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

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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

God’s Kids and Ours

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

My granddaughter and I recently counted the days until her last day of school. This sweet fourth grader will be promoted to fifth grade in just ten school days. Before she and her parents know it, summer will be here. Additional family time will be much appreciated by all concerned. Of course, with that will come the challenge of balancing leisure time and productive activities. This will be an adventure for sure.

As I considered the good times ahead for my granddaughters and their parents, I recalled the last days of school in my classroom. Every year, a student or two looked toward the summer months with dismay. Their parents struggled to make ends meet which often required a second job. While other children looked forward to special outings and vacations with their families, these children dreaded long hours alone. During the summer months, they would stay home alone and, hopefully, out of trouble.

I worried about these kids. After-school activities were sparse even back then and summer opportunities filled up quickly. I’d send them home with leisure reading materials and encouragement to visit the library often. I also prayed for them.

We adults are responsible for the children in our lives. Whether toddlers, teens or everyone in between, they need our support and our love. Obviously, our own children come first, as we are the only parents they have. Still, nieces and nephews, neighbors, acquaintances and students need encouragement. Perhaps our efforts will counteract the things which might lead these young souls astray. It’s all about helping them to feel loved and appreciated, you know?

Patient God, you gift us with the capacity to love one another. Give us the generosity and the courage to share this gift with the children you have placed in our care.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

An Eve to Enjoy!

From heaven the Lord looks
and sees us all.

Psalm 33:13

Though I retired from my teaching career some time ago, I can’t help anticipating holiday breaks with a smile. Whether it is a one-day hiatus such as Veteran’s Day or a days-long winter or spring break, I enjoy 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. Somehow, sleeping in and setting aside my to-do list bring the greatest pleasure during the days between Christmas and New Year’s. 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 smile broadly as I acknowledge that this particular family tradition is not lost on the younger generation. They learned well to appreciate this special time to relax and enjoy one another. Appropriately, they are 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.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved