Just Following God’s Lead

For the Lord loves the people…
From Psalm 149:4

We’re celebrating a our second grandchild’s birthday this week. Grandpa and I came up with a creative plan for our grandchildren’s birthdays a few years ago. Rather than purchasing numerous gifts which sometimes go by the wayside in short order, we decided to share the gift of our time with them. We planned overnight stays, special dinners and outings for each one. Our hope was that the special attention would underscore the love that we feel for each of them twenty-four/seven. This year, our four-year-old grandson will enjoy his first overnight birthday stay with us. So far, these special times together have been far more enjoyable than we ever expected. Hopefully, we’ll do the same for our youngest grandson in a few years!

Though I can recall very few of the gifts I received for my own childhood birthdays, I do remember the celebrations with my mom, dad and siblings who sang “Happy Birthday” and offered hugs in abundance on those special days. I also remember the story books and picnics shared, the reassurances at 3:00 AM, and the “I love you!” that accompanied a good-night kiss. I especially remember the forgiveness offered after a much-deserved scolding.

Hopefully, Grandpa and I will succeed in giving all of our grandchildren the best gift of all: the affection of a family who truly loves them.

Dearest God, we would not know how to gift one another with love if you had not shown us the way.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Generations of Hope

I hear what God proclaims;
God proclaims peace.

Psalm 85:9ab

I’ve enjoyed an abundance of family time as of late due to recent birthdays, our family vacation and our anniversaries. Still, in spite of the tangible love evident in all of these events, I’m bothered these days. I wonder aloud if this restlessness is a sign that I’m getting older. A sense of urgency overwhelms me and I feel a deep need to fix everything that needs fixing!

I love our sons, their wives and our grandchildren more than anything else on this earth. This prompts me to be gravely troubled by the current state of this world of ours. When I convince myself that things cannot possibly get worse, the airwaves deliver another bit of bad news. After lamenting this turn of events, reminders of poverty and other social ills here at home and around the world hit me right between the eyes. I think of my family, especially our grandchildren, and I wonder what this world will be like long after Grandpa and I are gone. How will this mess get fixed?

The family photo resting above my keyboard interrupts my brooding. The sparkle in the eyes of my offspring insists that I give them and their contemporaries a little credit. That sparkle touches smoldering embers of hope deep within which I’ve neglected these days. It occurs to me that numerous generations before me have wrung their hands in despair as well, only to be surprised by the goodness brought about by the young people among them. Finally, I find peace.

Loving God, thank you for the gift of each new generation. Within them lie hope and the potential for peace on this earth.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Time Together

If you… know how to give your children what is good,
how much more will God give good things to those who ask!

From Matthew 7:11

My husband and I have been gifted with three amazing granddaughters and two sweet little grandsons. Grandpa and I could not have asked for more. I admit that both of us have to work at not spoiling our grandchildren. Though I’m not much of a shopper, I find something which they would like whenever I venture out. Most of the time, I restrain myself. I love these little children and I enjoy their company more than anything. I don’t want my overindulgence to change this. While I lie on the floor playing with them, it occurs to me that the best gift Grandpa and I give each of them is our time.

It seems to me that the most important gifts we can give to any of those we have been given to love are our love and our time. The next time you’re puzzling over what to do for a loved one, schedule some quality time with him or her. Trust me! This gift of yourself will be much appreciated by all concerned.

Loving God, help us to see one another with your loving eyes and help us to respond to one another with your loving heart.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Aging Happily!

Only goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.

Psalm 23:6

In a few weeks, I’ll be a year older. I admit that I fully appreciate the opportunity to hang on to each year’s newly awarded number for the duration. After all, I usually don’t get used to my new “age” until a few months into it. I also admit that the efforts of my husband, our sons, our daughters-in-law and our grandkids sooth the sting of getting older. I find great pleasure in all of their secretive planning. The behind-the-scenes activity is the best part of whatever will transpire.

This wasn’t the case when I was a little girl. I had one birthday party. Because our household budget was perpetually stretched to its limit, I continue to be amazed that I dared to ask for this party and that my mom agreed to host it. I have no recollection of the planning. I recall that my three friends joined me for ice cream, cake and games that day. I remember my best friend’s gift because he slipped that shiny half-dollar into my hand ever so gently. This party was extremely important to me because I longed for the recognition that only a “birthday boy” or “birthday girl” receives. In the end, however, I was completely overwhelmed by it all. Because my shyness kept me from enjoying that limelight, I stood by and watched.

This year’s birthday and the many I’ve shared with my family are quite different. There is never cause for shyness because these are my very own family. I’m never uneasy or self-conscious with them because my roles as wife and Mom and Grandma are steeped in shared love. What is there to be overwhelmed by, except the joy of it all?

Loving God, once again I thank you for my loved ones, the gift of their love and the gift of your love..

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

See What God Sees

God looked at everything God made, and God found it very good.
Genesis 3:31

One of the treasures I recall from my childhood is our family bible. Actually, we had two. The first was a single tome, beautifully decorated and meant to serve as a family heirloom. The second was a massive binder made up of separate booklets which came in the mail every month. With each new arrival, my mom carefully removed the bible’s cardboard cover, inserted the new booklet and replaced the cover. Afterward, I poured over this newest edition’s colorful pictures and passages. My favorite was the Book of Genesis. The Creation Story conjured up wonderful images of our amazing God. Only when our first grandchild was born did I truly appreciate that image of God, the most loving Grandparent ever.

I cite the passage above with good reason. When I look at my own grandchildren, I’m certain that I see what God sees. I say this because no matter what they do, I love them. The truth is that I feel this way about my grown sons as well. I wouldn’t trade any one of them for anything else in all of creation. As God observed, they are very good indeed!

Every week or so, we spend an afternoon visiting our granddaughters. A few weeks ago, I resumed my one-day-a-week commitment to babysit for our grandsons while Mommy and Daddy are at work. Oddly, my thoughts return to that childhood bible and my awe over God’s creation. Today, I realize that a special part of that creation has been entrusted to me and I find it (Them all!) to be very good!

Loving God, thank you for this glimpse of what you see when you look upon each one of us.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Gift of Love

“What will this child be?
Was not the hand of the Lord upon him?”

Luke 1:66

My little family has been on my mind this week before Christmas. Every time I walk past the gifts my husband and I have wrapped for them I imagine their reactions. Our granddaughters have long since given up their fascination with gift wrap. These days, they give their complete attention to the gifts inside. Our older grandson has done the same, though his little brother will likely savor the bright-colored wrapping paper more than anything else. Our daughter’s-in-law will love their gifts. If they don’t, we’ll never know because they are two of the most gracious young women I know. Our sons are another story. Old as they are, they have studied and shaken the gifts left in sight over the past few weeks. We’ve purposely disguised almost everything we’re giving them in order to confuse them as best we can.

Yes, my little family has been on my mind –not their gifts, but each one of them. Though none of us is perfect, the hand of the Lord has truly blessed us all and I am most grateful. When one feasts upon Christmas Love all year long, there is nothing more to do than give thanks.

I thank you with all of my heart, Dearest God, for the family and friends you have given me to love. Help me and all of these precious people to share your love wherever we find ourselves

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved