On the 7th of September, 1999, my Mom breathed her last breath and went to be with Jesus. She’s home now. After years of beaming for the One who died for her (my Mom beamed—I mean she smiled and her eyes revealed a joy that only Jesus could have placed within her) she is now in His loving arms.

I’m happy for Mom. I know what being with Jesus means to her. I know what being re-united with her father, who died in 1968, means to her. I’ll never forget how much she cried when he passed away. I don’t think I had ever seen anyone grieve like that. She sobbed for weeks. But that was my Mom. She gave everything 100%–especially people. Mom was a people person. She always made you feel so important. I couldn’t begin to count the times when I would come over with a friend, and she would drop everything and start fixing us a meal with all the trimmings, despite our objections. And by the time we finished eating, we were glad she took the trouble, because it was so good. But a visit to Mom’s got you much more than good food. She provided some of the best conversation of anybody I’ve ever known. She was especially good at reaching out to complete strangers (Mom never met a stranger!) and captivating them with her winning way. What did Mom talk about? She had countless stories of God’s goodness to her over the years—most of which were so impressive you went way with a feeling that this woman should have written a book.

I won’t elaborate much now, but let’s just say my Mom was a spiritual dynamo who heard from God, experienced God, and trusted God in phenomenal ways. At the early age of five, she begged her Presbyterian mother to be baptized by immersion at a local revival meeting. Her mother reluctantly allowed her to do so, and just following the baptism, my Mom was “slain in the Spirit” and had a vision of the Jesus People revival that would take place some forty years later, in the early seventies. It was in the midst of this revival that I came to the Lord, at age 16, in 1972. One of the things that convinced me that I should commit my life to Jesus was what I saw God doing in and through my Mom as she ministered to countless young people, many struggling with drug addiction, who came to our door searching for God. During the early seventies my Mom was affectionately known as “sister Nielsen” to hundreds of admiring young converts whom she discipled and encouraged in the faith. One reason people sought her out was the common knowledge that “sister Nielsen” heard from God.

When I received news of my Mom’s passing, I knew instantly that a flame had gone out in my life. This flame had been burning from the day of my conception. Mom had prayed for me everyday. She never passed up the opportunity to tell me how much she loved me and was so very proud of me. She loved me unconditionally. She championed me.

I will live the rest of my life at loss because my Mom is gone from this earth. Reflecting upon her passing, I feel like, for the first time, that I will be looking forward to my death with anticipation. She’ll never return to me, but I will one day go to where she is. I thank God for that sure hope. Until then, I will live motivated by the memory of a Mom who inspired me to dream great dreams for God.