Tag Archive | quotes of encouragement

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

A Treasure in Wood Chips

I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel. (Isaiah 45:3 NKJV)

A Child of the King

Before taking the youngest three grandactives to the playground a few weeks ago, I suggested Sydney leave her mood ring on our kitchen table. She assured me it stayed on her finger. So I didn’t press the issue. The kiddos played for a couple of hours on the swings, the teetertotters, bouncy animals, and the jungle gym. Finally, they decided they needed something to drink, and we headed home. Sydney looked a bit moody. I questioned her.

“Eli lost my ring.”

“What was Eli doing with it?”

“We were playing a game. I gave it to him. He put it in his pocket. It fell out.”

We took the other two grandactives home. Pap got them drinks, while Sydney and I headed back to the playground. I told Sydney to pray that Jesus would help us find her ring in the wood chips that covered the entire playground—yeah, finding a needle in a haystack.

We searched the ground below the swings. Sydney climbed through the tunnels in the jungle gym. I scanned the ground beneath the jungle gym. We looked around the teetertotters and the bouncy animals. No ring. Sydney went back to the swings to search again since that’s where Eli had hung upside down. I paused by the slide and whispered another prayer.

“Lord, please show us where that ring is. It sure would mean a lot to this child…and to that one.”

I reached for a glittering object. My hear sank when I realized it was a wrapper off a pack of cigarettes. “Why can I see things like that and not the ring?” I turned, searching. Another object sparkled in the sun at the bottom of the slide. I picked it up and twirled it between my fingers then raise my hand.

“Sydney, look what I found!”

She ran to me. I gently pushed her ring on her finger. She sobbed as I said, “See how much God loves you.”

We never would have found that ring without the Lord’s help. He knew exactly where it was. But finding the ring wasn’t the important thing that day. Sydney found a treasure I pray she never forgets—God loves her and wants to show her priceless treasures that last for life.

When we go through cancer, it may feel as though we’ve lost something very important to us. Our hopes may dwindle with our health. But God wants to restore our sense of wellbeing. He has promised to give us treasures in dark places. We have to enter those places to find the treasures, just like Sydney and I had to return to the playground to find her ring.

We could have prayed all night and day for two weeks and never would’ve found it if we hadn’t gone looking for it.
God desires to help us, to comfort us, and to restore what we’ve lost through cancer. But we have to do our part. We have to seek the treasures He has for us. They may not be what we think we’re looking for. They may be treasures of far greater value than health. They may be treasures for eternity.

How about you? What has God helped you find?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks.

Welcome to Your New Norm

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

April 2017, I had my first brain MRI. The technician said, “Welcome to your new norm,” as she strapped me onto the bed of the machine.

Her comment stunned me. I tried to pass it off. But like a pesky fly buzzing around my head, that comment tormented me for the past year and a half. This can’t be my new norm. I refuse to accept it. I have better things to do, a life to live without all these annoying tests.

It doesn’t matter how much I argue. My old norm has gone. The new norm is here.

As you read this, I’m lying on another table at another medical facility. My CT scan from two weeks ago revealed a few new spots on my right lung. Yep, my concerns were validated. And here I am. Tomorrow, I go for a lung biopsy. My oncologist said not to jump to conclusions. He’ll give us the results and the plans on September 10th. Meanwhile, we wait.

I’m trying very hard to stay focused, to trust, to wait, to pray.

I find it much easier to wait on the Lord than to wait on a doctor’s report. But there isn’t anything else I can do. Just go along with the suggested tests and pray.

And I’m working on total surrender, not to the disease, but to the Lord. I know He can heal me immediately. I know that because the other night, I felt the Lord’s hand on my shoulder and the pain subside. I’d been having pain in my shoulder for quite some time. I assume it was arthritis acting up. It doesn’t matter. I prayed in Jesus’ name for the pain to let up. And it did. I have slept pain-free for the past two nights. Praise the Lord.

But healing my cancer might not be His best plan for me or for those He has for me to encourage. Jesus said hardships will come. We shouldn’t be surprised when they do. The Father has purpose in them.

Hardships teach us things about God and about ourselves we wouldn’t otherwise learn. They, also, give us opportunity to reach out to others in ways we couldn’t do without difficult experiences of our own. These are dark times. But we shouldn’t fear the dark. We should be thankful for the opportunity to let our lights shine.

He has turned my thoughts concerning hardships around. He has taught me to trust Him. He has kept my mind steadfast and in perfect peace.

How about you? What are your hardships teaching you?

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