J… Joy!

God has sent me to bring
glad tidings to the poor…

From Luke 4:18

J is for Joy. Joy can be illusive. A recent off-the-cuff remark opened an old wound. Normally, I let go of hurtful events, burying them deep within. As of late, however, these things have resurfaced. As a result, this seemingly harmless remark sent me into a tailspin. In an effort not to succumb to my sadness, I distracted myself. I began by perusing the newspaper. This only increased my melancholy. I set aside the paper and picked up the remote. I surfed the channels until a news report caught my attention. The update confirmed that recent violence had been accomplished to “honor” God’s name. I sank into my recliner, looked out the window and asked, “Dear God, what are we doing?”

We humans have hurt one another in God’s name since the beginning of time. Before I could repeat my question, a lone dove perched on our bird bath. Almost on cue, she turned my way, seemingly to peer into my aching heart. Though a large blue jay joined her to dance on the rim of that bird bath, the dove continued to look at me. Finally, I prayed aloud, “Thank you, Lord!” Though that dove didn’t change the news that afternoon, she filled me with joy. When she eventually flew away, perhaps to spread joy elsewhere, God’s joy remained with me.

As long as we continue to nurture God’s joy within us and around us, there will be joy in this world. Rather than allowing myself to be overwhelmed by wounds old and new, I will allow God’s joy to overwhelm me. My joy-filled revelry will compel me to share that joy at every opportunity!

God of Joy, help us to focus on your joy in spite of this world’s continuing attempts to distort and disfigure it. Be with us as we bring your joy into every moment every day.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

X is for…

I rock with grief and am troubled…
From Psalm 55:3

X is for X-ray. Sometimes, it takes x-ray vision to get to the heart of things.

One weekend, a friend at church asked if he could speak with me. I agreed with a smile though I was slightly worried as his tone and demeanor indicated that he was troubled. When we were alone, this dear man poured out his heart. Current events both nearby and faraway had cut him to the quick. He simply couldn’t reconcile the suffering of this life with his shaky conviction that God loves us. “How can this evil exist side-by-side with God?” he asked through his tears.

You know, I would never have known about this man’s dilemma if he hadn’t shared it with me. I couldn’t peek into his aching heart because, unlike God, I don’t have x-ray vision. After we spoke, this brave fellow shared that he knew I’d understand because I’m such an expert on God’s love. I could only respond with, “Who? Me?” Didn’t he realize that though I was the one standing before him, it is God who had convinced me of all I know? Didn’t he realize that I’m no more perceptive than the next guy? I’ve just learned to let God step in to show me what to do or say.

I absolutely do not have x-ray vision, but God does. Whether we’re in need of help ourselves or in the midst of helping someone else, it is God who sees the troubles lying deep within us. It is God who shows us the way.

Compassionate God, use your x-ray vision to see our troubles and be with us as we respond to those in need.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

J is for…

The Lord has sent me to bring
glad tidings to the poor…

From Luke 4:18

J is for Joy. I would be completely dishonest if I didn’t admit that joy eludes me at times. A recent off-the-cuff remark opened an old wound. Though I tend to let go of hurtful memories, this recollection surfaced immediately. Rather than giving in to my slowly simmering anger, I picked up the newspaper to distract myself. Unfortunately, the headlines only increased my melancholy. I swapped the paper for the remote. I surfed the channels until a news report caught my attention. The update confirmed that violence continues to plague my old neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago. I sank into my recliner, looked out the window and asked, “Dear God, what are we doing?”

We humans have hurt one another since the beginning of time. Before I could repeat my question to the Almighty, a lone bird perched on our bird bath. Though the bird may have been a pigeon, she was a dove to me. Almost on cue, she turned my way seemingly to peer into my aching heart. When a large blue jay joined her to dance on the rim of that bird bath, the dove continued to look at me. That sweet bird didn’t change the news that afternoon. Still, she filled me with joy just the same. When she eventually flew away, I imagined that she’d gone to spread joy elsewhere.

As long as we can appreciate the joy within us and around us, there will be joy in this world of ours. Rather than allowing myself to be overwhelmed by wounds old and new, that wonderful dove reminded me to revel in joy and to share that joy at every opportunity.

God of Joy, you send me to bring your joy everywhere I go.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Newborn Hope

We are God’s people,
the flock God tends…

From Psalm 100:3

I drove to my doctor’s appointment reluctantly. I’m reasonably healthy and I didn’t want to chance hearing that this isn’t any longer the case. I worried about my blood pressure which is usually quite good. Current events in the world-at-large and nearby have given me reason to fret and to wring my hands and I can’t seem to do anything to alleviate the messes around me. It was with this mindset that I arrived for that appointment.

When I entered the doctor’s office, I was shocked to see the waiting room filled with pregnant women. I’m well past that possibility and it hadn’t occurred to me that I might be in the company of so many mommies-in-waiting. Though I came in with a heavy heart, the women before me appeared to be worry-free as they conversed about their pregnancies and shared helpful tips with one another. I admit to smiling as I listened.

The joyful chatter which filled the room also filled me up. Rather than burying myself in the book I’d brought along, I prayed for these mothers-to-be, their mates and their babies. I requested uneventful deliveries which would result in happy and healthy newborns. I asked that the parents involved would welcome their children with love, calm, patience, wisdom and generosity. I ended my prayer with words of thanksgiving for blessings received. I wouldn’t have known what to request for these parents-to-be if I hadn’t been blessed with the same.

As the nurse escorted me to the examination room, it occurred to me that, beside the messes which have caused me so much worry as of late, there are also innumerable reasons for hope in this world and it was about time for me to focus on that hope.

Loving God, this world is filled with hope. Please open my eyes to every bit of it!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

J… for Joy

The Lord has sent me to bring
glad tidings to the poor…

From Luke 4:18

J is for Joy. Joy can be illusive at times. A recent off-the-cuff remark opened an old wound. I tend to let go of hurtful events from the past, so this recollection took me by surprise. I distracted myself by perusing the newspaper. This only increased my melancholy. I set aside the paper and picked up the remote. I surfed the channels until a news report caught my attention. The update confirmed that recent violence was accomplished to “honor” God’s name. I sank into my recliner, looked out the window and asked, “Dear God, what are we doing?”

We humans have hurt one another in God’s name since the beginning of time. Before I could repeat my question, a lone dove perched on our bird bath. Almost on cue, she turned my way seemingly to peer into my aching heart. Though a large blue jay joined her to dance on the rim of that bird bath, the dove continued to look at me. “Thank you, Lord!” I prayed aloud. Though that dove didn’t change the news that afternoon, she filled me with a morsel of joy just the same. Though she eventually flew away, perhaps to spread joy elsewhere, God’s joy remained with me.

As long as some of us continue to appreciate God’s joy within us and around us, there will be joy in this world of ours. Rather than allowing myself to be overwhelmed by wounds old and new, I must revel in God’s joy and share that joy at every opportunity.

God of Joy, help us to focus on your joy in spite of continuing attempts to distort and disfigure it. Help those of us who will to bring your joy into every moment every day.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved