Uniquely Good and Holy

He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant
and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness.

Hebrews 5:2

When our sons, daughters-in-law and grandkids left the other day, I smiled. We’d shared a wonderful time and I couldn’t help feeling blessed by this family of mine. With that, I excused myself from cleaning and retired to my recliner. From that vantage point, I have a wonderful view of our backyard. Though tiny flecks of snow beckoned my attention, I turned in the opposite direction to feast my eyes. My husband had just updated our family picture wall with the kids’ newest photos. I couldn’t help reliving the day we’d shared as I looked from frame to frame. After acknowledging to our generous God that Mike and I truly are blessed, I left my comfy chair to visit another wall.

This second collection includes photos from Mike’s and my childhood. Many of those pictured have passed. They include our own parents and grandparents, several aunts and uncles and my brother and sister. Mike and I shared much of our lives with these loved ones. Though I know that they happily abide in another place, I missed their physical presence.

You know, though our sons look like brothers, each brings a unique presence to our family. Though I would be proud to call both of my daughters-in-law my own, each brings unique gifts to the mix as well. The gaggle of grandchildren who grace us do so as only they can. Every member of my family and a lifetime of friends have touched my life as no one else has or ever will. Each one, with foibles and imperfections intact, can never be replaced. They’ve added something to my life and to life on this earth which no one else will replicate or replace.

This New Year 2019, I pray that we all thrive in spite of our imperfections and that we generously share our gifts with everyone we meet along the way. I assure you, your presence is a gift and your contribution to the rest of us is worth the effort!

Thank you, dear God, for the good people who brighten our lives.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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A Hint of Christmas

Be glad and rejoice for your reward
is great in heaven.

From Matthew 5:12

Our younger daughter-in-law recently asked about our family wall of pictures. I secretly hope that this means we’ll receive new pictures of our grandsons for Christmas. Because our older son’s wife knows the drill, I’m certain she has our granddaughters’ pictures ready for us. I’m smiling in anticipation! At the same time, I’m drawn to the pictures on that wall which will never be replaced. The great-grandparents, a great-aunt and a great-uncle have all moved on to the afterlife. Though I know that they are better than ever in their new digs, memories of their Christmases with us fill me up…

Every year, our large family gathered to celebrate this favorite of all days. This year, I’m struck hard by the number of family members I’ve lost. My mom and my dad, my husband’s parents, my brother and my sister left us earlier than any of us expected. When we gathered for their wakes and funerals, our conversations included not only our favorite reminiscing, but also our projections regarding their current activities at home with God. Though we regretted each loss, we also celebrated the blessings we found in each of them. We also wished them well in eternity! After all, every day is Christmas there!

When I left that wall of photos to get on with the tasks at hand, I whispered a prayer of gratitude for my family. Our sons, their wives and our grandchildren have brought joy beyond expectation to my husband and me. In the process, they’ve given us a taste of heaven on earth. I almost want to write, “Merry Christmas!” Indeed, I will. Merry Christmas!

Generous God, thank you for the gift of our loved ones and the gift of eternal life with you.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Say Cheese!

Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.

Psalm 145:13

When my first grandchild was born, I organized our photos of her and the rest of us from Day 1. Some family members and friends acknowledged my new role as “Grandma” by gifting me with photo albums and I put each one to immediate use. Rather than storing them away, I displayed the albums on our coffee table for easy access. I didn’t want to forget a bit of this new adventure.

Four additional grandchildren and a few memorable trips have enticed me to keep this “album thing” going. Thirteen volumes later, I find that my thinking in this regard is sound. When visiting, our grandchildren and their respective parents look through these albums often. Numerous conversations regarding the places we’ve been, the kids’ growth spurts and a variety of special occasions result. The smiles that accompany all of this indicate that my photo album collection is truly a celebration of who we are and where we have been.

Though I have no photographic evidence, I’m certain that my family and I haven’t been alone in all of this. God has been with us every step and click of the camera along the way.

Generous God, thank you for the memories and for the wonderful family who build them with me.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Love Past and Present

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

Our granddaughter spent a few days with us in mid-August. This belated overnight stay for her birthday coincided with our wedding anniversary. Because everyone was gathering at our house to celebrate on Ellie’s last day with us, my husband pulled out our wedding album. Ellie glanced at a few pictures probably in an effort to delay her bedtime. After ushering her off to bed, I found it was the perfect time for me to revisit those memories.

As I poured over our wedding pictures, tears threatened several times. I lingered a while over the photos which featured loved ones who’ve passed on from this life. Each one has left a significant mark on my life. Each one contributed in one way or another to my love for my own children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

Though I know my loved ones present and passed on aren’t perfect, they’ve all added to the richness in my life. It seems to me that the most important gift we can give one another is time well spent together. We do more good than we realize whenever we love one another the best we can as only we can.

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

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Memories… Memories…

“Were not our hearts burning inside us as he talked
to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?”

From Luke 24:32

Because we diligently chronicled our first trip to Israel, we have two albums which we lingered over after that trip and before we returned. We realize that this is the digital age and that we can enjoy our memories in full color on our laptop. Still, having them in hand is a luxury we’re not ready to give up. We keep all of our photo albums in our family room. This prompts visitors and us to enjoy them often. There’s no easier way to acknowledge our blessings on a regular basis.

Luke’s gospel tells us that Cleopas and his companion were confused by the stranger whom they met on the road to Emmaus. They had just left Jerusalem where Jesus had been crucified. It seemed everyone they knew was affected in some way by this tragedy, yet this man seemed to know nothing of it. Finally, when this stranger conjured up their memory of the breaking of the bread, they realized he was Jesus. This precious memory clarified everything!

Both of my visits to Israel have enriched me beyond words. Every time I open our albums, another precious memory enhances the moment at hand. As was the case for those fellows who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus, my heart continues to burn within me.

Loving God, help me never to forget the wonder of your presence in my life.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Gift of You

Tell it to your children,
and your children to their children,
and their children to the next generation.

Joel 1:3

When my extended family gathered at our house over the holidays, we gathered at the table to play a new game. While we organized our play pieces and reviewed the rules, I ran upstairs to get a toy vacuum for my grandson. We’d settled down after our meal and it was good time for Danny to busy himself with cleaning up. On the way, I couldn’t resist pausing at our family picture wall. This collection includes photos from my childhood. Many of those pictured have passed away including my parents, sister and brother who have joined the heavenly host. Because I didn’t want to delay our game-playing, I left my reminiscing until I said my last good-byes that evening. After the family left, I returned to that wall to consider each one of my loved ones passed. Though I know that they’re all alive and well in another place, I miss their physical presence.

I stared longingly at the photos of so many who have “moved on.” Each one touched my life as no one else has or ever will. Each one, with his foibles and her imperfections, will never be replaced. Each one added something special to my life and to life on this earth which no one else will replicate or replace. I whispered a prayer of thanks for them all.

This New Year 2018, I will pray that we all become good souls who thrive in spite of our imperfections because we generously share ourselves and our gifts with one another.

Thank you, dear God, for the good souls who so creatively brighten our lives.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved