God Is Good!

“If I just touch his clothing,” she thought,
“I will get well.”

Mark 5:28

I know I shared this yesterday, but I’m grateful enough to repeat myself in this regard. I truly am grateful that my parents introduced me to God. Their perspectives regarding God’s love and concern made this life manageable for them and they’ve done the same for me. This shared awareness of our Creator gives me great insight into the many good people whom I’ve met along the way. Though we sometimes belong to different faith communities or to none at all, our shared membership in God’s family makes all of the difference in the world.

I’ve told you about her before. Still, thoughts about our relationships with God bring her to mind once again. Sister Gerard was convinced of one this over everything else: God is good! Sister Gerard first spoke this phrase to me six decades ago. My great-aunt was a dynamic and lively little nun. After spending much of her career teaching at a boarding school for boys, Sister shared, “I’ve taught convicts and bishops, lawyers, janitors and butchers, and I love them all. God put them all into my life. God is good!” When Sister Gerard was assigned to a parish school in Chicago, we were able to see her more often. I listened attentively as she shared stories about her teaching career and life among the sisters. Eventually, bouts with cancer mandated her assignment to the sisters’ mother-house. This kept her close to the hospital where she received treatment. During this final assignment, Sister Gerard busied herself by visiting the elderly sisters, of whom she was one, to keep them company during their hospitalizations.

Through all of this, Sister Gerard maintained her conviction regarding God. During her treatment, she frequently observed, “God is good!” At ninety-two, Sister Gerard discovered that her final bout was a losing battle. She smiled at me from her sickbed as she admitted, “I was a little upset that Jesus didn’t cure me this time around. Then, I thought about where I’m going and I thanked Him! God is so good!” When my sweet aunt passed away, her funeral was truly a celebration of new life.

Good God, thank you for my parents, Sister Gerard and all of the amazing people who share your goodness with the rest of us. Strengthen all of our faith in your goodness and love.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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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

Good God!

She had heard about Jesus and came up behind
him in the crowd and put her hand on his cloak.

Mark 5:27

A recent chance encounter revealed a shared experience of God’s presence in our lives. I discovered that my great-aunt Sister Gerard had taught this person many years ago. I knew that, above all else, Sister Gerard believed that God is good. My new friend had learned the same thing in Sister Gerard’s classroom. Sister Gerard first spoke this phrase to me more than five decades ago. My great-aunt was a dynamic and lively little nun! After spending much of her career teaching at a boarding school for boys, Sister Gerard shared, “I’ve taught convicts and bishops, lawyers, janitors and butchers and I love them all. God put them all into my life. God is good!” I listened happily as she shared stories about her teaching career and life among the sisters.

Eventually, bouts with cancer mandated her assignment to the sisters’ mother house. This kept her close to the hospital where she received treatment. Sister Gerard busied herself with visiting the elderly sisters, of whom she was one, during their hospitalizations. Through it all, Sister Gerard maintained her conviction regarding God.

At age ninety-two, Sister Gerard discovered that her final bout was a losing battle. She smiled at me from her sickbed as she admitted, “I was a little upset that God didn’t cure me this time around. Then, I thought about where I’m going and I thanked him! God is so good!” When my sweet aunt passed away, I imagined her dancing as she announced to all of heaven, “God is good!”

Good God, thank you Sister Gerard and all of the amazing people who share your goodness with the rest of us.

©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

Here’s To You!

Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord with gladness…

Psalm 100:1

Today is my sister’s birthday.

Rita was fifteen-going-on-sixteen when our dad passed away. As the eldest of the six of us, she understood too well what was happening and felt the pain of this loss deeply. During his year-long illness, Rita became our mother’s right-hand person. Though she still needed nurturing herself, my sister tended to the rest of us and shared her part-time wages when money was tight. As I consider my own teens which unfolded years later, I suspect my sister missed out on many typical teen activities because of our family circumstances.

Decades later,when our brother battled with his declining health, Rita spent time with him. When our mom fought her final illness, Rita assisted with her care. When our younger sister received a terminal diagnosis, Rita drove her to doctors’ appointments and treatment to keep her company. In the midst of all of this, Rita remained a supportive parent, sibling and friend to the rest of us.

The good news is that Rita also rises to the occasion when fun is involved. As the keeper of family traditions, she sees to the propagation of our annual family picnic. Over the past few years, she has also become the family historian. She completed our dad’s family history and then did the same for our mom’s side of the family.

So, sister of mine, I thank you for everything. I also wish you many more years to come, for your sake and for ours!

Dear God, thank you for my sister Rita and for all of the people who rise to the occasion in good times and bad.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A Birth and Re-Birth Day

Give thanks in all circumstances…
1 Thessalonians 5:18

I’m celebrating two special women today. This is my niece’s birthday. She is my brother’s first child and her arrival changed his life forever. My brother truly loved his wife. Yet, when his daughter was born, love took on a whole new dimension. Suddenly, this child’s happiness and well-being became his focus. Suddenly, nothing else was quite as important as this little girl. Though her parents smile upon her from above these days, I know they join me in thanking God for the gift that Sue is to us all. Happy Birthday, Sue!

My sister is also celebrating a birthday of sorts today. In her case, this is a “re-birth” day. Four years ago, my sister took her leave after raging a determined war with cancer. After doing her best to endure rigorous treatment and to remain hopeful in the process, the day came when my sister embraced another journey. When the medicine no longer helped, Cecele took over. After getting her house in order, she spent every minute with her children, her grandchildren and the rest of us. On the day she passed, I know that no one celebrated more than Cecele.

Though this event threatened to cast a shadow on my niece’s birthday, it did the precise opposite. Cecele had a special place in her heart for our niece Sue. I’ve often wondered if she did her best to share this special date with her. One day, I’ll know.

Loving God, bless Sue as she continues her journey here. Bless Cecele with your attention when she comes to you on our behalf. Bless the rest of us with grateful hearts as we celebrate every day we are given.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved