Labor Day Greetings!

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy,
because on it God rested from all the work he had done….

From Genesis 2:3

I’ve always enjoyed Labor Day. When I was a child, we observed this holiday with a picnic which included our extended family. Back then, the new school year opened the following day. This last day of “freedom” gave my siblings, cousins and me good reason to celebrate. Later, when I discovered the meaning of “labor” for myself at my first job, leisure time became a more precious commodity. Finally, I understood why my mother allowed herself the luxury of sleeping in one day each week. She truly needed the rest.

It was no accident that the author of Genesis allowed God a day of rest after six days of labor creating this world of ours. When Jesus came to remind us of God’s presence in a tangible way, he spent the greatest portion of his life working and resting just as we do. Only after living thirty years as a typical citizen of his day did Jesus set out to preach and teach. Even then, Jesus often stole away to rest in God’s company.

On this Labor Day, I hope you seize the opportunity rest and to celebrate the work to which you have been called. Perhaps you share in creating worlds of your own. Perhaps you preach or teach or care for those you have been given to love. Perhaps your best work is “being there” for others. Whatever your calling, your work is precious in God’s eyes and your rest today is well deserved!

Faithful God, thank you for the opportunity to labor and to rest in your loving care.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Advertisements

Always Another Chance

When they heard the sound of God moving about in the garden,
the man and his wife hid themselves…

From Genesis 3:8

When I was a child, we had a kid-friendly family bible. This large book consisted of cardboard front and back covers which held together several separate booklets. These booklets were held in place by extremely long laces. The seventy-two booklets which eventually completed this bible arrived in the mail periodically. With each delivery, my mom carefully removed the bible’s cardboard covers, undid the laces, inserted the new booklet, re-tied the laces and replaced the covers. Afterward, I poured over the new arrival. Every page included colorful illustrations and reasonably understandable text. When I finished perusing each new edition, I habitually returned to the first book’s story of Adam and Eve, the snake and that forbidden tree. The Garden of Eden amazed me almost as much as heaven. “Why,” I often wondered, “did Adam and Eve eat that stupid apple when God had given them so much else?”

As the years passed and I accumulated some measure of maturity and wisdom, I found that life in this world poses similar questions every day. I also discovered that it’s up to us to answer as wisely as possible and then to act accordingly. Is Option A really worth it or is it as foolhardy as eating that apple? It’s up to us to figure it out as only we can and to act accordingly. In the mean time, God watches with great love and with great hope for the best.

Generous God, you bless us with second and third and twenty-ninth chances day in and day out. Be with is as we accept every chance you give us to start anew.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

My Persistent Prayer

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry,
but let me speak just once more…”

Genesis 18:32

This past week has been filled with memories of the bittersweet variety as my sister’s and brother’s birthdays have come and gone. Both celebrate in a better place these days. Still, how often I’ve wished that I could have made this life a little easier for them.

Since childhood, I prayed often for brother and sister. As soon as I had God’s attention, I pleaded and negotiated for this or that circumstance to take a turn for the better. By the time my siblings had reached adulthood, I’d become quite good at ordering around the Lord God on their behalf. The truth is that God had been with my sister and brother in everything. God was there and took care as only God can. Today, I have no doubt that my dear siblings would live their lives over again just as those lives were if God asked them to do so. They probably chuckle together often over my continued efforts to direct God’s attention to the issues at hand.

As for me, day in and day out, I apologize to our patient God for my insolent and demanding prayer. I also thank God for running things far more efficiently than I ever could. Afterward, I continue to pray as politely as possible.

Loving and Patient God, thank you for listening and for responding with more love than I could ever hope for.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Rest…

Since on the seventh day God had finished
with the work he had been doing, God rested.

Genesis 2:2

I cringed as I considered all that I had to do. We’d returned from our vacation with two suitcases filled with dirty laundry. The refrigerator was empty and a hundred emails required attention. The relaxation I’d felt during our trip had vanished with the blink of an eye. After filling the washing machine with the first of several loads, I decided to see how our outdoor plants had fared while we were away.

As I rounded the corner of our porch, a slight flutter caught my eye. I stopped in my tracks to avoid disturbing a beautiful dove who rested on the edge of our birdbath. Though it was far too cold for her to be here, she rested peacefully. Such visitors usually fly off when I come near. Still, she remained content to stare in my direction. A ray of sunshine caused her feathers to take on a heavenly aura. As I wondered what she was up to, it occurred to me that she might wonder the same thing about me. When our gazes met, I realized that I hadn’t prayed much that day. The hectic trip home had distracted me from my usual sense of gratitude. Did this lovely dove intend to remind me to slow down and to do just that? I turned my eyes heavenward before she could reply.

Dear God, I will make a habit of setting aside my to-do list long enough and often enough to thank you!.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Food For Thought

God also said, “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth
and every seed-bearing tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food.

Genesis 1:29

I’m closing in on two anniversaries today. It has been five years since a bout with the flu assaulted my appetite for a few days. This turn of events made a dent in ten pounds I knew that I should lose. When I returned to eating solid food, I considered my eating habits and eliminated the things that were better left on my plate. Within a few weeks, I actually lost those ten pounds. By summer, I’d lost a total of forty-two pounds which brought me to my teenage weight. Wow!

This amazing transformation remained intact for two years. It was October when I discovered I needed shoulder surgery. The recovery regimen would be tough and confining and I wouldn’t be able to exercise for some time. I secretly worried that this loss of control would negatively impact my diet as well. As it happened, my mobility was more limited than expected, my exercise regimen lay dormant for longer than expected and ten of those lost pounds made their way back to me.

My husband and I recently returned from an east coast cruise. This adventure included exhilarating walks uphill and down. When we returned home, I found myself with a treasure trove of memories and three less pounds to lose. Once again, I assessed my diet and adjusted as needed. Next October, I plan to celebrate three anniversaries: that bout with the flu, shoulder surgery and my return to using God’s gift of food wisely!

Dear God, be with me in this effort. When I feel my best, I do my best for you!

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Perfectly Tuned

God looked at everything he made and he found it to be very good.
Genesis 1:31

My piano tuner arrived a few minutes ago. I look forward to his visits because they always manage to put a positive spin on my day. Jordan is a gracious fellow who never begins his work without first inquiring about the family and life in general. Once he’s assured that all is well, he settles in to begin the task at hand.

In the realm of pianos, ours ranks among the blue-collar variety. It is what we could afford when we decided to make music a permanent fixture in our home. Still, Jordan treats it like a fine instrument. He carefully removes the upper front panel to expose the piano’s inner workings. With his head tilted just so, he pounds each key and adjusts each tuning pin accordingly. Every few keys, he plays a chord or two to confirm that the sound is what it should be. As I watch and listen, I wait expectantly for those chords. Jordan is a talented pianist and even a few bars are worth the attention. When he’s completely finished, he always graces us with a medley of tunes. I suppose this is his own test of his work and an assurance to me that my piano is just as is should be.

Jordan, doesn’t realize this, but his encounters with my piano are very special reminders to me of God’s work in my life. Though I may be of the blue-collar variety as well, God tends to me with great care. In the process, God sees to it that I, too, am just as I should be.

Creator God, thank you for tending so carefully to the things you have made, especially your children.</strong>

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved