Living Gratefully

Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord,
and let your faithful ones bless you.

Psalm 145:10

This occurs occasionally and without explanation. Unexpected feelings of gratitude overwhelm me. I’m a creature of habit who walks the same route every single time I venture outdoors. Still, the blue of the sky or changes in the trees which I’ve seen a hundred times before fill me with awe. The familiar green branches looming overhead reveal new knots and gnarly twists every time I pass under them. Chirping birds provide the frosting on the cake. Even drizzling rain gives me reason to be grateful.

Perhaps I’ve been an unwitting student of Creation’s wisdom during these treks outdoors. Perhaps the gently clouded sky that beckons my eyes toward heaven and the trees which continuously raise their arms upward are reminding me to do the same. Their very existence points to God’s glory. And then there are those people I’ve been given to love…

Perhaps my existence on this earth is meant to point others in heaven’s direction as well. Like Nature around me, perhaps I’m meant to do everything I do with a spirit of gratitude. After all, being a part of God’s creation is a privilege and honor and something for which to be extremely grateful.

Generous God, when I appreciate what I have, it’s easy to share my gifts with others. Help me to do so generously.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Lovingly Grateful

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

Luke 17:15

Since the dawn of my teens, I’ve saved mementos of every sort. This began with my report cards and the little holy cards or medals the sisters offered in recognition of a job well done. Later, I added letters, notes and greeting cards to this collection. Occasionally, I look through these treasures in search of the smile and fullness of heart I know they’ll elicit. Each item has spoken love to me since the day I received it and I’m grateful beyond words. Still, I know that I mustn’t ever be grateful beyond two extremely powerful words: Thank you!

The tale of the lepers who begged Jesus to heal them underscores my appreciation for gratitude. Because Jesus felt their pain, he did as they asked. Jesus sent them off to show themselves to the priests of the temple in order to be declared clean. When he realized his cure, one leper raced back to express his gratitude. I have no doubt that this grateful leper treasured this encounter for the rest of his life.

We are extremely fortunate to have the capacity to love and to be grateful for that love. It’s humbling to realize the impact our love has upon others. It’s even more humbling to realize that our love likely empowers others to offer the same to someone else.

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

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

T… Thanksgiving, Today and Every Day

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.

Psalm 136:1

T is for Thanksgiving. I’ve probably made it more clear than necessary that life isn’t always perfect. Still, I can’t help feeling grateful. I have much to be thankful for -far more than I ever expected or dared to hope for. My family tops the list. I never intended to marry and never dreamed that I’d be a mom. When I became a grandmother, my life took a turn which I never imagined possible. My other precious blessings aren’t tangible -like love, joy, compassion and understanding, to name a few, but they’re very real to me just the same. Yes, I’m a very blessed soul.

When this life presents unpleasant challenges, I face them most effectively with a grateful heart. I hope our dear Lord never tires of hearing me pray, “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?” It usually takes me a few minutes to calm down, to adjust my thinking and to re-word my prayer. I continue, “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. Today and every day, I will do my best to face everything with a heart full of thanksgiving.

Generous God, thank you for everything!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

There’s Always Time

He entered a house and wanted no one to know
about it, but he could not escape notice.

From Mark 7:24

It’s Black Friday. Crowds in stores and malls everywhere swell exponentially with every passing minute. As I considered the mass of humanity of which I was a part this morning, I whispered a prayer of gratitude for those retailers who agreed not to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day. Of all of the holidays we celebrate in this country, Thanksgiving Day is the one we all enjoy without regard for our religious affiliations or lack thereof. I thanked God for the generosity of these employers whose workers enjoyed the holiday with their families yesterday.

After uttering a mental “amen” I returned to my list to determine where to go next. A voice near a cashier distracted. This person remarked that he would be wealthy if he had a dollar for every minute he spent waiting. As the man hurried out of the store, I chuckled to myself. I’d found my own wealth in the few seemingly wasted moments which allowed me to get my bearings. While the world rushed about me, I had also found the time to pray.

Perhaps this is the reason Jesus rose early and stole away for quiet time as often as he could. The scriptures also tell us that these moments were usually disrupted by those who desperately needed Jesus. The same is true of you and me. Today, I’m going to try to respond as Jesus would, with patience, genuine concern and love.

Dear God, our world grows busier every day. Still, I’m grateful that others occasionally need me. Help me to respond to them as you would. Then, remind me to pray a bit, too.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Thanksgiving

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

From Psalm 100:4-5

Because our son and his wife are cooking today, I have more time than usual to list the many reasons I have to be grateful. My family tops the list. 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 that my parents shared their faith with me through their practical day-to-day lives. They appreciated God’s love. Their resulting ability to weather any storm taught me to do the same.

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 human frailties. 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. Jesus spent his time with the seemingly unworthy. Jesus loved the poor in spirit and the materially poor. He always made time for them. Actually, Jesus made time for anyone who sought him out. In the end, Jesus endured crucifixion because he knew something better would follow very soon afterward. The best news is that this “something better” awaits us all.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks for my family and for the opportunities they give me to share God’s love in the best of ways. I give thanks for my work here at home and everywhere I encounter those God has given me to love. I give thanks for the opportunity to write and for those who take the time to read my humble words. I give thanks for Jesus who revealed God’s wonder to our weary world. Most of all, I gives thanks for God who makes it all worthwhile.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Generous God, thank you for everything, especially your amazing plans for each one of us.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Part of God’s Handiwork

Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord,
and let your faithful ones bless you.

Psalm 145:10

Perhaps I feel this way because this is Thanksgiving Week… This morning, as soon as I established my pace for my walk, feelings of gratitude overwhelmed me. Now I admit that I’m a creature of habit who walks the same route every single time I venture out. Still, the blue of the sky or changes in the trees which I’ve seen a hundred times fill me with awe. The familiar barren branches looming overhead reveal new knots and gnarls every time I pass beneath them. Chirping birds who should be well on their way south are the frosting on the cake. Even drizzling rain gives me reason to feel grateful.

Perhaps I have been an unwitting student of Creation’s wisdom during my treks outdoors. Perhaps the clouded blue sky that beckons my eyes toward heaven and the trees who continuously raise their arms upward are reminding me to do the same. Their very existence points to God’s glory. Perhaps my existence on this earth is meant to point others in heaven’s direction as well. Like Nature around me, perhaps I’m meant to do this with a spirit of gratitude. After all, being a part of God’s creation is a privilege and honor and something for which to be extremely thankful.

Generous God, help me always to be grateful for being a part of your handiwork.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved