Say Cheese!

Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.

Psalm 145:13

When my first grandchild was born, I organized our photos of her and the rest of us from Day 1. Some family members and friends acknowledged my new role as “Grandma” by gifting me with photo albums and I put each one to immediate use. Rather than storing them away, I displayed the albums on our coffee table for easy access. I didn’t want to forget a bit of this new adventure.

Four additional grandchildren and a few memorable trips have enticed me to keep this “album thing” going. Thirteen volumes later, I find that my thinking in this regard is sound. When visiting, our grandchildren and their respective parents look through these albums often. Numerous conversations regarding the places we’ve been, the kids’ growth spurts and a variety of special occasions result. The smiles that accompany all of this indicate that my photo album collection is truly a celebration of who we are and where we have been.

Though I have no photographic evidence, I’m certain that my family and I haven’t been alone in all of this. God has been with us every step and click of the camera along the way.

Generous God, thank you for the memories and for the wonderful family who build them with me.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Memories… Memories…

“Were not our hearts burning inside us as he talked
to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?”

From Luke 24:32

Because we diligently chronicled our first trip to Israel, we have two albums which we lingered over after that trip and before we returned. We realize that this is the digital age and that we can enjoy our memories in full color on our laptop. Still, having them in hand is a luxury we’re not ready to give up. We keep all of our photo albums in our family room. This prompts visitors and us to enjoy them often. There’s no easier way to acknowledge our blessings on a regular basis.

Luke’s gospel tells us that Cleopas and his companion were confused by the stranger whom they met on the road to Emmaus. They had just left Jerusalem where Jesus had been crucified. It seemed everyone they knew was affected in some way by this tragedy, yet this man seemed to know nothing of it. Finally, when this stranger conjured up their memory of the breaking of the bread, they realized he was Jesus. This precious memory clarified everything!

Both of my visits to Israel have enriched me beyond words. Every time I open our albums, another precious memory enhances the moment at hand. As was the case for those fellows who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus, my heart continues to burn within me.

Loving God, help me never to forget the wonder of your presence in my life.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Favorite Photos

Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.

Psalm 145:13

When our first grandchild was born, I began to organize our pictures of her and the rest of us from Day 1. Though I’d done the same for our own sons, it had been a while since I started new albums. Some family members and friends acknowledged our new roles as “Grandma and Grandpa” by gifting us with photo albums and I put each one to immediate use. As I completed each one, rather than storing them away, I displayed the albums on our coffee table for easy access. I didn’t want to forget a bit of this new adventure.

Three more grandchildren and a few memorable trips enticed me to keep this “album thing” going. Twelve volumes later, I find that my thinking in this regard is sound. When visiting, our grandchildren and their parents look through these albums often. Numerous conversations regarding the places we’ve been, the kids’ growth spurts and a variety of special occasions result. The smiles which accompany all of this indicate that my photo album collection is truly a celebration of who we are and where we have been.

I can’t help thinking that my family album experiences mirror God’s love for you and me. In spite of the world’s distractions and that challenging gift of our free will, we all manage to engage in good deeds far more often than we realize. Each one certainly elicits a smile from our Benevolent Creator. Though my photo albums don’t chronicle our difficult family times, God’s albums do. God looks upon these events with loving concern. More importantly, God remains with us most closely during these difficult times.

Generous God, thank you for making our memories your own.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Picture Perfect Love

All the paths of the Lord are
kindness and constancy…

From Psalm 25:10

Whenever our granddaughters visit, they spend a good deal of time thumbing through the photo albums we keep on our coffee table. These albums feature each one from the time of her birth. Now, they include our grandson as well. Of course, the rest of us are also preserved for posterity in this smattering of birthday, Christmas and other special occasion photos. The kids enjoy looking at all of us. Still, they seem especially amazed by the way they have changed over the years. So are we! As that metamorphosis continues, so will our love for each one…

The other day, I decided to peruse my husband’s and my photo history. After enjoying our grandchild-filled albums, I pulled out our wedding album. As I poured over those decades-old pictures, tears threatened several times. On almost every page, I found a loved one who has passed on from this life. Each one of these special people left a significant mark on me. The love they showered upon my husband and me so long ago is tangible even today in most of what we do and say.

Though I know my loved ones present and passed on are not perfect, they have all added to the richness in my life. It seems to me that the most important gift we give to one another is our love. We give this gift best during time well spent together.

Thank you, God, for the people you have given me to love in this life and for those who have so generously loved me in return.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

We Matter

A few weeks ago, we celebrated our eldest grandchild’s ninth birthday. In August, we’ll celebrate our youngest grandchild’s first birthday. All of this revelry nudged me into gratitude-mode. When the recent heat and humidity urged me indoors, I decided to relax by enjoying the things for which I’m most grateful. As you likely suspect, my family tops the list. On that particular day, however, my dear husband was otherwise engaged at Wrigley Field (Yes, the Cubs won!) and our kids and grandkids were busy with their Wednesday schedules. So it was that I settled in with the next best thing: our family photo albums.

I began my trek down Memory Lane with our sons’ baby albums. Afterward, I turned to the newer albums which I began nine years ago when we first became grandparents. I admit to tears of joy as I recalled our sons’ arrivals. Photos of our grandkids elicited the same response over which I had no control. I spent two hours flipping between those albums. In the process, I found myself amazed at how often I couldn’t tell the difference between our own sons and at how different each of our grandchildren looks. Even more amazing were my recollections of holding those sons and their offspring as they slept. For me, there is nothing more precious and peace-filled than holding a sleeping baby. Every time, I can’t help swaying as they breathe, back and forth and in sync with their every exhalation. Even today, I often absent-mindedly sway when I stand -a remnant from those loving encounters. As I finally set our albums aside, it occurred to me that I had found such joy in holding those little ones because it was then that I my love for them seemed most tangible. At least for the moments they spent in my arms, I could ensure that all was well in their little worlds.

When I returned to the tasks at hand, I remained in gratitude-mode because the reasons I have to give thanks have grown exponentially. As I cleared my desk to prepare for this writing, I noted another image of a babe in arms. We purchased this bit of artwork from the Sisters of St. Joseph at least a decade ago. It is a small paper sculpture which depicts Isaiah’s reference to our being held in the palm of God’s hand. I admit that this image is as precious to me as those which fill our family albums because I consider myself to be that baby and that hand to be God’s hand. Just as I couldn’t help being absorbed into the rhythm of all of my beloved babies’ breathing, God’s love impels our benevolent Creator to remain in sync with each one of us. It seems to me that this is the reason Jesus persisted in trying to convince us of God’s enduring love and best wishes for us all.

In his gospel (Luke 12:13-21), Luke shares another of Jesus’ parables in this regard. This time, Jesus speaks in great detail of a wealthy farmer: “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, ‘Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.’”

The poor rich man didn’t understand that he was what mattered to God. Though the man had likely worked very hard to accumulate his wealth, he seems not to have attended to more important things. Had he taken the time to care for those God had given him to love? Had he taken the time to attend to God? Though I don’t believe that God expects us to remain on bent knees twenty-four seven, I do think that God enjoys being with us. Though we always rest in God’s arms or palm, taking the time to be in sync with God makes the very best of those precious moments. Trust this grandma; I know.

You know, I’m not the only one who has albums of photos of the people I love. Though God may not display hard-copies of you and me somewhere on a heavenly coffee table, rest assured that our images are always before God just the same. God asks that we care about the things that matter because we are happiest when we do so, and nothing is more pleasing to God than seeing us happy. As I said, trust this grandma; I know.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Picture Perfect

Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.

Psalm 145:13

When my first grandchild was born, I organized our pictures of her and the rest of us from Day 1. Some family members and friends acknowledged my new role as “Grandma” by gifting me with photo albums and I put each one to immediate use. Rather than storing them away, I displayed the albums on our coffee table for easy access. I didn’t want to forget a bit of this new adventure.

Three more grandchildren and a few memorable trips have enticed me to keep this “album thing” going. Twelve volumes later, I find that my thinking in this regard is sound. When visiting, our grandchildren, their parents and their aunt and uncle look through these albums often. Numerous conversations regarding the places we have been, the kids’ growth spurts and a variety of special occasions result. The smiles that accompany all of this indicate that my photo album collection is truly a celebration of who we are and where we have been.

Though I have no photographic evidence, I am certain that my family and I have not been alone in all of this. God has been with us every step -and click of the camera- along the way.

Generous God, thank you for the memories and for the wonderful family who build them with me.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved