Prepare Joyfully!

There shall be no harm or ruin on my holy mountain
for the earth will be filled with the Lord…

From Isaiah 11:9

A few weeks ago, when my husband complained of a sore shoulder, I cringed. Suddenly, five-year-old memories from my own shoulder repair returned. “Ugh! I wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” I told myself, “especially Mike!” That year, I’d timed the surgery so that Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations would distract me from the painful recovery which I was warned would come. I’d deluded myself into thinking that I’d somehow be of use when it came time to decorate, shop for gifts and bake. As it happened, nothing could have been further from the truth. Fortunately, the pain subsided and I learned to put my incapacity to good use. As a result, I embraced the approaching Christmas Season with contemplative fervor.

As I considered my poor husband’s aching shoulder and his aversion to any intervention at this time of year, I decided to encourage him to do what I’d done five years ago. I announced that, with so much to do, he and I needed to pace ourselves. Happily, this is precisely what we’ve done. We’ve organized, prioritized and simplified just enough to allow ourselves to feel that we actually will be ready for Christmas with time to spare. The best part of this is that our moods inside have been as energizing as the brisk winter breezes which urge us on whenever we’re outdoors. So far, so good!

Will you join me in organizing, prioritizing and simplifying your to do list as well? Trust me. Once you start, this will become easier than you think! I assure you that God’s Christmas Spirit will be with you all the while.

Loving God, help us to anticipate Christmas with your resounding joy!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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That Bucket List

Beloved: I am writing you,
although I hope to visit you soon.

1 Timothy 3:14

The other day, my husband received a message from our Italian friend, Francesco. My husband’s visit to his grandparents’ village in Sicily was a huge success partly as a result of Francesco’s intervention. He’s become a friend who’s always a pleasure to hear from.

While in Sicily, Mike remarked that he couldn’t believe that he’d completed this item on his bucket list with such a flourish. He added that he might have to add a subsequent trip back to that list. I was glad to see that my dear husband’s bucket list isn’t near exhaustion!

It seems to me that we all need to plan a bit in order fuel our dreams and to eventually accomplish the things which mean most to us. Though I haven’t composed one of my own, even mentally, a bucket list isn’t a bad thing to have. My only caution, which I’ve repeated to my poor husband, is that we need to tackle our lists with both determination and good humor. Finally, we also need the flexibility to change our plans when necessary. Remember, we make God laugh most heartily when we plan too carefully.

The moral of the story seems to be, “Plan a little and live a lot.”

Loving God, life is truly an adventure. Please guide us along the way with the wisdom to plan well, the courage to embrace every moment and the stamina to do our best until we make our way home to you.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

They’re All Potentially Good Days

Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.

Psalm 90:14

I have only vague memories of rare “bad” days when I seemed to have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. Though I never figured out which side of the bed was “wrong,” a dear friend showed me how to begin every day with a positive attitude.

Carol and I had known one another for only a year when her husband was transferred and their family relocated to a distant city. We’d become fast friends, so this loss was difficult for both of us. We kept in touch via the phone and email. I also kept Carol in the loop regarding our church by sending her our parish bulletin each week. When our first Christmas apart arrived, Carol sent me a daily devotional to thank me for my effort. Though this was a completely unnecessary gesture, it has had long-lasting and life-changing ramifications.

It took only a few weeks for that devotional to become part of my daily routine. I found that I remembered to read it every day if I did so first thing in the morning. Though every reflection wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, each author managed to cast a positive light on the new day. Ever since, regardless of what life brings my way, this attitude adjuster assists me in facing everything with hope and joy. That devotional also inspired me to do the same for others through my own books and these posts. One never knows just how powerful a single act of kindness can be.

Loving God, help us all to begin every new day with joyful anticipation of the things to come. May our example give others reason to do the same.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Just Pace Yourself!

For a thousand years in your sight are as a day…
From Psalm 90:4

The day after July 4, the house was quiet. Our sons had taken their dad out for a belated Father’s Day excursion. I’d decided to use the time to write and to walk outdoors before the day’s heat set in. When I headed out, I noticed remnants of fireworks strewn about. Before walking, I swept up the contraband which had no doubt entertained someone nearby. As I worked, a delivery truck sped down the street. The driver’s urgency indicated that he was likely making up for his holiday off. I couldn’t help smiling because he reminded me of Mr. UPS, my favorite employee of that company.

Some years ago, Mr. UPS frequented our front door. Every time he set down a box in my foyer, he asked, “More books?” Mr. UPS knew that I write because he had the dubious privilege of delivering hundreds of books to me. In spite of their weight, he presented each box with a smile. I replied in the affirmative and then added that I was struggling with a year-long devotional. He smiled more broadly as he suggested, “Just pace yourself!” This advice was quite helpful back then just as it was on July 5.

After sweeping the driveway, I walked. I also gave a good deal of thought to Mr. UPS’s suggestion from long ago. “Just pace yourself!” I repeated. As I walked, I considered the beautiful flowers that adorn so many of my neighbors’ homes. “Those flowers didn’t plant themselves!” I mused. “They’re blooming today because someone made the time to plant them and to take care of them.” With that, I quickened my pace, finished that walk and headed home. As I sat at my keyboard, I reminded myself, “Your book isn’t writing itself either!” after completing a few more days’ reflections, I pulled up that neglected file and began again…

Dear God, thank you for the messengers who remind us to use the time we’re given well.

©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

Time To Act

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. 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.

In the end, it is up to me to determine what my life’s work will be.

Patient God, once again I turn to you for guidance. Fill me up with your Spirit and light my way. Help me to see the signs and to respond generously.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved