Friday, December 12, 2014

A holiday devotional about cardinals

Cardinals Color My World
A devotional written by LoRee Peery

Photo credit: LoRee Peery
Isaiah 1:18 (NIV)—“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Psalm 51:7b (NIV)—“Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.”

Hebrews 9:22b (NIV)—“Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”

My sister and I have an affinity for cardinals. Whenever I hear the recognizable cardinal’s song, I smile as though God is greeting me through that bird. My sister loves cardinals so much she even recorded one singing for her time in Arizona where cardinals are not native.

I like to imagine what the red bird is saying: “I’m here, here, here”; the higher “find me, find me, find me”; or the lower whistle sounds to me like a repeated “cheery, cheery, cheery.” I’m sure the birds are happy because God gives them a joyful song to greet the day (and lift human hearts). My sister claims no two cardinals sound alike. I stop what I’m doing to lift my eyes in order to find the source, usually high on a branch. Once in a while the vocal trills like a wolf whistle. I’ve tried to answer the way my dad did when I was a girl, but I’m not a whistler.

My dad could be crusty with people and gentle with small creatures. While building the bedroom additions onto the back of our tiny farmhouse when I was a girl, he made a pet of a male cardinal. Dad and that bird whistled back and forth until it eventually flew in through the windows and perched on his finger. For three or four years afterward, my sister and I often woke up to a cardinal’s song (we thought it was the same bird), right outside our bedroom on the northwest corner of the house.

Many years later, a singing fake cardinal in a cage often greeted my sister’s only son when he entered the house. After he was tragically killed at age twelve while riding his bicycle, she thought of him every time that fake bird pealed. For years now, her adult daughters, my nieces, are welcomed by cardinals wherever they live. Who knows? Angels may take the form of cardinals, simply for God to let us know He cares as He colors our world.

In my own novel, Sage and Sweetgrass, I looked at cardinals from my character’s viewpoint. “The brilliant scarlet males against the pure snow, perched vivid in the ethereal backdrop, brought to mind the shed blood of Jesus. Once a soul believed, Christ saw a saint as pure, white as snow. Without sin.”

And that purity is what I see when that familiar flash of red, especially bright against the whiteness of snow, further brightens my landscape.

I decorate with cardinals at Christmas. A beloved writer friend, Delia Latham, also loves cardinals. Early this fall, she sent me a cardinal ornament. I set it aside knowing it would soon decorate the Christmas tree I set up in the TV room. The new bird didn’t stay in the box long. In October I unwrapped it and hooked it where I can see it from my easy chair. When the sun hits the ornament during the day it glows an iridescent glassy red. At night it shines silver calls to mind angel wings reflecting on my Delia and me.

Even in the summertime I pull up pictures I’ve taken of cardinals flashing crimson against the snow. The vivid red birds are a constant reminder of Jesus, who gave His blood, the perfect sacrifice for me.

We live in a hurtful world. Tragedy and heartache strike all of us at some point. But God in His goodness always gives us hope. Because I’m a country girl, He shows Himself to me through nature. For others, it’s the smile or laughter of a child or any numerous ways. Wherever we are physically or emotionally, He reveals Himself through ways that only speak to individual hearts.

All we have to do is open our souls and listen.


Dear Heavenly Father, 
Thank You for placing me in the country, in a state where seasons abound. Thank You for the reminder each time I see a cardinal, especially against the snow, that though my sins be scarlet, You have washed me clean. Thank You, Jesus, for shedding your blood for me. Amen.

Note: Portions of this devotion appeared in RED, a free author devotional available at Pelican Book Group.

Author bio:
A Nebraska country girl, LoRee Peery attempts to see God’s presence every day. Often that gift comes from nature, and she is most relaxed in the outdoors. The call of a cardinal draws her to look for the distinctive flash of crimson. A meadowlark’s melody always transports her to the farm where she grew up. A rainbow holds special significance, since one appeared the day of her father’s funeral and means the promise of the Lord’s presence in her life. She clings to I John 5:4 and prays her family sees that faith. 

You can find her at or the Pelican Book Group site

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  1. Alexis, thank you so much for the invitation to say a few words here today. The greatest words in the world, though, are recorded in the Bible. I wish all readers the assurance they are not alone. God made each and every one of us in a unique way to have a relationship with Him and to glorify Him. Merry Christmas everyone!

  2. Dear LoRee,You are welcome! Thank you for taking time to write the devotional for my blog. You're right about the "greatest words" being recorded in The Holy Bible. How nice of you to wish my readers peace and blessings! :) May God bless you too! Merry Christmas! :)


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