When my daughter Whitney was four years old, she began telling me about Sophine, an angel who visited her. At that time, I had no idea just where this angel would take us.

'Mama, Sophine came to my room last night.'

'Who is Sophine?' I asked, surprised. Whitney was not prone to fantasy or make-believe; Whitney was my practical, pragmatic first-born, always reporting, in full detail, the truth of most any situation.

'Sophine is the angel who comes to my room each night.'

Chills ran through my body. I stopped stirring the morning oatmeal and grabbed a piece of paper. Something told me that this was important, that I must write everything down exactly as she told me. 'Tell me about her, Whitney.'
'Well, I was also an angel before I was born. I watched over you and I picked you to be my mommy. I knew Sophine then and she comes to me now. I also call her ‘One Who Brings Me Flowers.’ She makes my flowers grow, Mama. She makes them the colors they are supposed to be.'

I wrote each word down exactly the way she said it. I told her how she was blessed to have such a special friend and how I was grateful she had picked me to be her mom. She then drew a beautiful picture of Sophine, with yellow light around her, holding a bunch of flowers. The day went on, but I could not keep away from that written piece of paper. I believed Whitney because she was a sensitive and special child. Even though her story seemed incredible, I felt it was possible that she would experience an angel.

A few days later, I was cleaning house and was about to throw away a shriveled, sad-looking African violet. 'Oh no, Mama, don’t throw it away,' Whitney cried. 'Let me put it in my room.' Anyone who is a parent knows that sometimes it’s easier to comply with our children than go into a long explanation. I gave the poor plant to Whitney and forgot about it. The next morning, she came running down the stairs with the African violet in her hands. 'Look, look, Mama! Sophine made my flower grow. She made it all better.' There were four beautiful little pink violets where only dead stalks existed the day before.

Because of my personal experience, I had to know if other children interacted with angels in the same intimate way my young daughter did. I began by asking my children’s friends, then pre-school, kindergarten, and first-grade classes in my home town. I would ask the children to tell me about angels. Then, I would have them draw pictures of what an angel looked like. The results were breathtaking. In taking the time to explore these children’s personal visions, I discovered that angels appear to young people in some vivid and nontraditional ways. Angels weren't always white winged ladies; they were as rich and as varied as the children.

If so many children saw angels and communicated with them, I wanted to talk to more children with different lives outside my community. I continued working with children outside my town. In an effort to include a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, cultures, and religions, I spoke with children across America who described their personal angel experiences with candor and conviction. My desire to share all the children’s rich images with the world resulted in the book "Drawing Angels Near."

Sophine, drawn by my daughter that one morning four years ago, was picked by my book's editor to grace the cover of the book. When she selected the picture, she had no idea that it was drawn by Whitney, the inspiration for everything!

Validating children’s spiritual connections has become my passion. Children are still connected with a world so many of us have forgotten. I’ve written four more books since "Drawing Angels Near" and I give workshops to encourage parents to honor and nurture their children’s divine spirituality. Listening to children’s descriptions of angels is certainly a beginning.

Sophine no longer appears to my daughter, who is now a college freshman. It seems she stayed long enough to help make my research project manifest but then 'slipped away' when Whitney was about seven or eight. At about 11 years old, however, Whitney quietly shared another revelation with me: 'I have a new angel now, Mama. He was in the kitchen last night and again this morning on the deck with his strong, loving wings around our house.' I trust that there are yet more angels surrounding Whitney as she now lives on her own in a college dorm, keeping her safe and lighting her way.

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