A Hint of Christmas

Be glad and rejoice for your reward
is great in heaven.

From Matthew 5:12

Our younger daughter-in-law recently asked about our family wall of pictures. I secretly hope that this means we’ll receive new pictures of our grandsons for Christmas. Because our older son’s wife knows the drill, I’m certain she has our granddaughters’ pictures ready for us. I’m smiling in anticipation! At the same time, I’m drawn to the pictures on that wall which will never be replaced. The great-grandparents, a great-aunt and a great-uncle have all moved on to the afterlife. Though I know that they are better than ever in their new digs, memories of their Christmases with us fill me up…

Every year, our large family gathered to celebrate this favorite of all days. This year, I’m struck hard by the number of family members I’ve lost. My mom and my dad, my husband’s parents, my brother and my sister left us earlier than any of us expected. When we gathered for their wakes and funerals, our conversations included not only our favorite reminiscing, but also our projections regarding their current activities at home with God. Though we regretted each loss, we also celebrated the blessings we found in each of them. We also wished them well in eternity! After all, every day is Christmas there!

When I left that wall of photos to get on with the tasks at hand, I whispered a prayer of gratitude for my family. Our sons, their wives and our grandchildren have brought joy beyond expectation to my husband and me. In the process, they’ve given us a taste of heaven on earth. I almost want to write, “Merry Christmas!” Indeed, I will. Merry Christmas!

Generous God, thank you for the gift of our loved ones and the gift of eternal life with you.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Joy That Lasts!

“I assure you, there is no man
born of woman greater than John.
Yet the least born into the kingdom of God
is greater than he.”

Luke 7:28

While working on our Christmas Cards, memories of Christmas Past filled me up. Year after year, our large family gathered to celebrate this favorite of all holy days. This year, I’m struck hard by the number of family members we’ve lost. My mom had seven siblings and all have joined her in the hereafter. My dad was one of twelve and only his youngest brother remains with us. I lost my brother Raoul, my sister Cecele and several of cousins decades earlier than my family ever expected.

Though these don’t seem to be “Christmas” thoughts, the mood of each of their wakes and funerals gives me reason to believe that my musing is just that. Though we lamented each loss, we also celebrated our favorite memories of each one. We added our projections regarding their current activities at home with God. Though we miss each one, the joy we found in these loved ones has never escaped us.

Apparently, the gift of those who go home didn’t escape Jesus either. When Jesus acknowledged the greatness of anyone who makes it home to God, he offered us more hope than we could ever have imagined. Jesus also gave us more reason to rejoice than we would otherwise have known possible.

Generous God, with great joy, I anticipate our celebration of the birth of Jesus. His coming revealed your unconditional love and your amazing plans for each one of us. Thank you!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A Welcome Home

So rejoice, you heavens,
and you who dwell therein!.

From Revelation 12:17

Several days ago, my husband and I traveled downstate a bit to attend the funeral of his Aunt Mary. Though it was two years ago, it seems just yesterday that we made the same trek to celebrate Aunt Mary’s 100th birthday. The persistent rain reflected our mood as poignant memories of Aunt Mary and many loved ones passed emerged. Though I’m certain of their current bliss, the sting of their absence remains. Memories of every sort and circumstance prompted the tears which would come and go throughout the day.

Though Aunt Mary didn’t want that 100th birthday party, I guessed that she welcomed this change in her circumstances. The past few months had been tough for her. My husband’s cousins shared that their mother smiled just before she passed from this earth of ours. Perhaps Aunt Mary caught a glimpse of her dear husband John and some of other loved ones who awaited her arrival. Perhaps the sudden release from her suffering filled her with joy.

As Aunt Mary’s wake and funeral progressed, a sense of peace seemed to embrace her children. I prayed that this would be only the first of many blessings Aunt Mary will secure on their behalf. Aunt Mary’s almost 102-years boast a myriad of joys and sorrows alike. Still, I think her new perspective has convinced Aunt Mary that every one of them was worth her effort. Though this is certainly already the case, God bless you, Aunt Mary, forever!

Loving God, as you welcome Aunt Mary home, bless her children and all who will miss her until we meet again.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Lasting Joy

“I assure you, there is no man
born of woman greater than John.
Yet the least born into the kingdom of God
is greater than he.”

Luke 7:28

As Christmas approaches, memories of Christmas Past fill me up. Year after year, our large family gathered to celebrate this favorite of all holy days. This year, I am struck hard by the number of family members I have lost. My mom had seven siblings and all have joined her in the hereafter. My dad was one of twelve and only the youngest of his siblings remains with us. I lost my brother Raoul, my sister Cecele and several of my cousins decades earlier than my family ever expected. When we gathered for the wakes and funerals of each of these loved ones, our conversations included not only our favorite reminiscing, but also our projections regarding their current activities at home with God. Though we regretted each loss, the joy we found in these loved ones has never escaped us.

When Jesus acknowledged the greatness of anyone who makes it home to God, he offered us more hope than we could ever have imagined and more reason to rejoice than we would otherwise have known possible.

Generous God, it is with great joy that I anticipate our celebration of the birth of Jesus. His coming revealed your unconditional love and your amazing plans for each one of us.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved