Surprise! - Guest post by Amber Wilkinson (Amanda’s Sister)

There are very few times in my life when I have been truly surprised. You know, that overwhelming SHOCK that completely catches you off guard, and you wonder how in the world you didn't see that coming?! I can literally count on one hand the number of times this has ACTUALLY happened to me. And every single one of them involves my sister, Amanda.

November 27, 2005: I was in my sophomore year of nursing school at college, and it was just days before my official capping ceremony. I had just hung up the phone with my mom, and she had told me that there was no way they were going to be able to make the 15 hour drive down to see me. I told her it was no big deal, and in reality, it really didn't bother me that they wouldn't be there. I mean, it was just my capping. Thanksgiving was also the same week, and there were lots of families on campus to visit. I remember sitting at lunch watching my friends and roommates sit and talk with their parents and siblings, and I suddenly began to wish my family could have made it. I almost regretted telling my mom that I didn't really care if they came. After poking at my salad for a few minutes, I looked up and caught a quick glimpse of a blonde haired girl who looked so much like my sister Amanda. I shook my head as as if to snap myself back to the reality that they really weren't coming. I scanned the crowd one more time JUST to be sure, and to my complete SURPRISE, I see my dad, mom, and sister emerge from the crowd and come walking straight over to me. It literally took my breath away. I instantly burst into tears! I just couldn't believe they were ACTUALLY here. I will never forget how happy I was in that moment of complete shock. One of the first times I can remember being truly surprised.

July 4, 2011: Gavin and I had just brought our firstborn daughter home from the hospital. My entire family was coming over in just a few short hours for lunch and of course, to see the new baby. I had talked to my sister every day since Audrey had been born - giving her updates, asking her questions, and crying about things I didn't normally cry about (those hormones!). She lived in South Carolina (which was a 12 hour drive), and told me over and over again how MUCH she wished she could be there. I assured her it was ok, and that she would meet her niece very soon. My brother James showed up before the rest of my family with the video camera. I remember being so annoyed because I had been up all night, my house was a mess, I was sleep deprived, and hadn't even showered for the day. Yet here he was, getting EVERYTHING on camera. I finally asked him to turn it off when all of a sudden, I catch a glimpse of a blonde haired girl walking up the sidewalk toward my front door. I remember having this same feeling before, so I just shook my head as as if to snap myself back to the reality that it couldn't possibly be her. I ran to the door to make sure, and there she was! I buried my face in my hands as the tears streamed down my face. I will never forget how happy I was in that moment of pure shock and surprise. And James caught it all on camera!

April 7, 2015: I was eight months pregnant with my little boy, and counting down the days until his arrival. My sister-in-law, Angela Byars, had called to see if I could come over for coffee with a few friends. I was in my last month of pregnancy and didn't even bother to change out of my sweats before heading over. I showed up 15 minutes early to help Angela before everyone showed up. I pulled in the driveway, walked up the path to her house, and opened the door --- "SURPRISE"!!!!!!!! I was in complete and total shock as to why all of these people were yelling that at me. I mean, it wasn't my birthday! Right?! As soon as I stopped to actually take in what was happening, I realize that standing in front of me were some of my dearest friends and family. Then, I see a blonde head peeking out from behind everyone with a smile that always overwhelms me - AMANDA! I instantly burst into tears. She, along with my sister Angela, had planned a surprise baby shower for me, and she drove all the way from Indy to surprise me. It was one of the sweetest and most wonderful surprises of my life.

Today I sit here and think back on these beautiful moments of my life. I love to take time to remember each detail and the way I felt in those times of sweet surprise. I have been thinking about heaven it seems like every single day, and the one thing that continues to come to mind is the OVERWHELMING shock, surprise, and AWE it will be to FINALLY get to see Jesus face to face. I can't help but close my eyes and imagine being in the arms of my Savior. And when I do, I picture catching a glimpse of a blonde haired girl standing in the background waiting for me - holding my sweet niece - and smiling that smile that will always cause me to burst into tears. That day can't come soon enough. I love you, Amanda Grace. Every single day I count closer to the day I will see you again.

What a day that will be When my Jesus I shall see And I look upon His face The one who saved my by His GRACE When he takes me by the hand And leads me through the promised land What a day, GLORIOUS day that will be