Tag Archive | Faith

Wigs and Righteousness

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10 NIV)

My wig complements me—or so I’ve been told. I feel more like myself with it in place or at least, I look more like myself. When I began wearing it, many people didn’t even realize I had a wig on, it’s that close to my hair color and style. But it’s cumbersome. It’s hot in warm weather. It’s heavier than it looks. And it feels like it’s slipping off my head, so I’m constantly fidgeting with it. I guess it needs an adjustment that I’m not quite getting right.

Even still, it feels almost right … normal. But, it’s only a coverup. Underneath, my head still glistens from lack of hair. The fix is temporary, and at the end of the day, I’m happy to rid myself of the facade.

Nevertheless at the end of the day, I have to once again look at my bald head in the mirror. Likewise at the end of the day, I have to face the fact that my normal isn’t my normal anymore. As much as I’d like to go back to my previous self, I can’t. I’ve been changed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have a new normal to live with … like it or not.

For the most part, I’m okay with the new me. However there are some changes I’m not too keen on like my lack of hair, weakened immune system, achy bones, and neuropathy, all of which nurses have assured me will reverse in time, after treatments are finished … even the neuropathy.

The emotional and spiritual changes have been more positive than negative and definitely more permanent than the physical discomforts. I don’t expect the emotional or spiritual alterations to reverse, instead, I expect them to grow stronger and more reliable by the grace of God. You see, Jesus’s righteousness covers and heals our defective souls, unlike my wig that only establishes a reasonable facsimile of good health.

I find great comfort in knowing my soul is covered in Jesus’ righteousness that assures me of complete and permanent well-being. It’s my source of strength and peace as I go through my treatments and an uncertain future. This physical body is only a temporary tent. It shows wear and tear with time. It has holes. Eventually, it’s not going to withstand the repairs and be gone. But my soul … my soul will live on. My spirit will soar beyond the sun.

How about you? What has Jesus’ righteousness done for you?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

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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

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