Oh So Grateful!

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

Mark 4:40

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I’m feeling blessed, especially with regard to my family. The close proximity of my husband’s and son’s birthdays enhance my gratitude. I’ve given birth twice and I can honestly say that, though he was at my side both times, I think my husband missed out a bit. We moms are very fortunate to have our roles in all of this. I’d do it all over again for each of my sons.

I admit that this is an easier call for our older son as I’m told his delivery was too easy. The second time around was a little different… Because I’d experienced contractions for days, we expected a quick delivery. Still, after I was admitted, we waited several hours for progress. Suddenly, a nurse tossed a gown to my husband and rushed me into the delivery room. Monitors had detected fetal distress. When he made his appearance, Timothy was terribly pale. That nurse whisked him away without allowing me to hold him. After some whispering with his team, our doctor asked us not to worry, but added that he was calling in a specialist. Mike and I prayed. We and his big brother had waited a long time for this child.

The next morning, the doctor shared that our baby might be stricken with a disease accompanied by serious disabilities. His lifespan might be only a few years. While I tearfully prayed for a different outcome, a friend stopped in. Sister Charles, the hospital lab director, told me, “Mary, I’ve looked at Timothy. His color is very good. He’s going to be just fine.” The following day after he consulted with that specialist, our doctor shared that tests confirmed that Sister Charles was absolutely right!

On this Thanksgiving Eve, as I consider all that has gone right in my life, I find it a bit easier to deal with circumstances that have gone awry. May each of us find reason to set aside the trauma of this pandemic and all of our other worries to give thanks for those who are most important to us. Though we my be unable to be together tomorrow, we do have one another to love!

Dear God, thank you for the gifts of our families and our friends and for all of the things which bring us joy.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

We’re All Invited!

Turn to me and be safe…
From Isaiah 45:22

Our granddaughter’s and grandson’s recent birthdays inspired some reminiscing on my part. Perhaps because we couldn’t gather for our typical large family parties, memories of parties past filed me up. Like my mom, I’m happiest when we’re gathered as family under one roof having a good time. How she would have loved to participate in the many gatherings that have occurred since her passing!

It was seventeen years ago. After what we expected to be uneventful surgery, we were shocked by news of our mom’s cancer, her four-month life expectancy and the possibility of pain, a lot of pain. When we told our mom, she shared our surprise at the diagnosis, but not at the outcome. “We all have to die from something. I’ve had a good long life… I hope I can do what I want for a while. I hope I can be comfortable. I hope I go without too much trouble. I hope…” We all hoped with her.

In the end, the outcome was precisely what my mom had hoped for. The pain never came and Mom did everything she wanted to until her last two days when she remained in bed. Two days before she left us, I asked if she was okay and if she was afraid. My mom sported a huge smile and said, “Oh no, Mary! I’m not afraid. They’re all waiting for me!” On the day she left us, my mom’s eyes were closed, but her heart was wide open to the things to come. She was about to enjoy the best family gathering of all!

Loving God, thank you for making us capable of loving so much that our losses hurt and thank you for filling us with just enough faith and hope to cope until we join in that celebration.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Time To Love… Always!

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 Nature’s ongoing evolution. The entire world seems to engage in rebirth during springtime. This growth continues through 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. Especially now, I’m happy to celebrate that there is always time to be born and to be reborn.

A time to die… Just as Nature engages in rebirth, it also 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 plant, they hold all of the potential they need for life anew. These seeds nestle into the ground with great hope in the things to come. How I thank God for this hope today!

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. Perhaps God is seeing to it that we have the room to flourish during these tough times…

A time to love… Fortunately for us all, God feels it is always time to care for us. Especially now, I am truly grateful for God’s attention.

Caring God, thank you for your consistently timely love.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Believe!

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

Mark 4:40

A recent discussion with a second-time mom brought back memories of my own. This young woman’s first delivery was so much easier than her most recent effort! It was easy for me to commiserate. I’ve given birth twice and I can honestly say that I would do it all over again for both of my sons. Still, this is an easier call for my older son as his delivery was a little too easy, I’m told. The second time around was as baffling as that of the new mom I spoke with the other day…

Because I’d experienced contractions for days, we expected a quick delivery. Still, we waited several hours for progress. Suddenly, a nurse tossed a gown at my husband and rushed me into the delivery room. 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 me 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’d waited a very long time for this child.

The next morning, the doctor shared that our baby might be suffering from an 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.” By the time the tests were completed, our little boy sported a very healthy glow. I’m happy to report that Sister Charles was absolutely right!

All of our worries aren’t unfounded, I know. All of our worries aren’t dispelled as happily, I know. I also know that God has always been and always will be with us through them all!

Dear God, you understand our worry better than we do. Thank you for being with us though them all.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Expectations Fulfilled…

In verdant pastures God gives me repose;
beside restful waters God leads me;
God refreshes my soul.

From Psalm 23:2-3

This is the anniversary of my sister’s departure for the hereafter.

When Cecele returned to her doctor due to a persistent cough, she didn’t expect him to suggest an exploratory procedure. Not long afterward, she didn’t expect to hear about cancer, her months-long prognosis and the chemo which might or might not help. When she finally absorbed all of this, Cecele observed, “I’m a fighter. I’m going to fight this.” And that she did!

My sister dug in her heals and embraced the regimen of care laid out for her. The rest of us accompanied her to appointments and did whatever else we could to lighten her burden. We talked a little and we listened a lot. When the chemo wreaked havoc with her hair, my sister’s daughter-in-law shaved her head for her. Though the Cancer Society provided a lovely wig, Cecele determined that bald is beautiful. On her, it really was. When the chemo failed to help, Cecele accepted hospice care. Again, she fought, This time, she fought to accomplish everything that needed to be done before she took her leave. And that she did, too. I don’t think I’ll ever meet an equally prepared dying person!

Though my sister’s final journey was unexpected, the outcome was precisely what she’d hoped for. When I bade my final farewell to her earthly remains, the peace on Cecele’s face was unmistakable. The few glimpses of the hereafter which had graced her last days sustained Cecele through her good-byes and her last breaths. I have no doubt that her experience of the things to come is everything she hoped for and so much more! It was her expectation regarding eternal life which saw her through what could have been a far more difficult journey.

Loving God, thank you for this life and the amazing life to come.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserve

Always With Us

Turn to me and be safe,
all you ends of the earth.

From Isaiah 45:22

Recent celebrations of our wedding anniversary and our little grandson’s birthday elicited much reminiscing on my part. I’ve enjoyed fond memories especially of my mom. My mom was happiest when we were gathered as family under one roof enjoying one another. How she would have loved to participate in the many events which have occurred since her passing!

After what we expected to be uneventful surgery, my sisters and I were shocked by the news of our mom’s cancer, her four-month life expectancy and the possibility of pain that could darken her smile. When we told our mother the news, she shared our surprise at the diagnosis, but not at the outcome. “We all have to die from something. I’ve had a good long life. I wanted to leave an educated family that contributes and I have. I hope I can do what I want for a while. I hope I can be comfortable. I hope I go without too much trouble. I hope…” We all hoped with her.

In the end, the outcome was precisely what my mom had hoped for. The pain never came and she did everything she hoped to until her last two days when she remained in bed. On the day she left us, my mom’s eyes were closed, but her heart was wide open to the things to come. As for our family gatherings since then, I’m certain my mom has been perched nearby and that she hasn’t miss a thing!

Loving God, thank you for making us capable of loving one another so much that our losses hurt and thank you for filling us with just enough faith and hope to cope.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved