Never Disappointed!

God will be gracious to you when you cry out;
as soon as God hears, God will answer you.

From Isaiah 30:19

I’ll never forget Joey…

It was early December during the year I was assigned to teach second grade. A little boy in my class arrived at school in tears. It was the eve of St. Nicholas Day and Joey’s older brother had announced that he was not putting out his shoes in anticipation of a visit from the jolly old saint. He had told poor Joey that this tradition was for babies and that no one would be visiting their apartment that night. Joey had placed his hope in this yuletide saint for as long as he could remember because his grandparents had brought this tradition with them from their homeland. Joey was crestfallen over his brother’s loss of hope. I knew that Joey’s family had recently experienced a rough turn of events and I wondered if his older brother knew that there was no money for “extras” this year.

I consoled Joey as best I could and then decided to arrange for a visit from St. Nicholas at school. I expanded our social studies lesson that day to include a discussion of holiday traditions. After Joey and his classmates shared their family traditions, I asked if they’d like to prepare for a visit from St. Nicholas. The possibility of unexpected surprises resulted in unanimous agreement. At the end of the day, the children left their gym shoes on their desks. After school, I hurried out to purchase small treats and crayons for each of them. The next morning, I arrived early to fill their shoes with these treasures. When I went outdoors to gather my students, Joey ran to me to report that St. Nicholas had indeed visited his home. “Even my big brother found stuff in his shoes!” So did Joey’s classmates.

Dear God, when I see unhappiness and doubt in others, help me to replace their hopelessness with your joy.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Just Be There

Jesus saw a vast crowd. He pitied them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them at great length.

Matthew 9:36

I worked as a reading teacher for many years. Though the subject area remained constant, my students’ grade levels varied as a result of my assignment, enrollment numbers and sometimes the whims of the powers-that-be. For a few years, I worked with only fifth through eighth graders. While I tended to enjoy all of my students, one group of eighth graders remains a favorite.

For some reason these particular students needed an adult ear. Every day when they reported to my classroom, they attempted to share their woes for the entire period. The truth is that they actually were not engaging in work avoidance. They had issues which needed to be dealt with. One day, a classmate had unexpectedly lost his dad. This turned my students’ world upside-down. They simply could not cope. After assisting them as best I could, we came to an agreement. Every day thereafter, we spent the first ten minutes of each period sharing. We spent the remaining thirty-five minutes engaged in reading. Apparently, they appreciated this gesture because they had both calmed down and greatly improved their reading skills by the end of the year. What more could I have hoped to do for them?

You know, many people I meet along the way also need an ear. Sometimes, listening is enough. Sometimes, a lesson in navigating “the rules” does the trick. Sometimes, a firm reminder that God loves them no matter what is required. Always, being present to them in the moment at hand is my best option.

Compassionate God, you know how precious our company is. Help us all to be generous with our presence to those who need us most.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Fill Them With Joy

God will be gracious to you when you cry out;
as soon as God hears, God will answer you.

From Isaiah 30:19

It was early December during the year I was assigned to teach second grade. A little boy in my class Joey arrived at school in tears. It was the eve of St. Nicholas Day and Joey’s older brother announced that he was not putting out his shoes in anticipation of a visit from the jolly old saint. He had told poor Joey that this tradition was for babies and that no one would be visiting their apartment that night. Joey had placed his hope in this yuletide saint for as long as he could remember because his grandparents had brought this tradition with them from their homeland. Joey was crestfallen over his brother’s loss of hope. I knew that Joey’s family had recently experienced a rough turn of events and I wondered if his older brother knew that there was no money for “extras” this year.

I consoled Joey as best I could and then decided to arrange for a visit from St. Nicholas at school. I expanded our social studies lesson that day to include a discussion of holiday traditions. After Joey and his classmates shared their family traditions, I asked if they’d like to prepare for a visit from St. Nicholas. The possibility of unexpected surprises resulted in unanimous agreement. At the end of the day, the children left their gym shoes on their desks. After school, I hurried out to purchase small treats and crayons for each of them. The next morning, I arrived early to fill their shoes with these treasures. When I went outdoors to gather my students, Joey ran to me to report that St. Nicholas had indeed visited his home. “Even my big brother found stuff in his shoes!” So did Joey’s classmates.

Dear God, when I see unhappiness and doubt in others, help me to replace their hopelessness with your joy.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved