Find The Joy

Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.

Psalm 98:4

My husband and I recently drove up north to our favorite getaway, a little log cabin in the woods. Though we left plenty of work behind at home, we gave in to this much-needed opportunity to relax. Though I always volunteer to share the driving, my husband almost always opts to take the wheel for the duration. I admit that I was grateful that this was the case this time. I happily lay back and enjoyed the view beyond my window. Nature didn’t disappoint as summer’s splendor revealed itself throughout the drive. We made excellent time and were surprisingly refreshed when we arrived.

Though we intended to relax, as soon as we settled in, we each tackled a project which we had let go during prior visits. A few hours and lots of progress later, we realized that dinner time had come and we had made no plans. We opted for the five-minute drive to the nearest restaurant. As we settled in to scan the familiar menu, we laughed at how little we had relaxed that day. Still, we felt much better than we had a few days earlier when we determined that we needed this get-away. My husband observed, “Maybe we didn’t mind all of the work at the cabin because we didn’t have to do it. We did it because we wanted to.” How right he was…

Gracious God, thank you for our capacity to find joy in the most unexpected places.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Seize The Joy

Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.

Psalm 98:4

A few weeks ago, my husband and I drove up north to our favorite getaway, a little log cabin in the woods. In spite of the fact that we left plenty of work behind at home, we gave in to this much-needed opportunity to relax. My husband doesn’t enjoy driving. However, he is always thrilled to be at the wheel when we’re headed north. Though I always volunteer to share the driving, I was grateful that my husband didn’t take me up on my offer. I happily lay back and enjoyed the view beyond my window. Nature didn’t disappoint as summer’s splendor revealed itself throughout the drive. As it happened, we made excellent time and were surprisingly refreshed when we arrived.

Though we intended to relax, as soon as we settled in, we tackled projects which we’d let go during prior visits. A few hours and lots of progress later, we realized that dinner time had come and we had made no plans. We opted for the twenty-minute drive to our favorite Mexican restaurant. As we settled in to scan the familiar menu, we laughed at how little we had relaxed that day. Still, we felt much better than we had a few days earlier when we decided we needed this get-away. My husband observed, “Maybe we didn’t mind all of the work at the cabin because we didn’t have to do it. We did it because we wanted to.” How right he was…

Gracious God, thank you for sharing your joyful Spirit with us. Give us the wisdom to revive our spirits by occasionally doing what we want to do.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Enjoy The Journey

He instructed them to
take nothing on the journey
but a walking stick…

Mark 6:8

My husband loves to travel. The other day, when I gathered up the newspaper for the recycle bin, I found the travel sections from three old papers. Because the weather is growing colder and the impending holidays are making us busier, this shouldn’t surprise me. My husband has always coped with life’s demands by daydreaming -and perhaps planning- a trip of some sort.

I’ve shared before that I’m a very reluctant traveler. This wasn’t the case when our sons were young and we drove to our chosen destinations. Now that they have married and vacation with their own families, my husband has been more daring with his travel plans. This means that they include airplanes and cramped seating which drives me crazy-literally!

The truth is that I always have a wonderful time once we reach our destination regardless of where it is. Perhaps this is what Jesus was getting at when he sent out his disciples with no luggage and no inhumane seating arrangements. Perhaps he didn’t want anything to keep them from making the most of their travels among us.

Thank you, Dear God, for my persistent husband who continues to plan much-needed times away for us. Bless him with many more wonderful trips and bless me with the courage to embrace his plans and to enjoy this beautiful world and its wonderful people.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Joyful Escapes

Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.

Psalm 98:4

Whenever we find the time, my husband and I drive north to our favorite getaway, a little log cabin in the woods. Though we always leave plenty of work behind us at home, we give in to these much-needed opportunities to relax. Though I always volunteer to share the driving, I’m grateful that my husband usually doesn’t take me up on my offer. It is then that I lie back and enjoy the view beyond my window. Nature never disappoints. In spite of the almost-three-hour drive, we’re surprisingly refreshed when we arrive.

Though we intend to relax, as soon as we settle in, we often tackle projects which we didn’t get to during prior visits. It’s amazing that we usually make at least twice the progress we would have made on similar projects at home. In the end, we laugh at how little we actually rested. Still, we always feel much better than we did before we left home. On one such occasion, my husband observed, “Maybe we don’t mind all of the work at the cabin because we don’t have to do it. We do it because we want to.”

Gracious God, thank you for sharing your joyful Spirit with us. Give us the wisdom to take the time to revive our spirits as often as needed.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Embrace God’s Peace

My husband and I recently flew to Las Vegas for a few days. Our good friend had acquired some free rooms and he invited us to make use of one of them. Since we both felt the need to get away, we pondered this offer. When we were able to find inexpensive flights for the proposed dates, we happily accepted. Mike is always prepared to travel and he looked forward to this mini-vacation without a worry. I, on the other hand, need to “feel” prepared. As a result, I worry until the suitcase is packed and weighs less than the fifty pound limit, our plane tickets are double-checked and in hand and we arrive at the airport two hours early.

We flew out of General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee which made parking and the security check less taxing than they might have been. After we boarded, I settled into my seat with a prayer of gratitude and a week’s worth of The Trib’s crossword puzzles. As I’d hoped, this paperwork kept me occupied until we landed in Las Vegas. I stopped between puzzles only to check the blue sky beyond the window and my husband’s assessment of his newspaper’s offerings. Though all was not well with the world beyond that airplane, I looked forward to this short reprieve from reality and the peace that awaited us.

Mike and I traveled to Las Vegas once before several years ago. When we disembarked from the plane, a detail from that first trip came to mind. Humankind had surrounded me a decade ago and would do so for the duration of this trip as well. As we made our way toward the baggage claim, people hurried along while slot machines sang in the background. Near the luggage carousel, two dozen limousine drivers held signs with the hope of finding their scheduled fares. I stood with our carry-on while Mike nuzzled his way into the crowd waiting to grab their bags. By the time we headed toward the rental car shuttle, I realized this would not be the peaceful get-away I’d longed for.

Our hotel offered parking on one side of its property and our room on the other. We walked what seemed like miles though casinos, shops and hurrying people to check in. When the receptionist indicated that the elevator to our floor was just steps away, I breathed a sigh of relief. The waiting elevator elicited my smile. The mid-hallway room with its inviting décor and insulated walls urged a prayer of gratitude from me. After freshening up, we opted for a Mexican restaurant we’d tried ten years earlier. Our walk was pleasant and the restaurant was just as we remembered it. Though dinner exceeded our expectations, we topped it off with a scoop of gelato. We leisurely strolled back to our hotel in spite of the hustle and bustle around us. I turned in that night with a grateful smile as I’d tasted a bit of the peace I’d hoped for.

Las Vegas continued to rumble around us as we continued to find ways to replenish our spirits. Red Rock Canyon lies just outside of the gambling metropolis. It is likely one of the most beautiful sights in the Mojave Desert. We spent hours enjoying the amazing rock formations, plant life and animals which give the canyon its character. Though the area drew many visitors that day, each one of us seemed immersed in his or her own brand of peaceful appreciation. We spent another handful of hours exploring our way to the Guardian Angel Cathedral. Though it is no larger than our own parish church, it offered a warm welcome to all who stopped in. It seemed to me that those guardian angels likely get quite a workout trying to nurture the peace that lies within their charges. As the rest of our trip unfolded, I entertained the possibility that we had been taken under one of their wings because peace remained with as we made our way back through the frenetic streets and casinos. That peace remained with us all the way home.

In John’s gospel (John 14:23-29), Jesus speaks of a peace which is not of this world –a peace so deep and strong that it remains in spite of the misery around us and within us. Jesus offered this peace to his friends knowing full well that, once it made its home in them, they would be impelled to share it with others. As it happened, they changed our world forever with this gift. Somehow, my husband and I experienced the same in the midst of what some call Sin City. Somehow, regardless of where you find yourself, Jesus offers the same to you. Jesus’ only request is that we share this peace with whomever we meet wherever we go.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Seek Joy

Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.

Psalm 98:4

A few days ago, my husband and I drove up north to our favorite getaway, a little log cabin in the woods. Though we left plenty of work behind at home, we gave in to this much-needed opportunity to relax. This was the first time we headed north since his foot surgery. He was thrilled to be at the wheel after having been chauffeured for weeks. Though I always volunteer to share the driving, I was grateful that my husband did not take me up on my offer. I happily lay back and enjoyed the view beyond my window. Nature did not disappoint as summer’s splendor revealed itself throughout the drive. We made excellent time and were surprisingly refreshed when we arrived.

Though we intended to relax, as soon as we settled in, we each tackled a project which we had let go during prior visits. A few hours and lots of progress later, we realized that dinner time had come and we had made no plans. We opted for the twenty-minute drive to our favorite Mexican restaurant. As we settled in to scan the familiar menu, we laughed at how little we had relaxed that day. Still, we felt much better than we had a few days earlier when we decided we needed this get-away. My husband observed, “Maybe we didn’t mind all of the work at the cabin because we didn’t have to do it. We did it because we wanted to.” How right he was…

Gracious God, thank you for sharing your joyful Spirit with us. Give us the wisdom to revive our spirits often.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved