Maria Yeager

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The Red Cardinal – Love From Heaven

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!

 

The Lesson From the Finches

A few months ago, as I was writing at my computer, I heard a bunch of noise at my front door. I went to the door and looked out my peephole, and to my delight, a small bird was constructing a nest in my wreath. The wreath was just the right size that I could watch her closely through the peephole. Now, I know some people might not like a bird making a nest on a wreath on a front door because of the mess the birds would leave behind, but not me. I love all kinds of animals, and I was so happy that she chose her nest location on my wreath.

As the days went by, I heard constant singing and chirping. I decided to look up information on birds as I know very little about them. I was able to match the singing to a house finch. When she finally laid the eggs and I saw them through the peephole, I was completely convinced that this was a house finch. The eggs appeared light blue with dark specks on them, and this is what a house finch eggs looks like.

Apparently, it takes 12-14 days for finch eggs to hatch, so when they hadn’t hatched at about day 15, I became a little worried. Mom was still sitting on them, but they weren’t hatching. I said a prayer and specifically asked God to help the little finches. I was so excited to see that a couple of the eggs had hatched the very next day. I watched as mom brought food to the nest and fed the little mouths that I saw through the peephole.

A couple of days later, dad must have been visiting the nest as I saw a beautiful red-chested bird facing toward the peephole, and he looked exactly like the house finches I had seen on the computer. He was beautiful, and I watched as he fed the babies. Amazing!

However, a few days later, I noticed that there wasn’t much activity in the nest. I couldn’t see the babies, and I again started to worry. After a full day of no activity, I decided to open my front door (I had been entering and exiting my house through my garage as to not disturb the nest). To my utter disappointment, I found a dead baby lying in front of my door. I could not locate the second baby. I looked in the nest, and there were two unhatched eggs still in it, but I knew the parents abandoned the nest. I moved the dead baby bird into the grass. My heart was broken. I spoke to God and told him that I didn’t understand why the babies died. I didn’t understand why I prayed for them, then they hatched only to die several days later. I was depressed and frustrated; however, deep inside I knew that all things happen for a reason. I tried to hang onto that, but it was hard.

About a week later, again as I was writing, a bird flew straight into my window. It didn’t die – it just flew off and landed on a nearby railing. I was able to get a good look at it, and it looked like a female finch. About a month later, I attended a family reunion. After checking into the hotel room, I opened the curtains to the balcony only to find a dead goldfinch lying on a chair. At that point, all I could do was laugh. I told my family members, and all I could think was, “What is it with all the dead or injured birds? I don’t get it!”

I think my questions were answered this morning. When I first woke up, I checked facebook (as I always do). I saw a post from one of my friends that quoted Isaiah 52:7:

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who bring good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.””

The word “publishes” stuck out to me since I am a writer. Was God telling me to write an inspirational blog today? I wasn’t sure, but it was intriguing.

I walked down the steps and into my kitchen. After making sure my cat had enough food and water, I opened the blinds to my patio. Right at that moment, two finches flew up, landed on my railing, and looked directly at me. One was a female (all brown) and the other was a gorgeous male (bright red on his chest and on his tail). Almost immediately, two more female finches showed up and landed on the railing next to the other two. They just looked at me and didn’t seem scared at all. It was almost as if they were telling me that everything is OK with them. Even though bad things happened, they are all OK. I couldn’t believe how close they were and how they didn’t seem scared at all when I moved the blinds. Even my cat came up and looked out, and they didn’t move. They just cocked their heads from side to side and looked at us. After a few minutes, they all flew away.

When my mom heard about this, she reminded me of the following verse in the Bible:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” Matthew 10:29

I believe that today, we need to remember that we should not worry and always remember that God is holding us in the palm of His hand. He is in control. I know that in recent days, there has been much suffering in light of the police shootings and the event in Dallas, but we must remember that God is the source of peace. We need to turn to Him and lean on Him during this time. God teaches us to be loving and compassionate, and we, as onlookers to this event, need to help out others who are hurting during this time and bring them some sense of peace. This is a very rough time for a lot of people, but happy days will return, just as it did for the finches.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 5:13

 

Easter Gifts From God

 

If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you know that I notice signs from God in everyday life.

Last Wednesday, a line of very strong thunderstorms came through this area. A line of severe weather began to develop around 4:00, and I watched as this line grew closer and closer to my neighborhood. However, as I watched, I began to notice that the really bad storms were just north and south of where I lived. Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued to my north, and tornado warnings were issued to the south.

At around 5:30 or so, it began to thunder outside of my home, but the storm was small and only lasted about 15 minutes. I was so thankful that this area had dodged the worst of the storm; however, I later heard of some deaths associated with this line of storms due to tornadoes. Although I was happy this area dodged the worst of it, I was deeply saddened by the loss of life.

A few hours later, I saw reports of rainbows in the area. Not only was it a rainbow…it was a beautiful double rainbow! I remembered the time when I saw a rainbow during one of the worst times in my life (see previous blog post, “God’s Rainbow”). When I saw the picture of the double rainbow, I immediately felt a sense of peace as I knew God was sending another sign of His love.

That night, as I climbed into bed, I noticed that my rosary was once again glowing. Even though this rosary glows in the dark, I rarely notice it for some reason (see previous blog post, “A Christmas Miracle”). On this night, I did notice it, and it just happened to be the same day that the double rainbow appeared in the sky. I felt like God had His arms wrapped around me. I felt so loved and protected.

The next morning as I prepared my breakfast, I couldn’t stop smiling as I remembered what had happened the previous night. I happened to look over toward my window, and I noticed my peace lily. This lily was from my dad’s funeral in March, 2014. The poor thing almost died, and I almost threw it out, but I really wanted this plant to live since it reminded me of my dad. I kept it and nurtured it, and it eventually began to put up new leaves. However, it never bloomed. On this particular morning, I was stunned to notice that it was getting ready to bloom. I walked over to it and noticed that two white blooms were getting ready to open. I couldn’t believe it!

In Christianity, the peace lily is associated with the Virgin Mary, Easter, and Christ’s resurrection. It indicates a season of rebirth and is a popular funeral plant as it symbolizes the rebirth of the soul of the departed. This beautiful plant is associated with hope, peace, purity, prosperity, and innocence.

The timing of the blooms are amazing to me. First of all, it occurred the morning after I noticed the glowing rosary and the appearance of the double rainbow. Second, it occurred during the season of Lent, just a month before Easter. Third, this plant, which reminds me of my dad, is now blooming just one month away from the date of my dad’s death. Fourth, the lily is my dad’s favorite flower. In fact, we had lilies engraved on the headstone for this reason.

What better gifts can a person get for Easter? Candy? Easter eggs? An Easter basket? Nope, this is definitely the best gift a person can get, and I thank God with all my heart for sending me these wonderful signs from heaven.

Be sure to stop and look around this Easter season…you may be missing messages of love and encouragement from God. He sends them all the time 🙂

Happy Easter!

 

 

 

 

Never Give Up

There have been two suicides that I have had to deal with in my life. One was a family member, and the other was a friend. In both situation, the stresses of life were just too much for them, and they clearly felt like there was no other way out.

All of us have had difficult events in our lives. But have you ever felt like your life was completely falling apart? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like there was no way out?

I’ve been there. Let me give you a little background information about me. I danced for over twenty years. I started dancing at the age of four when my mom put me in ballet classes. In my teenage years, I became the captain of my high school flag team and began to take jazz classes. Eventually I moved onto modern, pointe, and even ballroom dancing while I was in college. After college, I tried ice skating and tap. Needless to say, I absolutely loved to dance!

In high school, I really became interested in science and performed quite well in science fairs. This interest propelled me into getting a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology, and eventually I ended up working in the field of genetics for about twenty years. I loved this work even though most people don’t understand why…lol…as I sat behind a microscope for eight hours of the day. The passion for this work was just something I was born with, I guess!

I met my husband when I was 25, and we married a year later. I thought I had found the love of my life. We lived in three different states – South Carolina, Virginia, and Texas – and I worked in the laboratory in all three states, sometimes teaching aerobic classes after work. We had a beautiful home and plenty of great friends. I thought my life was perfect…until…

It all began when I woke up one morning and my right leg gave out. I had a herniated disc in my lower back, and a few months later, I had my first spinal fusion. During the surgery, the doctor discovered that my back was actually broken. About five months later, we learned that two of the screws broke, and the fusion had failed. A few months later, a second spinal fusion was performed. This second surgery also failed. I began to worry that I would never be able to dance again. Also, I had to leave my job due to these ongoing issues with my back. So, at this point, I had lost my favorite hobby, and I had lost the ability to work.

Around this same time, my dad was diagnosed with lymphoma. He began chemotherapy about a month later but had a very bad reaction to it and ended up in the hospital for about 9 weeks. During that time, he almost went into respiratory arrest due to an infection in his lungs. Fortunately, he was able to recover and eventually went into remission.

While preparing for my third surgery, an imaging test revealed that I had a brain aneurysm. I was shocked and frustrated at that point. Two days later, I woke up and realized that the right side of my face was paralyzed. Terrified that I had a stroke as a result of the aneurysm, I rushed to the hospital along with my husband and parents. Luckily, I only had Bell’s Palsy, and it cleared up within a couple of months. But the experience was awful!

About a month later, I underwent surgery for the brain aneurysm. The doctor placed a coil and stent in the affected blood vessel, and thankfully, it has remained stable to this day. However, I had to take a blood thinner for several months to make sure a deadly blood clot didn’t form near the aneurysm. This meant that I couldn’t have back surgery until I was taken off the blood thinner. Eventually, I was able to plan for the third back surgery.

One month before the surgery, I found out that my husband had been having an affair. We separated almost immediately. The next few weeks were the worst of my life as I had to obtain an attorney, fill out mounds of paperwork, make sure evidence of the affair was secured, have pre-surgery testing while crying and venting to the nurse (who was incredibly supportive, btw),  and make sure I was prepared for surgery (food, transportation, etc). During this month, I endured many phone calls from my husband who wanted to sell the house prior to my surgery, believe it or not! Thankfully, I had an excellent attorney who squashed that idea rather quickly.

This was definitely the lowest point of my life. I had lost my favorite hobby, my career, and my husband. I felt like there was no way out and that my life was over. I can’t even describe the feelings of anger and desperation that I felt. But, I chose to turn to God.

After recovering from my third spinal fusion, I made plans to move from my house into a smaller home. The day of the move was long and tedious, and I was exhausted when the movers left at around 11 p.m. The next morning, I woke up to a house full of boxes, but before I could start the unpacking process, I had to return to my former home for its final cleaning. On my way there, I received a phone call from my mom saying that my dad was in bad shape. He passed away later that day. Thankfully, a close friend stepped up and offered to help me. She and her family cleaned my old home and began to unpack boxes for me while I was with my mom planning my dad’s funeral. Two weeks later, my divorce was finalized. So…in a period of about three weeks, I had a major move, a death, and the finalization of my divorce.

In my previous blogs, I describe numerous times when God sent me signs during this deep valley in my life…from dreams to rainbows. I hung onto Him and His Word for dear life, and He pulled me through. Through prayer and counseling, I have recovered and am living a peaceful life. I now write books as much as my back will allow me to do so, and I have the most incredibly supportive friends and family around me. I enjoy watching dance shows and listening to old music as it brings back so many great memories. My life has definitely changed, but I’ve never been happier. I not only survived, but I am a much better and incredibly stronger person than I ever was before. I am here to tell others that suicide and/or giving up should never be an option. God can pull you through anything…and I mean anything!

I thought about writing this blog after I read a passage in Psalms yesterday. This particular passage really touched my heart, and I want to share it with you today 🙂 When times are tough, really tough, reach out to God. Cry out to Him and NEVER GIVE UP!

“In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears…He reached down from on high, He took  me; He drew me out of mighty waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me; for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity; but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me, because He delighted in me.” Psalms 6, 16-19

 

 

 

 

“I Will Call Them My People Who Are Not My People”

It is amazing to me how I always receive a new message each time I read the Bible, even when I read the same passage repeatedly. My own mother has remarked on this also.

Yesterday, as I read Romans, I thought about all the times that I have encountered people who strongly believe that their denomination is the “right” denomination. I have seen persecution of and by Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, and many others. There are many people out there that think in order to save someone, they must convert others to their own specific denomination. I would like to take time to address this issue today.

I have never believed that a specific denomination will guarantee your entrance into heaven based on the following statement that Jesus says in the gospel of John:

“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:16

However, I received more clarification on this subject as I read Romans, beginning in chapter 3.

“Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.” Romans 3:29-30

This brings up the issue of following man-made laws in the church. Will God punish those who receive communion in a church when they are not a member of that church? No, I don’t believe so, based on the above statement. The real purpose of receiving communion is to spiritually connect with the Almighty and to remember His death on the cross for the salvation of our souls. This can be done even if you don’t receive communion physically. It is solely dependent on what is in your heart, and if you truly believe and accept Jesus as your Savior, these man-made rules have no power over you. God has the final say.

Continuing on to Romans, Chapter 9, it says “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.” Romans 9:6

Paul goes on to explain, “In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” Romans 9:8

I take this to mean that the choice is ours. We have to make a conscious decision to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and truly believe it in our heart. This offer is open to all – Catholics, Jewish, Protestant, etc. It is not limited to one denomination. This is clarified even more in the same chapter in Romans.

“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one” and “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘you are not my people’, they will be called  ‘sons of the living God.'” Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”Romans 9:25-28

Although this can sound a bit scary to some, it is actually great news. Anyone from any area, denomination, class, color, etc. can be saved! It is open to everyone! The door is open – all you have to do is walk through it and allow Jesus into your life. This promise isn’t just for a certain group of people – it is for ALL people, regardless of who you are or where you are. Take His hand and allow Him to enter your heart and lead you on the path of righteousness!

“What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith, but Israel,who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone”. As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” Romans 9:30-33

Do not fool yourself into thinking that other denominations are “wrong”. Each denomination has issues that they deal with – issues that can be improved. To think that only one denomination is “right” is akin to believing that you can only get to heaven through “works”. The only way to heaven is complete faith and trust in God. Always remember, “Do not judge lest ye be judged” and “all things are possible with God”.

 

 

 

 

 

Million to one shot

A few weeks ago, I was attending a church service at a nearby church. The minister gave a wonderful sermon on how God works in our life. During his sermon, he said that when something really rare happens, people are known to make the comment “million to one shot”, but this is really God working in our lives. This brought to my mind the time when a “million to one shot” happened in my life.

I was living in Texas at the time, and I woke up one morning with pain in my right eye each time I opened and closed it. It felt like some kind of debris, so I pried my eyelid up to try and dislodge it. That didn’t work, so I looked in the mirror and moved my eyelid around to see if I could see anything. I saw nothing. I tried eye drops to wash it out, and still no luck. I even watched a sad movie and cried, hoping that would work. No luck.

The next morning, I woke up hoping that the situation had resolved itself, but it hadn’t. My eye was bright red and hurt terribly each time I blinked. I ended up going to an ophthamologist that day to take care of the problem. When he came into the room, he could clearly see that my right eye was very irritated. After telling him the story, he looked into my eye with the equipment in his office and said, “Hhmm….well, that’s interesting. Million to one shot!” I asked him what he saw, and apparently one of my eyelashes had lodged itself into the tear duct! The chances of that happening were almost negligible. He was able to remove the eyelash with a small pair of tweezers, and the problem was solved.

When I heard the sermon and thought about this incident, I realized that maybe God had sent me a message. When the eyelash lodged in the tear duct, my life seemed to be going quite well. Little did I know that several years later, my life fell apart, and what I knew to be true in Texas was not true at all. I have grown so much, and now that I look back to that event in Texas, I was actually “blind” in so many ways.

The most amazing ending to this was at the end of the service. They sang Amazing Grace, and this confirmed my thoughts about the “million to one shot”. God works in our lives in the most mysterious and amazing ways – we just have to listen and be aware of the signs!

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.  John Newton

 

 

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