God Bless You and Keep You Safe

Upon their hands, the angels shall bear you up,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Psalm 91:12

This is Veteran’s Day. Today, I cannot help thinking about those who serve and protect us both nearby and far away. It seems that every passing day gives us reason to pray a bit more fervently for their safety. Whether they serve us overseas or here at home, these dedicated personnel have set aside their personal lives to do so. Ones political stance doesn’t matter in their regard. They serve us and protect us regardless.

Though I know God remains with each one in spite of what may come his or her way, it is a worthy endeavor to keep our service people in our prayers just the same. All the while, let’s add a prayer of thanks for the hundreds of thousands of veterans among us. Though it is only recently that we’ve acknowledged the toll taken by active military service, all of our veterans have suffered in one way or another simply because they have served this country of ours. We owe each one of them a great deal.

Happy Veterans Day, Dear Veterans and Veterans-in-the making! Thank you for all you have sacrificed for us!

Dear God, bless each one of our veterans generously and remain with them all.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Heaven’s Helpers

A surging stream of fire
flowed out from where he sat;
Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him,
and myriads upon myriads attended to him.

Daniel 7:10

Daniel’s imagery provides a fairly accurate picture of my earliest impressions of God. The adults around me succeeded in convincing me of God’s love very early on. Still, there was something about the Almighty’s powerful presence which gave me reason to pause. The earliest days of my relationship with God included some shyness and perhaps a bit of concern when it came to my own behavior and the things I dared to pray for.

The good news is that Daniel’s imagery also inspires my faith in God’s helpers, the archangels in particular. From the time I was a little child, I turned to Michael the Archangel when fearful people or fearful circumstances threatened. Though I was unsure of how all of this worked back then, as I am now, I do recall finding great consolation under the Archangel’s watchful eye.

Though I’ve set aside the more cumbersome baggage from my childhood which stunted my growth faith-wise, I admit that I continue to turn to the Good Michael and his counterparts, Raphael and Gabriel,and all of heaven’s inhabitants who are able to help when those I love are in distress. Though I don’t expect them to visibly take down the adversaries involved, I do believe that these spirits remain present for as long as they are needed. Perhaps all that is required to make things right is a strong shoulder to lean on, even when we don’t realize that shoulder is there.

Loving God, thank you for all of those who guard us and guide us along the way and thank you for being with us in everything.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

It’s Okay To Take Care

“Whatever place doesn’t welcome you or care for you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet…”

Mark 6:11

It’s difficult for me to walk away from much of anything. This propensity to stay connected is partially genetic and partially learned. My parents opened their door to everyone. My mom often said, “I leave the door open. If people choose not to come in, it’s their loss.” Jesus also welcomed everyone who crossed his path. Since I subscribe to Jesus’ way of life, I try to welcome people the way Jesus did. After all, in my mind, God places me where I’m meant to be and among whom I’m meant to be.

Still, there are people who really aren’t good for us. They may not cause physical harm, but they may harm us psychologically or spiritually or emotionally. I’ve found that if my gut is having a strong reaction to someone, I need to listen. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I need never to speak to the person again. However, it may mean that I should limit our contact as needed.

I know I’ve addressed this topic before and I know it may seem to be an odd topic for a reflection. Nonetheless, I’ve included it because I need to remind you and me of this: Sometimes, good people think that part of “being good” is allowing themselves to be hurt unnecessarily. I assure you that our loving God couldn’t disagree more.

Dear God, as you walk with us, keep us safe and wise. Help us to recognize potential harm and guide us away from its source.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Love At Work

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
John 15:17

During a recent FaceTime call with our granddaughter, I asked when the last day of stay-in-place school will be. This soon-to-be sixth grader lamented the closing of her school, but not the last day of her at-home studies. Lauren said, “I really hoped that we’d get to go back to school this year. I miss my teacher and my friends.” After acknowledging Lauren’s loss, I reminded her that summertime would challenge her creativity. She, her parents and her sisters would have to find new ways to be productive and to enjoy their leisure time safely. Lauren agreed that this will be a unique adventure.

After we said our good-byes, I recalled the last days of school in my own classroom. Every year, a few of my students looked toward the summer months with dismay. Their parents struggled to make ends meet and often held second jobs. While other children looked forward to vacations with their families, these children dreaded long hours alone. During the summer months, they stayed home by themselves and hopefully stayed out of trouble.

Today, many of the children among us look to Summer 2020 with similar dismay. Many of their parents do, too. None of us know how our new normal will unfold. Some don’t know when they’ll be allowed to return to work and resume providing for their families. All of this adds to our communal concern regarding keeping those we’ve been given to love cared for and healthy.

A few days ago, when worry threatened, I responded by doing something positive. I contacted a nearby neighborhood program which supports families in need. They quickly told me how I could help. Rather than lamenting today’s uncertainties, let’s all do something to help. Praying for the suffering is a great place to start!

Loving God, help us to love as you do.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

We’re Always Learning!

“What will this child be?
Was not the hand of the Lord upon him?”

Luke 1:66

When I arrived home after running errands, I paused in the driveway to take in our Christmas decorations. Though we’ll never win a contest for most lights used, my husband and I do our best to acknowledge the season with our efforts. Six years ago, Mike stopped climbing onto the roof above the garage to string lights on our second floor eaves. We both agreed that it is more important for him to make in to Christmas Day unscathed. This year, a young painter who spends his days on roofs offered to assist us. Today, I admired the lights he’s strung across the top of our house.

As I drove into the garage, I shuddered as I recalled the year I slipped on a patch of snow and received twelve staples in my head as a result. No ladder involved! I admit that this fall caused me to feel uncharacteristically vulnerable. At the time, I wondered if I’d reached the age when this type of thing might occur more frequently. That possibility unnerved me as I plan to be a capable and independent Mom and Grandma for many more years.

As I retrieved my packages from the car, I did what I always do when I’m concerned. I turned my eyes upward, not to share my worry, but to express my gratitude. I thanked God that nothing particularly threatening has happened in recent history. I thanked God for our young friend who gifted us with lights above. In the mean time, Mike and I have stayed clear of the roof and I’ve watched more carefully for ice patches and other obstacles. Perhaps that slip prevented far worse because I did learn to be more careful that day.

Dear God, thank you for giving us the wisdom to learn something new and helpful every day! Please get us all to Christmas safely.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

When Necessary, Walk!

“Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet…”

Mark 6:11

I admit it. I find it extremely difficult to shake the dust off my feet. Though I can write-off imprudent causes, I rarely do the same when it comes to my fellow humans. The few instances in which I have done so were the result of impending danger to someone I love.

This propensity to stay connected is partially genetic and partially learned. My parents opened their door to everyone. I recall my mom saying, “I leave the door open. If people choose not to come in, it’s their loss.” Jesus welcomed everyone who crossed his path as well. Since I subscribe to Jesus’ way of life, I try to welcome people as Jesus did.

Still, there are people who really aren’t good for us. They may not cause physical harm, but they take a psychological or spiritual toll on us. I find that if my gut is having a strong reaction to someone, I need to listen. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I need never to speak to this person again. However, it may mean that I should limit our contact as best I can.

I know this seems like an odd topic for a daily reflection. I included it because sometimes good people think that part of “being good” is to allow ourselves to be hurt unnecessarily. Our loving God could not disagree more.

Loving God, as you walk with us, keep us safe and wise. Help us to recognize potential harm and guide us away from its source.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved