Tag Archive | hope

Can We All Say Plot Twist?

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

 

 

For those of you who neither write nor read fiction, a plot twist occurs when the main character in the story appears to be heading on an obvious course. Suddenly, through the craftiness of the writer, the character’s path takes an unexpected turn, forcing her to fight against unbelievable odds. That’s great writing. It imitates life.

The Author and Finisher of my faith and my life has been using plot twists a lot lately, just to keep my role interesting.

Plot Twist!

After the biopsy and the radiologist assuring us I’d need more chemo, I prepared to hear “we’ll start tomorrow” from the oncologist. Instead he said, “No chemo at this point.”

I know it was good news. But in the moment, I felt let down as though I had prepared myself to receive a powerful punch in the gut, only to have my opponent pull back, gently stroke my cheek, and say, “Psych.”

The doctor explained there were other options to receive the desirable results just as quickly without the harshness of IV chemo. He would save that as a last resort. He would start me on a new hormone therapy called Faslodex, which consists of two shots in the fleshy part of my anatomy (yes butt). Plus, he prescribed an immunotherapy (oral chemo) to accompany the Faslodex. Apparently for some patients, the combination works well.

Plot Twist!

Three days later, I arrived at the clinic to receive my first 2 shots and the information about the side effects of the immunotherapy. The nurse entered the room, looked a little grave, and said, “I have nothing to tell you. Your insurance won’t cover this new immunotherapy because we had to take you off Ibrance.”

But! Wait. What?

That’s when I learned the real reason they took me off Ibrance was not because it was making my neuropathy worse, but rather it had a attacked my immune system, causing my white blood cell count to drop to one. And all this time, I thought they were just being nice not wanting to worsen my neuropathy. Silly me. Turns out since, Ibrance did that, there’s a very high risk that any similar drug will do the same. So no immunotherapy for me.

Exit nurse one. Enter nurses two and three. I knew I was scheduled for two shots that day. I had to laugh when two nurses came into the room. I don’t know—it just struck me funny. So I said, “What two shots—two nurses?”

“Yeah. Unless you’d rather have one at a time. We usually give both at the same time because it takes two minutes per shot.”

“Sounds good. Let’s gitter done.”

And that’s how I learned to be careful what I tell friends at church. I told one friend that it reminded me of when I took my granddaughter to get her ears pierced. Two ladies stood on either side, counted to three, and just like that the task accomplished without giving the child a chance to change her mind.

That friend told another friend I had my backside double pierced and wanted to know if she should buy me hoops or studs as a gift. The second friend looked at me with puzzlement and deep concern. She wasn’t sure if it was some kind of joke or if I had honestly gotten into body piercing. I shook my head, as I told her what had happened. We shared a good laugh—good medicine for the soul, right?

These two friends have suffered through their share of hardships. They persevered. And now, they’re definitely characters. They give me hope. I sure love them.

How about you? What plot twist is God using to develop a strong character in you?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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We’ve Got a Complication

“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

As I waited for my lung biopsy, the doctor entered my cubical, leaned his shoulder on the wall, and introduced himself. His next statement stunned me.

“We’ve got a complication.”

I furrowed my brow. How could we have a complication? I just draped myself in a hospital gown and climbed onto the gurney. They hadn’t done anything yet to complicate.

“The pet scan you had yesterday,” he continued, “showed fluid on your right lung. It has hidden the spot I’m supposed to biopsy, which means we’ll do two procedures today. First, we’ll tap the fluid from your lung, then we’ll do the biopsy as planned.”

Well, knock me over with a feather. Seriously, talk about a plot twist.

Gene asked the next obvious question, “Where’d the fluid come from?”

The doctor said, “The tumor is growing rapidly, demanding the blood vessels feeding it to grow rapidly as well. Blood vessels in adults aren’t supposed to grow. So when they do, they develop leaks through which the fluids, not the blood, in the vessels drain.”

This is serious, I thought.

As though he read my mind, the doctor confirmed my thoughts, “This is very serious. We need your cooperation. When I say stop breathing, I need you to stop. Do not take a deep breath or exhale. Simply stop breathing.”

He explained more of the complications that could arise if I did the wrong thing, which made more nervous. I felt like I was going to take a major exam that I hadn’t studied for. I was sure to fail. So for the next 30 minutes or so, I practiced.

Breathe. Stop. Breathe. Stop. Breathe. Stop.

My stomach twisted into knots. I prayed, “Lord, if I ever needed your peace, I need it now.”

The nurse came for me. Gene kissed me and walked in the opposite direction. Double doors open. Ceiling lights glittered. More double doors open. And I prayed.

We finally reached our destination. I scooted from the gurney to the CT scan table. They positioned me then rolled me into the machine for a preliminary scan. They marked the spot to go in.

I prayed and found myself so relaxed that I almost fell asleep before the gave me the sedative. It was a mild one to relax me. They wanted me awake for both procedures. I only felt a cold sensation when they rubbed a numbing agent on my side and pressure when they inserted the needle. I was so relaxed the doctor never asked me to stop breathing.

God was definitely with me through those procedures that day, as I put into practice Joshua’s command to his army: “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

The Lord’s faithfulness never ceases to amaze me.

How about you? How has God answered your prayer for peace?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Anxiety Strikes

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-7)

By the time you read this post, I will have had my appointment with my oncologist about the results of my recent CT scan. It’s difficult to wait. I admit, I’m anxious about it. Will the findings lead to more tests, another biopsy, more chemo?

I know anxiety isn’t from God. It does more harm than good. That’s why God would rather we cast all our concerns on Him and allow Him to ease our minds (1 Peter 5:7).

I want to be obedient. But this is a tall order. I’m battling with submitting and holding on to something over which I have no control. Sounds senseless to me as I type it. Why hang on to the anxiety? Why tighten my grip on something I can’t fix? Why not hand it over to the One who can do far more than we ask or even dream of asking?

I haven’t discussed my concerns with anyone. Why stir up anxiety in others? They can’t change anything. Besides, I may be worrying about nothing, right?

The best I can do is turn it over to God, trust Him, and do what I’m called to do. Write. Paint. Be a wife, mother, and grandmother. While I do those things, I’m not trying to fix, control, or figure out what’s going to happen next. I’m being obedient, which is the first and foremost important calling on my life.

I don’t have any answers today. I have to wait until my oncology appointment. In the meantime, I choose to live in today. I choose to display a cheerful attitude. I choose to have confidence in my Father who promised to hold me in the palm of His hand throughout this life.

I don’t know what the future holds. But I know who holds the future. I know He has a plan and a purpose for me. I know His purpose for me is to bring Him praise, honor, and glory in all things. And I know His plan is to give me opportunities to do that.

I cannot control the outcome of this disease. But I can control my level of submission. I can choose obedience. I can praise my Lord for His goodness, faithfulness, and grace in all circumstances.

How about you? What do you choose?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Disappointments—Consider Them Pure Joy

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3)

Two weeks ago, we left the house for about three hours. The sun blazed in the cloudless sky. Although the weatherman mentioned a possibility of thunder storms in selected areas, we felt safe in letting our awning extended. They’d been calling for sudden storms all week. They missed the mark every day.

On our way home, we drove slowly through a downpour we used to call a gully washer. In some spots, water streamed across the road like a river.

When we got home, I walked into the kitchen. A white curtain blocked my view from the window. I gasped as I heard Gene yell, “Oh no!”

The weight of the rain gathered in our awning snapped the roll bar in half.

Needless to say, we were disappointed. We had debated about getting an awning for our deck several years before we finally purchasing one. A neighbor had helped Gene install it just a month prior to the incident.

It was a small commodity really. We knew that.

However the loss of our swimming pool didn’t seem like a small thing to our granddaughter.

We kept a nice size, inexpensive, blowup, pool (the blue and white stripe at the bottom of the picture) on the deck for the grandactives to cool off in. The sharp, broken edge of the roll bar punctured the pool. Of course, it’s irreparable. And shame on Bee and Pap for not buying a new one and having it set up, ready to go for the kids when they got there two days later. Our granddaughter, Sydney sulked for more than an hour.

I asked her if she was upset about the pool.

“No.” She sniffled. “It’s just that I wanted to have fun this summer. But no. That just can’t happen.”

“But we went to Sight and Sound yesterday. Didn’t you enjoy the show?”

“Yes. But that was the only fun I had all summer.”

I reminded her of some of the other activities her family did this summer. None of that seemed to matter. She wanted to play in the water, but the pool was destroyed.

“The awning was destroyed too,” I said. “Pap and I were pretty disappointed about that. But it doesn’t take away all the good times we had this summer. It’s your choice, Sydney. You can find other fun things to do today at Bee’s house. Or you can pout all day. But that still doesn’t take away from all the other days you had fun.”

Sydney didn’t say anything for a long time after our conversation. Eventually, she got out of her mood and played with her brother and sister. I think she actually had fun.

Life is full of disappointments. Some are small, like a destroyed awning and kids’ pool. Some are huge, like being diagnosed with cancer or losing a loved one. But even the worst disappointment cannot rob us of our joy when we put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must grieve. We must count our loss. We must rebuild and restore what we can. But our joy remains intact. Our joy does not depend on outside sources. Our joy comes from the Lord. He dwells in us. He completes our joy.

How about you? How have you learned to face hardships with joy?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Remission—a Time to Rest

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken (Psalms 62:5-6)

 

Rest, Dream, Refresh

I’ve been in remission for nine months. Seems odd to say. I’m still having trouble wrapping my mind around having been diagnosed with cancer. It’s weird really. I have no pain, other than the neuropathy I acquired from treatment. I don’t feel sick. I have no restrictions.

I do tire easily. I’m told my body is still recovering from the chemo. I am also getting older. So who’s knows if my mild fatigue is from chemo or aging?

All I know is being in remission doesn’t feel much different than not having cancer.

There’s one small difference. I have a lot more appointments to contend with now. Every six weeks, my medi-port needs flushed. Every three months, blood work, a CT or PET scan, and a nice chat with my oncologist fills my calendar.

Wow! I never thought any of those terms would be part of my norm, especially an oncologist. But here it is. And I’m adjusting. I’m in remissions. I’m at rest.

On Wednesday, I go for another CT scan. The following week, I visit the oncologist for the results. Am I a little nervous? Yes.

Every time I go through the process, my nerves rattle a little bit. Will something show up this time? What treatments will they recommend? How long will the treatments last? How will my system react this time? Will the neuropathy worsen? And on and on my mind whirls with concerns. There’s always the possibility cancer will show up somewhere else, sending me back to the clinic as a regular.

Those thoughts might disrupt my rest, but they never jerk me out of God’s arms and the true rest He gives.
I hope the cancer never rears its ugly face in my body or in anyone else’s body for the remainder of my life. But the doctors can’t guarantee it won’t. That’s okay. My hope doesn’t rest on the doctors’ word. My hope rests in God. Even if the disease returns, my hope rests in God. He never fails, nor does He sleep. He took me by the hand and led me this far. He promised to stay with me, protect me, provide for me, and comfort me. He was proven faithful.

How about you? How has God proven faithful to you?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Setting and Meeting Goals

I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)

July 14, 2018 marked a major milestone for me. I completed the Ta-Ta Trot, a 5K walk for breast cancer awareness. Three and a half miles may not seem like much to many of you. But considering I had to use a shower chair to take a shower and a motorized cart to do my shopping for the first 4 months of the year, a three and half mile walk was huge.

Last year, I had to forgo the event because I had a chemo treatment a few days prior. At that moment I determined my family would not participate again without me. So in April, I began training. My first attempt got me to the top of the hill one block away from my house. Everyday, Gene and I walked a little farther. When I was too stubborn to admitted my own limitations, he gently urged me to turn back. He was always right about how much strength I had. I was always glad he insisted we headed for home.

Every week, I set a longer goal. Eventually, we were walking a mile, then a mile and a half. One day when Gene was at a men’s breakfast, I took our dog, Hunter, for a two-and-a-half-mile walk. I felt accomplished. My confidence soared. I could do it. I could.

With only a month to go, I still hadn’t passed the two-and-a-half-mile marker. No matter how hard I pushed myself, that was the extent of my strength. Doubts began to seep into my fortitude. But we kept trying.

The week before the 5-K, Gene and I went to a nearby park with a path and mile markers. We walked three miles that day. What a boost. At that point, I knew I could do it.

I can’t begin to tell you the overwhelming sense of accomplishment I felt when I walked the last leg of the Ta-Ta Trot. It was one of the biggest events in my life. Yet, there was no fanfare, no cheers, no awards. No one noticed, except my family who walked with me. In fact, we were almost the last ones to cross the finish line.

I know I’ll never be the first one to cross the finish line of any sort of a race. That has never been one of my goals.

But there is a race in which I will receive a crown. That has been and always will be my greatest goal—to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

How about you? What have you completed that has given you a sense of accomplishment?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

A Witness in the Devil’s Den

Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9)

Although most bars stir my spirit in a negative way, I occasionally enter one for the food. I don’t know why they have such good cooks. Such was the case at a bar near our cabin, that and the fact that there are few places to eat out in the northern tier. I must admit I felt very uncomfortable the first time we went there to eat. I didn’t even enjoy my meal. Regardless, I agreed to go there several more times and found certain foods to my liking.

This spring Gene offered to take me there again. It was a slow night. The owner/waitress paused at our table for conversation. It led to Gene telling her about my cancer experience. She was most sympathetic as I added the events of the previous year. In 2016, I was treated for melanoma. Gene’s psa began to climb again, eight years after having his prostate removed. He had to have 38 radiation treatments, Our younger daughter had thyroid cancer and had to have the gland and all the lymph nodes on the right side of her neck removed and radiation three months later. My one sister had a benign tumor on her adrenal gland and had to have surgery. My other sister was also diagnosed with breast cancer, had a lumpectomy, and radiation. My mother fell, was placed in a nursing home in November and met Jesus January 5, 2017.

The waitress shook her head in dismay and said, “Some say God won’t give you more than you can bear. I never understood that. It seems to me He gave you and many other people I know more than you can handle.”

I may have read too much between the lines, but I heard a cry of despair and a desire to believe. She looked so puzzled and forlorn. Her heart obviously ached and struggled with why God expected people she cared about to bear up under great hardships.

I agreed with her and told her so. “God does give us more than we can handle. It’s His intent to bring us to a place where we have to give up on our own resources and strengths and fully rely on Him. That was what this journey through cancer wastelands taught Gene and me.”

The waitress smiled and nodded. Her eyes glistened. “That makes a lot of sense to me. I can believe that.”
She seemed to have had a great burden lifted from her shoulders at that moment. And so did I.

Jesus would eat there. He would share His message of repentance, love and grace with her. He wouldn’t judge me for going there either. In fact, I believe He sent Gene and me there that evening to have that conversation with His bewildered child. Too often we limit our area of witness because of self-righteous thinking.

I look forward to going to that establishment now, not because of the food, but because of the waitress and other people I may meet. Who knows. God may have another opportunity waiting for Gene and me to share His wonderful news of salvation.

How about you? What unlikely place have you found opportunity to witness?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks