Simple Joy

God is our God
and we are the people God shepherds,
the flock God guides.

Psalm 95:7

I’ve just come in from the screened porch just beyond our family room. Every year, that porch houses a Christmas Tree. This tree reigns over an antiquated nativity set of which my husband and I are very fond. The figures include Mary, Joseph, the Infant Jesus and two lambs. They are white plastic and resemble sets seen everywhere in our childhood neighborhoods decades ago. Though the figures have lost their allure in the light of day, they take on an awe-inspiring aura at night. After I decorate the porch tree with lights and red bows, my husband nestles these figures among greenery at its feet. The tree’s colorful bulbs silhouette each one in a heavenly glow. The white lights he adds to the greenery in which they sit seem to bring Joseph, Mary, the Baby and those little lambs to life.

Though I love the family Christmas Tree in our living room, it is this porch tree which I enjoy the throughout Advent and the Christmas Season. Actually, I most enjoy the figures of the Holy Family beneath that tree. They remind me of the amazing goodness God draws from the simplest moments of our lives.

Dear God, heaven and earth became one that first Christmas day. Thank you for Jesus who changed this world forever.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Peacemakers All…

“Gather my faithful ones before me,
those who have made a covenant with me…”

From Psalm 50:5

My mom was devoted to the Mother of Jesus and I couldn’t help admiring her affection for this amazing woman. This reverence came to fruition in elementary school. I attended Presentation School on the West Side of Chicago. My parish and school were named to honor Mary on the occasion of her presentation to God in the temple by her parents. I’m quite certain that, at the time, Joachim and Ann had no idea of the extent to which their daughter would embrace this commitment. Our parish priests and sisters added to my admiration by expounding often regarding Mary’s life.

When I realized the conditions which surrounded Mary’s motherhood, she stole my heart. Mary accepted her role as the mother of Jesus at the ripe age of fourteen. Mary’s commitment turned her world upside down. Because she wasn’t yet married to Joseph, she might have paid for her pregnancy with her life. Fortunately, though Joseph had every reason to leave Mary to fend for herself, he welcomed Mary into his home and his life. The good Joseph easily earned my respect as well.

Today, as we celebrate Mary, I honor this woman who offers me brave example of following ones heart and doing the right thing. Mary made peace with her life as it was and she did her best to live it out. Her efforts brought heaven’s peace to our world in the person of Jesus. Perhaps our efforts can bring a bit of peace as well.

Dear God, thank you for Mary and all of the amazing souls who inspire the rest of us to bring your peace to others in all that we say and do.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Expectations Fulfilled…

In verdant pastures God gives me repose;
beside restful waters God leads me;
God refreshes my soul.

From Psalm 23:2-3

This is the anniversary of my sister’s departure for the hereafter.

When Cecele returned to her doctor due to a persistent cough, she didn’t expect him to suggest an exploratory procedure. Not long afterward, she didn’t expect to hear about cancer, her months-long prognosis and the chemo which might or might not help. When she finally absorbed all of this, Cecele observed, “I’m a fighter. I’m going to fight this.” And that she did!

My sister dug in her heals and embraced the regimen of care laid out for her. The rest of us accompanied her to appointments and did whatever else we could to lighten her burden. We talked a little and we listened a lot. When the chemo wreaked havoc with her hair, my sister’s daughter-in-law shaved her head for her. Though the Cancer Society provided a lovely wig, Cecele determined that bald is beautiful. On her, it really was. When the chemo failed to help, Cecele accepted hospice care. Again, she fought, This time, she fought to accomplish everything that needed to be done before she took her leave. And that she did, too. I don’t think I’ll ever meet an equally prepared dying person!

Though my sister’s final journey was unexpected, the outcome was precisely what she’d hoped for. When I bade my final farewell to her earthly remains, the peace on Cecele’s face was unmistakable. The few glimpses of the hereafter which had graced her last days sustained Cecele through her good-byes and her last breaths. I have no doubt that her experience of the things to come is everything she hoped for and so much more! It was her expectation regarding eternal life which saw her through what could have been a far more difficult journey.

