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Snow Angels

December 30, 2009

My end of month re-post is a story about snow and angels and grace. Get a nice cup of hot cocoa to read with this one! Happy New Year!  – Brad 

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A few weeks ago our family spent the weekend watching some old videos from when the kids were little. Back then I had filmed a series of “a day in the life” routines, so that I could capture my little girls on tape and always remember the way it was. I had recorded moments of them singing, playing, laughing, running, and riding bikes. I even caught on tape a bit of naughtiness – some fighting and crying – which is actually cute and funny when you play it back years later. Well, to me it was actually funny right at that time. That’s why I videotaped it.

Those little girls were so precious. They seemed so happy. So did Beth and I. There’s something about reminiscing that makes you gloss over, and even forget, all the stress and messiness and emotional chaos that was also going on at the same time.

There’s one scene in particular that will stick with us forever. It is filmed in the dead of winter, and there’s been a heavy snowfall. In fact, it’s a snow-day for the entire family – no school, no work! So, like all the snow-bound families waking up to the delights of an unexpected day off, we celebrate by bundling up our little girls, who were probably about 3 and 6 years old at the time. We take them out to play in the winter wonderland.

It’s eerily quiet in the neighborhood, other than the crunching of boots on the snow and the sing-song of little-girl chatter. The roads are not plowed yet, so there are no cars driving by. The snow is a deep, fresh powder, and the afternoon sun has begun to peer through the clouds in the sky. I’m videotaping the girls sledding down the little hill in our yard, with their puffy snowsuits and saucers. Wee! Down they go, only to face the surprising immediacy and drudgery of walking all the way back up the hill while carrying their saucer, along with the twenty pounds of snowsuit insulation. They look like little astronauts in their spacesuits, climbing in slow motion.

They make it back to the top and slide down again. As we are watching the second climb back to the top of the hill, suddenly, out of nowhere, two beautiful fluffy white dogs appear, wandering into the scene. They are walking up the street towards our house. As they get closer, they spot the girls and begin to make their way up the little hill in our yard to greet them.

What was odd was that these dogs were not from our neighborhood. We had never seen them before. They were gorgeous. We didn’t know what kind they were, but they looked like they could have arrived directly from the North Pole. Or maybe some kind of Magical Christmas Dogs had fallen out of a snow globe in the sky. They were pure, snow-white identical twin Samoyeds — big, regal, serene, and stunningly beautiful dogs. We later found out that Samoyeds were originally bred hundreds of years ago in Siberia and Alaska for pulling sleds and herding. The North Pole connection was spot on.

These happy beasts calmly approach our daughters, who are now sitting on their snow saucers at the top of the hill, to pay a little visit. The Samoyeds sit down next to the girl-children, panting, smiling. The dogs get comfortable, as if this was their destination all along, like they’ve journeyed all the way from the frigid tundra of Siberia to finally meet the little Moore girls. They are calm, friendly, and convey a sense of temporary protection over them.

The regal presence of these stately animals immediately transforms the scene from a suburban lawn into a magical Narnia Fairy Tale. My daughters, of course, are enamored by these big fluffy new friends on a snowy day. We ooh and ahh while the girls embrace the dogs, digging their hands and faces deep into the fur. They snuggle for a while.

The twin Samoyeds bring a sense of serenity, tranquility and a strange nurturing presence to the scene. Watching the videotape, you can hear Beth and me talking softly in the background with a quiet wonder as I’m recording the scene: “Where did those dogs come from? I don’t know, but they’re beautiful! I’ve never seen that kind of dog before! Look! They’re as big as the girls are! Can you believe how they just walked right up and sat down next to them like that? Look how the girls love them! They’re so sweet!”

Then we stop talking, and it’s very quiet. In the stillness and silence, all that you hear is the sound of the snow blowing in the light winter breeze, and the girls hugging the dogs. We just watch for a while, taking it in. Then, those dogs turn their attention from the girls and look directly into the camera at Beth and me. Right into our eyes, like they had some kind of secret. Some ancient wisdom in their face was saying that they knew all about us, that they’ve been watching us. They were just checking in.

No one said anything.

After a few minutes the dogs decide to get up and leave, just as randomly as they arrived. But there is not another person in sight. Nobody is walking the street with a leash. No master calling their pets back inside. They just run off and disappear into the woods. We never saw those dogs again.

I tell the girls that these were God’s angels visiting us.

And I really believe it.

Reading through the journals I kept during that period, I realized Beth and I were going through some tough times. Some days felt like the world was going to crash in on us. I was trying to establish myself in my career and was working through some brutal struggles with my job. We had just moved to a new community and didn’t know anyone. We were miles and miles away from family and friends. Beth had been hammering away at a PhD program that, at times, seemed like it would kill her before it would get finished. We were going through the usual growing pains of marital and relationship issues that come with time and with kids. We were isolated, stressed, working 60-hour weeks, trying to maintain a good family life and keep it all together.

But it’s funny that as we watched ourselves on TV that day, we all wanted to go back there, back to that time. I wanted to reach in to the screen, and say, “Hang in there, guys, it’s all going to be just fine. You’ll see! You’re doing great.”

And the angels came to let us know that God was there with us, too.

And as time marched on, as our lives improved in many ways, and as new struggles emerged, He was still there. Just like He is now. If I were to watch my life today from five or ten years in the future, I’d look back and see how God was watching over me, even when I wasn’t tuned in. Even when things didn’t seem to be going so well. Even when I was negative and skeptical and complaining and cynical. He was with me then, too. He allowed it, because it helped me to grow.  Some people would call it grace.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2009 9:27 am

    Beautiful story, Brad. Things like that will happen that wills top us dead in our tracks — and most of us wonder. Some of us don’t wonder because we know.

  2. Kathleen permalink
    December 30, 2009 3:56 pm

    Aaahhh. This gave me shivers. It is good to remember the mixture of those perfect moments of joy stuck in the middle of the hard times.

  3. December 30, 2009 4:35 pm

    What a wonderful story, Brad! And the proof is in the picture.

    You know, there is a reason that “dog” is simply the backward spelling for God.

  4. December 30, 2009 5:09 pm

    Well, Bradley, usually you make me laugh. Today… shoot… you made me cry. Really.

    Right about here…

    “Hang in there, guys, it’s all going to be just fine. You’ll see! You’re doing great.”

    That seems like such an innocuous place to start crying, but it broke something in me that had been getting more and more fragile by the moment through the cumulative effect of your beautiful words.

  5. December 30, 2009 8:15 pm

    Loved this so much, Brad. Your snow/dog day seems to have snowballed into one with more depth and meaning as the years went on. Old videos are SO much fun to watch. We have at least a dozen boxes of them – most of the with the kids saying “turn the camera off, Dad!” but we’re so glad we have them. And a huge safe deposit box with duplicates on DVD, because if they were ever lost, we’d be devastated.

    I too believe those dogs were angels. Because God spelled backward is dog. Just sayin’.

  6. Annie permalink
    December 30, 2009 10:40 pm

    Funny how when I need Him the most, He makes an appearance, in ways that often surprise me!!! There are always angels among us, even in the form of animals!
    Beautiful story!!!
    Here is to a New Year filled with more angels, miracles, words to share and post and memories to warm up by.

  7. December 31, 2009 6:21 am

    Yes, I also was a little choked up when writing this, recalling the beauty of the moment of grace.

    I’ll echo Annie’s New Year wish to all of you – filled with more angels, miracles, words to share and new memories.

  8. December 31, 2009 12:01 pm

    Perfectly lovely post to end the year, Brad. What magic you’ve woven here.

  9. December 31, 2009 12:12 pm

    Thanks Brad…you’ve touched more hearts and lives than you may ever realize. I’ve come to believe that there are angels all over (even across the web) that show up at times when they are needed.

    A wonderful, touching post to end the year and begin anew.

  10. December 31, 2009 12:22 pm

    Funny, isn’t it, how often we don’t know how much we needed an Amen from our Father until we look back. Then we see not only the graceful gift that was sent, but also the chasm that didn’t claim us that day.

  11. December 31, 2009 12:45 pm

    when we are not looking
    grace

  12. December 31, 2009 12:47 pm

    Loved it the first time. Loved it again.

  13. December 31, 2009 7:29 pm

    Beautiful story. It made me think back to some hard time our family went through years ago. Now I think those were some of the best years of our lives. I’d do them all over again if I had the chance for that is when we saw God the clearest.
    Thanks for taking me back there again.

  14. January 1, 2010 4:24 pm

    That’s just like God, isn’t it? Send us a little mystery to make everything clear…

  15. January 2, 2010 2:30 pm

    the mystery of all that He is… the invisible love is the most powerful of all for me.

  16. Feliciano permalink
    January 4, 2010 5:30 pm

    Brad, I’m new here. If you ever get around to digitizing that clip and posting it online, please let me know! I’d love to have a peek at it. Neat story, and well told.

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