“Well, my dear, I awoke at four this morning and had such a precious three hours communing with the Lord.”
Courtney stared at her friend’s perfect manicure and nodded. She inwardly cringed remembering the destroyed kitchen this morning when she’d stumbled into it, half-asleep, at eight-thirty. The kids had barely glanced at her. Cartoons playing a mocking supertheme, she’d danced around the spilled puddle of milk on the floor and tried not to explode.
“Yeah, that’s great.” Courtney calmly sipped her Arabica dark roast and flicked her hair. “Really great.” She cleared her throat. “So how’s your garden?”
Driving home, Courtney drummed her fingers in time to the wipers. Three hours? Four o’clock? Really? Guilt flooded her like the sheets of rain on the windshield. Help, Lord.
That verse she’d memorized in college massaged her heart like good coffee. “There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” So there you go. Take that, guilt!
Oh no. Patrol car parked in the median. She jerked up her lead foot. Straightening, she pretended not to see him as she passed.
Too late. Like a shark smelling blood, he swung his pontoon-sized car around and flicked on the beacon.
“Can I see your license and registration?”
“Yes, sir. Just a minute.”
Courtney leaned across the console, accidentally crumpling her coffee cup and soaking her cardigan. Groaning, she dug into the glove compartment. Ah. There was Baby Jack’s missing bottle, complete with greenish-gray formula clinging to the side. She flicked it to the floor discreetly.
Ugh. The registration papers looked—wet. Only dried wet. Stuck like glue was the insurance card. The whole shebang smelled like—whew! Spoiled formula.
Cheesing like a nervous freshman, she handed him the smelly business. Her neck burned. He cleared his throat. “Uh, I’ll be, ahem, right back.”
She slumped in her seat. Whimpering, she shut her eyes to the mess that was her car. Her sweater. Her life.
It wasn’t a journaled petition and praise. She hadn’t doodled it or colored a single line. It was more like a drowning woman’s final gurgle. Before she could think of anything more clever to pray—
She cranked her window back down, her limp sweater dripping on her lap. The officer instantly thrust the papers back through the opening. “Yes, well, were you aware how fast you were going?”
“Um, not exactly, sir.”
“It was fast. Way too fast for even a sunny day. With these wet streets, it was reprehensible.” He pulled out his ticket book.
Like angry static, his radio blared in his ear. He shoved the ticket book back in his pocket. “I’m on it!” he shouted into it. “Ma’am, I’m going to let this be a warning. Slow. Down.” Before she remembered to breathe, Thank You, Lord, he was half a mile down the highway, siren screaming.
“Help, Lord.” She tossed the disgusting papers onto the passenger seat. I’m a mess. Easing back onto the highway, she passed a hand-painted sign. “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”
This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. Pulling into the driveway, she let the car idle as she set her alarm for 5:30 the next morning. Satisfied, she parked and headed inside to survey the damage of a Mama-less morning.
At five-thirty the next morning, Courtney dreamed about a screaming alarm. An hour and a half later, she pulled herself reluctantly out of bed. Heart racing, she stormed through the house trying to wake the kids and get them moving.
This kind goeth not out but by prayer. And fasting.
Courtney’s hand reaching for the hazelnut syrup froze. Fasting? Really?
Later that morning, Courtney’s week in the three year old class, the coordinator handed her the lesson.
“Queen Esther! Fun!”
She loved listening to three-year-old questions. “Mrs. Courtney? What’s fasting?”
Courtney gulped. “Well, it’s when we need God to help us so much that we decide not to do something we like for awhile.”
Brock grinned. “I’m fasting!” He leapt out of his seat and ran out the door, definitely fast. The lesson was over.
As she chased him, she decided. Three days. No hazelnut syrup for three days. And no Facebook. And we’ll see from there.
Three days later, Courtney awoke to the chirp of an alarm. She jumped out of bed, ready to climb back in, when she realized she wasn’t sleepy.
She grabbed her computer and started typing God a letter. Thirty minutes later, she was still going. Wow, Lord! This fasting thing works!
One month later, she sat across from her friend. “This is the twenty-third day I’ve got up at 5:30 to pray! My life is transforming before my eyes!”
Nodding, her friend dapped her lipstick with those perfectly manicured nails. “I wish you’d tell me how you do it. My grandkids have been over this week, and it’s a madhouse. Would you believe I woke up to a puddle of milk all over the kitchen floor?”