I’m not even talking about COVID-19, which is the talk of the world right now and the cause for our nation’s Day of Prayer and Fasting today.  May we accept our role as God’s people to humble ourselves before the Lord and repent of our individual and nation’s sins.
I’m backing up to three weeks ago when I was getting ready to go to North Carolina for a security training.  As I packed and drove, I thought how it was the scariest thing I’ve ever knowingly entered into, at least that I can think of.  It wasn’t the fact that I’d signed consent forms to be yelled at, (lightly) slapped/hit or roughed around, sworn at etc.etc.; but I had read between the lines and deduced that I’d have to stay up all night out in the cold.  Those last two things are torture enough for me; and I prepared by memorizing scripture and asking for prayer.
It was indeed quite an intense week, though I felt so thankful that I was there and doing it.  We learned a lot of “common sense” safety and security measures for everyday life, as well as uncommon situations for more hostile environments.  I won’t get into everything and quite honestly haven’t even been able to debrief yet.  The rest of the group did our final morning, February 29.  It was supposed to be a day of celebration for having “survived” the training which I did, thanks to your prayers.  Instead, it was the worst day of my life.  I didn’t even go to our last class (to debrief) because I woke up to the news that my little brother, Brad, had died the night before.  It’s surreal to be writing on my blog as one of the events of the past few weeks.
It was a shock on so many levels.  My head was reeling with so many questions, thoughts, and emotions as I drove back to Charleston.  As real and stressful as the challenges I had just faced and as thankful as I was for having made it through, everything I’d experienced was based on made-up circumstances.  My little brother’s death was real, and I couldn’t get out of it.
The next week was a whirlwind with many, many visitors, little sleep, and making funeral arrangements.  My family was overwhelmed with love from so many: old friends, new friends, family, and especially St. Michael’s Church who has been such a huge support and help in my family’s mourning, grieving, and healing process from Day One.  The Lord has poured out His grace, power, comfort, and love as He continues to work good out of a very tragic situation.  
Ironically Friday, March 6th, the day of Brad’s funeral, though a very difficult day, was a very good day.  Over 500 people attended the funeral, and every single person I’ve talked to said how beautiful it was, even the most beautiful funeral they’d ever been to.  There was so much love and a message of hope.  From start to finish, God’s Spirit was there, and the Gospel was proclaimed.  It truly was beautiful which is strange to write, but the most fitting word. 
Thank you so very much for your prayers for me during two challenging events–one that wasn’t even real, another that I wish so much were not.  Perhaps I can share in more detail another time (perhaps not), but please know that your prayers were felt and known to me during the training and especially the week after, not just by me but by my whole family.  I worship the Lord with thanks for each of you–for your lives and your prayers.  Thank God that we have hope that no matter what tragedy or pandemic we’re faced with, that we have a God who is faithful and that “the best is yet to come.”