Thanks, Daddy!

“I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.”

From John 14:3

While wrapping my granddaughter’s First Communion gift, it occurred to me that I’d forgotten to celebrate the anniversary of my own First Communion day with you yesterday. Though I’m a day late, let’s celebrate…

May 3 will always be special to me. I celebrated my First Communion Day on this date decades ago. I had learned a good deal about Jesus by then and I liked what I heard. In my mind, receiving Holy Communion paid much deserved homage to this Jesus who had taught me so much. Later that afternoon, my mom surprised me with another very special encounter. My dad’s heart ailment had resulted in his hospitalization the previous week. This kept him from attending my First Communion Mass. When my Uncle Gerard offered us a ride to the hospital so my dad could see me, I was beyond elated! Though children under twelve years of age weren’t allowed to visit hospitals back then, the nurses made an exception for the little girl who was dressed like a bride. I’ll never forget my dad’s smile as I stood next to his hospital bed.

Before my dad became ill himself, he’d prepared my siblings and me for the passing of our grandfathers and our uncle. Each time, he assured us that these loved ones would end happily in heaven, never to be sick again. When my dad passed away two months later, his lessons regarding the promise of heaven made his devastating loss bearable. How could I want anything less for him than the new life that he wished so fervently for others? Oddly, this terrible loss contributed to my increased devotion to Jesus. After all, it was he who welcomed my dad home.

Dear God, thank for my brave and faithful father who trusted in your promises and taught me to do the same.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Hope… Even At The Mall!

Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold,
but what I do have I give you: in the name of
Jesus Christ the Nazarene, rise and walk.”

Acts 3:6

I’d ignored my sadness for weeks due to the numerous tasks at hand. With my Lenten and Easter to-do lists complete, those buried emotions rose to the surface. I decided to walk because the fresh air always seems to rejuvenate me regardless of the condition of my psyche. Unfortunately, rain coaxed me to the mall to stretch my legs and my spirit.

That pouring rain proved to be a blessing. As I walked indoors, I ran into a friend who had recently survived a seemingly hopeless ordeal. Though that topic never entered into our conversation, the joy with which she embraces every new day was unmistakable. Still, in spite of her miraculous outcome, my friend has not forgotten the pain of her grim journey. So it was that, after allowing me to bare my soul, she hugged me. “Mary, you have reason to feel they way you do. The good news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel and you will find it!”

I walked away from that conversation feeling a lot better and a little silly. My dear friend had survived cancer though she was not expected to live. I was surviving raw emotions which didn’t come close threatening my life. For the rest of that walk, I thanked God for the numerous and abundant blessings which have come my way, especially for that wonderful friend!

Loving God, you sprinkle morsels of hope and encouragement in the most unexpected, but opportune places. Thank you!

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Never Ever Alone!

In my distress I called upon God
and I cried out to my God;
From above, God heard my voice,
and my cry reached God’s ears.

Psalm 18:7

Our three granddaughters and our two grandsons often share the little “bugs” they pick up outside of their homes. A few weeks ago, while the girls were well, the boys had generously shared their runny noses. Grandpa and I can’t help chuckling over how much differently I respond to these mini-epidemics than I did to our firstborn’s first serious illness decades ago…

Little Mike was just a few months old when he was stricken with a high fever. The drops meant to lower his body temperature hadn’t yet worked. Our doctor warned that we would have to take our baby to the hospital if this continued beyond another day. Mike was our first child and my experience in such matters was limited. When I tucked him into bed that night, I prayed for his recovery. “He can’t go to the hospital, Lord. He just can’t go.” As I lay in bed trying to sleep, I prayed further, “You can do this, Lord. I just know it.”

During the night, when I held my baby close to feed him, he felt as cool as a cucumber. As he nuzzled against me, I whispered my thanks to the God who I knew would not disappoint. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that even if we had taken Little Mike to the hospital, God would have been with us through it all. You see, God has walked with many of my loved ones to places most of us fear. God has stayed with some through their recoveries and with others through their journeys home.

Loving God, I had no doubt when I prayed to you that frightful night. Keep me always aware that you walk with me and all of us through everything.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Always With Us

“This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many…”
Luke 2:34

The Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother

I have two sons of my own and I know that I could never bear to see either one of them suffer as Jesus did. I would certainly offer myself in either of their places. Jesus would certainly have shielded his mother from the suffering she endured on that wretched day, wouldn’t he? Yet, Jesus didn’t even shield himself. He proceeded with what was set in motion out of absolute love for you and me.

Over and over again throughout my life, I’ve prayed that the burdens borne by my loved ones be lifted away. When nothing seemed to change and all concerned had reached the limits of their endurance, I prayed further only to ask God, “Why haven’t you fixed this?” It is in the midst of my anger that my loved one whispers a word of thanks for my presence and for the bit of relief that seemed to come from nowhere. It is in the midst of my anger that the telephone rings and the caller shares good news about a revised diagnosis. It is in the midst of my anger that I realize that God had a plan after all and that God’s plan was far better and far more timely than my own.

Though being witness to the pain of others continues to break my heart, I’ve finally come to understand that I don’t see these things alone. God stands with me. I’ve also come to understand that God not only sees it all, but God also feels our pain as we do. Nothing is more consoling than knowing this.

Loving God, thank you for being with us in everything.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

It’s Time!

There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is a time when each of us needs to step back to reflect upon the things which are important to us. There is a time when we need to consider what and who make us who we are. This Lent, as I attempt to bring healing to others, to this world and to myself, I wonder what it is that I hope this healing to accomplish.

When I consider the most influential people and events in my life, especially those who brought healing my way, I find that each one impacted upon my relationships with God and with those God has given me to love. Even unpleasant encounters have had influence because they’ve forced me to choose between a negative and a positive response. When I chose the higher road, I found great peace. I’ve also found myself to be a better human being than I’d been beforehand. I can only hope that the same is true of those I’ve tried to help and of this world of ours.

Lent 2019 offers an excellent opportunity for me to focus on the one who’s inspired my efforts for as long as I can remember. Jesus of Nazareth revealed everything I’ve come to know about God, God’s love for us and God’s faith in our ability to transform ourselves and one another. In the process, Jesus acknowledged that God fully expects us to transform this world into something spectacular. The best part of all if this is that when we love, we discover precisely who we are and what is important to us. Now’s the time!

Generous God, thank you for loving us and for your unshakable faith in us.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

At Home and Then Some…

Give to the man who begs from you.
Do not turn your back on the borrower.

Matthew 5:42

The other day, someone requested my help. Before finding out precisely what I needed to do to be of assistance, I decided that I wasn’t going to get involved. Having said this, I admit that I’m convinced that there are no coincidences and that people wander onto my path for a reason. Still, I was so busy and so tired at the time that I decided to stick to my plan not to get involved… So much for my plan! After talking with my new friend for a few minutes, I decided I would indeed help with what needed to be done. On the way home from this encounter, I happily thanked God for the opportunity to bring a bit of love into this person’s life.

This adventure has given me insight into Jesus’ life. Jesus found it impossible to resist a troubled soul. Jesus stopped in the midst of what he was doing whenever he saw a soul in need. The gospels are filled with story after story of Jesus’ efforts to bring a word of consolation and to heal to a suffering person. Whether their illnesses were of the body of the spirit, Jesus stopped to do whatever he could do for those in need.

I think Jesus never tired of reaching out to those in need because he couldn’t help loving them. If my adventure is any indication, Jesus also appreciated the joy which comes with helping someone. Though I still contend that charity does begin at home, with practice we can somehow manage to help those beyond our front doors.

Loving God, no wonder you ask us to love one another!

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved