Tag Archive | trust

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

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

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

Butterflies

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Caterpillars inch their way through their existence, gorge themselves on foliage. It’s all they know. They’re content with life as they know it. They have no clue there is a better way, a better form of living awaiting them. All they can perceive is they most indulge in the things surrounding them, and then, they spin a cocoon. To them, this entrapment is death. They wake up a changed creature in a new world where they have wings to fly.

Like a caterpillar, we seek the pleasures of this world, indulging ourselves in all sorts of delights to satisfy our human cravings. We can’t help ourselves any more than caterpillars can keep themselves from gorging on leaves. It’s caterpillar nature. And seeking to satisfy our own desires is human nature.

Many people never look beyond this world. They have a caterpillar mindset. This is all there is. Enjoy the lusts of your hearts while you can for tomorrow you die.

But those of us who know Jesus have a different mindset. He has created a new creature in us. We look at things anew. Our existence no longer consists of just what this world has to offer. Although we still enjoy and embrace much of the wonders of the world, they are no longer our main focus. We know there is something much grander in store for us.

In a sense, when we submit to Christ, He wraps us in a cocoon. In whom [Christ] ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13), Now we consider our new life on earth our cocoon existence. We have put of the old and put on the new. We are sealed in the Holy Spirit. God is creating the image of Christ in us as we live out our lives. We don’t know what we will be when we break free from this entrapment. But we do know we’ll be like Him. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself (Philippians 3:20-21).

As He creates Christ’s image in us, He delights in His creation. He sees us differently than we see ourselves.

I developed an acronym, using the word butterfly, to remind you and me of how our Father sees us.

B-beautiful. You are beautiful in God’s eyes because Jesus has cloaked you in His righteousness. Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe (Romans 3:22).

U-unique. You are unique in God’s sight. He has created each of us with unique looks, abilities, and personalities. Just like butterflies, there are no two exactly alike. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works (Psalms 139:14).

T-teachable. God never stops teaching life lessons. Therefore it’s safe to say you are teachable. We never stop learning. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation (Psalm 25:5).

T-Talented. By God’s design you are talented. He has gifted you with special abilities, interests and desires to accomplish your purpose. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4).

E-empowered. The Holy Spirit has empowered you to fight the battles you face in this world and guarantees you the victory. That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16).

R-Radiant. When God looks at you, He sees the glory of Jesus. His Light shines in and through you. You radiate. We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).

F-Flawless. God has forgiven you. In His eyes, you are flawless through the work of Jesus on the cross. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).

L-Lowly. Yes, God sees you as a lowly, meek creature. One who needs provisions, protection, and lots of grace. But cheer up. Lowliness was one of Jesus’ earthly attributes (Mark 11:29). Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly (Psalm 138:6).

Y-You. God sees you in your little cocoon. He loves what He sees with all His heart. Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee (Jeremiah 31:3).

How about you? How does God see you?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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