It's been a weird week. I've pretty much swapped, juggled, postponed, or cancelled all scheduled events of the week due to my daughters both fighting some weird bug. They seem fine one minute, the next they are fighting fever, and they have been consistently clingy and whiney beyond all measure of sanity. Still, they are going to be fine and as long as we can survive a few more viewings of Cinderella without losing our minds, we'll all come out of it soon enough, I'm sure. Nevertheless, it has been a challenging several days and always rough to see a little one looking pitiful instead of her sprite-young-self. There's been much opportunity for complaining, and even greater opportunity for prayer - both of which I have been compelled to partake (hopefully the latter outweighing the former).
Amazing what simple little prayers can do. Amazing how they impact little hearts. Amazing how they reveal new things about yourself you never even intended on learning. Prayer itself doesn't just change things...praying does as well. That is, the actual action, the routine of it, the habit-building-act of turning to Jesus first and depending on Him to answer...it changes me.
This week, as I've sat at home and indulged in far too many children's movies than I'd like to admit (before you judge me, we did take walks when we could and read stories and did play-doh, okay?) I found myself scoping out social media more than usual (okay, now you can judge me). Don't get me wrong, I'm an avid social media groupie, no doubt, but this week it seemed to be just about my only touch to the outside world, so I checked it often just to get a glimpse of what was going on "out there".
There were lots of usual updates - so-n-so is traveling, what's-her-name ate a great cinnamon roll, that-one-guy posted another political cartoon that wasn't very funny, and so on. Whatever. But, some other stories really struck me. True stories happening to real people, just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from people I am actual friends with. I'm compelled to share a few that captivated my attention this week.
One guy, named Saeed, is in prison in Iran because he will not deny Christ. He went there about 9 months ago to help set up an orphanage, and now is in prison...in IRAN...for his belief in Christ. And his wife and children are separated from him and clinging to the promise of God's protection, strength, and goodness. Saeed is a real dad, a guy not all that different from our own husbands, brothers, or dads. But he doesn't get to tuck his kids in bed tonight because he is standing strong in his faith and choosing Jesus over everything. (You can make a difference by signing the petition on the link here!)
Another story is for baby Wyatt. He was born with a very rare neurological disorder called Ohtahara Syndrome. It's very serious and causes seizures. He ultimately needs prayers for a miracle. He's someone's real, tiny little baby, fighting for his life. A baby that other people bought onesies for. Who's parents were nervous and excited, and who were probably still picking out his name only a few months ago. He's not just a status update - he's a little, squishy, cutie-faced fella who is unfairly battling uphill for normalcy. You can see his Facebook page here if you are interested in updates or just want to encourage the family.
**Finally, I saw an update just the other day, about a mom named Kristina. Kristina gave birth to her 5th daughter (can we just give her a standing ovation right there? wow.) and during delivery she suffered a heart attack and brain aneurism. She is fighting for her life, and her little girls need her. She doesn't have a webpage that I know of, so I'm just telling you here - please pray for her, her husband Jeremy, and their 5 daughters (the baby, also named Kristina, got to go home from the hospital, praise God). I can't fathom this kind of trauma happening in real life, but it feels like such a privilege to get to pray for someone I don't even know at such an incredibly intimate time for their family. Please join me.
You all know stories like these. You all have either posted or reposted or know someone who has posted some kind of story when they didn't know what else to do but to ask others to drop to their knees on their behalf and place it at the feet of God. Sometimes, I'll admit, I see these kinds of updates and scroll right past them. Sometimes I let them get lost in the shuffle of cute-kid-pics, Instagrams, foodie photos, and sarcastic comments that so often fill up the white screen on my iPhone.
But, sometimes, I stop and notice that there are people (just like ME) who need real, legit prayers...not "prayers" but PRAY-ERS (as in, you and me pray-ing) asking God to answer our pleas and have mercy day by day. These are modern day miracles happening in our midst. They might be sliding past ads for Warby Parker glasses on the sideline. They might be right under an update from your aunt about how fat her dog is. They might be next to your friend's millionth spotify update of the day. But, they are there.
Prayer is crazy. As pray-ers...we can get a little crazy too. It's okay. God loves crazy (if you don't believe me, just start reading the New Testament and stop when you think the Pharisees no longer thought Jesus was a crazy person...Spoiler alert: You'll read the whole thing.) So, get crazy for a minute and pray for some unknown people who need it! Throw it out there, you never know what difference it might truly make, but I guarantee you will feel change within yourself just simply within the act of praying.
I could go on and on about prayer. I love it. I need it. I don't know how people get through the day without it. I think I could never do it enough because frankly, I think we ALL think none of us do it enough, and to take it one step further - I think we're all pretty much right about that. I also think most people don't consider themselves "good" at prayer. Which is silly and sad, and a total lie. Maybe we grew up in a generation where prayer was withheld exclusively for times of formality, with reverence and practical regard, or perhaps only left for occasions that required you dress up (church, weddings, funerals, etc.) But, the truth is, if I have learned anything from hearing my weak, naughty, whiney, sick little child pray in all honesty, it's that when she prays it sounds like the sweetest, loveliest thing I could ever imagine. How much more beautiful must it sound to Jesus?
Jesus takes us right where we are, anyway He can get us. Broken and ugly, arrogant and beautiful, well-intentioned or completely confused. We don't have to have it all together. We don't have to know what we're talking about. We don't even have to know who we're praying for.
As I sat tonight and rocked my feverish child, I found myself praying over her yet again. Not only was I praying for her to feel better, as usual, but I was/am so grateful that I'm dealing with mundane problems like fevers and whininess. Though these seem to pale in comparison to those heart-wrenching stories I saw online, I am reminded that God cares JUST AS MUCH about hearing about them. I'm not "bothering Him" or "annoying Him" or "taking up His time" in any way. I'm humbled to worship a God who can care just as much about me and my prayers for sleep and patience, and equally extend His attention when in my next breath I'm asking for the life of Kristina to be spared, for baby Wyatt to be healed, and for Saeed to see his family soon.
We worship a God of miracles. Sometimes that comes in the form of extra grace as I watch yet-another-Disney-movie with my sick kids (see how pathetic that sounds as a "problem" now?) and sometimes that comes in grand and marvelous occurrences that alter the lives of the people around us forever. Sometimes the miracle comes later, possibly unseen or unknown by us, and we trust in the goodness of God being revealed in another way. Sometimes we just don't know.
And until we know...we pray.
Kristina passed away last night. Please read this update (via a friend of my on Facebook directly from Jeremy, Kristina's husband.)
As many of you know my best friend passed late last night. While this has been the most difficult time in my life, I am thankful for the presence of the Lord and your thoughts and prayers that have carried me through this valley. My brother has established "Kristina's Girls Fund" where all funds raised will go directly to the girls and their education. Please take a moment and read his beautiful tribute to her and if you feel led, please give. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those who have already given.
This story is far from over. I see God's hand at work in a mighty way. I pray that he continutes to use our story to reach those who do not know Him. I will continue to post, as it in many ways helps me cope during this difficult time. Please remain friends and continue to send your posts, they are an encouragement to my heart.