Saturday, July 5, 2014

When God Winks

A friend of mine gave me a book called "When God Winks at You" shortly after Ben died. It's filled with stories of amazing coincidence, showing us the subtle and not-so-subtle ways God uses to show us that He's caring for us.

It was a relatively quick read and it gave me words to be able to communicate when I experienced one of those divine appointments. The huge frog and snake Jack found the morning after his brother died: a God-wink. The sparrow that he found when our heads were spinning just a few days later: another God-wink. Examples where the God of the universe proved to us - in very tangible and meaningful ways - that we were not alone.

God has continued to show Himself in unexpected ways along our path through grief. But the most recent happened almost two weeks ago while more than eight hundred miles away from home.

Andy and I took our kids to Myrtle Beach last week for a family vacation. We knew it would be tough. This was Ben's favorite spot and he begged for us to fly on an airplane to go earlier this spring, but we went to Florida instead because the weather would have been more tropical in March. We last ventured there in August and it was - by far - our best family vacation yet. We knew it would be emotional, staying in the same place, swimming in the same pool, frequenting the same restaurants and attractions. But we decided that it could also be a time of healing for us. Andy drove straight through the night and we arrived last Monday, the 23rd.

Immediately after we arrived, Jack wanted to go to the beach. So after we got settled and had something to eat, we brought our new shovels and nets to enjoy the warm breeze and the gentle waves of the Atlantic while our kids rolled in the sand and searched for critters.

Two of our earthly blessings on the dock of our favorite beach
Jack fishing for anything that was willing to jump inside his net
Megan Joy, truly a ray of sunshine
Meanwhile, Andy and I sobbed.

We were expecting it to be emotional. Not physically painful.

After we put the kids to bed, we wept. Andy cried himself to sleep and I went on the back patio to let it out and not wake up the kids. I wanted to throw up. My stomach hurt. My heart ached. It felt like someone had punched me in the gut. Repeatedly. And I desperately wanted to go home. This was just way too painful.

You know, maybe this was just too early for us, I thought. Maybe it was just too much, too soon. We could literally see Ben run alongside his brother in the waves. Jack still fit into the same swimming trunks he had worn in August. Physically, he doesn't look that different than when we visited less than a year ago. Megan rolled in the sand and made funny faces as the waves crashed on her little body. And she looked sooo much like her brother. This was just way too difficult.

If I hadn't just gotten out of a car after fifteen hours of straight driving (and on the eve of my third trimester,) it would have been easy for me to convince Andy to leave. He felt the same way. But Jack and Megan were having so much fun. Jack had been counting down ever since we told him we were leaving, just nine days before. This mommy knew I couldn't have handled more questions of 'How much longer till we go to the beach?' than that. We couldn't let them down. We would have to stick it out.

As with most things in life, I'm so glad we did. The first two days were the hardest. We cried at almost anything. Especially when Jack would excitedly ask us, "Remember when me and Ben used to do THIS?" We continued to cry as we needed, whenever we missed our son more than we could contain.

But even in the midst of our storm, God was there. More than eight hundred miles away from home, and God chose to show Himself in the smallest and most meaningful ways. To give us hope. And peace.

The biggest fish we caught was grabbed by Megan! She was ecstatic.
The second day we were there, we saw a cardinal. He was beautiful. His high-pitched little chirps got our attention first when we were swimming in the pool. And then we'd spot him: on the fence, in the tree, on the bench. Just a few feet from us. Such a lovely sight.

On the bench inside the pool
Now, I've been to this same exact same vacation spot just south of Myrtle Beach about a dozen times. It had been my family's favorite getaway since I was in high school and I had spent many summers there enjoying the simplicity of the pool and the beach even before I met Andy. Once we were married, we went there for our first summer vacation and then we took the boys when they were eighteen months old. Then we were there this past August and then again this June.

And this is the FIRST cardinal I have ever seen there. Ever.

Coincidence? Perhaps. But I seriously disagree.

That cardinal visited us every single day during our visit. It was as if it were trying to make sure we were paying attention to it, the way it flew around us and screeched his loud chirp. Right away, we knew that it was a sign from God, a sign that He was with us. That Ben would not be forgotten. A God-wink. The third day, we started saying, "Thanks, Ben," whenever we saw our new friend. Jack would excitedly jump out of the pool as if he were trying to catch him. It became something we looked forward to everyday.

I believe that God sent that cardinal to that exact spot just for us. We all did.

When we returned home, sun-kissed and rejuvenated, I uploaded several pictures onto Facebook to share with my friends. Another mom of twins commented on the photo/story of the cardinal saying that one of her friends posted this a while back. And it gave me chills.

"A cardinal is representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you. Look for them, they'll appear."

Now, I don't really get into folklore or myths or old-wives tales. But c'mon, now. That is just beautiful.

A God-wink.

An opportunity that God used to remind us of His grace. Hope. And security.

The wounds we carry are deep. As someone said, we loved much and so we grieve much. Over the past few days, I have sobbed unexpectedly after taking off Ben's Toy Story bed sheets to replace them with new girly ladybug bed sheets for Meg (who's been sleeping in his bed, next to her brother.) I cried to see Megan wearing the lanyard with the kids' photo IDs from the town pool last summer. And just today, I sobbed uncontrollably after receiving our new insurance cards with only four family members listed; it was just another harsh reminder of Ben's absence. I honestly thought that it would get easier. That I would somehow cry less or feel less of our loss over time. But that has just not been the case. If anything, it has gotten harder. More difficult as we experience the consequences of our loss in our everyday activities and celebrations. In my head, I am grateful to know that Ben is not in pain and that he is enjoying the fullness of God's presence in the glory of heaven. But in my heart, I miss my son. I miss his influence in our family. And I don't suppose that will ever go away.
As I was enjoying a quiet moment on the beach, I wrote Ben's name and then Megan came up and put a sand crab inside the heart above his name. It was as it should be.

But even in our grief, there is much joy. I have now rounded the corner of the third trimester and our (seemingly very healthy) baby girl should be here in about ten weeks, just after our oldest begins kindergarten. Jack is enjoying his new summer activities and Megan is just exploding into such a vivacious and fun-loving young lady right before our eyes. Yesterday, I asked her if she liked fireworks. "No, I not like fireworks," she responded. "Dey scare me. I yike worms, though!" How is she only two? Jack's simple child-like faith daily encourages my own.

Where there is sorrow, there is also joy. Where there is grief, there is also much happiness. Andy and I have discovered depths of God's grace we never would have cared to know if we hadn't needed to rely on it as much as we do. As difficult as it may feel at times, God is there.

Our family at the Medieval Times. We were cheering for the yellow knight who not only won that evening, but he also awarded Megan as the Queen of the Tournament (who apparently, wore the appropriate color!) Needless to say, it was a pretty special evening for our family.
I hate that this has happened to us. I hate what my son had to go through. I hate that my kids will grow up without Ben right beside them. I hate the pain that our extended family and friends have had to experience right along with us. But as little as I understand, as much as my heart aches every day, I am confident to serve a loving God that swoops me into His arms on a daily basis. Who lets me cry, vent, and scream. And then wipes away my tears and gives me the grace to continue forward. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

I wish I could say that I'm over it. I'm recovered. I'm fully healed and at peace. But I'd be lying.

I will always carry this wound, this invisible wound. All of us will. But I am so grateful that I'm not doing this alone. And even though I can't touch my Heavenly Father, I know He is there. Even though I haven't heard Him speak audibly, He has spoken to me in so many ways. Even though I can't prove that these stories aren't just mere circumstances of fate and coincidence, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is real. That He is God. That He is sovereign. And that He will continue to look for ways to tangibly remind me of His goodness.

To God be all the glory.


  1. Thanks for sharing your God winks!

  2. I love reading your posts and seeing pictures of the kids.They're adorable.

  3. Loved reading about your "God-wink" moments. Continuing to pray for all of you and nice to hear how He is answering those prayers.

  4. God is ever present if only we learn to look for Him in all things! I love those God winks! ;-)

  5. I read the same book a few years ago. We lost our daughter last August and God has winked several times, always at the perfect time when my faith was fading. It is true..god winks at us so we carry on and show the world his truth through our children. I am so sorry for your loss. The pain is indescribable I know. What a great homecoming we will all have one day.

  6. SO touching! Your story...your journey is just very very touching to me! I certainly hope that with time, you and your family heal.

  7. I too had read the story of the cardinal...I firmly believe that we are given the love we need when we need it most. I still follow your story and thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  8. My mom's favorite bird was the cardinal and I swear I never used to see them until she passed. A few days later I heard this pretty chirping outside my bedroom window and when I looked, I seen the reddest cardinal perched on the fence! Now I see them frequently, especially on mother's day and birthday's ;) God bless your family always. Love Julie.

  9. Beautiful. I needed to hear this today.

  10. Every single time I read your blog , I can't stop crying. I still pray for your family every night
    When ben was on earth, I would just beg God to heal Ben and he did, but not here. It is sk heartbreaking and everynight I still pray for you guys to heal, for God to give you the peace that you need for thar day. Prayers for you all .

  11. Your family are never far from my thoughts. I'm so glad you got to have a trip away this summer. As if kindergarten weren't already a momentous event...wishing you the best as you journey toward a new beginning with baby girl. :)

  12. Every time I see a new blog about Ben and your lives today, I tell myself I cannot read them anymore. I did not know Ben, but it is still painful to feel your sorrow. But once again, I couldn't help myself and once again I am awed by your faith, your courage and your strength. The best part is sensing the presence of God in every line I read. God bless you all.

  13. I got chills after I read the part about the cardinal. Peace be with you!

  14. Hi Mindy, Thank you for sharing. Your posts touch me so profoundly. I've always believed God sends signs. Just an hour ago, I checked your blog thinking I'd missed an update from you. And there it was just shortly thereafter. I love music and have always found significance in songs. I sit here, listening as my two precious boys are tucked up in bed together, giggling, and as I finish reading, tears streaming down, the song "Missing You" came on. I miss Ben, too, even though I didn't know him, but I also miss him for your family. God bless you all. I truly hope time heals your hearts.

  15. Our dear friends lost their 17 month old to an accident on vacation, a few months ago. She was 6 months pregnant with their second. Your blog helps me know how to pray for them better as they cling to God but struggle a lot too. Thanks for your honesty, Mindy.

  16. So many firsts are in your future, with you little girl and without your Ben. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. I pray that God continue to send "God winks" and help you in your healing.

  17. Silly comment, but I love that you use the word hate. I felt guilty feeling this way, but every time I read about your loss and what you and your family are going through I hate that you have to feel this loss. I hate that someone has to be in this much pain. I hate that anyone should have to lose a child. But on a more positive note, I love how you express your feelings and have given me a reason to have faith in God. Your outlook on life and how to cope with loss is inspiring. Wrote something similar on the Pray for Ben facebook page (not sure if you read it). Just wanted you to know how meaningful your blogs are and how in awe I am of your strength and courage through this difficult time. As a mother of a 4 year old and 13 month old I can not begin to imagine what you are going through, but I wish I had the words to ease your pain. God bless you and your family you will always be in my thoughts and prayers.

  18. Very Sad, yet very inspiring! May God Bless you and your family Forever and Always!

  19. The beautiful way you share your family is a "God-Wink". Thank you for your continued transparency that gives God all the glory!
    You & your family have found a place in my heart. I will continue to pray for you, Andy, Jack, Meg & your new baby girl.

  20. God is never too early or too late... He is always on time... perfect time. May God's love, grace and peace continue to fill you and your family.

    1. My mom always said that, too! "God is never late, rarely early, but He is always right on time!" :)

  21. Dear Sauer family,
    Please pray for the Taylor family. They lost their 17 year old daughter when a drunk driver ran a stop sign. She was buried. A few days later, their 20 year old son hit a deer while driving an ATV home from her memorial service. He died yesterday. Both their birthdays are next week, just one day apart.

    Please pray for them. I continue to pray for you and yours.

    1. Oh Robin, my heart breaks for the Taylors. So much grief, so much loss, and in such a short period of time. Yes, my prayers will be with them. Such a difficult road for them to have to walk!! <3

  22. <3 always in my prayers. Jack and Megan are simply beautiful blessings and I love seeing your pictures.

  23. Hi Mindy, there is a site on caringbridge under the name "The Hewitt Family" that reminds me of how faithful you are even through such awful times. You are in my prayers and so sorry you have to go through this.

  24. My light is still Blue4Ben and every night I turn it on, I look up and say "goodnight Ben, our precious Angel". I prayed everyday for Ben to get better. I even asked God to let me trade places with him...your little boy touched my heart that much. I lost my dad a couple years ago and always look to the stars to talk to him. I picked a star out for Ben next to him and talk to both of them. Because of Ben, and your family, through your posts, I am able to better connect and understand signs and winks that I never really paid close enough attention to before. I pray every night before I go to bed. I also talk to my Dad at the same time and beg for him to watch over me and help me through my difficult times...I now know why that red cardinal sits outside my bedroom window and chirps to wake me up in the morning...and to think before I would roll over and say "oh God, can't you let that thing find a new tree branch"?? Thank you for giving me new meaning to my morning wake-up calls. Thank you for finding the strength during this heart breaking time in your life to continually help and guide others closer to God and to understanding how we never walk alone...God love you all and bless you on your journey

  25. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Thank you for writing, for sharing. Always thinking of and praying for your family.

  26. I believe I had a God wink from my grandpa. After he passed a neighbor dog started showing up at our family cottage whenever our children were there. He would play and romp with the kids and the run off. One daybwe heard the owner calling for "Charlie" . We hadn't known the dog's name until then. We were all speechless, because, you see, my grandfather's name had been Charlie! I think he was coming to play with his great grandchildren! And now , after many years, I have a name for it! A God Wink! Thank you for being an inspiration. May God bless you as you cope with your pain.

    1. Oh wow, isn't that just beautiful! What a beautiful, creative God we serve! Much love to you and your family.

  27. May our Lord give you and your family lots of rainbows, lots of smiles, and His indescribable comfort. Thanks for sharing.

  28. I promise you, all that comes is with intention...the Grace you see, and that you don't are given without measure, without judgment and without ending. The Light that surrounds you still is the Light of God that walked in Ben's footsteps, that showed in his eyes and exists still in this life...truly just a breath away. May you find much peace in knowing he is with you still, a Light to guide you through this place of pain and sorrow to illuminate God's Grace.

  29. We call God winks, tender mercies. I, and many others, believe them also to be sent from Him as a reminder that He is there. He is always watching. He knows what we need and when we need it. Whether it be a very temporal problem, or a deeply emotional sturggle, the tender mercies always come. In the form of a bird, in the shape of a good friend, in a pay it forward opportunity....they're always there.

  30. Believe in those God winks...know that your Ben is with you. I truly believe that those who have gone to heaven before us are still watching over, enjoying the moments that make us happy and loving us in the moments when we need it most. Hugs to you and your family.

  31. You & your family and Ben will always be forever in our hearts... A mother's love is. Forever deep and so complete, We share your pain, and listen, and weep with you....God has you as his messenger to share your grief, that has taught us...No matter what God's plans are for us, he will always be there to uphold us, and catch us when we fall, and share God's,Wink's, as from Thanksgiving Day, 2004, I lost my brother from the same, Stage 4, brain tumor, and very unexpectedly. God's Wink's, I see so very often, and I am confident this is, God's way to share with us, our loved ones are home with him....You and your beautiful family are in our thoughts and prayers with the arrival of your baby soon...God will be at your side forever and always~

  32. Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart with us. Cardinals have appeared to me countless times when I needed God's comfort especially-I was so happy to hear of this beautiful sign of God's presence sent to you!

  33. I really enjoy reading your posts, it puts life back into perspective. We live here in Pawleys (originally from Lancaster NY) and it is such a magical place. The beach seems to absorb so much. I often see cardinals and smile knowling our loved ones are visiting. God bless you and your precious family <3

  34. I can see that God is using birds to communicate His love for you and your family. It made me wonder how God might use birds for His glory. I found out that the bible references birds over 300 times. They are a symbol of hope as they usually signal the arrival of spring and a sense of rebirth. I think ofc Ben's homecoming to heaven as a rebirth. Ironically, in looking this up I too found a God Wink. The last thing on the page I visited was the same as the last thing on your latest post.
    "All for the glory of God--The ultimate purpose of birds is the same as that of the heavens in Psalm 19. It is to proclaim (literally gush forth) the glory of God. Blessed is he who, when he sees the intricacy and beauty of a bird, stands in awe of the One who created it." You gush forth the glory of God even in this darkest of times. I stand in awe of the strength you have. Keep your eye on the sparrow (and cardinal)! Maybe they should be called "God Tweets" instead of winks! ;)

    1. Haha, I love it! I think you're right. I never thought about all of the Biblical references to birds. Just beautiful!

  35. So sorry for your loss. I too believe in birds visiting after a loved one passes. I wrote this post about the two birds that visit me daily.

  36. Mindy thank you again for your wonderful words of faith. Our family has always appreciated the cardinals they come when we need them so distinctive in their call to us to be noticed. My cousin and I talk every Monday from here to Georgia we have both lost our moms they were sisters and while we are on the phone we both are visited and yet rarely see the birds at other times. I believe God winks at me often he is always with me and I thank you for telling others you are a true example of who we should all be. I have written before and always tell you I have changed from your blog I now wonder what you would do in circumstances that bug me. I appreciate how God winks at me and I have to say when I'm doing something I know he wouldn't appreciate I think het weeks me too haha. Please keep sharing I so look forward to your writings and stories filled with love for our Lord. Have a blessed week, appreciate every wink and look forward to your new gift from God.

  37. The night before I got married, I was driving home from last minute "to do's", and in the peace and quiet (kids fell asleep in the car) I began to really miss my grandpa and oh how I wish he could be there for my day, to walk with me, talk with me.. Tears just streaming down my face and all of a sudden a light breeze brushed by my face, my hair moved from my face and at that exact moment the scent of my grandpa stuck with me the rest of the drive home... Made me a little more teary eyed but in a happy way.. And then I thought about the blog with the big bull frog Jack had found and even though I've had the same thing happen before I can't decipher whether it's god himself showing me that he is there, god showing me that my grandpa is there, or the both of them comforting me in my time of need. Whatever the scenario may be I was overwhelmed with comfort.. And I only hope that the same sense came over you and your family, even though you were swarmed with so many emotions :) Even though the beginning of your vacation wasn't as you planned and filled with so many variations of emotion, it's nice that you went, it's that bridge you need to cross when you get to it.. And I'm really glad the cardinal found you when you least expected it

  38. You are in the springtime of your grief. The first part began when you got the diagnosis, and lasted until perhaps the day of Ben's funeral. Shock and adrenaline carry you though that stage.
    But then the actual reality of the gargantuan hole that the death of this lovely little boy has left behind begins to sink in. The worst part is the relenting reality he is not coming back. So many people will say at this stage, "I keep thinking he/she's going to come walking through the door with a big smile, and I'll discover this was all a bad dream." You also "see" them everywhere. You catch a glimpse of someone in a store, or walking down the street, or passing in a bus, and you startle, because you "see" them. But then, the reality: it can't be them. And your heart breaks.

    There is a reason that the typical mourning period was about a year. Widows wore black for about a year, and no one approached them for social things during that time. It is because it takes at least that much time to begin to process what has happened, and find a sort of new normal.

    With the death of a child, I expect it will be a lot longer than a year of grief, but after a year it might not be so immediate with heartache.
    Please, please, don't expect yourself to come to terms with this; at least, not so soon. Yes, a vacation in a much loved spot will tear your heart out. So will Jack's first day of school, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and their next birthday and the worst day of all will be the first anniversary of his death. Expect those to be very, very hard days. Be easy on yourself. Give yourself space on those days.

    What is most important is to, each day, realize God has has His arm around your waist, under your shoulder, and you are leaning on Him, and He is helping you walk. He is catching every tear. He is encouraging you to keep going, to let your faith grow, to weather this dark, dark night.
    "Lo, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are at my side; Your rod and your staff to comfort me."
    Imagine too, His own Blessed Mother, and what she bore in grief, her own beloved Son, so beautiful, so holy, so good. God's will be done. God's will be done.
    She will also assist in comforting you, if you pour out your mother's heart to her, for she understands your grief in a most particular way. She too is in Heaven, with her Son, and still does His will.
    Peace be with you. I am praying for you and your family.

    1. I think you're right on, Bee. I completely agree. Thank you for the wisdom you shared. <3

  39. I really need to buy a copy of that book. Thank you for sharing this. I am a grandmother of an 8 year old child with severe nonverbal autism. And he is going through some struggles right now. And Grandma is beginning to struuggle with her faith right now. God bless you.

  40. I received winks for seven straight days after my Mother-in-Law passed this spring. Her name was Gretta, but early in their relationship she had told her husband, Ken, that she often wished her name was Penelope. Every Christmas there was a package under the tree to "Penny from Kenny".

    As we left the Nursing home following a bedside service when Gretta passed, I found a penny on the ground. For the following seven days, every single time I went out I found a penny on the ground, Mindy! Selecting flowers at the florist...Penny on the ground. Restaurants with relatives who came from out of town...Penny on the floor. Entering AND leaving the funeral home...Penny on the ground. At the cemetery...Penny in the grass. It got to be spooky...but in a good way! Now, I find an occasional penny and tell my husband "Your mom says hi!". Thanks to this post from you, I now know I was getting winks from Heaven for that entire week.

    We have lived in our home since 1987 and our daughter planted in the backyard a Norfolk Pine that she had gotten from school for Earth Day. It was tiny then but soars high now. For the very first time ever, cardinals built a nest in the lower branches of that pine at the end of May this year and hatched three babies. Coincidence? Nope...a Wink!

    Thanks Mindy, for helping me to understand the signals I have been getting! Just want to let you know too, that there is no right way or wrong way to grieve. Your heart will guide you...just go with the flow as there is no timetable you have to follow.

    Sending you all hugs from my heart in Rochester, NY.

  41. I am so glad you were able to make some new memories at Myrtle Beach. My mother passed away on March 28th of this year and I received the same book a few days later by a dear friend. The God winks that we receive are so unaccepted and wonderful,aren't they? God is amazing in giving them to us just at the "right time."
    I continue to pray for you and ask God to please protect and help your family heal from the death of your precious son.

    God Bless,


  42. This confirms that the cardinal is a messanger . I have had a female cardinal come to my moms old bedroom window reg since she died in july 2013. I have posted many pictures and videos and your story confirms what i suspected all along ... This cardinal has come dispite the seasons,woke my son up on his birthday(first one without my mom) by banging loudly into the window,so many stories about the cardinal. After my Grandpa passed about a month ago i started seeing the big red male. My jaw fell to the floor when i read your cardinal experience. Thank you for sharing. I lost my mom a year ago to cancer, my grandmother in april to cancer and my grandfather in june. It has been a nightmare to say the least, your strength has helped guide me. I am so sorry for all you have had to endure.May God Bless you with continuous strength and healing and may you continue to recieve these wonderful signs.

  43. Mindy-
    Thank you for continuing to share your story and faith with all of us. I was wondering if you have a parenting resource (other than God) that you use as your guide. I am so impressed by some of what you share and I would like to learn more about how to raise my family in a Christian home! Thanks and God Bless,

  44. Thank you and your loved ones for continuing to update us on your lives. Always keeping you in my heart <3

  45. Thinking of Ben and your family all the time. I've lived in my house for 8 years now. I've only seen a cardinal in my yard once, and that was after my father died in 2009. I remember it so vividly because, like you, I have a ton of animals in my yard. But never saw a cardinal :)

  46. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and faith yet again in such a beautiful way. I'm going to pick up a copy of that book to have on hand to offer my friend whose child's battle is now taking a turn for the worse. Thank you!

  47. Oh dear Mindy..praying for you much life in you much hope that the grief is not going to get the final word in your life. GOD is going to get the final word. ..just a small something to mention..on one of your posts back in April or May you mentioned having scaytic pain. I was also experiencing it that am about a month ahead of you..I am due early August. Anyway one of the people wrote to you in the comments about a certain stretch that would help this kind of pain. I have been doing that stretch every night with my husbands help and it has literally made the difference for my sleep. So good and helped me soooo much. This may seem small..but it's just one tiny example of how God is using Ben's life and death to.bring life. I pray that Jesus.comforts your heart tonight

  48. Mindy, I feel so sorry for you and your family. I too lost my son, last year. He had just gotten married 3 months before and died the Tuesday after his wedding reception. As we were leaving their home to go to the funeral home to say goodbye to him, I had a similar experience with a cardinal. We had seen the cardinal that previous weekend sitting on Matt's side mirror of his car looking at himself and had even had a conversation about it. Anyway, I wrote a poem about my experience called Cardinal Kisses, and I wanted to share my God-wink with you.

    Cardinal Kisses

    Oh cardinal, so brilliant and brash,
    A familiar intruder lurks on your perch.
    You know you must chase it away.
    You must defend your territory,
    But it isn’t easily intimidated.
    It stares back at you,
    Thinking you’re a little bit crazy,
    Or a little bit in love with your own reflection.

    We laugh at your expense, silly songbird,
    Flittering and fluttering at the image
    Reflected in my son’s sideview mirror.
    Another pet for you, Matt,
    But at least this one is free, I tease,
    As I try to talk him out of buying another,
    Considering his dogs, Copper and Blue, and
    Other curious critters hiding in their saltwater crevices.

    I remind this young man of his new bride
    And the children they may have one day,
    Who will need his pennies and attention.
    I gently hug my son, who’s covered in dog hair,
    But not knowing it is for the last time.
    What does a parent, a wife, a brother cling to while
    Falling from the high places of hope, mere days before,
    To depths of sorrow that threaten to drown us in our fears?

    With new life bursting forth this spring day,
    So unseasonal for loss, for death, I dare to ask God
    For a sign that Matt is with Him, with us.
    Our Ford sedan sits in their driveway
    But parked where his car should have been.
    Dazed, I move to open the front passenger door,
    Contemplating how a mother says goodbye to her son, when
    Whoosh! Red flashes into the budding branches above my head.

    Ah, the redbird, I remember.
    I sit perfectly still for a moment,
    Weekend joy echoing in my mind,
    When my eye is drawn to scratches all over our mirrors,
    But what in the world? My husband reaches out
    To touch the glass, wondering, wiping, then
    Realizing the marks aren’t scratches at all,
    But instead, a hundred cardinal kisses assuring me I am not alone.

    written by Liz Bowman

  49. Again, I know your loss is profound, and I've been praying for you. I wish I could offer you some helpful thoughts, but I have never found any that really help. For me, just knowing others cared and prayed for me helped and sustained me as much as anything. God works through our suffering to teach us and re-shape our lives if we let Him, and I know you are finding that to be true. Treasure those God-winks. They are true blessings.

  50. Dear Mindy,
    By the time I discovered your blog, Ben had already been drawn back up into God's arms. You and your husband have continually inspired me to trust in God and to live out my faith no matter how difficult the circumstances. I firmly believe that God weaves threads through our lives to remind us of his unfailing love and faithfulness. He often "winks" at me, too--once it was a penny I found on the ground, all smeared with dirt except for "God" from "In God We Trust." So subtle yet so clear. Thank you for sharing and for pouring out your heart to us for our sake and for the sake of God's glory.
    With love in Christ,

  51. Mindy, I am the mother of three young boys, the oldest of which is four, and he reminds me of Ben in both his looks and his sensitive, looking-after-mom kind of nature. Today we took our boys to a site in Texas where there are fossilized dinosaur tracks in a riverbed. It was really neat. As I first pulled the van into a parking space I noticed a male and female cardinal flitting about. Later, as we made our way slowly across the big rocks to the other side of the river where the dinosaur tracks are, the male cardinal seemed to become more excited, and it really seemed to be showing us the way. He finally stopped just over the tracks and seemed wild almost in his cheeping and flying. It was like he just couldn't wait to show the tracks off! I was obviously thinking of Ben at this point. Silas was so excited to see the enormous footprints, and I just couldn't help but feel as though Ben was there too, sharing excitement over something I can only imagine he and Jack would have loved to see. I am still thinking of your Ben daily, and am training hard in his honor to run a 5K race in under half an hour. Sending hugs.

  52. I wanted to share with you a blog written by a mother who also a son, she shares her heart, she believes in hope and God's strength and she's also funny! Her Jack also visits her, she calls him her Rare Bird.

  53. Thinking of you and your beautiful family (as I do daily). God bless all of you. XO Kristen Kunst

  54. Mindy,

    I love this post so much. I feel like I could have written it myself. My little boy passed away in March, and I increasingly feel more pain (which I thought would be less) as the months pass. Like you said, as life goes tries to find a new normal, it gets harder. I pray that your heart will heal.

    I also love what you said about the cardinal. I've never been one to believe old wives tales either, but I have seen it with my own eyes and believe in my heart they are God-winks. Heart healers. The morning after my son died, we saw a cardinal sitting on our kitchen window sill. I took the entire month off of work after he died, and every morning as I sat on my back porch, a cardinal was there. And one day as I was talking a walk around my neighborhood, I kid you not, a cardinal followed me the entire 4 miles. Every corner I turned, there he was sitting in a tree or in the middle of the street. And there he was, in the tree at my house when I got home. God winks. Heart healers. Hope preserves. Thinking and praying for you and your family.

    Lauren Clay
    Jackson, MS