T is for…

Give thanks to God, for God is good,
and God’s mercy endures forever.

Psalm 136:1

T is for Thanksgiving. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve probably made it crystal clear in too many ways that life isn’t always perfect for me. At the same time, I truly hope that I’ve made it equally clear that I have much to be thankful for, far more than I ever expected or dared to hope for. Though the most precious of these gifts are intangible, they are very real to me just the same. Yes, I’m a very blessed soul.

This is the reason that I occasionally look into my mirror to give myself a stern look when I respond to life’s trials with something less than thanksgiving. When unpleasant challenges arise, I’ve been known to address my patient God with, “God, I know you’ve been very good to me, but really? I don’t mean to complain, but how can I deal with this?” My stern look, which is far more menacing than anything God would send my way, always assists me in adjusting my thinking and my prayer. So it is that I continue with, “Thank you, God, for being with me in everything. I know that all of this will end well. In the mean time, help me to respond as you would.”

T is for Thanksgiving. Our ability to be grateful is key to our happiness and our joy. Today and every day, I will do my best to face everything with a heart full of thanksgiving. Trust me. This effort makes all of the difference in the world and I encourage you to do the same.

Generous God, thank you for everything!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Thank you, Mom!

I have competed well;
I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.

2 Timothy 4:7

On this Mother’s Day Eve, I count my blessings. As I assemble my list, I write “Mom”. I learned many things from my mom. Still, the grace with which she lived her last days touched me and taught me most.

Three days before my mom passed away, fatigue confined her to bed. Her daytime attire had changed from street clothes to a nightgown to a hospital gown within seventy-two hours. On the first of those three days, I arrived just as Ruth, her nurse, spooned tiny dollops of ice cream into my mom’s mouth. After giving me my “Hi, Mary” smile, my mom turned to Ruth to whisper, “Thank you for the ice cream.” Afterward, Ruth helped her to the washroom. As Ruth nestled my mom into her wheelchair, my mom whispered again, “Thank you for your help.” Mom held on tightly when Ruth wrapped her arms around her to ease her back into bed. As she left, my mom’s eyes followed Ruth to the door. Ruth turned to wave and my mom smiled in gratitude. Later, when the activity director came to see how my mom was doing, Mom met her with another of those grateful smiles.

In spite of her physical decline and her impending passing, my mother concerned herself with the people around her. She never complained and was ever-grateful for even the smallest kindness, whether or not it was part of ones job or ones duty to her dying parent.

Dear God, thank you for the gift of my mom. She revealed your generosity, grace and love all the way to your embrace.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Thank You…

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

Luke 17:15

In another attempt to purge our home of clutter, I tackled a box of mementos stored in an over-stuffed closet. In the process, I found the scrapbook my older sister gave me for my thirteenth birthday. I intended to use it to chronicle the aftermath of President John . Kennedy’s assassination. As it happened, the emotions of those dark November days were too much to bear and I let my scrapbook sit empty for months. It was then that I asked my mom if I could have a few of our family photos to start a collection of happier memories. Over the next decade, I added items which were important to me. When I ran out of pages, I continued to store treasures in the back of the book.

For decades, this scrapbook has been too full to hold another bit of paper. Now I save letters, notes and cards in a dresser drawer. Each one speaks love to me. Every time I return to them, I’m grateful beyond words.

I site Jesus’ encounter with the ten lepers because Jesus felt their pain as only he could and he cured them all. Still, after they realized what had occurred, only one leper returned to Jesus to express his gratitude. I clearly recall my gratitude to my older sister who gifted me with that scrapbook. I hope I thanked her appropriately! You know, our capacity to love is an amazing gift. Our ability to feel gratitude makes all of that love even more precious.

Loving God, be with us as we enrich our lives and the lives of others with our love and our gratitude.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Graced Once Again!

The child grew in size and strength,
filled with wisdom,
and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 2:40

The New Year is just forty-eight hours away and my thoughts turn to my hopes and dreams, worries and fears for 2018. I once considered myself to be blessed with an inner calm which I could never explain. Those of you who follow my reflections every day know that this hasn’t been the case during the last several months of 2017. I allowed myself to fret with the best of them, especially in the face of this world’s violence both near and far away. During that time, I found myself extremely frustrated by my inability to remedy these things.

Oddly enough, the passing of a young man I taught more than forty years ago helped me to recapture some of that fleeting inner peace. I found the gathering of people who mourned Robert to be life-giving. The comforting and challenging words of his pastor led me back to the familiar path I thought I might never find again. Finally, I began to feel like the child of whom Luke wrote so long ago. Finally, I’ve turned my attention to the goodness around me.

Though I’ve grown neither as wise nor as strong as Jesus did, the grace of God is upon me. This grace assures me in the midst of the worst of my fretting that my loved ones, this world and I will be fine in the end. Yes, God’s grace is upon us all.

Good and Gracious God, thank you for your presence and your enduring love which renew my hope and lift my heart.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

I Give Thanks

Give thanks to God;
bless God’s name for God is good:
the Lord whose kindness endures forever…

From Psalm 100:4-5

As I consider the things for which I’m grateful, I find that I have more time than usual to compile a list. My husband and I aren’t cooking today. Our older son and his wife have taken on our annual Thanksgiving feast. His younger brother and wife will do the same for Christmas Day. I admit that I’m quietly rejoicing in response to this turn of events. Thank you, God!

The next point on my list of blessings is my family. That I married was a huge surprise to me. That my husband and I have children is a miracle, literally, from what the doctors have told us. I’m grateful to my parents who shared their faith with me through their practical daily lives. They appreciated God’s love and their resulting ability to weather any storm taught me to do the same. My siblings each contributed to who I am today in so many ways. Thank you, God!

I appreciate God’s love, too. When in doubt, I turn to Jesus who insisted that God loves us as we are with all of our frailties intact. Though Jesus provided a lifetime of very good example, he also assured us that God expects only what we are able to do, nothing more. Thank you for this, Dear God, because I sometimes forget that I’m good enough for you!

On this Thanksgiving Day, this reflection should be the longest I’ve ever written because my blessings are so numerous. Suffice to say that God knows them all and that I’m most grateful. I hope you find that the same is true for you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Generous God, thank you for everything!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Ever-Grateful!

Giving voice to my thanks,
and recounting all your wondrous deeds, O Lord…

From Psalm 26:7-8

I cannot tell you whose voice it was that I heard. I was in the other room during the telecast. Still, those words echoed in my mind throughout the day. Even today, I can hear, “A grateful soul is a happy soul!” Though I was too busy to run into the family room to see who spoke from our television set, I was not so busy that I ignored the message. As is usually the case when I hear or read something which gets to what I consider to be the heart of the matter, I mulled over this observation for days.

I’ve understood the value of gratitude since very early on in my life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve begun my prayers by saying “thank you” for blessings received. Even when the moment at hand seemed void of reason to be grateful something within always compelled me to say, “Thank you!” to God. These initial expressions of gratitude never failed to influence the tone of the rest of what I had to say. What might have been a litany of requests morphed into a conversation during which I spoke and then listened regarding the needs of others. Though I never actually heard another voice in response, I certainly felt the presence of our Benevolent God. It is no wonder that I wake up every morning saying, “Thank you for the sleep!” I simply can’t help myself for which I’m also most grateful!

Gracious God, help us all to be grateful heralds of your generous love.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved