Thursday, December 24, 2009


I am a Pioneer Woman. The snow has made my driveway impassable and the only way out is on foot. (My son Scott says I can only be a Pioneer Woman if it’s uphill both ways.) Over twenty inches of snow on the ground makes it work to walk anywhere. It is fun to imagine what it might have been like to live long ago, and realize how lucky I am to live in an age of motors and snow plows. We were snowbound, but only for a day.

This snow was much anticipated. Friends on Facebook were all atwitter and hopeful for huge amounts. Then when the final totals were in, they were dismayed and uncomfortable (well, not the ones with a good stock of liquor, or a good sense of fun.) Farmers like snow if there is six inches or less. They call it poor man’s fertilizer. But, over six inches means every gate needs to be shoveled out, and sometimes it’s hard to get feed to all the animals. We had sheep up on a fairly steep hill and couldn’t get through the three foot drifts to feed them until a neighbor plowed us a path.

Snow is magical. It erases the brown doldrums of winter and replaces them with hope. The kind of hope I learned about on my thirteenth birthday.

As my birthday approached, I decided I wanted snow. I wanted school to be canceled. I wanted to spend the day napping and reading in bed. I wanted to go sleigh riding with my four closest friends, and then come back to my house, for cake and ice-cream.

So, three months before the big day, I started adding these words to my bedtime prayers: “…please God, if it’s not too much trouble, could You bring me some snow for my birthday?” I prayed faithfully and I was sure that God would answer.

As my birthday approached, I scanned the newspapers and listened to the radio each night for some indication that God had heard me. Forecasters babbled about blue skies for the remaining shopping days before Christmas, so I continued to pray.

On the morning of my birthday, I woke and pulled back the curtains to reveal a bright blue sky. I felt betrayed. I slumped downstairs and even my mom’s reminder about my birthday party couldn’t lift the cloud. Although the list of guests included Stuart and Fred, two boys I had deep crushes on, I still wanted snow. God had let me down.

There were no windows in my school except for the ones on the outside doors, so eventually I stopped pouting and began to daydream. Then, at about nine that morning I picked up some vibrations from classmates who had managed visits to the restroom. It was beginning to look really wintry outside. By ten o’clock, the snow was dumping and the principal announced over the loudspeaker that school would be letting out in an hour.

“YESSSS!” God had come through.

I rode the bus home on a spiritual high. God was a loving God and a God of good things. My birthday dreams were about to become a reality.

The snow fell at an alarming rate, obliterating trees and bushes faster than you could say “Jack Frost.” After jumping down from the bus steps into the inviting powder, I trudged home in wet tennis shoes and began to think about my friends who all needed their parents to DRIVE them to my house for my party. In my prayers I had forgotten to mention a specific amount of snow. At this rate, the snow would be a foot deep by supper time, traffic would come to a complete standstill, and my party would be cancelled.

I climbed the stairs to my bedroom and plopped on my bed to watch the snow cascade from the sky. At precisely three o’clock the last flake spiraled to the ground and the storm ended. By seven the roads were clear enough for all of my friends (including Stuart and Fred) to ride to my house for a caroling party in the snow.

When I watch it snow, I am reminded of how gently and graciously God answered the prayers of one awkward teenager, who wanted nothing more than a little magic on her birthday and an assurance that her Sunday School teacher was right.

“God’s eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

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