I Fear No Evil…

Though I walk through the valley of darkness,
I fear no evil; for you are with me…

From Psalm 23:4

When I was a little girl, I feared a visit from the doctor more than much else. (Yes, there was a time when doctors made house calls!) Our family physician was pleasant enough. However, he visited our home only when one of us was seriously ill and in need of immediate intervention. That intervention usually came in the form of an injection.

Much to my dismay, I was the designated patient on one such occasion. Though only a kindergartener, I recognized those dreaded letters as my mom spelled “D-o-c-t-o-r” to inform my dad that she was making the call. I’m quite certain that my tears began to flow by the time my mom said “c”. An hour or so later, the doctor arrived with the necessary inoculation. After assessing my symptoms, he opened his black bag as my dad lifted me over his shoulder. I carried on so that I didn’t feel pain of the injection. When my dad told me that it was over, I cried even harder. I was angry as ever that the doctor had accomplished his dastardly deed.

I spent the next thirty minutes or so on my dad’s lap. He wrapped his arms around me as my sobs faded into a whimper. When that whimper disappeared, my dad pulled me close to whisper in my ear. “Tomorrow, you’re going to be all better,” he promised. I believed his every word. Though he wouldn’t be able to keep me from all of the evils of this world, my dad loved me through them.

Dear God, thank you for my parents and all of the amazing souls who reveal your love, one hug at a time.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Our Faithful Guardian

He leads me in right paths…
From Psalm 23:3

When I consider the state of the world around me and of my own heart, I sometimes wonder why God bothers. Though God gifts humankind in ways more numerous than the grains of sand which cover this earth’s beaches, we manage to misuse our gifts in equally bountiful ways.

Fortunately for me, God takes note of my discouragement long before it morphs into something unmanageable. In the midst of my laments, images of kindnesses great and small distract my thinking. Moments in nature, in the company of those I love, at prayer and at peace with the tasks at hand compel me to utter words of thanks without much thought. While I remain baffled at this transition from discouragement to contentment, God leans back and admires this bit of Divine Handiwork.

As I consider Psalm 23 once again, I understand. God will never cease to lead us in right paths because it is in God’s nature to do so. When one loves as completely as God does, one never EVER gives up on the objects of that love!

Loving God, thank you for your ongoing encouragement in things great and small. Remind me never to give up on this world because you will never give up on a single one of us.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

So Generously Restored!

…he leads me beside still waters
and restores my soul.

Psalm 23:2-3

I ran from the moment I woke that morning. Before thinking about a little volunteer pitch which I’d deliver at Mass that evening, I forced myself to complete my morning exercises. Afterward, I did two loads of laundry while working on a few more of these daily reflections. Completing this little to-do list put me in the perfect frame of mind to ask others who are able to step up and occasionally help out with some fairly easy tasks at church.

After practicing my one-minute and fifteen-second speech, I noticed that the November rain had let up. Though the red line on my thermometer had not edged beyond forty-five that day, I couldn’t resist the oddly peaceful setting which lay beneath the cloudy sky. Though the beautiful fall colors which adorned my neighborhood were muted on that seemingly dismal day, the scene before me nudged me back to Psalm 23.

Though I had a bit more to do inside, I headed outdoors to walk. Every step of the way, God restored my soul. Even on that gray-hued day, God refreshed me.

Loving God, thank you for the many gifts with which you refresh us.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God With Us

Behind me and before, you hem me in
and rest your hand upon me.

Psalm 139:5

Though it was mid-October, the humidity peeked as I walked. Oddly, I failed to notice until a row of trees covered me with shade for several seconds. As I ambled along beneath them, I felt notably cooler. When I walked on into the sun again, I felt the day’s unexpected heat until I reached another row of trees. I plodded along in and out of the heat for several minutes.

Eventually, I found myself beneath a half-block row of trees. I embraced the coolness I found there with deep gratitude. Though that morning’s temperatures would have been considered a blessing in mid-July, I was grateful for the reprieve just the same. I couldn’t help voicing my thanks with a short prayer: “Thank you, Generous God. This feels so good!” God responded with a most consoling thought. “Just as those trees offer you shelter from the heat,” God seemed to say, “I offer you shelter whenever it is needed.”

For the rest of that walk, I thanked our God for the shelter that has come during countless difficult episodes in my life and the lives of those around me.

Comforting God, you are with us in our joys and in our sorrows. Please reveal your presence to us often just as tangibly as you did that day.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A God Day? Yes, Indeed!

You shall rejoice in every good thing
which the Lord your God has given you.

Deuteronomy 16:11

I know I’ve shared this before. I also know that I’d convinced myself that I’d eliminated this particular typo from my repertoire. Nonetheless, I repeated this error in every personal email I sent today. Duh! Let me explain… I normally close my emails by typing “Have a good day.” However, each time I reread a message today, I found that I’d actually typed, “Have a god day!” Though my typo did not begin with a capital letter, the meaning of my error didn’t escape me.

Some years ago, I caught myself making this particular error on almost every email I sent. I had wished others “God days” several times during a single week. The funniest part of this is that I didn’t catch my error for so long. It was only when I looked back at one week’s messages in my “Sent” box that I discovered the magnitude of my mistake.

After chiding myself over my carelessness, I realized that there was no error in my work after all. If I shared what I truly wished for those who are a part of my life, I would type “Have a God day!” intentionally. I wish everyone realized from morning til night that God loves them more than anything. I wish that this knowledge would ease their burdens and give them hope regardless of the trials and tribulations which befall them day in and day out. I wish that they understood that God’s loving hand wipes away our failings long before we have the sense to regret them. I wish that this life would become do-able for them simply because they know that wherever life’s path leads them, God is with them. The most unique gift God gives each of us in the opportunity awaiting us in each new day. Yes, indeed. I wish us all a God day every day!

Loving God, you make all of our day’s “God days” even when we fail to notice. Thank you!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Angels At Our Sides

A surging stream of fire
flowed out from where he sat;
Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him,
and myriads upon myriads attended to him.

Daniel 7:10

Daniel’s imagery provides a fairly accurate picture of my earliest impressions of God. The adults around me succeeded in convincing me of God’s love. Still, there was something about the Almighty’s powerful presence which gave me reason to pause. The earliest days of my relationship with God included some shyness and perhaps a bit of concern when it came to my own behavior and the things I dared to pray for.

The good news is that Daniel’s imagery also inspires my faith in God’s helpers, the archangels in particular. From the time I was a little child, I turned to Michael the Archangel when fearful people or fearful circumstances threatened. Though I was unsure of how all of this worked back then, as I am now, I do recall finding great consolation under the Archangel’s watchful eye.

Though I’ve set aside the more cumbersome baggage from my childhood which stunted my growth faith-wise, I admit that I continue to turn to the Good Michael and his counterparts, Raphael and Gabriel, when those I love are in distress. Though I don’t expect them to visibly take down the adversaries involved, I do believe that these spirits remain present for as long as they are needed. Perhaps all that is required to make things right is a strong shoulder to lean on, even when we don’t realize that shoulder is there.

Loving God, thank you for all of those who guard us and guide us along the way and thank you for being with us in everything.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved