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Since the beginning of the year, it seems like I have been bombarded with quotes and pictures about red cardinals.
The first quote I saw was in January on my Facebook page. This quote, by Victoria McGovern, gave me great comfort:
“May you come to find comfort in and remember cardinals appear when angels are near. So go now, sit outside and drink your tea. Keep a look out for the little red bird – it is there, your loved one will be.”
This quote was accompanied by a picture of a beautiful male red cardinal in the snow. I immediately thought of my dad since he passed away in 2014, but I doubted that I would see any red cardinal since it was the middle of winter. At my home, I usually see finches or sparrows, but only in the spring/summer. It was a nice, fleeting thought, but I didn’t think much more about it.
About a week later, a friend of mine who is also an excellent writer and photographer posted a picture that he had taken that day. It was snowing, and two red cardinals, one male and one female, sat in the branches of a tree outside his window. I was stunned! I knew that this was a sign that angels were near. Again, I thought about my dad, and I told my mom what had happened which gave her great comfort.
A few weeks later, another post came across my Facebook page. Again, it was a picture of a male red cardinal. The quote read as follows:
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, loves leaves a memory no one can steal.”
Once again, I thought about my dad and how no one can take away the memories I have of him. I remembered how he sat me on his lap and let me act like I was driving the car. I remembered how me held on to the back of my bicycle as I learned to ride while promising to not let go of the bike (even though he eventually did). I remembered how he taught me to calculate complex math problems for my school homework. I remembered how he wrestled with me and my brother and sister on the living room floor and had us laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe. I thought about how none of these memories could ever be taken from me. I smiled.
A few days later, as I worked in my office, I looked up at my bookcase as I took a small break. My eyes immediately were drawn to a book that I had read last year – “The Gift of the Red Bird” by Paula D’Arcy. I thought about the red cardinal once again, and joy filled my heart.
Just about three weeks ago, I saw yet another post on my Facebook page. Again, it was a male red cardinal in the snow, and the quote was as follows:
“When a red cardinal appears in your yard, it’s a visitor from heaven.”
Well, I don’t have a “yard” since I live in a townhouse. But, my mom has a nice big yard, and she loves to watch the birds in her backyard. She has a bird feeder that she keeps filled all the time, and the birds come often…that is if the squirrels don’t get to the feeder first. I called her and told her what I had just seen on Facebook and told her to keep an eye out for red cardinals in her yard.
A couple of days later, I again was surprised when I saw that another one of my good friends posted a picture that she had taken of a red cardinal in some tree branches. I didn’t have a yard, but that red cardinal somehow still managed to show up. Again, I smiled and thought of my dad.
That same day, I called my mom, and her first words were “You aren’t going to believe this!” As she sat on her deck that morning, she thought to herself, “I wonder if I will see a red cardinal today.” Not long after that, a female cardinal showed up in some bushes followed by a beautiful male red cardinal. She just couldn’t believe it, but she was so comforted. I was just shocked!
About two weeks ago, I went to visit my mom, and I stayed overnight. While we ate breakfast, we talked and looked outside through the bay window in her kitchen. Suddenly, a male and female red cardinal appeared near her bird feeder. It was probably the same pair that she saw just days earlier. The first thing that I noticed is that the male was such a bright red color and was absolutely gorgeous – probably the brightest red cardinal I had ever seen. We were both quite sure they were visitors from heaven – angels that had come to tell us that we were loved.
My mom’s birthday was March 1. On that morning, as she prepared her breakfast, she looked out the window only to see that gorgeous male red cardinal. But this time, he was sitting in the crape myrtle tree next to the house. This was my dad’s favorite tree. The cardinal looked directly at her and didn’t fly away. He just sat in the branches of my dad’s favorite tree and stared at her. It was a moment that she will never forget and is one of the best birthday gifts she has ever received. This was most certainly my dad sending his love from heaven.
Always be on the lookout for these “angels” from heaven. Love is being sent our way all the time, sometimes through the most simple and innocent of ways – we just have to slow down and look for it!
Image at Creative Commons, http://www.commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3Aspondylolysis_back_pain_.jpg
Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries, And daub their natural faces unaware.
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING, Aurora Leigh
Well, I haven’t posted here for a while because I have been in the ER once again for my back problems. In 2009, I found out that I had a broken back, and since then I have gone through three spinal fusions, the first of two of which failed. I had been doing quite well recently, so I decided to sign up for six personal training sessions at my local gym. Turns out that this was a mistake. About a week and a half ago, my trainer decided that I needed to do some dead lifts…..something that I found out later I should never do. I could barely walk the next day because of the pain, and then I had significant leg weakness that eventually landed me in the hospital. I have been on pain meds, a muscle relaxant, and prednisone to bring down inflammation. Luckily, I seem to be improving, so hopefully I won’t be facing any additional surgery. Obviously, I will not be returning to personal training at my gym!
I thought this would be a good time to share my story of how my broken back actually saved my life. I am writing my sixth book now, and this is part of the story, so you will be getting a little insight before I publish it. My first back surgery in 2009 failed and resulted in two broken screws in my back…..terrible I know, but it wasn’t as painful as you might think. I had my second spinal fusion in 2010, but to my extreme disappointment, this fusion also failed. I did extensive research and decided to change doctors to someone who was a noted expert in complex spinal problems. Before my third surgery, a slew of tests were run on me to determine the situation and identify any problems with me that could have contributed to the previous failed surgeries. One of the tests was a CT myelogram. However, before having this test, a head CT has to be done to rule out a rare problem at the base of the brain that could lead to seizures due to the injection of dye into the spinal column during the myelogram. So, in the summer of 2011, I went in for a routine head CT.
I wasn’t concerned at all about the head CT. I don’t have headaches except for the occasional sinus or tension headache. I was sure they would not find a thing wrong with me that would prevent me from having a CT myelogram. The test itself took about 10 minutes, and there was nothing to it. I left the hospital and began my errands for the day. But, about twenty minutes after leaving the hospital, my cell phone rang, and it was my doctor’s office. The nurse told me that they had found a brain aneurysm on the head CT and I needed to be seen immediately. She told me that my back issues would have to be put on hold because this aneurysm took priority as it could be deadly!
I was in complete shock. I had absolutely no symptoms, and I never would have known this aneurysm existed had it not been for all the problems with my back. The aneurysm has since been coiled. I have had several follow up angiograms, and the coiled aneurysm is now stable.
This just goes to show that God really does work in mysterious ways. Many times we complain about all the problems that we have in this life. Yes, I could have focused on the negative and complained about my broken back, asking God “why did this happen to me?” But instead, I look at it as a blessing. Not only can I help others who might be going through similar back issues, but all this suffering from my back actually ended up saving my life. Without my back problems, I would have never been aware of the aneurysm, and I might not have ever made it to see this day. So, the next time something happens to you that “looks” like a bad thing…..for example, being late because of a traffic accident on the road…..it could actually be God looking out for you and saving your life. Just think – if you had been just a few minutes earlier on that road, it may have been you in that accident!
About 8 years ago, I was blessed to be part of a group in Texas who went out and fed the homeless. Over the months that I was involved with this church group, we helped many people who were on the streets – alcoholics, drug addicts, those with mental disorders, and those who were just plain down on their luck. Although we were sad about their living conditions, it was such a rewarding experience to know that we helped these people in our own small way. I remember looking at them and wondering what horrible thing happened in their life that put them in such a terrible position. I usually prayed for them on the way back to the church.
One day as we were handing out food, an older man came up to us carrying a bunch of palm branches. We asked him what he needed, and he said “Nothing. I just wanted to share something with you.” His tattered clothing and unshaven face made it clear that he was indeed homeless. He went on to say that he felt God had called him to take palm branches and twist them into crosses to give to others as a sign of hope. He then took his branches and twisted them into the shape of a cross – a beautiful one at that. He made a cross for each of us, and we thanked him for such a wonderful gift. He was a very sweet man, very quiet and polite. After he was done, he made sure to thank us for coming down and helping the homeless. He then turned and walked away without taking and food or drink from our truck. I kept that cross for several months until it dried out and started to crumble. I didn’t want to let it go because the whole experience had such a major impact on me.
About 3 years ago, my ex-husband and I went out to eat at a steakhouse in Washington, D.C. As we walked down the street in the city, a homeless man suddenly approached us and told us we looked like newlyweds. We thanked him and told him we had been married 20 years. He smiled and said “Well, you look like newlyweds. You are definitely meant for each other.” Again, this homeless man did not ask for a thing from us. We thanked him and continued on our way. Little did I know that would be the last meal that I would enjoy with my ex-husband. About a week later, I found out that he had been having an affair.
So, was that homeless man in Texas, who didn’t ask for any help from us, really an angel among us who was thanking us for helping out those who are less fortunate? Did he give us those crosses as a way to show us that God sees our good works? What about the man in Washington? Was that an angel who was trying to send a message to my ex-husband? Was this a divine way to let him know that what he was doing was wrong? I believe both of these were in fact angels among the homeless. I believe that things like this happen all the time, but we are too busy to notice. A lesson that I have learned from these two experiences are that we should never, ever judge others. We never know who and where we will experience divine intervention.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you.” Luke 6:37
“The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans). Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:9-10