I will always remember that night 30 years ago when God showed me a “living portrait” of my mother in my dreams. She was young, vibrant, beautiful, and at peace…the exact image I had seen of her in a vintage photograph (that somehow looked like an oil painting). Thankful for that gift of insight, I opened my eyes, not fully understanding why God had given it to me. Not long before, I had led her to faith in Jesus as we talked on the phone. Perhaps this was why I had seen her in an almost-glorified state? Uncertain, I drifted back to sleep.
An Amazing Turnaround
On Mother’s Day weekend that year, Mom traveled to Dallas from Austin and stayed with us. In many ways, it was like my dream: uplifting and timeless. Unlike other times we’d shared, she was feeling well, fully in the moment, the entire time. That weekend would prove to be the best visit we’d had in years, and the last time we’d see each other in this life.
Mom had struggled with her health, both mentally and physically, since I was a child. Farther back than I could remember, her ability to enjoy a normal life and healthy relationships had been tragically altered. After my parents divorced during my senior year in high school, things became increasingly difficult. She ultimately remarried, but her station in life had sadly and dramatically diminished. But God never left her.
To me, Mother’s Day isn’t a time to celebrate a perfect relationship with my mother, or even perfect circumstances. Rather, it is a celebration of perfected love. I have learned a bittersweet truth. Despite life’s challenges, a mother is a precious gift from God.
That weekend in 1989, my mom spent quality time with our two young children. She attended church with us on Sunday, May 14th, and at the point when mothers were being honored in the service, we stood at the altar, holding each other, during a special time of prayer. After church, we all relaxed with friends, ate a delicious meal, and had a wonderful afternoon. The whole time, my mom was lucid; engaged. I was in awe of God’s goodness. It was as though, in that three-day period, God had restored the years the “locusts” had eaten (see Joel 2:25).
The Shocking News
When mom returned home, things continued to improve in her life. It finally looked as if things were coming full circle. I was elated. Then on June 7th, my stepfather called. He arrived home to find that my mother had passed away. “What?” My voice was shaking. As I listened, my hand went limp, and the phone fell to the floor. Stunned, I went into another room and closed the door. But God broke through my numbness. He spoke in my spirit, “They are going to ask you to sing.” Not 20 minutes later, my sister called and asked. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it, but the Lord didn’t tell me to say no. And I sensed a peace in my heart that I couldn’t explain. So, against logic, I agreed to sing at the funeral.
The events that unfolded in Austin several days later were nothing less than miraculous. Not only did God supernaturally strengthen me to share with my siblings that mom was alive, happy, and healthier than we’d ever known—He empowered me to sing “Amazing Grace” a cappella, standing on the podium directly behind her beautiful coffin. I can’t find words to fully describe what I experienced when I put my hand on my opened Bible and lifted my voice to Heaven, honoring God and my mother’s life. The more I sang, the more His strength rose within me. I made it all the way through without shedding a tear or missing a note.
An Eternally Sweet Resolution
Several weeks later as I was settling back into my normal routines, the Lord reminded me of the “living portrait” of my mother He’d shown me in my dreams. He also confirmed in a vision that she was doing better than ever. When I arrived at her new ethereal home, she was joyful and full of energy. More than that, it was obvious that she had everything she needed and more. So much so, that she kept asking me what she could do for me! God had fully restored her. I awakened with tears of joy and gratefulness, overwhelmed by the sweet love of the Lord.
I can’t tell you how thankful I am for my mother, even though circumstances weren’t perfect. In His own way, God redeemed all that was lost and perfected it. The Lord allowed me to witness to my mother and lead her to Him; He showed me a heavenly portrait of Mom to prepare me for her passing; we enjoyed a final Mother’s Day weekend together that I’ll never forget, and then He graciously started bringing her life full circle. Then God filled me with His presence to praise Him and honor her life in song; and finally, He confirmed through it all that my mother was forever safe in His loving arms.
Life doesn’t have to be perfect to celebrate the gift of motherhood. I have learned that my experiences growing up or challenges faced as an adult can’t dictate how I honor my mother’s priceless place in my life. In His love and wisdom, God has established and matured me—and is doing the same with my children and grandchildren—through His perfected love. Because of this, I can celebrate Mother’s Day, and every day, knowing that God—our heavenly Father—is above all things, working in and through all things. Through every joy and sorrow, every breath of motherhood, He is designing a beautiful, living portrait of His love that flows from generation to generation.
“Honor (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother—this is the first commandment with a promise—that all may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2–3 (AMP)
Featured photograph by Bogdan Sonjachny/Shutterstock.