Recuperate and Rejoice

He called them, and immediately they left
their boat and their father and followed him.

Matthew 4:22

As my convalescence continues, I am becoming more adept at utilizing quiet time. My morning greeting to the Lord God is much longer. My habitually quick thanks for a good night’s sleep have evolved into a descriptive accounting of my recent attempts at increased independence. When my husband leaves to take care of the day’s errands, I devise ways to complete chores here at home in one-armed fashion. I stop after each attempt to update the Lord God as though he is completely unaware of my handiwork. Mind you, I don’t complain. I simply talk God’s ear off hour after hour as though there is nothing else in this world that requires Divine intervention. Yes, these weeks of waiting to be free of my arm sling have proven to be quite fruitful, especially with regard to my relationship with God.

You know, the Season of Advent begins tomorrow. We are given four weeks to engage in joyful anticipation of Christmas. In years past, is has been extremely tough for me to find the time to truly joyfully anticipate this feast. Sadly, I have been too busy. This year, the simplified life-style which has been temporarily forced upon me has proven to be a true blessing.

I encourage you to seek a bit of simplification for yourself. Though you may not be able to shirk as many of your responsibilities as I have, are there a few activities which you can let fall to the wayside? Is there something that you can let go of so you can embrace that joyful anticipation after all? Trust me. It’s easier than you may think!

Loving God, you have turned my convalescence into a true blessing. Please, help your other children who may be ailing in spirit to find ways to recuperate. Fill them with the joy that only you can bring.

©Mary E. Penich All Rights Reserved

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And So It Begins…

Stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.

Luke 21:28

Though I can still smell turkey in the kitchen, Thanksgiving Day has faded into a distant memory. I know, it was only yesterday. Still, shoppers headed out before the leftovers were put away last night. Others left their beds in the wee hours this morning to take advantage of the best sales. Those required to work today will go directly from their jobs to the mall with the hope that their wish list items are still available. Yes, overnight the Christmas Shopping Season made its stealth entrance quite effectively.

If you haven’t given much thought to shopping yet, don’t worry. Though today’s Black Friday sales will certainly make a dent in store inventories, those empty shelves will be filled again soon enough. The lagging economy beckons, and retailers everywhere will seek your contribution to the cause through 11:59 on Christmas Eve. In the mean time, I invite you to join me in post-op induced procrastination.

Because my arm will remain in a sling for another few weeks, I must shop in small increments with my husband’s assistance. We have had to scale down our holiday decorating, too, as the poor man can only do so much while continuing to care for me. So it is that I find that we are simplifying the entire Christmas Season to accommodate my recovery. I find that this simplification is also accommodating my once-weary spirit. Will you join me in finding ways to remove just a bit of the hustle and bustle of the season from your life? I can tell you from experience that you will be grateful you did.

Caring God, though the Christmas Season is meant to celebrate Jesus’ birth, our desire to please those we love gets in the way of truly enjoying this time with them and with you. Give us patience with one another, endurance to do the things we must and the wisdom to let things go that really won’t matter in the end. And, please, be with us through it all.

©Mary E. Penich All Rights Reserved

Thanksgiving Day

And now bless the God of all,
who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb,
and fashions them according to his will!
May he grant you joy of heart
and may peace abide among you…

From Sirach 50:22-24

I could not resist Sirach’s words today: “Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb…” For, indeed, this is what God has done for me. My life is far from perfect, always has been and likely always will be. Still, I find an oasis of peace within me that comes in the form of God’s loving care.

I am one of six children. In the midst of this brood, my parents managed to convince me that I am truly loved, not so much with their words as with their actions. My dad went to heaven when I was eight. This is the way I viewed his leaving back then. Life has taught me that this view is clear and accurate. We didn’t have much growing up, but we were lavished with loving family, both immediate and of the extended sort. In our want, our mother taught us generosity. There was always someone who needed help more than we did, and she offered that help. And so it went…

I am blessed with having fallen in love way back when. The resulting sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren top the list of gifts for which I am grateful today. The life choices to teach, to embrace a faith community and to simply be kind to others have netted unexpected gifts as well.

Yes, the God of all has done wondrous things by fostering my growth all of my life. Today, I must give thanks.

Good and gracious God, thank you for the gift of life you have given me and for the lifetime of blessings with which you have ensured my growth. I would never have dared to ask for the blessings you lavish upon me. I love you!

©Mary E. Penich All Rights Reserved

Thanksgiving Eve

Sun and moon, bless the Lord…
Stars of heaven, bless the Lord…
Every shower and dew, bless the Lord…
All you winds, bless the Lord…
Fire and heat, bless the Lord…
Cold and chill, bless the Lord;
praise and exult him above all forever.

From Daniel 3:62-67

It is the eve of Thanksgiving and the time has come for each of us to compose a list of the things for which we are grateful. When I am at a loss, feeling the worst that our earthy lives sometimes offer, it is to nature that I turn for consolation. This is a very good day for me (Yes, I know every day has the potential for good). Still, I turn to nature to begin my own list of blessings. Daniel’s words above offer a very good starting point for they name the great gifts of nature which we all share.

Tomorrow, I will enumerate blessings of my very own…

Loving, God, thank you for the beautiful earth and the universe within which it dwells. Give us caring hearts, that we may treasure and care for this gift as you would.

©Mary E. Penich All Rights Reserved

Thanksgiving Tuesday

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord,
praise and exult him above all forever.

Daniel 3:57

Today, I offer heartful thanks for one of the Lord’s works which changed my life forever. This is my younger son’s birthday, and I will always cherish the adventure which led us to this day.

My husband and I could not have been more blessed the day our older son was born. As we gazed upon that little boy, we knew with all of our hearts just how much God loved us because our hearts were bursting with love for this little one. From Day One, he brought joy to our days -still does. As soon as he realized that some of his cousins were siblings, he wondered when he would have a little brother. He didn’t understand that we could not bear another child, so he periodically repeated this request. Just after our son’s seventh birthday, quite miraculously and unexpectedly, we discovered a subsequent pregnancy.

All went well until that birth-day when our newborn son was whisked away before I could hold him. His color wasn’t good and he needed the warmth of an incubator immediately. The following day, the doctor shared that he was calling in a specialist to look into a possible “blood issue.” Another day passed without answers. While my husband and I tried to keep a calm demeanor for our older son, we prayed with all of our might. In the midst of this trauma, Sister Charles who worked in the hospital stopped by my room. “Stop worrying, Mary,” she said. “I’ve looked at that baby and he’s going to be perfectly fine!”

Today, I offer my deepest thanks that Sister Charles was right. Indeed, my younger son is perfectly fine!

Generous God, thank you for the gift of my children. When I became their mother, I assumed the most important and fulfilling role of my life.

©2013 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Thanksgiving Monday

Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exulted above all for all ages.

Daniel 3:52

Early on in my teaching career, I discovered that the onset of Thanksgiving Week automatically turned my students’ thoughts to Christmas. Though I don’t recall any references to “Black Friday” at the time, I know that the children were aware that Christmas shopping and visits to Santa began the day after Thanksgiving. In an effort to keep them interested in school during those days of anticipation, I devised all sorts of projects and lessons which covered the prescribed curriculum while also acknowledging their mindsets.

During Thanksgiving Week, we named, discussed, listed, spelled, wrote about, added up, illustrated, sorted and charted our collective blessings. Though the public school setting did not promote conversation regarding the Almighty, the children certainly understood why the pilgrims felt the need to express their gratitude to their Lord. Who was I to disallow these innocent ones expressions of the same? By the time they left my care on Wednesday of that week, most of the children had joined me in not worrying quite so much about what we wanted and in being a bit more grateful for what we had.

Today, I will do the same.

Generous God, thank you for your love, for the gift of this life and for the blessings you supply along the way. Give me a grateful and generous heart, that I will always acknowledge your gifts and share what I have been given.

©2013 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved