Tag Archive | Faith

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

Not by my Faith, but by His Faithfulness

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

lab-puppy-4-webThere are times when we have no choice but to trust. Trust doctors to have steady hands and the knowledge needed to perform their tasks. Trust God to guide the doctors and to hold our loved ones when we can’t.

My faith and trust has gotten plenty of exercise this year. In February, I was diagnosed with melanoma. It was in very early stages…an easy fix. God’s faithfulness brought me to the dermatologist that day.

In April, Gene’s prostate cancer appeared on the charts again…eight years after he had his prostate removed. Again early detection made the process of 38 radiation treatments doable. His recent blood work proved the procedure successful. God’s faithfulness showed the doctors Gene’s need for treatment in early stages of cancer.

Also in April, my sister became very ill. At first, they thought she had food poisoning. However, tests showed a growth on her adrenal gland. They removed both the growth and the gland…no cancer! Again, God’s faithfulness led my sister to the hospital for early diagnosis.

All of these events tested my faith and exercised my trust. But I have not had my faith tested as strongly as it has been since May. My younger daughter Rachel was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Like the other issues mentioned, her diagnosis came through a rather unexpectedly. Her allergies were out of control this spring so she decided to see a specialist. He checked her thyroid and told her to see her family doctor because it was hard on the one side. Sure enough, she had cancer.

September 26, they removed her thyroid and the lymph nodes on the right side of her neck. The tight quarters in the prep room made her husband and her father uncomfortable so I stayed with her until they took her to the OR. As I walked back the vacant corridor to sit with the men in the waiting room, my spirit sank. I had left my baby in the hands of two strangers to perform a six-hour procedure. The only thing I could do was pray. But that truly is the best thing to do. God is faithful in all His ways. He washed me with peace of mind.

Rachel’s surgeon is very pleased with the success of the operation. She’s regaining mobility in her neck and is growing stronger every day.

I’ve spent the weekdays with her and her small children for the past three weeks, thus the reason I’ve neglected my blog. Sorry. Somethings take precedence, while other things fall to the wayside.

Your prayers for Rachel as she continues to heal and as she faces radiation later are greatly appreciated.

How about you? What has exercised your faith and trust recently?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Like the Master

 

I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy. (Psalm 123:1-2 NIV)

Mystery ProjectTime has a way of slip sliding into the future, especially when obstacles come into play and rob you of precious hours. That’s what happened to me, thus the reason I haven’t posted for several weeks.

One of the obstacles I faced this month involved preparing my latest picture book What Were You Thinking, Nibs Rabbit? for publication. It didn’t want to cooperate with the specifications required. Currently, I’m waiting on a proof copy.

Another deterrent from blogging has come in the shape of my new ministry—art classes with a biblical message. You can check them out on my God Lessons on Canvas page.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m learning a lot through teaching these classes, which is par for the course. If you want to learn—teach. God shows us important life lessons when we study His Word and bring a message to others. One of the lessons I learned came through preparing a class. I like to “practice” on willing volunteers before the actual class. Usually my “willing” volunteers are family members who don’t have the heart to say no when asked if they’d sit through a practice run. My most willing student is my seven-year-old granddaughter Sydney.

The other week, she came for a sleepover and wanted to have an art lesson. Of course, I wasn’t going to say no to an actual, in-the-flesh, unpaid enlistee.

In the middle of the session, Sydney tossed her brush in the cup of water and cried. “I’m done. I’m never going to paint again … EVER.”

“Why? Honey, what’s wrong?” I sat next to her and wrapped my arm around her shoulder.

“My painting’s awful. I can’t do it like you.”

“Oh, Sydney, you’re painting shows a lot of potential. Don’t give up.” I picked up her brush. “Watch what I can do with it. It only takes a little bit more work.”

Then God spoke to me, and I shared this message with Sydney:

We all face difficulties in our lives. We feel like throwing in the brush and giving up. We cry. We scream. We may even stomp on our canvases. But God is always there, watching, waiting, encouraging us to continue the task set before us. Not only does He encourage us to continue, He wraps His arms around us to comfort us. He also, if we let Him, takes the brush and creates a masterpiece out of our messed up lives. The choice is ours. We can struggle along and maybe even make a worse mess. Or we can put our lives into the hands of the Master and allow Him to do whatever is necessary to correct and create a more clear image of Christ in us.

Sydney smiled as I worked on her painting. In a few minutes, she took the brush and said, “I can do this. Let’s finish it.” She was proud of her painting that day. And I was very proud of her.

How about you? Who has control of the brush in your life’s painting?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

PS: What do you think I’m working on in the picture above? I’ll post the finished work next week, Good Lord willing and obstacles don’t get in the way.

Do You Love Me More?

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7)

 

Not Sparrows

Not Sparrows

When my daughter Rachel was in college, she became distraught and wear almost to the point of quitting mid-way through her first semester. One day, the phone rang, and I heard a different tone in Rachel’s voice.

“Wait until I tell you what happened, Mom. I went to the ball field alone, sat on the bleachers, and watched streamer clouds float across the sky. ‘Why am I here?’ I grumbled. ‘What makes me think I can do this stuff?’ I searched the heavens for answers, like God was going to write a message in the sky just for me. Then I noticed two sparrows flutter across the clouds. I remembered Luke 12:6-7, ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’ Then I asked God, ‘Do You really love me more than those sparrows?’ And guess what happened, Mom! Small black dots speckled the sky, as though God shook His peppershaker over the clouds like Dad peppers his eggs. There were sparrows everywhere. I’m sure I heard God say, ‘Rachel, I love you even more than all of these.’ Isn’t that cool?”

True story … still brings tears to my eyes. Rachel is that special to God. However, she’s not the only one. You and I are too. When we feel powerless, overwhelmed, and alone, perhaps all we need to do is to ask how much God loves us. I believe He wants to show us just like He did Rachel that day—through something as simple as a flock of sparrows.

Have you considered the sparrow? What a plain bird! Unappealing, even the male … feathers painted in shades of brown. Beaks polished in drab, dark brown. No bright blues or yellows like the blue tit I chose for this painting. Admittedly, I chose the blue tit because of its beautiful hues after considering the homely sparrow. I wanted an eye-catching, cheerful subject. Like I said, the sparrow has little to offer. Who marvels at the sight of it or even notices it?

Yet, the Creator noticed and marveled, giving the sparrow a special honor as an example of His care. Not because the sparrow is so plentiful or unattractive, but because that little bird presents the poor, the wretched, the undesirable so well.

If God accepts and honors the sparrow, how much more will He accept you and me? Jesus said we are much more valuable than many sparrows. No matter how we feel about ourselves. No matter how dismayed, overwhelmed, or depressed we are. No matter how much we messed up our lives. God still notices and marvels at us as His creation. He can use us as acceptable sacrifices for His purpose to seek and save the lost, to comfort those that hurt, to feed and clothe the needy.

How about you? How is God using you to bring Him glory and to uplift others?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Swans and Other Ugly Ducklings

You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9-10 NIV)

Swan Swans have always intrigued me with their beauty and grace. I think there are two reasons for my love for this majestic bird or perhaps three.

First, my mother had a ceramic swan planter in her beauty shop. I always admired it even though it had a broken wing. To me the flaw never detracted from the swan’s beauty. After all, the plant hid the wing, which was on the side that always faced the wall. No problem. When my mother retired, she gave me the swan. I still have it and still admire it.

Like mother’s swan, we all have flaws—some more obvious than others. But God overlooks our imperfections when we seek redemption through Jesus Christ. At that moment, Jesus covers us with His righteousness, making us acceptable to the Father.

Second, I’ve always loved the story of the Ugly Duckling. I resonated with the poor little bird constantly being teased, ridiculed, and rejected. I felt that way as a child, therefore, the tale of the Ugly Duckling gave me hope for a beautiful future. Someday, I’d be a graceful swan.

Well I didn’t turn out as beautiful and graceful as a swan, not physically anyway. However like the Ugly Duckling, I’m transforming gradually into something far more admirable than a swan. After I became a Christian, God started the process of shaping the image of Christ in me. I’m far from completion. Most times, I don’t even see a resemblance to Jesus in me. However, I trust God’s promise to finish the work He has begun in me. I like that God’s mercies are new every morning. That means, every morning He restores the image of Christ in me and continuously works His plan to the end.

How about you? How has God showed His new-every-morning mercies to you?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

PS this is one of the art classes available for your group. For more information go to God Lessons on Canvas

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

T is for Testimony

Love Abides

Confused and most likely terrified about the angel’s message, Mary decided to go to her cousin Elizabeth, also pregnant under unusual circumstances (see Luke 1:5-25). Elizabeth’s testimony as a response to Mary’s greeting must have come as a surprise and a comfort to Mary. But it was exactly the confirmation the young woman needed to gain strength for the emotional and spiritual journey ahead.

Likewise, our testimonies can enable others to go on, to walk the necessary path, to face the trials of life, and more importantly, to come to Jesus as their Savior.

How about you? What reminds you of Jesus that begins with the letter T?