Time For Everything

A time to be born and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot the plant.

Ecclesiastes 3:2

A time to be born… I enjoy walking outdoors because of the constant changes around me. The entire world seems to engage in rebirth during springtime. The growth continues throughout summer when flowerbeds and gardens flourish. Leafy trees respond to September’s mix early on with subtle changes in color. October brings those changes to fruition only to give way to November winds. Leaves crunching beneath my feet remind me that winter is near. Even then, barren trees hold the promise of new life. It seems to me that there is always time to be born.

A time to die… The lesson in all of this is that as Nature engages in rebirth around me, it engages in dying all the while. Something old continually gives way to something new. Seeds fall from trees and dance in the wind until they find rest on the ground below. Though no longer part of a living tree, they hold the potential for life anew. Though everything has changed for them, these seeds nestle into the ground with great hope in the things to come.

A time to plant and a time to uproot the plant… If those seeds are lucky, a watchful gardener will see that they are covered with enough soil to survive. If they sprout too closely to one another, that gardener will gently relocate them so each will have room to take root and to receive its share of sunlight and water. That gardener will see to it that they have the time to flourish.

Compassionate God, you are the watchful gardener who places each of us precisely where we are meant to be.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Our Appointed Time

There is an appointed time for everything
and a time for every affair under the heavens.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Time management is almost always an issue. If you interact with others in any way, you understand. In my case, even when I set aside a day or a few hours for my own use, I find that a persistent headache or a more persistent worry can derail my plans. This is the reason that I’ve cited one of my favorite scripture passages for guidance.

This verse from Ecclesiastes indicates that there is time for everything. Still, in my entire life to date, I’ve never had time for everything. In spite of this fact, when it comes to time allotment, we do have important input. At age sixteen, I decided I would likely not be a “straight A” student because I had to devote time to the part-time job which would fund my college education. Once I came to this realization, I balanced school and work more effectively. In the end, I maintained my grades and entered college with a scholarship and savings enough to keep me there.

Today, time-allotment is an issue once again, so I prioritize my concerns once again. The two days per week which my husband and I spend with our grandchildren are etched in stone -our choice. The book stored in that computer file, my head and my heart is also a priority -my choice. Life-at-large always demands a measure of my time regardless of whose choices are involved. In the end God ask only that we use the time as hand as best we can.

God of Love, be with us through all of this life’s the appointed times.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Make A Difference

Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.

Luke 1:58

I have worried quite a bit as of late. Though I consider myself to be a concerned member of our human family, I usually keep the world’s worries in perspective. Currently, it’s very difficult to do so. Every newscast brings more violence, injustice and inhumanity to light. It’s impossible to miss our need to change this world for the better. Though not many of us have influence at the global level, we can all make a difference in our little corners of the world.

As I consider how I might make a positive difference in the space I occupy, I look back to my teaching career. If I expected my students to interact peacefully, I had to model that behavior consistently. I couldn’t tell these children to speak kindly to one another if I freely corrected and embarrassed them with unnecessary harshness. My interactions with family, friends and neighbors are equally instructive. If I wish to live in harmony with those God has given me to love, I must make a positive contribution to the mix.

The truth is that our work in this regard is great. Whether we approach others with a positive attitude, give our time to the lonely or needy, write letters to our legislators regarding the issues before us, or take a deep breath before we say something we will regret… Whatever we choose to do will make a difference.

Loving God, be with is as we tend to our small parcels of this world with compassion and love.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Is Ready…

For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother’s authority he confirms over them.

Sirach 3:2

Some of the most tender moments between parents and their children are the result of uncertainty or fear. Through the worst of storms, after watching a frightening film or when someone actually promises to do them harm, children scramble to the laps of their parents for safety. In their parents’ embrace, children find comfort and the assurance that, indeed, everything will be all right.

We who are God’s children aren’t very different, are we? Sometimes, life throws us for a loop or downright frightens us. When we don’t know what to do, uncertainty and fear overwhelm us. Even when we do know what we must do, our trepidation sometimes keeps us from responding to the troubles at hand.

The good news in all of this is that God is far more perceptive than we earthly parents will ever be. God also holds true to that promise to do whatever it takes to get us safely home. So it is that God recognizes our troubles long before we do. God also stands ready to help us to deal with whatever we face. All we need to do is to imitate our own children and run to God’s embrace. It is there at we will find the encouragement, comfort and strength we need. It is there that we will realize that everything will indeed be all right.

Loving God, thank you for your encouragement, protection and love.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Always Responds

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry,
but let me speak just once more…”

Genesis 18:32

A poignant memory comes to mind whenever I’m discouraged and tempted to question the power of prayer…

I stood at my step-father’s bedside with an aching heart. Emphysema had transformed the muscular carpenter I once knew into a shadow of his former self. I prayed and asked the God of Abraham to watch with me a while. Like Abraham, as soon as I had God’s attention, I began negotiating.

First, I asked for relief for my dad’s difficult breathing. “Take away his anxiousness over each breath,” I begged. When I felt assured of that much, I went on. I requested strength for my mom and the rest of us to remain present to him for as long as needed. I knew God was listening as always and so I continued. This time I set limits on the “as long as needed” part. “If he was my son, I would have him home by Easter!”

I challenged God to hear and to respond to my prayer as Jesus promised God would do. Just a week later, we walked with my step-dad through his passing. It was the night before Easter that I apologized to God for my insolent and demanding prayer. I also thanked God for taking my father home. In spite of my tears, I smiled and promised to pray with the conviction of Abraham many more times before God and I meet face to face.

Loving and Patient God, thank you for listening and for responding with more than I could ever hope for.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

All God’s Roses

The just one shall flourish like the palm tree,
like a cedar of Lebanon shall grow.”

Psalm 92:13

As I write, the scent of roses makes its way to the study. This is the first time I’ve noticed the flowers’ fragrance since I placed them on the kitchen table a few days ago. “You’re strong flowers,” I say, fully expecting a satisfied nod in return. I hope those roses somehow realize how grateful I am that they made it through winter. As I return to my writing, I whisper, “Thank you!”

We’re much like those roses whose survival remained in question this spring. Fortunately, we join our thorny friends in finding the strength to carry on. We focus on the things that matter, like God’s companionship and love. If we remember that God looks upon each one of us with great expectation before we set out on our own, we find the confidence to proceed.

Though the roses on my table will likely last only another day, their unmistakable fragrance will remain with me. This final gift is a lingering reminder that God’s presence in my life transforms everything. Just as I selected those particular roses to adorn our table, God singles out you and me to enhance life on this earth as only we can.

Dear God, thank you for your love and for your presence in my life. What would life be without your fragrance? What would life be like without these ever-creative reminders of your love?

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserve