God’s Open Door

“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs
under the table eat the family’s leavings.”

Mark 7:24

I grew up in an Irish and Italian neighborhood. Since only the tiniest drop of either bloodline flows through me, I had no preference for either group. The truth is that I envied them both, especially on St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Days when my Irish and Italian friends celebrated their heritage with great flourish. For the most part, I am French Canadian and there was no designated day for me to do the same. Though my family celebrated rich traditions which are the direct result of my ethnicity, as a child, I longed for a more colorful and universal display. Later, new neighbors of African American dissent moved nearby and we became fast friends. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone in my envy of those whose ethnicity was celebrated.

This childhood disappointment evolved into a lifetime of effort to honor the plethora of ethnic differences which make our human family the treasure it is. That disappointment also fueled my effort to work around the numerous other differences which often separate us. Perhaps it was providential that I spent my career working with children. My classroom provided the perfect forum in which to honor both our personal uniqueness and our common qualities. Though I left my classroom behind long ago, I find that the lessons I learned there regarding God’s “Open Door Policy” are more important than ever these days.

Welcoming God, it seems that wherever we are we manage to separate ourselves into differing factions. Help me and all of my sisters and brothers to welcome one another into the moments of our lives just as you welcome us.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Plodding Along In Good Company

People will make their way
from every direction to God’s table.

Luke 13:29

I’m pleased that our sons draw from the best of our gene pool. My husband is of average height and I’m short. Our sons are six feet tall. They also have healthier lifestyles than my husband and I had at their ages. Though our older son gave up running after reaching his marathon goals, he continues an exercise regimen. Our younger son is a serious walker. Our daughters-in-law exercise at least as much as their husbands while urging our grandchildren into active lifestyles. When it comes to healthy eating, they’re all experts.

These observations inspired me to make a rare birthday gift request: some uncomplicated gadget to count my steps. The kids obliged and I’ve been walking more regularly ever since. I push myself to walk a bit more briskly and a bit farther. Once I establish my pace, I attend to the beauty around me. Regardless of the day, the sky keeps watch overhead while the trees stand firm along my path. The spraying fountain which I pass near our village hall sparkles as I pass. While I enjoy the sites, that little gadget tracks my progress.

I admit that I rather enjoy my now effortless attempts to walk every day. While I do my best to attend to my to-do list, that little gadget nudges me when I’ve been still a bit too long. When I finally recognized this transformation, I realized that God has been doing the same for me all of my life. While I do my best as I we plod along, God’s nudges me through a caring loved one, a bit of written inspiration, a beautiful day or a whispered reminder that I’m never ever alone. Trust me. God is doing the same for you.

Gracious God, thank you for helping us all along the way.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Our Unique Journeys

And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.

Luke 13:29

I admit that I’m pleased that our sons draw the best from our gene pool. My husband is of average height and I’m short. Our sons are six feet tall. They also have far healthier lifestyles than we had at their ages. Though our older son gave up running after reaching his marathon goals, he continues a taxing exercise regimen. Our younger son was never a runner, but he’s a consistent and serious walker. I would be remiss if I didn’t add that our daughters-in-law engage in their own exercise routines while urging on their husbands and our grandchildren. When it comes to healthy eating, they’re all experts.

These observations and a few extra pounds nudged me outdoors. I pushed myself to walk a bit more briskly and a bit farther. Once I established my pace, I attended to the beauty around me. The sky boasted an amazingly deep blue and the trees sported vibrant greens. The spraying fountain near our village hall sparkled like an array of diamonds. “Thank you, for all of this!” I prayed.

Our younger family members and I embark upon very different journeys when we exercise. They attend to what their bodies tell them, while I turn to life outside of me. We do what we must to accomplish our goals and we all feel very good in the end.

All of our journeys through this life bring unique demands. God asks only that we tend to these things as best we can as only we can.

Gracious God, thank you for your unique call to each one of us. We will do our best to be a blessing to those we meet along the way.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Embrace The Race

And people will come from the east and the west…
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.

Luke 13:29-30

Though The Chicago Marathon was run almost six weeks ago, a friend recently shared her excitement over completing the race. I understand her pride because my older son ran the marathon two years ago. I continue to marvel over the commitment that got him to the race. I also still remember his time which was his personal best: four hours and seven minutes. Amazing!

As I considered what my friend and my son accomplished, I reminded myself that the things which are important to us usually require a commitment. Our persistence or lack thereof in keeping these commitments make the importance of these things quite clear. When we maintain our interest and effort through thick and thin, we do so because this particular quest is a priority. When we fail to do so, we likely haven’t taken the activity or cause at hand to heart.

You know, we all embark upon very different journeys when we greet each new day. Wherever our paths take us, we do what is needed to accomplish our goals. In the end, we hopefully feel very good about what we have done. Even when the results aren’t what we had hoped for, the run itself is worth the effort. God asks only that we tend to these things as only we can and as best we can.

Gracious God, we each have a unique race to run. May all of our efforts take us home to you.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Journey

And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.

Luke 13:29

I admit that I am pleased that our sons draw from the best of our gene pool. My husband is of average height and I’m short. Our sons are six feet tall. They also have far healthier lifestyles than my husband and I had at their ages. Though our older son gave up running after reaching his marathon goals, he continues to exercise regularly. Our younger son was never a runner. He exercises consistently via serious walking. I would be remiss if I didn’t add that my daughters-in-law engage in their own exercise regimens while urging on their husbands and our grandchildren. When it comes to healthy eating, they are all experts.

These observations pushed me outdoors for a trek of my own. I pushed myself to walk a bit more briskly and a bit farther. Once I established my pace, I attended to the beauty around me, my constant companion during these jaunts. The sky boasted an amazingly deep blue and the trees showed their most vibrant colors. The spraying fountain which I pass near our village hall sparkled like an array of diamonds. “Thank you, for all of this!” I prayed.

Our younger family members and I embark upon very different journeys when we exercise. While they attend to what their bodies tell them, I turn to life outside of me. We do what we must to accomplish our goals and we all feel very good in the end.

Our journeys through this life bring unique demands. God asks only that we tend to these things as we can as best we can as only we can. This is all that is required.

Gracious God, thank you for your unique call to each one of us. Make our efforts a blessing to all whom we meet along the way.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved