I believe in angels.
I know this isn't news to most people who know me, but I am a bit of a Charismatic. So it probably isn't a surprise to anyone to hear me admit that I believe there are angels among us.
But I don't just believe because I've read in the Bible that they are real...no, I have seen the evidence of their presence.
My mom says that when I was little, I would ask her questions about the shiny man who lived with me in my room. "He's smiling at me, Mommy," I would tell her. She told me it was my guardian angel.
My youngest son, Gabe, used to smile and wave to what he called "that nice bright guy" in his room. I told him that his angel was with him, to protect him. He would nod his little curly head and grin when I told him that the Lord always had angels protecting him.
I am certain there was an angel present the day Nate burned his arm. He was 7 months old and had just started scooting/crawling, and I had walked out of the room for one minute when I heard him screaming. He had managed to pull my 400 degree hair straightener down from the counter and onto his wrist. When I rounded the corner, he was laying on top of it, face down. For a split second I just KNEW his face was covered in burns, but somehow it was only his arm. There was an angel there, with a hand between my baby's face and that 400 degree device. You'll never convince me otherwise.
Last week came the most dramatic testimony yet of the presence of angels.
We got snow...a lot of snow for North Carolina. Eight inches graced the area, and 25 degree temps insured it would hang around for several days.
We couldn't get out of our driveway, and so the kids wanted to search of an acceptable place in our subdivision to go sledding. I got everyone dressed in their snow clothes and sent them out, telling them I'd be a few minutes behind them. I knew they wouldn't last too long, since it was so bitterly cold, and I also knew I would freeze to the bone in half that time because I don't own snow gear, other than a pair of boots. So, I was stalling, taking my time in an attempt to save my southern bones from frostbite.
Less than ten minutes passed, and then I heard a screaming child coming toward the house.
"Emergency!!!!" Clay was gasping for breath and yelling at the top of his lungs.
"What?!?!" I met him at the door, only mildly worried. My kids can be a bit on the dramatic side, being that they are MY KIDS and all.
"Faith...and Gabe...fell...in the...creek..." He was breathing so hard it took him a few minutes to get the sentence out, and my entire body froze.
"What creek? Where is that?" I asked, slamming my feet into my boots.
"I'll show you," he gasped again, and we took off running.
We had to cross behind our house and down the length of the back yard, across the back of a neighbor's yard, and down the side of another yard to get to the hill they had discovered. It sloped down nicely, and I didn't blame them for thinking it was a good place to sled. But on one side of the hill ran a creek...and on the snowy bank sat my oldest and youngest child, huddled together, crying.
They had ridden down the hill together, and gotten slightly off course, and veered into the creek.
INTO THE CREEK.
IN 25 DEGREE TEMPERATURES.
When Gabe tried to stand up, he slipped on the icy bank and fell in deeper, till he was chest deep in the water, and Faith had to wade in further and pick him up. Then she collapsed because her feet were numb and her boots were full of water, and they fell in again. Finally she managed to drag them out of the water, and she stripped off their boots, soggy socks, and Gabe's drenched snow pants. She sat down on the sled with him, and wrapped her arms around him, and that is the sight I came upon as Clay and I sprinted through the snow.
"It's okay Gabe, Mommy is coming," she was sobbing over and over, rubbing his feet between her hands. When she saw me coming, she called out, "I'm so sorry I couldn't stop the sled. I'm so sorry."
They were both shaking violently, and so was I by this point. Yoga pants and a t-shirt aren't exactly snow gear, just FYI.
I grabbed Gabe up in my arms and yelled, "Clay, help your sister."
Sprinting up a hill through the snow is not really an easy thing to do, and its even worse when you're carrying a 40 pound child who is shaking uncontrollably and unable to hold onto you.
I was praying out loud.
Behind me, Faith kept saying how sorry she was, and then she said she couldn't feel her feet and didn't think she could walk.
"Get on the sled, I'll pull you," Clay offered.
"You can't pull me Clay, I'm too heavy. Just help me," she sobbed back. So with one hand Clay pulled the sled, loaded down with the soaked boots and snow pants, and with the other he dragged Faith by the arm.
I had stared coughing pretty hard by this point, and gasping for breath only made me cough harder. I was wet, too, from the water that was dripping from Gabe's coat, and he kept screaming "My feet have needles, my feet have needles."
"Jesus, help me." It's all I could say, over and over, as I coughed and gasped and stumbled to the house.
I don't really remember making into to the house, or getting to my bathroom, or stripping Gabe of his clothes and tossing him into a lukewarm shower, but I do remember that as soon as I put him in the water, he screamed louder, and I collapsed.
Nate was standing beside me, rubbing my back, saying "Mommy, don't go back out without your coat. Mommy do you want a blanket? Are you okay, Mommy?"
"Watch Gabe," I wheezed to him. "I have to go help your sister."
Faith and Clay had almost made it to our yard by the time I got back outside. She was still crying, but she was shaking so bad that she didn't have much energy for sobs, so it was silent tears.
"Is he okay?" was her first question. "I tried to stop the sled, Mom. I'm so sorry."
Telling Clay to get the rest of the stuff inside, I took over hauling her to the house, and had to strip her clothes off her because she was shaking so badly.
Black spots danced in front of my eyes.
"Get in the shower, NOW!" I told her, and then I collapsed again.
I don't know how long it was before I managed to stop coughing. I thought I was going to die. If you've ever experienced nearly frozen lungs, you know what I'm saying when I say I've never felt that kind of pain in my life.
Hours passed before any of us felt like talking about what had happened. I was still coughing and wheezing, and Gabe and Faith were still shivering and sniffling. We were all somber.
Faith kept saying she was sorry.
Gabe kept saying he was scared.
I kept kissing them, and kissing them, and kissing them.
"Faith, how did you know to take off the wet stuff right away?" I finally asked her. "That was pretty quick thinking."
She shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. Something inside me just said to get the wet stuff off and then snuggle up to stay warm. I knew Clay went to get help, so I just waited, and I just knew I needed to keep Gabe as warm as I could."
Hours later, I called my mom, who was out of town, to tell her about the incident. After I had finished recounting the tale, she asked me a strange question.
"What time did this happen?"
I told her.
"Oh my gosh, that's exactly the time we were praying with some people here, and the lady prayed for protection for my family."
I looked at my kids, Faith and Gabe snuggled up together under blankets, and tears started falling again.
After I hung up the phone, I asked Faith again how she had known what to do. She shook her head.
"I just had this feeling inside that I needed to get us dry and warm. I don't know Mom. I don't know how I knew what to do."
"I do," I responded. I told her of the prayers, prayed by a stranger from 2 states away. "An angel was standing beside you, Faith. An angel was whispering to your heart, telling you to take off the wet clothes and snuggle up to stay warm. The Lord sent an angel to help you."
Every day, every moment, every accident, every close call, every regular uneventful second of our lives we are held in His hands. We never slip through the cracks, we never escape His notice, we are never left to our own strength.
I sprinted up a hill carrying a 40 pound child through the snow. An angel was pushing me, his wings spread around us to take some of the bite out of the wind.
Clay dragged his older, heavier sister up the same hill, pulling a laden down sled behind him, after having already sprinted the hill twice. Angels surrounded him, urging him on, lending their strength.
Faith saved her little brother's life by pulling him out of that water and stripping him of the sodden clothes and wrapping him up in her arms. An angel stood beside her, helping her, guiding her.
Prayers are heard in the heavens. Angels do the bidding of God Almighty, in response to the prayers of the saints.
If you don't believe me, come over to my house and I will walk with you down to where this happened, and you will see what it would have taken for any of us to do any of what we did that day on our own...and you will know what I know, with every breath, with every kiss on my baby boy's rosy cheek, with every moment of quiet snuggled up with my daughter and my sons.
Angels are real. I believe it.
"The angel of the Lord camps around those that fear Him, and delivers them." Psalm 34:7