God With Us

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 34:5

Loss is tough. Loss occurs in relationships cut short by a misunderstanding or a move. Loss comes in the passing of our loved ones. Loss comes with divorce, even when this choice is mutual. The loss of a familiar workplace or neighborhood brings heartache. When we find ourselves at odds with an institution which once felt as comfortable as home, we find ourselves at a loss as well. Feelings of abandonment and loneliness, hopelessness and solitude consume us in the midst of our losses, and it seems no one and nothing can fill the emptiness within us.

I’m most grateful to acknowledge that when we face loss in our lives we never face it alone. Rather, we find ourselves embraced in sacred moments of sharing. Sometimes, they come in human form through the voice of a knowing friend; in the song of a mother who will love her child forever; in an artist’s rendition of our weakest selves embraced by God’s all-loving arms; in the kindness of a colleague who takes over simply because she is needed; in the parents and grandparents, spouses and significant others, sisters, brothers and friends who teach us to hold onto one another in the best and worst of times. Sometimes, these sacred moments come in the reassurance we find in the depths of our own hearts. Always, God sees to it that we don’t experience loss alone. Always, God is with us to offer healing and love.

Loving God, thank you for being with us in everything!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Always There…

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 34:5

Some of the most tender moments parents share with their children are the result of uncertainty and fear. Through the worst of storms, a far too frightening film or when someone actually promises to do them harm, children scramble to the laps of their parents to find safety. In their parents’ embrace, children find comfort in carefully chosen words which offer the assurance that, indeed, everything will be all right. When parents’ words aren’t enough and their children continue to shiver and shake, parents simply hold their children tightly for as long as it takes to bring them peace.

God’s children aren’t very different, are they? Sometimes, no matter how well-chosen God’s words are, we also find it difficult to take them in. Uncertainty and fear overwhelm us. These feelings preclude our understanding and they preclude our ability to find comfort. For these very reasons, God promises simply to be with us.

Though I’m old enough and wise enough not to be frightened by much, there are times when my circumstances or those of another of God’s children manage to fill me with fear. Since my parents’ laps are no longer available to me, I immediately ask God to make good on that promise to remain with me, and so God does… Every time, God is there…

Loving God, thank you for embracing each of us in our joy, in our sorrow and in our fear.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Choose That Umbrella With Care

When the afflicted man called out, the Lord heard,
and from all his distress God saved him.

Psalm 34:7

It’s raining again. I’ve decided to head out in spite of the downpour. I’ve donned my hooded jacket and embarked upon my familiar trek through the neighborhood. As I walk, I enjoy the blurry perspective which persistent drops force upon me. As I walk farther, it occurs to me that the emotional rains which fall too often in our lives are not enjoyable at all.

A friend is enduring some tough times. Though the storm brewing overhead is partially a personal choice, those who care are doing their best to provide the right umbrella to keep him dry. In the mean time, I find myself discouraged. Just as I can’t do a thing about today’s rainy forecast, I feel at a loss in this case. What can I do to help?

As I consider the lifetime of storms I’ve endured, I must acknowledge that those who loved me through these things proved to be great blessings simply by being there. Perhaps I can be of help by doing the same.

Rain falls in our lives far too often. When it does, we simply do our best by determining which umbrella will keep our loved one dry.

Compassionate God, keep my friend and all concerned in your care. Give them the peace to endure, knowing that you are with them every step of the way.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Inner Peace

When the poor one called out, God heard,
and from all her distress, God saved her.

Psalm 34:7

My heart ached for this poor woman as she poured out her heart to me. She felt engulfed in darkness and found it difficult to look beyond herself for hope or consolation. I assured her that this is the reason that God dwells within each one of us. Regardless of the danger which threatens from the outside, God remains steadfast deep inside. She looked up from her tear-filled tissue with a partial smile. After thinking about this for a few minutes, my friend considered her dilemma. “You know, in spite of everything, I somehow knew that I wasn’t alone in this. You’re telling me what I somehow already knew was true.”

After voicing her gratitude, this woman left me to my own thoughts. As I watched her walk away, it occurred to me that I’ve sounded much like her as of late. As was the case with this woman, the darkness around me distorted my perspective. I, too, have failed to see who has been with me all the while.

Though it’s sometimes difficult to do so, we all need to turn our attention away from the external clamor which threatens and to sit quietly in the loving presence of God. Whether or not we acknowledge our heart’s Loving Tenant doesn’t matter to God. God cares for us either way. Still, when we do acknowledge God within us, we find consolation in simply knowing that we aren’t alone.

Dear God, thank you for making your home within each one of us.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Never Fear…

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 34:5

While spending the day with our grandson, I inadvertently scared him. When I dropped a bottle into his parents’ recycle bin, it made a louder than expected crash. The poor little guy responded immediately with tears. Fortunately, he also responded to my embrace and my assurances that all would be well. This little episode brought to mind tender moments with my own sons.

Some of the most meaningful interactions between parents and their children result from uncertainty and fear. A parent’s embrace and a few well-chosen words bring the assurance that, indeed, everything will be all right. When parents’ words aren’t enough and their children continue to shiver and shake, they simply hold their children tightly for as long as it takes to bring them peace.

God’s children are not very different from our own. Sometimes, no matter how well-chosen God’s words are, we find it difficult to take them in. Uncertainty and fear overwhelm us. For these very reasons, God promises simply to be with us.

Though I’m old enough and wise enough not to be frightened by much, there are times when my circumstances or another of God’s children manages to fill me with fear. Since my parents’ laps are no longer available to me, I turn to God with the hope that God will make good on that promise to remain with me. Happily, God never disappoints in this regard.

Loving God, thank you for embracing us in our joy, in our fear and in everything.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Blankets For Everyone

When the poor one called out, the Lord heard,
and from all his distress he save him.

Psalm 34:7

Every year, my husband begins our Christmas Tree decorating by trimming its trunk and securing it in its stand. For a day or two afterward, I string the lights and hang ornaments. While I work, my husband contemplates the tree’s lowest branches and the area beneath the tree. With great care, Mike plans the village which will fill that space. I offer meager assistance by unpacking numerous little houses, tiny trees and our crèche. I admit that I delay a bit as I unpack the stable and figures which will be the focal point of our little town of Bethlehem. Though I love the little structures which resemble the buildings of Jesus’ day, I pour over the tiny figures far longer.

I fully expect them to answer when I ask what they were feeling back then. Though I can imagine what Mary and Joseph might say, I puzzle over the baby. “How aware where you that day? Were you planning out your life with that first cry in the night or where you simply protesting the cold? ‘Where’s my blanket?’ you might have cried.” In the midst of my musing, the Baby who rests in our tiny stable seems to ask that I leave him to his rest. He sends me off to bring blankets to those who need them far more than he.

As I reflect on the miracle of God Among Us, I also consider who needs a blanket to ease his cold or to comfort her aching soul. That Bethlehem Baby seems insistent that it is up to me to do what I can.

Loving God, your invitation to love and care for one another sets the tone of this season and of every new day. Help me to respond as you would.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved