Here is the story of how we came to start this blog. And also the story of how we are learning to trust God more and more.
We were in a bit of a pickle. Michael was interviewing with EWTN and discerning which grad school, if any, to attend. None of these choices involved something simple and obvious. They all involved moving across the country and taking leaps of faith. Michael loved his visit to the Pontifical John Paul II Institute, but for practical reasons it seemed too unrealistic so he began to forget about it.
We prayed about which option was God’s will, as we wanted whatever His will was. But we didn’t seem to have a clear answer. In fact, Michael expressed that he felt more confused than ever. However, that is when things changed.
One day, we were praying during the hour of mercy and for some reason prayed for something we had never prayed for before: a signal grace. Michael felt inspired to pray this particular prayer that seemed kind of silly on the face of it, but nevertheless we trusted in God.
We begged our mother Mary to bring our intention to Jesus- to intercede for us in a big way. We prayed for a sign that would be undeniable. Something that we wouldn’t be able to misinterpret. Michael said in prayer:
“Lord, if you want me to pursue studying at the JPII Institute in D.C., please send a cardinal to land on our deck; if you want me to pursue a master’s at [another school] or begin working now, please send a blue jay to land on our deck.”
There was no reason for either bird to land on our deck. We didn’t have anything out there, and we’d never seen birds behind the apartment and certainly not on our deck.
After we closed in prayer, we both felt a little silly. We laughed as we imagined God rolling His eyes or chuckling at our silliness and need for a sign. But we also left open the possibility that if He believed we needed the grace, He would send it.
We both hung around that main room for a majority of the rest of the day, just to make sure we wouldn’t miss it. As the day went on with no sign of a single bird on our deck, we felt even sillier and went to bed saying ‘oh well.’
The next morning, we had essentially forgotten about our request the previous day. We were sitting in the living room eating breakfast together when I happened to glance over at the door. From where our table is, only I could see a small part of the deck. When I glanced over, I caught my breath…..
Not only was a cardinal on our deck, but it was hopping up to the glass door so we could see.
I don’t think I said anything at all; I just pointed in disbelief. We both got up and walked over to the door (to make sure we weren’t hallucinating ha)! We asked each other a few times “Are you seeing this?” There was no doubt that we were both seeing the same scene: a cardinal had landed on our deck and a blue jay was flying in the background but never landed.
We stood there with our hands over our mouths and our eyes wide. We couldn’t believe what had just happened. Michael had had spiritual experiences before, but I had never experienced God in that way. We were giddy thinking about how God had heard our prayers and wanted to help us. Of course, before this I knew that God heard my prayers, but this was an experience that was so tangible- so undeniable.
Ever since that day, we began a journey that didn’t seem practical, favorable, or even possible. We are going to relocate to D.C. so Michael can study Theology/Marriage and the Family at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute and so I can intern in the hub of public policy while also being a visiting student at the Catholic University of America. There have been many moments where we have wanted to back out, wanted to not have to deal with all the obstacles that seem to be in our way . . . but we can’t. We can’t because we are absolutely positive that this is the will of God. And ultimately, we want to do nothing else but His will, even in the moments where our true desires and feelings do not align.
I will admit there were a few moments where we questioned our sanity- after all, we were making life decisions based on a bird sighting! But each time, we were reminded of the sweet consolation God sent to us that day. He had heard our prayer and He answered.
It’s been a couple months since this happened, and I can still hardly wrap my mind around it. In our moment of desperation, of reaching out to God as if we were little children asking for a parent’s direction, He looked upon us with love and gave us His hand to hold and be guided by.
My prayer life is forever changed because of this instance. I always believed that He heard my prayers, but I had never experienced it so inexplicably. Now, when I pray, I do it in a way that is not halfhearted or surface level. I pray with the knowledge that I am speaking to a God that hears every word. I pray with purpose. I pray with more trust than ever before, and I pray with the utmost confidence in our Lord’s perfect plan.
We have so many blessings to count, one of which is the acceptance letter and scholarship Michael has since received! The scholarship was generous, but the remaining tuition is still high (22k to be exact). The school encourages students to fund-raise the remaining tuition and fees, so that is what we aim to do.
We hope that we are able to spread the love of Christ and devotion to Mary as well as nurture not only our faith, but the faith of all who encounter this blog.
All for the glory of God. And all because of a cardinal that landed on our deck.
Michael and Alyssa Grasinski