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There’s no doubt about it. I’m a champion at keeping busy but I’ve encountered two things this week that have me asking a question. Am I the right kind of busy?

Each week, a friend and I make photo badges to share online. It is something that we do to add a bit of positivity to a world that seems to need it. As I was looking for quotes to use, I came across this quote by Brittin Oakman.

That’s one thing.

Periodically our pastor gives a “character sermon.” He’s preached as the inn keeper who turned away Joseph and Mary. He’s preached as a tax collector and even an angel. This last one gave me pause. He preached as Satan.

To put it mildly, it was unsettling. He talked about how easy it is to turn prideful people to his bidding. Some of the names he mentioned were Biblical – King David and Saul. But he also talked about people who are in the news and how even every day people can stir things up and do his work.

It isn’t what they meant to do. They are standing up for themselves or someone else. Or they are just so very tired. They spoke without thinking. They didn’t mean to divide people. They didn’t mean to hurt anyone.

How much easier it would be to avoid undermining the light of God if we would spend some time being busy taking care of ourselves? Rest and recharging make it so much easier for us to see what is before us. How much better would it be if we would spend some time being busy reorienting ourselves to light and love and God? We would come away from these experiences carrying the light of God.

How much better would that be?

–SueBE

True confession time.  Yesterday when Ruth wrote about the friend with the ruffled feathers, that was me.

I still feel bad that Ruth worried so much about upsetting me.  And really it wasn’t so much what she said.  It was the fact that when she said it, I was one great big raw nerve.

You may not have noticed, but 2020 has been a bit much.  No, really!  It has.  And this past week has been nightmarish.  Due to events in my family, I managed to attract the attention of a troll.  Oh, you’ve never had to deal with one?  Imagine something loud and hate-filled that comes boiling out from under a bridge looking for someone to bash.

Fortunately, I’ve got loved ones who are willing to support me when a troll does its worst.  Yes, Miss Ruth took a wrong step but I knew all along that she loves me, as does Lori.  We may not be blood kin but we are sisters of the soul with laugh lines and prayer calluses from our time together.

And I knew that.  That’s why when she said sorry I knew she meant it.  She was sorry.

She didn’t say that she was sorry I had misunderstood her obvious intent.  Or that she was sorry I was thin-skinned.  She wasn’t sorry that I was irrational or too sensitive.  She was sorry.

See I’m lucky.  I’ve got these two ladies in my life.  And I have another friend who is a life coach and one of the things that she helped me understand is that when I have that “Hey now” reaction, I need to think about who I’m reacting to.  Is this someone who loves me and wants what is best for me?

If I can say, yes, then I shouldn’t, as Miss Ruth says, make a problem my personal piñata.  It is time to talk things out, even if all I can say is “I get it but I’m raw right now and need to step back.”  My girls will have my back and they will bit by bit pull me back into God’s loving presence.

If, on the other hand, this person is a troll?  Then it is okay to say “Hey, now.  I’m not wallowing around in the muck.  Me? I’m heading back into the light with my sisters.”

And I’ll be thanking God yet again that they are part of my life.

–SueBE

My left eye is trying to tell me something. Apparently, I have displeased it. The lid is red and swollen, probably signifying an allergic reaction. Into the trashcan went the mascara; I decided to go nude-faced until the displeasure ceases. Which posed a quandary — can I really go out in public without makeup?

I don’t wear much makeup, but without something on my eyes, my face tends to disappear, especially since I let my hair go “natural” (read: a mixture of brown and — to put it politely — silver). I’m one of those ghost-faced gals who needs a little color. Without makeup, I look old and tired. Not that I’m not old and tired — those are true things — it’s just that it’s not what I want the public to see. For their own sake. Being inordinately tall is one thing; being tall and preternaturally pale is bordering on spooky.

Nonetheless, I went out, makeup-free, and you know what? No one seemed to notice. It’s a funny thing. People look at you a lot less often than you might think. And what they conclude about you from a glance isn’t worth worrying about. In fact, most people are so self-conscious, they are likely not thinking about you at all.

Still, it made me wonder: What kind of mask am I putting on when I face God, and don’t I realize God can see right through it? My naked soul is certainly more frightening than my naked face. I can dress my soul up in formal prayers, modulate my manners and voice (“see, God, I’m being patient!”), yet God sees every wart, scar and defect. It’s like those x-ray specs they used to advertise in the back of comic books, only these actually work. And God’s got the only pair.

I’m a little ashamed that God can see me as I am. Maybe that’s a good thing. Anything that motivates me to improve the actual quality of my soul is a plus. And maybe — like my eye — my soul will become less unsightly with time.

Can I turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse? Unlikely. Luckily for me, God loves sow’s ears. And tall, pale people. Just as they are.

Valentine’s Day seems the ideal time to contemplate the meaning of love. Not to be off-putting, but I think most people get it wrong. Love is not what you see on TV — passionate kisses, travel, excitement, diamonds the size of grapes. Or at least that’s only a tiny bit of it. Love, real love, is a whole lot grittier…and a whole lot more mundane. Here are just a few of the ways my husband says, “I love you”:

Love is giving me the last bites of his cake/cookie/pie, despite the fact that he would like to eat it himself, because he knows how much I love sweets.

Love is helping me slow my breath when I’m having an asthma attack.

Love is private jokes, a secret language, references only we know…but love is also taking the time to learn my family’s secret language and odd references, and using them like a pro.

Love is indulging my whim to try every taco place in town in search of the superior taco.

Love is always saying, “Thank you” after I’ve prepared a meal…no matter how inferior.

Love is massaging my shoulders as he passes through the kitchen, squeezing my hand in church, touching my cheek as I watch TV.

Love is accepting that our lives are not glamorous and being happy with simpler pleasures.

Love is going to Mass with me every week for years and years, despite being (at the time) an agnostic, and then surprising me with the happiest possible shock — becoming Catholic himself.

My husband’s love — much like God’s love — is always right there before me…if I take the time to look. Wherever you are this Valentine’s Day, whether in a romantic relationship or not, take time to search for signs of love. They may be simple, but they abound.

Often we here on PrayPower encourage you to make change.  Make change in your lives, your communities and the world.

Making change takes creativity.  You have to see things in a new way.  You have to envision possibilities.

And to do this requires courage.  Fortunately, we have each other.  And I don’t just mean Ruth, Lori and I.  There are you, our readers.  There are also the other change makers throughout the world – people who see what could be and have the courage to move forward.

But we also have God who loves us and holds us near and dear.  Draw on him, my friends.  Have courage.

–SueBE

Are Saints saved because they are saints?  Do sinners come to God despite their flaws?  Or is this story for all of us fragile, fallible human beings?

When we fuss and go on about how hard it is to draw people into our churches, I struggle to keep my mouth shut.  Truthfully, that’s an ongoing day-to-day struggle.  I was born opinionated.

But it is easy for me to see why people don’t feel welcome inside.  Too often, the Christians they knowingly encounter are wearing t-shirt, driving bumper stickers, and carrying signs that condemn.  For whatever reason, many of us feel we are God’s mouth piece and, as such, we need to be telling people that they are bad, Bad, BAD.

Sugar, I’ve got some news for you.  People sin.  People outside churches sin.  People inside churches sin.  People are clueless.  It’s amazing that we manage as well as we do.

And, on our good days, we Christians get this.  We see God’s child in those around us.  We hold out a hand in help or in greeting.  We smile.  We encourage and love.  Because we are all sinner and Grace?  That’s for everyone.

–SueBE

Take part in something sacred today and every day. Try to see others as God sees them and you.

I thought of my cousin when I first saw this quote.  For well over a year now, she’s been fighting mysterious health problems.  She has good days, but many days are like today.  More bad than good.  Discouraging and worrisome.  

Some days courage isn’t loud.  It isn’t bold.  It isn’t in your face.

Some days courage sits in a corner of the sofa.  It curls up under a favorite blanket with a cup of tea.  It regroups.

Keep an eye out for the people who have this type of courage.  Let them know that you see God’s light in them.  Your kind words and God’s love can make a big difference.

–SueBE

Carry God’s love into the day and you will be carrying fire!chardin

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