Presume To Pray…

Abraham spoke again:
“See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord,
though I am but dust and ashes.”

Genesis 18:27

While waiting to get my hair cut, I overheard a mother and daughter steeped in conversation. The younger of the two was contemplating a tattoo to commemorate her ongoing health battle. She shared that others criticized this gesture as a gloomy reminder of her situation. The girl looked upon this as a banner of hope in recognition of her successful battle. I was seated too close to pretend I didn’t hear. I apologized and then asked the young woman about her health. She identified her disease and smiled at her success to date. A few minutes later, I wished her well as she and her mom went off with their stylists for a bit of TLC.

I was grateful regarding the timing of our parting because I could no longer keep my eyes from filling with tears. Though this young woman has every reason to believe that she will enjoy a long life, I worried. My brother suffered from the same disease decades ago. He didn’t follow his dietary and treatment regimens as well as he might have. Though he had much to live for, he didn’t appreciate his predicament until was too late.

So it was that I prayed… I asked God to be with this young woman as she embraces the days ahead, especially when she becomes discouraged. Then, I prayed for my brother whom I lost too soon. “Lord, give him a warm hug for me.” Then I turned my prayer to him. “You were never one to sit still. Watch over this girl and nudge her onto the right path. Okay?” Though I didn’t hear him say a word, I know my brother rolled up his heavenly sleeves to help!

Thank you, dear God, for listening and for dispensing that hug for me.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Advertisements

God Hears Every Word!

Then he said, “God, please don’t be angry,
but let me speak just once more…”

Genesis 18:32

The July 4th holiday continues to elicit poignant memories. This time, I consider my stepfather. His devotion to this country and to the family he found when he fell in love with my mom were unmistakable. I was almost forty when his final illness took hold. I was heartsick and tempted to abandon the certainty of my childhood prayers. Still, when Bill lay dying, I rekindled my faith in the power of prayer…

I stood at Bill’s bedside. Emphysema had transformed this muscular carpenter into a shadow of his former self. I prayed and asked the God of Abraham to watch with me for a while. Like Abraham, as soon as I had God’s attention, I began negotiating.

First, I asked for relief. My dad’s breathing was terribly labored. “Take away his anxiousness over every breath,” I begged. When I felt assured of that much, I went on. I requested strength for my mom and the rest of us to remain present to him for as long as needed. I knew God was listening and so I continued. This time I set limits on the “as long as needed” part. “If he was my son, I would have him home by Easter!” I challenged God to hear and to respond to my prayer as God did to Abraham’s.

Just a week later, we walked with my step-dad through his passing. It was the night before Easter that I apologized to God for my insolent and demanding prayer. I also thanked God for taking my father home. In spite of my tears, I smiled as I promised to pray with the conviction of Abraham many more times before God and I meet face to face.

Loving and Patient God, thank you for listening and for responding with more than I could ever hope for.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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

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