Field Notes From A Prayer Warrior

Fight or flight?

derecho: a large fast-moving complex of thunderstorms with powerful straight-line winds that cause widespread destruction

“Oh, hear my prayer tonight, I’m singing to the sky, give me strength to raise my voice, let me testify.

Oh, hear my prayer tonight, ’cause this is do or die,

The time has come to make a choice…

And I choose joy…”

–“Joy” by King and Country

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

–Romans 15:13

Sioux Falls just had its second derecho of the summer. This time the sky turned green. GREEN. Like…SERIOUSLY?! There’s already a level of stress as you scurry through the pre-storm checklist. Then you see this freaky glow swallowing the horizon, plowing into the city, and the limbic in you kicks in and makes an assessment…

“Why rush, Shelbo? It’s obviously the end of the world…or at least an alien invasion. You’re basically toast.”

Nevertheless, two hours in the basement later, it was over.

Or…maybe not.

In the following days I shambled around, mechanically gathering yard debris, compulsively scanning structures for damage…and the sky for clouds. An occasional pause to stuff myself into the shower, or to curl up somewhere and sob with alarming intensity. When I thought of it, I’d look up and whisper, “Help.”

So…utterly spent…physically, emotionally, spiritually. I couldn’t explain it…or find a place of calm.

The third night…again…my brain buzzing, jumping between thoughts about…just…EVERYTHING!…and in complete desperation…okay…maybe exasperation…I shot up the all-too-common lament…

“Lord, I gotta sleep. I gotta get some sleep. Please, help me sleep…I. Need. Sleep.”


“Lord! What. is. going. ON?”

Quick turnover on that customer/believer request, because, well, God was just waiting for me to ask the right question…and, um, actually be ready to LISTEN to the response…

“Shelbo, you’re still on high alert. Your mind and body haven’t shifted out of the fight or flight gear. You can’t maintain this. You’re not meant to. The storm is over…

Let. Go.”

I went into “childlike trust mode” (which I’m employing more than I used to, praise God!) and replied…


Not “Okay…but what about…what’s the next step?…how do I let go?”

Just “Okay.”

Then…blessed slumber.

Dawn of a new day, He guided me to reach out to some prayer warrior buddies.


I mean, dudes…It’s so easy for me to pray for others. It’s so difficult to ask for prayer for ME (I’m not alone here, right?).

One of them, so awesome!, wanted us to pray together right there on the phone. Echoing my petition, she asked Him to grant me peace and rest…and then she added (she gave the credit to the Spirit)…joy.

Unh!! Thump on head…

Yes! Joy, too.

How many days do we wake up with a “storm mindset?”…

Gotta, gotta, gotta!!! Go, go, GO!!!

When we’re in that mode, it’s hard to see beyond the “need to do’s.” Joy seems a little…self-indulgent?

But joy is not self-indulgent. It is also a “need to do!”

And it is also…SURVIVAL.

“Lord, help me to be strong and constant and persevere in my quest, to seek You, Your peace, and Your joy.”–journal, 8 July 2022

A daily “survival practice.”

Fight or flight?

I choose to fight…

With joy…

With Him.



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