The Notebook Café
By Shelly Thompson, Publisher
The Notebook Cafe - Inspired Words for the Journey
The Bible tells us on rare occasions the curtain…the veil thinly separating heaven and earth is lifted, or transparent revealing to us things that are normally kept hidden. We read of Elijah’s death viewed from heaven’s perspective in 2 Kings 2. Lazarus being carried away by angels in Luke 16:22. In 2 Kings we also see the veil lifted during the war between Israel and the nation of Aram. This ‘unveiling’ allowed the Israelites to always be prepared and the king of Aram never won a victory. The victory always belonged to the Lord.
There are many times described in the Bible that the veil is lifted allowing Christians to see the unseen. With my mom’s recent slipping through the veil, I believe the veil was very thin between earth and heaven for a brief time. The brief glimpses we were allowed showed us…God abundantly answers prayers…peace is provided as continuous signs of His presence surround us. Even through grief…God was there in so many ways, I couldn’t even mention them all here. When my mother passed and we were in deep grief…our family…her legacy…held a wedding instead of a funeral. A wedding planned by God…not of human thought, but designed by the Creator when He laid out the plans for her life. We glimpsed through the veil…as a wedding was planned…instead of a funeral.
This is a longer read than normal, but I believe it will touch you deeply. God is in all situations…even the death of a loved one that touches our soul. If we allow ourselves to be overcome with grief…we might miss God’s tiny miracles. Allowing Him to bring peace, where there seems an endless pit of despair…joy where there seems nothing but hopelessness…gratitude when it feels like nothing is left…love when it feels like the tears won’t stop…and assurance that while this life can have moments that are wonderful, nothing is better than what the Lord has planned beyond this earth.
During your quiet time, won’t you join me…for the Warrior’s Wedding?
…The touching scene could easily have been from a Hallmark movie. Which would have seemed very appropriate as the bride loved Hallmark Christmas movies. Today, she had a starring role. The sunlight softly filtered through the windows as beautiful music began to fill the church she had attended for years. The bride and groom’s daughters had even helped him select a new gray shirt and red tie earlier in the week for the special wedding. The groom looked much younger than his 82 years today. His hair was neatly combed and he appeared handsome and well dressed for this special wedding as he slowly escorted his wife of 57 years down the aisle. They had shared a lifetime of true love. A fifty-seven year journey sharing good times, tough times, joyful celebrations, working side-by-side to raise a family, they had endured seasons of mourning, difficult times of illness, early years of financial hardship, adventurous travels in later years, and eventually running an antique business together in the small town of Walnut, Iowa. It had been a long and beautiful journey that had led them to this exact place...
As the groom escorted his wife down the aisle it was easy to see this wasn’t a typical wedding. Most bride and grooms are just beginning their journey, but for this couple…the journey on earth of traveling together was over. The husband was walking beside a beautiful white casket trimmed in delicate gold that carried his beloved bride. This is where the life’s journey had led them. However, what couldn’t be seen by the earthly eyes watching the couple go down the aisle a final time…was the God who had never forsaken them. Each step of their journey, He was present. He was with them. Sometimes He carried them. They each knew with certainty He would always be with them they would not be alone.
This final part of the journey…this special wedding… had all started a week ago, as the wife took her last breath and slipped through the veil that separates heaven and earth. Even on that day, God had shown Himself to be in all the details…
Early that Sunday morning as his wife awoke she informed her husband that she thought one day very soon she would be well enough to again attend church with him. She had always so loved sitting on the church pew beside her husband. She was reminded of how deeply she loved him as he smiled in agreement at her comment and brought her a cup of hot coffee. Neither of them knowing…just how accurate her words were. They would indeed return to church together again just a few days later…for their special wedding.
The last two years had been very difficult for her. She had been quite ill and for the last six months received hospice care at home. He and his two daughters, along with many family and friends, their church family, and the hospice angels had helped him care for his beloved wife at home. It had been a long season and required some sacrifice on his part, but he didn’t mind. He knew that she too had sacrificed the many things she had always loved to do. God had watched over them and had seen all that no others could see…day and night…He was there. It was never just the man and his wife…there was always the presence of God filling their home and surrounding them.
Shortly after she had stated early Sunday morning she was hopeful to return to church soon, she began to rapidly decline. Within just a few hours, she was unable to walk and her pain began to increase. The husband, daughter’s, and hospice nurse cared for her. They talked to her. The husband reassuring her the entire time, he would not leave her side as it was decided she needed transferred to the Hospice House. About a year before as medication needed to be monitored, the husband took a random stack of index cards from the closet to record daily medication. Each midnight a new index card was turned over and the new date written at the top to track the medication given that day. The stack of index cards was about 4” tall. The daily index cards ensured that no medication had been overlooked. For the first time that Sunday morning the hospice nurse started administering morphine. As the family left for hospice, they took the stack of index cards they had been filling out each day for almost a year now. This would allow the Hospice staff to see what medication she had received and her pain pattern
She had been at hospice for about 5 hours as midnight approached. The daughter knew it was time to start another index card for the new day. Like always she picked up the index cards to get a new one to start a new day…and realized there were no index cards left. The index card for that day…had been the last one. Was this coincidence that a randomly selected amount of index cards…had suddenly ran out…or was this a sign from God...that He was in all the details…both living and going home. He overlooks nothing. He set beforehand the amount of time she would have. The daughter was surprised, but she realized as if peering through a veil that was slightly opening…nothing takes God by surprise.
It was to be her final evening on earth… as she began to slip through the fragile veil…yet God granted this family His grace and mercy as they said ‘farewell for now’ during the transition into eternity. Her final moments here were just as important to God as her first had been. He would be in every moment.
As she laid in the hospice bed, tiny and fragile, her face reflecting the toll the last several months had had on her, she was still alert. Her husband of 57 years climbed up on the bed to lie beside his wife. The daughter encouraged him to move to the couch and get some rest. He stated that he had slept beside his wife for 57 years. This would be their last night here together and he was not giving this opportunity up to be close to his wife. As the early morning hours drew near…the husband held his wife and stroked her check as her breathing, soft and beautiful, began to slow down…he told her he loved her…he thanked her for the special birthday gift she had given him earlier that night at hospice that she had asked her daughters to help her with…her breathing continuing slower and slower…he told her it was time, time for her to go see her family, they had been waiting a long time for this day…he thanked her for raising their family together…her breathing never labored, just slower and slower…he told her how much he loved her…she took her last breath here. So perfectly peaceful…
The veil lifted…
Her next breath was in heaven…looking at Jesus…the wheelchair gone…the pain removed…every tear wiped from her eyes…seeing unspeakable things of great joy…greeting family members that had awaited her arrival…there was no need for index cards where she was at now…her time would never run out…she had stepped through the veil at the exact time God had planned and into eternity…God fulfilling His promise to her from years before when she gave her heart to Jesus. It had all been made ready and waiting…
The grieving family stepped into the hospice hallway at 3:16 a.m. without a mother and wife here…she had begun her never ending journey. It was then that the husband told his daughters his final wishes for his beloved wife…and their mother…she had never had a church wedding…now was the final opportunity and he wasn’t going to miss it…
He was going to walk her down the aisle…the groom returning her for safe keeping until God reunited them in His time…
A wedding was being planned…not a funeral with mourning clothing cloaked in sadness…but a wedding… a celebration of true love…a gift from God. The family was trying to find gratefulness in all that she had been and all that she had given them…and the God who loved all of them that were now separated by heaven and earth.
The rain pelted the ground on that cold late September day as the father arrived home from making the wedding arrangements with his daughters. Realizing for the first time, that the house would now be filled with only his presence… for she had now slipped through the veil. It was almost dusk as he pulled into his driveway and looked with disbelief…the purple morning glories that only bloomed when it was bright and sunny in the afternoon…were absolutely bursting with purple flowers. They hadn’t been that beautiful all summer; yet today…in the cold, damp, rain, dusk of the day…they were blooming brilliantly. He knew it was a sign from God…he took a picture and sent it to his daughters at once. It lifted all their spirits…the veil was still thin and God was going to comfort this family in ways that they could not conceive.
It touched them each deeply when the next morning the church sent the wedding bulletin to be printed and it the cover was outlined…with purple morning glories. God showing them He is truly in every detail… His overflowing heart of love revealed in the smallest things.
The daughters and granddaughters knew they needed to get the bride ready for the wedding. They arrived at the funeral home expecting this to be hard. They wondered if it would be difficult to view her, possibly uncomfortable to touch her. While she had just turned 78, the ravages of the illness had aged her beautiful face by decades. As the funeral home staff opened the door to the room they had prepared for the bride to get ready, the daughters and granddaughters gasped…she looked beautiful. It was as if the Hand of her Creator had wiped every wrinkle caused by pain away, her skin a beautiful tone without any makeup, the peace present in the room could only be God. He was showing the family, He had erased her pain and taken her to the place promised where she would be waiting to welcome each of them one day. She too was present as the veil was still thin. The daughters and granddaughters laughed, shared stories, and told jokes as they prepared the bride for her groom, for the long awaited church wedding. They were assured there would be no funeral. God was again taking care of all the details.
The bride was dressed in her favorite red dress and the daughter’s too selected red dresses to match the wedding party. The father shared a brief time the week before when unknown to them…the veil was lifted. It had been a difficult week for their mother and his wife, but she had insisted one day he needed a haircut! He didn’t think she could possibly give him a haircut as she couldn’t stand for more than just a few minutes. It took her three tries, but she finally gave him a haircut. There was a piece that she hadn’t cut quite right. The daughter offered to fix it, but the father raised his hand and said that this was the final haircut she gave him and this would be the haircut he would be wearing for the wedding…exactly the way she had cut it. The family again realized that even the week before she stepped into heaven, God had given her a glimpse that her groom would need a haircut. What a gift that he would be wearing the final haircut by his wife at the wedding. God again showed the family that He was in all the details. Orchestrating everything. Omitting nothing. He knew every hair on the grooms head. Who better than God Himself to hold the grooms hand and show him compassion as He gathered the bride into His arms for eternity.
The husband had prepared a final wedding gift for his wife. During the winter months as he cared for her he had started quilting. The past winter he made a beautiful purple quilt. Everyone always asked him who it was for, but he never revealed the recipient….until now. He told how they had made the quilt, with her offering advice and sometimes assistance during many winter evenings working with him as long as she could. He said he didn’t think she would survive through the winter and he wanted her to have a final gift…the purple quilt…although he knew she would be in the perfectly controlled climate of heaven. The gift of the quilt represented the deep love between the husband and wife. Each piece of the quilt signifying how their journey fit together perfectly. Each quilt piece symbolizing a memory stitched together with love spanning 57 years…
God taught this family that love is stronger than death…stronger than illness…stronger than not knowing what the next day holds…stronger than fear…love conquers all…believes all…we were having a wedding…where oh death is your sting? We knew God had given her a victory…in life she was loved and in death…she was loved even more…
The day of the visitation arrived…the husband and the daughters wanted to be at the church to greet the guest of honor, the bride, for her final arrival to the church. Just as she had stated a few days before she was going to church. The church had received many, many flowers. Photos were set out, tables arranged, a computer presentation prepared to play for the guests. The bride looked beautiful in her red dress…the handmade purple quilt draped on the lower portion of the pure white casket. The staff from the funeral home had probably…for the first time…been transformed into wedding planners helping to greet guests. Just under 300 people came to see the bride and to share in the joy of the family. Grandchildren played and did cartwheels. The husband stood beside the bride, with the daughters at their parent’s side. It was a picture of hope, assurance, and faith. Hope in the legacy she had left. Assurance in the joy that she had received as she entered heaven because through her faith she believed that Jesus Christ was the son of God.
The wedding day finally arrived. The church was booked. The guests were invited. The flowers ordered and delivered. The music selected. The church wedding…57 years in the making…had finally arrived. As the minister read the words of Proverbs 31…“she is clothed in purple linen”…the beautiful purple quilt caught the morning sun draped across the brides stunning white casket…again...God taking care of all the details. As the family was seated in front of the church at the wedding…they noticed that God even selected the colorful banner that hung at the front of the church with a silhouette of a woman…who was also dressed in red…she was freely dancing as if to shout to those at her wedding…‘Look at me, I have been restored by the blood of Jesus…don’t mourn…it’s a time to dance.”
The groom escorted his wife to the final place where her body would now lay…the minister spoke of those who were waiting for the beautiful bride that Monday morning at 3:16 a.m. While the family had said a temporary farewell, there were others waiting with a glad shout, “she has arrived…she is here…it’s a time to dance.” As the family and friends touched the casket that held all that she was here…they knew she was fully alive and now even more in heaven…
She was not laid to rest, but risen to dance…freely in heaven. The Bible assures believers of Jesus Christ that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has conceived what the Lord has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
God gave this family...my family...a beautiful wedding for a faithful warrior…instead of a funeral…assuring us of where she was and who He is. Thank you, Jesus, for removing the veil so that those who believe…can have access to heaven, your Holy dwelling place. We know the bride has now seen all that you have promised and held safe...and joyfully shouts…‘it’s a time to dance.’
As I wrote in the first paragraph, with the nation of Aram God got the victory, Aram never won. As God lifted the veil for my precious Mom to step through...He got the victory...death has left a void here, but a completion in heaven that we do not fully understand yet. We will meet again, when God lifts the veil for each of us to slip through...our victory awaits.
Even in your final moments mom...you showed us Jesus. I am forever grateful I got to attend the Warrior’s wedding. I’ll see you one day on the other side of the veil…
Shelly Thompson, Publisher
The Notebook Cafe - Inspired Words for the Journey
Heart of a Warrior released by The Notebook Café & Co. Publishing 2018