Tag Archive | trust

Bald–Bitter or Better

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).

The nurse told me the type of chemo treatments I’m having would cause my hair to fall out. She was fairly accurate in the timing. Two weeks after my first treatment, I noticed the beginning of the end of my hair. By Wednesday, I swiped handfuls of hair off the back of my head. I decided to shave it off rather than watch it fall out.

Surprisingly, I didn’t even cry while I cut my hair then ran clippers over my scalp. The prayers of all my family and friends kept me standing tall and brave at that time. Wednesday was a good day. I felt a sense of accomplishment and relief.

Thursday, however, all the expected emotions burst out of their cage and tumbled down my checks in the form of tears. Losing your hair because of chemo treatments is a bitter pill to swallow, even for men I’ve been told by some who’ve gone through it. Contrary to popular believe, the struggle is not so much about appearance and vanity.

The struggle stems from the outward sign of what’s happen inside my body. You see, other than the week of treatment, I don’t feel sick. I cannot even wrap my mind around the disease. But now … now that I’m bald, I can no longer live in the state of denial. Every time I look in the mirror, I face the monster living inside me.

Never too Many Hats

As dismal as that all sounds, I realized I was not without a covering. I had received a wig from the American Cancer Society a week before my first treatment. My sisters gave me a beautiful straw hat. My younger daughter gave me a white straw hat. My older daughter crocheted me a hat. A friend also offered to crochet me a hat. One cannot have enough head coverings at a time like this. Although I adore my wig, hats cheer me up and help me feel good about my appearance when it’s just too hot to wear the wig. I’ll never have to step out in public or even in my own backyard feeling shamefully exposed thanks to all the love people have shown me by providing hats for me to adorn myself.

As grateful as I am for the hats, I rejoice even more in my salvation through Jesus the Messiah. When the monster I’m facing threatens to unleash my bitter emotions, I’m going to remember Jesus’ beautiful robe of righteousness covering me so that I can approach God’s throne without fear. I know He’ll change the bitter into better as I praise Him for His mercy, grace, and love.

How about you? How have you changed from bitter to better through your trials?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Proactive: Partners with God

When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,  And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. (John 9:6-7)

I apologize for my lack of contributing to this blog.

Since my last post, I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer. The first diagnosis was difficult enough to hear. But then, it got worse. A pet scan showed the cancer had passed through my lymph nodes (our filtering system) into my blood stream. From there it invaded my lungs. The spots are small, which means it’s treatable and controllable.

I began chemo May 2.

Needless to say, a lot of emotions have been boiling up in our house. But God is faithful and is with me every step of the way.

When the doctor told me the biopsy tested positive for cancer in my lymph nodes, he said “it was a miracle they even found it. It never would’ve shown up on a routine mammogram.” Which I’ve had every year for the past fifteen years, by the way. My first thought was God has a plan.

He has surrounded me with a “cloud of witnesses” in every doctor’s office I’ve visited thus far, as He compels me forward through chemo treatments. Many believers ask why I’m going through medical treatments when God has the power to heal. Yes, I believe with all my heart that God could heal me immediately without an oncologist’s intervention. But which takes more faith to believe God can when He does? Or to still believe He can even when He doesn’t?

I’m not a super-saint by anyone’s standards. I’m simply trusting my Father to do what is best for me and what will bring Him the most glory. While I prayed about this, He showed me something quite amazing. During His earthly ministry, Jesus did not heal everyone who asked immediately. He told ten lepers to go and do whatever the law required. As they walked away in faith, they were healed (Luke 17:11-14). Similarly, Jesus made a mudpack, smeared it on a blind man’s eyes, and told him to go wash at the pool of Siloam. The man obeyed in faith and returned seeing (John 9:6-7).

Jesus wants us to be proactive in our healings and every other aspect of our lives. Yes, He can do all things. And He does them well. But He, more often than not, expects us to take an active part in His work within us. So I go to the center for my treatments. I try to follow the doctor’s advice. I even signed up for a Look Good, Feel Better class next month. But more than anything, I’m following Jesus’ instructions and trusting Him to heal my body, to strengthen my faith, and to hold me close when I’m overwhelmed with the process.

How about you? How are you actively participating in the Father’s work in your life?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

It’s 2017???

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

moms-masterpieceI feel like I’ve slipped on a snow-covered mountain, landed on a heated fanny pack, and slid from November into the middle of January. That fanny pack had no brakes or controls. But it sure melted the snow, creating a fast, slippery path to the bottom of the virtual mountain. The only thing possible to do was hang on and pray God had the reins and no trees or boulders jumped out in front of me.

It was a rough ride. But here I am … standing to tell about it. Praise God for guiding us and making our paths straight.

On November 3, my mother injured her leg, which became sore and infected. The first night in a week she spent alone, she fell. No new injuries occurred. But her long-term degenerative disc disease became agitated. Unable to walk because of the pain, they placed her in a nursing home for rehab. Thanksgiving Day, we brought her home for the family meal. She went into A-fib and spent almost 2 weeks in the hospital until they got her heart rate calmed down enough to send her back to the nursing. More determined than ever to get back on her feet, Mom worked hard during her PT appointments. Progress was slow. But we saw some improvements. Christmas Day, she got out of bed and walked, with the aid of a walker, to the recliner across the room. It was like a marvelous Christmas present God had sent to all of us. She was so proud of her accomplishment.

2:00 a.m. December 26, the call woke me. Mom was having trouble breathing, and they had put her on oxygen. Later that morning, a phone call reassured me her breathing was easier. That evening, another call, this one from my sister, requesting we come into the nursing home. Mom said she was dying and wanted to see us. About 11:00 that night, another ambulance ride took her to the hospital again.

Ten painful days of watching her slowly inch her way into heaven took their toll on my sisters, brother, and me. But her suffering made it easier for us to say goodbye.

During all the heartache and grief, I could see God’s hand working in my mother’s Passover and in my own life.

He loves us all so much. He even takes care of small things that cause us extra stress.

There were two parts of planning her funeral that concerned me more than the rest. 1. The Sunday of her burial was to be bitter cold. And yes, I complained to my Father. I hate the cold. How could I stand outside on a hill for a half hour or so? 2. I didn’t want to pick out her coffin. The thought of going into a room filled with empty coffins made me cringe. I really didn’t want to go there.

Father knew my concerns even before I expressed them to him. He arranged for my pastor to perform the services when the pastor of my mother’s church declined do to previous commitments. Pastor Roger knew nothing about my anxiety about the weather. But he suggested the entire service be done at the church rather than going to the grave site. I felt a God-hug at that moment seriously.

Father also took care of the coffin selection without me even asking. My sister asked the funeral director if we could have the service on Sunday because of two different members of our family starting radiation treatments the next day. The director said, “Yes, on two conditions. One, you have the service at your mother’s church (we intended to do so anyway.) Two because of the rush, would you be okay if we simply did for your mom what we had done for your dad.” That meant they’d pick the coffin for us–the one we had for Dad. We knew these people personally and knew they could be trusted to do it right.

What a relief to put all things great and small in our Father’s hands. He does take care of us and gives us rest when we go to Him.

How about you? How has the Father given you rest and comfort recently?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

T is for Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

fall-path-4-web Please forgive me for skipping out on you the past two weeks thereby, dropping the ball on our P.A.T.H acronym. My mother has had some serious mishaps and is now in special care at the local hospital. We covet your prayers for her and the rest of our family.

If you’ve read any of my posts over the past several months, you know our family has been hit pretty hard with health issues this year. And it doesn’t look like the struggles are ending as the year comes to a close.

Nevertheless, we have hope in Jesus Christ, which brings me to today’s letter in our acronym. T is for trust. As we praise God for who He is, we learn to appreciate His attributes in new and higher ways. Praise unfolds adoration. Adoration opens the door to trust.

Trust is a key element in any relationship. But with God, it’s essential. It’s living and growing in us. And like every other living organism, trust must be exercised. We exercise our trust muscles in various ways. However, we reap the greater benefits through trials. When we stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon, facing a momma grizzly bear with three hungry cubs to feed, we either have to trust our parachute and jump or lie down and say, “Dinner is served.”

Sometimes on this path we call life, we have no choice but to trust and jump. Come to think of it, we have to trust God for every breath every day. He supplies our needs. He is the sustainer of the universe. He never fails, is always faithful, and completes the work He has begun in us.

Trials are part of God’s work. As He creates the image of Christ in us, He uses trials, calamities, and yes, health issues to chisel away at our pride, arrogance, and self-centeredness. With those same tools, He softens our hearts, develops compassion, and gives us a testimony of His mercy, grace, and abounding love.

God uses all things for our good to bring about good things for those who love Him and are called to His purpose (Romans 8:28 paraphrased).

It’s difficult to live by that verse at times. But God sends reminders to help us keep our faith as we exercise our trust in Him. Today, He graciously sent me one of those much-needed reminders while I read my devotions. We are able to confidently say, “this day” – with all its troubles – “is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalms 118:24) – The Storytelling God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Parables by Jared C. Wilson.

Mr. Wilson’s words lifted my spirit. With that reminder, I realized the path God has prepared for me is straight and smooth. However, this physical path is full of twists, bumps, and roadblocks. But let’s not be perplexed by the physical, the more important path is the spiritual path that leads to our eternal home. Jesus said He is the way and He knows the way … follow Him. He straightens the path, smooths the bumps, and removes the roadblocks. We can trust Him to lead us to His kingdom.

How about you? How has God reminded you to trust Him more today?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Not by my Faith, but by His Faithfulness

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

lab-puppy-4-webThere are times when we have no choice but to trust. Trust doctors to have steady hands and the knowledge needed to perform their tasks. Trust God to guide the doctors and to hold our loved ones when we can’t.

My faith and trust has gotten plenty of exercise this year. In February, I was diagnosed with melanoma. It was in very early stages…an easy fix. God’s faithfulness brought me to the dermatologist that day.

In April, Gene’s prostate cancer appeared on the charts again…eight years after he had his prostate removed. Again early detection made the process of 38 radiation treatments doable. His recent blood work proved the procedure successful. God’s faithfulness showed the doctors Gene’s need for treatment in early stages of cancer.

Also in April, my sister became very ill. At first, they thought she had food poisoning. However, tests showed a growth on her adrenal gland. They removed both the growth and the gland…no cancer! Again, God’s faithfulness led my sister to the hospital for early diagnosis.

All of these events tested my faith and exercised my trust. But I have not had my faith tested as strongly as it has been since May. My younger daughter Rachel was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Like the other issues mentioned, her diagnosis came through a rather unexpectedly. Her allergies were out of control this spring so she decided to see a specialist. He checked her thyroid and told her to see her family doctor because it was hard on the one side. Sure enough, she had cancer.

September 26, they removed her thyroid and the lymph nodes on the right side of her neck. The tight quarters in the prep room made her husband and her father uncomfortable so I stayed with her until they took her to the OR. As I walked back the vacant corridor to sit with the men in the waiting room, my spirit sank. I had left my baby in the hands of two strangers to perform a six-hour procedure. The only thing I could do was pray. But that truly is the best thing to do. God is faithful in all His ways. He washed me with peace of mind.

Rachel’s surgeon is very pleased with the success of the operation. She’s regaining mobility in her neck and is growing stronger every day.

I’ve spent the weekdays with her and her small children for the past three weeks, thus the reason I’ve neglected my blog. Sorry. Somethings take precedence, while other things fall to the wayside.

Your prayers for Rachel as she continues to heal and as she faces radiation later are greatly appreciated.

How about you? What has exercised your faith and trust recently?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enough with the Surprises Already (Part 3)

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. (Psalms 91:5-6)

They say seconds always third themselves. I wasn’t wanting to prove that old adage correct at 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning at the cabin. We had had enough surprises Friday night with unexpected guests and Saturday morning with two flat tires. Who needed any more disturbances?

HunterNevertheless, at 2:30 a.m., Hunter started to bark … and growl. I wasn’t about to get up and check outside. As long as whatever was outside stayed outside, I was perfectly fine. Did I mention the lady who took us for the tires told us about a nuisance bear in the area. He had gotten into her trash more than once. Nice story. I didn’t need one of my own. So I buried my head under my pillow and tried to go back to sleep.

Hunter growled again.

Gene jumped out of bed like someone branded him with a hot iron.

I thought, Hide Hunter. He’s coming for you.

Instead, Gene braced himself on the top bunk beside our bed and moaned. I knew immediately his leg was cramping. Wrong! Both legs cramped. Poor Gene couldn’t move. If you’ve never had leg cramps, trust me you don’t want them.

I got Gene some tonic water and leg cramp pills. About 20 minutes later, he was able to relax enough to go back to sleep.

On the way home late Sunday morning, I spent a lot of time in prayer: “Please, Lord, don’t let thirds forth themselves. We’ve had enough.”

God is good always, all ways. We arrived home safe.

In retrospect, God had the weekend planned. He knew those people would be there. But He showed me I don’t need to let unexpected circumstances distract me from my time with Him.

God also knew we’d have two flat tires. Nevertheless, He enabled Gene to return to the cabin safely, and He led us to an honest tire dealer who gave us a great deal on four new tires, which, by the way, we would’ve had to buy in a few weeks anyway.

As for Hunter’s barking and Gene’s leg cramps … somethings just don’t seem to have an obvious purpose. However, whatever was outside stayed outside, and we didn’t find anything disturbed. God’s protection? I think so. And God eased Gene’s pain quickly through the medication.

There’s always something to thank the Lord for.

How about you? What are you thankful for today?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Enough with the Surprises Already (Part 1)

Be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2)

Surprise!

unexpected guestsFriday evening as we approach our cabin, a car has taken up residence in our yard along with its driver and passenger, who are sitting in beach chairs, sipping wine coolers, and enjoying a campfire.

If you know me, you know I need solitude … not company at the cabin.

Gene looks at me before climbing out of the truck and says, “Who is that?”

Too befuddled to speak, I shrug.

“Hey! I haven’t seen you in years. How are you? Brenda, this is one of my hunting buddies …”

Turns out the intruder had been invited several times to hunt, but hadn’t been there for about 5 years. He and his fiancé had dropped his daughter off at a college in northwestern PA. Our cabin was closer than traveling home. So they thought they’d spend the night. I guess, since he knew where we kept the extra key, he assumed he didn’t need permission to use it.

Excuse me—not your cabin. There’s a name for this. It’s called trespassing. I say little and make my way into the cabin, laptop in tow.

Another Surprise

Gene, however, offers them our Bar-BQ sauce for their hot dogs, sits with them all evening, chatting about old times, and shows them pictures he’s captured with trail cams.

Meanwhile, I’m in the cabin, screaming in my spirit—“Why are they still here?” Yes, I am an introvert. I thrive on solitude. Gene comes in and assures me they’ll be gone in the morning.

In the morning? Seriously? The morning begins at 12:00 a.m. and ends at 11:59 a.m. During what part of that 11 hours and 59 minutes do they intend to depart? Gene gets up at 5:00 a.m. to check his trail cams. That means I’ll be alone with these people for … . Will they expect coffee, eggs, pancakes, and pleasant conversation? Yikes! I’m not prepared for this.

By now I’m in tears. I know I should be more like Jesus and Gene, accepting the uninvited guests with open arms. Show them kindness. Show them hospitality. But all I want to do is show them the road.

The Biggest Surprise

So I pray for forgiveness. I get an unexpected answer as I sense the Lord speak to my spirit.

What did you come here for?

I came to spend some time with you, Lord, to write, and maybe get a painting done.

So why aren’t you doing that?

I pause. This isn’t a test of hospitality. It’s a deterrent to keep me from doing what I’d come to do. If I let my emotions control the situation, I’ll waste precious writing and painting time. Peace floods my soul. I get busy on my synopsis and get it about halfway finished before bedtime.

The woman comes in for blankets. They’ve decided to sleep outside—under the stars or in their SUV, I’m not sure. Gene hands her an armload of blankets and pillows. I offer her sleeping bags for extra cushion and tell her they’ll be more comfortable outside because it’s so stuffy in the cabin, especially in the bedrooms with their small sealed windows. In the summer, humidity is almost unbearable back there.

I wake up the next morning about 7:00 a.m. to find the blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows on a tidy pile on the coach closest to the door. I have the cabin and a couple hours to myself. I finish my synopsis and two cups of coffee.

Then Gene comes back from his mountain excursion with another surprise. I’ll tell you about it next time.

How about you? How have you handled one of life’s surprises?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks