Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign


We've shared a lot of signs from above on this blog and through many kind emails you've sent me. I have appreciated every single one! They have buoyed me up time and again, which I think is why we are given signs in the first place. To feel less alone. To feel cared about. Known. Held. To at once remember our very small size in this huge, mysterious universe, while also realizing that we may be small but we are in no way insignificant or forgotten.

When writing the book, I included only a few signs, even though I've experienced many, because I think sometimes their impact can be diminished or lost entirely when shared. Sometimes they are hard to explain, in a "you just had to be there" kind of way. And what is encouraging to one person, can easily sound convoluted and grasping to another. What a bummer.

I was thinking about that and how the very personal way a sign or a "god wink" speaks to one particular hurting heart in a specific moment can be why they are so hard to explain to one another. Of course that doesn't diminish the encouragement and love conveyed in that moment.

Anyway, today I remembered a god wink that I never shared with you, that I thought might be a neat way to start the day.

When Margaret had her first soccer tryouts after Jack died, she was nervous. We had spent a lot of time that first winter sitting on the couch, she'd missed a few games because of illness, and she wasn't sure if she still had what it took to make the travel team again. To pump herself up, she took a black Sharpie and wrote 4:13 on her hand. This was to remind her of a special Bible verse, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." She was nervous, and she didn't feel all that strong, but she was going to show up, get out there, and try anyway!

As we drove through town toward the middle school field for tryouts, we pulled behind a fire truck. It turned, we turned. It stopped, we stopped. When we were at a stoplight, Margaret said, "Look!" There, emblazoned on the back of the truck in tall black paint, was its engine number: 413.

She smiled, I smiled, and the engine pulled into the station right next to the middle school and we continued to the field.

I'm glad Margaret noticed the number in front of her that day, matching the number on her hand. It was a moment of connection and encouragement she needed, and it reminded me to keep my eyes and heart open.

By the way, she made the team!

55 comments:

Kris M. said...

Signs of God's (Jack's) Presence brighten even the dullest day when you have eyes that really see. When you search for God like hidden treasure, He will be found!

One crazed mommy said...

That is an awesome God Wink!!! Made me smile too! :)

Kris M. said...

Signs of God's (Jack's) Presence brighten even the dullest day when you have eyes that really see. When you search for God like hidden treasure, He will be found.

Samantha Amidon said...

Love this!

Jen said...

Anna,
Love it. It gave me the chills. Thanks for sharing. I love signs...

Karen L. said...

Phil. 4:13 is my favorite verse. I have it engraved on a silver bracelet that I wear almost every day---it was a gift from friends before I left a wonderful women's ministry in Pa and moved, with my husband, to VA. So happy for that God wink; they're lovely to experience!

Anonymous said...

My mom believes in signs... almost too much, to the point where she ignores logic to see hidden meaning. After her dad passed away, my mom began finding dimes everywhere, and especially at times or in situations where she felt she really needed them. (That she sees meaning in the dimes but not the pennies, nickles and quarters all around-- she's kinda messy!-- is something that the agnostic/realist in me tries not to point out.)

2013 was a big year for me: I got engaged, my fiance and I signed a purchase contract on a home, and we got our first puppy. It is SO far from where I ever imagined I could be, after having some really rough years through 2011. Our closing on the house is supposed to be in the next two weeks, but I've had this awful anxiety that something is going to ruin it for us... like it's just too good to be falling into place. The nervousness about last minute packing finally overcame my anxiety that it wasn't going to happen this weekend.

I found dimes-- and ONLY dimes-- over and over again. The first was sitting right inside the first rubbermaid bin I opened to use for packing. One fell out of my duvet cover. Another was the lone coin in a purse stashed away long ago. I told my cousin, who is a believer in signs but respects my skepticism. And then later I showed her my collection: at least 8 dimes I'd found throughout the course of the day (and not a single other kind of coin!). She joked to me that Nanny and Poppy knew of my skepticism and that they'd have to send a lot to make me believe. I jokingly replied that I appreciated the sign, but given all the big expenses we have coming up, dollar bills would be preferable. I couldn't help but get goosebumps when I was rummaging through another old purse and found that it had already been entirely cleaned out, except for a dollar bill in a hidden pocket. Logic tells me it's only a coincidence, but the goosebumps said otherwise.

afourytale.com said...

Thank you for sharing this. A great reminder to keep our eyes open.

My grandfather used to collect pennies. He would always find them out and about when we would take a walk or go somewhere.

He passed away a number of years ago, but on my worst days I always find one or more pennies on my path.

Thanks again for a beautiful blog post.

Hugs to you!

Bren said...

Your words from the heart touch mine...and inspire me to try to be better with God's help. I really just don't have words to express my appreciation...but thank you so much for sharing <3

claire plante said...

I love this story, Anna! Thank you for sharing it. What a wonderful sign.

Love,
Claire

Anonymous said...

Obviously in no way am I trying to compare my story to the loss of a family member, but the day our beloved golden, Buddy, died, we were all heartbroken. My husband suggested we drive through the nature reserve near our home as a way to just not be in the house and be so aware of Buddy's absence. The entire time we were driving, I prayed for a sign that we had made the right decision for our sweet boy (logically I absolutely knew it was); I kept saying in my head "show me a sign that you are at peace". We drove through the park for about 30 minutes, but never saw a sign. As we were approaching our neighborhood, out of the corner of my eye I saw a faded sign almost hidden by tree branches that advertised a nearby church; it was so faded that the only word visible was PEACE. I had never seen the sign before, but on the very day I needed it, my sweet Buddy literally showed me a sign that told me he was at peace. Yes, I believe!

Anonymous said...

Anna, thanks for this.

I was just writing a note to friends about how overwhelmed I feel lately, but deleted it since no one can really help and I didn't want to just complain.

Instead, I went online and the bible verse in your post caught my eye. My birthday is 4/13 - I'll consider it a sign that "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength". (I never made the connection between my birthday and the verse before!)

I hope you have a good day!

Martha Brettschneider said...

Love the "god wink" expression, Anna, as I experience this so very often. How wonderful that Margaret, at such a young age, is awake enough to see these signs. My teen boys just roll their eyes at me when I point one out!

Heidi Cave said...

I believe in signs - it's just been a while since I've seen them...you know? I needed to read this today. Maybe that is a sign. :)

Princess Kate said...

I love this verse. It has always brought me GREAT comfort. When my grandfather died 20+ years ago, I know in my heart he was sending me all kinds of signs and comfort. I still feel his presence today at times. I BELIEVE in God winks.

Glad to see your new post today. I've missed you. Congrats to Margaret on making the team.

starnes family said...

Congratulations on the team and I love that God brought you a sign on this important day. XOXO

Peg said...

I love that you find signs from Jack.

I'm kinda on the fence about how I feel about signs. Since I haven't seen any from my sister, I almost don't look to not be disappointed if that makes any sense. I have had a few dreams which I think count. The kind where I don't want to wake up because I "feel" her there with me in my dream.

I also love that Margaret made the team...you know how we love soccer in this house :)

Lorenne said...

I love this post! —and the way you articulated the difficulty in sharing those signs from above was right on target. I have recognized those "God winks" in my life, and it reinforces my faith to hear about yours. Thank you!

Fiona, LilyfieldLife said...

hi Anna, this is a great post. I am not even that religious (quite spiritual but not religious) but the day of my mother's funeral I had an amazing sign. I'm not sure if you remember but straight after the funeral i went to buy my sister a can of coke and every single can in the fridge of the service station said Mum (except one lone Prancer) (remember the Share a Coke with ....campaign. Did it happen in the States?) Anyway I've never seen a Mum can before or since. Just weird.

http://www.lilyfieldlife.com/2012/08/lilyfield-life-eulogy-for-my-mum.html

Margaret is really growing up isnt she. Gorgeous girl

Hope you are well and that 2014 is a good year for you and your family
Fiona

Noah's Mom said...

Love this! It's a reminder to be more aware of the little signs (love the 'God wink' expression, too). And I love the fact that you raised your children with such goodness, wisdom & knowledge of Bible verses. I know you have mentioned often of Jack's favorite verse! So happy Margaret got her sign that day and went on to make the team!!! You can be so proud of your children...Jack forever in your heart.

Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

What a great story! I love those moments, when it is clear that God is speaking to you, even if it's in an unconventional way :)

Elaine Alguire said...

Oh wow, now that gave me major chills! Signs are amazing things. I love it on the rare occasion I get one. So glad you shared this one!

Anonymous said...

Good for Miss Margaret for trying her best, and for making the team, too. God is a God of love and encouragement. Why wouldn't God want us to see Him in our lives or to remember that love endures forever in Him? Some signs might very well be hard to explain, but hopefully we would try to be respectful of anything close to someone's heart, especially with grief.

Michele said...

Although I don't know you personally, I lived in your town when your son passed away. I remember the blue ribbons tied around the trees around town in memory of your son. A few months later, we relocated to a new state where housing developments still have woods to play in. One day my kids were playing in the woods with a small creek running through it. On two trees there were two blue ribbons tied around them. I cried thinking of you and your sweet son. ((hugs))

Lisa said...

I believe, I believe...some people think it's silly, but I believe :)

Great story, Anna. I do believe that the magic is everywhere if you just keep your eyes and heart open to it. Much love.

IrishRN07 said...

Love, love, love this post! What a special girl you have in Margaret. xoxo

Joyce said...


I believe in signs, and I believe it is God's way of letting us know that our love ones are ok. I love Phil.4:13…I can, I can, and I can, do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Congrats Margaret on making the soccer team! Both of our kids played soccer. I miss those days!
Much Love to you and your family Anna!

anymommy said...

Love it. And the happy ending was a huge bonus!

Anonymous said...

Loved your post as always. The day my father passed away and since in here and there places, I too have had signs. I tried to explain a few to my sister once, who quickly explained them away. So. I completely see what you mean about sharing. Love reading your writing. Think of your family often. The comments above were also all great. Thanks everyone!

Rach said...

Six years on, we still have those God winks. They come just when we need them.

I'm glad that one was there for Margaret when SHE needed it.

Jenn said...

I believe in God winks (and love that you call them that). Such an awesome one you and Margaret experienced before soccer tryouts. So glad she went for it! :)

Patricia said...

Lovely story ! There are no coincidences in life - I truly believe these are 'signs', or I think I prefer "a wink from God" showing us he is there with and for us.
And to one of the commenters, Peg, yes - I absolutely believe that dreams are how our loved ones visit us. My brother and my parents are both gone now, and although I have not seen any 'signs' from them - I have had rare, but beautiful, happy dreams where they are all healthy and content in my dream.....

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Beautiful story! I love your signs.

Loukia said...

That is a beautiful sign from above... her big brother is always with her. xoxox

Clare said...

Anna, this was such a great story of signs.

Back in November, two of my friends got married on a beautiful day in Virginia. The groom's grandmother had passed away just days before he had proposed to the bride and had given her blessing to him. The wedding was bittersweet as she wasn't able to be there, but they said she loved lady bugs and that day there were lady bugs everwhere. They were covering our cars, sticking to our dresses and climbing up the windows of our hotel. The bride even had them in the layers of her wedding gown! They knew she was there because there was no other explanation as to why all the lady bugs decided to make an appearance at the wedding that day!

Lisa C said...

That is a fantastic sign. I love when numbers align.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Beautiful....and I needed this verse today. ((HUGS))

Alison said...

Ooh, I love this Anna.
I believe in signs. I do.
How amazing for Margaret.
(yay for making the team!)

Anonymous said...

Anna, it's not something that I necessarily believe, but I am so glad that there is something that gives you some small measure of comfort.

Lady Jennie said...

I know just what you mean. Matthieu searches for meaning a lot in the Bible, using the Hebrew and the Greek. All of that is lost on me. MOST of that is lost on me because they are his God-winks, not mine.

But still, I think you're right that we get what we need just when we need it. This was just the post I needed to read today.

Melissa Dale said...

WOW, that is indeed a "sign"! I thought I would share with you a sign that I got right after my grandmother died unexpectedly. A very long story precedes her death but I can tell you that this is a woman who was like a second mother to me and whom I loved very deeply. However, I was estranged from my family (mom's side) for almost 4 years up until the days following my grandmother's death. It was an extremely painful time for me and I felt such longing for her. After leaving the EXTREMELY difficult service and time with family that I hadn't seen in quite some time, all I could feel was this incredible longing to hug my gram. On the way home (4 hour drive), I needed to stop at a Hobby Lobby because at the time I had a shop on Etsy and I had to get something to finish up a project. After some back and forth discussion on the phone with my husband and missing the exit, I decided to make the stop and got myself back on the highway and to the exit where I could get to Hobby Lobby. As I went in, I felt like I was in a fog and found myself wondering around and ending up in the aisle where they keep the stamps. After standing there staring for a few minutes, two ladies in their 60's came around the corner into the same aisle. The women stopped right beside me and started looking at the stamps and one woman said to her friend, "oh, that butterfly stamp reminds me of that book "Hope for the Flowers" and described the story to her friend. At that moment, I turned and asked her about the book and explained that my gram had just passed and just started balling right there in the middle of the aisle in front of these two strangers. However, the woman that I was talking to had the most kind and gentle blue eyes and was so sweet in her response to me and then she asked me if she could give me a hug! Then, her friend who was watching this all happen from about three feet behind her stepped forward and asked if she could also give me a hug. I couldn't believe it! I really felt like God sent me two angels to give me that hug from my gram and I will never ever believe it was anything other than that! Thank you for sharing your life with the rest of us and for always sharing something that has meaning. I wish you more blessings than tears. Amen!

Recovering Church Lady said...

Love this and really love your name for these things.."God winks". Perfect!
Susie

Kate McGormley said...

Anna, I love each of your posts. All for different reasons. When I wrapped up 365 days of kindness I should have written to you immediately to thank you for being an example of what good blogging is all about. People are better because of you. More real, more compassionate and more open to the vulnerabilities of others. I know I don't "know" you, but you've made a difference in my life both as a blogger and as a Mom. Thank you. p.s. Today is my 34th bday, and I am doing 34 kindness acts. Act 34 - comment on a favorite blog!! : )

Kate McGormley said...

I love each of your posts for different reasons. When I started to blog you were one of the first blogs I read. I have admired your writing and your spirit since that day just a year or so ago. I am a better mom and blogger because of you. I know I don't "know" you, but you've made a difference in my life. Thank you! p.s. Today is my 34th birthday, and I am doing 34 kindness acts to celebrate - act #34 - put a positive comment on a blog!

Anonymous said...

I was listening to a message by John Bevere one day and he was speaking to a crowd of about 1000 people and he talked about how that message would be interpreted 1000 different ways. Some ways might be similar, such as boredom, or great sermon, but too long, etc... Then he said something that I have never forgotten... some people in that room would hear something and it would land square in their gut and would grab them in such a way that they would know it was a Word from the Lord specifically for them in that moment and he said that us revelation knowledge, when the Lord reveals something into your spirit.

I have not lost a child, but I have no doubt that the Lord has a special tender spot for parents who have lost their children as He sacrificed His own. I am so thankful for God winks that bring comfort to those who are grieving and it never ceases to amaze me how incredibly personal and specific He can be. Thanks for sharing!

Sarah Reinhart said...

beautiful moment. eyes and heart open always. much love to you and Margaret.

Noah's Mom said...

Although I have already left a comment, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading about others' "God winks" that they shared. @Melissa Dale...such a heartwarming story. Thank-you, Anna for reminding us to be more aware. Sending my love.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna:
I hope this doesn't sound like an odd offer, but if you'd like another pair of eyes on your manuscript before it's finalized, I'd be happy to have a look. I'm sure you've loads of people doing this for you but I've done it professionally in the past (though usually for academic work) and sometimes it's helpful to have the eyes of someone who is perhaps more objective (though it's true, I'm a fan of your blog!). I'd be happy to just make notes & recommendations, send them to you and then you're free to do whatever you want them. And for you, no fee. Forgive me if this offer is out of line. Anyway, here's an abbreviated list of things I've published (only a little bit relevant -- just to show legitimacy): http://ericadacosta.wordpress.com/ But I've also done actual developmental editing for Teachers College Press as well. I guess you might think of it as, "there's nothing to lose." Anyway, I'd rather not post my email on this site so if you're interested, maybe you could post a reply right here in this set of comments and let me know how to contact you, but if you're not interested, no worries AT ALL, and I will not expect a reply.
Love,
E. in VT.

Kristie Jackson said...

Anna, these are such profound words: "And what is encouraging to one person, can easily sound convoluted and grasping to another. What a bummer." So true. I think maybe we know though when we can share something -- like this sweet moment with Margaret which has no hint of being convoluted or grasping -- and when maybe God intends for the affirmation to be more personal. I love your writing and your heart!

Alicia said...

Perfect

Alicia said...

Perfect

Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

@ E in VT-- you are so kind to offer yourself up as another set of eyes for the MS! You are such a great example of the kind, supportive community on this page. The MS is now turned in for production (Eeek! Yikes!) so I guess I won't be needing your help this time, but it makes me feel so grateful for your offer. XO

Reenie said...

Loved this!!

Congrats to Margaret.

Loved reading all the comments and their signs.

xo

Leigh Ann said...

What an amazing thing to have happen. :)

Donna Karlinchak said...

I've been thinking of you. Love this post! Would love to catch up sometime.