Beliefnet
Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Image courtesy of Michael Elliott/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Michael Elliott/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It was shortly after January 1, and I was feeling frazzled after a long round of errands. Traffic was thick and so were the crowds inside the stores once I got into them. But perhaps most irritating were the old electrical gadgets and appliances clanging around in the trunk of my car.  I’d loaded them in there not realizing that the recycling center I usually go to would be closed until the 10th of January! I thought I could withstand a few days of the noise, but fatigue and endless errands had frayed my patience with the noise, so I decided I’d take a chance. I pulled into the parking lot of a national electronics store, stood in line at the Customer Service desk (yipes, more crowds and fatigue!), and, when my turn came, all but threw myself at the woman “manning” the desk.

“Do you take old electronic?” I asked, mentally crossing every finger and toe.

“We sure do,” the woman replied, grinning as if I’d just told her she’d won a million dollars.

“CPUs? An old toaster oven? An old light? An old computer keyboard?”

“Yes!” she nodded.

Now, I felt as if I’d won a million dollars.

“I have them in my trunk, now,” I told her. “Can someone help me bring them in?”

“I’ll do it!” she replied.

Still grinning, the woman snagged a handcart and the two of us went out to my car, where I showed her the overflowing box that was taking up nearly my entire trunk.

“Oh, I’ll get it,” she said, insisting that she lift the box out herself. “You have a good day, now.”

She started to wheel the cart toward the store, and I walked with her.

“I still have some shopping to do,” I told her, and we laughed about the irony of my recycling some things so I could get new ones.

Inside the store, I thanked her and said, “You really helped my New Year start out well.”

“It’s a blessing,” she said. “I’m happy to help.”

“Well, you’ve been great. I hope you have a truly blessed 2015,” I replied.

Her smile faded a little, and I could tell that she, too, was tired and, perhaps, had been having a difficult time, too.

“I’ll keep that,” she said, “and take it with me, too. Thank you so much.”

She disappeared into the back of the store, and I went on to shopping, feeling very uplifted and realizing more than electronics had been recycled. From fatigue, frayed nerves, and other troubles, God’s light had shown through and more – His light was brighter, as if it, too, was recycled.

We never know when we’ll have the opportunity to meet a brother or sister in Christ and share a moment of God. Sometimes, it’s obvious, but sometimes, we have to make an unplanned stop at the end of a long and frustrating road – and there it is!

Joy and peace,

Maureen

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We try to hide them, deny them, and, when we cannot ignore them, we try to get away from them as quickly as possible. They are our weaknesses, and many of us may find them so very embarrassing that these seeming “flaws” hold us back from becoming as strong as we are capable of being.

Maureen Pratt Author PicToday’s “TLC” might seem like a complete contradiction, at first. How can “strengthening our weaknesses” possibly be something that brings us “tender loving care?”  Here’s what I mean:

For many of us with chronic illness, fatigue is a huge factor. But it is also something that might make us feel weak, less than adequate (especially if we get tired more easily than others engaged in the same activity). We wish we didn’t get so fatigued so easily, wish we didn’t have this weakness. But every time we try to ignore it, we know we have to pay a sometimes very steep price. So, instead of ignoring it, we can give this “weakness” strength, that is, acknowledge it, rest more when we have to, and help our bodies suffer less stress and more understanding.

Physical manifestations of disease can also seem like weaknesses, especially rashes, hairloss, and severe weight gain or loss. But, just as with fatigue, we can adapt to them (and any treatment our medical teams deems necessary), and accept them so that we can move ahead with greater strength and less embarrassment.

God loves the entirety of who each of us is – the perceived weaknesses brought on by illness and pain, as well as all else. If we learn to love ourselves in this way, especially our illness-precipitated flaws, we’ll be able to replace a lot of the stress of daily living with calm, comfort, and peace!

Blessings,

Maureen

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Maureen Pratt Author PicIf you are feeling completely snowed in by your illness and pain, it can be hard to think that you actually possess amazing gifts that are waiting for your to unpack and use – brilliantly!

But, as I mentioned last week,  each person in that upper room after Jesus’ death and resurrection, and each person mentioned by Paul in his iconic letter to the Romans (Romans 12:3-6), and each believer now have/has been given gifts of the Holy Spirit. No return receipt. No expiration date. They’re all yours and mine!

One of the best ways to be introduced to your gifts is to pray and reflect on what you think they are. What do you do well? What have others told is your greatest asset to them, your church family, your community. Read through Acts and Romans, asking God for discernment of pupose and possibility.

No matter your situation in life, you have been graced with gifts! And the world will be a far better place if you discover them, develop them, and use them for all good and His glory!

Blessings

Maureen

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Photo courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m working on a new book for Franciscan Media (due out in 2016), and in preparation, I’m reading up on Saint Francis of Assisi.

Saint Francis left a big legacy and an enormous imprint on people the world over. His work lives on today in myriad ways, and brings new people to Christ each day.

But what is impressing me most, now, about Saint Francis is not so much the big things, but his attention to “little” things. Nature, for example, down to the smallest flower. People, another example, down to the lowliest beggar.

With this in mind, I’m trying to incorporate little things into my prayer life. A thank you to God about the smaller ways He works through my day. A mindfulness about the seeming strangers I notice, but don’t notice, really, until I think about them.

Prayer is always a big deal. And in it, every little thing counts!

Joy and peace,

Maureen

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