Loving God, thank you for this life and the amazing life to come.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserve

Mary’s Gift of Peace

“Gather my faithful ones before me,
those who have made a covenant with me…”

From Psalm 50:5

As I attempt to share a measure of Christmas Peace with those around me, Mary comes to mind. My mom was devoted to the Mother of Jesus and I cannot help sharing her affection for this amazing woman. This reverence took root in elementary school. My parish and school were named to honor Mary on the occasion of her presentation to God in the temple by her parents. I’m quite certain that Joachim and Ann had no idea of the extent to which their daughter would take this commitment. Our parish priests and the sisters added to my admiration by expounding often regarding Mary’s life.

When I realized the conditions which surrounded Mary’s motherhood, she stole my heart. Mary accepted her role as the mother of Jesus at the ripe age of fourteen. Mary’s commitment turned her world upside down. Because she wasn’t yet married, Mary might have paid for her pregnancy with her life. Fortunately, though Joseph had every reason to leave Mary to fend for herself, he welcomed her into his home and his life. The good Joseph earned my respect as well.

On this Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I honor and celebrate this woman who offered me brave example by following her heart and doing what she felt was the right thing. Mary made peace with her life and, as a result, she allowed heaven’s peace to touch our world.

Dear God, thank you for Mary and all of the amazing souls who inspire the rest of us to bring your peace to others.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Simply Beautiful

For he is our God
and we are the people he shepherds,
the flock he guides.

Psalm 95:7

I’ve just come in from the screened porch just beyond our family room. Every year, that porch houses a Christmas Tree. This tree reigns over an antiquated nativity set of which my husband and I are very fond. The figures include Mary, Joseph, the Infant Jesus and two lambs. They are white plastic and resemble sets seen everywhere in our childhood neighborhoods decades ago. Though the figures have lost their allure in the light of day, they take on an awe-inspiring aura at night. After I decorate the porch tree with lights and red bows, my husband nestles these figures among greenery at its feet. The tree’s colorful bulbs silhouette each one in a heavenly glow. The white lights he adds to the greenery in which they sit seem to bring Joseph, Mary, the Baby and those little lambs to life.

Though I love the family Christmas Tree in our living room, it is this porch tree which I enjoy the throughout Advent and the Christmas Season. Actually, I most enjoy the figures of the Holy Family beneath that tree. They remind me of the amazing goodness God draws from the simplest moments of our lives.

Dear Sweet Jesus, heaven and earth became one. Thank you for taking on our humanity and for revealing to us what a simply amazing gift it is!

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Mother of Peace

“Gather my faithful ones before me,
those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”

Psalm 50:5

As I attempt to share a bit of Christmas Peace with those around me, Mary comes to mind. My mom was devoted to the Mother of Jesus and I could not help sharing her affection for this amazing woman. This reverence came to fruition in elementary school. I attended Presentation School on the West Side of Chicago. My parish and school were named to honor Mary on the occasion of her presentation to God in the temple by her parents. I’m quite certain that, at the time, Joachim and Ann had no idea of the extent to which their daughter would take this commitment. Our parish priests and sisters added to my admiration by expounding often regarding Mary’s life in their teaching and preaching.

When I realized the conditions which surrounded Mary’s motherhood, she stole my heart. Mary accepted her role as the mother of Jesus at the ripe age of fourteen. Mary’s commitment turned her world upside down. Because she was not yet married to Joseph, she might have paid for her pregnancy with her life. Fortunately, though Joseph had every reason to leave Mary to fend for herself, he welcomed Mary into his home and his life. The good Joseph easily earned my respect as well.

On this Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I honor and celebrate this woman who offers me brave example of following ones heart and doing the right thing. Mary made peace with her life at is was. As a result, she allowed heaven’s peace to touch our world.

Dear God, thank you for Mary and all of the amazing souls who inspire the rest of us to bring your peace to others through the gift of our lives.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved