Looking for Angels

I started watching for angels six years ago. It was a dreary winter afternoon in Oregon. For several weeks each day had been more soggy and overcast than the one before, and each consecutive night lasted a little longer. I was pregnant, and dragged heavily through my days as if my home were lined with the same mud that clogged our sidewalk and yard. On this particular day I was especially exhausted by the energy of my two preschoolers, on whom the oppressive weather seemed to have exactly the opposite effect.

Frustrated with my own irritability, I retreated to my room for some spiritual nourishment. But as I opened the Sunday School manual and began to read, I found myself more and more discouraged. When I read the words of one prophet describing his mother as an “Angel Mother” I finally lost it completely and burst into tears. How could I possibly compare to the pioneer heroines in the manual, I wondered? My own life seemed easy in comparison to the trials I read about in the lives of the early Saints, and yet I still found myself coming up short on a daily basis.

I knelt and poured my heart out to the Lord. Some time later I looked up to see the cheerful face of my three-year old daughter smiling at me. “Guess what, Mom?” she chirped. “I made you something!”

“Thanks, sweetie,” I said, trying to summon up some enthusiasm despite my interrupted prayer and generally negative outlook. “What is it?”

She held up a pink headband with a white foam circle taped to the top. “See? It’s an angel hat, because you are my Angel Mother.”

In the days and years since then I have often had days when I didn’t feel very angelic, and it has been a comfort to me to understand that to the Lord my efforts are still valuable. But the experience had another effect for me as well. I began to look around and to wonder about all the other angelic women surrounding me. I had only recently returned to Church activity after spending my adolescence and young adult years away from the fold. I often felt intimidated by the gospel knowledge, homemaking skills, and general goodness of Latter Day Saint women. Could it be that they also felt overwhelmed and less than capable at times? That they also struggled to recognize the value of their contributions? When I realized that the answer was “Yes,” I strengthened my resolve to appreciate—and express my appreciation for– the greatness of the women around me.

So many of my current interests and skills are gifts that have come through my association with powerful women. Heather taught me to make homemade bread, which I now do regularly, (6 loaves of bread a week, to be exact, along with homemade pancakes, waffles, and pizza crust). Felicia gave me the vision (and a lot of practical tips) about what I could do as a homeschooler. Kristy taught brought herbs for my sick family and inspired me to learn about natural healing. Kathy raised my expectations for what I could do as a writer and editor.

Perhaps even more powerful are the women who have simply loved me, in large and small ways that have left a lasting imprint: Lana, who met me as a mixed up new age spiritualist and helped love me back to the gospel. Kimberly, who always invited my large crazy family to her home. Cara Mia who eased our transition to a new home in a new state. All of them and many, many more are my angels.

This November I want to remember the wonderful women in my life. Tell me a story about one of the angels in your life. Why are you grateful for her?

11 thoughts on “Looking for Angels

  1. My sister, Sarah, is one of the angel women in my life. We weren’t really close as kids, but she is one of my dearest friends now.

    Some of the angelic things about her: Sarah is five years younger than me. When she was a missionary, she often prayed that I would get married before her. She also prayed that I would have kids before her. She knew how much both meant to me. Knowing how much both mean to her, I can’t imagine a more selfless prayer offered by a sister. (She got married a few years before me, and is due with her number one in January).

    She somehow has forgiven me for all my meanness when we were growing up. Even though she felt compared to me and less valued than me for years, even though I really was a very mean big sister, she has let those memories fall behind the fun childhood memories and our newer memories as adult sisters and friends.

    When we talk on the phone, and “it’s all about me” and I realize what I’m doing, again, and I apologize, she tells me it helps her to hear me talk and put thoughts into words.

    She is the angel of our family. She has dropped everything in her life to help our grandmothers on their deathbeds, for weeks at a time. She drops everything to help other family and friends as well. She has patiently born her long years of infertility, still rejoicing for others’ happiness, still willing to serve and love.

    I am amazed by my sister. I am so grateful to have her friendship and forgiveness and support. She is an amazing woman.

    And, on a less deep note, I love that we “get” each other.

  2. p.s. Angie, this was beautiful. I love that your daughter came in with such a lovely answer to your prayer. The Lord knows us so well. Thank you for this essay.

  3. I had a friend once who somehow knew when I needed her. She would show up and we could put away an entire evening talking. I think I loved her mostly because our friendship was so much more than talking about decorating or cute clothes. Together, we enriched each other spiritually. We talked about ‘real things’.

    I was devastated when she moved away from me. This was a nice reminder of her. Thanks, Angie.

  4. I have so many. One comes to mind first. My mom had a friend who always tried to help me develop those traits that she knew my mom wouldn’t/couldn’t teach me. Because she was my mom’s close friend, I don’t think there was negative judgment involved when she “took me on as her project.” I really think she loved me and knew that I had talents/abilities that could use a little nudging. She even helped me find jobs as I got older and employed me for a time (she was a State Representative). Man I love this lady. What a stellar example of what a Mormon woman can be.

    She joined the church as a young woman, married a man who was not a member, waited 20 years (and was patient with his drinking/carousing) for him to convert, raised three boys who all fell away from the church, and still goes to church/serves faithfully every. single. week. She got her bachelor’s degree after her children were raised and served on the school board and eventually served at the State level. She got cancer while I worked with her. It’s now terminal. She plans to leave on a mission as soon as she can convince her husband. Wow.

  5. My angel really is an angel. My angel mother. Mom died nine years ago this month. She was way too young to die, but that fact didn’t stop it from happening. And I was way too young to lose my mother. I had already lost my father when I was five, and I wasn’t ready to be an orphan.

    But, of course, I didn’t really lose her. In very real ways, she often feels closer to me now than when she was alive and living 2 1/2 hours away. I feel like I can summon her to me whenever I need her. And I can even send her on missions! She’s been at ASU with my oldest daughter for the past 3 1/2 years, helping protect her and cheering her on in her academic, spiritual, and social endeavors. And she spent a busy month in Oregon this summer, watching over my 18-year-old son who was away from home for the first time, earning money for his mission. More recently, she’s been in Munich, Germany at the side of my dear friend who just lost her oldest son in a tragic drowning accident–something my mother can relate to very directly, having lost her own oldest son to drowning.

    Of course, I don’t really know how all this works. I don’t know how involved our deceased loved ones can be in our lives and I certainly don’t understand all the ins and outs and ifs of guardian angelship. But I do know this: my angel mother is aware of me. She is aware of me, and she loves me just as much or even more than she did when she was on this earth. And I know that she will do anything, absolutely anything, within her power to help sustain and protect her loved ones and to further God’s work.

    ‘Cause that’s what angels do.

  6. I loved this post, Angie. I love the story about your little girl.

    I have a real angel, my angel mother-in-law. Like Sharlee, I know she’s with my family. And I watch in awe as my angel mother takes care of her mother and mother-in-law and me. In my ward there are angel cheerleaders–our Enrichment leader is so encouraging with food storage, my visiting teachers (best. visiting teachers. ever.) who remember my birthday and care about my life.

    It’s good to remember the ways God touches us through the angels around us.

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