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A New Year’s Promise

A worried mother receives an encouraging message.

Heavenly angel

Oh, come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant…The strains of the Christmas carol echoed down the hall at the parochial school where I teach.

It was the last day before vacation and the students were gathered to sing. I could hear them from my empty classroom as I surveyed the presents piled up on my desk. I didn't feel I could count myself as one of the faithful.

For the last few months I'd been praying for my youngest daughter, eight-year-old Ashley, and was beginning to fear my prayers would never be answered. I gazed at Ashley's picture on my desk.

Her brown eyes dancing, pigtails framing her face, freckles sprinkled across her nose, she wore a delighted smile. How I wished I saw more of that smile lately. Instead I was becoming used to her look of frustration as we struggled over her homework night after night.

There was a knock. I glanced up to see Kari, one of my fifth graders, standing at the door.

"Mrs. Lohmeyer, can I come in?" she asked. "If you're busy I can come back later."

"There's nothing here that can't wait. Come on in."

Kari was a favorite of mine. She was a quick learner and a joy to have in the classroom. With all the earnestness of a 10-year-old, she said, "I have to explain about my present."

My desk was covered with plates of cookies, jars of homemade preserves and small boxes wrapped in red and green. "Which one, Kari? I haven't had time to open them yet."

"It's not here," she said. "My mom ordered it from a catalog and they promised her it would come in time, but it didn't, and I didn't want you to think I didn't get you anything." It all came out in one breath.

"You know I don't need a present. You've been a wonderful student, and that's enough."

"But my gift is very special, Mrs. Lohmeyer, and I wanted to give it to you before Christmas."

I could see her disappointment. "Yours will be my first gift of the new year when we come back from vacation, OK?" I promised. With that, she gave me a quick smile and waved good-bye as she rushed down the hall to the singing.

Ashley was probably down there too, joining in the chorus. She attended the school where I taught. Initially that had not been a problem.

But in third grade she was diagnosed with dyslexia. By fourth grade when the workload increased, everything she did became a struggle. My husband, Mike, and I had to hire a tutor three nights a week to help her get by. And when the tutor wasn't there I filled in, trying not to lose my own patience.

By now both her teachers and I knew she needed a different school, where her learning disabilities could be better addressed. But finding the right school—and worrying about how we were going to pay for it—had become a whole new trial.

I sighed as I put my gifts in a big shopping bag. Lord, I prayed, I have a lot of burdens and you're going to have to help me with them. When the dismissal bell rang, I took my presents out to the car.

That afternoon at home Ashley rushed up to me with a folder from her backpack. "Mommy, we have homework for the vacation."

I tried not to groan. "What have you got, baby?"

"It's fun stuff, Mommy," she said. "All I have to do is look up some Bible verses and draw a picture of what each one means to me."

Thank goodness for Ashley's teacher. Whenever there was a project that required a lot of writing, she found a way that Ashley could do it by drawing pictures.

"OK, set yourself up on the table in the family room and get out the Bible. We'll do the first one right now."

Together we looked up the first quote her teacher had assigned: Luke 1:37. It was in the story of the angel Gabriel telling Mary she would have a son. The Annunciation. When Mary wonders how she can have a child when she doesn't even have a husband, the angel replies, "With God nothing will be impossible."

As Ashley slowly repeated each word, "With God nothing will be impossible," I found myself thinking of that frightened young woman 2,000 years ago who would bear the weight of history. What would have happened if she hadn't trusted the archangel's words?

Ashley dug into her box of colored pencils to sketch an angel reassuring a young woman of Nazareth. That's right, I thought to myself, with God nothing is impossible.

The vacation passed quickly. Ashley never forgot her homework. Almost every day she took out a sheet of paper and worked on a Bible quote. And I worked on believing without a doubt that very first one, that with God nothing is impossible.

By the time we returned to school, Ashley had all her drawings finished. But that morning as we drove back, I could tell she was anxious. So was I.

As we walked from the car Ashley grabbed my hand. The smells of books and chalk mingled with the sound of children laughing. Ashley slowed as we reached her classroom. I turned to give her a goodbye hug. She pulled me down and put her arms around my neck.

"It will be OK, baby," I whispered in her ear. "The day will go by fast, and when school is over we'll go for a treat."

She let me go, but tears filled her brown eyes. I fought off tears of my own as I watched her walk to her desk.

I wasn't really thinking of my students when I entered my classroom. "Mrs. Lohmeyer!" Kari came running up to me. "It's here!" she said. "Your present finally came." She handed me a small package.

"Open it now," she said, her cheeks flushed. "Please."

Unable to resist her enthusiasm, I put my books down, sat in my chair and undid the curly ribbon. As I tore the paper, I prepared in my mind all the wonderful things I would say about this gift, but when the wrapping was gone and I held the notepad in my hands, I was speechless.

"Mrs. Lohmeyer, what's wrong?" Kari said. "Don't you like it? It has your name on every single page,"

And above my name, as though the angel were uttering it directly to me, were the words, "With God all things are possible."

"How did you know that was my favorite promise in the Bible, Kari?" Kari grinned, finally convinced the notepad was indeed the perfect present.

Two months later I received a phone call from a private school we'd been looking at for Ashley. The principal said she would love to have her as a student the following year, and she's been enrolled there ever since. She's blossoming with the help of first-rate teachers and an excellent program.

Sometimes, I admit, there are rough patches, and Mike and I still worry about how we can afford everything. But then I remember, nothing is impossible. It's a promise God has kept for 2,000 years.
 

Download your free ebook, Angel Sightings: 7 Inspirational Stories About Heavenly Angels and Everyday Angels on Earth.

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