Hearts Like God’s

We give thanks to God always for all of you,
remembering you in our prayers…

1 Thessalonians 1:2

I was very excited to cross off another item on my “check-up” list. I’d gone to my internist and eye doctor and had a mammogram. When I arrived for this appointment, I was taken aback by the waiting room filled with pregnant women. I’m well past that possibility and it hadn’t occurred to me that I might wait in the company of so many mommies-in-waiting. The good news is that they all appeared cheerful as they chatted about their pregnancies and shared helpful tips with one another.

Though I’d brought a book along to occupy myself while I waited, I didn’t read a word. Instead, I stared at the same page all the while as I listened to the exchanges around me. I admit that I filled up with love as the young women around me shared their joy with one another. “Ah, to be young again!” I thought. I clearly recalled the joy my husband and I experienced throughout my pregnancies with both of our sons. It was only when the nurse interrupted my musing that I remembered the reason I was sitting in that waiting room.

As she escorted me to the examination room, I remembered the moments when the doctor confirmed each pregnancy. I fell in love with those babies-to-be instantly. Such are the hearts of parents. They are fashioned to love their children no matter what. Did you know that God’s heart works the same way?

Loving God, thank you for teaching us to love in such amazing ways.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Newborn Hope

We are God’s people,
the flock God tends…

From Psalm 100:3

I drove to my doctor’s appointment reluctantly. I’m reasonably healthy and I didn’t want to chance hearing that this isn’t any longer the case. I worried about my blood pressure which is usually quite good. Current events in the world-at-large and nearby have given me reason to fret and to wring my hands and I can’t seem to do anything to alleviate the messes around me. It was with this mindset that I arrived for that appointment.

When I entered the doctor’s office, I was shocked to see the waiting room filled with pregnant women. I’m well past that possibility and it hadn’t occurred to me that I might be in the company of so many mommies-in-waiting. Though I came in with a heavy heart, the women before me appeared to be worry-free as they conversed about their pregnancies and shared helpful tips with one another. I admit to smiling as I listened.

The joyful chatter which filled the room also filled me up. Rather than burying myself in the book I’d brought along, I prayed for these mothers-to-be, their mates and their babies. I requested uneventful deliveries which would result in happy and healthy newborns. I asked that the parents involved would welcome their children with love, calm, patience, wisdom and generosity. I ended my prayer with words of thanksgiving for blessings received. I wouldn’t have known what to request for these parents-to-be if I hadn’t been blessed with the same.

As the nurse escorted me to the examination room, it occurred to me that, beside the messes which have caused me so much worry as of late, there are also innumerable reasons for hope in this world and it was about time for me to focus on that hope.

Loving God, this world is filled with hope. Please open my eyes to every bit of it!

©2017 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

Thanksgiving

“Why are you so terrified?
Why are you lacking in faith?”

From Mark 4:35-41

This Thanksgiving Day, I have so much for which to be grateful. As I list my precious family members to give thanks for each one, my grandson Daniel and his daddy give me reason to pause. Daniel’s long journey from birth to homecoming was quite an adventure. Though his dad was full-term at birth, he gave us quite a scare as well…

Because I had experienced contractions for days, we expected a quick delivery. Still, we waited several hours for progress. Suddenly, my nurse tossed a gown at my husband and rushed me into the delivery room. The monitors had detected fetal distress. When he made his appearance shortly thereafter, Timothy was white as a ghost. The nurse whisked our baby away without allowing us to hold him. After some whispering among the medical team, our doctor asked us not to worry. Then he added that he was calling in a specialist. My husband and I prayed. We had waited a very long time for this child.

The next morning, the doctor shared that our baby might be suffering from a grave illness which would cause serious disabilities before taking him by age three. This news devastated us and our prayers continued. Later that day, Sister Charles, who managed the hospital lab, hurried into our room. She said, “I’ve looked at Timothy. Trust me. He’ll be just fine.” Much to our relief, it was Sister Charles’ prognosis which proved to be accurate.

Dear God, your heard as I wept for Tim and again for Little Danny. I have wept for all of my family at one time or another. I love them all almost as much as you do. Thank you for caring for each one of them. Thank you for everything!

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A Parent’s Love

We give thanks to God always for all of you,
remembering you in our prayers…

1 Thessalonians 1:2

When I arrived for my appointment, I was taken aback by the waiting room filled with pregnant women. I am well passed that possibility and it hadn’t occurred to me that I might wait for my appointment in the company of so many mommies-in-waiting. The good news is that they all appeared to be worry-free as they chatted about their pregnancies and shared helpful tips with one another.

Though I had brought a book along to occupy myself while I waited, I didn’t read a word. Instead, I prayed for each of these mothers-to-be, their mates and their babies. I requested an uneventful delivery which will result in a happy and healthy baby for each one. I asked that each of the parents involved will welcome his or her child with love, calm, patience, wisdom and generosity. I prayed that all of these babies will flourish in the love which fills their homes. Finally, I ended my litany with a prayer of thanksgiving for blessings received. I would not have known what to request for these parents-to-be if I had not been blessed with the same.

As the nurse escorted me to the examination room, I remembered a similar walk from several decades ago. The moment the doctor confirmed my pregnancy, I fell in love with my baby. Such are the hearts of parents. They are fashioned to love their children no matter what. Did you know that God’s heart works the same way?

Loving God, bless all parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles and the children whom they love. Let them know that you love us even more than we love one another.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved