The cardinal has long been a symbol of love, protection and loyalty in the Credo family. It began many years ago with my husband’s grandparents. Eric’s grandfather, Bill, once told his wife, Rosanna, that if he were to precede her in death, she was to watch for cardinals to come and perch in their tree just outside the kitchen window. These redbirds, he assured her, would be a sign that he was watching over her, and loved her beyond the grave. Bill did precede Rosanna in death by nearly thirty-five years. The husband and wife did not believe in reincarnation or anything of that nature, however, the cardinal sightings did provide Rosanna with a sense of peace and comfort until she died at the age of ninety-six.
Throughout our marriage, there have been many times that Eric and I have spotted a cardinal, and recounted the tender love story of his grandparents. It has become for us a heartwarming sign of committed, undying love.
It followed naturally, when we had a life altering decision to make for our family in 2002, that we would ask God to show us the sign of a cardinal, to direct our path, according to his will.
When we married in 1989, we moved into our first home, a quaint, little cottage, that was located about ten minutes from both of our parents’ homes. We were proud of our starter home, and enjoyed living there for most of the thirteen years we had that address. In the meantime, we had two children. Things began to get a bit crowded. I also began to fear for my children’s safety. As our son, Joseph, got older, we did not feel that this was a secure place for him to play. At nine years of age, he could not ride his bike without his mother watching from the front porch. Drug activity and theft began to increase in the latter years, and we knew that we had to get out.
For months, we searched for homes in our area that would be slightly larger, in a safer location and in our price range. To make a long story short, we had no luck whatsoever. It was at this point that we began to consider moving across the lake – an hour and fifteen minute drive from our parents’ homes. Eric had two brothers who lived on the north shore of the lake, so we would not be completely on our own. Still, it was scary to move away from the town where we were raised, where we were familiar with every street, every church, and every store. We decided to “just look” across the lake. You see, I had a job that I really liked, surrounded by people that I considered extended family, and our son was entering Junior High – a terrible time to move a child from the only place he’s known as “home.”
We each took a day off of work, and headed across the world’s longest bridge to scope out the available real estate. Before beginning our excursion, we prayed that God would send us the sign of a cardinal, to tell us if we were on the right track – if this move was his will for us. Unbelievably, as we traveled back roads and neighborhoods looking for “For Sale” signs, cardinals swooped over our car many times and darted to and fro across the streets. I remember asking Eric, “Did you see that? Look at all of them. Do you think this is our answer?” Though I believed that God was indeed pointing us in that direction, I was still not ready to accept such a drastic change in my life. God knew this, so he kindly gave me some time to warm up to his plan. We drove home that day, with more questions than answers.
We continued to pray, and to seek direction. One weekend, Eric’s brother, Eddie, took us driving around to view several houses in the area that were for sale. We had a lot of fun, but didn’t find anything. However, while visiting Eric’s younger brother, David, in Shady Oaks, we stumbled across a precious Acadian styled home in the back of that subdivision. We called the listing agent, and arranged a viewing of the property. We were so sure that we were onto something, because there was a sign posted at the entrance to the neighborhood that read “Bird Sanctuary.” Beneath the words was a picture of – you guessed it – a bright, red cardinal!
“This was the sign that we had asked for, so this must be the home that God wants for us,” we thought. To our bewilderment, another buyer had already put a bid on the house, and it was sold almost as soon as we had discovered it. Was God sending us mixed messages? Had we misread the sign?
About a week later, we were visiting Eric’s younger brother again. David told us that he had stumbled onto a great deal in a nearby subdivision, and acquired a loan to purchase this other home.
He put his house in Shady Oaks up for sale. We did not consider purchasing his home at the time, because he was asking several thousand more than we could afford.
David did tell us about another home in the “Bird Sanctuary” that was going to be put on the market soon, and encouraged us to check into it. As we left his house that day, we drove around the corner, to speak to the owner of the home that would soon be for sale. The owner asked us to call his realtor in a few days once the sign had been posted in the yard.
We traveled back to David’s house to tell him what we had learned, and to ask him to watch out for the real estate sign to be posted. We asked him if he would take down the contact information for us, and he agreed. As we backed out of his driveway for the second time that evening, a bright, red, male cardinal flew right over the roof of his house toward our car. Eric mashed the break pedal to the floor, and we turned to each other. “Did you see that?” he asked. I paused for a moment, stunned, and then replied, “Yes, I saw it, but what does it mean? We’re not going to buy this house. It costs too much.” We drove home, not giving the bird much more thought.
The next day, to our complete surprise, David called us with a proposition. He and his wife, Kathy, had tried for several weeks to sell their home on their own. Now that they had purchased another home, the need to sell their current residence was urgent. They were going to have to enlist the help of a realtor. David proposed that we consider buying his house in Shady Oaks. He was willing to subtract from his asking price the amount that a realtor would have received as commission. This brought the cost within our reach.
Eric and I didn’t even need to discuss it, before we gave David and Kathy our decision. We would take the house! God had provided the sign. This time there was no mistaking it! God had made a way, when there seemed to be no way! Nothing is impossible with Him! Here’s the famous cardinal house – nothing extraordinary, but we call it “home.”