood, according to the legend, grew strong and proud as a mighty oak in that day. Then something devastating happened. Roman soldiers chopped it down, cut it into boards, and nailed the Lord to it. If trees were capable of grief and shame, the dogwood would’ve suffered as the story goes.

Be that as it may, two similarities to Christians exist in this tale of a strong, proud tree.

Read The Legend of the Dogwood and the rest of this post here.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks