Lessons for Life – A Gift from My Mother’s Heart | March 13th, 2017
A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine who is a single mother, asked if I would sit down with her one day and share everything my mother taught me that influenced and shaped my life. In reality, that would probably take several days of nonstop talking! When I began to seriously contemplate the question, memories of her impacting words and actions came flooding back to me.
It is so hard for me to believe, but it has been five years now since my mom left her temporary home on this earth and went to her eternal home to be with Jesus in heaven. I still have days when the sadness and grief overwhelm me because saying “goodbye” to someone I loved with all my heart was so painful.
There are days when I cannot seem to stop the tears no matter how hard I try. I expect there will always be days like those because she enriched my life so much.
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” – Kahlil Gibran
Just as days of sadness and sorrow will never completely vanish, there are valuable lessons my mom taught me during the course of my life that will forever stay with me. They are a beautiful gift from her heart – lessons that greatly influenced and shaped me into who I am today, along with the verses she taught me in God’s Word by which she lived her life…
Lesson #1: Be Joyful
My mom had SO MUCH JOY. She smiled and laughed often because her joy came from within and was not dependent on her circumstances. She was radiant inside and out because she had trusted in Jesus as her Savior and He had brought her out of complete darkness from her past into the light. He was her strength for the present and her hope for the future.
Because of Him, she had immense joy. She taught me all about Jesus from the moment I was born and I accepted Him as my Savior as well. I know He is the reason for my joy as there is nothing in this life that can give lasting joy like He gives.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7
Lesson #2: Be Prayerful
I remember whenever I shared any struggles I was going through, my mom would listen intently and then say, “What does the Bible say about it?” She would open her well-worn Bible and find Scripture that related perfectly to my concerns. She always referred to God’s Word to give me advice.
She knew the Bible very well because she spent so much time reading, meditating, and memorizing it. She also taught me and my sister, Heidi, to memorize Bible verses so we would have His Word hidden in our hearts. Years later, we can still recite Psalm 139 together!
Before the end of our conversation, she would always end it by saying, “Let’s pray about it.” We would bow our heads right there and talk to the Lord together, giving the whole issue completely to Him. She would always thank Him in advance for what He was going to do. She strongly believed in the power of prayer. After seeing the incredible ways God answered our prayers, I firmly believe in it, too.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. Philippians 4:6
Lesson #3: Be Trusting
We do not always understand the reasons why we go through difficult or uncertain times, but my mom always taught me those are the best times to put your trust in God. He knows exactly what is happening and why. There are no surprises for Him. We just need to trust that He is in full control and will make the situation beautiful in His time.
I am so thankful she taught me this as I have gone through many uncertain times and have needed to fully put my trust in God to see me through. My mom and I read this verse often and even memorized it together:
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall be afraid. What can mere man do to me? Psalm 56:3-4
Lesson #4: Be Disciplined
From the time I was very young, my mom taught me the valuable lesson of being disciplined. I had daily chores that were listed on a chart, taped to the front of the refrigerator. When each chore was completed, I got to put a shiny star sticker next to it. I still make a daily checklist and must say I feel really good when I have completed my goals, checking them off the list!
She modeled discipline by having a quiet time each morning with the Lord, spending time reading the Bible so she would be able to instill His truths into her daughters’ lives, teaching us how to honor and glorify God in all we do. I have now made it part of my own routine each morning to open God’s Word to see what He has to teach me before I start my day.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Lesson #5: Be Health-Conscious
It is one thing to tell someone they need to eat healthy and exercise but quite another to model it through your own example. My mom truly practiced what she preached. She loved to walk briskly every day. I cannot remember a day when she did not have her walk. It was a consistent part of her lifestyle.
Nutrition was also of utmost importance to her. She got up extra early to pack us healthy lunches every day before we went off to school. She also cooked amazing meals and always made sure there was a variety of rich color on the plate so they would be nutritious and balanced for us. To this day, I never serve a meal without plenty of color on the plate! And exercise has become a regular part of my routine as well.
It was important to her to live a healthy lifestyle because it gave her energy to do the many things God led her to do throughout her life to give Him glory through her testimony.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Lesson #6: Be Creative
My mom was all about being creative. She was not the kind of mother to plop me and Heidi down in front of the television to keep us occupied. In fact, we did not even own a TV. Instead, she would challenge us to use our creativity by making crafts, playing outdoor games, and baking with her, sometimes making up our own recipes just to see how something would turn out!
As I got older, she often reminded me of my unique gifts and encouraged me to do what I loved – whatever came naturally to me – and to never stop using my creativity through my gifts. That stuck with me, and after college I became an entrepreneur. I am continually using my creativity to come up with new ideas using my gifts.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them. Romans 12:6a
Lesson #7: Be Available
Although I was not alive during the 1950s when mothers were usually present as their children came home from school, I might as well have been! While Heidi and I were school-age, God provided a way for our mother to be home for us. She often had freshly baked chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven when we walked in the door from school and could not wait to hear all about our day.
I am so grateful that she made herself available by giving us her time along with her complete, undivided attention. We had some of the best talks over those delicious cookies at the kitchen table. She instilled in me to be available to others, be a good listener, fully attentive, giving eye contact when someone is sharing their heart with me.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Lesson #8: Be Confident
Living with my mom, I never had the slightest risk of having low self-esteem. She told me all throughout my life how beautiful I was – inside and out. She truly believed in me. Not once did she doubt my abilities when using my God-given talents. Never did a single day go by without her telling me she loved me. And she reminded me continuously how much God loves me unconditionally.
What an incredible boost for my self-confidence, especially during those tough teenage years when I really needed to hear those words. Most importantly, she taught me to put my confidence in God who created me in His image and loves me just the way I am. Although she is no longer with me here on earth, I will never forget her words which give me continued confidence each day of my life.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
These are just a few of the valuable lessons my mother taught me that truly influenced and shaped my life. I will be forever grateful to her for taking the time to teach me, guide me, and demonstrate to me what it means to live a life that honors and glorifies God…the One who blessed me beyond measure by giving her to me as my mother. The One who makes the pain of parting temporary. The One who will wipe away my tears of sadness and grief forever when we are reunited in our eternal Home in heaven where we will never have to say “goodbye” ever again.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4
Written in honor of my mother, Susan Nelson, who went to be with her Savior five years ago today on March 13, 2012.
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