I saw her walking toward me, her long white gossamer gown flowing. Her hair was long and dark, just like I remembered it. She was carrying a book in her hand as her eyes met mine, she smiled. "Daddy, tell me your favorite verse, and I'll read it to you." I noticed the book, seemed to be a Bible, but it was very thin - like a child's book. I told her a verse, and she replied, "That one is not in here." We went through this two more times before she said, "Daddy, the only verses left in here are the verses that need to happen before Jesus returns. (A Dream from my Papaw, Joe Lee Gulledge)
(A few years earlier...)
Today is my birthday. Those are my new tennis shoes on my feet. I can feel them. I hear music. My hair is being brushed by my sister. My husband is singing to me. They love me. What is this? Headphones? Ok, I hear a click... more music? Oh, haha! It's "Raspberry Beret". My daughter must have sent this. Wait. Do you hear that? Hold on. Is she here? She's talking to me. Where is she?! Ashie! Oh, Jesus, this voice is such a gift today. I wish I could see her, but I can't hug her or kiss her. Still, I get to hear her voice. She is laughing, oh, and listen to her trying to sound so grown. She's trying to be strong. Jesus, my girl needs me. Who is holding her, and talking to her when she worries so? Listen to that voice. She is singing now. Ooh, she made up her own song. This is precious to me.
When will I ever be able to talk again? How will I ever tell them how much I miss them, and appreciate all the hours they've spent here with me? Oh, Jesus, when will I hold my baby again? He needs me. My arms are aching to snuggle him next to me. I want to look into his little brown eyes, and watch that precious face light up as he talks to me. Where are they, Lord? Who is loving them? Who is singing to them, and making them laugh?
"My daughter, soon, I will bring you home. I am preparing a place for you, and when it is ready, I will come for you. I know you have questions for me, and I will take all the time you need to answer all of them, before we leave."
Oh, you mean, I'm not going to wake up? I'm not going to see my children again?! Jesus! They need a mother! Ashley. She's only ten. Teenage years are just around the corner, you know how she'll need me! Lord, she worries so much, what will this do to her? Jesus, my baby. Hunter. My time has been so short with him. A baby needs his mama. Lord, he has brought me such joy. He has made so much in my life new again. He brought me back to you, Lord. He reminds me of your promises. I can't leave him. I can't abandon my baby.
"Sylvia, I have made a way for you, and for those you love. What Satan has meant for your harm, I will use for good. I have a plan for you to all be together, very soon. I will take you first, and you will help me prepare for the ones you love. You are instrumental in my plan. You are the firstborn. I am choosing you, even before I bring home your parents. All your siblings will know where you are, and when I know they are ready to join you, I'll call them home, and you will welcome them with me."
Neb? He loves me so much, Lord. He would do anything for me. He's got too much to handle on his own. I can't leave him.
"Do you trust me? Nothing will make complete sense, and they will have to choose my plan, but I promise you, I have a place for each of those you love. I will use your absence from their lives to draw them to Me. They will reach out to me in ways they would not if you were still in their lives. "
Help me, Lord. I want to trust you, but you have to know that you made me to fight for my kids. I'm trying to hold on, Lord. I'm trying to get back to them, and now, You're telling me that Your plan is to not send me back to them? How do I accept this? For so long Ashley and I have been each others' all in all. I wouldn't have made it through some tough times without having her beside me. So many days, I kept going because of her. Then, Neb came into my life, and brought me back to the place I needed to be. Blessing after blessing, and then our precious joy came to us. How do I leave my baby, Jesus?
"Let me help you. I'll give you a sneak peak of what I have in store. Since Ashley was six years old, every night she has asked me to not let divorce come into her marriage. Sylvia, I am preparing her husband even now. He has no idea yet. Look. Here he is in few years."
Oh, he looks like, like ...You.
"Well, yes, he does. What you are seeing is the future. See all those kids on the beach? They are at a retreat . This man, who will be your daughter's husband, is portraying me on my walk to calvary. He is carrying a cross, just like I did so many years ago. He is acting, but he will stir the hearts of many of these teens. Many of them will make a decision to follow me for the rest of their lives, right there on that beach. In a few years from now, Ashley will meet him at this very same retreat. I have big plans for their lives together. You're not going to want her to miss this."
Miss this? No! Wait, are you saying she could miss it? Lord, please, don't let her miss this! Okay, and Hunter, and Neb? What about my brothers and sisters...and Mama and Daddy? Greg and Beverly?
"Come, I'll show you. You will see the plan I have for each of them. It has been 25 days since your birthday. After I show you my plan for each of those you love, I will give you as many days as you need to pray, interceding for the plans I have for them. When you are ready, I will take you home with me. Once we are there, your daddy will join you very soon, and then your mama. It will be just like preparing for a family get together. You know someone always has to get there first to get things ready. I have chosen you for this. One more thing, once you are home with me, you will no longer feel this sorrow over your loved ones. You will have a great anticipation of joy, that never leaves. When you turn to see a loved one walk through the gates, that joy will swell like you never thought. Just as your family arrives at the lake for get-togethers, so will your family arrive at your eternal home. Some will arrive shortly after you, others will arrive at the same time, or one right after the other, others will seem to be running behind everyone else, but remember, I have a place set at my table for all of them."
Jesus, I understand. I am ready to pray for my family.
"Sylvia, I have heard your prayers for all those whom you love. I want to show you just a few more things. It will make your departure easier. You know Beverly. She needs Ashley. She doesn't realize it yet, but I love that daughter of mine, and your daughter is how I plan to show her my love for her. Also, I will bless Ashley with two daughters. One she will pray for desperately, and one whom I will surprise her with shortly after the first. Sydney and Gracen will have a part of you in them that will bring Ashley joy and blessings. I will also bless her with two sons. Much like the girls, she will ask me for one, and I will bless her with the other. Asa and Aaron. Oh, and Asa's name means healer. He will be born on this day, nineteen years from now. He will bring dancing to replace her mourning. Aaron, oh how he will be a surprise! He will complete her family. He will remind her and all of your family that the plans I have for them are always far greater than any plan any of them could comprehend on his own or her own."
Lord, may I ask one more thing? I know this is quite a request. I want my children to be comforted. I sing to them, and they settle at the sound of my voice. My sisters...we all sing together, praises to you, and I always felt close to you whenever we would sing. Could I...
"Whenever your sisters sing, your children will feel my peace, and they will look twice, because they will hear their mama's voice in the midst of the praises."
"Come, child, it's time to go home."
Yesterday was my 39th birthday. I am an emotional nostalgic who makes small things very big. I have known about my 38th and 39th birthdays since I was 10. Yes, I have known about every birthday since I was old enough to comprehend birthdays, but I have known that these two birthdays would be significant, sad, and promising. My mom experienced her 38th birthday in a coma, and it marked the beginning of celebrating my mama's birthday without her. She never had a 39th birthday. Yesterday, I celebrated mine. Weird. Those of you who have outlived a parent know what I'm talking about. I also know the day I outlived my mama on this earth, and so do my closest friends. :) I think my blog today was my birthday present from the Lord, and my mama. It might have been one of the things she got to pray for me before He took her home.
I know my God is sovereign, and I believe He has a plan for each of my family members. If you are my family, and you are reading this, please, please accept Jesus' plan for your life! We cannot miss the eternal celebration, where I'm sure there's a lake and a diving board! I love you all, and I know how much mama loved all of you! Please ask Jesus to reveal his plan to you.
This blog tends to be my therapy. I never really know who reads this, and I always say if it touches one person, it wasn't just for me. Well, today, I really just needed it. Yesterday was a battle. I woke up today, so we won! It's time to live like never before! Since 12-12-12, I have been living in unchartered territory as far as mothers and daughters go. You know, " Well when my mom was my age..." My mom was never my age, but I am the age she was not. I choose this blessing, and I am thankful that I get to hang around! I want to take as many of you home with me as I can. Who's in?