Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Snow Globes, Cardinals, and Hope

We belong to a small homeschooling community, and this week we did a Christmas gift exchange. I picked the name of a sweet mamma who had recently miscarried her baby girl. As I walked through the store trying to find a gift, I was repeatedly drawn to one in particular. Here is the letter I included with her gift….

Dear Mamma,

This snow globe is a strange gift for me to purchase. Knick-knacks do not generally catch my eye, perhaps because as a former teacher I received more than my share. But, as I prayerfully walked through the store in search of something for you, I was repeatedly drawn to this cardinal. I remember having read or heard something about cardinals being spiritually significant, so I came home to do a little research.

I discovered that “cardinal” comes from the Latin word “cardo,” which means “hinge.” Christians have often used birds (particularly the dove) as symbols of the Holy Spirit. While these birds are often portrayed in white, symbolizing purity and peace, the red of the cardinal points to the vitality found in the blood of Christ - the blood that frees us to be people of God. This freedom offers us true life. As one source wrote, we are reminded that although our circumstances may appear desolate, there is always hope. Our hope “hinges” on Christ, the crucified, risen Lord.

I bought this for you knowing this season is difficult for you. Instead of feeling your baby girl grow inside of you, there is an emptiness where she should be. You are such a beautiful example of one who trusts God with abandon. Thank you for encouraging me that way. Know that even in the midst of this time of loss, there is hope: hope in realizing that your daughter now rejoices with her King; hope in recognizing that God loves you even more than you love her; and hope in the assurance of His unending faithfulness. I pray that as you see this cardinal surrounded by snow, you will remember that our hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

My prayers are with you this season that God will grant you joy in the midst of trials, strength to face each day anew, and peace because of His Son.

When this mamma friend of mine opened her gift today, she immediately looked at me with shock. I told her to read the above letter after which she pulled me aside to tell me her story. Here it is as told in her words….

About 1.5 weeks before we lost our baby girl (we had the privilege of knowing that we lost a daughter. Her name means “peace/walks with God” and “delight/one who brings pleasure to others.” Her name could not be more perfect considering her story), we visited Longwood Gardens, and I found this mug that I fell in love with and ended up buying. My entire pregnancy, the song, "His Eye is on the Sparrow" kept playing through my head, which is strange, because it's not a well sung hymn anymore, but the words are beautiful. When I saw this mug, immediately I felt strongly that although it wasn't a sparrow depicted, it was God very clearly reminding me that He is watching out for me AND this tiny baby inside, and that His ways, while not always what we'd like or hope for, are always best.

For some reason, I've always been drawn to cardinals, and having two pairs in our backyard, I find so much joy in watching them. From almost the beginning, the cardinal represented to me Jesus' watchcare over both me and my baby, and the joy that comes through Him. The colour red has always reminded me of His precious gift to me. When we lost our daughter, it was all the more precious to me to see a cardinal, because of what it reminded me of.

Fast forward a week or two, and I had a strong desire for a snowglobe, but not just any snowglobe. A very specific one that I cannot put my finger on.

Today was the gift exchange at the kids' class, and when it was my turn to open my gift, I pulled out this snow globe with a cardinal sitting inside. It took everything in me to not start to cry.

What I read further made me want to cry, and when I finished, I spoke with my friend (who didn't know me very well yet) and she apologized for the gift and said she knew it's usually a type of gift that you give when you can't think of anything else to give, but that when she'd been searching for the perfect gift for me, she'd found this, and kept saying "no!" but every time she'd walk away, she'd lose her peace, and every time she came back to the snowglobe, she'd have peace again.

Finally, she bought it and told her husband that either I'd open it and politely smile but later throw the globe out, or I'd open it and it would be a miraculous God thing. She didn't understand why THAT was what she was supposed to buy, because normally neither of us would want something like that, but she had to trust God's direction and so she gave it to me.

When she heard my story, both of us were in awe of what God has done. We both walked away blessed beyond measure. She, because she listened to God's quiet leading and did what seemed absurd, then found out it was precisely what had been a desire of my heart that I had not even been able to put into words. And me, because God took what was in my heart that I had not yet found the words to express, and He made it reality through the simple gift from a friend.

Guys, God sees and knows. He cares. I don't understand the whys of this life, most recently the reason that we lost our sweet baby, but I'm finding more and more, especially thanks to your prayers, that I'm finding joy in the most unusual places and most uncommon ways, and it is beautiful to see. Look for it, because He is wanting to show it to you. Whether it's a mug, or a snowglobe (especially when you really dislike knick knacks), or a note, a smile, a touch, or so much more. God isn't limited to the normal. He works outside the box and He enjoys blessing us. I guess my challenge to you today is to look for the joys, especially the littlest things that He places in your lives, and you'll be seeing His hand at work all around you...

I had no idea the meaning behind the cardinal until today, but now I once more stand in amazement of how God has worked, even in making the cardinal of such significance to me.


Friends, God still does speak to us. Listen for His prompting and be a blessing to someone today.

I echo the words of my sweet, new friend: God sees, knows, and cares. He wants to meet us where we are; He enjoys blessing us; and He is not limited to our definition of normal. 

This is especially visible to us during this Advent season as we remember that the God of all humbled Himself to enter our world as a helpless baby so that He could one day sacrifice Himself and triumph over death, for the joy set before Him.

The joy of our redemption.

My Hope is Built on Nothing Less
by Edward Mote, 1797-1874

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.


  1. A breathtakingly, amazingly powerful testimony to God’s loving care for every detail of our lives. Thank you so much for this post!

  2. Hi Lia, your mom pointed me to your blog, and I am so happy she did so I got to hear your sweet story of obedience and learn more about the cardinal! God's blessings on you and yours, Rose who has an adopted grandson who came to us when he was 5 and is now 16!