Love At Work

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
John 15:17

During a recent FaceTime call with our granddaughter, I asked when the last day of stay-in-place school will be. This soon-to-be sixth grader lamented the closing of her school, but not the last day of her at-home studies. Lauren said, “I really hoped that we’d get to go back to school this year. I miss my teacher and my friends.” After acknowledging Lauren’s loss, I reminded her that summertime would challenge her creativity. She, her parents and her sisters would have to find new ways to be productive and to enjoy their leisure time safely. Lauren agreed that this will be a unique adventure.

After we said our good-byes, I recalled the last days of school in my own classroom. Every year, a few of my students looked toward the summer months with dismay. Their parents struggled to make ends meet and often held second jobs. While other children looked forward to vacations with their families, these children dreaded long hours alone. During the summer months, they stayed home by themselves and hopefully stayed out of trouble.

Today, many of the children among us look to Summer 2020 with similar dismay. Many of their parents do, too. None of us know how our new normal will unfold. Some don’t know when they’ll be allowed to return to work and resume providing for their families. All of this adds to our communal concern regarding keeping those we’ve been given to love cared for and healthy.

A few days ago, when worry threatened, I responded by doing something positive. I contacted a nearby neighborhood program which supports families in need. They quickly told me how I could help. Rather than lamenting today’s uncertainties, let’s all do something to help. Praying for the suffering is a great place to start!

Loving God, help us to love as you do.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Enjoy The Break!

From heaven the Lord looks
and sees us all.

Psalm 33:13

Today, the experienced teacher in me is making an appearance. She’s reminding me in no uncertain terms just how happily I anticipated holiday breaks. Though I loved my job and the students who endured every day with me, I looked forward to a day off just as eagerly as they did. Whether it was a one-day hiatus such as Veteran’s Day or a days-long winter or spring break, I enjoyed these departures from the norm. When I worked full-time, my husband, our sons and I filled these recesses from school with everything that our school schedules prevented. We played in the snow and then went to the movies to retreat from the cold. Enjoying new toys and other Christmas gifts added to the fun. We went to bed a little later and slept in a little longer with great relish.

Today, I admit to partaking of these pleasures with special joy in spite of the fact that I have the option of doing so almost every day. Sleeping in and setting aside my to-do list bring the greatest pleasure during the days between Christmas and New Year’s Day. A welcome side-effect is the leisurely tone with which I pray during this time. There’s no rush involved in these conversations with God. Yes, leisure time is a beautiful thing!

This New Year’s Eve, our sons and their wives and children are making the most of this break from their jobs and school. I’m pleased that this particular family tradition isn’t lost on the younger generation. My offspring appreciate this special time to relax and enjoy one another and they’re teaching their children the same.

Loving God, be with us as we make the time today and throughout the coming year to enjoy ourselves, one another and you.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God, Our Caretaker

Thus God prepared the land:
drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods,
Softening it with showers,
blessing its yield.

Psalm 65:11

The other morning, I looked at our calendar to find that neither my husband nor I had anything scheduled for the day. Shocked, I quickly called to him and asked, “Do you have anything going today?” He replied, “Miraculously, not a thing!” Having said that, he appeared in his most threadbare shorts and t-shirt. Before I could ask what he was up to, he recited a laundry list of outdoor chores which he planned to accomplish by noon. I laughed as he headed out the back door to the yard.

After taking care of a thing or two myself, I checked on my husband. He had weeded around all of our perennials and checked all of the planters and pots. He had also fertilized every flower he’d planted around the yard. When I found him, he was assessing our bird house to be certain that is was still standing firm in the rain-soaked soil. When I asked why he was devoting this uncommon free-day to so much manual labor, Mike replied, “Are you kidding? I love doing this stuff!”

As I headed back to my own chores, I looked upward and smiled. “You love doing this stuff, too. Taking care of us and watching us flourish makes your day. Nice! Thank you, Dear God!”

Loving God, you never take a free day from caring for us. Whether our troubles are great or small, you tend to them and to us with great love. Thank you!

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Good, Indeed!

Take courage and be stout-hearted,
all you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 31:25

When I remarked to Annie that she’ll enjoy the second holiday of the school year on Columbus Day, my teacher friend announced, “God is good!” As soon as I heard her exclamation, images of my great-aunt Sister Gerard came to mind. Like Annie, Sister Gerard often used this phrase in response to the blessings in her life. Come to think of it, Sister Gerard also repeated this observation in the aftermath of tragedies as well. This dear woman was convinced that God infused goodness into the best of time, the worst of times and everything in between.

My teacher friend will find reason to praise God in the small gift of that free Monday by picking apples and reconnecting with her own children. Like Sister Gerard, she finds God’s favor in all of the moments of her life. This was especially true when her sister became ill and their time together was suddenly limited to only a few months. It was their faith in God’s goodness which sustained my friend and her sister through it all.

Like Sister Gerard and Annie, I’m convinced that God’s goodness is always within reach. Whether in the joy of a day off, in the warmth of the autumn sun or in the eyes of a loved one who will leave us too soon, God is with us. Whatever the tone of the moment at hand, we can always find proof that, indeed, God is good!

Good and Wondrous God, you are good! Thank you!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Grateful For The Opportunity…

Thus have you prepared the land:
drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods,
Softening it with showers,
blessing its yield.

Psalm 65:11

I looked at our calendar to find that neither my husband nor I had anything scheduled for the day. This was quite a shock since we were both in busy-mode due to the rigors of preparing for Holy Week and Easter. I quickly called to him to ask, “Do you have anything going today?” He replied, “Miraculously, not a thing!” Having said that, he appeared in his old jeans and jacket. Before I could ask what he was up to, Mike shared that he was headed outdoors to assess what will need to be done “once the weather cooperates.” I laughed as he escaped via the back door.

After taking care of a thing or two indoors, I checked on Mike. In spite of the lingering cold, he had cleaned the bird bath and filled it with fresh water. He’d repaired a bird feeder and provided our feathered friends with a few seeds to get them through this dreary and frigid-for-April day. When I caught up with him, Mike was adjusting a window well cover which he’d dislodged with his snow shovel a month ago. He also listed the annual flowers he plans to purchase “once the weather cooperates.” When I asked why he was devoting this uncommon free-day to so much manual labor, he replied, “Are you kidding? I love doing this stuff!”

“Lucky you!” I thought as Mike continued his beloved self-imposed chores. “Lucky me!” I added as I came inside and went directly to my computer to write. “I love doing this stuff!” I said aloud before positioning my fingers on my keyboard…

Loving God, I’m grateful for the many enjoyable ways I find to serve. Thank you for this opportunity!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Good God!

She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and put her hand on his cloak. “If I just touch his clothing,”
she thought, “I will get well.”

Mark 5:27-28

In recognition an impending day off, my friend who is a teacher announced, “God is good!” As soon as I heard her exclamation, images of my great-aunt Sister Gerard came to mind. Like my teacher friend, Sister Gerard often used this phrase in response to the blessings in her life. Come to think of it, Sister Gerard also repeated this observation in the aftermath of tragedies large and small. This dear woman was convinced that God infused goodness into the best and worst of times and into everything in between. Today, I’m going to take a lesson from my teacher friend. Today, I will find reason to praise God in the gift of this new day. I’ll also take a lesson from my dear great-aunt. Like Sister Gerard, I will look for God’s favor in every moment which lies ahead.

you know, the woman in Mark’s gospel who struggled through the crowd to touch Jesus’ cloak offers a lesson as well. She knew God’s goodness was within reach. Her efforts paved the way for the rest of us to reach for the same in the joy of a day off, in the warmth of the autumn sun or in the eyes of a loved one who will leave us too soon. When we look carefully into the moment at hand, we find that, indeed, God is good!

Good and Wondrous God, thank you for everything!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved