Tag Archive | hope

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

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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

Little Things Matter

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid. (Luke 12:7)

 

Little things like eyelashes matter a lot to God.

Even your eyelashes are numbered

We take many little things for granted until we don’t have them … take eyelashes and eyebrows for example. Those little hairs that adorn our faces give us expression and, yes, beauty. I missed my lashes and brows to the point of drawing them on every day to avoid that blank look. I even took a class to learn how to apply eye makeup effectively so they wouldn’t look fake.

About three months ago, I noticed dark “shadows” above my eyes. I tried scrubbing them off, thinking the eyebrow pencil had stained my skin. A couple of weeks later, I realized those “shadows” were tiny hairs. My brows had returned. I showed my almost nine-year-old granddaughter who replied, “Cool. Now you can raise your eyebrows at people again.”

A week before Christmas, a friend mentioned my eyelashes, which I hadn’t noticed until then. I was all smiles Christmas Day when I applied mascara for the first time in six months.

Vanity. Vanity. Perhaps. But think about this. Little things matter to God. He is so concerned about the details of our being that He even numbers the hairs on our heads. I always thought of the hairs on my scalp when I read that portion of Scripture. Now I realize my eyebrows, lashes, and even the forbidden chin hair are included in the hairs of my head.

The knowledge of God numbering the hairs of my head flabbergasts me. Imagine, he knows every detail of our beings, not only how many hairs are on our heads, but how many cells in our bodies. He was aware of the cancer cells in my body and revealed them to the diagnostic doctor so He could demonstrate His sovereignty over all things concerning me.

How about you? How has God shown His love to you?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Time Out!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

It’s been three months since my last post! Hard to believe. I went through six months of chemo treatments with little discomfort or anxiety, like super woman or something. About one week after being told I’m in remission, I crashed…mentally, physically, emotionally. I was done.

Apparently, my system had had enough, and that’s totally normal. I couldn’t do much, other than sleep and eat. To make matters worse, I didn’t really care. Sure I wanted to do something, feel productive in some way. But honestly, I didn’t have the energy to care enough to move my body from the couch or to form coherent thoughts. People told me it was part of the healing process and I should relax and allow my body time to heal. So I did right through Christmas shopping, baking, and decorating … guilt free. It’ll be a Christmas easily forgotten. Not meaningless, just uneventful.

Yet, God arranged some pretty amazing treats for our family over the Holiday. We were able to go to an Aaron Shust concert, which was even more special because my older daughter went to college with him. He remembered her, making her super mom in her sons’ eyes (and even her mother’s) for the weekend. Our grandson was accepted into his two top-choice colleges. What a decision he has to make. But what a Christmas blessing. Among the normal Christmas goings-on, there were peace and joy that we rarely experience. Or maybe, we just don’t recognize them. I can’t explain it. I barely noticed it until just now while I was pondering the past month.

There are times we need to rest. Simply rest. Jesus provides that time when we fail to notice our need. He says sit by my side, breathe, trust, heal. That’s it. That’s what He wants us to do … sometimes.

How about you? When was the last time you basked in the Savior’s peace and joy?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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

If Not For Cancer …

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10 KJV)

If not for cancer …
I wouldn’t know compassion. Through the gifts, visits, cards, and even a surprise hat party at our church, friends and family have shown me they care and want to ease my suffering. My medical team listens and treats my concerns with utmost care and respect, never brushing off my complaints as insignificant or annoying.
 These acts of kindness illuminate Jesus’ concern for me. He never brushes off even the simplest plea but handles each request with utmost care and respect. He loves me with an everlasting love and uses many people to show me how deep, how wide, and how enduring His great love is.
 Because of cancer, my own compassion for others burns within me along with the desire to emulate the mercy I’ve received.
If not for cancer …

I wouldn’t know the power of prayer. Many prayer warriors—family, friends, people I’ve never met—have picked up their swords and bowed their knees before Almighty God on my behalf. They’ve come together to fight for and to rescue the perishing.
 Their prayers cause Jesus to meet me in my darkest hour, straighten my path, carry me through the deep waters, and set my feet on the solid Rock.
 Because of cancer, I understand the importance of intercessory prayer and am more determined than ever to intercede for others.

 

If not for cancer …

I wouldn’t know peace. No matter how much others may want to provide me with peace, it’s an impossible gift. In this world of chaos, calamity, and turmoil, peace seems like an elusive butterfly at best. Add to the mix health issues, financial concerns, and/or emotional trauma and the concept of peace seems to fly out the window. As I watch, a hungry frog snatches it out of thin air … gone forever.
 No human can give peace to another person. Only Jesus has the ability to impart peace into the human soul and set our spirits at rest … not as the world offers, but an enduring peace despite what the world brings. World peace is contingent on feeble, frail people who make promises they can’t keep. When those promises crumble so does their peace. But Jesus’ peace relies solely on Him. He never changes His mind or breaches His contracts. His peace has no limits or end.
 Because of cancer, I have known His peace that passes all understanding. My heart and mind are at complete rest through Jesus Christ.

How about you? What has your suffering taught you about God?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks