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The Voice Message

I was positively sure he was mistaken, but Austen was equally sure that he was not. "I called home, but I got Grandma's voice," he told me with amazement. 

There were two problems with this:
1. Grandma (my Mom) had passed away on May 25, 2015. This was June 21, 2016.
2. My Mom's answering service was never connected to our home phone at any time.

Austen got out his cell phone, and attempted to recreate what had just happened to him that day. 

"I was sitting in Dunn Brothers coffee shop, and I dialed the house. When I got the voicemail, I hung up and called right back and that's when it said, 'This is the Raynes' residence,' and it was Grandma's voice. I'm sure of it."

Now he had to prove it. He dialed. Our voicemail with my voice answered. He immediately hung up and called back. Our voicemail answered again. He hung up and called back. Again, it was my voice. I was beginning to wonder if the Lord had done something special for Austen that wasn't for the rest of us. Austen and Jessica were just about to leave town to move to my Mom's old home state of Connecticut. They were sitting on the couch with me, spending some of our last moments together in Minnesota (and patting my shoulder as I wept because I'm Mom and "babies" were leaving...that's another story). I could tell that Austen and Jessica were both convinced at what had happened, and both were giving credit to the Lord, but could Austen make it happen again?

Austen dialed again. When voicemail answered, he hung up and redialed.

"You have reached the Raynes residence. We're not available to take your call right now. Please leave your name and number, and we'll get back to you." 

Mom's voice.

A 16-second recording of my Mom's voice came clearly through Austen's cell phone. He had dialed our house, but somehow, he had gotten my Mom's old voicemail. How could this possibly be? We never shared phone service! We never even had the same phone companies, as my Mom lived in St. Paul and we live in Apple Valley, so we are serviced by different companies.

I took my cell phone and made a recording of the recording! Now I had a copy of this message.

As Austen and Jessica had a final time of prayer with me and hugged farewell, I stood outside to watch the 26-foot Budget Rental truck pull their little car up the hill. I waved to them, and his sweet little wife Jessica snapped one last cell phone pic of me as I stood by the roadside, looking just a tiny bit forlorn.

I was also puzzling over what they had just shared with me.

My sisters and I had lamented greatly that we never had a recording of Mom's voice, so we were hoping to retrieve it from her home phone. Unfortunately, the phone at my Mom's house had filled up with messages, so it stopped playing Mom's voice message and started playing the phone company's computer-voice message: "We're sorry, but the voice mailbox is full." I called the phone company and asked them if we could have the recording of our Mom's voice, but they told us that it wasn't possible, so we reluctantly accepted the fact that we wouldn't hear Mom's voice again until Heaven. We didn't have any other recordings of her speaking, and wished we had thought of this earlier.

This is a great time for me to insert a suggestion: Record your loved ones voices, and record your own message to your loved ones. With the technology that we have today, you can make a video of yourself in your cell phone or tablet, download it to your computer and leave it in a special inbox for your loved ones to retrieve when you are no longer on this side of Heaven.

The Budget rental truck was out of sight, and I was still standing in place on the lawn. "How did Mom's voice get into our phone, Lord?" I had to ask the Lord. No one else could explain it at the moment...but maybe some of you are so technically-minded that you have already figured it out. The Lord reminded me to check the laundry room...

After Mom's house sold so quickly, we were speed-packing her belongings since we had a mere four weeks before the closing. It's really hard to determine what stays and what goes, and it's very tempting to just divide everything up and take it home, essentially doubling the household goods. Since we knew that the packing project was an emotional task, we were trying hard not to allow ourselves to take too many things home with us. We tried, but failed. In the process of packing, I took my Mom's old house phone home with me. I was hiding it from my Norman, as he was becoming very concerned with where we were going to put all these "just one more" things. I tucked the phone in a plastic bag and dashed out to the car to stash it in the trunk. When we got home, I took the phone down to the laundry room, unplugged our phone and replaced it with Mom's old phone. Satisfied, I smiled as I realized that it was like having (another) little piece of Mom in my home.

Little did I know or even consider that it had an answering machine with Mom's voice on the recording. After all, the landline voicemail service for most phone companies today allows you to make your recording directly through their company; not into your actual phone. So, the answering machine wasn't answering Mom's phone when it was at her house. The phone company voicemail service was answering the phone after four rings.

Until we connected the phone in our laundry room at home.

At that point, the old answering machine started a very odd practice. If someone called and the voicemail answered, the very next caller would get Mom's answering machine. I can't explain it any better than this, but Mom's old phone was intercepting the calls if they came too close together...which is why Austen got Grandma's voice message. By hanging up and calling right back, he landed on the old answering machine, and got another voice.

Mom's voice. 

That would have been enough for me, but there was one more encounter later that day. 

After Austen and Jess left, my heart needed soothing, so I turned on the book of Proverbs in my car, using a Bible app from my cell phone and the Bluetooth connection in the car stereo system. The screen in the dashboard said "Proverbs 3." The 3rd chapter of Proverbs was coming clearly through the speakers from my cell phone when I pulled into the parking lot at work. I often play the book of Proverbs in my car. It's so comforting.

When I returned to my car a few hours later, the screen in the dashboard still said "Proverbs 3," but the voice that came from my car stereo speakers was not reading Proverbs.

"You have reached the Raynes residence. We're not available to take your call right now. Please leave your name and number, and we'll get back to you."

Mom's voice again. Someone in cell phone technology could try to explain this one, but I choose to give God the credit for both of these "messages."

A hug from Heaven, allowed by God? I believe so. After all, God can do as He pleases.

"Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places." 
(Psalm 135:6)


  1. From Ronald C: I'm over here in joyful tears Auntie I so want you to hear that right now I Love it.

  2. From Amy B: It makes my heart jump to know you found this treasure! It's an awesome hug.

  3. From Melody H: Precious! Now how often will someone in your family pray that they tie up your voice mail to hear your dear sweet Mom's voice!

  4. From Tiffany C: Auntie Francie this touched my heart. I miss grandma so much and would love to hear her voice. Her picture is my screen saver thank you for sharing this love you much.

  5. From Renee C: What a special gift from the Lord at a a very difficult time for a "mama." How I'd love to hear my mother's voice. Jesus must love you really good!!!!

  6. How precious! After receiving a special blessing from the Lord, my mom used to say, “God loves me better than anybody!”

  7. From Carol N: What a great God we have to comfort your heart when it is sad. Love this post. Gives my heart a smile too.

  8. From Audrey M: A great picture and story Francie. I know the feeling of goodbye. I havnt Been able to see my family in Canada for 9 years. Very hard. My brother and sisters for 12. Glad we have Facebook.

  9. From Sherri R: Love this! I lost my sister 2 years ago. I'd love to hear her voice one more time. I'm so glad you have this treasure!!

  10. From Joy E: This is so sweet! I love surprises from our Heavenly Father. Praying for you during these tough transition days!

  11. From Jessica T: What a special gift. How good is our Heavenly Father? He knew exactly what you would need on the day Austen and Jessica left. Where's my tissues?

  12. What a wonderful God we have!!!

  13. From Charlene W: What a blessing for you! And isn't the Lord good to give it to you on the day you needed to hear your Mom's voice. Looking forward to having Austen and Jessica with us in CT!


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