As anyone who has read this blog for a while knows, our last baby, Lucy, was born with six toes on her left foot.
The doctor assured us this was much more common than we may know, and that the extra toe could be easily removed in a few months.
But as that baby grew, we knew there was something different. Lucy didn’t hit developmental milestones like our other kids did. We took her to all kinds of doctors, and went from thinking something must be horribly wrong to convincing ourselves that she was just a little slower to develop, and all would be well.
And then back and forth again.
Over and over.
One day a geneticist we had visited called back to let us know she may have some answers for us. She told us about a syndrome called Bardet-Biedl Syndrome that caused a myriad of health issues, and, most heartbreaking to us, it caused blindness. As we scoured the internet for more information, Dave and I both felt an overwhelming darkness overcome us, because deep down, we knew this was it.
There was so much fear of the unknown. (We learned you should never look things up on the internet filled with worst-case-scenarios).
So we had Lucy tested. This was back during the time of visiting teachers in our church…(we are assigned to look out for others in our congregation, they have since renamed this “ministering” and you can find out more about it HERE), and I had a particularly attentive visiting teacher named Camille who had become my friend.
A few days after we got the results back that Lucy did, indeed, have this syndrome, Camille happened to pull me aside at church to ask how things were going. Dave and I had been carrying around our feelings under wraps, pushing them down, holding our breath, hoping some way, some how, this was not something we were going to have to deal with.
But when Camille asked, I felt so grateful to have someone to share our burden.
The next morning, as I was wallowing in worries, there was a knock at my front door. It was Camille with a tray filled with dinner for our family.
I can’t remember what she made, or what happened after that, but that moment is still with me close to fourteen years later.
Camille was an angel I will never forget. And she didn’t have to do anything overly dramatic, she just showed up.
And I will remember and hold a spot for her in my heart forever.
I always think about angels at Christmastime.
And thinking about angels always reminds me of this painting by Brian Kershisnik:
I love to think of angels surrounding us as they do Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus in that painting.
In swarms. I truly believe they are there.
And some of them are our friends.
They may not come with grand messages like those angels who appeared to the shepherds long ago.
They may not prophesy destruction or come with messages of grand missions for us to accomplish.
But I believe there are angels surrounding us just as these angels are surrounding Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in that painting. Angels helping us in our “ordinary days.”
In the Book of Mormon it says:
“has the day of miracles ceased? Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men?…Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for…it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men.“
To me, angels are simply those who open their mouths, who have softened their hearts, who have looked UP, rather than getting consumed with looking around.
Like Camille did for me all those years ago.
As I’ve mentioned before, Dave and I LOVE the saying “you’ll find what you’re looking for.”
I believe if we are looking for those angels, we will find them.
And likewise, if we are looking for ways to be angels for others, we’ll find those too. We can all be Heavenly messengers as we dig deep to “find what we’re looking for.”
There’s a great talk by Candace Berrett that talks about this. It’s called “Angels to Beckon Me.”
She talks about how she’s searched the scriptures for how angels minister. These are some of the things angels do to minister as Christ ministers:
We can do all those things for our neighbors and friends. For strangers. Right?
We can lift the heavy burdens sometimes even just with something as simple as a kind word or simple act:
I love this painting (also by Brian Kershisnik)…if we’re looking, eyes open, we will be guided to find the way:
Elder Holland, a leader in our church said: “Angels who come and go are all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal. May we all believe more readily in, and have more gratitude for, the Lord’s promise as contained in [the] scriptures, ‘I will go before your face, I will be on your right hand and on your left, my spirit shall be in your heart, and mine angels round about you to bear you up.’ In the process of praying for those angels to attend us, may we all strive to be more angelic ourselves.”
Let’s go back to Mary and Joseph for a minute in the first painting…but a closer look:
I love that all those angels have a different focus. Surely they all have different talents, different abilities. They are old and young. But they are seeking to minister in the ways they know how.
We will find what we are looking for.
May we look for angels in our lives. We can see them if we will look. To have them accompany us in our darkest hours, and also to be inspired as to how to be those angels to those who surround us.
I LOVE the #LightTheWorld campaign our church does each year at Christmas. Surely if we are looking for ways to be angels at Christmas time that is a perfect instruction manual. (There are different ideas we can do to serve and love and be angels to those around us every day.) Check it out HERE.
This video is a good introduction:
Some other angel paintings I love…just because they are beautiful.
May we all strive to “Light the World” this Christmas season and always.
And may we all look for the light, and “find what we’re looking for” just as I believe Camille was doing all those years ago, dinner in hand, standing on my front porch.