This I Can Do!

Why must I go about mourning
with the enemy oppressing me?.

From Psalm 42:2

Once again, I allowed circumstances over which I have little or no control to upset me. A newscast fueled my frustration with the powers-that-be in this world of ours. “Do they really believe that this sort of posturing helps any of us?” I asked the television. A phone call from someone with a “church question” prompted me to voice my impatience regarding the many rules which fail to serve God’s people. “Is this what God wants?” I asked myself. Then I reviewed my to-do list which included far more than I could ever accomplish in a single day. “Now what?” I asked.

Before I edited my to-do list, a chirping chorus drew me to the window. Five robins had gathered at the foot of our bird house. They seemed to be hashing out just how to proceed in settling into this spring’s home. The robins ignored several squirrels who chased one another through the trees. They also ignored the rabbit who nibbled at seeds just a few feet away. Eventually, the robins seemed to have finalized their plan because they flew away, each in a different direction.

My feathered friends hinted a bit of wisdom regarding what I should do about the tasks at hand. I’ll always be concerned about the affairs of this world and I’ll pray fervently regarding them. I’ll even write letters to those who might listen. In the mean time, I will tend to the work at hand by setting aside the things over which I have no control. Then I’ll be free to embrace the opportunities to actually do something about the tasks close at hand. This I can do.

Loving God, thank you for directing my efforts through your creatures great and small.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Gifts of Peace

Their amazement went beyond all bounds.
“He has done everything well!
He heals the deaf and the mute!”

From Mark 7:37

As I made my way out of the store the other day, a teen-aged girl and someone who seemed to be her younger brother made their way in. I couldn’t help hearing as this young woman advised her young companion regarding how to deal with someone who was giving him trouble. Though I’m not certain of how that conversation ended, I liked what I heard as I passed by. This young woman’s wise advice reminded me of a former student from long ago…

I could hear Frankie telling her classmate, “Nasty, nasty, nasty. He’s just nasty, so ignore him!” Frankie, a fifth grader who was wise beyond her years, had mastered the art of defusing misbehavior. Though she would never allow one classmate to physically hurt another, Frankie ignored verbal assaults and she taught those in her company to do the same. Frankie single-handedly prevented many a playground altercation by simply walking away. While the teacher in me addressed any assault, verbal or otherwise, I truly respected Frankie’s approach to getting along in this world.

As I walked on to my car, I prayed for the young woman I’d passed and her little brother. I asked God to help her to replace his anxiety with a bit of peace.

Dear God, thank you for the peacemakers among us. Help us all to learn from those who try to diffuse our troubles with a measure of peace.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Planters

Act justly, love kindness, walk humbly with God.
From Micah 6:8

I’m a “smiler” by nature. When I pass by people at the mall or anywhere else, I almost always add a smile to the encounter. I even smile at the greenery and creatures I pass while walking outdoors. Neither drizzle nor a cloudy sky dampens my fascination with the beauty around me.

This is the reason I was taken aback by the students in the new school to which I was assigned some years ago. My office was located at one end of the building while the school office and the children I worked with were located at the other. Needless to say, I walked the halls numerous times per day. Every time, I passed dozens of students. What concerned me was the lack of smiles -or any acknowledgement for that matter- which I noted along the way. When I offered a “good morning” as I passed, the kids registered genuine surprise. It took many of them a week or two before they began to respond in kind. About a month into the school year, a colleague asked me why the students I passed in the hallway always greeted me. I told her that they were simply returning the favor.

You know, if we truly desire peace and justice for this world of ours, we need to plant the seeds of that peace and justice wherever we find ourselves. A few small seedlings here and there will grow into a flowerbed and then a garden and perhaps a forest one day. To get there, though, we must first plant the seeds.

Loving God, be with us as we work to bring peace and justice to others. Small as we are, we can plant seeds of greatness everywhere.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Peacemakers All…

Praise the Lord, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples.

Psalm 117:1

I recently ran into an Iraqi Christian who now makes his home in the United States. A few years ago, he shared his story with me. My heart ached over the suffering he’d endured in his homeland because of his faith. I was also deeply touched by his appreciation for his life in this country. It did my heart good to see that his joy continues.

I admit that I struggle with the knowledge that our world is filled with countries and people in distress. In places where there is no war, there is endless poverty or civil unrest or an absolute absence of freedom. Some of those who govern seem less inclined than ever to care for their citizenry. Some who would do more dare not to because of the delicate balance of power around them. I struggle because it seems that misguided motives drive conditions for too many of this world’s people.

The unrest in our world urges me to do something about the unrest around me. Though I cannot fix everything everywhere, I can at least attempt to fix things here. I can respond peacefully when turmoil arises around me and I can pray. Turning to the One who understands our troubles better than we do bolsters our efforts in amazing and unexpected ways.

Patient God, be with as we strive to love one another. Transform our small efforts into effective instruments of peace.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Invest In Our Future

I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man,
says the Lord, but rather in his conversion…

Ezekiel 33:11

A recent family gathering gave me reason to smile. Most of my nieces and nephews joined the party that day. It’s been a pleasure to watch them evolve into adulthood. In spite of some of their trying circumstances while growing up, they are all contributing members of society these days.

Today, many young people, including little children, have much to worry about. Distractions of every sort stunt their evolution into adulthood in numerous many ways. It’s no wonder that some kids don’t graduate from high school. Just getting there safely each day is more than they can manage. Some of the kids who do make it into the school building are reluctant to enter classrooms where they deal with failure on a daily basis. In my experience in education, the children involved were rarely at fault. The adults who were entrusted with their care failed them. This is the reason I often found myself at odds with those “in charge”. I couldn’t deal with allowing any of our students not to live up to their potentials.

I know that School Year 2016-2017 is over and that next year is almost two months away. Still, I worry. The smile I sported in celebration of my nieces and nephews has morphed into a frown. In my home state, legislators wasted precious time arguing about budget concerns. Now that this has been worked out, I hope that our children and many special-needs adults will receive the education and services they have a right to. Hopefully, all concerned will remember that an entire generation of future contributing members of society is in our care and deserving of our best.

Loving God, inspire those “in charge” with your foresight and your undiscriminating love.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Hope in The Best…

“Lord, if you will do so, you can cure me.”
From Luke 5:12

When I was a little girl, my parents assured me that it is always appropriate to bring our troubles to God. We gathered in our living room to pray whenever serious illness or other maladies threatened. These prayerful gatherings and my parents’ seemingly familiar stance toward the Lord God encouraged me to speak plainly and directly in my own prayer. Though I would like to think that I have refined my approach a bit, I still find myself speaking with the Almighty as I would with my best friend. I never wonder if God is listening. Why question the obvious?

I admit that I have turned my eyes upward to moan and groan often over the past several months. This world is in a sad state. While I try to do my best to care for those nearby, I also pray fervently that the broader situation for humanity will improve. Today, I pray that those who were elected into office at every level yesterday search their hearts and turn their eyes upward for guidance. May all of our world leaders do the same. This world needs prudent and just, compassionate and peace-oriented governance more than ever.

In the mean time, I haven’t questioned God’s attentiveness to all of this. I also know that God always listens. Oddly, simply acknowledging these truths dispels the darkness and encourages my hope.

Dear God, thank you for listening. Now, please inspire those who govern with wisdom and the generosity of spirit necessary to lead competently and selflessly. May they serve all of your people rightly as you see it.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved