A Lifetime of Second Chances

God created us in God’s image…
God looked at everything God created and found it to be very good.”

From Genesis 1

The treasures I recall from my childhood include our children’s bible. This huge book consisted of cardboard front and back covers which held together several small booklets. A new booklet arrived in the mail every month. Each time, my mom carefully removed the bible’s cardboard cover, inserted the new booklet and then replaced the cover. Afterward, my sisters and I poured over this newest addition where colorful pictures adorned every page. When we were finished, I always returned to the first booklet’s story of Creation, Adam and Eve, the snake and that forbidden tree. Eden looked amazing to me, at least as grand as heaven. “Why,” I often asked myself, “would Adam and Eve turn away from God who gave them so much?”

Life in this troubled world of ours answers that question every day. It’s lucky for us that God never returns the favor when we walk away. God simply watches with great expectations as we feebly do our best to make things right again. God also waits with arms outstretched for our return.

A friend recently shared a story from his childhood which illustrates this point. My friend was about twelve years old when he’d made a mess of a small chore. His ever-patient mom offered him the opportunity to try it again. My friend was so encouraged by his mother’s faith in him that, the second time around, he completed the task perfectly. My friend shared this story to make a point. “You know,” he said, “God gives us all a lifetime of second chances just like my mom!” I couldn’t agree more.

Generous God, thank you for the second and third and twenty-ninth chances which you offer us day in and day out. Give us the wisdom to embrace every opportunity to begin anew.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Is Good!

“If I just touch his clothing,” she thought,
“I will get well.”

Mark 5:28

I know I shared this yesterday, but I’m grateful enough to repeat myself in this regard. I truly am grateful that my parents introduced me to God. Their perspectives regarding God’s love and concern made this life manageable for them and they’ve done the same for me. This shared awareness of our Creator gives me great insight into the many good people whom I’ve met along the way. Though we sometimes belong to different faith communities or to none at all, our shared membership in God’s family makes all of the difference in the world.

I’ve told you about her before. Still, thoughts about our relationships with God bring her to mind once again. Sister Gerard was convinced of one this over everything else: God is good! Sister Gerard first spoke this phrase to me six decades ago. My great-aunt was a dynamic and lively little nun. After spending much of her career teaching at a boarding school for boys, Sister shared, “I’ve taught convicts and bishops, lawyers, janitors and butchers, and I love them all. God put them all into my life. God is good!” When Sister Gerard was assigned to a parish school in Chicago, we were able to see her more often. I listened attentively as she shared stories about her teaching career and life among the sisters. Eventually, bouts with cancer mandated her assignment to the sisters’ mother-house. This kept her close to the hospital where she received treatment. During this final assignment, Sister Gerard busied herself by visiting the elderly sisters, of whom she was one, to keep them company during their hospitalizations.

Through all of this, Sister Gerard maintained her conviction regarding God. During her treatment, she frequently observed, “God is good!” At ninety-two, Sister Gerard discovered that her final bout was a losing battle. She smiled at me from her sickbed as she admitted, “I was a little upset that Jesus didn’t cure me this time around. Then, I thought about where I’m going and I thanked Him! God is so good!” When my sweet aunt passed away, her funeral was truly a celebration of new life.

Good God, thank you for my parents, Sister Gerard and all of the amazing people who share your goodness with the rest of us. Strengthen all of our faith in your goodness and love.

©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

Good God!

She had heard about Jesus and came up behind
him in the crowd and put her hand on his cloak.

Mark 5:27

A recent chance encounter revealed a shared experience of God’s presence in our lives. I discovered that my great-aunt Sister Gerard had taught this person many years ago. I knew that, above all else, Sister Gerard believed that God is good. My new friend had learned the same thing in Sister Gerard’s classroom. Sister Gerard first spoke this phrase to me more than five decades ago. My great-aunt was a dynamic and lively little nun! After spending much of her career teaching at a boarding school for boys, Sister Gerard shared, “I’ve taught convicts and bishops, lawyers, janitors and butchers and I love them all. God put them all into my life. God is good!” I listened happily as she shared stories about her teaching career and life among the sisters.

Eventually, bouts with cancer mandated her assignment to the sisters’ mother house. This kept her close to the hospital where she received treatment. Sister Gerard busied herself with visiting the elderly sisters, of whom she was one, during their hospitalizations. Through it all, Sister Gerard maintained her conviction regarding God.

At age ninety-two, Sister Gerard discovered that her final bout was a losing battle. She smiled at me from her sickbed as she admitted, “I was a little upset that God didn’t cure me this time around. Then, I thought about where I’m going and I thanked him! God is so good!” When my sweet aunt passed away, I imagined her dancing as she announced to all of heaven, “God is good!”

Good God, thank you Sister Gerard and all of the amazing people who share your goodness with the rest of us.

©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

There’s Always One More Chance

She took some of its fruit and ate it;
and she also gave some to her husband,
who was with her, and he ate it.

Genesis 3:6

The treasures I recall from my childhood include two family bibles. The first is a single volume in which our family tree and significant events were recorded. The second consisted of cardboard front and back covers which held together several separate booklets that arrived in the mail periodically. With each new arrival, my mom carefully removed the bible’s cardboard cover, inserted the new booklet, and replaced the cover. Afterward, my sisters and I poured over this newest addition where colorful pictures adorned every page. When we were finished, I always returned to the first book’s story of Adam and Eve, the snake and that forbidden tree. Eden looked amazing to me, at least as grand as heaven. “Why,” I often asked myself, “would Adam and Eve turn away from God who gave them so much?”

Life in this confused world of ours answers that question every day, doesn’t it? It’s lucky for us that God never returns the favor when we walk away. God simply waits with arms outstretched for our return.

Generous God, thank you for the blessing of second and third and twenty-ninth chances which you offer us day in and day out. Give us the wisdom to accept every chance you give us to start anew.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved