Unique and Gifted You

“I have found my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him…”

Psalm 89:21

Since enjoying my cousin’s eightieth birthday party a few weeks ago, my earliest memories have emerged frequently. This celebration was reminiscent of our overflowing family gatherings of long ago. Whether observing the holidays, a christening, birthday, graduation, wedding or funeral, we came together. I grew up down the block from our church and numerous people passed our house on their way to Mass each week. Though at the time I was too to greet them all, I enjoyed their makeshift parade. By the time I took my first job at a grocery store at age sixteen, I’d become quite adept at interacting with others. This came to good use when I began my teaching career. I enjoyed the array of children each new year brought my way. Imperfect as they were, there was something special to love in each one of them. I took great pleasure in pointing out and enjoying each of their unique gifts.

You know, we’re all God’s anointed ones. Each of us is sent out to bless those around us and to bless this world with the unique gift of our self. Will you join me in taking a look in the mirror today? Let’s see what we have to offer one another. Let’s see what we can do to repair this suffering world of ours.

Thank you, Dear God, for loving us so much that you entrust this world and all of us to each other.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Z is for…

God’s holy mountain, fairest of heights,
is the joy of all the earth.

Psalm 48:3ab

Z is for Zenith. Zenith… the high point, the point directly overhead, the peak, the pinnacle, the summit. As the psalmist wrote, the fairest of heights. When good things happen to us we say that our spirits are high or that we’re uplifted. Though I don’t think there actually is a direction toward heaven, I turn my eyes upward to pray. I reference my loved ones “up there” and I visualize God and the heavenly cohort looking down upon us from above.

God’s “above-ness” doesn’t imply in any way that God is unwilling to dirty those Divine Hands with the troubles of this world. Oddly, God’s position “above” never stops me from pulling God down into the worst of messes. More importantly, this position “above” never stops God from responding. Our God who loves us from the fairest of heights also loves us from the deepest of trenches. For this, I am most grateful!

Today, I thank you for making your way through this alphabet of reflections with me. Though I fretted a bit about actually taking us from A to Z, God’s inspiration has been abundant. The good people around me, the wonders of creation and the written word never ceased to inspire as well. Thank you!

Loving God, thank you for your presence throughout this ABC side-trip. Thank you, too, for using this space to spread the good news of just how much you care for each one of us!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

There’s Always Another Chance

The woman saw that the tree was good for food,
pleasing to the eyes and desirable for gaining wisdom.
So she took some of its fruit and ate it;
and she also gave some to her husband…

Genesis 3:6

When I was a child, my parents didn’t have money to spare. Still, they invested in books. One of these treasures was a children’s bible. It consisted of cardboard front and back covers, several separate booklets and extremely long laces which held the entire thing together. The seventy-two booklets which eventually completed this bible came in the mail periodically. When each one arrived, my mom carefully untied those laces, removed the bible’s cardboard cover, inserted the new booklet, replaced the cover and retired those laces. Afterward, I poured over every page. The colorful pictures and reasonably understandable text held my attention for some time.

When I finished perusing each new edition, I habitually returned to the first book’s story of Adam and Eve, the snake and that forbidden tree. Eden amazed me almost as much as heaven did. “Why,” I often wondered, “would Adam and Eve turn away from God who gave them so much?”

Life in this world answers that question every day. It’s difficult to read the headlines and listen to the daily news without wondering where we are headed these days. It’s fortunate for us all that God never strays from our company. God simply waits with arms outstretched for our return.

Dear God, thank you for the second and third and twenty-ninth chances your offer us day in and day out. Grant us the wisdom to start anew whenever we need to.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Z is for…

God’s holy mountain, fairest of heights,
is the joy of all the earth.

Psalm 48:3ab

Z is for Zenith. Zenith… the high point, the point directly overhead, the peak, the pinnacle, the summit. As the psalmist wrote, the fairest of heights. When good things happen to us we say that our spirits are high or that we’re uplifted. Though I don’t think there actually is a direction toward heaven, I turn my eyes upward to pray. I reference my loved ones “up there” and I visualize God and the heavenly cohort looking down upon us from above.

God’s “above-ness” doesn’t imply in any way that God is unwilling to dirty those Divine Hands with the troubles of this world. Oddly, God’s position “above” never stops me from pulling God down into the worst of messes. More importantly, this position “above” never stops God from responding. Our God who loves us from the fairest of heights also loves us from the deepest of trenches. For this, I am most grateful!

Today, I thank you for making your way through this alphabet of reflections with me. Though I fretted a bit about actually taking us from A to Z, God’s inspiration has been abundant. The good people around me, the wonders of creation and the written word never ceased to inspire as well. Thank you!

Loving God, thank you for your presence throughout this ABC side-trip. Thank you, too, for using this space to spread the good news of just how much you care for each one of us!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Y is for…

My heart and my soul
cry out for God.

From Psalm 84:3

Y is for Yearning. Sometimes, only God will do.

I’ve shared before that after retiring from his first career as a school principal, my husband became a hospice chaplain. This work touched him deeply. Though we consider ourselves to be “God-aware” people, this experience brought new depth in this regard to both of us. Mike observed often that, when a patient seemed to have lost every means of communication, he or she somehow managed to acknowledge prayer. Whether by squeezing a hand, blinking an eye, smiling ever so slightly or whispering an “amen”, even those closest to death became present when it was time to pray. Some patients rapt in comas seemed to breathe more calmly when those around them prayed. When all else was said and done, God remained present to each one.

Though most of us aren’t in need of hospice care at the moment, we’re all in need of God. When no one else comprehends our suffering, it is God who experiences every detail of it with us. When we cannot mouth a single word, much less breathe without shedding more tears, God is with us.

In times of suffering when I feel that no one understands my heartbreak, I feel completely alone for only a millisecond. If I pay attention, I realize within that instant that God is with me.

Yes, sometimes, only God will do.

Merciful and loving God, thank you for satisfying my yearning with your presence.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

X is for…

I rock with grief and am troubled…
From Psalm 55:3

X is for X-ray. Sometimes, it takes x-ray vision to get to the heart of things.

One weekend, a friend at church asked if he could speak with me. I agreed with a smile though I was slightly worried as his tone and demeanor indicated that he was troubled. When we were alone, this dear man poured out his heart. Current events both nearby and faraway had cut him to the quick. He simply couldn’t reconcile the suffering of this life with his shaky conviction that God loves us. “How can this evil exist side-by-side with God?” he asked through his tears.

You know, I would never have known about this man’s dilemma if he hadn’t shared it with me. I couldn’t peek into his aching heart because, unlike God, I don’t have x-ray vision. After we spoke, this brave fellow shared that he knew I’d understand because I’m such an expert on God’s love. I could only respond with, “Who? Me?” Didn’t he realize that though I was the one standing before him, it is God who had convinced me of all I know? Didn’t he realize that I’m no more perceptive than the next guy? I’ve just learned to let God step in to show me what to do or say.

I absolutely do not have x-ray vision, but God does. Whether we’re in need of help ourselves or in the midst of helping someone else, it is God who sees the troubles lying deep within us. It is God who shows us the way.

Compassionate God, use your x-ray vision to see our troubles and be with us as we respond to those in need.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved