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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.

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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

there-is-lightI’m not going to lie to you. I’m rising to Lori’s challenge to write about the Election but I’m not thrilled about it.  How can I be?  I wasn’t thrilled with the results.  That said, I wasn’t surprised either although I was disappointed. My husband could easily tell you that Tuesday night I was more than a little bratty. But I more-or-less got it out of my system.

I’ve taken a deep breath and looked around me. As I write this, the sun has come up yet again.  The sky is blue.  The air has a glorious chill to it.  Fall is my favorite time of year. I take a deep breath and as I exhale I ask God to use me as He wills.

There are difficult times ahead. I won’t deny that I truly believe that.  But I also don’t think that they will all result from this election. I’m a historian and a Calvinist.  There are always difficult times ahead.

But do you want to know something funny? I mean ironic more than I mean laugh out loud but I have to admit that I laughed at the irony. This morning I read about a study that said that 85% of the horrible things we imagine never come to pass.  Eighty-five percent.  That’s a lot.  In an election 85% is a landslide.

What this means is that whether you’re elated at the results of the election or appalled, you need to take a deep breath.  Then take another. Now for the challenge.

Turn it into a meditation.  Inhale for a count of five.  Hold it for five.  Exhale for ten.  As you breathe, exhale the negative and the dark.  Then breathe in God’s Light.  Breathe in His Love.  Imagine it suffusing your body from fingertip to fingertip.  Feel it flowing from the top of your head to the soles of your feet.

Take that light with you into your day. Look for those who are scared and those who are angry. Don’t overlook the self-righteous. They’re hurting and scared too and are showing it through their actions.  As you find what is negative, exhale God’s Love and Light.  Let it spill out and wash over the darkness.

I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m not saying that solutions will be quick.  But it all starts when you take a moment and breathe.  Breathe in His Light.  Breathe in His Love.  Take it out into your day.  There is light even in darkness.

–SueBE

honor-1389241_1920This afternoon, my family and I donned our funeral black and took our places in the back row. We were at a funeral for someone we didn’t know. She was the wife of my son’s scout master and I have to say, I wish I had known her.

First her brother-in-law got up and talked about how much he and her husband loved to travel.  She didn’t but she went along because they loved it.  Because it was important to them, it was important to her and they felt her love.

Then her son spoke about how overwhelming it was to have a standing-room-only crowd at his mother’s funeral. But he knew that so many people were there because everyone, absolutely everyone, had been welcome in her home. Sit at her table and you knew you were loved.

Next up was her other son.  He mentioned how hard it was going to be to get used to doing the things that she did for everyone simply because she loved them.  In fact, as he put on his jacket, he noticed a small tear in the seam.  His first thought – maybe Mom will have time to fix it.  And she would have found the time and he would have felt her love.

Then came her sister and great-niece.  The girl read a letter written by her grandmother.  She talked about how they had been forced to move to Missouri when their parents died but this hadn’t shaken her sister’s surety that they were loved and her ability to share love with others.

A nephew spoke about how, when he lost his job as an electrical contractor, she had come up with work for him to do around the house and then insisted on over-paying him.  A daughter-in-law told about being accepted as family by date #3.  She also spoke about how this woman’s love for everyone was an extension of her love for God.

This reminded me of the Gandhi quote.  He once told a reporter that his life was his message to the world. Clearly, this woman’s life was her message.  And it was a message that the world so badly needs today.  I love you because He loves you.

I may not have known this woman but I can accept the challenge issued by her pastor. Lord, like her, let my life be your message to the world.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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