Tag Archive | cancer

Expectations Debilitate

Gray hair is a crown of glory. It is gained in a righteous life. (Proverb 16:31)

Excitement stirred within me when I first felt “stubbies” on my head. The thrill faded quickly when the color of those “stubbies” appeared. White!

No, that’s not right.

“Your hair will most likely come in thicker, curly, and a different color,” they said. I expected dark, auburn maybe, or red even. Golden blonde, as in my youth, appeared in my dreams. But white? Seriously? Silver threads had overtaken my golden strands years ago. I had chosen to enable the gold to maintain its rightful position as the sole heir to the crown on my head, with a little help from Lady Clairol. So, to say my expectations were devastated is an understatement.

Granted curls now enhance my locks. And it is thicker. Two out of three aint bad as they say. But I struggled with white hair. It ages a person. Why the trend for shades of silver caught the attention of young women, I’ll never understand. I want to say to them, “You’ll get there soon enough, honey. And you’ll hate it when you do.” I had heard 60 is the new 40, and I was livin’ it. But thanks to cancer, my age caught up to me and slapped me across the face.

Gray hair maybe my crown of glory, but I sure am not living righteously when I complain.

I need reprimanded for an ungrateful heart. Instead of being thankful for all the blessings the Lord has granted me through this cancer run, I grumble over white hair. The time and energy I waste on fretting about my appearance could, should be spent on rejoicing. I should share all the good things occurring in my life. Let’s face it, if white hair is the only thing I have to concern myself with, live is beyond good.

But expectations dilute praise. Expectations wrestle with joy. Expectations blind us to the value of our true appearance. Expectations debilitate us more than neuropathy.

Just like cancer can destroy our bodies, expectations can destroy our souls. We can fight back.

Here’s how I plan to level my expectations:

  1. Listen to others. Many people have complimented me on my new hair. They can’t all be just trying to be nice.
  2. Focus on the positive. God has enabled me to do everything I could do before. I’m getting stronger every day. I am victorious.
  3.  Accept myself as I am now. Love and acceptance abound toward me from those closest to me, as well as from God. I need to do the same.
  4. Praise instead of whine. Yes, develop an attitude of gratitude. I have much more to be thankful for than to complain about.
  5. Embrace my new normal. Stop comparing myself to others or to the way things were before cancer.
  6. Continue doing what God called me to do—encourage others.
  7. Lift up my eyes to Heaven and remember my destination.
  8. Prepare for that destination and help others prepare for Jesus’ return.

How about you? How do you level your expectations?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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Cancer Reveals God

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3)

A friend of mine commented my last blog post: Dandelions, I learned when I began teaching outdoor ed, are not native to North America. The settlers brought them here, because they didn’t know what kinds of greens would be safe to eat here in the New World, but they knew they could eat the greens of dandelions in the spring, and they were prolific. They’re prolific alright. Thank goodness the bees like them, otherwise they’d have one less redeeming quality.

Although I confessed my love for dandelions last week, I understand why others dislike them. Dandelions show up in one spot and, if not dealt with properly, they show up in other areas. They invade and take over until everything is infested. They’re hard to get rid of and seem to always return no matter what you try or how successful you think you are at getting rid of them.

Cancer’s a lot like dandelions. If not treated, the malignant cells multiply and show up in unexpected areas. No matter how successful your treatments are at getting rid of them, the abnormal cells often return with a vengeance.
This dreaded disease has far less good characteristics than do dandelions. In fact, I can only think of one…

Cancer happens so the works of God might be displayed in us. I’ve said it before and if time continues, I’ll say it again and again. God reveals many of His magnificent attributes to us during times of crisis.

Jesus Will Carry You

One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had to date while going through this cancer journey is God’s peace. It enveloped me during my chemo treatments, like the calmness in the eye of the storm. It sustains me now. When I feel overwhelmed about “what ifs,” the Lord reminds me of His peace. He didn’t calm the storm. He carried me through it. He’s not going to leave me now or ever.

How about you? What has God taught you during your storm?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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

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

I Looked in a Mirror and What Did I See …

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

I looked in a mirror and what did I see … a monkey looking back at me.

Well, not a monkey exactly. But I do have to laugh at myself. Currently my hair sticks up in all directions. It seems to have a mind of its own and does as it pleases. I wonder how my husband can sit across from me at the table and not burst into laughter.

Sometimes I see a different me though. Sometimes I see a confident, attractive woman who’s ready to face the world head-on. I wonder what life will throw at me today. But it doesn’t matter because the Lord and I can handle it

Sometimes I see an older woman, whom I barely recognize. She’s homely and insecure. And I wonder how Gene can still find beauty in such a body. But he does. He says I have inner beauty my health can’t touch and that’s what he sees when he looks at me.

I squint at the image in the mirror. I still can’t see the inner me.

Why do I focus on my outward appearance when the ones I care most about don’t see me as I see myself?

God says I’m wonderfully and fearfully made (Psalm 139:14). He also says I’m created in His image (Genesis 1:26). That’s pretty special. He says I’m worth dying for (Romans 5:8). That’s almost unbelievable. He says I’m His handiwork—His masterpiece—created to do good work (Ephesians 2:10). If God says all these good things and more about me, why should I question my appearance or demerit His creation in me?

Where do the negative thoughts about my appearance come from?

He [the devil] 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). Satan wants to destroy believers. He attacks us physically by means of diseases, broken relationships, financial ruin and intellectually by means of the lies we tell ourselves.

The Lord reminds us to not conform to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). That verse continues with proving God’s will…His good and perfect will. His will is not for us to condemn or belittle ourselves. His will is for us to be confident, battle-ready servants of Christ.

Now I have a choice to make. Do I believe the father of lies or Jesus Christ, who is Truth (John 14:6)? Of course, I choose truth. I have to work on renewing my mind to believe what God says about me and to see what Gene sees in me.

How about you? What lies has the enemy told you in an attempt to destroy your confidence in who you are in our Risen Savior?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Who? Me?

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Elephants momma and baby

How do you carry each other’s burdens?

The picture that comes to my mind is one picking up a heavy sack, tossing it over his/her shoulder, and carrying if for someone else. Or maybe Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, who was forced to carry Jesus’ cross (Mark 15:21). Or maybe simply praying for a friend in need. Sometimes, prayer is the best way to carry another’s burdens, especially when it comes to circumstances to great for us to change. But sometimes prayer becomes a type of cop-out. I believe in prayer. I also believe God wants us to be the hands, feet, shoulders, backs, arms of prayer. In other words, we are to personify prayer.

There are things only God can fix or change. Never stop praying for help in those areas. But there are things He expects us to do for ourselves and for one another. Thus, He commands us to carry one another’s burdens.

I’ve been a long-time fan of Christians organizing groups to go into disaster-stricken areas to help clean up and fix up. However, none of us has to leave our community to help clean, garden, mow grass, etc. I often thought and even commented that our churches ought to find the needs of our local communities, even people within our congregations and offer assistance. To my shame, I never followed up on it.

Nevertheless, I was delighted to hear our church was moving forward in this type of ministry. How did I find out about it? The young mother who is heading it up contacted me on Facebook Messenger. Not with: Would you like to be on the committee to seek out people in need? Or would you like to help clean Sister Misfortunate’s house? Or would you be able to drive Brother Sicklee to a doctor’s appointment Tuesday? Nope, none of that. She asked me what the church could do for ME. Seriously?

The Father has been teaching me all about humility for the past several months (see Humble Pie). Apparently, I still have some learning to do. Plus, I really want to see this new-to-our-church program be successful. So Gene and I agreed to be one of the first on the list to receive assistance. It’s very humbling to admit you can do the things you used to do like houseclean your kitchen or wash your own windows. But for now, I just can’t do it. I DO need help. And it’s not fair to expect Gene to do it all. They offered to help with the flower beds and houseclean my grooming shop as well. The most humbling part of the deal is seeing the names on the list of volunteers, including our pastor’s wife who also had a bout with cancer this fall. She had surgery and extensive radiation. I feel like I should be cleaning her house.

I’m learning to humbly accept assistance when offered. I’m also learning to see the needs of others and offer my help when possible.

How about you? What is God teaching you about humility?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

A Firm Foundation

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11)

 

Hands are amazing.

A few days ago, my two-year-old granddaughter fascinated herself with my hands for about 30 minutes. She bent my fingers ever-so gently this way and that. She flip-flopped my hands at the wrists and patty-caked them. She hid her hands in mine and pretended she didn’t know where they were. It delighted me to watch her. Hands have always fascinated me too. Just think about all the things we do with them.

Feet, however, haven’t been so interesting to me. Yeah, I can pick things up with them, or at least I could, and wiggle my toes. Other than that, my feet carry me from here to there. Nowhere near as mesmerizing as my hands. I never really thought too much about my feet until now.

Now, I realize they are my foundation, and my foundation currently feels as though it’s crumbling. Wiggling my toes has become a blessing. A couple of months ago I could barely move them. Like I said in a previous post, it’s the little things that become huge when you have gone through a crisis. Still, walking is difficult. I’m reminded many times a day how important my foundation is.

Unlike my physical foundation, my spiritual foundation is built on the firm foundation that cannot crumble—Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaiah foretold of God’s plan to build a foundation using His Son. So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic” (Isaiah 28:16). I trust that promise as I rely on the Precious Cornerstone.

I may be stricken with health issues. But I am not stricken with panic. I rest in the assurance that God is in control of every aspect of my life. That doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of despair when irrepressible tears flow. It means I’m damaged. I need help from the only one who is truly capable of restoring my physical foundation. It means my Firm Foundation is still intact and holds me up and will never let me fall.

How about you? On what foundation does your faith rest?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks