Twenty one years ago Michael was finishing his degree in Bible College. To help pay his way, I had a job in a small Iowa town near where we lived. That first day of February was a bitterly cold day in Iowa. It was not actually snowing, but the wind blowing the existing snow all around made it a classic Iowa winter day with the wind-chill 45 below zero that day.
My normal route to work was through the back roads, many just gravel, between the famously flat, harvested corn fields. Just a few miles from my destination our car decided it did not like the cold weather either. Profuse smoke/steam started pouring from the hood of the car. Knowing I couldn't stay in the car and wait for the rapture or some other wonderful intervention from the Lord I put on the second pair of gloves I found in the car and started walking towards a silo on a farm I saw in the distance.
Somehow I kept walking in the bitter wind, always keeping my eye on the silo through the swirling snow. I knew when I got to the farm house I would have to do anything I could to get warm - even break into the house. God obviously knew I had no experience of entering and breaking into homes so He lovingly had a better plan for me. As I neared the farm house I saw a woman coming out the back door yelling for me to come that way. (Thank you dear God!)
I remember she carefully took me in the house and took off my shoes and gloves and put my hands in and feet in bowls of water. I was so desperately cold I could not even talk. She talked though. I learned her name was Angela and that she was a nurse. (You are amazing, God!) She kept on talking. I remember thinking, I just wish she would just stop talking so I could go to sleep. She asked me many questions but I could do little but cry. Angela looked in my purse for information and saw a picture of me and Michael. "Oh! I know you, she exclaimed. We visited your church a few weeks ago and sat behind you. I remember your husband's hair." We had not met that day in church but Angela was my sister in Christ. (How awesome is our God!)
While Michael sat in a very warm classroom studying the book of Matthew and I was miles away from him, God was absolute Sovereign. I suffered no frostbite or permanent ill that day, despite walking 8 tenths of a mile in 45 degrees below zero. After her husband returned home that day he got our car into his barn to thaw it and try to repair it. We were without a car, so after handing us a dozen fresh chicken eggs, they sent us off with their van to use until we could get ours repaired. When I got home and opened the egg carton, there lay ten dollars on top of those beautiful eggs.
It has been many years and it was super cold that day. I may have forgotten some of the finer details but one thing I do remember is their last name - Sweeter. The words "Angela Sweeter" still bring warmth to my heart.
Michael was reading in Joshua 4 shortly after this happened and decided that we would set up our own '12 stones' so that our children would have a visual memorial of what God did for us that day. He proclaimed every February 1, "Blizzard Day". For the last 20-21 years we have celebrated God's astounding goodness in our life that day by recounting the story of His tender hand while eating ice cream blizzards or something similarily ridiculously freezing on Feb 1.
As you might know, we have not had our own children to proclaim the watchful hand of God to, so often we gather friends, neighbors, church family, or even strangers each year to share in our celebration. This year we had the joy of sharing our memorial with six of our CBF kids. It was precious to watch their faces and then answer their questions about snow, farmers, and "did you have a cell phone?". (Ha! I am older than they think.)
Here they are - from Cuba, Germany, Venezuela, India, and one from America. We ate ice cream and played electronic Monopoly until late into the night.
chocolate abounds tonight
Thank you Sweeters - Thank you God.
That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: