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

Peace-filled Hugs and Smiles

“I will leave as a remnant in your midst
a people humble and lowly,
Who shall take refuge in the name of the Lord.”

Zephaniah 3:13

She’s done it again! Actually, Carol and her husband have done this numerous times much to my good fortune! A few years ago, I mentioned Carol in my daily reflection because she had really made all of the difference in the world to me on a really tough day. It was Advent and I was attempting to encourage all of us to bring a bit of peace to one another as we made our way to Christmas. (I know. This is a familiar theme which I’m revisiting this Advent.) Apparently, the annual frenzy which threatens all of our spirits compels me to repeat this urging. It seems that I need it more than most!

If you’re a frequent reader, you know that I’ve been impatient and on edge. I’m having great difficulty accepting the fact that I cannot repair this world to my satisfaction. Luckily, Carol has once again noticed my occasional grimaces and she has countered them with the best of hugs. Carol’s husband has learned much from her thoughtful ways. In Carol’s absence, Ed makes a point of happening by to elicit a smile from me. If their hugs or smiles seem not to lighten my mood, Carol and Ed ask what’s up and then listen with great patience. Every time, I walk away with a lighter burden because they’ve allowed me to share it with them.

Thank you, Carol and Ed, for this generous taste of peace on earth!

Loving God, as we prepare for Christmas together, help us to bring your peace to everyone we meet along the way.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Gifts of Hope and Joy

The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest…

From Isaiah 11:7

My husband and I sometimes grow weary of our full schedules. This is the reason we have happily curtailed our Christmas preparations this year. The truth is that we both enjoy our traditions. As a result, we haven’t “curtailed” our activities as much as we’ve organized our efforts. Preparing our home -both inside and out- for our family and friends is symbolic of our love for each one of them. Giving up any of this would dampen our experience of Christmas. Advent 2017 will lose its luster if we don’t prepare as is our custom. You see, our busyness during the days before Christmas keeps us focused on poor Mary and Joseph as they scrambled to prepare for Jesus’ birth so long ago. It also keeps us focused on the reasons we do what we do for others.

I’m happy to share that we have started our decorating and shopping early. This timing has energized us enough to attend to our “full schedules” with joy rather than angst. Though the phone continues to ring, our good will remains intact. Perhaps this is the reason Jesus ministered so generously to the needy souls who came his way. In offering others hope, Jesus found joy.

I know. I seem to be in a rut with all of this organizing for Advent and Christmas. I have reason for this. My hope is to inspire you to do the same. Enjoy!

Loving God, thank you for the moments of joy that come in the midst of our efforts to care for one another.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Get Ready!

On that day,
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse…

Isaiah 11:1

Advent 2017 begins this Sunday. Once again, we’re given four weeks to engage in joyful anticipation of Christmas. Most years, it’s extremely difficult for me to find the time to truly and joyfully anticipate this feast. There’s just so much to do! As I look ahead to the next twenty-six days, I’ve decided to try to recapture the simplified life-style of my youth. This year, I’m going to prioritize, organize and enjoy the wait for Christmas. Though I realize I addressed this very thing quite recently, it bears repeating. It is in all of our best interest to find a do-able, productive and happy path to Christmas Day.

Will you join me on this path by seeking a bit of simplification as well? Though none of us can shirk all of our responsibilities, we can all probably let a few things fall to the wayside. Trust me. Once you start, this will become far easier than you expect!

As for me, I’ve already urged my dear husband in this direction. We’re starting to decorate a few days earlier and we’re already assembling our shopping list. We’re simplifying menus and preparing our Christmas cards earlier as well. Yes, this business of simplifying life can become habitual! Enjoy!

Loving God, help us to take joyful steps to Christmas Day.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Ignite Hope and Find Joy

Large crowds of people came to him bringing with them cripples,
the deformed, the blind, the mute, and many others besides.
They laid them at his feet and he cured them.

Matthew 15:30

My husband and I sometimes grow weary of our full schedules. It was in the midst of one such bout of fatigue that I suggested that we curtail our Christmas decorating this year. After giving this urging a bit of thought, my husband responded with a suggestion of his own. “Why don’t we just get a head start on it?” he asked. The truth is that we both enjoy this tradition. Preparing our home -both inside and out- for our family and friends is symbolic of our love for each one of them. Giving up any of this would dampen our experience of Christmas. Advent 2015 would have lost its luster as well. Somehow, our busyness these days before Christmas keeps us focused on poor Mary and Joseph as they scrambled to prepare for Jesus’ birth so long ago. It also keeps us focused on the reasons we do what we do for others.

In the end, I agreed with my husband. We started our decorating and shopping early. Amazingly enough, this timing has energized us enough to attend to those “full schedules” with joy rather than angst. Though the phone has continued to ring, our good will remains intact. Perhaps this is the reason Jesus ministered so generously to the needy souls who came his way. In offering others hope, Jesus found joy.

Loving God, thank you for the moments of giving in which we ignite hope in others and find the joy you intend for us all.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Prepare The Way…

On that day,
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse…

Isaiah 11:1

It was two years ago that I had my shoulder repaired. Though I survived this ordeal, the month of November, especially Thanksgiving Day, has unexpectedly elicited related memories. I recall timing the surgery so Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations would distract me from the painful recovery which I was warned would come. As it happened, these distractions weren’t as helpful as I’d hoped. Still, the pain wasn’t as horrific as expected either. I eventually learned to put my incapacity to good use. As a result, I embraced Advent 2013 with great fervor.

You know, Advent 2015 begins tomorrow. Once again, I am given four weeks to engage in joyful anticipation of Christmas. Most years, except for 2013, it is extremely difficult for me to find the time to truly and joyfully anticipate this feast. There is just so much to do. As I look ahead to the next twenty-seven days, I’ve decided to recapture the simplified life-style which was forced upon me after my surgery. This year, I’m going to prioritize, organize and enjoy the wait for Christmas.

Will you join me in seeking a bit of simplification as well? Though none of us can shirk all of our responsibilities, we can all probably let a few things fall to the wayside. Trust me. Once you start, this will become easier than you think!

Loving God, heaven touched the earth the day Jesus was born. This year, help us to celebrate this miracle joyfully.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved