Of Hospitals, Healing, and Helpful Hints

Sometimes you learn things from the good stuff that happens. Other times you view something and think, “I want to remember never to let that happen, to make someone feel that way, to do—that!” In still other moments, you want so desperately to do the right thing or say the right thing, but you end up doing nothing, because you’re just not sure what “the right thing” is.

Visiting someone in the hospital or talking with someone who has just received bad news both fall into all three of the above categories, primarily the third one.

I’m no exception. In fact, as “outgoing” as I have been throughout most seasons in my life, I’d much rather sit in the safety, comfort, and security of my own home, pen in hand (or computer in front of me), writing from my heart.

However, when it comes to serving others in their time of need, I’ve been reminded of a few important truths in recent years:

  • It’s not about me. When my focus is truly on wanting to help and/or encourage someone else, it changes my perspective. There is seldom a “wrong thing” when my sincere motivation is to serve someone else through my words or actions.

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:1–5, NASB, emphasis mine).

  • Obedience to God’s promptings is as much a gift as the gift itself. When God prompts you to pray, to give, to go, do it. My friend Sandy, director of Widow’s Jar Ministries, tells of God prompting people to donate unusual items to the organization, not even fully understanding why they were prompted to do so. Within days, weeks, or months, a missionary will walk into the warehouse and almost apologetically ask if Widow’s Jar may somehow possibly have this unusual item available, and Sandy is able to provide the seeker with an amazing gift! What if that donor hadn’t followed God’s promptings? What blessing might you be withholding from someone if you don’t act on what you feel you should do?

“And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22, KJV).

So how does this apply to visiting someone in the hospital or spending time with someone who has just received bad news?

When I had major surgery in 2008, no one came to pray with my parents, my sister, or me before my surgery. I had my family there to pray for me and with me, but my family needed the support and encouragement from others. No, I’m neither angry nor bitter, but I have chosen to be available if no one else is planning to be there. It was a lesson I learned from what didn’t happen!

When I was sick with the flu last year, a new (and elderly) friend made me soup, dropped it by the house, and simply included a note to let me know that she was praying for me. It meant the world to me simply to know that someone cared…and missed seeing me at church. It was a lesson I learned from what had encouraged me in my time of need.

It’s not about saying the right thing, doing the right thing, or “fixing” what’s wrong. It’s about caring.

But I’m going to let you in on a secret. Taking a small gift with you can at least serve as a conversation starter when you’re just not sure what to say. And depending on the gift you take, it can provide a visual reminder to the recipient that someone cares. Keep your visit short, listen, offer a verse from the Bible that encourages you when need to remember that God loves you and cares, pray with the individual, and leave!

Here’s a quick, easy, and inexpensive gift you can take with you to the hospital or to someone’s home (you can even use them as hostess gifts, Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, “just because it’s Thursday” gifts, etc.). See the corresponding numbers on the photo collage:

  1. Purchase an inexpensive ivy plant (or ask a friend for a “slip” from his or her existing plant).
  2. Water it approximately every two days (don’t over water it).
  3. Get a second pot/planter (small is best) and fill it with potting soil (usually under a dollar for a small bag, and you’ll hardly use any of it). In fact, you may want to start two or three planters while you’re at it! (I currently have four going!)
  4. As the original plant grows, simply use a pair of household scissors to cut off a few of the longest stems.
  5. Simply take those stems and plant them into the soil you placed in the new pots/planters (no roots needed; they’ll grow in the dirt).
  6. In a matter of days, you’ll have new plants, ready to take as a growing, thoughtful, inexpensive, kindness-filled gift to a friend who needs your encouragement!

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For additional information on what to say and do when a friend is in crisis or need, I encourage you to read I Don’t Know What to Say, written by Dr. Nell Collins.

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Recipe: “Come on Over” Potato Chips

In the spirit of absolute transparency, I confess that I have very little self-discipline when it comes to potato chips. And by very little, I mean none! So when my sister told me about making potato chips at home—in the microwave, no less—I decided that it just may allow me to indulge without feeling the need to keep snitching some on a daily basis until the bag is empty! As most of us do when we hear a new idea or recipe, I tweaked it until it worked best for our setting and our taste buds.

They’re fun for kids of all ages to make, and they’re so easy to fix that kids of all ages can make them! We’ve enjoyed them as a crispy side dish with grilled hamburgers, and tonight we’re having them with pizza! These yummy chips make it easy to say, “Come on over”—for a snack or a meal!

“Come on Over” Potato Chips

Prep time: 5 minutes-ish per tray
Cooking time: 5–7 minutes-ish per tray
Serves: 2
From the kitchen of Brenda Henderson

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes for every 2–3 people
  • Cooking spray (flavor of your choosing)
  • Seasoning spices of your choosing (we like Steak and Shake’s Seasoning Salt, which is similar to Lowry’s)

Directions:

  1. Slice the rounded tip off of one end of a washed and cleaned potato.
  2. Using a potato peeler, “peel” horizontal slices of the potato (you should get about 25–30 slices [“chips”] per potato).
  3. Lightly spray the cooking spray onto a flat plate or microwavable cooking dish.
  4. Lay the slices on the flat plate or microwavable cooking dish. Do not overlap the slices. You will not get all of the slices from one potato on the first plate. It will take a few plates to complete both potatoes.
  5. Once all the chips are arranged on the plate or dish, lightly spray them with the cooking spray and lightly season with the spice(s) of your choosing.
  6. Depending on the wattage and power level of your microwave, you will cook the chips for 5-7 minutes. When they turn a golden brown, they are crispy and ready to remove from the microwave.
  7. Lay the chips on a paper towel to cool—or eat them while they’re warm!

You can store them in a brown paper bag or even store individual servings in small paper bags. I’ve kept mine as long as four days this way, and they were just as crispy on day four as they were on day one!

(By the way, I tried doing sweet potatoes this way. They were awful and shrunk to mini little chips. Don’t bother trying it. Just thank me for the warning!)

I’d love to hear how your chips turn out! I’m all but certain you’ll enjoy them, and you’ll be telling your friends, “Come on over for some homemade potato chips!”

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a blog post about what to say when visiting someone in the hospital. Thursday’s post includes a quick and easy gift to take with you when you visit.

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30 Days of EXPRESSING Gratitude

No, I will not be sending daily e-mails or posting daily thoughts regarding our annual Thirty Days of Gratitude. (You’re welcome.)

Yes, I would like to encourage you to join me in this annual endeavor! Some are following in along in my book, Petals of Gratitude. Some of you may want to join us by printing out the page below and using it as a guide for the next thirty days to express gratitude to those who have impacted your life in the areas listed on the chart.

No, we should not just be thankful for one month. But setting aside a month to express our gratitude in intentional ways is a huge boost—for us and for the recipients of our demonstrations of thanks!

Happy November! Simply click on the picture of the chart to print your free downloadable copy!

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Blessed

On this thirty-first day of the month before many of us our endeavor to be intentional about expressing our gratitude, I could think of nothing better than to share a thirty-one-minute video with you.

WAIT! Don’t log off yet.

Yes, that sounds like a long time to ask you to focus on this blog, but it’s not a long time to ask you to be truly bless as you listen to several of my dear friends who compiled this video for a ladies’ meeting at our church. Feel free to watch it in five-minute segments. That’s about how long each presentation is.

These ladies, all of whom have had what most of us would label as tragedies or trials, share how and why the “trial” could also be seen as a blessing. Stories from cancer…to caregiving…to addiction—each of them a blessing on its own, but a greater blessing when soaked into the heart via the words of the very women God entrusted with these lessons.

Five minutes and tissues…yes, you’ll want to have tissues nearby. Prepare to be blessed.

blessings video from Colonial Hills Baptist Church on Vimeo.

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The Joy of Giving

The Captain’s Corner

I had the blessing of wonderful Christian parents who taught me early on the privilege of giving to God. With a weekly allowance of one dollar, I would receive ten dimes from my dad. He would say, “Put one dime in the offering at church.” Later, when I trusted Christ as my personal Savior, Christian giving was already a habit in my life.

Airline flying was a lucrative profession. As my income increased, my late wife and I joyfully increased the percentage of our giving to the Lord. Even though our income was steady, there were uncertain times. For example, during the fuel crisis of the 1970s, I was faced with a possible layoff (called a “furlough” within the industry). We decided that we would just keep giving. Thankfully, the furlough was cancelled.

Later in my career, the pilots (along with all employees) were asked to take pay cuts to help the airline. This we did. And once again, we just kept giving. Thankfully, the pay cuts ended, and we were returned to our previous salaries.

About six months before my mandatory retirement at age sixty, my pilot pension was terminated by the bankruptcy court to help bring the airline out of bankruptcy. I had no idea just what my retirement income would be—if anything at all. However, we just kept giving, and God just kept supplying our needs, just as He promised in Philippians 4:19 (NASB): “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

God also promises to supply the gift and bless the giver. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Corinthians 9:8, NASB—for further reading on this, read 2 Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9).

Do we give in order to get from God? No. Do we give to get a tax deduction? No. We should give from grateful hearts, because He gave His Son to die for our sins and “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17, NKJV).

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Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and now blogs in
“The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.

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Cleaning Day

My mom cleans her home every Thursday morning. Like clockwork. And it shows. Her home is always ready for guests, and it always feels freshly cleaned. She keeps it tidy and “touched up” throughout the week.

My home is clean. But I found that adopting my mom’s Thursday morning routine didn’t work for me. Too often, Joe and I would be running errands, be out of town, or be helping someone somewhere on Thursdays, and my housecleaning would be the thing to get put on hold. I like things clean, but I confess that I’m also a piler, a (true) perfectionist, and a procrastinator—not a good combination! So I had to adopt a method that worked for me. More about that later.

As I grabbed my dusting cloth this morning to start on the family room shelves, it hit me that sin and dust are clearly first cousins. They both enter our homes and lives subtly. They both need to be dealt with before they grow in their scope. They are both among the things we too often try to hide rather than take care of.

James 1:15 (NASB) states all too clearly: “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” It’s this vicious cycle that always needs to be dealt with—before it has a chance to overtake us and move to the next stage.

So let me jump back to the topic of cleaning and share the method that works for me, because it mirrors my daily “heart cleaning” in God’s Word.

For me, if I can do a little each day, my house feels like it’s in a perpetual state of clean. Then, if I miss a day, I can simply get right back on top of things the next day. So, for example, on Mondays, I do all the bathrooms. On Tuesdays, I vacuum and dust the upstairs. On Wednesdays, I do the living room and family room. On Thursdays, I clean the kitchen and dining room (since that’s generally when we grocery shop, and I can get the food put away as part of my kitchen-cleaning routine). And so on….

Every now and then, I do a deep cleaning, spending a little more time working on those areas that I may have inadvertently neglected or that only got “lightly” cleaned at other times.

My spiritual cleaning is the same. I daily seek the Lord and ask Him to cleanse my heart of the sin that is there, because I don’t want it to form roots and overtake me. His mercies are new every morning for a reason! I need them daily!

And yes, every now and then my heart needs a deep cleaning too. Sometimes sin builds up, becomes “comfortable,” and begins to overtake my thoughts, my words, my actions. That’s when I have to pause and spend extra time with the Lord, willingly praying the words of Psalm 51 to Him:

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!
Create in me a clean heart, O God,

    and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 51:1–2, 10, ESV

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my cleaning and make sure I’m not using blogging as a procrastination tool that keeps me from getting today’s…er…yesterday’s…dusting done!

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Of Training and Spiritual Growth

The Captain’s Corner

In my thirty-six years with the airline it seemed that I never stopped training. There was initial training (when I first hired on to fly). There was recurrent training (at least once a year and often twice a year I went to ground school and flight-simulator training). If I changed airplanes, I received transition training (equipping me to fly that particular kind of airplane). All of this training was for the purpose of providing me with knowledge, checking my knowledge, and reinforcing my knowledge to fly safely and to handle any emergencies that might arise.

One thing was sure: my life with the airline was neither stagnant nor routine—always changing and challenging, always equipping me to grow in proficiency and professionalism. While some flight crews complained about all the training, I looked forward to it. It sharpened my skills, increased my comfort level with the aircraft, and gave me confidence.

In a similar way, our walk with the Lord involves growing, exercising our spiritual knowledge, learning, testing, and training.

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18, KJV).

Christian growth should not be stagnant. Scripture speaks of our new birth by faith in Christ as our Savior. It also speaks of our spiritual growth:

“Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2, NASB).

Babies should grow both physically and mentally. Likewise, Christians should grow. But how do we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ? The Word of God is “milk and meat” to the new believer. Reading, studying, and hearing the preaching and teaching of God’s Word strengthens us spiritually. As believers, we learn how to live, how not to live, how to serve God, and how to discern truth and error. All of this helps us to grow in grace.

Our airline training involved time, directed study, repetition, and review of facts. The training helped us to grow from novices to professionals. Christian maturity (learning and moving forward in our walk with God) is both needful and necessary. No one should remain a spiritual baby, simply feeding on “milk” due to being sluggish about his or her spiritual growth. (See Hebrews 5:11, Amplified Bible.)

People who are growing spiritually spend time in the Word of God and apply the Scriptures in their life experiences to help them discern between good and evil and to follow God’s will in purpose, thought, and action.

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14, ESV).

Most of our airline training was in a classroom. Where is God’s classroom for Christian training? It is best found in a Bible-teaching and Scripture-preaching local church. Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV) states: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.”

So as we used to say in the airline, “I’ll see you in training!”

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Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and now blogs in
“The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.

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Gearing Up to EXPRESS Gratitude

In 2002, I launched a little blog on another website. Blogging was relatively new, and I was learning right along with every other blogger out there, but I loved expressing thoughts and ideas to those who were willing to read them! It was on that blog that I first began a “Thirty Days of Gratitude” each November. No, the general concept wasn’t original with me, but I took a slightly different approach—not just focusing on gratitude but emphasizing the importance of expressing that gratitude. The response was quite honestly overwhelming and prompted me to carry the annual tradition with me when I launched Petals from the Basket several years later.

So why am I posting about this in September? As my husband is outside preparing the house for the cold months ahead, I am reminded that November is literally just around the corner. This “gearing up” post is plenty early so that you have time to purchase a copy of my book Petals of Gratitude and join us this November for our annual month-long focus on expressing gratitude.

Yes, we should be and must be thankful every single day of the year! That’s why there are currently many popular books on the market that encourage readers to list things they are thankful for. However, as I stated above, the goal of this book is to help us set aside a specific amount of time to focus on the habit of expressing that gratitude.

My first posting for “30 Days of Gratitude” on the Petals from the Basket website was in 2012. It was such a reader favorite that I did it again in 2013. However, in 2014, life happened, and with caring for my father in his last months with Parkinson’s disease, I didn’t take the time to continue the annual tradition. But “30 Days of Gratitude” returned in 2015, culminating in the publishing of this book.

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20, ESV).

Will you join me in working through this little book during the month of November? We’ll go through the book together, and there will even be giveaways and special incentives throughout the month!

Click this book cover to order your paperback copy of the book. 

Click this book cover to order your copy of the book for Kindle

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New Book Available!

Joe and I are thrilled to share with you that over the course of the last month and a half, God has enabled me to complete a Bible study book for women that is now available on Amazon! Choosing to Change when Change Happens is a 7-lesson Bible study book for women, following the life of Moses and his journey toward a greater knowledge of God. To God be the glory!

Click on the book cover below to order your copy or to read more about the book.

Christian Service

The Captain’s Corner

Early in my walk with God (through faith in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior), I was challenged by Scripture and good preaching to serve God. I was also exhorted to consider that all ground is sacred ground for the believer. We are all in full-time Christian service, wherever we may be or in whatever we may do.

In my career, I relocated both as a single person and as a married man with a family to various flying bases—Indiana, New Jersey, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, and more. In each of those moves, I always found a church “home” first—a Bible-preaching church where we could serve God with our time, treasures, and talents. Once I knew that there was a good church in the area, I looked for a house that we could call home.

We who have a personal relationship with Christ are often pictured in the Scriptures as sheep. Because sheep need a shepherd to lead them and a flock to be a part of, I made certain that my church selection included both a good preacher/pastor (shepherd) and a good Christian fellowship of believers (the flock).

I have served my local church by cleaning the church building, singing in the choir, playing my flute, teaching a couples’ Bible class, serving as a deacon, etc. It seemed that if I was not flying an airplane, I was serving God at church.

But church is not the only place where we can serve God. Our sphere of influence can extend way beyond our local church setting.

Think of your workplace. Are you the same person on the job as you are at church? Consider how you do your job. Do you perform your work fervently, cheerfully, helpfully, and completely?

Colossians 3:23 (NKJV): “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV): “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

I loved every minute of my career with the airlines. Another crew member once asked me, “Why are you so enthusiastic about this job?”

My reply? “I love this job.” My goal was to let my love for my job and my love for my Savior be reflected in how I did my work.

Our conduct on the job will serve as an example of Christlikeness through our attitudes, actions, and thoughts. You can be ready to give an answer to all who may ask you (as I was asked), “How is it that you are so different?”

1 Peter 3:15 (KJV): “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

Jim Elliot, martyred missionary for Christ, said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” So be in full-time Christian service wherever you are and in whatever you do.

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Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and now blogs in
“The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.

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