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Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Opportunity to Pray

Last week I was in Flagstaff and we had a wonderful time.

While at the hotel, I saw the front page of the USA TODAY newspaper.  It read 20 Veterans a Day Commit Suicide.  

I looked at that headline and just gasped. I put my hand to my mouth and felt the tears form in my eyes.  I know many military families and couldn’t image the hardship they go through, but suicide?  Contemplating a veteran’s life experiences, I considered the loneliness, the violence, the inability to see family for long periods of time, the fear, the unexpected, the tough decisions, etc.  My heart swelled with sorrow and wished there was a way I could help.  In the same breath, I thought of the courage and had immense gratitude for those who keep this country safe, for America’s freedom is not free.  I immediately considered my daily 16-hour intermittent fast, and as soon as I had a moment to myself, dropped to my knees and asked God to bless those who currently serve and those who have served in the past.

Fasting has changed me.  Before, I would have felt sad and maybe, if I remembered I would have said a pray for the veterans before falling to sleep, but most likely I would have moved on with taking care of my children; to kissing stubbed toes or combing hair after bath time.  Going without food is such a gentle reminder that I have a specific purpose that day to find someone or something to pray for.  

I spent the day, remembering and praying for our veterans when within 24 hours the story of our five fallen police officers hit the news.  
I couldn’t believe the side-to-side tragedies.  I wasn’t even finished with the veterans.  I wanted another day to ponder my love and appreciation for them when I had another cause to pray and fast for.  Heartbroken, I dropped to my knees again, so deeply saddened with the violence and fear of the society in which we live, almost overcome with a feeling of hopelessness, I mean really, what can a prayer do, when I opened my mouth and spoke out loud to God.  As I asked God to protect the lives of police officers and those of Black Lives Matter, to help those who have lost loved ones, to change the hearts of those looking to inflict violence, to bless those hoping to help, to bring peace to those hurting I felt my heart swell with grace.  I knew God was aware of all those involved and His hand would mend and heal, encourage and teach, comfort and provide, and somehow God would make something good out of this.  That my beautiful black brothers and sisters and those who put their lives on the line every day will grow and heal and find answers that only God can provide. 

My first thirty days of fasting, I would pick one person a day to fast for.  First, my six children, my husband, my 8 siblings and their families, my parents, my neighbors, church leaders and those in my church in need.  Finally, I reached out to fasting for Barack Obama and others in leadership positions in our country.  I fasted for my home (literally for the walls, plumbing, electrical, structure, etc.), for those on facebook who popped on my feed, sometimes for strangers, sometimes for the husband of a friend of a friend, my neighbor’s mom battling cancer, my old college roommate who’s son has a brain tumor, the recent ex-husband of my friend and my friend who did not expect to wear the badge of widow so early in life.  I pray for unwed mothers, unplanned pregnancies and abortion doctors.  I pray for starving children, heartbroken parents and directors of orphanages.  I pray for those who are living and those who have died.  There’s no shortage of people to fast and pray for and I find it absolutely breathtaking.  I don’t know if it’s blessing them, if it’s changing them, but it’s changing me.  Some days I cry.  I just cry because I love that God grants me the privilege to speak with Him.  

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