Spread Peace On Earth

Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord,
and let your faithful ones bless you.

Psalm 145:10

As I passed the calendar in our kitchen this morning, I was tempted to count the days until Christmas. Since my math skills allowed me to rely on subtraction rather than counting day by day, I used the time saved to enjoy the snow falling outside my window. Afterward, I took a few minutes to sit near our Christmas Tree.

Ornaments which mark our grandchildren’s births caught my eye. This year, we added another to mark our new grandson’s arrival. Our granddaughters usually celebrate the wait for Christmas by attending to their Advent Calendar. Each day, one of them places a little stuffed figure onto the calendar’s Nativity setting. On December 25, Baby Jesus will complete the scene. While I’ll older grandson will do the same, his younger brother will observe the season by eating and sleeping, growing, cooing and smiling. He will continue to stare at his family Christmas Tree with great interest and little understanding of its significance.

As for you and me… The troubles of this world quickly distract us from the joyful hope of Advent. Whether these things affect our own families and communities or others far from us, they detract greatly from the sense of peace which should characterize our wait for Christmas. Though we cannot change these things alone, we can all do something to improve the state of those around us. It seems to me that the best way to make the most of Advent is to bring some semblance of peace to every day that leads us to December 25.

Loving God, though we cannot make everything right, please help each of us to do something to bring peace to our own little corners of this world.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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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

Our Persistent BFF

God is near to all who call upon God…
From Psalm 145:14

The other day, while organizing my messy desk, I rediscovered a favorite prayer card. I placed it next to my keyboard so I’d see it every time I sit down to write. Unfortunately, in my haste to meet a deadline, I managed to bury that card once again. I finally unearthed it on a not-so-cheery morning when I badly needed its message. I treasure this card because it features a prayer which asks God to open us all into a personal relationship. This prayer doesn’t request a keen knowledge of church teaching or the scriptures or theology. This prayer asks that we sense God’s presence not only with our psyches, but with our hearts as well.

It occurs to me that this prayer’s anonymous author approaches God in the same personal way in which he interacts with his closest friends. What is even better is that God seems to reciprocate this relationship in very tangible ways. I treasure this prayer card because I’ve been fortunate enough to experience the same on occasion.

God invites each of us into a relationship. When we respond as we would to a dear friend, we speak freely and hide nothing. We tell God everything with the absolute certainty that God understands it all. The truth is that God understands all of our predicaments far better than we do!

The moral of the story is this… God loves you and me passionately and God is with us always like the truly good friend who God is!

Loving God, be persistent in revealing your friendship so unmistakably that we can’t miss your presence around us and within us.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Ever Grateful

Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord,
and let your faithful ones bless you.

Psalm 145:11

Perhaps the arrival of our newest grandchild is the reason. Perhaps memories of that wonderful dinner with our kids and grandkids in celebration of our wedding anniversary set the tone of my day. With both in mind, I set our for the morning’s walk. Within a minute or two, feelings of gratitude overwhelmed me. I’m a creature of habit who usually walks the same route every time I venture out. Still, the blue sky and the trees above me which I’ve seen a hundred times fill me with awe. Every day, nature reveals something that I’ve failed to notice before. Chirping birds are the frosting on the cake. Even drizzling rain gives me reason to feel grateful.

Perhaps I’m an unwitting student of God’s wisdom during these treks. Perhaps the clouded blue sky that beckons my eyes toward heaven and the trees who continuously raise their arms upward are reminding me to do the same. Their very existence points to God’s glory. Perhaps my existence on this earth is meant to point to God’s wonder as well. Certainly, little Benjamin’s arrival and the joy I find in my family do this on a daily basis. Like Nature around me, perhaps we’re all meant to do what we do with a spirit of gratitude. After all, being a part of God’s creation is a privilege and honor -something for which we can all be grateful.

Dear God, help me to live with a grateful heart and to share my gratitude with all of those you’ve given me to love.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Always Nearby

The Lord is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.

Psalm 145:18

At a recent wake, I picked up a prayer card. This loving offering was provided as a reminder of the person who’d passed away. I keep these mementos together on a bookshelf near my desk. They remind me to pray for and to those who’ve made it to the hereafter. When I added this card to the pile, I noticed a favorite I’d forgotten about. The anonymous prayer on the card expresses the sentiments of one who wishes us all to experience God nearby. This prayer doesn’t ask that others are blessed with a keen knowledge of church teaching or of the scriptures or of theology. Certainly, these are good places to seek some understanding of God. Still, this prayer asks that we sense God’s presence not only with our psyches, but with our hearts as well. It seems to me that the prayer’s author knows God in the same way that he knows his closest friends. What is more is that God seems to reciprocate this relationship in very tangible ways.

I took that card from the rest and gave it a new home on my desk. It will remind me to pray that each of us will see God with the open and loving eyes of this prayer’s author. I can think of nothing better for any of us than to truly understand with our heads and our hearts that God loves us passionately and remains with us always.

Dear God, please reveal your friendship so unmistakably that we can’t miss your presence around us and within us.

©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