For Me?

The one who sent me is with me.
God has not left me alone…

John 8:29

I’ve been a little frustrated over being needed a bit too often as of late. This past Sunday morning, I set out for church with a weary heart. Indeed, I felt completely overwhelmed. As I drove, I decided to listen to a favorite CD which always lifts my spirits. When I attempted to sing along, I found that an irritated throat left me without my voice. “Great,” I moaned.

I like to sing. I can lift myself out of the dumps with just a line or two of the right song. When I arrived at church, I checked the music selections for that morning’s Mass. I quickly discovered that I didn’t know most of the hymns which we’d sing that day. Though my raspy throat kept me from joining in aloud, I was frustrated over not being able to mentally sing along. Much to my surprise, someone sat nearby who has a wonderful voice. With every new song, this fellow seemed to be singing just for me. Though I know this impression is inaccurate, this gentleman’s singing lifted me up just the same.

As Lent 2019 continues to unfold, I’ll listen carefully for those unexpected lyrics of encouragement which God sends for me in so many creative ways. At the same time, I’ll try to do this for those who rely upon me. Hopefully, I will let them know somehow that I’m singing, listening or simply being there just for them.

Loving God, Jesus couldn’t help stopping for the needy souls he met along the way. Help me to do the same.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Hold on!

The child grew in size and strength,
filled with wisdom,
and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 2:40

The New Year is just thirty-six hours away and my thoughts turn to my hopes and dreams for 2019. For much of my life, I’ve been blessed with an inner calm which I really cannot explain. Though I’ve fretted with the best of them, especially when a loved one faced peril which I could do nothing about, I’ve managed to be a source of steady support. If worry threatened to get the best of me, I headed outdoors to walk. When close encounters with slippery walks were imminent, I sought solace indoors by walking the mall.

In recent months, my inner calm has been somewhat elusive. Circumstances in several corners of my little world have been disrupted unexpectedly and undesirably. These situations have collided in a perfect storm of worry and heartache. Too often, I’ve been uncertain of what the next day or hour or second might bring. I thought I’d be through this storm by the time New Year 2019 chimed in. With only two days to go, I wonder…

Perhaps it’s time for me to take a walk inside, not around my house, but around my heart. I use this space often to insist that God is with us and within us in everything. Even when we ignore God’s company, God remains. As I type, Someone seems to ask, “Did you read that?” That Someone wonders why I insist to my readers that these things are true while not insisting the same to myself. I stopped writing to say aloud, “Yes, God, I know you’re here!”

With that, I refer you and me to Luke’s observation cited above. Like Jesus, you and I have the grace of God upon us. Jesus couldn’t have said or done more to convince us of God’s enduring love for us. Even in the midst of perfect storms, we’re safe because God is with us. It’s up to us to hold on and to move on. And so I will…

Loving God, thank you for your presence and your love which sustain us no matter what.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Safe In God’s Company

The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream
and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother,
flee to Egypt and stay there until I tell you.”

Matthew 2:13

For decades and decades, my family gathered to continue our Christmas festivities on New Year’s Day. My dad’s Canadian family lovingly preserved this traditional gathering which always included a blessing. At the appointed time, we gathered before our eldest family member to request his or her intercession. He or she responded by asking God’s gifts of happiness, health and prosperity for those present and for all of our loved ones during the coming year.

For as long as I can remember, I experienced a sense of comforting peace while kneeling in the company of my extended and extensive family. Each time, I couldn’t help feeling protected somehow regardless of what life had in store for the next three hundred and sixty-four days. This was especially important to me the year my dad passed away and for many years thereafter. Perhaps this is the reason I was always careful to help my own sons to feel safe. Perhaps this is the reason I hold my grandchildren so close to my heart. Perhaps this is the reason I’m compelled to remind all who will listen that God is always nearby, around us and within us to keep us safe along the way.

Loving God, even Jesus had reason to fear from very early on in his life. Still, Mary and Joseph remained steadfast in their loving care for him. Help us to treasure and to nurture one another with equal devotion. Help us always to remember that you are at our sides in everything.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Graced Once Again!

The child grew in size and strength,
filled with wisdom,
and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 2:40

The New Year is just forty-eight hours away and my thoughts turn to my hopes and dreams, worries and fears for 2018. I once considered myself to be blessed with an inner calm which I could never explain. Those of you who follow my reflections every day know that this hasn’t been the case during the last several months of 2017. I allowed myself to fret with the best of them, especially in the face of this world’s violence both near and far away. During that time, I found myself extremely frustrated by my inability to remedy these things.

Oddly enough, the passing of a young man I taught more than forty years ago helped me to recapture some of that fleeting inner peace. I found the gathering of people who mourned Robert to be life-giving. The comforting and challenging words of his pastor led me back to the familiar path I thought I might never find again. Finally, I began to feel like the child of whom Luke wrote so long ago. Finally, I’ve turned my attention to the goodness around me.

Though I’ve grown neither as wise nor as strong as Jesus did, the grace of God is upon me. This grace assures me in the midst of the worst of my fretting that my loved ones, this world and I will be fine in the end. Yes, God’s grace is upon us all.

Good and Gracious God, thank you for your presence and your enduring love which renew my hope and lift my heart.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Indescriminate Grace

The child grew in size and strength,
filled with wisdom,
and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 2:40

As 2016 eases into its final days, I prepare to hang my 2017 Calendar. In the process, I wonder aloud what the coming year will bring. As I flip back through this year’s calendar, I give thanks for the many blessings which have come my way. Even the trauma and tragedy which touched a day here and a week there were accompanied by unexpected blessings. I’m impelled to acknowledge these past gifts and the ever-present love which surrounds me.

That love encourages an inner calm which I really cannot explain. I find myself engulfed by goodness. When life is trying, this invisible shield keeps me focused on the things to come. I consider Jesus who Luke tells us grew in strength and wisdom and had God’s grace upon him. Though I sometimes question my own strength and wisdom, I do feel the grace of God upon me and around me as well. Jesus himself has convinced me that this impression is accurate. His lessons regarding God’s love assure me in every circumstance that my loved ones and I will be fine in the end. Indeed, as Jesus tells it, God’s grace is upon us all.

Good and Gracious God, thank you for your presence among us. Your love enhances the best and worst of our days. It enriches our best efforts and softens our failures. You draw goodness even from our imperfections. In truth, your grace really is upon us all.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Just For Me…

The one who sent me is with me.
He has not left me alone…

John 8:29

I’m afraid that I haven’t completely shaken my frustration over being needed a little too much as of late. This past Sunday morning, I set out for church with a heavy heart. Indeed, I felt completely overwhelmed. As I drove, I decided to listen to a favorite CD which always lifts my spirits. When I attempted to sing along, I found that an irritated throat left me without my voice. “Great,” I moaned.

I like to sing. I can lift myself out of the dumps with just a line or two of the right song. When I arrived at church, I checked the music selections for that morning’s Mass. I happily found that our choir director had selected hymns which were among my favorites. Still, I was unable to join in the singing. Much to my surprise, someone sat nearby who has a wonderful voice. With every new song, he seemed to be singing just for me. Though I know this impression was not accurate, this gentleman’s singing helped me just the same.

Over the days ahead, I will listen carefully for those unexpected lyrics of encouragement which God sends “just for me” in so many creative ways. At the same time, I’ll try again to do this for those who rely upon me. Hopefully, I will let them know somehow that I’m singing, listening, driving or being there just for them.

Loving God, Jesus could not help stopping for the needy souls he met along the way. Help me to do the same.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved