Serve Up Some Joy

Show me, O Lord, your way…
From Psalm 27:11

From the time I realized what a nun was, I wanted to enter the convent as two of my dad’s sisters had. They and my mom’s aunt who was also a nun had given me good reason to admire their work.

As it happened, though I spent a lot of time with nuns over the years, I never did become one of them. Oddly, it was during a summer away with the sisters that they encouraged me to accept a date with a young man who volunteered at the parish where we were helping out. Though this puzzled me at the time, their counsel proved most helpful. I happily invited these sisters to his and my wedding the following year!

You know, I was drawn to the nuns because of the good they accomplished. Nothing appealed to me more than the service they rendered to others. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that God’s call to service has less to do with ones marital or employment status than with the status of ones heart. Those wonderful women had inspired me with their generosity and their persistence. They never seemed to tire of solving the problems at hand and doing good. Indeed, they inspired both my husband and me to find amazing and unexpected ways to do the same as best we can wherever we are.

It seems to me that God offers the same opportunity to each of us every moment of every day.

Loving God, help us to serve one another generously.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Thank You, Sister!

Doing the will of him who sent me
and bringing his work to completion
is my food.

John 4:34

While making salads for dinner, I was distracted by a familiar voice. My husband had tuned in to a rerun of The Flying Nun. I looked up to see Sally Field in her Sister Bertrille habit. She was in the midst of an adventure with her fellow nuns at their convent in San Juan. I didn’t watch the show when it aired because I was busy with homework and the part-time job which paid my college tuition. These days, I enjoy an episode here and there. Each one offers a glimpse into the humanity of Sister Bertrille and the hope with which she faced everything. Though the show wasn’t meant to be religious, it did highlight the best of what I encountered in the nuns I’ve met along the way.

Three of my aunts were nuns. From the time I realized what a nun was, I wanted to enter the convent, too. As it happened, I spent a lot of time with them over the years. Beside our encounters in the classroom, I spent an entire summer during college in a convent. Two remarkable nuns and I provided summer classes for immigrant children. We hoped to introduce them to English and ease their transition into school that fall. The truth is that this was one of the best summers of my life!

Looking back, I see that I was drawn to the nuns because of the good they did. Their dedication to caring for others appealed to me. They taught me that when we open our eyes and our hearts to others, we find amazing and unexpected ways to make God’s work our own. We also find amazing and unexpected joy. Wherever you are, I thank you all!

Dear God, bless the nuns and all who have opened my eyes to your loving ways.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

It’s Time…

A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.

Ecclesiastes 3:6

The calendar on my desk must stay.
The yellowed notes from graduate school must go.
Greeting cards from our sons, their wives and our granddaughters must stay.
The unneeded clothing pile I created last month must finally go.

You get the idea, but not all of it. I need to go through the same sort of “checklist” when it comes to the things I do. Some activities, like spending time with my family, are non-negotiable. I engage in time with them whenever and wherever they present themselves and as often as possible. Other activities, like cooking and doing the laundry, must stay as well ad infinitum. Still others, however, need to be sorted and categorized and ranked. I need to determine what I will continue to do and what I will pass on.

Do you remember that book I mentioned a few posts ago? It still sits partially in a computer file, partially in my head and mostly in my heart. In the end, it’s up to me to determine what my life’s work will be. Of one thing I’m certain: That book is part of my life’s work.

What’s your life’s work? A peek deep within will give you a hint, a very helpful hint…

Patient God, once again I turn to you for guidance. Light my way so I can see the signs and respond generously.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Labor Day Greetings!

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy,
because on it God rested from all the work he had done….

From Genesis 2:3

I’ve always enjoyed Labor Day. When I was a child, we observed this holiday with a picnic which included our extended family. Back then, the new school year opened the following day. This last day of “freedom” gave my siblings, cousins and me good reason to celebrate. Later, when I discovered the meaning of “labor” for myself at my first job, leisure time became a more precious commodity. Finally, I understood why my mother allowed herself the luxury of sleeping in one day each week. She truly needed the rest.

It was no accident that the author of Genesis allowed God a day of rest after six days of labor creating this world of ours. When Jesus came to remind us of God’s presence in a tangible way, he spent the greatest portion of his life working and resting just as we do. Only after living thirty years as a typical citizen of his day did Jesus set out to preach and teach. Even then, Jesus often stole away to rest in God’s company.

On this Labor Day, I hope you seize the opportunity rest and to celebrate the work to which you have been called. Perhaps you share in creating worlds of your own. Perhaps you preach or teach or care for those you have been given to love. Perhaps your best work is “being there” for others. Whatever your calling, your work is precious in God’s eyes and your rest today is well deserved!

Faithful God, thank you for the opportunity to labor and to rest in your loving care.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Our Work

Doing the will of him who sent me
and bringing his work to completion
is my food.

John 4:34

Several weeks ago a couple of sisters visited our parish. Not long after, another sister appeared to make an appeal for missions in the Philippines. These women were not siblings, but religious sisters who immediately elicited memories of my own aunts who were also nuns. From the time I realized what a nun was, I wanted to enter the convent. While cleaning house with my mom, I asked her opinion of some “sister names” I had come up with. She smiled in response, always adding, “Well, I have five daughters and I think it would be nice if one of them became a nun.”

Though I spent a lot of time with the sisters over the years, including an entire summer during college, I never did join them. Oddly, it was during that summer away that the sisters encouraged me to accept a date with a young man who volunteered at the parish. Though this puzzled me at the time, their counsel proved most helpful. I happily invited these sisters to our wedding the following summer!

You know, I was drawn to the sisters because of the good they accomplished. Nothing appealed to me more than the lives of service they lived. These decades later, I realize that God’s call to service has less to do with ones marital status than the status of ones heart. When we open our eyes and our hearts, each of us finds amazing and unexpected ways to make God’s work our own.

Dear God, help me not to miss any opportunities to bring your goodness into our world,
especially during these troubling times.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Prioritize With Love

A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.

Ecclesiastes 3:6

The calendar on my desk must stay. The yellowed brochures from last year’s vacation must go. I’ve already written about that! Greeting cards from our sons, their wives and our grandchildren must stay. The unneeded clothing pile I created last month must finally go.

You get the idea, but not all of it. I need to go through the same sort of checklist when it comes to the things I do. Some activities, like spending time with my family, are non-negotiable. I engage in time with them whenever and wherever it presents itself. Other activities, like cooking and doing the laundry, must stay as well, much to my dismay. Still others, however, need to be sorted and categorized and ranked. I need to determine what I will continue to do and what I will pass on. The not-quite-half-written book on my flash drive insists!

In the end, it is up to me to determine what my life’s work will be. That pesky flash drive seems to think that my book should be part of the plan. The truth is that I agree.

Patient God, fill me up with your Spirit and light my way. Help me to prioritize with wisdom and with love.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved