T is for…

Give thanks to God, for God is good,
and God’s mercy endures forever.

Psalm 136:1

T is for Thanksgiving. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve probably made it crystal clear in too many ways that life isn’t always perfect for me. At the same time, I truly hope that I’ve made it equally clear that I have much to be thankful for, far more than I ever expected or dared to hope for. Though the most precious of these gifts are intangible, they are very real to me just the same. Yes, I’m a very blessed soul.

This is the reason that I occasionally look into my mirror to give myself a stern look when I respond to life’s trials with something less than thanksgiving. When unpleasant challenges arise, I’ve been known to address my patient God with, “God, I know you’ve been very good to me, but really? I don’t mean to complain, but how can I deal with this?” My stern look, which is far more menacing than anything God would send my way, always assists me in adjusting my thinking and my prayer. So it is that I continue with, “Thank you, God, for being with me in everything. I know that all of this will end well. In the mean time, help me to respond as you would.”

T is for Thanksgiving. Our ability to be grateful is key to our happiness and our joy. Today and every day, I will do my best to face everything with a heart full of thanksgiving. Trust me. This effort makes all of the difference in the world and I encourage you to do the same.

Generous God, thank you for everything!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Thank You…

One of them, realizing that he had been cured,
came back praising God in a loud voice.

Luke 17:15

In another attempt to purge our home of clutter, I tackled a box of mementos stored in an over-stuffed closet. In the process, I found the scrapbook my older sister gave me for my thirteenth birthday. I intended to use it to chronicle the aftermath of President John . Kennedy’s assassination. As it happened, the emotions of those dark November days were too much to bear and I let my scrapbook sit empty for months. It was then that I asked my mom if I could have a few of our family photos to start a collection of happier memories. Over the next decade, I added items which were important to me. When I ran out of pages, I continued to store treasures in the back of the book.

For decades, this scrapbook has been too full to hold another bit of paper. Now I save letters, notes and cards in a dresser drawer. Each one speaks love to me. Every time I return to them, I’m grateful beyond words.

I site Jesus’ encounter with the ten lepers because Jesus felt their pain as only he could and he cured them all. Still, after they realized what had occurred, only one leper returned to Jesus to express his gratitude. I clearly recall my gratitude to my older sister who gifted me with that scrapbook. I hope I thanked her appropriately! You know, our capacity to love is an amazing gift. Our ability to feel gratitude makes all of that love even more precious.

Loving God, be with us as we enrich our lives and the lives of others with our love and our gratitude.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

I Give Thanks

Give thanks to God;
bless God’s name for God is good:
the Lord whose kindness endures forever…

From Psalm 100:4-5

As I consider the things for which I’m grateful, I find that I have more time than usual to compile a list. My husband and I aren’t cooking today. Our older son and his wife have taken on our annual Thanksgiving feast. His younger brother and wife will do the same for Christmas Day. I admit that I’m quietly rejoicing in response to this turn of events. Thank you, God!

The next point on my list of blessings is my family. That I married was a huge surprise to me. That my husband and I have children is a miracle, literally, from what the doctors have told us. I’m grateful to my parents who shared their faith with me through their practical daily lives. They appreciated God’s love and their resulting ability to weather any storm taught me to do the same. My siblings each contributed to who I am today in so many ways. Thank you, God!

I appreciate God’s love, too. When in doubt, I turn to Jesus who insisted that God loves us as we are with all of our frailties intact. Though Jesus provided a lifetime of very good example, he also assured us that God expects only what we are able to do, nothing more. Thank you for this, Dear God, because I sometimes forget that I’m good enough for you!

On this Thanksgiving Day, this reflection should be the longest I’ve ever written because my blessings are so numerous. Suffice to say that God knows them all and that I’m most grateful. I hope you find that the same is true for you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Generous God, thank you for everything!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Ever-Grateful!

Giving voice to my thanks,
and recounting all your wondrous deeds, O Lord…

From Psalm 26:7-8

I cannot tell you whose voice it was that I heard. I was in the other room during the telecast. Still, those words echoed in my mind throughout the day. Even today, I can hear, “A grateful soul is a happy soul!” Though I was too busy to run into the family room to see who spoke from our television set, I was not so busy that I ignored the message. As is usually the case when I hear or read something which gets to what I consider to be the heart of the matter, I mulled over this observation for days.

I’ve understood the value of gratitude since very early on in my life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve begun my prayers by saying “thank you” for blessings received. Even when the moment at hand seemed void of reason to be grateful something within always compelled me to say, “Thank you!” to God. These initial expressions of gratitude never failed to influence the tone of the rest of what I had to say. What might have been a litany of requests morphed into a conversation during which I spoke and then listened regarding the needs of others. Though I never actually heard another voice in response, I certainly felt the presence of our Benevolent God. It is no wonder that I wake up every morning saying, “Thank you for the sleep!” I simply can’t help myself for which I’m also most grateful!

Gracious God, help us all to be grateful heralds of your generous love.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Favorite Photos

Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.

Psalm 145:13

When our first grandchild was born, I began to organize our pictures of her and the rest of us from Day 1. Though I’d done the same for our own sons, it had been a while since I started new albums. Some family members and friends acknowledged our new roles as “Grandma and Grandpa” by gifting us with photo albums and I put each one to immediate use. As I completed each one, rather than storing them away, I displayed the albums on our coffee table for easy access. I didn’t want to forget a bit of this new adventure.

Three more grandchildren and a few memorable trips enticed me to keep this “album thing” going. Twelve volumes later, I find that my thinking in this regard is sound. When visiting, our grandchildren and their parents look through these albums often. Numerous conversations regarding the places we’ve been, the kids’ growth spurts and a variety of special occasions result. The smiles which accompany all of this indicate that my photo album collection is truly a celebration of who we are and where we have been.

I can’t help thinking that my family album experiences mirror God’s love for you and me. In spite of the world’s distractions and that challenging gift of our free will, we all manage to engage in good deeds far more often than we realize. Each one certainly elicits a smile from our Benevolent Creator. Though my photo albums don’t chronicle our difficult family times, God’s albums do. God looks upon these events with loving concern. More importantly, God remains with us most closely during these difficult times.

Generous God, thank you for making our memories your own.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Grateful, in Spite of It All

Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord,
and let your faithful ones bless you.

Psalm 145:11

I’m usually tired on Wednesday. This is a good thing as it’s the result of spending Tuesday with my grandson. This week, I found it particularly therapeutic to run with Danny for the day. I’ve been in a dark mood due to circumstances all over this world of ours. Though things have deteriorated closer to home these days, some of our sisters and brothers across whichever ocean you chose have suffered the equivalent for lifetimes. The worst part of all of this is that much of the suffering is long-term. I can donate to relief efforts, which I will, but I can’t do much more from here. What’s worse is that I can’t seem to make much difference regarding suffering which is closer to home…

I consoled myself with a walk. As I headed down the block, I saw our neighbor’s car. They’ve returned from a weekend away. I smiled as I congratulated myself for remembering to bring their baby bottle to church. We filled them with spare change to support a program which assists women in difficult pregnancies. That same weekend, a doctor and nurse from the Mission Doctors Association also made an appeal. The outpouring of support for both causes amazed everyone. In spite of my dour mood, I felt a twinge of gratitude.

For the first time in several days, I noticed the blue sky, an assortment of wispy clouds and the lush trees which line our neighborhood. For the first time in several days, I took notice of the goodness which surrounds me. Though a day with our grandchildren is always a treat, so is a day touched by the goodness of the people who grace my life. Though floods and poverty and injustice won’t be wiped away in an instant, every effort to respond will make a difference every time!

Dear God, help me to live with a loving and grateful heart by responding to those you have given me to love, both near and far away.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved