Just Pace Yourself!

For a thousand years in your sight are as a day…
From Psalm 90:4

The day after July 4, the house was quiet. Our sons had taken their dad out for a belated Father’s Day excursion. I’d decided to use the time to write and to walk outdoors before the day’s heat set in. When I headed out, I noticed remnants of fireworks strewn about. Before walking, I swept up the contraband which had no doubt entertained someone nearby. As I worked, a delivery truck sped down the street. The driver’s urgency indicated that he was likely making up for his holiday off. I couldn’t help smiling because he reminded me of Mr. UPS, my favorite employee of that company.

Some years ago, Mr. UPS frequented our front door. Every time he set down a box in my foyer, he asked, “More books?” Mr. UPS knew that I write because he had the dubious privilege of delivering hundreds of books to me. In spite of their weight, he presented each box with a smile. I replied in the affirmative and then added that I was struggling with a year-long devotional. He smiled more broadly as he suggested, “Just pace yourself!” This advice was quite helpful back then just as it was on July 5.

After sweeping the driveway, I walked. I also gave a good deal of thought to Mr. UPS’s suggestion from long ago. “Just pace yourself!” I repeated. As I walked, I considered the beautiful flowers that adorn so many of my neighbors’ homes. “Those flowers didn’t plant themselves!” I mused. “They’re blooming today because someone made the time to plant them and to take care of them.” With that, I quickened my pace, finished that walk and headed home. As I sat at my keyboard, I reminded myself, “Your book isn’t writing itself either!” after completing a few more days’ reflections, I pulled up that neglected file and began again…

Dear God, thank you for the messengers who remind us to use the time we’re given well.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

It’s Time!

For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday…
From Psalm 90:4

After my neighbor stopped by to announce his second book’s publishing, I ran to my computer to order a copy. A few days later when the UPS driver dropped off my copy, thoughts surfaced of Mr. UPS, my favorite employee of that company. I didn’t ask his replacement about him as it’s been a while since I’ve seen him. Rather, I took a trip down Memory Lane where I revisited Mr. UPS’s valuable advice from a few years ago…

I was home when Mr. UPS arrived, so he obliged me by setting the box he carried onto the foyer floor. As he did so, he inquired, “More books?” Mr. UPS knew that I write because he had enjoyed the dubious privilege of delivering hundreds of books to our door during the previous several months. In spite of their weight, he presented each box with a smile. I replied in the affirmative and then added that I was struggling with a book of fifty pages which required at least another hundred and fifty pages for completion. He smiled more broadly and advised, “Pace yourself!”

At the time, I gave a good deal of thought to Mr. UPS’s suggestion. “Pace yourself!” I repeated. Determined to heed his words, I made a schedule for the rest of that week. Amazingly, I accomplished everything I’d hoped to do with time to spare. I spent this found time writing. After several weeks, I had completed almost half of the book.

Unfortunately, my discipline has diminished and my frustration has grown. It seems to me that Mr. UPS’s words echo in my memory with good reason. “Pace yourself!” he repeats. And so I will. I’ve got to finish that book!

Dear God, thank you for the messengers who remind us to use the time we are given wisely.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

All In God’s Time

For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday…
From Psalm 90:4

A recent delivery reminded me of Mr. UPS, my favorite employee of that company. I didn’t ask his replacement what had happened to him as I didn’t want to seem unappreciative of his efforts. Rather, I took a trip down Memory Lane where I revisited a very important conversation from a few years ago…

When Mr. UPS set the box on the foyer floor, he asked, “More books?” Mr. UPS knew that I write because he had enjoyed the dubious privilege of delivering hundreds of books to our door. In spite of their weight, he presented each box with a smile. I replied in the affirmative and then added that I was struggling with a year-long devotional. He smiled more broadly as he said, “Pace yourself!”

At the time, I gave a good deal of thought to Mr. UPS’s suggestion. “Pace yourself!” I repeated again and again. Determined to heed these words of wisdom, I made a schedule of sorts for the rest of the week. Amazingly, I accomplished everything I’d hoped to do with time to spare. I spent this found time seeking inspiration in Creation and writing. After several weeks, I had completed one-third of the book. Over time, I admit that my discipline waned. I added only a few reflections during sporadic sittings. To date, I have completed half of this book.

It seems that Mr. UPS continues to work on my behalf in spite of his absence through the words that echo in my memory. “Pace yourself!” he says. And so I will.

Dear God, thank you for the messengers who remind us to use the time we are given well.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Impeccable Timing

Timing is everything, you know?

On my return from a walk the other day, I came into the house via our garage. I noticed cardboard boxes I had saved for unneeded household items. It was a bit of a ho-hum day. Because there was nothing specific on my agenda that morning, I decided to make good on my commitment to purge. “There’s no time like the present,” I told myself. With that, I grabbed a box and headed upstairs to tackle the overflowing bookcases in our study. After confirming which books my husband wanted to keep and to discard, I tried to do the same for myself.

I looked lovingly upon numerous novels, my books on death, dying and the afterlife, inspirational books which Mike and our sons have given me over the years, my senior year high school yearbook, my favorite children’s books and an old catechism. Where would I begin?

As I scanned the inspirational books, each one touched me as it had on the day I received it. Tears crept down my cheeks as I tucked them back onto their shelf. When I picked up my high school yearbook, I wondered how long had it been since I read the messages scrawled on its pages. “Stay as great and sincere as you are… A.C.T. was special because of you, but remember to slow down once in a while… Thanks for handling Sister Syra so well. You got us through Special Chorus… To a great kid… May your positive social deviance continue to change the world…” I recognized my own handwriting when I read, “My mom.” I wrote this above the familiar woman pictured with several other parents who attended College Night that year. My mom’s striking features stood out almost as poignantly as her determination that all of her children would graduate college one day. Memories of pride and loss rushed in as I slid my yearbook back onto its shelf.

I had spent two hours with my books when I picked up that old catechism. I would have disposed of it quickly if a holy card sticking out of it hadn’t piqued my interest. It marked the chapter entitled GRACE. We were taught that grace is God’s very life within us. I looked at the array of books before me and prayed, “Lord, your grace has flowed through every one of them.” My novels renew my empathy for my fellow humans. My books on death, dying and the hereafter sustain my hope. Those children’s books feed my imagination and strengthen my bond with our granddaughters. The inspirational books from Mike and the boys remind me that I am loved. My classmates’ and teachers’ messages in that yearbook hinted at the encouragement I have received throughout my lifetime.

I had to ask, “Lord, have I thanked you recently for the amazing people who have supported me along the way?” I placed the catechism back on the shelf with the rest of my books and added, “Thank you, Lord, for taking care of me. I didn’t put a single book into that box because you continue to touch me through them, especially today. As always, your timing is impeccable.” This ho-hum day was a gift!

Though that cardboard box remains empty, I found what I needed to fill this page. Matthew’s gospel (14:22-33) reminds us that God’s timing is impeccable as God’s grace always comes when we require it. This passage begins just after the disciples fed the crowd with the bread and fish which Jesus blessed. Afterward, Jesus went off to be alone. John the Baptist had been murdered, and Jesus had not yet had the time to mourn his cousin. At the same time, the disciples set out on their boat. Within minutes, a terrible storm engulfed them. They had just experienced another of Jesus’ miracles, yet Jesus was the farthest thing from their minds. As the perilous storm threatened, Jesus set aside his own needs once again and came to their rescue. Jesus walked across the raging waters. However, rather than celebrating Jesus’ intervention, the disciples screamed in fear. They thought Jesus was a ghost. Only Peter, who relied on his heart more than his head, recognized the Lord. Peter immediately asked to walk the waters to meet him. Peter stepped amidst the waves and almost made it to Jesus. However, when he realized what he was doing, Peter focused upon the roaring wind rather than on his Lord and he began to sink. Only when Peter turned back to Jesus and reached for Jesus’ hand was he finally safe.

Peter’s moment of grace is much like the moments of grace I contemplated as I perused my bookshelf the other day. Though the times God has intervened for me have not always been as fierce as a raging storm, God has intervened just the same. As was the case for the disciples, God offers a hand with impeccable timing to you and me. God provides moments of safety and moments of grace precisely when they are needed.

©2014 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved