Tag Archive | human condition

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

Forecast: Hail

And there shall be a booth for a shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge, and for a hiding place from storm and rain. (Isaiah 4:6)

I didn’t see the storm brewing.

A few weeks ago, a hail storm hit my friend’s area. Both his vehicles sustained damage. Jed complained if he’d known it was coming he would’ve taking precautions like covering his car and truck with blankets. But the weather forecaster never mentioned hail. The following week another storm hit the area. This time the forecaster predicted damaging, downfall of ice pellets. Jed rushed out and covered both vehicles with heavy blankets. The wind blew. Rain fell. But no hail pelted his autos. Jed seemed almost disappointed when he told us about his efforts. He said wet blankets were all he got.

Like Jed, our efforts to prepare for the storms of life often seem fruitless. We work hard making sure we’re covered when calamity happens only to find our sweat amounted to just that sweat.

The truth is, like the weather forecaster, no matter how well informed we are. we cannot predict how hard and fast or when the storms of life are going to strike.

But we have a Father who, not only knows all about our storms, He controls them. He also prepares us for them in ways in which we are not aware. It’s like being covered with a heavy blanket. Hail falls. Damage occurs. But we receive far less wounds than we would’ve had we not put our trust in the Lord prior to the onset of the tempest.

I never saw the storm of cancer coming. Every year for sixteen years, I had gone for my yearly mammogram and checkup with the same results—0% chance of breast cancer according to my family history and other information gathered through the years. But this year something peculiar happened. This year my lymph nodes were enlarged. This year the storm hit. The hail fell. Damage occurred. But I know my Father has me covered. I sense His presence every day. I enjoy His peace, rest, and protection continually. Because He has been busy preparing me for this billowy time of my life, I have no fear of this disease, the treatments, or the outcome. I cannot tell you the exact steps He has taken to bring me to this point. Previous trials have definitely taught me to trust His decisions. Through it all, I’m learning the deeper meaning of Philippians 1:21—For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

How about you? How has our Father prepared you for your current storm?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Surprise! I’m Here

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

At the Sunday school picnic, two-year-old Lilly decided to join the older children in the sandbox. She wasn’t well received. One child quietly vocalized her disapproval of the toddler’s presence. Lilly didn’t care. She plopped yourself down right smack-dab in the middle of the sandbox and shoveled sand on her legs, on her hands, and into buckets. She didn’t mind the other children played around her as though she wasn’t there. She contented herself just being with them. That’s all that mattered to her.

And when the majority of her older playmates descended to the playhouse above the sandbox, Lilly followed, again as happy as a frog during a mayfly hatch. She delighted herself in doing what the others did. One boy brought a chair out and sat it on the deck. Lilly sat in it…very pleased to do so. The boy grimaced and brought out another chair. Lilly tried that one out too. Funny how she never perceived he wasn’t doing it for her.

I suppose Lilly was much too young to understand the others were ignoring her. But she taught me a lesson in contentment that day all the same. You see, there are times I walk into a room, a restaurant, or even a gathering of peers, friends, and relatives that I feel unwelcome, especially since I have cancer. My appearance has changed—I sport a hat to conceal my baldness. People react, most subconsciously I’m sure, but they do react. They give you an undeniable look of puzzlement, of concern, and even of disgust. It’s intimidating. It’s also inevitable and irrepressible on the part of the onlooker. When we’re caught off guard by something unexpected, our faces express our surprise, at least for a second or two, whether we want them to or not.

The problem doesn’t rest on the other people in the room it rests on me. I can either allow their looks of bewilderment to make me uncomfortable and thereby ruin my day. Or I can be gracious. If I accept their reaction as part of human nature, perhaps my easiness will set them at ease as well.

Learning to be content in my present set of circumstances takes time. But I am learning. In the process, I’m developing a stronger, Christ-like character—one in which I can be more accepting of others, whether or not they accept me.

How about you? What set of circumstances is teaching you contentment?

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

The Right to Cry

Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. (Psalm 6:2)

July 3, I cried nearly all day. Couldn’t stop myself. I was facing my last chemo treatment with a great deal of reluctance. Each treatment thus far had brought more nausea, dry-mouth (accompanied by nasty, muddy-metal taste), and other discomforts that lasted longer than the previous treatment. I simply did not want to go through it again, not knowing what the side effects would entail.

So I wept. I pleaded with the Lord to stop this madness, to tell me I didn’t have to go through it one last time, to rescue me.

Finally sometime that evening, I recommitted the situation to the Lord. I knew there was no way out. I had to face the gauntlet one more time, come what may. And trust. Isn’t that where true faith lies—trusting without knowing what’s beyond the next summit?

July 5, I walked into the clinic with the most cheerful disposition I could muster. Gene’s presence brought comfort even though we talked little. He was there. And so was my Father. I wasn’t as much aware of Father’s presence at the time … a little preoccupied with my surroundings I suspect. But I know He was holding me closer than Gene could’ve.

Here’s what He did for me the week of my final treatment:

  1. Very little side effects. This was the mildest of all my treatments. God wrapped His loving arms around me and kept the nasties away. I’m believing the medication accomplished even more because of it.
  2. The Saturday after treatment, my family walked in a march against breast cancer. What support and love! Plus, we had a picnic at my sister’s house afterward. The event boosted my spirits tremendously.
  3. The next day, almost every lady in our church wore a hat! Their expression of love and support … for ME … overwhelmed me. At the onset of my diagnosis, I told my daughters I thought it’d be cool if someone would have a hat party for me. No one in the church knew that. I can’t begin to tell you how much those ladies showed the love of our Father to me that day. I pray I never forget the power of His love through His faithful daughters.

More tears flowed that Sunday than on the previous Monday. For the past two weeks, I sang His praises and cried … because of His merciful love He showed me through this last treatment.

So, why do we hold back tears as though they’re forbidden? Why do we choke on them as though they’re shameful? Why do we mask them as though they represent weakness?

We have the right to cry out to the Lord. He hears and answers in unexpected ways.

How about you? How has Father responded to your cries?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Speak Life

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. (Romans 8:10-12)

Join the Lord’s Army

This morning between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. I will receive my third chemo treatment. These treatments consist of Benadryl to prevent the reaction I had the first treatment, a drug to help prevent nausea, steroids, and two different types of chemo. That’s an arsenal of meds!

I’ve heard many people refer to these treatments as poison. And perhaps it is. But that seems like a negative outlook to me. Now, I’m not one to follow the positive and happy thoughts crowd. But I do believe our words carry punch. We can speak life or death into any situation. I also believe God wants us to speak life not death.

How do we do that?

Speak the truth according to God’s Word. What does the Bible teach about the situation I’m in? God has given me life and in Him I have life abundantly. Jesus heals through many different means. He also has a plan. He has numbered my days…not the doctors.

Speaking truth and life involves a positive attitude. When it comes to the drugs with which they’re filling my body, I’ve decided to look at it through a different lens. God has given the doctors the knowledge of how to use these drugs to combat the disease that has invaded my body. Therefore, I think of these treatments as an army—God’s army if you will—sent to fight the war going on within me. The enemy is sneaky and strong. I didn’t even know he had attacked. But I’m grateful the doctors discovered the invasion when they did. That was an act of God to start with.

Now, He has sent an arsenal of meds to combat the poison already in my system. Yes, the meds destroy the good with the bad. That’s the sad reality of any battle. However when the battle’s over and victory won, the good is restored. I know the Master Builder and trust Him to reconstruct my body. He lives in me. He is the Commander of the army and the Restorer of my soul.

I live in victory.

How about you? How do you speak life in your situation?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks