Free To Choose Joy

How shall I make a return to God
for all God has given me?

Psalm 116:12

A retired friend recently shared that he’s thrilled to have to moved on to something which brings him joy. Though he’d worked hard to arrive at this place, he wrestled with this notion. It seemed selfish to him to want to do something which makes him happy. A few years ago when he struggled with this dilemma, I reminded him that his new endeavor would not only make him happy, but it would also being joy to those he’d encounter along the way.

The truth is that I understood my friend’s feelings too well. I shared the notion that what we do in this life is meant to serve others regardless of how happy or unhappy it makes us. Like my friend, I sometimes lost sight of God’s generous gift of free will and God’s absolute faith in our choices. Isn’t this the reason that God sent each of us out on our own in the first place?

So it was that after I encouraged my friend to heed his heart’s desire, I took stock of my own longing. The happiest people I know are busy doing the things which bring them joy. In the process, they also make a truly positive impact on those around them. My retired friend has done quite well in this regard. It’s time for me to be certain that I do too!

Loving God, give us the courage to seek joy in our lives and to share that joy with those we meet along the way.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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God Always Listens…

God looked down from the holy height,
from heaven God beheld the earth,
to hear the groaning…

From Psalm 102:20-21

When I was a child, people often asked me to pray on their behalf. I obliged as best I could. Every night, I said my prayers. This was more my mother’s doing than my own. When she tucked me into bed, she’d always ask, “Did you say your prayers?” If I had, I proudly acknowledged this. If I hadn’t, I admitted my omission and quickly began. Sometimes, though I told my mom that I already said my prayers, she mentioned that I might want to offer an extra prayer for someone who was sick or who had something difficult to deal with. Again, I happily obliged. I was pleased that someone thought my prayers were helpful.

Over the years, difficulties which seemed not to be alleviated by my prayers gave me reason to question this effort. I wondered far too often if prayer did any good at all. Fortunately, I eventually realized that presenting a laundry list of requests to God isn’t all there is to prayer. I finally learned to listen. Rather then voicing what God already knew, I invited God to look into my heart for my troubles and those I carried for others. Though I wasn’t always sure of what my prayer accomplished, just knowing that God was aware changed everything for me. Though I rarely knew what, I knew for certain God would see to everything in God’s good time.

Generous God, inspire us with your persistence, that we will always turn to you in our need and with our gratitude.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Knows…

God looked down from the holy height,
from heaven God beheld the earth,to hear…

From Psalm 102:20-21

From the time I was very young, people asked me to pray for things. With youthful zeal, I obliged as best I could. Every night, I said my prayers. This was more my mother’s doing than my own. When she tucked me into bed, she always asked, “Did you say your prayers?” If I had, I proudly acknowledged this. If I hadn’t, I admitted my omission and quickly began. Sometimes, though I’d told my mom that I already said my prayers, she asked me to add an extra prayer for someone who was sick or who had something difficult to deal with. Again, I happily obliged. I was pleased that someone thought my prayers were helpful.

Over the years, difficulties which seemed not to be eased by my prayers gave me reason to question this effort. I found myself wondering often if my prayers did any good at all. Fortunately, I eventually realized that presenting a laundry list of requests to God wasn’t the best use of our time together. I learned to sit quietly for a bit. Rather then voicing what God already knew, I invited God to look into my heart for my troubles and for those I carried for others. Though I wasn’t always certain of what my prayer accomplished, just acknowledging that God was aware changed everything for me. Though I rarely knew what, I knew that something would be done in God’s good time.

Dear God, I will try never to doubt your concern for us.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Opt For Joy

“The Lord looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”

Psalm 102:20-21

A friend who recently retired shared that he hopes to move on to something which will bring him joy. Though he feels he has worked heard to arrive a this place, he wrestles with this notion. It seems selfish to him to want to do something which makes him happy. Though the new direction he seeks will actually allow him to serve others in a truly significant way, my friend struggles.

I find that I relate too well to my friend’s dilemma. I share the notion that what we do in this life is meant to serve others regardless of how happy or unhappy it makes us. Like my friend, I’ve lost sight of God’s generous gift of free will and God’s absolute faith in our choices. Indeed, it is because of these things that God sent each of us out on our own in the first place.

I’m going to encourage my friend to heed his heart’s longing. The happiest people I know do the things which bring them joy. In the process, they also bring joy to those around them. As I speak to my friend, I’m going to listen carefully to what I say. You see, it’s time for me to heed my heart’s longing as well.

Loving God, you listen to the longings of our hearts and you know our needs before we speak them for ourselves. Give us the courage to hear our cries for joy and to follow them as only we can.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Live With Joy

“The Lord looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”

Psalm 102:20-21

A friend recently shared that she hopes to change careers in order to move on to something which will bring her joy. She wrestles with this notion because it seems selfish to her to want to do something that makes her happy. Though this new opportunity will allow her to serve others in a truly significant way, my friend struggles.

I find that I relate far too well to this dilemma. I share the notion that we are meant to serve others in this life regardless of how happy or unhappy it makes us. Like my friend, I fail to fully appreciate God’s generous gift of free will and God’s absolute faith in our choices. Indeed, it is because of these things that God sends each of us out on our own.

When we spoke, I encouraged my friend to heed her heart’s longing. The happiest people I know do the things which bring them joy. In the process, they also bring joy to those around them. As I spoke to my friend, I listened carefully to what I said. Apparently, it is time for me to heed my heart’s longing as well.

Loving God, you know the longings of our hearts long before we can speak them. Help us to love ourselves as you love us. Give us the courage to hear our deepest cries for joy and to fulfill them as only we can.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved