A Little Child Leads Us…

…the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to lead them.

Isaiah 11:6

My little grandson’s smile drew me in before I realized what the little imp had done. My gloomy attitude, aching sinuses and complete disappointment with so many things in this world meant nothing to the little boy who nuzzled in my arms. As Benjamin smiled in spite of my uncommonly troubled eyes, he seemed to look to look far past them into my very soul. At the same time, he ever so carefully wrapped his tiny fist around my finger. I smiled as I considered how masterfully Ben had accomplished his goal. With that, my headache eased and I pulled Ben a bit closer. This sweet child immediately responded in kind.

In and effort not to disturb Ben’s and my newly found comfort, I asked Grandpa to bring me Ben’s blanket. Ben drifted off to sleep, Grandpa headed outdoors to tend to a chore and I drifted into grateful conversation with our Benevolent Creator. As I spoke, I acknowledged that I’d wasted too much of this particular day attending to my headache and to my worry. Ben had made it obvious that the world was in even better hands than he was and that I needed to appreciate this. With that, it occurred to me -or did God remind me?- that a little child made the same observation two millenniums ago when he was born in that stable in Bethlehem. Indeed, there is always reason to be grateful!

Dear God, as I continue my journey to Christmas, keep me mindful of the gifts to be found in the people you have given me to love, especially the children who keep our hope alive.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Prepare Joyfully!

There shall be no harm or ruin on my holy mountain
for the earth will be filled with the Lord…

From Isaiah 11:9

A few weeks ago, when my husband complained of a sore shoulder, I cringed. Suddenly, five-year-old memories from my own shoulder repair returned. “Ugh! I wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” I told myself, “especially Mike!” That year, I’d timed the surgery so that Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations would distract me from the painful recovery which I was warned would come. I’d deluded myself into thinking that I’d somehow be of use when it came time to decorate, shop for gifts and bake. As it happened, nothing could have been further from the truth. Fortunately, the pain subsided and I learned to put my incapacity to good use. As a result, I embraced the approaching Christmas Season with contemplative fervor.

As I considered my poor husband’s aching shoulder and his aversion to any intervention at this time of year, I decided to encourage him to do what I’d done five years ago. I announced that, with so much to do, he and I needed to pace ourselves. Happily, this is precisely what we’ve done. We’ve organized, prioritized and simplified just enough to allow ourselves to feel that we actually will be ready for Christmas with time to spare. The best part of this is that our moods inside have been as energizing as the brisk winter breezes which urge us on whenever we’re outdoors. So far, so good!

Will you join me in organizing, prioritizing and simplifying your to do list as well? Trust me. Once you start, this will become easier than you think! I assure you that God’s Christmas Spirit will be with you all the while.

Loving God, help us to anticipate Christmas with your resounding joy!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Always Reason To Hope

…the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to lead them.

From Isaiah 11:6

My grandson’s smile drew me in before I realized what the little imp had done. My gloomy attitude, aching sinuses and complete disappointment with so many things in this world meant nothing to the little boy who nuzzled next to me. As Danny eyed my uncommonly troubled eyes, he looked to see if I was watching. Then, ever so carefully, he touched the tips of my fingers. I smiled as I considered his bravery in approaching me. With that, my headache eased and I invited Danny to sit closer. He immediately nestled nearer.

In an effort not to disturb our comfortable cuddle, I stretched for my phone. Danny looked up and asked, “Pictures?” I couldn’t help smiling at the obvious. “Yes, pictures,” I replied. With that, we revisited recent history in Danny’s life. My photos and short videos include trips to the park and family parties. They also chronicle Danny at play. As Danny chattered on about his own antics and those of his cousins and the rest of us, I listened attentively. It occurred to me that I had wasted too much of this day attending to my headache and my worry. Danny made it obvious that the world is in good hands. Come to think of it, another little child made the same observation two millenniums ago when he was born in that stable in Bethlehem. Yes, there is always hope!

Dear God, keep me mindful of the gifts to be found in the people you have given me to love, especially in the children who keep our hope alive.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Q… Quiet, Outside and Inside

Be still, and know that I am God…
From Psalm 46:10

Q is for Quiet. A few years ago, when I made my first attempt at meditating my way through the alphabet, I felt very good about my progress until I approached the letter Q. I wondered what I could possible come up with. When I voiced this concern to my friend, a light bulb immediately appeared over her head. “Quiet,” she almost whispered. “You know… quiet.” With that, I hugged Carol and thanked her for the inspiration. Q is for Quiet… Of course! Today, I will revisit her wisdom because I still need to work on creating and using quiet productively.

I’m a master at creating a quiet environment. When I’m home alone, the television is off and other noisy distractions are scarce. Still, this isn’t the quiet which Carol suggested. Carol nudged me toward the internal quiet where we encounter God deep within ourselves. This is the quiet that often comes in unexpected places at unexpected times. I find this inner quiet most often when I venture outdoors. When freezing temperatures keep me indoors, I look elsewhere. I’ve found this inner quiet here at home and in both a full and empty church. I’ve also found it at the mall. There is something about the faces I pass and the interactions between parents and children, spouses and groups of teens which reveal the Almighty to me. During these encounters, I don’t pray a word because these quiet revelations speak to me.

So it is that I learn to quiet my innards because it is in that quiet stillness that I come to know God.

Dear God, thank you for filling my quiet place with your loving presence.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A Child’s Gift of Hope

The wolf shall be the guest of the lamb
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to lead them.

Isaiah 11:6

My granddaughter’s smile drew me in before I realized what the little imp had done. My gloomy attitude, aching sinuses and complete disappointment with so many things in this world meant nothing to the little girl who nuzzled next to me. As Claire eyed my uncommonly troubled eyes, she looked to see if I was watching. Then, ever so carefully, she touched the tips of my fingers. I smiled as I considered her bravery in approaching me. With that, my headache eased and I invited Claire to sit closer. She immediately nestled nearer.

In and effort not to disturb my newly found comfort, I asked Grandpa to hand me one of the photo albums on our coffee table. He aptly selected the album which features Claire as a baby. After revisiting Baby Claire’s life, we chose the newest album which features Claire’s new cousin Daniel. Claire shared her observations of Daniel’s progress and her predictions regarding Daniel’s future. As I listened, I wondered why I had wasted so much of this day attending to my headache and my worry. Claire made it obvious that the world is in good hands. Come to think of it, a little child made the same observation two millenniums ago when he was born in that stable in Bethlehem. There is always hope!

Dear God, as I continue my journey to Christmas, keep me mindful of the gifts to be found in the people you have given me to love, especially the children who keep our hope alive.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved