Unique and Gifted You

“I have found my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him…”

Psalm 89:21

Since enjoying my cousin’s eightieth birthday party a few weeks ago, my earliest memories have emerged frequently. This celebration was reminiscent of our overflowing family gatherings of long ago. Whether observing the holidays, a christening, birthday, graduation, wedding or funeral, we came together. I grew up down the block from our church and numerous people passed our house on their way to Mass each week. Though at the time I was too to greet them all, I enjoyed their makeshift parade. By the time I took my first job at a grocery store at age sixteen, I’d become quite adept at interacting with others. This came to good use when I began my teaching career. I enjoyed the array of children each new year brought my way. Imperfect as they were, there was something special to love in each one of them. I took great pleasure in pointing out and enjoying each of their unique gifts.

You know, we’re all God’s anointed ones. Each of us is sent out to bless those around us and to bless this world with the unique gift of our self. Will you join me in taking a look in the mirror today? Let’s see what we have to offer one another. Let’s see what we can do to repair this suffering world of ours.

Thank you, Dear God, for loving us so much that you entrust this world and all of us to each other.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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O is for…

For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be and favored.

Psalm 128:2

O is for Original. I had difficulty settling on today’s word. I was torn between “original” and “opus” because each word describes an extremely important aspect of our existence. Each and every one of us is an original. Even my cousins who are identical twins are very different people. Still, I cannot dismiss the word “opus” because each of our lives is precisely that. You and I are unique and important works which God has contributed to our human family. Our part in all of this is to contribute our own unique and important work to the mix. Whether we compose or construct or cause things to happen, our opus is vital to the rest of humankind. Whether this work is a lifelong process, a singular effort at a particular moment in time or a combination of the two, our original opus will make an impact upon others in a way that no one else’s work can.

My first reaction to all of this is to feel the weight of the world upon me. Then, I consider the great and small works of those I’ve met along the way. I realize that the grandeur or smallness of their actions means little to me. It is their presence and their delivery which changed everything. Each person’s original opus impacted me in a unique way. The same is true of my own work and yours!

It’s up to each of us to make a contribution to this world; to seize the opportunities before us and make the most of them. Hmmm… Opportunities… O is for the Opportunities which we embrace to complete our own Original Opus. How about that!

Loving God, be with us as we bring our unique talents to fruition.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A is for…

God is with us;
God is our strength.

Psalm 46:8

A is for Abundance. Each of us is a treasure-trove to ourselves and to one another. We’re filled with abundant gifts which no one possesses in the same configuration as we do. It is up to us to look within for our own abundance and to share it generously with those we’ve been given to love. It is also up to us to find and to acknowledge the abundance in others that they may do the same.

Unfortunately, as abundant as our gifts may be, we sometimes misuse them or fail to use them as best we can. Sometimes, we’re simply too tired or too distraught to help those around us. We’re even unable to help ourselves. This is when we must turn to God’s abundance which is always a prayer away: God’s abundant love, God’s abundant understanding and God’s abundant faith in our ability to pull ourselves together and begin anew. Yes, we even have an abundance of second chances!

Loving God, thank you for the abundance which enriches our lives.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Back To The Basics

God shall rescue the poor when they cry out,
and the afflicted when they have no one to help them.

Psalm 72:12

I enjoyed teaching in spite of those occasional days when both my students and I were not at our best. On such days, I learned not to become angry. Rather, I acknowledged all of our humanity and the troubles which sometimes accompany it. With that, the kids and I took deep breaths and moved on. Near the end of the school year, these days threatened to increase in frequency because all concerned where in dire need of summer break. It was then that I found a creative and productive way to lighten our collective mood.

It was late May when I challenged my second graders to list an alphabet’s worth of things which they hoped to do during the coming summer. Afterward, they wrote short paragraphs and drew illustrations for each entry. In the end, I stapled these into each child’s “My Summer Wishes” book. This effort provided ample subject matter which carried over into most of our lessons during those last days of school. It also netted a precious memento of each child’s hope for better things to come.

Not long afterward, I remembered this alphabetic effort. To ease myself through a trying time, I used one letter per day to designate one of God’s gifts to me. This little exercise changed my attitude and truly led me to a much better result than I expected. Tomorrow, I’m going to return to the basics. It will be the first of twenty-six days of reflections inspired by the ABCs.

Loving God, regardless of the troubles which beset us, from A to Z, you face them with us.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Time To Edit…

A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.

Ecclesiastes 3:7

There was a time when my mom insisted that there is always time to sew. She was a talented seamstress who made her own clothing from high school throughout most of her life. My mom clothed her six children beautifully because she could transform the plainest fabric into the cutest outfits for us. She often fashioned our winter coats from adult coats which others had cast aside. Our mom made some of our wedding dressings and the bridesmaid gowns which accompanied them. Though she loved to sew, it was an extremely tight budget which urged her on.

There was a time when I would have said that there is always a time to speak. Still, my dad often asked, “Who put the nickel in you?” when I monopolized a conversation. My husband has noted more than once, “What others can say in a sentence, you say in two paragraphs.” Though I haven’t heard complaints regarding my written words, I can’t say the same about those I’ve spoken.

Late in her life, my mom found sewing to be more tedious than creative. Her eyesight had diminished just enough to make threading a needle impossible. The arthritis in her hands added to the difficulty. So it was that she set her sewing machine aside and purchased her clothing.

Though I truly enjoy writing, on occasion, I’ve found speaking to be tedious as well. Though I haven’t resorted to silence, I’m trying very hard to be far more selective regarding what I say.

Dear God, help me to make the best use of my ability to speak and to write. Once again, I ask for guidance.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

All God’s Flowers

In their panic and fright
they thought they were seeing a ghost.

Luke 24:37

While decorating our church for Easter, my husband realized he’d forgetting to buy flowers for our Easter table. As soon as he left church, he went off to purchase those forgotten flowers. He returned home with what he thought was a disappointing handful of yellow tulips. Because he loves plants of every sort, Mike lovingly nestled the small bouquet into a little glass vase. I found them to be just right for our small family gathering though I wondered why Mike thought they were yellow tulips. To me, they looked sweetly and delicately white. By Easter Sunday morning, those delicate buds had blossomed beautifully. In spite of their lack of color (They were white!), they filled that vase and gave unexpected life to our Easter table.

Though my reflections regarding our trip to Israel are coming to a close, the impact of that wonderful experience remains with me. Just as those precious tulips graced our home for a full week, God has graced me through my experience in Israel and through every moment with which I’m blessed.

You and I are much like my husband’s tulips in God’s eyes. God sees us just as we are -yellow, white, brown, black or red. The color of our skin or of our mood is part of what God loves about us. Just as my husband chose that seemingly unwanted bouquet to bring a bit of Easter joy into our home, God singles out you and me to enhance life on this earth, especially the lives of those God has given us to love.

Dear God, thank you for the many surprising ways you remind me that I am loved. Help me to love all of your children as you do.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved