Stepford and the Cardinal

There is a saying that goes something like- a cardinal in your yard is a visitor from heaven.

I know, it doesn’t rhyme, and it doesn’t even sound like much. But I had heard it a few times over the years and it was flitting around somewhere in the back of my mind. Which is probably why I started noticing cardinals after my Grandma passed away.

It started last summer. One day when I was struggling with my life decisions of giving up my home, moving to a new state, being 7 months pregnant with my second daughter, and just not real sure what my future held, I was standing at my kitchen sink and saw a cardinal swoop out of nowhere and land on the back of my porch chair. It looked straight in my window and tilted it’s head at me.

And the very first thought that went through my mind was “oh there you are”

Without any provocation at all, that was the first thing I thought. Immediately followed by- your grandmother is not a bird. Followed pretty closely by- but she loved birds and fed them and watched them from the back porch, so maybe she is.

I didn’t think too much of it, until we moved into our trailer in West Virginia and one night when I was taking out the garbage, out of nowhere, a cardinal swooped down and landed in the gravel parking lot, tilting its head at me. I nodded in acknowledgment and went about my business, not wanting to make a fuss. But, in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but wonder…

I didn’t see any cardinals the rest of the winter, not during my stay with my in laws, and not when I was spending my evenings wondering where exactly my life was taking me.

But, the week before we closed on our house, when it seemed all hell was breaking loose- the seller was out of the state and couldn’t be reached, the tenants occupying the property had trashed the place, our mortgage company had forgotten a set of disclosures and needed three more days to review them, we didn’t think we were going to make our closing date. I was hearing from almost everyone I saw- Do you think you’re making the right decision? Do you feel like maybe this is a sign you aren’t supposed to buy this house? Maybe God is trying to tell you something.

One night, when I was staying with my dad for the weekend, I stood at his kitchen window staring out into the evening light wondering if we were doing the right thing and if everyone would be disappointed if we followed through buying a house they all so obviously didn’t approve of. My cardinal dropped down and landed on his grill cover, tilting it’s head at me. I smiled and thought “oh there you are”.


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