Prepare Joyfully!

There shall be no harm or ruin on my holy mountain
for the earth will be filled with the Lord…

From Isaiah 11:9

A few weeks ago, when my husband complained of a sore shoulder, I cringed. Suddenly, five-year-old memories from my own shoulder repair returned. “Ugh! I wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” I told myself, “especially Mike!” That year, I’d timed the surgery so that Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations would distract me from the painful recovery which I was warned would come. I’d deluded myself into thinking that I’d somehow be of use when it came time to decorate, shop for gifts and bake. As it happened, nothing could have been further from the truth. Fortunately, the pain subsided and I learned to put my incapacity to good use. As a result, I embraced the approaching Christmas Season with contemplative fervor.

As I considered my poor husband’s aching shoulder and his aversion to any intervention at this time of year, I decided to encourage him to do what I’d done five years ago. I announced that, with so much to do, he and I needed to pace ourselves. Happily, this is precisely what we’ve done. We’ve organized, prioritized and simplified just enough to allow ourselves to feel that we actually will be ready for Christmas with time to spare. The best part of this is that our moods inside have been as energizing as the brisk winter breezes which urge us on whenever we’re outdoors. So far, so good!

Will you join me in organizing, prioritizing and simplifying your to do list as well? Trust me. Once you start, this will become easier than you think! I assure you that God’s Christmas Spirit will be with you all the while.

Loving God, help us to anticipate Christmas with your resounding joy!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Hearts Like God’s

We give thanks to God always for all of you,
remembering you in our prayers…

1 Thessalonians 1:2

I was very excited to cross off another item on my “check-up” list. I’d gone to my internist and eye doctor and had a mammogram. When I arrived for this appointment, I was taken aback by the waiting room filled with pregnant women. I’m well past that possibility and it hadn’t occurred to me that I might wait in the company of so many mommies-in-waiting. The good news is that they all appeared cheerful as they chatted about their pregnancies and shared helpful tips with one another.

Though I’d brought a book along to occupy myself while I waited, I didn’t read a word. Instead, I stared at the same page all the while as I listened to the exchanges around me. I admit that I filled up with love as the young women around me shared their joy with one another. “Ah, to be young again!” I thought. I clearly recalled the joy my husband and I experienced throughout my pregnancies with both of our sons. It was only when the nurse interrupted my musing that I remembered the reason I was sitting in that waiting room.

As she escorted me to the examination room, I remembered the moments when the doctor confirmed each pregnancy. I fell in love with those babies-to-be instantly. Such are the hearts of parents. They are fashioned to love their children no matter what. Did you know that God’s heart works the same way?

Loving God, thank you for teaching us to love in such amazing ways.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Get Ready!

On that day,
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse…

Isaiah 11:1

Advent 2017 begins this Sunday. Once again, we’re given four weeks to engage in joyful anticipation of Christmas. Most years, it’s extremely difficult for me to find the time to truly and joyfully anticipate this feast. There’s just so much to do! As I look ahead to the next twenty-six days, I’ve decided to try to recapture the simplified life-style of my youth. This year, I’m going to prioritize, organize and enjoy the wait for Christmas. Though I realize I addressed this very thing quite recently, it bears repeating. It is in all of our best interest to find a do-able, productive and happy path to Christmas Day.

Will you join me on this path by seeking a bit of simplification as well? Though none of us can shirk all of our responsibilities, we can all probably let a few things fall to the wayside. Trust me. Once you start, this will become far easier than you expect!

As for me, I’ve already urged my dear husband in this direction. We’re starting to decorate a few days earlier and we’re already assembling our shopping list. We’re simplifying menus and preparing our Christmas cards earlier as well. Yes, this business of simplifying life can become habitual! Enjoy!

Loving God, help us to take joyful steps to Christmas Day.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Newborn Hope

We are God’s people,
the flock God tends…

From Psalm 100:3

I drove to my doctor’s appointment reluctantly. I’m reasonably healthy and I didn’t want to chance hearing that this isn’t any longer the case. I worried about my blood pressure which is usually quite good. Current events in the world-at-large and nearby have given me reason to fret and to wring my hands and I can’t seem to do anything to alleviate the messes around me. It was with this mindset that I arrived for that appointment.

When I entered the doctor’s office, I was shocked to see the waiting room filled with pregnant women. I’m well past that possibility and it hadn’t occurred to me that I might be in the company of so many mommies-in-waiting. Though I came in with a heavy heart, the women before me appeared to be worry-free as they conversed about their pregnancies and shared helpful tips with one another. I admit to smiling as I listened.

The joyful chatter which filled the room also filled me up. Rather than burying myself in the book I’d brought along, I prayed for these mothers-to-be, their mates and their babies. I requested uneventful deliveries which would result in happy and healthy newborns. I asked that the parents involved would welcome their children with love, calm, patience, wisdom and generosity. I ended my prayer with words of thanksgiving for blessings received. I wouldn’t have known what to request for these parents-to-be if I hadn’t been blessed with the same.

As the nurse escorted me to the examination room, it occurred to me that, beside the messes which have caused me so much worry as of late, there are also innumerable reasons for hope in this world and it was about time for me to focus on that hope.

Loving God, this world is filled with hope. Please open my eyes to every bit of it!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Amazing Seeds

A man scatters seed on the ground.
He goes to bed and gets up day after day. Through it all, the seed sprouts
and grows without his knowing how it happens.

From Mark 4:26-27

When our younger son and his wife left their condo in the city for a home in the burbs, their new front lawn suffered a major blemish. The former owners had lost an old tree to a storm. Though the tree was carefully removed, it left a gaping hole in its place. My husband and son filled this small abyss with twice the soil they originally thought they needed. After packing it into place, they seeded and watered. My husband advised my son not to worry about the grass. “Worry about everything else you have to do. The grass will take care if itself,” he said. My son heeded this advice. With so much to do, he had no choice. A few weeks later, when my husband and I arrived for a cookout, we were pleasantly surprised. Amazingly, new lush growth had sprung from that one-time hole. My husband smiled as he noted that his faith in that grass seed was well placed.

You know, God places the same faith in the seeds you and I plant every day. Sometimes, our efforts are long-term. Sometimes, we must do what we can in a given moment and move on. In either case, we do our best and hope for the best. God will see to the rest.

Trusting God, you have great faith in our ability to sow seeds of goodness wherever we are. Help us to do this as best we can.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Prepare The Way…

On that day,
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse…

Isaiah 11:1

It was two years ago that I had my shoulder repaired. Though I survived this ordeal, the month of November, especially Thanksgiving Day, has unexpectedly elicited related memories. I recall timing the surgery so Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations would distract me from the painful recovery which I was warned would come. As it happened, these distractions weren’t as helpful as I’d hoped. Still, the pain wasn’t as horrific as expected either. I eventually learned to put my incapacity to good use. As a result, I embraced Advent 2013 with great fervor.

You know, Advent 2015 begins tomorrow. Once again, I am given four weeks to engage in joyful anticipation of Christmas. Most years, except for 2013, it is extremely difficult for me to find the time to truly and joyfully anticipate this feast. There is just so much to do. As I look ahead to the next twenty-seven days, I’ve decided to recapture the simplified life-style which was forced upon me after my surgery. This year, I’m going to prioritize, organize and enjoy the wait for Christmas.

Will you join me in seeking a bit of simplification as well? Though none of us can shirk all of our responsibilities, we can all probably let a few things fall to the wayside. Trust me. Once you start, this will become easier than you think!

Loving God, heaven touched the earth the day Jesus was born. This year, help us to celebrate this miracle joyfully.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved