Living Life to the Fullest | March 13th, 2019
It has been seven years now. I think back on March 13, 2012,
But when she left this earth to be with Jesus, she also left an example of how to live life to the fullest. And I know in the deepest part of my aching heart that she would want that for me…to live each day of
My mother was an extraordinary role model from the moment she laid eyes on me, her tiny first born baby girl, to the day I watched her as she took her very last breath.
I spent a lot of time pondering the many ways she inspired me to live which were expressed through her nature, godly character, and exuberant personality. So here they are from A to Z…
My mother was so affirming in her words and actions. She told me every day that she loved me. She encouraged me to “go for it” with all of my crazy ideas and new ways I wanted to use my creativity. She always believed in me. Whenever she saw something that she admired about my character, she expressed it. She let me know all throughout my life how proud she was of me, from taking my very first steps to starting my own business. She made me feel so important, cherished, loved, and valued.
My mother was absolutely beautiful. I loved to look at her face. Her skin was beautiful and she literally glowed. I know part of it was her beauty routine using natural almond oil every night on her face before she went to bed, partly because of good genes, but her glow also came from within. It was so evident Jesus had changed her life and had given her a reason to live. Her beauty not only showed on the outside, but it also came through from the inside. Her countenance portrayed the joy and peace that could only come from knowing Jesus as her personal friend and Savior.
My mother was a true cat-lover. From my earliest memory, I do not know of a time when we were ever cat-less.
Sometimes we had just one kitty, but other times there were several in our household. Like the time our two cats had babies at the same time. There were at least 13 kittens running around rambunctiously with the two mama cats! My mother had a special way with kitties and spoiled them rotten. I remember whenever she opened a can of tuna, they always got to have the juice poured over their food. She loved them dearly and they loved her!
My mother was an amazing decorator. She enjoyed finding things (within her budget) for our home to make it cozy and comfortable. And she was good at it! She had an eye for furniture and decor items that coordinated well together and always made it feel like home. It was warm and inviting for her family and anyone who came over to visit. That was very important to her.
My mother was so energetic! Not only did she always seem to have an abundance of energy for herself, but she also energized others. Her energy was truly contagious. She could go full-steam from early in the morning till late at night. I never remember her taking a nap! Her personality was full of sparkle, enthusiasm, and a zest for life.
My mother was festive and loved to celebrate. Whatever the holiday, she decorated our home with festive items she had collected over the years. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, the first day of Autumn, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and especially birthdays, she celebrated them all with enthusiasm.
I always felt so special on my birthday. She would make my favorite foods for dinner and bake me a homemade chocolate cake with lots of sprinkles and candles. The colorful Happy Birthday sign would be strung on the wall in the dining room along with balloons, confetti sprinkled on the table, and lots of sweet gifts lovingly wrapped with pretty bows for me to open. To her, life was all about celebrating.
My mother had such a grateful heart. She would always remember to thank people for their kindnesses no matter how small. She was so grateful for everything we had and never took any of it for granted. I would often hear her say, “Thank you, Lord!” It could be in response to some
She was most grateful for her salvation. She grew up in a home that did not talk about God and it wasn’t until she was 20 years old that she accepted Jesus into her life and understood the incredible gift she was given of being purified from her sins so she could spend eternity with Him.
My mother was so healthy! She valued daily exercise and eating nutritious foods so she could have good energy to care for her family. She took walks every day and especially loved the hills! She enjoyed getting her heart rate up because it invigorated her.
I remember the meals she prepared for us had lots of
My mother was an industrious woman. She was hard-working and determined with all she put her mind toward accomplishing. She was a straight-A student in graduate school and gave her all to her clients as a therapist. She was a nurturing and loving wife and mother, always putting our needs above her own. She stayed active and productive throughout her life, living out God’s purpose for her while allowing Him to be her Guide so she knew she was always on the right path.
My mother was such a joyful person. It was very apparent on her face in her beautiful smile because her heart was so filled with joy. The Greek word for joy is
My mother was what I would call kingdom-focused. She lived Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
She rarely watched television or movies (unless they were clean) because of all of the violence, profanity, and how much it hurt her heart to hear her precious Savior’s name being taken in vain. Instead, she spent time with God in prayer and reading her Bible. She wanted to know all she could about how to keep her focus on the things of the eternal – what is important to God – instead of on what the world views as important.
My mother was a really good listener. Listening was what she did to earn an income as a therapist, so she had lots of practice. But she also listened intently to her friends and family to deeply understand them, not to simply give a reply. Whenever I wanted to share my heart, she would drop everything, look me in the eye, and let me express my feelings to her without interruption or distraction. She made me feel so important and loved because of the way she listened.
I was beyond blessed when God chose to give me my mama. She was filled with love for me before I was even born. She used to get terrible migraines and would not even take an aspirin for fear of harming me inside of her womb. From the day I was born, she demonstrated how much she loved me with everything in her. I never doubted her love for me.
My mother was such a good note writer. She always remembered to send a timely, handwritten thank you note to anyone who had done a kindness for her and taught my sister and me to do the same. She put a lot of love and thought into what she wrote in all of our birthday cards (which I saved).
All through our school years, she packed our lunches and would add a sweet, encouraging note in them for us to read when we opened our lunch bag. I remember those notes were what got me through some of those really rough junior high and high school days.
My mother was so optimistic about life. When I came to her with my biggest worries, she would read meaningful Scripture verses out loud to me to reassure me that everything was in God’s hands and I had nothing to fear. And she was the same with her own doubts and fears she encountered. She always went straight to God’s Word for the courage she needed to calm her heart, mind, and spirit.
My mother was prayerful about everything! She never made any major decisions without praying about them first. If I shared that I was unsure about something, she always responded by saying, “Kimberly, let’s pray about it!” She prayed with complete honesty and feeling because she had an intimate relationship with Jesus and fully trusted Him to listen to her and answer prayer. And He always did.
My mother made me laugh. A lot. She was intelligent and quick-witted. She was very clever and could respond immediately to things people said, always in a kind way. And she loved to laugh, too. It was a fun part of her nature and I enjoyed laughing with her about silly stuff and even the serious stuff.
She had a great sense of humor. I remember getting so frustrated with math problems while doing my homework. Math was definitely not her forte. I asked her to explain pi to me one time and she asked, “Are we talking about apple or pumpkin?” She could make me laugh in almost any situation.
My mother was one of the most reliable people I have ever known. If she said she was going to do something, she did it. She always kept her word. She was completely reliable as a mother to me. She made sure to have fresh, healthy food in the refrigerator, a clean house and my clothes clean, a healthy meal on the table every evening, and plenty of quality time for me. She was there for every play, piano recital, choir concert, graduation ceremony – anything that was important to me, she was there. I never questioned her reliability.
My mother loved people and was extremely social. She always had close friends throughout her life. Several were long-lasting friendships of many years, but she continually welcomed new friendships into her life as well.
She had such a heart for other women and it was important to her to grow her relationships with them. She made time to meet them face-to-face for lunch or coffee regularly. And she always had a women’s Bible Study in which she was involved, often as the leader. She was a true extrovert and people were magnetically drawn to her friendliness and outgoing personality.
My mother loved to learn new things. She was teachable – completely willing to become more knowledgeable in a variety of things (except math). I appreciated that she never acted like she knew it all.
She also loved education and spent a lot of time in school to prepare for her career as a therapist. She went to Simmons University in Boston for her undergrad, spent a year at Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, earned a Master’s degree in Psychology from Pepperdine University in Malibu, and a second Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
She was always hungry to learn more about Jesus. I remember her listening to sermons from Christian pastors on her portable radio almost every morning in the bathroom as she was getting ready for the day. She loved to learn!
My mother had such a unique perspective, especially when it came to nature. When we took walks or hikes together, we often stopped along the way as she would notice something creative God had made.
She had an eye for amazing detail. For example, she would gently open up the middle of a pansy and show me “the little Dutch girl” inside.
Or she would point out the intricately patterned detail of a spider’s web.
Or tell me about how she could imagine God cutting the leaves with pinking sheers to make them with jagged borders.
Our walks were always something I really looked forward to with her.
My mother was so very valued by her family and friends. Why? Because she made us feel valued. She told me about my immeasurable value to her and to God all throughout my life, beginning with the songs she would sing while holding me as a baby in her rocking chair.
She would often read Psalm 139 to me, a psalm which expresses the incredible value of each person God has made: For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
She worked with me and my sister to memorize that psalm so the words would be written on our hearts and we would never forget how valued we are.
My mother avidly studied God’s Word which is what made her so wise. She had good, sound judgment and understanding. The Hebrew meaning for wisdom is “skill.” She was God-fearing, meaning she had a deep respect for God, and honored Him more than anyone or anything else, so she was blessed with the skills for discerning what was most important in life. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom… Proverbs 9:10
I never thought twice about going to her to discuss anything I struggled with in my mind. Her advice was godly and truth-filled, always lining up with Scripture. She beautifully represented Proverbs 31:26 describing the wife of noble character: She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
My mother was so expressive and communicated her thoughts and feelings well. She expressed herself clearly through her eyes, her voice, and her face. She had a lot of inflection when she spoke and was very animated when she read or told stories to me or talked about her experiences from the past and present. She was full of enthusiasm. I loved listening to her.
My mother was youthful in many ways. She never seemed to age! Her energy was like that of a teenager and she was always up for a challenge and adventure. She was the one in the family who couldn’t wait to ride the biggest roller coaster at the amusement park. Or hike two miles straight up Camelback Mountain. Or move to a new home in a new state, sharing the same views as UHaul with their slogan prominently advertised in big letters across the side of the truck: “An adventure in moving!”
She had huge enthusiasm for life which kept her young. She took good care of herself with her skincare regimen, the foods she put into her body, and daily exercise, so she looked incredibly youthful as well. When we were together in my adult years, I remember people often asking if we were sisters!
My mother was zealous about many things in life – her family, grandchildren, friends, work, church, but especially about her faith in God. She was so grateful for what Jesus had done for her and was eager to share the hope and joy she had with others because of Him. She never came across as pushy or forceful but just spoke passionately from her heart.
Many of the people she knew throughout her life were drawn to Jesus, desiring that same kind of relationship she had with Him because of the radiance of His light shining through her. I was one of them and because of the example she left for me, I have made it a priority to know Him intimately like she did.
Although she is no longer here with me on this earth, I can still feel her love wrapped all around me, especially when I need it most.
Her life was such a beautiful example of how to live life to the fullest. I will always have an empty, aching place in my heart for her, but I want to be sure I live my life with that same sparkle and passion she had. It’s exactly how she would want me to live. And I can do that knowing I will see my precious Mama again one day in eternity.
Written in honor of my mother, Susan Nelson, who went to be with her Savior seven years ago today on March 13, 2012.
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