I shivered as heavy flakes of snow melted in my hair and rolled down my cheeks. The heater in my car was finally getting warm, a barrier to the blistering cold and storm outside. We'd been driving for 15 minutes and hadn't yet arrived at Bell View Elementary, where I worked. On a normal day, we'd have already been there. But with the storm outside, a 10-minute drive now took 30.
"Police," my son yelled, pointing out the window. "Mom, look, police!"
"I can't look right now, sweetie, the roads are so slippery." I had four children in the car, my son, and three soon-to-be step-children. I loved them deeply and cared for their safety more than my own.
Accidents were everywhere due to black ice, and my nerves were rattled. As if in confirmation of my fears, my car began to slip. I gently turned the steering wheel to right the car and, thankfully, regained control. A few minutes later we arrived safely at the school.
We ran from my car to the school, trying desperately to shield ourselves from the snow which still fell in flurries. When we walked through the school doors we shook the snow from our jackets and stomped the ice from our feet. "Love you guys," I said as the kids began walking to their classes.
I headed toward the computer lab where I'd been teaching computers to the students for five years. I loved working with children. Seeing their minds develop brought me such happiness. However, this was test week. Winter break was around the corner, and I was feeling the pressure. Not to mention the stress of my upcoming wedding and more children to care for. I felt warm tears on my cheeks and wiped them quickly away. The children would be in the classroom any minute and they didn't need to see that. It was just... The STRESS! Getting to me. Almost too much to bare sometimes. I needed a miracle.
I shared my worries with my mom that night. She had always been someone I could confide in. "Mom," I said, "What am I going to do? Christmas is around the corner. Our accounts are insufficient half the time. We barely have enough to get by, not to mention we still don't have an apartment. And then on top of everything else, there's my wedding dress. They won't return my calls. I don't even know if it'll fit." As always, my mother listened. She held me. She loved.
"It'll all work out." And that's what I needed to hear at that moment. Her love and comfort would get me by. At least for a little longer.
Weeks passed and the wedding approached. Just two days until my life changed forever. The stress, pressure, and fear of a few weeks earlier began to resurface. A few days earlier we received news that we qualified for an apartment. It would be available to us in a week, but only if we had the first month's rent and the deposit in the next two days.
Was this really a blessing? How could it be? JUST TWO BEDROOMS! That was all we qualified for. Two bedrooms for six people. That was all we could afford. And then there was the down payment and deposit. How in the world were we going to pay for that? Now, what would we do? I felt like ripping my hair out like I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. Life seemed to be falling apart when it should be coming together. Too much stress and not enough going right. I tasted bitterness rising inside me.
In fairness, I wasn't the only one. My fiance worked any overtime he could get trying desperately to get money. But there was always more anxiety than money, more weariness than hope.
I found myself doubting my mother's words. Would things really work out? Like my drive to work in the snow, would I really be able to regain control?
The next day, the day before my wedding, the day before the money was due for the apartment, I despaired. I sulkily went through the day like a zombie. Head down and avoiding everyone I could. And then I went home and found a miracle left by a nameless angel.
I turned the handle to my parent's front door, where I was living at the time, and a white envelope fell to the ground in front of my feet. I bent down, picked it up, and scanned it over. My name was on it, but no mention of who it was from. I opened it up and inside was money. I counted it in disbelief. There was enough to cover the deposit with a little left over. There was a typed note that read:
"Get your apartment and some food for your cupboards.
Someone that loves you and knows you are worth it."
With that one random act of kindness, my worries melted away.
Like Alabama sings,
"Oh I believe there are angels among us; sent down to us from somewhere up above. They come to you and me in our darkest hours; to show us how to live, to teach us how to give, to guide us with the light of love."
We got the apartment just in the nick of time, fitting all 4 kids in one room with 2 sets of bunk beds. Another minor miracle occurred when I finally received a call that my dress was ready (it fit beautifully). Our wedding went smoothly and turned out perfect. The kids sat quietly, like angels themselves, throughout the ceremony. We were able to get the kids stuff for Christmas. 6 months later I found out I was pregnant, and we were able to move to a bigger place. (I had a baby girl.)
I've lived my life helping others; teaching my kids the value of service; how one act of kindness can change a person's life.