Plan Generously

“…go, sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.”

From Matthew 19:21

I learned about the poor early on. Though my own family could be counted among the working poor, my mom often assured us that there were far needier people in the world. So it was that I took encounters with those needy ones to heart…

Throughout college, I traveled from the West Side to the far northeast of Chicago. I attended Mundelein College located next door to Loyola University. Loyola’s beloved Sister Jean taught me there. That hour commute required a bus ride and then subsequent transfers to the Lake and Howard Street trains.

One January day, a woman wearing only a clear plastic raincoat over her clothing rode with me. She carried two bags which looked more like her belongings than the fruits of a shopping spree. Though the woman didn’t ask, I felt compelled to give her my jacket. At the time, this jacket was my only coat. I was paying my own way through college and really couldn’t afford to replace it. Still… While I closed my eyes to ask for guidance, the train stopped and my raincoat-clad friend stepped off. I felt terribly guilty about this missed opportunity until I shared it with a friend. “You did receive guidance from above.” he said. “The woman got off the train and you kept the coat you needed. God took care of you and God will inspire someone to take care of her.”

I puzzled over this for some time. I also gave to the poor whenever I could. When I graduated and acquired a job, I began to budget for my giving. Finally, there was no question regarding what I could and couldn’t afford. Giving became part of the plan.

Generous God, sometimes, the easiest way to live as you would have us live is to plan. Thank you for taking care of me and the woman in the raincoat.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Hallowed Ground

When Jesus finished instructing his twelve disciples,
he left that locality to teach in their towns..

Matthew 11:1

While in Israel, we traveled from place to place on a coach bus. I am most grateful for Yani, our endearing and enduring bus driver, who delivered us safely to our numerous destinations. Yani’s careful driving freed me to appreciate the large windows which allowed me to take in everything we passed along the way. Throughout these “between site” rides, our guide also enhanced our travels. Yossi used this time to provide additional commentary regarding the sites we’d just left, the places we approached and modern-day life in Israel. I appreciated this as Yossi is a fountain of rich information which he shares with generosity and great passion.

I carried a small journal with me throughout this trip just as I had during our first trip. Last year, I managed to scribble only a few notes on four pages of that little notebook. This year, my improved note-taking netted several more pages. Still, I found it difficult to put my feelings about the sights and sounds and people around me into words. I found it exponentially more difficult to express the deep connection I felt with them all. Before I realized what had happened, this second trip to “Israel” had become a second trip to the “Holy Land”. This place has come to mean a great deal to me. All that I learned about Israel, whether of a religious or a secular nature, revealed an aspect of Jesus, his people and the God whom Jesus revealed to us all. Of course it is holy land!

Knowing how deeply this experience has affected me, I can only imagine what it was like to encounter Jesus in the flesh. Perhaps I have…

Generous God, thank you for allowing me to see your face in the sights, sounds and people of that precious place.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Plan Ahead

“…go, sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.”

From Matthew 19:21

A recent dinner in Chicago reminded me of my college commute. Every day, I traveled from the West Side to the far northeast. This involved one bus and subsequent transfers to the Lake Street and then Howard Street trains. The safety of this commute depended upon the time of day. One consistency was the array of God’s people whom I met along the way.

One frosty January day, a woman wearing only a clear plastic raincoat over her other clothing rode with me. She carried a few bags which looked more like her belongings than the fruits of a shopping spree. Though the woman didn’t ask, I felt compelled to give her my jacket. At the time, this jacket was my only coat. I was paying my own way through college and really couldn’t afford to replace it. Still… While I closed my eyes to ask for guidance from above, the train stopped and my raincoat-clad friend stepped off. I felt terribly guilty about this missed opportunity until I shared this story with a friend. “You did receive guidance from above.” he said. “The woman got off the train and you kept the coat you needed as much as she did. God took care of you and God will inspire someone to take care of her.”

I puzzled over this for some time and I gave to the poor whenever I could. When I graduated and acquired a full-time job, I began to budget for my giving. Then, there was no question regarding what I could and couldn’t afford. Giving became part of the plan.

Generous God, sometimes, the easiest way to live as you would have us live is to plan accordingly. Thank you for taking care of me and the woman in the raincoat.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved