O… Original

For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be and favored.

Psalm 128:2

O is for Original. I had difficulty settling on today’s word. I was torn between “original” and “opus” because both words describe an extremely important aspect of our existence. You see, each of us is an original. Even my cousins who are identical twins are very different people. Still, I cannot dismiss the word “opus” because each of our lives is exactly that. You and I are unique and important works which God has contributed to our human family. Our part in all of this is to contribute our own unique and important work to the mix. Whether we compose or construct or cause things to happen, our opus is vital to the rest of humankind. Whether this work is a lifelong process, a singular effort at a particular moment in time or a combination of the two, our original opus will make an impact upon others as no one else’s work can.

My first reaction to all of this is to feel the weight of the world upon me. Then, I consider the great and small works of those I’ve met along the way. I realize that the grandeur or smallness of their actions means little to me. It is their presence and their delivery which changed everything. Each person’s original opus has impacted me in some way. The same is true of my own work. It’s up to me to make my contribution to this world. I must seize the opportunities before me and make the most of them as only I can. The same is true for you and for all of us!

Loving God, be with us as we bring our unique talents to fruition. Inspire our efforts to contribute our own original opus to impact this world as only we can.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

B… Blessed Are We!

May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.

Psalm 72:17

B is for Blessed. You are blessed and so am I. We wouldn’t walk this earth if we weren’t intentionally breathed into existence by our creatively loving God. I use the adverb “creatively” intentionally. You see, God’s blessings often befuddle me. Most of the time, I don’t recognize them until long after a given person or circumstance has moved on. A lifetime of chance meetings, one-liners which lodge in my memory, unexpected friendships, opportunities and seeming setbacks prove this over and over again. Though I don’t realize it much of the time, I am indeed blessed.

As I consider and offer thanks for the blessings in my life, I must acknowledge that these blessings include everyone around me. This is the challenging part because “everyone” includes those who occasionally give me a headache, a heartache, a soul-ache or worse. How can I look upon these people as blessings?

B is for Blessed. You are blessed and so I am. So it is that you and I must gently remove the wrapping which conceals the blessedness within ourselves and within others from the world. Only then will we discover the fullness of God’s precious gifts.

O Creatively Loving God, help us to see our own blessings and those of others with your perceptive eyes. Give us grateful hearts that we may appreciate both fully.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

There’s Always Room

“For my house shall be called
a house of prayer for all people.”

From Isaiah 56:7

Finally, I feel prepared for Christmas. Everything here at home is ready and I can hardly wait to celebrate with my family. Everything at our parish church is ready, too. Since our parish was founded, my husband, our friend Terry and a crew of dedicated volunteers have decorated our worship space for Christmas. Before we had a church building, they transformed the school gym we rented into a beautiful and prayerful space. Since our church building was completed, they’ve done the same to inspire all who come with Christmas joy.

As always, we expect standing-room-only crowds. Like all churches, our numbers include “Christmas and Easter Birds” whose only appearances occur on these two holy days. This is fine with us. Like family, we know they are coming and we make every effort to seat them as comfortably as possible. All concerned work extremely hard to prepare our beautifully adorned church, amazing music and engaging liturgy. Everyone from our youngest parish children to our devoted seniors is involved. Our hope is that all who join us feel welcome. After all, our church is God’s house! And, after all, it’s Christmas! What better day is there to welcome everyone home?

Loving God, you open your house to all who come to your door. While some of us feel free to knock often, there are others who don’t. Please inspire all of your children to realize that they are welcome to your home any time and always.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Beautifully Simple

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves in me.

Matthew 11:29

There is something more to add to yesterday’s post about our porch Christmas Tree. It was three years ago when I almost replaced them…

While I decorated the tree on our porch that year, my husband perused the plastic figures which would rest beneath it. He noticed that the base of the Mary figure was cracked a bit. When he examined Baby Jesus, he found that the side of his little face was completely cracked. Only Joseph and the two lambs remained intact. With that, my husband asked if I would run out to purchase some Gorilla Glue while he determined if our beloved figures could be repaired.

I admit that while I searched for that glue I also looked for an equivalent set of Nativity figures. When I found a similar set, I phoned home to ask if I should purchase it. My husband’s response was immediate and absolute. “No. I can fix what we have.” On the way home, I realized that it wasn’t the cost which concerned him. Our Nativity figures had belonged to his parents and he wasn’t quite ready to part with them.

These three years later, I reassert that my husband’s instincts were well-placed. Though both the Jesus and Mary figurines had seen better days, that Gorilla Glue did the trick. In the glow of our porch tree lights, they looked absolutely beautiful back then just as they do today.

Thank you, Dear God, for sending your love into this world and into our hearts in such simple ways. Help us to bring your love to one another.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Favored and Loved

“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.”

Luke 1:30

Though Mary’s feast day fell on the Second Sunday of Advent, I can’t ignore her place among us…

I find great consolation in the Angel Gabriel’s words to Mary. It’s not that I consider myself to be as special as the Mother of Jesus. The truth is that I consider all of us to be worthy of God’s favor. Again, it’s not that I consider myself an expert on the issue. It’s Mary’s son Jesus, the expert on all things regarding God’s love, who has convinced me of this. Jesus spent his entire life convincing humankind that God intends these words for us all.

Though our circumstances differ, the difficulties we experience mirror Mary’s troubles to some degree. In Mary’s case, she consistently found the faith to respond to God’s urging in spite of the cost to herself. When her child was born in the worst of circumstances, she embraced hope. When her very heart died at the foot of her son’s cross, she found the hope to carry on once again. Mary had much to fear, yet she held onto the angel’s message: “Do not be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God.”

When Jesus began his ministry, he encouraged us to carry on as Mary did because we had found favor with God as well. Jesus spoke about God’s mercy, God’s compassion and God’s love. To underscore this message, Jesus behaved precisely as he said God behaves. Jesus spent time with sinners and then sent them off to embrace a fresh start. Regardless of the difficult patches that beset us, we need not be afraid because Jesus insisted that God favors us all.

Today, I honor and celebrate Mary who graciously shares God’s favor with us all.

Loving God, thank you for your favor. Help us to extend your good will to all whom we meet along the way this Advent and always.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Precious and Loved

Your children will be like olive branches who enrich your table.
From Psalm 128:3

Whenever our grandchildren visit, they spend a good deal of time thumbing through the photo albums stacked on our coffee table. These albums feature all of them from the time of their births. Of course, the rest of us are also preserved for posterity in this smattering of birthday, Christmas and other special occasion photos. Though kids enjoy looking at all of us, they seem especially amazed by the way they’ve changed over the years. So are we! As that metamorphosis continues, so will our love for each of them!

The other day, I decided to peruse my husband’s and my photo history. After enjoying our grandchild-filled albums, I opened our wedding album. As I poured over the decades-old pictures, tears threatened. On almost every page, I found Mike and me in our twenty-something prime. In those same photos, I found many a loved one who has passed on from this life. Just as Mike and I have had a significant impact upon one another, each of these special people left a significant mark on us. The love they showered upon us so long ago is tangible even today in most of what Mike and I do and say.

You know, my husband and I aren’t perfect. Nor are our sons and their families and the countless others who’ve touched our lives. Still, we love them dearly and we hope we’ve added to the richness of their lives just as they’ve added to our life together. The most important gift we give to one another is our love, especially when it seems least deserved. It is then that our love matters most of all!

Thank you, God, for the people you have given me to love in this life and for those who so generously love me in return.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved