Hydrated in God’s Love

blue water beads in vase - image provided by Loretta Pehanich

Most people would assume that water beads as tiny as pinheads are useless and worthless. But add water, and they fluff up to be the size of large marbles. They’re translucent and brightly colored. When fully saturated, they’re used in vases to hold up flowers.

The dry beads hold so much potential. Just add water and watch.

The beads are like people. When we’re dehydrated because we’ve forgotten Jesus the Living Water, we shrink and feel insignificant. Some would discount our worth. But they would be wrong. Add the Living Water, and we can become beautiful and can support others.

I took five dry beads to my women’s weekly breakfast. I asked the server for a glass of water and told the women that the beads represented the five of us. We may not seem like much, all of us over 65, but we hold the presence of Jesus, and we are still growing.

The blue beads revived very slowly. And since I’ve used them several times, some beads were emitting filmy strands that looked like incense rising in the water.

“Those beads are like us,” laughed an octogenarian in our group. “Our bodies aren’t as resilient as they used to be.”

Then we all noticed something interesting. Because of the facets on the glass, it appeared as if there were more than five beads underwater. Surely there were additional beads. We counted again: still only five physical beads, but it sure looked like they were not alone in the water.

I recollected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were thrown into a fiery furnace for not worshiping idols. They survived because a protective angel joined them in the fire. (Daniel 3:16–50)

The five of us felt we weren’t alone at the table in the coffee shop. True, we sat far enough apart that our guardian angels had room to sit between us. And our server was there, waiting to distribute our plates, because we were praying with heads bowed.

God’s Holy Spirit was also with us, right there in that ordinary coffee shop. From our hellos and exchange of updates to our opening prayer and conversation over menus, God was present. We swelled with hope during this small gathering, like the colorful beads in the glass of water.

Never underestimate the power of small groups to transform the world. In times when all the news seems to be bad, God is far bigger than our problems, the cancers among us, the dysfunctions, COVID, and the fear and need in people. Our loving God hydrates us for the difficult journey, making us beautiful even as we emit pieces of ourselves in service. We are beautiful and even more powerful when we let God saturate us with love.

Five women at a table in a restaurant uphold many around us as God hydrates our relationships, and we grow more beautiful without even trying. It’s in our nature; we were made this way—images of God—and we are not alone. God makes beautiful things out of us. Love fluffs us up and increases our impact. We have work to do, simply by letting the Living Water fill us.

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Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. I’m am a visual person so your article really resonated within me. I belong to a small discussion group at my parish. This would make a great focal point at our next meeting! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Sharing this today with a small group of friends who have zoomed together from around the country for prayer, reading from a diverse set of books and Sunday morning Bible Study. Yesterday was the anniversary of our first year of gathering. Your words about the power of small groups to transform the world will resonate with them.

  3. This is a lovely post and a reminder of God’s presence and power in our lives. The second to last paragraph really resonated with me and gave me some encouragement. Thank you!

  4. I love the idea of this, so profound but concrete in the example. And I love that the plant (a rose?) in the beads has what looks to be thorns because we have thorns too and it doesn’t stop God from keeping us hydrated.

    • Yes, it’s a rose from our yard. The picture was too vertical to fit the bright pink buds. Multiflora.

      I love your noticing the thorns. That’s a great insight. I have some thorny spots that I pray God can soften..


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