The Gift of Hope

I am your God,
who takes hold of your right hand,
calming your fears.

Isaiah 41:13

While leaving the post office the other day, I ran into a woman who wore a very familiar-looking sling. I couldn’t help asking if she’d had shoulder surgery. When she replied in the affirmative, I listened as she described her recovery to date. I also shared some things which seemed to help me way back when. The most important advice I could give her was to persist in her physical therapy, to practice every movement allowed and to take her time. Only she could determine what was and wasn’t too painful. When we parted ways, I couldn’t help recounting my own experience in this regard. I admit that I shuddered at the thought!

When I discovered that my shoulder was in need of repair, a very short surgery, a very lengthy recovery and my fear of the unknown overwhelmed me. I survived only because of the many amazing people with whom I’d walked through far greater health concerns. They truly inspired me through those difficult days. Some have long since moved on to new life. Others faced each new day with the resolve to return to good health which they eventually did.

My encounter with that fellow shoulder-surgery-survivor touched me in unexpected ways. Though recalling that miserable recovery period filled me with angst, that I survived it filled me with renewed hope. Our chance meeting served as a reminder that I do have it in me to survive everything this life places in my path. I need only to remain open to the wonderfully encouraging people around me and to follow the advice I offered outside of the post office that day.

Compassionate God, you make your presence known in amazing ways. Help all of the suffering to recognize that you are at their sides through all that they endure.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Prepare Joyfully!

There shall be no harm or ruin on my holy mountain
for the earth will be filled with the Lord…

From Isaiah 11:9

A few weeks ago, when my husband complained of a sore shoulder, I cringed. Suddenly, five-year-old memories from my own shoulder repair returned. “Ugh! I wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” I told myself, “especially Mike!” That year, I’d timed the surgery so that Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations would distract me from the painful recovery which I was warned would come. I’d deluded myself into thinking that I’d somehow be of use when it came time to decorate, shop for gifts and bake. As it happened, nothing could have been further from the truth. Fortunately, the pain subsided and I learned to put my incapacity to good use. As a result, I embraced the approaching Christmas Season with contemplative fervor.

As I considered my poor husband’s aching shoulder and his aversion to any intervention at this time of year, I decided to encourage him to do what I’d done five years ago. I announced that, with so much to do, he and I needed to pace ourselves. Happily, this is precisely what we’ve done. We’ve organized, prioritized and simplified just enough to allow ourselves to feel that we actually will be ready for Christmas with time to spare. The best part of this is that our moods inside have been as energizing as the brisk winter breezes which urge us on whenever we’re outdoors. So far, so good!

Will you join me in organizing, prioritizing and simplifying your to do list as well? Trust me. Once you start, this will become easier than you think! I assure you that God’s Christmas Spirit will be with you all the while.

Loving God, help us to anticipate Christmas with your resounding joy!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Holds Our Hands

I am your God
who takes hold of your right hand,
calming your fears.

Isaiah 41:13

While at the grocery store, I walked past a young woman who sported a far-too-familiar sling. It was black with lots of Velcro to hold it in place. When I looked more closely, I also saw the cushion which rested between her arm and torso. I knew that the cushion would remain in place for a few weeks. This reminder of my own once-aching shoulder caused me to shudder a bit. Years earlier, two visits to the doctor and an MRI indicated that my shoulder was in need of repair. A very short surgery, a very lengthy recovery and my fear of the unknown proved too much to bear. I survived only because my patient husband walked through my misery with me.

As I continued my shopping, I whispered a prayer for my anonymous friend. I knew firsthand what this poor woman was going through. At the same time, I acknowledged that my close encounter of the surgical kind paled considerably in light of far greater suffering in this world. Still, my pain was my pain and this woman’s pain is her own. The good news in all of this is that our pain is also God’s. When God breathed life into us, God also breathed a promise to each one of us to be with us in everything. Regardless of our position on the “pain scale”, God is with us through it all.

Even when no one else seems to understand or to care or to get it, God does.

Compassionate God, thank you for being with us in everything!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Calming Presence

I am the Lord, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand,
calming your fears.

Isaiah 41:13

While at the grocery store, I ran into a woman who wore a very familiar-looking sling. I couldn’t help asking if she’d had shoulder surgery. When she replied it the affirmative, I listened to her recovery to date and shared some things which seemed to help me. When we parted ways, I couldn’t help recounting my own experience in this regard. When I discovered that my shoulder was in need of repair, a very short surgery, a very lengthy recovery and my fear of the unknown loomed overhead. I survived only because of the many amazing people with whom I have walked through far greater health concerns. Some have since moved on to new life. Others continue to face each new day with the resolve to return to good health. Still others prepare to embrace heaven in the very near future with faith and dignity.

As it happened, my close encounter of the surgical kind paled considerably in light of all of this. In the end, my recovery outlasted the earthly lives of some of these loved ones. Once again, I must acknowledge that I am very blessed. Once again, I offer a prayer of gratitude for God’s willingness to be with us in everything.

Compassionate God, make your presence known today. Allow those who are suffering to recognize that you at their sides so they can fearlessly embrace all that lies ahead.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Calms Our Fears

I am the Lord, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand,
calming your fears.

Isaiah 41:13

A recent meeting with my physical therapist friend and my husband’s foot surgery remind me of my own once-aching shoulder. Two visits to the doctor and an MRI indicated that my shoulder was in need of repair. A very short surgery, a very lengthy recovery and my fear of the unknown loomed overhead. I survived only because of the many amazing people with whom I have walked through far greater health concerns. Some have since moved on to new life. Others continue to face each new day with the resolve to return to good health. Still others prepare to embrace heaven with their faith and dignity intact.

My close encounter of the surgical kind pales considerably in light of all of this. As my husband engages in his own recovery, I recall the very real pain I felt and my reluctance to complain as many others were experiencing so much worse. In the end, I realized that our pain is our pain whether or not it is greater than someone else’s. I also acknowledged that God made a promise to each one of us to be with us in everything. Regardless of our position on the “pain scale”, God is with us through it all.

Compassionate God, make your presence known today. Allow those who are suffering to see you at their sides. Help them to embrace all that lies ahead.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

I Sang Joyfully

Sing praise to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the Lord.

Psalm 98:5-6

It was seven months ago when I shared that my torn rotator cuff required repair. Before and since surgery, I offered occasional glimpses into this experience which, at times, had been trying at best. I recall deciding not to blog further about my recovery because I needed to get through it without undo reflection on the situation I had gotten myself into. In the end, my best days proved to be those days when I simply did what I had to do regarding my shoulder and then turned my attention to the rest of life.

When I was dismissed from physical therapy four weeks ago, I received a printout of exercises designed to maintain my current activity level and to build upon it. Though I felt quite pleased with my progress, I still faced what I hoped would be my final doctor’s visit. Because my doctor is an extremely cautious man when it comes to post-op activity, I did not expect much from this encounter. I admit that I prayed while I waited to be called in for my appointment and I prayed while I waited in the examining room.

In the end, my prayers were answered generously as the doctor announced that I am fully healed. I chose the psalm cited above because it sums up my response that day. If I had a harp or trumpet, I would have played it out the door and all the way to my car. As it happened, I sang aloud for the entire drive home.

Loving God, you know that this shoulder repair was no picnic. Still, I am so convinced of your love, that I shared my troubles and triumphs with you all along the way. Your presence in those who cared for me, especially my ever-patient husband, made all of the difference in the world. Thank you!

©2014 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved