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Issue 13-2

It Takes Work to Get Well

Since March 7, I have been undergoing physical therapy three times a week for about 90 minutes of stretching, reaching, muscle and tendon manipulation, hand-squeezing, pulling, and the gentle forcing of my right arm and shoulder to do the extensions I so easily took for granted before I fell. I dislocated my shoulder (in the anterior inferior position if anyone is interested), tore two essential muscles that control the rotator cuff (the supraspinatus muscle, to be specific, and the infraspinatus) and underwent arthroscopic surgery.

My team of physical therapists have been great—pushing me enough but not too much. I have discovered over these two months that getting well takes lots of hard work. Rehabilitation doesn’t just happen. As my orthopedic surgeon says, “God heals, but we have to collaborate with Him in the process.”

The smallest pulling motion causes pain in healing wounds -- but is necessary to build torn muscles.
The smallest pulling motion causes pain in healing wounds—
but is necessary to build torn muscles.

This last Monday, I had my three-month physician’s examination. Proudly, like a little kid, I said, “Look what I can do!” and lifted my outstretched right arm upward, all the way above my head. This is a simple move that has taken these three months to accomplish. My orthopedic surgeon was relieved and pleased. “I was a little concerned,” he reported, “when last time we met, you couldn’t move that arm above your waist.” I hadn’t thought about how hair-raising this recovery process in patients must be for the surgeons who put the pieces back together. Today he beamed. “Looks like everything is aligned and functioning the way it should be.” Whew! I was informed that I had completed my required 30 sessions of PT and would be given exercises to do at home. I was also warned that it would probably take a whole year to recover fully.

And to think, after I tripped in the kitchen over the artisan rug we brought back from Oaxaca, Mexico, fell across the open dishwasher drawer, hit my head on the way down against a cabinet and dislocated my shoulder, I actually said to friends and family, “Well, it could have been a lot worse. I could have had a concussion or broken my arm.” Either of these would have healed rapidly in comparison to the rehabilitation process I will be in for a year. How little we know!

Tyler keeps reminding me that correct posture is important for the healing process. (Too much computer work!)
Tyler keeps reminding me that correct posture is important for the healing process. (Too much computer work!)

All this to say that this physical healing has made me consider how long it really takes sometimes to get well—how long it takes to recover from the death of a loved one, from injuries to the psyche committed long ago, or from wounds of battle, accident or evil intent.

“Forty sessions,” a friend reported who also had rotator-cuff surgery. “Then I was good as new.”

God does heal these amazing bodies, but too often many of us refuse to cooperate with His designs. We rush away from the pain of recovery, deny the extent of the damage, and fudge on our at-home exercises. Then we complain that nothing is working. Or we pretend that nothing is wrong (with our shoulder, our psyche, our emotions, or our spirituality), but to everyone else, it’s obvious something is wrong—we can’t reach our right arms above our heads, for goodness sake. We say inappropriate things, yell and shout (mouth disease), demand to get our way, and see the world exclusively through the grid of our own desires (rabid narcissism).

“Nothing wrong with me.” For this person, it’s always the other guy’s or gal’s fault.

So here are some rehabilitation tips on getting healthy. Believe me, physically or emotionally or spiritually, it’s just plain hard work:

1. Always, always ask in conflicted circumstances, “What have I done to contribute to this?”

2. If you have the courage, ask the Holy Spirit to tell you where you are in error. In fact, learn to collaborate with the divine Therapist. He is perfectly able to bring you into all truth.

3. Ask yourself this telling question: “Why am I really so angry (or sad or afraid)?”

4. Compare all your negative emotions to those Scriptural passages that clearly indicate we are not to give way to them: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you; with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as Christ in God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31. In a nutshell, this verse is a great diagnostic as to how you are doing.

5. Make a list of intentionalities. What can I do to keep from tripping over that rug from Mexico again? I can:
• Take up the rug and put it in a less trafficked area.
• Put a rubber mat under it so it will not slide.
• Or have a son who goes and buys carpet tape and tapes it to the kitchen floor. (This one worked for me.)

How can I keep from spiraling into that deep depression? I can:
• See a professional to determine if there are any organic causes; thyroid depletion, for instance, often can contribute to mood shifts and sadness.
• Talk with a wise friend who will not just sympathize with your difficulties, but speak truth into your dilemma.
• Catch and identify the negative emotion before it grows and overwhelms you. Do something positive that will calm the anger—quote Scripture, choose to see the best in people or circumstances, ask God to give you strength to do the exercises.

6. You will know that you are healing when the moves that used to bring you pain or trigger your anger no longer have that impact on you. The lateral arm movement to the right side that used to make me wince and clench my shoulder now is easy and smooth without any discomfort. Or that person who used to get under your skin no longer leaves you fuming.

This morning I looked at my calendar, making plans for the next week, and suddenly there were all these open spaces. For two months I have been under various doctors’ care, working with the physical therapy team, seeing a nutritionist and learning from a de-stressing expert. All I have on my calendar for the days ahead is a weekly appointment with my clinical nutritionist. WOW! I am feeling better physically than I have in twenty years. I am no longer experiencing afternoon fatigue collapses. Yesterday, I walked seven miles and ended the day (according to the pedometer I wear), having taken 17,521 steps. It has been work. BUT IT HAS BEEN WORTH IT.

All I can say is: Do the work to get well.

Karen Mains


Congratulations to Mary Ogalo

We are so excited that our Kenyan Global Bag Project Manager, Mary Thamari Odhiambo (Ogalo), has received a financial award that will pay for her to complete her Ph.D. The announcement reads as follows:

The Harvey Fellows Selection Committee … and members of the Mustard Seed Foundation Board and staff, selected 13 new Harvey Fellows from a pool of nearly 300 applicants. The new Fellows are a talented group of passionate Christians who are pursuing degrees at premier institutions in strategic fields.

This means Mary, who has worked with the Global Bag Project since 2009, has formed a Kenyan board and applied and received official NGO (non-government organization) status, and will be traveling to the States to receive her award to complete a Ph.D. in African Studies from the University of Birmingham, in the U.K.

Mary Ogalo Is Coming! Mary Ogalo Is Coming!

Mary will arrive in Washington, D.C. for the award ceremonies from June 17-18, then fly to Chicago on Thursday, June 19. Carla Boelkens and I will be setting up small Meet-and-Greet events in the Chicago area and will send out a specific schedule as we get closer to the 19th.

Mary Ogalo giving instructions in sewing room in Kenya.
Mary Ogalo giving instructions in sewing room in Kenya.

Mary has launched a remarkable program called the County Girls Caucus, which is a community-based project to educate girls in rural communities in a preventive way that will help them avoid the pitfalls and traps of poverty. We would love for you to hear her speak about the women who are the seamstresses who sew the beautiful bags we sell here in the States, but we also want to hear more about the launch of the County Girls Caucus.

We are praying about raising some $10,000 to send home as a love gift for Mary to employ the Global Bag Project seamstresses to make products for Christmas sales here in the States.

This is a BIG leap of faith for us here at Mainstay Ministries, since our list of supporters is very small. Businesses raise venture capital to launch new ventures. So we are praying for some people who want to help underwrite Mary’s God-given passions—a gift of $10,000 would go a long way toward achieving this goal.

Global Bag Project bags
Global Bag Project bags

Mary will be in the Chicago area from June 19 to 28. Gifts can be designated for the Global Bag Project and mailed to Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60187. We can take credit cards. A phone donation is the easiest way to do this. Call 630-293-4500, or you can donate through PayPal on the Web site at


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Karen Mains

Karen Mains

God does heal these amazing bodies, but too often many of us refuse to cooperate with His designs. We rush away from the pain of recovery, deny the extent of the damage, and fudge on our at-home exercises.”
The Mature Mind
The Mature Mind:
The Positive Power of the Aging Brain

by Gene Cohen, M.D., Ph.D

I wish I had read this book in my 40s (was it even written then?) As the back-cover copy declares, “Gene Cohen, a renowned psychiatrist and gerontologist, delivers good news for those in the second half of life, with an extraordinary account of cutting-edge neuroscience, groundbreaking psychology, fascinating vignettes from history and case studies, and practical advice for personal growth strategies.”

From all this, Cohen concludes: “The brain can get better with age!” Cohen defines wisdom as a synonym for the developmental intelligence that only comes with age. “Earlier,” he writes, “I described wisdom as deep knowledge used for the highest good. Making wise choices usually involves drawing on both the logical and the intuitive, the right and left hemispheres, the head and the heart. I believe that the changes and continuing growth of the brain in later life amply support our capacity for wisdom and that, as the quote from Ben Franklin suggests (i.e., 'The doors of wisdom are never shut'), this capacity never runs dry.”

Drawing on vast and intriguing research, Cohen makes startling conclusions that run contrary to the normal assumptions about the aging process: Rich possibilities, including the life of the mind, continue well into the latest of our years. We do not need to slip into an inevitable mental stupor.

How to keep the mind alive? The last chapter studies the use of creativity and the development of participatory activities that keep us lively, interesting and ever-curious. This is a good handbook to help those of us in the younger years plot out the kind of beings we want to be as we age. Well-written, encouraging, challenging and comforting.

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