Grateful, in Spite of It All

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

Psalm 145:11

I’m usually tired on Wednesday. This is a good thing as it’s the result of spending Tuesday with my grandson. This week, I found it particularly therapeutic to run with Danny for the day. I’ve been in a dark mood due to circumstances all over this world of ours. Though things have deteriorated closer to home these days, some of our sisters and brothers across whichever ocean you chose have suffered the equivalent for lifetimes. The worst part of all of this is that much of the suffering is long-term. I can donate to relief efforts, which I will, but I can’t do much more from here. What’s worse is that I can’t seem to make much difference regarding suffering which is closer to home…

I consoled myself with a walk. As I headed down the block, I saw our neighbor’s car. They’ve returned from a weekend away. I smiled as I congratulated myself for remembering to bring their baby bottle to church. We filled them with spare change to support a program which assists women in difficult pregnancies. That same weekend, a doctor and nurse from the Mission Doctors Association also made an appeal. The outpouring of support for both causes amazed everyone. In spite of my dour mood, I felt a twinge of gratitude.

For the first time in several days, I noticed the blue sky, an assortment of wispy clouds and the lush trees which line our neighborhood. For the first time in several days, I took notice of the goodness which surrounds me. Though a day with our grandchildren is always a treat, so is a day touched by the goodness of the people who grace my life. Though floods and poverty and injustice won’t be wiped away in an instant, every effort to respond will make a difference every time!

Dear God, help me to live with a loving and grateful heart by responding to those you have given me to love, both near and far away.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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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

Our Unique Journeys

And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.

Luke 13:29

I admit that I’m pleased that our sons draw the best from our gene pool. My husband is of average height and I’m short. Our sons are six feet tall. They also have far healthier lifestyles than we had at their ages. Though our older son gave up running after reaching his marathon goals, he continues a taxing exercise regimen. Our younger son was never a runner, but he’s a consistent and serious walker. I would be remiss if I didn’t add that our daughters-in-law engage in their own exercise routines while urging on their husbands and our grandchildren. When it comes to healthy eating, they’re all experts.

These observations and a few extra pounds nudged me outdoors. I pushed myself to walk a bit more briskly and a bit farther. Once I established my pace, I attended to the beauty around me. The sky boasted an amazingly deep blue and the trees sported vibrant greens. The spraying fountain near our village hall sparkled like an array of diamonds. “Thank you, for all of this!” I prayed.

Our younger family members and I embark upon very different journeys when we exercise. They attend to what their bodies tell them, while I turn to life outside of me. We do what we must to accomplish our goals and we all feel very good in the end.

All of our journeys through this life bring unique demands. God asks only that we tend to these things as best we can as only we can.

Gracious God, thank you for your unique call to each one of us. We will do our best to be a blessing to those we meet along the way.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Walk With God

Teach me your paths, my God,
guide me in your truth.

Psalm 25:4

I’ve probably written more often than you care to read that my favorite solo leisure activity is walking outdoors. The weather matters little as I find these treks enjoyable regardless of the temperature. Odd as it may seem, a breeze of any velocity enhances these excursions exponentially for me.

Much to my dismay, my walks have been irregular as of late. I’ve had trouble juggling my schedule and making time to write as often as I would like to. A few days ago, I couldn’t deal with my restlessness and frustration any longer. I announced to my husband that I was going for a walk and that was that. The poor man responded with a puzzled look as I’d complained only a few minutes earlier regarding my current lack of time.

Not two minutes out of the house, a gentle breeze enveloped me. Two blocks later, the breeze’s strength increased and nudged me along the way. This was quite a feat as I was already walking briskly. Halfway into this adventure, my head cleared and our good and gracious God took residence there for the duration. Suddenly, my writing schedule -or lack thereof- seemed less of a problem and more of a blessing. Somehow, I knew I would find the time to do what needs to be done.

It seems to me that we sometimes learn God’s paths best when walk in search of them.

Merciful God, thank you for having pity on me when I lost sight of your presence. The moment I opened my heart, there you were!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Here

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

Psalm 136:1

Before I set out for my walk this morning, I decided that I would empty my mind of the day’s concerns and open myself up to God’s presence. I admit that I was not a block away from home when I realized that my mind was as cluttered as ever with worries of every sort. While some of these things matter greatly, most will make no difference at all in the grand scheme of things.

“Ugh!” I said aloud. “Why can’t I concentrate?” Though I expected no answer on this mid-June morning, an uncommonly cool breeze nudged me along the way. “O God, I love the wind! It reminds me that you’re with me.” As I continued to walk, those bothersome worries faded. All the while, that breeze pressed against my back and God continued to remind me that I am never alone. None of us is ever alone!

Good and gracious God, thank you for walking with me. Thank you for walking with every one of us.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

What You Do Matters!

Blessed are the single-hearted
for they shall see God.

Matthew 5:8

The recent hours I’ve spent outdoors have given me plenty of time to reflect. Since our seasonal planting is finished, I went for a much-needed walk through our neighborhood this afternoon. As soon as I left our cul-de-sac, I found that my neighbors have been busy with their yards as well. With every step, I discovered another reason to smile.

Unfortunately, my revelry was short-lived. I’d allowed my mind to wander back to the newscast I’d turned off before leaving the house. The report offered another example of we human’s persistent inability to get along. I grew up with visions of grandeur regarding what I would do with my life. I wanted to solve the problems of the world. I wanted to end wars. I wanted to fight against prejudice and injustice. I wanted to end poverty. I wanted to do so much. On that particular day, I wanted to do something to make a difference somewhere and somehow. Actually, I want the same thing every day.

Fortunately, I’d walked far enough to allow myself plenty of time to find a solution on the way home. It was during this trek back that these things occurred to me: A good person who deals fairly and kindly with those around her brings peace to our world. Generous couples who allow their love to spill over onto to those around them bring love to the world. Parents who nurture their children with their time and attention bring hope to this world. Caring for those we have been given to love is the most important work we can do regardless of the form that caring takes.

O Lord, thank you for reminding us that our efforts do matter.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved