October 30, 2013


The cool water was supposed to make me feel better, but it didn’t. Shivering in the middle of a warm pool in 80-degree weather and wondering if the Sprite I drank previously was on its way up was not the best way to spend a vacation afternoon. 

The day before, my daughter had complained that her stomach was feeling off. So I gave her some Pepto-Bismol, and we hoofed it around Disney’s Epcot Center theme park for the rest of the day and thankfully, she felt better. But the following morning our plans to drive out to the beach and enjoy the Florida coastline were thwarted when I woke up feeling “off.” By brunch at a local International House of Pancakes, all I could tolerate was a few sips of Sprite and nibbles on dry toast. 

I spent the next few hours trying to sleep it off in our hotel room, but my poor kids were dying not to waste the rest of the day indoors. So I mustered up the courage to try some water therapy, naively hoping that in some strange way I’d feel better.31 1 7 5

My pool visit was soon cut short by a run back to the hotel elevators, quickly followed by a sprint to our room, where things got much worse. By late afternoon the signs of dehydration were becoming very apparent. Had this event occurred in my own home with my own doctor nearby, it wouldn’t have been anything more than a serious annoyance. But here we were in a hotel, hundreds of miles from home, with the next part of our vacation looming quickly ahead—a flight to the Bahamas the next day. If this didn’t quit soon, I’d have to go to the emergency room. But where? I thought of my poor kids—we’d have to drag them along with us. What if I couldn’t fly the next day? What if I did get on the plane and was still sick?

My husband ran down to the hotel gift shop and found some Gatorade for me to try to sip. Then he and the kids left to pick up their take-out dinner order. 

I am not one to pray over my own minor illnesses. Truthfully, I’ve always felt that such requests do not merit prayer. Colds go away, headaches are relieved with Advil, and even stomach bugs run their course and leave you a few pounds lighter but still alive. There are too many real problems in the world that need the Lord’s attention and too many good people with serious conditions in need of miracles. I needed to pray for them, not me.

But in desperation, we’ll try anything, won’t we? So I talked to God out loud in that hotel room in Orlando, Florida. I don’t remember the exact words I said, but I’m pretty sure they were along the lines of “Please help me; I can’t go to the ER here. Don’t let our vacation be ruined.” In all honesty, I felt a little ashamed to pray about the possibility of not making it to the Bahamas the next day, with all the real problems in the world in need of prayer.

I lay back down and determined to sip that cherry-flavored Gatorade and will my body to keep it down. If it could just stay within me long enough to replenish my body, I knew I’d be OK. And that’s exactly what happened. With each sip I cautiously swallowed and waited. Ten minutes, then 20, then 30, and I was keeping it in. With each drink I felt the muscle aches of dehydration release and the dry headache dissipate. And within an hour my situation had remarkably improved. When my husband returned with a plate of cold fruit for me to try, I ate it with caution, but immediately felt the effects of good nutrition in my body. 

But more important than a quick road to recovery, I truly felt the presence of a Best Friend who cares about everything that matters to us—even when it seems frivolous and unimportant. I know without a doubt that God heard and answered my prayer for healing—to just be well enough to keep going on our family vacation. And in that moment, He heard me, healed me, and helped me feel how deeply He loves me.

I’ve often thought about that night in the months since. Every time I hesitate to pray over something seemingly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, I remember that experience. It doesn’t matter the size of our problems—all of it matters to Him.