The Follow-On Appointment

In early August, I met with my orthopedic surgeon for my six-week follow-up on left shoulder surgery. During the visit, Dr. Graves showed me footage of the Before and After of my shoulder. He also provided several sheets of still photos taken during the operation. I was taken aback by the amount of damage and how extensive the repairs were. I understood why it had caused so much pain; and why it would take a minimum of six months to return to normal use.

In the photo above, you can see a frayed end of what used to be my rotator cuff. Today, my new rotator cuff is crisscrossed and anchored on both ends by four metal and plastic anchors. Getting through airport security just became more fun! Besides my rotator cuff, the surgeon explained repairs to a tendon in the shoulder’s rear and another one that connects my biceps muscle to the bone.

In viewing the video and photos taken during the surgery, I learned just how damaged I was on the inside. Seeing the reality of what my shoulder looked like and all the damage motivated me to work harder toward a full recovery. My goal is to become, if you will, better and stronger than before. It’ll take a lot of hard work, painful days, and dedication to reach my goal, but I’m confident it will all be worth it. What is my goal, my reward, for all this hard work? I hope to be fit enough to stay at the Cross-Dubya ranch for a few more years.

I hate the thought of having to one day sell the ranch, part with the animals I care for and have grown to love, and move to a much smaller home. A new home with no view of nature and pasture land would, for this old rancher, be a fate worse than death. I wonder where I would ever get writing inspiration living in a city or suburban area with sirens, constant noise, and busyness all around me. Many writers can thrive in that environment. I’m not sure I could.

All this reflection caused me to think about how damaged my soul was before my salvation. I realized it can become again if I don’t work just as hard to maintain my spiritual health. I’m told my shoulders became damaged through use. Decades of sitting at a desk in a sedentary office environment, combined with working with arms over my head for years and lifting lots of heavy objects (including weights) through the years had taken their toll. When moving to the ranch and lifting dozens of sacks of feed and seed, combined with lots of other chores each week, pushed them past their breaking point. As the doctor explained it “You did nothing wrong, you just wore them out.”

I’ll be working hard in the coming weeks and months to restore my physical health. Stretching only until October, and then I can train with light weights. It will take time to get back my strength, but I’m motivated to do so. I have asked God to help me strengthen my spiritual health at the same time. It takes every bit as much discipline and determination to get into top spiritual condition as my body will require.

Are you committing as much time to your spiritual health as you are your physical health? Share on X

Today, I am exercising my shoulder four times per day. I stretch, flex, and move it to keep breaking down the scar tissue that is forming. I must keep moving it so I don’t end up with frozen shoulder. If we fail to stretch and exercise our faith muscles, then our souls can harden and perhaps become frozen in place. How am I working to prevent spiritual atrophy? I spend time with God throughout the day, I study His word, pray for His guidance, and I put His principles for living into practice in my life. I pray you join me in doing the same. Have you had a follow-up appointment with God lately?

God’s blessings,


28 thoughts on “The Follow-On Appointment”

  1. Dear friend, I am praying healing continues and your shoulder feels better every day. You pose a great question. “Are you committing as much time to your spiritual health as your are your physical health?” This is a great opportunity to pause and consider what my activities and thoughts reflect. I pray for more of Him and less of me. Have a blessed week! 🙂

    1. Thanks Ms. Mimi. We’re gonna get there ma’am. I was initially frustrated at how long everything is taking. Then, when “Doc” showed me how messed up it was (and told me the three-year delay in getting it repaired didn’t help any), I understood. I’m so glad God is more patient with me than I am with my own body. God’s blessings Ms. Melissa.

    1. Am so glad you enjoyed the post Ms. Juanita. I appreciate your prayers. Since the VA healthcare system has sort of fallen down on this, I’m doing all my own rehab with guidance from my outside surgeon. With God’s help, we’ll get there ma’am. Will visit your web site this evening ma’am. Thank you so much for visiting mine today. I sure hope you’ll return.

  2. Praying for continued healing., JD..There are so many spiritual analogies here and I think in any phase of our spiritual journey they apply in different ways: the frayed edges of our lives, restoration, healing, stretching again, added new weights, and the cycle goes on. Because we are being transformed and conformed to the image of Christ, there is always a new challenge for us to meet Jesus for Him to work. This was sooo good. Thank you for using your incident to bring light and encouragement.

  3. Nice contrast of physical health and spiritual health. It’s easy to get out of balance with those.

    I have no doubt you’ll find inspiration for writing your tibbits of wisdom wherever God places you in the future.

    Continued healing, my friend!

    1. It sure is easy to let our lives get out of balance Ms. Candyce. I think this is why it’s so important to be grounded in God’s word. Not just knowing it, but living it. Thank you so much ma’am.

  4. Great analogy. I admire your diligence to steward both your soul and body with the emphasis on the soul. We would do well to ask ourselves your question daily and insert whatever other pursuits we have as well: Are you committing as much time to your spiritual health as you are to _____________?

    Praying for a quick and complete recovery for your shoulder, JD.. I’m in physical therapy for both shoulders, so, I know your pain. Now all I need is the self discipline to do those home exercises. Thanks for your example.

    1. Thank you Ms. Rachael. Great comments ma’am. We would do well to do a self-check daily on our spiritual health. As for a quick recovery, it doesn’t seem quick enough for me. Am having to do all the physical therapy myself here at my home. Using a rehab sheet from a Army hospital many years old and asking my surgeon, I appear to be tracking to plan. It is difficult to do it ourselves, but if we want to improve, then it’s what has to be done. Sort of like laundry. Nobody likes doing laundry, but if I don’t get it done I’m constantly buying new t-shirts and socks. 🙂

  5. Only a few days off spiritual “exercise” leaves me desperately weak, distracted, and more easily yielding to temptations. And then God brings me back – sometimes “roughly” – but I love Him for doing it and rest, gently weeping in His arms.
    Thanks for the object lessons!
    I like the pun; “Seven days without prayer makes one weak.”

    1. 😀 OMGoodness! I had forgotten that old adage Ms. Jackie. Thank you for reminding me of that saying. How perfectly does that fit with this week’s post. Thank you! I’m with you ma’am; when I stray from my daily “God time” I feel it too. So glad you enjoyed ma’am.

  6. I will pray for your healing. After reading a few of your posts, I also dread the thought of you no longer being able to live on your ranch. Big city life is not for me, either. My husband and I are currently dealing with a healing process, both physical and spiritual. Two weeks ago, we were robbed at gunpoint and shot (me twice, him once). In a calm apartment community where nothing like this has happened in ten years, according to the police. We’ve been busy moving (for extra peace of mind). I thought my spiritual health was “okay”, but this incident has caused me to be even more vigilant of it.

    1. Oh Ms. Robin. My heart is breaking for you and your husband right now ma’am. I cannot imagine what you and your husband are going through, both physically and emotionally. You spiritual health will most certainly be impacted and affected by this, but I am praying right now that the Holy Spirit bring you a sense of peace and stability as you are reading these words. Stressors in our lives will manifest themselves in lots of ways. Angry outbursts, fits of sudden depression and crying. Our human mind works in strange ways we still don’t fully understand ma’am. What I know is that you are fighting a battle in your mind. My prayer for you is that you find the peace that comes from God within you; and you and your husband find someone to help you deal with this both emotionally and spiritually. I don’t know where you live ma’am, but God has blessed me with wonderful friends all across this nation. Email me if you want and I will try and find the right help. God can heal you spiritually young lady, but we need to take care of all aspects of your life to achieve balance ma’am. God’s blessings. You can email me at if you are led to. Praying sweet girl.

      1. Thank you so much for your kind words, JD! We are both doing much better. My family and everyone at our two churches (we love both and can’t choose one to join!) has been very helpful and supportive. The police also stay in contact with us as they try to catch the people who did this (they might be involved in other recent crimes). I will show my husband your nice comment.

  7. Your analogy is apt, my friend. Just as we must constantly exercise our physical bodies to maintain our health, we must feed our spiritual relationship with our Lord on a daily basis. Your suggestions are right on target. Just remember, to maintain that balance even as you improve physically. Keeping as fit and active as possible will keep you on your beloved ranch as long as possible. Praying God will continue to bless your recovery and your writing. You always inspire me with your message.

    1. Could not agree more Ms. Katherine. Balance is key to everything in our lives isn’t it? I’ve come to the point in my life that I know I’ll never be able to do what I could forty plus years ago, but I know that as long as I can take care of my land, livestock, and the things and people God has entrusted to me, I plan to do so right here at the Cross-Dubya. It’s my little slice of “Heaven on Earth.” God’s blessings ma’am; and thank you as always for your wonderful comments.

  8. How am I working to prevent spiritual atrophy? I can relate well to that question as I have a daughter in a power chair. Perseverance spiritually is so important. I’m glad your experience brought those words from a physical condition to one of the soul. It touched my heart.

    1. Thank you Ms. Sylvia. I didn’t know that about your daughter ma’am. Will be praying. Am so grateful you are willing to share your heart with us through your words ma’am. I always learn from your posts too.

  9. I so enjoy your posts. It even breaks my heart to imagine you leaving the ranch and I’ve never ever been there.

    This was a powerful post. Our spiritual damage can be a lot like your shoulder damage. We don’t really know exactly how bad it’s been injured until it’s truly examined. We need friends and brothers in Christ to X-Ray our spirit and point out what needs repair, just as your doctor did with your shoulder.


    Dear Father,
    I pray for our brother, J.D. May he sense Your presence and healing power in his recovery. Restore him fully. that he may serve You in the work You’ve given him. Encourage and strengthen him. In the name of Christ, Amen.

    1. Thanks so much Pastor Joshua. Appreciate that you enjoyed it sir. Thank you especially for your powerful prayers. We can never have enough of those. I too am praying to be on this ranch as long as God has use for me here. God’s blessings sir.

  10. Convicting post. Here’s my takeaway:
    “If we fail to stretch and exercise our faith muscles, then our souls can harden and perhaps become frozen in place. How am I working to prevent spiritual atrophy?’
    Praying for complete healing and many, many more years at the ranch, J.D.

    1. Thank you Ms. Debbie. Physical healing certainly does seem to take longer as we mature. When I think about that though, I realize that spiritual growth and maturity seems to be coming easier and faster. Maybe because we’ve tired from fighting God in our worldly desires and are most willing to surrender without as much of a struggle as we used to put up. Now this might be me, but in all honesty, I’ve grown weary of trying to do everything the hard way (i.e. on my own). 🙂 God’s blessings ma’am; and thank you so much for the new lesson you shared today.

    1. Thank you for the prayers and well wishes. I think I would be lost without our little ranch; but in all honesty, I must be willing to give it up if that’s God’s plan. If I’m not willing to give everything I hold dear,then those things become idols and I can never place anything or anyone before my God. God’s blessings ma’am.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top