Gift Them With Love

For the Lord loves the people…
From Psalm 149:4

We’ll celebrate four of our grandchildren’s birthdays this summer. Some years ago, Grandpa and I came up with a creative plan for these special occasions. Rather than purchasing numerous gifts which sometimes go by the wayside in short order, we decided to share the gift of our time with them. We typically plan an overnight stay, a special dinner and an outing for each one. Our hope is that these efforts will underscore the love that we feel for them twenty-four/seven. To date, our plans have met the expectations of all concerned. So it is that the tradition continues in spite of the pandemic’s challenge to be particularly creative and safe this year!

You know, I recall very few of the gifts I received on my own childhood birthdays. What I do remember are the celebrations with my mom, dad and siblings who sang “Happy Birthday” to me. On those special days, though gifts weren’t always plentiful, the cake for dessert was. I remember the story books and picnics shared, the reassurances at 3:00 AM when I couldn’t sleep and the “I love you!” that accompanied good-night kisses. I especially remember the forgiveness offered after a much-deserved scolding.

In the end, perhaps Grandpa and I will succeed in giving our grandchildren the best gift of all -the affection of a couple of grandparents who truly loves them.

Dearest God, we would not know how to gift one another with love if you had not shown us the way. Thank you! I love you, too!

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Time To Dance?

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

Ecclesiastes 3:4

My husband and I planned to attend three weddings this summer. At the moment, the two earlier weddings have been cancelled while the third dangles in uncertainty on our calendar. We looked forward to celebrating with each couple. I would have found it encouraging and, yes, a bit romantic, to wish these hopeful spouses all of the best for their futures together.

I admit that I also looked forward to dancing at their receptions. I usually begin with a slow dance in my husband’s arms. Afterward, he retreats to join anyone else who isn’t dancing while I continue on with a friend or family member whose spouse has also retreated from the dance floor. In the end, the dancer within me takes over for as long as I can move. Though she sometimes has a difficult time guiding my feet into the prescribed steps for a given dance, she always succeeds in freeing me to abandon my inhibitions and to rejoice in the music at hand.

Needless to say, there will be no such dancing for us in the foreseeable future. Still, the words I cited above from Ecclesiastes nudge me to try. I truly believe that God intentionally created us with the ability to party. This is one of God’s most creative ways of reminding us to take the time to relax and not to take ourselves or this life too seriously. Like you, I know we’re immersed in one of the most serious times of our lives. Still…

…Our grandchildren amuse us with three-way FaceTime calls. Friends resend emails and Facebook posts which force us to laugh aloud. We walk outdoors and shout cheerful greetings to those we see while social distancing at twice the prescribed footage. We telephone those we love, but cannot see and we pray for everyone. Yes, we are in this together and we are called to turn our mourning into dancing whenever we can!

Gracious God, thank you for our ability to transform our tears into laughter and our mourning into at least an attempt to dance.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

I Give Thanks

Give thanks to God;
bless God’s name for God is good:
the Lord whose kindness endures forever…

From Psalm 100:4-5

As I consider the things for which I’m grateful, I find that I have more time than usual to compile a list. My husband and I aren’t cooking today. Our older son and his wife have taken on our annual Thanksgiving feast. His younger brother and wife will do the same for Christmas Day. I admit that I’m quietly rejoicing in response to this turn of events. Thank you, God!

The next point on my list of blessings is my family. That I married was a huge surprise to me. That my husband and I have children is a miracle, literally, from what the doctors have told us. I’m grateful to my parents who shared their faith with me through their practical daily lives. They appreciated God’s love and their resulting ability to weather any storm taught me to do the same. My siblings each contributed to who I am today in so many ways. Thank you, God!

I appreciate God’s love, too. When in doubt, I turn to Jesus who insisted that God loves us as we are with all of our frailties intact. Though Jesus provided a lifetime of very good example, he also assured us that God expects only what we are able to do, nothing more. Thank you for this, Dear God, because I sometimes forget that I’m good enough for you!

On this Thanksgiving Day, this reflection should be the longest I’ve ever written because my blessings are so numerous. Suffice to say that God knows them all and that I’m most grateful. I hope you find that the same is true for you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Generous God, thank you for everything!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Gift of Love

For the Lord loves the people…
From Psalm 149:4

We’ll celebrate two of our grandchildren’s birthdays this summer. A few years ago, Grandpa and I came up with a creative plan for these special occasions. Rather than purchasing numerous gifts which sometimes go by the wayside in short order, we decided to share the gift of our time with them. We typically plan an overnight stay, a special dinner and an outing for each one. Our hope is that these efforts will underscore the love that we feel for them twenty-four/seven. To date, our plans have met the expectations of all concerned. So it is that the tradition continues.

You know, I recall very few of the gifts I received on my own childhood birthdays. Still, I do remember the celebrations with my mom, dad and siblings who sang “Happy Birthday” to me on those special days. I remember the story books and picnics shared, the reassurances at 3:00 AM when I couldn’t sleep and the “I love you!” that accompanied good-night kisses. I especially remember the forgiveness offered after a much-deserved scolding.

In the end, perhaps Grandpa and I will succeed in giving our granddaughters the best gift of all -the affection of a family who truly loves them.

Dearest God, we would not know how to gift one another with love if you had not shown us the way.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved