I’ll Do My Part

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

Luke 1:58

I admit that I’ve continued to worry quite a bit as of late. Though I consider myself to be a concerned member of our human family, I used to 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. Not many of us have influence at the global level, I know. However, 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 the 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.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Encouraged!

Jesus told him, “Go home to your family and tell them what God has done for you!”
At that the man went out to proclaim throughout the Ten Cities what Jesus had done…

From Mark 5:19-20

While growing up, I had visions of grandeur regarding what I would do with my life. I wanted to solve the problems of the world. I wanted to end wars. I wanted to fight against prejudice and injustice. I wanted to end poverty. I wanted to work with special needs children. I wanted to teach. I wanted to become a nun. I wanted to become a nurse…

When things began to fall into place, the path before me became less cluttered. I learned to value the seemingly mundane callings which in reality make all of the difference in the world. A good person who deals fairly and kindly with those around her brings peace to our world. Generous couples who allow their love to spill over onto to those around them bring love to the world. Parents who nurture their children with their time and attention bring hope to this world. Caring for those we have been given to love is the most important work we can do.

The truth is that I still want to solve the problems of the world, to end wars and poverty and to fight against prejudice and injustice. This time around, I’m tackling each of these with one loving act at a time.

Dear God, when I wonder if I’m doing my loved ones or this world any good, you dispel my doubt with encouragement. Thank you!

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Uniquely Good and Holy

He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant
and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness.

Hebrews 5:2

When our sons, daughters-in-law and grandkids left the other day, I smiled. We’d shared a wonderful time and I couldn’t help feeling blessed by this family of mine. With that, I excused myself from cleaning and retired to my recliner. From that vantage point, I have a wonderful view of our backyard. Though tiny flecks of snow beckoned my attention, I turned in the opposite direction to feast my eyes. My husband had just updated our family picture wall with the kids’ newest photos. I couldn’t help reliving the day we’d shared as I looked from frame to frame. After acknowledging to our generous God that Mike and I truly are blessed, I left my comfy chair to visit another wall.

This second collection includes photos from Mike’s and my childhood. Many of those pictured have passed. They include our own parents and grandparents, several aunts and uncles and my brother and sister. Mike and I shared much of our lives with these loved ones. Though I know that they happily abide in another place, I missed their physical presence.

You know, though our sons look like brothers, each brings a unique presence to our family. Though I would be proud to call both of my daughters-in-law my own, each brings unique gifts to the mix as well. The gaggle of grandchildren who grace us do so as only they can. Every member of my family and a lifetime of friends have touched my life as no one else has or ever will. Each one, with foibles and imperfections intact, can never be replaced. They’ve added something to my life and to life on this earth which no one else will replicate or replace.

This New Year 2019, I pray that we all thrive in spite of our imperfections and that we generously share our gifts with everyone we meet along the way. I assure you, your presence is a gift and your contribution to the rest of us is worth the effort!

Thank you, dear God, for the good people who brighten our lives.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

All God’s Treasures

Each one speaks from his or her heart’s abundance.
From Luke 6:45

While helping our granddaughters to pack their suitcases after an overnight stay, I checked under their beds for stray socks and flip-flops. In the process, I discovered a storage bin which I’d hidden years earlier. I’d left it untouched because I thought it was filled with one of our sons’ memorabilia. After we drove the girls home, I returned to that bin to determine which of our sons I’d hand it over to during their next visit. When I pulled that bin from under the bed, I saw that the label on top read “Mary’s Childhood and Teens”… What a surprise!

There I found my high school yearbook with handwritten messages from friends and teachers. Familiar faces filled my memory. The message written near Sister Imelda’s picture took me back to freshman year religion class. Sister had observed that we can get a good picture of ourselves by looking at our friends. I took this to mean that our friends mirror who we are. When I taught, I often noted that the “good” kids gravitated toward one another, while their less cooperative peers did the same. Still, good kids were sometimes conned by the allure of unsavory acquaintances. At the same time, placing a troubled child in good company resulted in unexpected liaisons that widened the horizons of all concerned. These amazing friendships changed everything for the children involved. Perhaps I missed the meaning of Sister Imelda’s observation. It isn’t that our friends mirror us, but that their company is witness to our openness to one another regardless of our similarities and differences.

As I considered the variety of friends and teachers who filled my yearbook with their kind words, I saw that our openness to one another is key to a rich life. What a treasure God has made of each of us!

Dear God, help us to appreciate one another more fully.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Gift of You

Tell it to your children,
and your children to their children,
and their children to the next generation.

Joel 1:3

When my extended family gathered at our house over the holidays, we gathered at the table to play a new game. While we organized our play pieces and reviewed the rules, I ran upstairs to get a toy vacuum for my grandson. We’d settled down after our meal and it was good time for Danny to busy himself with cleaning up. On the way, I couldn’t resist pausing at our family picture wall. This collection includes photos from my childhood. Many of those pictured have passed away including my parents, sister and brother who have joined the heavenly host. Because I didn’t want to delay our game-playing, I left my reminiscing until I said my last good-byes that evening. After the family left, I returned to that wall to consider each one of my loved ones passed. Though I know that they’re all alive and well in another place, I miss their physical presence.

I stared longingly at the photos of so many who have “moved on.” Each one touched my life as no one else has or ever will. Each one, with his foibles and her imperfections, will never be replaced. Each one added something special to my life and to life on this earth which no one else will replicate or replace. I whispered a prayer of thanks for them all.

This New Year 2018, I will pray that we all become good souls who thrive in spite of our imperfections because we generously share ourselves and our gifts with one another.

Thank you, dear God, for the good souls who so creatively brighten our lives.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Uniquely Good Souls

He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant
and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness.

Hebrews 5:2

When my extended family gathered at our house over the holidays, my nephew took a few minutes to study our family picture wall. This collection includes photos from my childhood which Ralph always enjoys. Many of those pictured have passed away including Ralph’s mom who is my sister. My brother who is also featured there has joined the heavenly host as well. After the family left, I considered these loved ones passed. Though I know that they are alive and well in another place, I miss their physical presence.

After everyone left, I considered my sister and brother, our parents and so many others who have “moved on.” Each one touched my life as no one else has or ever will. Each one, with his foibles and her imperfections, will never be replaced. Each one added something special to my life and to life on this earth which no one else will replicate or replace.

This 2016, I pray that we can all become good souls who thrive in spite of our imperfections and who generously share our gifts, much to the betterment of the rest of us.

Thank you, dear God, for the good souls who so creatively brighten our lives.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved