Angel In Disguise

Karen Murphy was keeping watch over her adored Uncle David as he faced the end of his life. “It was very hard to see such a big man who was always full of life fade over the months,” says Karen. “I was sad, but I prayed that God would take him quickly so he would not suffer.”

Karen has always believed that white butterflies are angels. However, during the past few years, sightings had been rare, probably since the summer weather was too wet, and there was not much sun. One morning Karen went out to the back garden to look at her beautiful view—mountains, lakes and the ocean. It must be what heaven looks like, she thought.  And suddenly something small fluttered across her line of vision. It was a white butterfly.

“I knew it was an angel coming to tell me he was going to take David home to God, and when I went into the hospital I told my cousin, David’s daughter, Vanessa,” says Karen. “I think she thought I had lost my mind.” But David died that day.

The next day Karen stood out in her garden again. Would she see the butterfly? Or was it just a coincidence, after all? Quietly she waited. And then, yes! Not one, but two white butterflies hovered right in front of her, as if they wanted to be sure that she saw them. “I knew that the second butterfly was my wonderful Uncle David, letting me know he was okay and had come to say goodbye. I have not seen any white butterflies in the garden since then.”

A few months later, Karen learned that her niece, Julia, David’s granddaughter was spending her upcoming year of college abroad. Julia wanted to go but she knew she would probably be homesick. If her Grandpa David had been available, he would have shared his wisdom with her, but… Karen understood. She bought Julia a butterfly necklace to remind her that her grandfather would be watching over her during her travels. “Julia liked my stories of angels—they made her smile,” Karen says. “She made the arrangements and went on the trip.”

Days after she was away Julia felt homesick and lonely, and she went down to the beach for a walk. Eventually she sat down on some rocks, wishing she was at home and holding back tears. “All of a sudden a single white butterfly flew around her,” Karen says. “Julia could not believe it. She felt warm and comforted, she emailed me, and she knew it was her grandfather’s spirit coming to keep her company.”

Angels come in many disguises.  Have you ever seen one?

For more stories of God’s love, visit

About Joan Wester Anderson

Author and lecturer Joan Wester Anderson was born in Evanston, Ill. She began her writing career in 1973 with a series of family humor articles for local newspapers and Catholic publications, and was a monthly columnist for two national magazines during the 1980s. She has published more than one thousand articles and short stories in a variety of publications, including Woman’s Day, Modern Bride, Virtue, Reader’s Digest and the New York Times Syndicate.

Her 15 books include “Where Angels Walk, True Stories of Heavenly Visitors,” which was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year, has sold almost two million copies and been translated into 14 languages. Published in fall 1994 were the sequel to “Angels,” titled “Where Miracles Happen,” and for children, “An Angel to Watch Over Me.” Both books were written in response to suggestions from readers and were followed in rapid succession by three more in this series. “Forever Young” (Thomas More Publishers), the life story of actress Loretta Young, was published in November 2000. The actress had read the angel series and requested Anderson as her biographer. The two became close friends. Anderson’s book, “In the Arms of Angels” (Loyola Press) covers angelic activity primarily during the past decade, including stories of hope from the 9/11 and Columbine School tragedies. Her most recent books, “Guardian Angels” (Loyola Press), and “Angels and Wonders” (Loyola Press), focus on amazing and tender stories of God’s answers to prayers.

Anderson has appeared on national television programs including “Good Morning America,” “Oprah,” “20/20,” “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw” and “Mother Angelica Live,” and was featured in such documentaries as “Angels–Beyond the Light” (NBC), “Angel Stories” and “Stories of Miracles” (The Learning Channel), and many videos. She was a story consultant for the television series, “It’s A Miracle,” lectures in cities across the country and has been interviewed on hundreds of radio talk shows.

Anderson, who is Catholic, is a member of St. Edna’s Parish in Arlington Heights Ill., a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and a former adjunct professor at Harper Community College in Palatine, Ill. She and her husband live in suburban Chicago, and have five grown children and four grandchildren.


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