Sew Love… Yes, Sew…

I will thank you always for what you have done…
From Psalm 52:11

The pandemic’s stay-at-home time has allowed me the ongoing opportunity to declutter. Yesterday, I decided to organize the drawers in the kitchen. I thought I had plenty of time to complete this task until I opened that first drawer where I store my aprons and pot holders. A bright green bit of fabric caught my eye…

Whenever our family gathers, my granddaughters help in the kitchen. This is especially true of Ellie who is the eldest. During our last pre-pandemic visit, Ellie helped me to assemble a taco dip which is a family favorite. Actually, I should say that I helped Ellie because she truly did most of the work. Thank you, Ellie!

While engaged in such culinary activity, I wear the green apron that caught my eye yesterday. I have two of these terry cloth creations which are identical. While we worked on that taco dip, I wore one and Ellie wore the other. I love my green aprons because my sister fashioned them decades ago…

Cecele had two little children whom she raised alone. As Christmas approached that year, she realized she had no money for gifts other than a few things for her children. Christmas had always been our family’s favorite holiday. Even in the leanest times, our parents provided each of us with a special gift. Cecele couldn’t bear to arrive on Christmas day without something for her siblings and God-children. So it was that she sewed a large stuffed snake for my son. Because I’m the cookie baker of the family, Cecele sewed those two green aprons for me. Not long before she passed away, my sister was here for a family gathering. Her eyes glistened as she watched me pull on of those aprons from the drawer. “You still have them?” she asked. “Yes,” I responded, “I use them all the time!”

Though I intended to declutter all of our kitchen drawers yesterday, I only completed one. I picked up those green aprons and refolded them. Before returning them to their places, I held them close. I love my sister and these aprons remind me of her love for me.

Generous God, thank you for gracing us with hearts which can express love so creatively.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Look Ahead…

I hear what God proclaims;
for God proclaims peace.

Psalm 85:9ab

Though I miss the abundance of family time we typically enjoy each summer, I have enjoyed the wonder of FaceTime calls. Though I’d prefer my loved ones’ physical presence, these virtual encounters will do for now. Yet, in spite of the tangible love evident in these contacts, I’m bothered as of late. (I realize that this is nothing new to those of you who read these posts every day!) Perhaps this restlessness is a sign that I’m getting older because a sense of urgency overwhelms me. Once again, I feel a deep need to fix everything, especially everything COVID-19 related these days!

I love our sons, their wonderful wives and our grandchildren. My affection for them prompts me to be gravely troubled by current events. When I convince myself that things cannot possibly get worse, the airwaves deliver another bit of bad news. After lamenting this new turn of events, reminders of poverty and violence and other worldwide social ills 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.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Time To Celebrate!

Your love endures through all generations.
From Psalm 145:13

My husband and I will celebrate our wedding anniversary this week. I use the word “celebrate” loosely as our celebratory activities will be limited to the confines of our home. This is a good thing as our children and grandchildren will be able to FaceTime their greetings any time throughout the day. As for Mike and me, we’ll enjoy a special dinner without having to make a reservation.

We’ll also celebrate by revisiting our wedding day. I’ve prepared by taking out our wedding album and placing it on the coffee table in the living room. Though we won’t go out to dance, we can certainly dance through the memories stored in that precious book of photos. I admit that I find it very difficult to leave any book unopened. So it was that I poured over that album a few days early…

It wasn’t long before I ran for some tissues. With every passing page, tears flowed more freely. So many loved ones were with us that day! Some are making their way through this pandemic with us. Many have passed on from this life to the next. Either way, every one in those photos has left a significant mark on my life; on Mike’s life, too! Our children and grandchildren continue to benefit from the love these good people showered upon Mike and me so long ago and for decades afterward…

Though none of our loved ones are perfect, they all add richness to our lives as only they can. This week, I’m going to celebrate each one in my life with a smile and a prayer, especially Mike!

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

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

We’re All Invited!

Turn to me and be safe…
From Isaiah 45:22

Our granddaughter’s and grandson’s recent birthdays inspired some reminiscing on my part. Perhaps because we couldn’t gather for our typical large family parties, memories of parties past filed me up. Like my mom, I’m happiest when we’re gathered as family under one roof having a good time. How she would have loved to participate in the many gatherings that have occurred since her passing!

It was seventeen years ago. After what we expected to be uneventful surgery, we were shocked by news of our mom’s cancer, her four-month life expectancy and the possibility of pain, a lot of pain. When we told our mom, she shared our surprise at the diagnosis, but not at the outcome. “We all have to die from something. I’ve had a good long life… I hope I can do what I want for a while. I hope I can be comfortable. I hope I go without too much trouble. I hope…” We all hoped with her.

In the end, the outcome was precisely what my mom had hoped for. The pain never came and Mom did everything she wanted to until her last two days when she remained in bed. Two days before she left us, I asked if she was okay and if she was afraid. My mom sported a huge smile and said, “Oh no, Mary! I’m not afraid. They’re all waiting for me!” On the day she left us, my mom’s eyes were closed, but her heart was wide open to the things to come. She was about to enjoy the best family gathering of all!

Loving God, thank you for making us capable of loving so much that our losses hurt and thank you for filling us with just enough faith and hope to cope until we join in that celebration.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Gift Them With Love

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

We’ll celebrate four of our grandchildren’s birthdays this summer. Some years ago, Grandpa and I came up with a creative plan for these special occasions. 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 typically plan an overnight stay, a special dinner and an outing for each one. Our hope is that these efforts will underscore the love that we feel for them twenty-four/seven. To date, our plans have met the expectations of all concerned. So it is that the tradition continues in spite of the pandemic’s challenge to be particularly creative and safe this year!

You know, I recall very few of the gifts I received on my own childhood birthdays. What I do remember are the celebrations with my mom, dad and siblings who sang “Happy Birthday” to me. On those special days, though gifts weren’t always plentiful, the cake for dessert was. I remember the story books and picnics shared, the reassurances at 3:00 AM when I couldn’t sleep and the “I love you!” that accompanied good-night kisses. I especially remember the forgiveness offered after a much-deserved scolding.

In the end, perhaps Grandpa and I will succeed in giving our grandchildren the best gift of all -the affection of a couple of grandparents 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. Thank you! I love you, too!

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Care For One Another

You are more precious than gold,
more precious than a heap of purest gold…

From Psalm 19:11

Last night’s winds shook our trees just enough to fill the lawn with their branches. This afternoon, I grabbed a rake and headed outdoors. A light breeze provided optimum working conditions and I spent a pleasant hour tidying up the yard. Afterward, I headed back to the garage to rehang the rake. On my way, I stubbed my toe. I really stubbed my toe. The resultant pain was excruciating. I broke a toe a few years ago, so I feared the worst. On the way inside for some ice to soothe the pain, my mind drifted back to another toe injury…

Our granddaughters had joined us for a sleepover. I’d run upstairs to get colored pencils I’d purchased for them. On the way, I stubbed my toe on a heavy dresser. Like today, I really stubbed my toe. Immediately afterward, my youngest granddaughter came bouncing into the room. She saw the look on my face and asked, “Are you okay, Grandma?” Though I quickly wiped away a telltale tear and smiled, Claire knew that all was not well. “Oh, I just bumped my toe,” I said. With that, Claire ran downstairs to join her sisters. “Grandma hurt herself, so be quiet,” Claire ordered.

Now my older granddaughters preferred to be in charge back then. Still, they listened. They were especially quiet and cooperative when I joined them a few minutes later. All three girls did everything in their power to lighten my mood. I clearly remember how touched I was by their efforts. Just thinking about their sweet kindness distracted me from today’s injury.

When I finally sat with that ice pack in place, I felt much better in spite of my aching toe. My husband and I did our best to nurture loving and compassionate sons. Apparently, we’d succeeded at some level as illustrated by our granddaughters’ merciful response to my misery. It occurs to me that God created each one of us to be loving and compassionate. The best way to show our appreciation is to respond to one another in kind. Today, this is more important than ever…

Dear God, remind us often that your most pressing request is that we care for one another as you care for us.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved