Hope… Even At The Mall!

Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold,
but what I do have I give you: in the name of
Jesus Christ the Nazarene, rise and walk.”

Acts 3:6

I’d ignored my sadness for weeks due to the numerous tasks at hand. With my Lenten and Easter to-do lists complete, those buried emotions rose to the surface. I decided to walk because the fresh air always seems to rejuvenate me regardless of the condition of my psyche. Unfortunately, rain coaxed me to the mall to stretch my legs and my spirit.

That pouring rain proved to be a blessing. As I walked indoors, I ran into a friend who had recently survived a seemingly hopeless ordeal. Though that topic never entered into our conversation, the joy with which she embraces every new day was unmistakable. Still, in spite of her miraculous outcome, my friend has not forgotten the pain of her grim journey. So it was that, after allowing me to bare my soul, she hugged me. “Mary, you have reason to feel they way you do. The good news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel and you will find it!”

I walked away from that conversation feeling a lot better and a little silly. My dear friend had survived cancer though she was not expected to live. I was surviving raw emotions which didn’t come close threatening my life. For the rest of that walk, I thanked God for the numerous and abundant blessings which have come my way, especially for that wonderful friend!

Loving God, you sprinkle morsels of hope and encouragement in the most unexpected, but opportune places. Thank you!

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Hope-Filled News!

Mary went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,” and then
reported what he had told her.

John 20:18

Good news is hard to keep to oneself, especially when the information will be helpful to others. We share a good book and diet tips that really work. We tell our colleagues about inroads we’ve made with the new payroll technology or the new boss. We cannot keep the news of a long-awaited pregnancy or a cancer remission to ourselves for longer than it takes to scroll down to a number on our cell phones. Still, it seems that good news is a far too limited commodity in this Twenty-first Century world of ours.

The truth is that since we humans decided that our own agendas were our top priorities, good news has been in short supply. Still, at least some of us have also held onto our hope for better things to come. Jesus’ arrival in Bethlehem certainly offered a glimpse of hope. When Jesus lived a life of acceptance, mercy and all-encompassing love, hope took on new life. When he made it up the hill to Calvary, Jesus persisted until he embraced death. A few days later, the rumbling in the tomb sealed the deal. Jesus himself became hope-fulfilled. Good news took on a whole new meaning –forever!

Dear God, painful as his passion and dying were, Jesus persisted because of the great good which would result. Help me to persist in doing the right thing as well, even when it’s painful.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Memories… Memories…

“Were not our hearts burning inside us as he talked
to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?”

From Luke 24:32

Because we diligently chronicled our first trip to Israel, we have two albums which we lingered over after that trip and before we returned. We realize that this is the digital age and that we can enjoy our memories in full color on our laptop. Still, having them in hand is a luxury we’re not ready to give up. We keep all of our photo albums in our family room. This prompts visitors and us to enjoy them often. There’s no easier way to acknowledge our blessings on a regular basis.

Luke’s gospel tells us that Cleopas and his companion were confused by the stranger whom they met on the road to Emmaus. They had just left Jerusalem where Jesus had been crucified. It seemed everyone they knew was affected in some way by this tragedy, yet this man seemed to know nothing of it. Finally, when this stranger conjured up their memory of the breaking of the bread, they realized he was Jesus. This precious memory clarified everything!

Both of my visits to Israel have enriched me beyond words. Every time I open our albums, another precious memory enhances the moment at hand. As was the case for those fellows who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus, my heart continues to burn within me.

Loving God, help me never to forget the wonder of your presence in my life.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Struggling To Respond…

Two of them that same day were making their way to Emmaus,
seven miles distant from Jerusalem,
discussing as they went all that had happened.

Luke 24:13-14

On our last day in Israel, we arrived at the airport in Tel Aviv late Monday night. Tired as I was, my brain seemed to be in overdrive as images from the past eight days swirled about in my memory. I pulled my now-ragged itinerary from my purse in a vain attempt to organize my thoughts. I’d met so many wonderful people and revisited so many amazing sights along the way. I wondered how I could possibly process all of this…

After Jesus died, those who were unaware returned to their villages and homes to resume their lives after Passover. Some of those who knew Jesus had to do the same. Any hope they had in a change for the better died with their teacher. So it was that they returned to life before Jesus. Jesus’ closest friends suffered nearby as they huddled in uncertainty and fear. Those who remained near the cross until the end and then saw to his burial worried little about themselves. Those who had deserted Jesus and denied him wallowed in the fear which kept them from standing by their dying friend.

The men who returned to Emmaus struggled with their memories as well. Their thoughts likely swirled in their heads as mine had while I sat in the airport. In my case, I knew the end of the story and the hope for us all that has followed. These poor fellows knew none of this. They walked in disappointed misery until a stranger joined them along the way…

Loving God, be with me when I swim in uncertainty without direction. Be with me as I struggle to respond to your presence in my life.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Hearts On Fire!

“Were not our hearts burning inside us as he talked
to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?”

From Luke 24:32

Because my husband diligently chronicled our trip to Israel, he took it upon himself to order and then organize hard-copies of his photographs. Afterward, he asked me to check his work. In the end, he purchased an album for us to display his handiwork. We realize that this is the digital age and that we can enjoy our memories in full color on our laptop. Still, having them in hand where we can linger over each one is a luxury we’re not ready to give up. We keep our photo albums on the coffee table in our family room. This prompts visitors and us to enjoy them often. There’s no easier way to acknowledge our blessings on a regular basis.

Luke’s gospel tells us that Cleopas and his companion were confused by the stranger whom they met on the road to Emmaus. They had just left Jerusalem where Jesus had been crucified. It seemed everyone they knew was affected in some way by this tragedy, yet this man seemed to know nothing of it. Finally, when this stranger conjured up their memory of the breaking of the bread, they realized he was Jesus. This precious memory clarified everything!

The time I spent in Israel enriched me beyond words. Every time I open that album, another precious memory enhances the moment at hand. As was the case for those fellows who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus, my heart continues to burn within me.

Loving God, help me never to forget the wonder of your presence in my life.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

And ?

Two of them that same day were making their way to Emmaus,
seven miles distant from Jerusalem,
discussing as they went all that had happened.

Luke 24:13-14

On our last day in Israel, we arrived at the airport in Tel Aviv late Saturday night. Tired as I was, my brain seemed to be in overdrive as images from the past eight days swirled about in my memory. I pulled my now-ragged itinerary from my purse in a vain attempt to organize my thoughts. I had met so many wonderful people and had seen so many amazing sights along the way. I wondered how I could possibly remember everything…

After Jesus died, those who were unaware returned to their villages and homes to resume their lives after Passover. Some of those who knew Jesus had to do the same. Any hope they had in a change for the better died with their teacher. So it was that they returned to life before Jesus. Jesus’ closest friends suffered nearby in uncertainty and fear. Those who remained near the cross until the end and then saw to his burial worried little about themselves. Those who had deserted Jesus and denied him wallowed in the fear which kept them from standing by their dying friend.

The men who returned to Emmaus struggled with their memories. Their thoughts likely swirled in their heads as mine had while I sat in the airport. In my case, I knew the end of the story and the hope for us all that followed. These poor fellows knew none of this. They walked in disappointed misery until a stranger joined them along the way…

Loving God, be with me when I swim in uncertainty without direction. Be with me when I struggle to find the way.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved