Lulled awake at four in the morning, I pushed to a sitting position. Groggy. What woke me? I measured my husband’s gentle snore. Out cold. My gaze drifted about the dark room, and I was magnetized to a light in the doorway. How strange—a light with form and definition. I blinked. Still there.
A soft, but audible, voice seemed to speak in surround sound. “When the snow comes…” I rubbed my eyes. Gone. I didn’t feel afraid. Was it Jesus in the light? A soothing calm washed over me, and I drifted back to sleep.
The alarm roused me at six. As I pressed the off button, my first thought? When the snow comes… I slipped from warm sheets to the cool room. Could it have snowed during the night? Pinching the window shade, I pulled it away from the window to glance outdoors. No snow. Why was I so certain, I’d see snow? Why did I feel disappointed?
I had to be at work by seven. The window shade rattled as I released it, and my husband rose to an elbow. He cleared his throat and through cloaked eyes asked, “Did it snow last night?”
Shivers shot up my spine. “No. Why?”
“I can’t explain it.” His eyes opened wider. “But during the night, it was like I heard a voice in my dreams.”
I dropped to the bedside to sit nearer him and smoothed the comforter with trembling hands. “What did the voice say?”
“Something about when the snow comes…”
Bless my heart. How could I reconcile what I’d seen and heard with what he’d just said?
“No, you didn’t dream. Something—someone—was in the room last night. Like an angel. In the bedroom doorway. I heard it say, ‘When the snow comes…’ The very words you spoke out of your mouth. If you somehow heard it, too, then I didn’t imagine it.”
He took a long breath and eased back onto the pillows. He agreed it was strange, but neither of us could explain it. I rushed to be ready for work. Somehow, the message was personal; yet, it made no sense. And, didn’t the Word say Satan comes as an angel of light? Was an enemy force bent on deceiving us?
A few days later, we discovered we were expecting our first baby. Thrilled, life moved forward from that strange incident in the night. We became absorbed with all things related to being new parents.
During my final months of pregnancy, I developed preeclampsia. The doctor planned for me to bed-rest the last weeks, but labor started instead.
The crowded doctor’s office was a blur. Distressed, I clung to my husband’s arm as they cleared us to go back to an exam room. The doctor entered with a smile on his face. “So, I understand you may have started labor. Let’s listen to the baby’s heartbeat, shall we?”
The doctor probed my belly for several moments with his instruments and the smile slowly faded from his face. When he met our gazes and swallowed hard, a knowing latched hold of me.
“I can’t find a heartbeat. I’m sorry…”
After our daughter was stillborn, God seemed so near. Close. Stroking my tender, wounded spirit. Tears streamed my cheeks. I had never had a father, since mine died when I was a baby. But this tangible presence with me was real. Though I’d been a believer since childhood, for the first time, I understood the Heavenly Father’s heart. How much He loved me. I would never have freely given my child to die, but hadn’t He?
What unfathomable, unselfish love and sacrifice could bring a Father to do such a thing, a Father with a warrior’s devotion to protect His young and a mother’s gentle and compassionate spirit to nurture a human soul with diligent care? How? Though it bruised and lashed and severed Him.
No one could understand my pain, but Father. He sympathized with the cold ache of my hurt because He’d been through it. I had no tender or treasured reward to fill my lap or my longing, but He loved me and suspended me in a place that seemed unearthly and cocooned.
Night after endless night, I sat in the nursery and stared at the rainbows on the walls and grieved. But hadn’t the Father clutched me and soothed me while I recovered in that cloistered hospital hallway?
The incident with the angel sparked fresh in my mind. Why had God sent the angel while my child was incubating in the womb? Days before I knew she existed? Months before my heart would ache with loss?
I begged to understand and clung to God’s Word. Without it, I could not breathe. And when I found Isaiah 55:10-11, God seemed to speak to my desperate heart.
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my Word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”
Grief can produce. Supple and lovely fruit could grow from my grief-stricken heart. A cross-stitched proverb was given to me by a friend: “The soul would have no rainbow, had the eye no tear.” God sent an angel to comfort me before my pain and suffering.
A year passed. A baby boy with silvery-blond hair stretched in the hospital incubator. My gift from God—a cherished cache of body, soul, and spirit. He eagerly followed the sound of my voice whichever way I turned. Less than two years later, another boy with hair the color of spun gold entangled my heart with his tight baby grip on my thumb. Two years passed and a five-month-old baby girl with almond eyes and hair the color of a raven flew to my waiting arms at Memphis International. Another two years and a dark haired boy of seven, hearing impaired and malnourished stumbled from a plane and wheedled his way into my heart. Four more years and a little girl with tresses like lacquer tentatively felt her way toward me. Then with arms outstretched, nuzzled my shoulder, and ran her hands over my face to see what I looked like. I was Mama, and I loved her.
With each child my husband and I were compelled to tell them about their sister in heaven and the God who cradles us in our joy and pours solace on us in our pain. Oh, how we appreciated each child God entrusted us to nurture.
When the children were ten and up, there was so much to do. But God spoke to us and said we’d have another baby. We were in our forties and almost done with child rearing. But He said, “I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you…” (Isaiah 46:4)
I searched for the child God spoke to us about—a baby, a boy, blind, and bi-racial. There were no children in the U.S. databases who fit this description, and we no longer qualified financially for immigration services.
In December of 1997, I found him. A baby born without a right eye. On my birthday that year, God spoke to my heart to call this son Caleb. Caleb was in an orphanage in the Siberian region of Russia, and to the Russians he was considered bi-racial because he was a Caucasian and Mongolian mix. We waited nine months. Finally our breakthrough came in September of 1998. My husband’s boss gave him an unexpected raise, and overnight we qualified for foreign adoption. But our savings account? Empty. We had no means to borrow money, and the tally for this adoption? Thousands. Why Siberia, Lord?
The adoption agency reduced fees by six thousand dollars. One month later, money trickled into our bank account. Floodgates then parted as individuals began sending money for this child’s adoption. Seven months from the time we qualified for international adoption and more than $12,000 dollars in donations later, we were on the ground in Moscow to bring Caleb home.
We flew from Moscow to Siberia and when we stepped off the plane, we were greeted by a strange, fairy-tale looking world. Thick snow cushioned every sound. Late afternoon, fat snowflakes floated to the ground about us and glistened against a pewter sky.
Two days later, the adoption finalized, my husband flew south to another city to process Caleb’s passport, and I was driven to the orphanage to receive Caleb, my two-year-old baby boy with hair the color of my favorite chocolates. I bundled him in new clothes, lifted him to brisk through a dark hallway, and huddled close with him as we breezed outside into flurries of snow.
Caleb’s Dedication Day 1999
Less than two years later, I grieved another stillbirth. This time a daughter of my heart who lived in India. Madhura (Caroline) was born blind, and though she was in an orphanage with hundreds, the Indian government thought our family too large to adopt her.
When Caleb turned sixteen, I was dwelling on my life’s story one evening, and my Father peeled back a curtain. What? I remember my eyes clamping shut and needle-like-prickles surfaced in their corners. Of course. Never once had it occurred to me. Caleb came from Siberia—land of snow.
His coming marked the delivery of my final child to physically live with us on this planet and the crossing of that last portal the angel spoke of on that night long ago. I look back now with tightness of awe and joy. What’s left? The best part. I have birthed children. All—treasures of the snow.
“The soul would have no rainbow had the eye no tear.” John Vance Cheney, American Poet
*Verses from Isaiah, New Living Translation.
Listen for His Whispers