Thank You!

One of them, realizing that he had been cured,
came back praising God in a loud voice.

Luke 17:15

My sister Rita puts the “spirit” in “family spirit”. She’s consistently seen to it that we continue with family picnics and birthday celebrations. She reminds us when it’s been a little too long since we’ve gotten together. She also spent months compiling our written family history which was a truly painstaking, but much appreciated effort. All of this is amazing in light of Rita’s role in that history…

My dear sister is the eldest of us six siblings. She was only fifteen when our dad passed away. The rest of us were 14, 8, 6, 5 and 3. Since our mom had to go to work to support us, Rita assumed a good deal of responsibility for the rest of us. Looking back, I realize that this changed what might have been my sister’s carefree teens into a much more difficult experience. Much to her credit, Rita didn’t share in only our mom’s workload. She also shared in our mom’s efforts to keep our family’s “special occasions” special. Rita helped our mom to select and wrap our Christmas gifts. She also pitched in for our birthdays and Easter. As soon as she could, Rita began to use the few dollars she earned each week at her job to supplement our mom’s gifts to us.

The scripture passage I selected above is an excerpt from Luke’s account of the healing of the ten lepers. Though all were made whole, only one took the time to return to Jesus to thank him. In an effort not to repeat the mistake of the other nine lepers, we need to do the same. Thank you, Rita, for all you did for us!

Loving God, thank you for empowering us to enrich this life with our kindness and gratitude toward one another.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Mom

When one becomes a mother, her new life is valued far beyond pearls.
Her children entrust their hearts to her. They are an unfailing prize.

Inspired by Proverbs 31:10-11

On this Mother’s Day Eve, I can’t help thinking about the most important work of my life. Thoughts of my own mom and the other amazing moms who’ve touched my life swirl about in my head. Still, I can’t escape the overwhelming joy which fills me up as I consider my own good fortune in this regard.

I’ve shared before that I didn’t grow up with an ambition to get married or to have children. I was quite certain that I would please God most and reach the fullness of my potential by entering the convent. This resolve remained under the surface through college until, amazingly enough, I fell in love and married. Because I’d embraced a new husband and a new career simultaneously, my potential to be a mom escaped me for a while. It was only after a few successful years in the classroom and the purchase of our first home that I realized the opportunity before me.

Though our hope for a little one took some time to come to fruition, I’ll never forget the day I heard the news. During what seemed to be our millionth visit to his office, Dr. Wool finally announced, “Mary, you’re pregnant!” Apparently, I didn’t hide my excitement because my husband heard my response all the way out in the waiting room. At that moment, my life changed forever. Suddenly, I knew God’s love firsthand because, sight unseen, I loved that baby more than anything. The truth is, I continue to love him and his brother just that much! Though the rest is history, I’d relive every moment as their mom in a heartbeat -a joyful heartbeat.

Dear God, thank you for entrusting me with the two amazing people who call me “Mom”.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Gift of Love

I will thank you always for what you have done,
and proclaim the goodness of your name.

Psalm 52:11

After our kids and grandkids visited, I picked up the house a bit. There was little to do as I’d done the same before they all arrived. The only cleaning required was in the kitchen where I’d baked brownies and prepped a taco dip. I admit to a pleased-with-myself look as I took off my green apron and carried it to the laundry room. I love my green apron…

My sister fashioned this favorite decades ago. At the time, Cecele had two young children whom she was raising alone. As Christmas approached, my sister realized she had no money for Christmas gifts other than a few things for her children. Christmas has always been our family’s favorite holiday. Even in the leanest of times, our parents managed to provide something special for each of their children. Cecele couldn’t bear to arrive on Christmas day without gifts for her siblings and God-children. So it was that she hand-made something for each of us. She sewed a large stuffed snake for my son. Because I’m the cookie-baker of the family, at least at Christmastime, Cecele made two green terry cloth aprons for me. I’ve used them ever since.

Before putting it into the laundry tub, I held my apron close. I love my sister and this apron reminds me of her love for me.

Generous God, thank you for gracing us with hearts capable of love. Help us always to use them well!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Sew Love

I will thank you always for what you have done,
and proclaim the goodness of your name.

Psalm 52:11

Whenever our family gathers, my granddaughters are very generous with their offers to help in the kitchen. This is especially true of Ellie who is the eldest. The last time we gathered, Ellie helped me put together a taco dip which is a family favorite. Actually, I should say that I helped Ellie because she truly did most of the work. Thank you, Ellie!

While engaged in such culinary activity, I normally wear my green apron. I have two of these terry cloth creations which are identical. When they’re helping, my granddaughters often vie for the honor of wearing the second one. Though I cannot be certain of their motivation, I know my own. I love my green apron…

My sister fashioned this favorite decades ago. At the time, Cecele had two young children whom she was raising alone. As Christmas approached, my sister realized she had no money for Christmas gifts other than a few things for her children. Christmas has always been our family’s favorite holiday. Even in the leanest of times, our parents managed to provide something special for each of us. Cecele couldn’t bear to arrive on Christmas day without gifts for her siblings and God-children. So it was that she hand-made something for each of us. She sewed a large stuffed snake for my son. Because I’m the cookie baker of the family, at least at Christmastime, Cecele made two green aprons for me. I’ve used them ever since.

Before I put that apron away after washing it, I hold it close. I love my sister and this apron reminds me of her love for me. Thank you, Cecele!

Generous God, thank you for gracing us with hearts which can express our love so creatively.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

My Persistent Prayer

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry,
but let me speak just once more…”

Genesis 18:32

This past week has been filled with memories of the bittersweet variety as my sister’s and brother’s birthdays have come and gone. Both celebrate in a better place these days. Still, how often I’ve wished that I could have made this life a little easier for them.

Since childhood, I prayed often for brother and sister. As soon as I had God’s attention, I pleaded and negotiated for this or that circumstance to take a turn for the better. By the time my siblings had reached adulthood, I’d become quite good at ordering around the Lord God on their behalf. The truth is that God had been with my sister and brother in everything. God was there and took care as only God can. Today, I have no doubt that my dear siblings would live their lives over again just as those lives were if God asked them to do so. They probably chuckle together often over my continued efforts to direct God’s attention to the issues at hand.

As for me, day in and day out, I apologize to our patient God for my insolent and demanding prayer. I also thank God for running things far more efficiently than I ever could. Afterward, I continue to pray as politely as possible.

Loving and Patient God, thank you for listening and for responding with more love than I could ever hope for.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

So Grateful!

One of them, realizing that he had been cured,
came back praising God in a loud voice.

Luke 17:15

A recent email exchange between my eldest niece and me reminded me that she will celebrate a milestone birthday this year. I was shocked by this reminder as I clearly recall the day my sister told me she was expecting her first bundle of joy. My sister’s joy was tangible in spite of her previous experience with rearing little ones.

Poor Rita is the eldest of us six siblings. She was only fifteen when our dad passed away. The rest of us were 14, 8, 6, 5 and 3. Since our mom had to go to work to support us, Rita assumed a good deal of responsibility for the rest of us. Looking back, I realize that this changed what might have been my sister’s carefree teens into a much more difficult experience. Much to her credit, Rita did not share only our mom’s workload. She also shared in our mom’s efforts to keep our family’s “special occasions” special. Rita helped our mom to select and wrap our Christmas gifts. She also pitched in for our birthdays and Easter. As soon as she could, Rita began to use the few dollars she earned each week at her job to supplement our mom’s gifts to us.

The scripture passage I selected above is an excerpt from Luke’s account of the healing of the ten lepers. Though all were made whole, only one took the time to return to Jesus to thank him. In an effort not to repeat the mistake of the other nine lepers, I need to do the same. Thank you, Rita, for all you did for us!

Loving God, thank you for empowering us to enrich this life with our kindness and gratitude toward one another.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved