Polished look: Graduate paints nails, exchanges prayers
Lorelei Decker, a recent graduate of Putnam City North High School, collects “prayer polish,” nail polish given to her as she battles cancer, encouraging her to pray for the recipient and reminding her that the giver is praying for her.
By Carla Hinton | Published: June 2, 2012
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Each bottle of nail polish that surrounds Lorelei Decker has a story.
The polish — in colors like Lavender Marquis, Blue Mosaic and Carbon Frost — represents the many people who are praying for Decker, and whom she is praying for in return.
Decker, 17, calls this stunning array of hundreds of hues her “prayer polish.”
“This is 350 conversations I had with people about prayer,” she said, looking out at the bottles of polish spread out on her dining room table.
“To have a conversation with them about prayer — that they initiated — that's a blessing to me, an opportunity to give glory to God.”
Decker, of Oklahoma City, said she has always believed in the power of prayer.
As a lifelong member of Cherokee Hills Baptist Church, 5700 NW 63, the recent Putnam City North High School graduate said the Word of God is important to her.
And in the last several years of her young life, she has called upon the Lord and her faith in Him more than a few times: Decker was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in January.
She said when friends and family wanted to know what they could do for her as she battled cancer, she decided to ask for nail polish — and prayer. Even now, people seem a bit perplexed initially, Decker said.
“They'll message me on Facebook and say ‘So you want nail polish?'” she said, smiling.
Decker said she quickly explains that she doesn't need food or anything like that, but she could certainly use prayer. She said she asks people to select a nail polish color that represents them and bring it to her. Decker said she places the person's name on the bottle with a label maker.
Each week, she paints her fingernails and toenails — with a different color on each nail — she is reminded that the individuals who gave her the chosen polish are praying for her and she prays for them.
She has more than 350 bottles of polish at this point. Decker and her mother, Andrea, place each giver's name on their bottle of polish.
Lorelei Decker said polish has been coming in the mail from all over the United States and around the world. She said her high school golf coach Tom Jedlicka, who also is battling cancer, gave her a fuchsia polish. She also has received a bottle of polish from Chirapat Jao-Javanil, a Thailand native who is an NCAA championship golfer on the University of Oklahoma women's golf team.
Andrea Decker said the nail polish idea has been a gift of sorts to her daughter and the people who care for her.
She said people don't always know what to say or how to act to show their support. Andrea Decker said the polish has helped opened the door for conversation and eased the trepidation that some people have experienced as her daughter has fought the disease.
“It gave them a reason to seek her out, to drop by here and have a conversation with her,” she said.
Andrea Decker said some people were hesitant to bring prayer requests to Lorelei because they felt their troubles paled in comparison to hers. However, Lorelei has assured friends and family that she wants to pray for them as they pray for her — no matter the circumstances.
“She wants everyone to know that if it matters to them, it matters to God,” Andrea Decker said.
Lorelei Decker said she initially struggled to empathize with others because she felt their woes were eclipsed by her fight for her life.
“Everybody else's problems seemed insignificant. I had to pray that God would give me compassion for others.”
She said the Lord answered her prayer and the gifts became more significant.
“That's something that I learned on this journey — every hurt is still a hurt no matter how small or large,” she said.
Decker said she has learned that life is all about perspective.
She is battling cancer, but she refuses to be pessimistic about it. She plans to attend Oklahoma State University in the fall, focusing on a double major of business and Spanish. Decker also hopes to serve an internship in the Oklahoma City Thunder's community relations department.
She said one of her favorite Scriptures is James 1:2-4.
“Not every day is perfect but the Lord never said everyday would be perfect. The Lord sees something about facing trials that we can't see.”
Decker said a friend recently asked her how she stayed so upbeat.
“I told her I don't have a choice whether I have cancer but I do have a choice whether I have the joy of God,” she said. “It really comes down to a decision.”