The sun had set hours before but I was insistent that everything on my list would be checked off.  Two more things stood in the way of getting into the shower—the birds and the flower pots. Both chores I could have delegated, but when I get in white tornado mode I don’t tend to ask for help

The flower pots had to be watered but the birds really could have gone without.  It’s summertime and there are plenty of other food sources for them.  Knowing this I played a mental game with myself for several minutes while tending to the plants.

Leave it—go get in the shower said the practical voice.  Then the super mom voice answered no, the Chickadee’s are waiting.  Back and forth went the conversation while the flowers were soaked.

Fear was the voice that won out.  It interrupted the conversation with an ominous whisper.  “What if this surgery is like the last one and you don’t come home from the hospital as planned?  What if you’re laid up for the rest of the summer?  It could happen.  You don’t have the best track record with stuff like this.  What will the birds do?”

I put my watering can down and went for the birdseed.  I’d successfully kept fear from nagging away at me all day and while I knew it would find another way to sneak up on me, letting the birds benefit seemed like the easier route to go.  I showered afterwards and slept better knowing my list was taken care of.  Even if it just gives you the illusion of having some control, all mothers like to have their ducks in a row.

It made for an easier morning the next day.  I wasn’t rushing and when I got to the hospital and my surgery was delayed I didn’t have more time to fret.  I had more time to meditate—which is what I did.  Parked on the surgical runway waiting for tower clearance I rehearsed the truth.

“My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.” (Philippians 4:13) I rolled this verse and others through my head clinging to every word like it was the nurses call button—refusing to let fear empty the feeder in my mind I was filling.

The anesthesiologist asked me to think about something I wanted to dream about.  While he fiddled with things I tried to think of something but couldn’t.  A few minutes later when he smiled and leaned over me asking me what I came up with I felt like I was grasping at straws when I said, “I suppose finding a penny.  I like pennies.”

“Well they’re good luck,” he said.

“Definitely,” I whispered.

“Pennies it is then,” he said covering my mouth ever so slightly.

I don’t know how much time passed but the next voice I heard wasn’t his.

“Kären you look like you’re in pain it,” it boomed.  “Are you in pain?  Are you in any pain?”

I tried to answer.  I wanted to answer, but the words would not come out.

“Kären, can you wake up?  Try to wake up.”

I was trying but the pain was so intense and my head spinning so much I couldn’t find anything to focus on.  Her words were echoing.  I felt like I was on a merry-go-round desperate to get off but without a still point to jump toward.

Out of nowhere I found it.

“Penny, I need some help here,” the voice asked.  “Will you stay with her for a minute?”

I felt a hand take mine.

“Kären, I’m Penny one of your nurses.  We’re going to get you some more medication.  You’re okay.  Can you tell me what number the pain is?”

I squeezed her hand twice.

“Is that a ten?”

I nodded.

I couldn’t tell you how long Penny and I had to hold hands but later that afternoon loaded up with instructions and meds I was able to go home.  A day later I was able to come down the stairs to lie on my couch where I’ve stayed put since watching the birds.

The feeder is almost empty now but the birds stick around.  They seem to know what I struggle to remember—God’s grace is like birdseed.  It always appears.

Penny is not a common name but God’s ways are never common.  They’re always uniquely suited to what we need, right when we need it the most.



  1. Praise God for his faithfulness! Your faith is always encouraging! I am praying and here if there is anything I can do! Must love to you, dear friend!

  2. Much

  3. This piece gets my ” 5 Star Choked Up: award. Excellent!

  4. Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness.

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