Take A Rest

Jesus retired to a home and wanted no one to know
because he was exhausted…

From Mark 7:24

I admit that it takes me a day to reenergize after watching our two little grandsons. This is not a complaint, but rather an acknowledgement that I’m not as young as I used to be. I love watching the boys and am grateful that Grandpa and I can help out one day each week. Because their parents work from home and Grandpa and I are also staying-in-place, we’ve been able to do this safely throughout the pandemic. This is one of the bits of normalcy we’ve maintained over the past 300+ days!

We’ve kept ourselves busy in other ways as well. We’ve thoroughly cleaned our garage and several closets. We’ve worked a little in the basement, though not as much as we need to. Mike picked up a book he’d wanted to read for some time. I did the same while keeping these daily posts up to date and returning to my own book which is now two-thirds of the way complete. In the midst of all of this busyness, we’ve also found creative ways to exercise and to relax. I think we’ve actually become quite expert at revitalizing our bodies and our spirits!

As Mark observed in his gospel, Jesus became weary and tired just as we do. He longed for a bit of peace when he wasn’t needed by anyone or to do anything. This is the reason Jesus got into the habit of getting up before everyone else. He needed quiet time just as we sometimes do.

The moral of the story is this: Whether we’re suffering from overwork or from pandemic fatigue, we need to take the time replenish ourselves. Like Jesus, we need to restore our energy so was can care for those who need us.

Dear God, be with us when we work and when we rest.

©2021 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Be Generously Grateful

It is good to give thanks to God.
Psalm 92:1

Thanksgiving is just two days away. This week, in the midst of prepping, I habitually offer prayers for those who work on Thanksgiving Day. Though I realize that our police, firefighters, EMTs and hospital staffers are used to rotating shifts through the holidays, I wish that stores and other non-essential businesses would close on this one national holiday which we all have reason to share. Still, this year, I’m not certain that I should voice this wish. So many long for a typical workday and the salary that comes with it…

This realization gives me reason to adjust my Thanksgiving prayers. After praying for all of those workers, I’m going to list all of the things for which I’m grateful. But I’m won’t stop there. After each one, I’m going to add a prayer. When I give thanks for my family, I will pray for all of the families who’ve lost someone to COVID-19. When I offer thanks for our own negative test results, I’ll pray for those who suffer with this and all diseases of the body, mind and spirit. When I offer thanks for our material blessings, I’ll pray for the many who need so much simply to get through another day. As I consider what their Thanksgiving meal might be like, I’ll promise to tweak our budget just enough to provide food for at least some of those in need.

I think it’s fair to say that none of us are completely satisfied with our situations today. The pandemic has certainly taken its toll. Still, I invite you to join me in finding the inspiration in our own blessings to pray for those and to do something for those who need them perhaps more than we do.

Loving God, we are so grateful for all that we have. Now be with us as we share our blessings with those in need.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Loved and Comforted

Come to me all of you who labor and
are burdened and I will refresh you.

Matthew 11:28

A good friend recently reached out to request my prayers. He’s struggling to be productive and to maintain a bit of peace while plugging away each day. I’m sure most of you join me in understanding his predicament. The pandemic and so much more continues to threaten to push us to the edge. If we have underlying issues to deal with, they’re exacerbated to the nth degree. Though I’m no expert in this regard, Someone is urging me to share these easy responses which help me when stress threatens to derail my efforts. I’m no practitioner in this regard. However, I do find that these efforts help me to refocus, to energize and to carry on. I hope they do the same for you…

• When stress threatens to overwhelm you, stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath. Take 4 or 5 slow and deep breaths. Sit up straight so you can get the maximum amount of air in and out.

• Take a walk outdoors. Cold as it is, it’s worth the fresh air and the change of scenery. Just 10 minutes in nature helps me.

• Think about the happiest time of your life. Imagine what you see, hear, smell, taste and touch. Who’s there? Allow yourself to laugh or to cry aloud.

• Read something that lifts your spirits… A favorite poem or passage or prayer or an old letter or greeting card.

• Imagine what you wish to accomplish today. SEE it happening and then get back to work on it.

• Pray… This isn’t a last resort. It’s usually the first thing I do. I tell God that, though others may not be aware of my misery, I know that God feels it with me and understands completely. I imagine God at my side and within me for within me is where God dwells. God dwells within all of us. How can I not feel better when I acknowledge that God understands and that I’m not alone after all.

Loving God, we know that you remain with us in everything. Thank you!

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Rest! It’s Okay!

Jesus went into the district of Tyre.
He entered a house and wanted no one to know,
but he couldn’t escape notice.

Mark 7:24

My husband serves as our family grocery shopper. When I joined him in retirement, I tried to retrieve what had once been my responsibility. After my first few trips to the store, Mike asked, “What takes you so long? I can find the stuff on a list twice as long in half the time. What are you doing there?” When I thought about what had transpired on these outings, I realized that, each time, I’d run into a neighbor, someone from church, a former colleague or a friend. Of course, I took the time to chat. Why not? I had all of the time in the world.

These days, none of us has time to spare when it comes to shopping. My dear husband has taken full responsibility in this regard because his maneuvering up and down aisles is far more efficient than my own. Even behind his mask and sunglasses, he finds everything on his list in record time. I admit that I don’t mind this arrangement. Since the pandemic took hold, Mike’s efficiency has allowed me the time to write at will and to finally return to my book. It has also allowed us the time to regroup, to refresh and to relax with each other -all of which were rare commodities in pre-COVID-19 times.

The scriptures tell us that Jesus’ moments of peace were few and far between. When he did find opportunities to rest, they were often interrupted by those who needed him. In spite of stay-in-place mode, the same is true for you and me much of the time. Always, and especially during these stressful times, we are allowed to rest on occasion just a Jesus did.

Dear God, help us to respond with kindness to those around us and to our own fatigue when needed.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Natural Wonders

Let the sea and what fills it resound…
Let rivers clap their hands and
mountains shout for joy…

From Psalm 98 1:7-8

A cold front transformed the week’s moderate temps into a taste of fall. Though I enjoy the approach of each of the seasons, this sudden change took me by surprise. I’ve recently enjoyed a string of wonderful days outdoors. How can summer feel so close-by only to give way to fall within a matter of just a few hours? I know, this is a silly question from someone who has lived in Chicagoland all of her life!

Perhaps I fear that the change in temperature will somehow lessen the joy the outdoors have brought me as of late. My husband really outdid himself with the flowers this year! As I grab my jacket for a walk, I consider the numerous miracles of nature I’ll relish along the way…

I know it’s only mid-September. Still, I must acknowledge that summer is coming to an end and that fall approaches. All too quickly, autumn’s beauty will give way to winter. Most of the living things I encounter today will too soon lie dormant beneath the surface until next spring. The potential they hold reminds me of the potential to be found in us all. Our numerous amazing gifts sometimes lurk beneath the surface as well. It seems to me that nature’s transformations give me reason to celebrate not only their beauty, but also the evolving and sometimes hidden gifts of those I’ve been given to love.

Creator God, help me always to appreciate your gifts, those that come in the wonder of nature and those that come in the wonder of my fellow humans.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Stop to Watch the Birds!

“You always have the poor with you,
but you do not always have me.”

John 12:8

It’s July 22 and the good news is that I’ve been on a roll writing. The bad news is that I haven’t been on a roll with anything else. It was just the other day that I committed to an actual writing schedule which allows time for writing and enjoying life. As I pondered this thought, I ran to the kitchen for a glass of water. While I stood at the sink, a flurry of activity drew my eyes to the window and the bird-feeder in our backyard. My husband’s persistent feedings and his bird house have attracted countless finches to the premises. I considered taking a break to watch these tiny wonders, but I had writing to do…

As I turned to run back upstairs, movement on the patio caught my eye. A lovely white dove sat in the large flowerpot just outside our patio door. Though such visitors usually fly off when I draw near, she remained. Oddly enough, she seemed oblivious to those flitting finches and content to stare at me. A ray of sunlight caused her feathers to take on a heavenly aura. As I wondered what she was up to, it occurred to me that she might wonder the same about me. When our eyes met, I realized that I hadn’t relaxed at all today and I was about to miss an opportunity when I passed on finch-watching.

Did that lovely dove intend to remind me to slow down? Did she know that my writing could wait because those wildly happy finches deserved a few minutes of my attention? Did she know that I needed her attention today?

Loving God, once again, I thank you for the work ethic with which I’m blessed and for your well-timed reminders to set aside my work and to enjoy life.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved