Called To Do Something…

Happy are they who observe what is right
and who do what is just.

Psalm 106:3

Events in reaction to George Floyd’s death inspired a friend to adjust her career path in an attempt to bring about meaningful change. She wrestled with the notion because she will travel into seemingly unknown territory in the process. In the end, she embraced this opportunity because it will allow her to serve others in a hopefully significant way.

I can certainly relate to my friend’s initial ambivalence. I think we all can. I also share the notion that we’re meant to serve others in this life as best we can. God’s generous gift of free will and God’s absolute faith in our choices allow us to choose just how to go about these things. Nonetheless, we sometimes delay because we aren’t sure that we will make a difference after all…

When we spoke again, my friend bubbled with enthusiasm regarding her new position. The potential for her to contribute to meaningful change is far greater than she dared to hope. Her work with children will allow her to plant seeds which will grow into something much stronger than the ills which contributed to George Floyd’s death. With that, I prayed, Dear God, help those seeds to blossom into something amazing! After offering my silent prayer for my friend, I wondered what I will do to bring about meaningful change…

Loving God, be with all of those who are working to make this world a better place. Give each of us the courage to follow our hearts’ call to do good.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Time To Keep and Time To Let Go

A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.

Ecclesiastes 3:6

A few days ago, my sister happily texted that she’s made notable progress purging her home of the unneeded items she’d held onto for too long. She began this process early into our stay-at-home mandate. Though I started to do the same weeks ago, I lost my resolve about three days into my effort. I really did begin with good intentions. As I sat at my desk, I determined that my calendar would stay and the yellowed brochures from last year’s vacation would go. Greeting cards from our sons, their wives and our grandchildren would stay. Old inspirational calendars which I’ve never revisited had to go.

You get the idea, but not all of it. I also needed to go through the same sort of checklist when it came to the things I do. Though, like you, I have lots of stay-at-home time on my hands these days, I hadn’t been using that time particularly well. Maintaining communication with our family and friends is a priority. Cooking, laundry, cleaning house and exercising a bit are also musts. Watching TV and doing crossword puzzles aren’t. As I pondered my schedule, I remembered the not-quite-half-written book on my flash drive.

I recently texted my sister to let her know that I’ve resumed work on my book. Now I fully understand her satisfaction over keeping just what she wants and casting away the rest. I really, really, really want to finish my book and my newly disciplined schedule proves it!

Generous God, help us all to make the most of our stay-at-home opportunities.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Be Joyful… It’s Okay!

God fills your lifetime with good;
your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Psalm 103:5

A friend of mine hopes to change careers in order to move on to something which will bring her joy. She wrestles with this notion because it seems selfish to her to want to do something which makes her happy. Though this new opportunity will allow her to serve others in a truly significant way, my friend struggles.

I find that I relate far too well to this dilemma. I share the notion that we’re meant to serve others in this life regardless of how happy or unhappy it makes us. Like my friend, I fail to fully appreciate God’s generous gift of free will and God’s absolute faith in our choices. Indeed, it is because of these things that God sends us out on our own.

When we spoke, I encouraged my friend to heed her heart’s longing. The happiest people I know do the things which bring them joy. In the process, they also bring joy to those around them. As I spoke to my friend, I listened carefully to what I said. Apparently, it is time for me to heed my heart’s longing as well.

Loving God, you know the longings of our hearts long before we can speak them. Help us to love ourselves as you love us. Give us the courage to hear our deepest cries for joy and to fulfill them as only we can.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Prioritize With Love

A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.

Ecclesiastes 3:6

The calendar on my desk must stay. The yellowed brochures from last year’s vacation must go. I’ve already written about that! Greeting cards from our sons, their wives and our grandchildren must stay. The unneeded clothing pile I created last month must finally go.

You get the idea, but not all of it. I need to go through the same sort of checklist when it comes to the things I do. Some activities, like spending time with my family, are non-negotiable. I engage in time with them whenever and wherever it presents itself. Other activities, like cooking and doing the laundry, must stay as well, much to my dismay. Still others, however, need to be sorted and categorized and ranked. I need to determine what I will continue to do and what I will pass on. The not-quite-half-written book on my flash drive insists!

In the end, it is up to me to determine what my life’s work will be. That pesky flash drive seems to think that my book should be part of the plan. The truth is that I agree.

Patient God, fill me up with your Spirit and light my way. Help me to prioritize with wisdom and with love.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Embrace This Moment With Love

On my way up to the study to begin this writing, I stopped at the wall of family portraits which I pass on the way. Those pictured include my sons as toddlers, college graduates and grooms. As I considered the little boys-turned-men before me, I wondered how it happened that my older son Mike became a husband and then the father of three little girls. I went on to wonder how his younger brother Tim also became a husband and serves as uncle to his nieces.

As I perused the family photos further, my lingering sigh acknowledged my husband’s and my parents who have all passed away. Wasn’t it just last week when they celebrated the kids’ birthdays with us? So many years have passed since each one left us. My momentary grief became a chuckle as I gazed at our sons’ wedding photos which include their dad and me. It occurred to me that he and I are well past the ages our parents were on our wedding day. “How did that happen?” I asked again.

A shiny glimmer distracted me before I could lament the evidence of aging clearly displayed by our own wedding picture and the photos of us as parents of the grooms. This ray of light had traveled through the window and settled on the wing of one of a chorus of pewter angels which hang in the midst of our family pictures. With arms outstretched, this particular celestial being contentedly watches over my loved ones. As I admired her, she seemed to beckon me a bit closer. When I complied, I remembered that this particular angel is my favorite because the string of words carved into her sash quote Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Her tiny sash reads, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love…”

With that bit of truth in mind, I finally climbed the stairs to the study. I could not help considering the difference a few days make. Indeed, a single moment makes all of the difference in the world. One moment we are newlyweds. Not many moments later, we are parents. One moment, our child enters kindergarten. The next moment, he is off to college. One moment, we seek advice from our much wiser mom. The next moment, we sit at her bedside at the end of her life. A few moments here, a few moments there and a few moments here again mark the time between our births and passing. All the while, the significance of each day, hour and moment depends upon what we choose to do and what we choose not to do with them. This significance is enhanced, just as Mother Teresa tells us, not by the greatness or smallness of our deeds, but by the love with which we perform them.

As I write, the significance of every moment of our lives becomes crystal clear. I realize that every moment of my past -the good and the bad- made possible each of the photos on our wall. I also realize the value of my future which is filled with uncharted waters. Most importantly, I realize the value of the present moment –God’s greatest gift to each one of us– which requires my undivided attention and my love. Within this very moment, I can choose to do or not to do the things to which God calls me. Mother Teresa’s words simply underscore Jesus’ challenge from long ago.

In all that he said and did, Jesus acknowledged that, in spite of our smallness, we can accomplish much, if only we commit ourselves to doing so. In Luke’s gospel (9:51-62), Jesus appeared harsh when he rebuked those who said they wished to follow him but then listed the things they needed to do beforehand. Jesus scolded them because they had not yet come to see that, to follow Jesus, they needed to bring God’s love into every moment. If they buried their dead and tended to their farms with God’s love, they followed Jesus. The same is true for us. Though you and I will likely never minister to the poor in the streets of Galilee as Jesus did nor in the streets of Calcutta as Mother Teresa did, we can serve those we meet along the way with love. Perhaps Jesus seems inpatient because he knows the joy to be found in love-filled moments and he wants nothing more than for us to know the same.

©2013 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved