Reads: 728  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Since Mother's Day approaches, I thought to share some of my thoughts and experiences on my mother in this compilation of articles and poetry.

 The Stolen Truck 

Child experts recommend parents using a command instead of a question when attempting to improve their child’s behavior. They suggest not posing a negative question, which invites a negative response like, “Can’t you clean up your room?” They advise not ending a statement with “okay?” or “all right?” as the child thinks that he is being asked for his approval. They advocate not using ‘we’ when trying to explain what is required of a child as in "Shall we take out the garbage?" Saying ‘we’ doesn’t help the child to learn to take responsibility for his own actions. 

It is good to learn how to communicate with children but sometimes actions speak even louder than words – a sample is better than a sermon. 

When I was 6 I stole a toy truck from the local supermarket. My mother saw the new truck among my toys and realized what I had done. Without a word, she immediately packed me up in the car and drove down to the store to talk to the manager. She had me return the car and apologize. The manager was willing just to give me the car but my mother refused. I learned a lesson that day that all the lecturing in the world would not have accomplished. Well, it got through, because I can honestly say, that I never shoplifted again.

You need not think that you have to be perfect to pass on values to your children, either. I don’t smoke. One reason I never started is that I heard my father – who at that time was a chain smoker coughing loudly (like a sick dog) when he woke up. When I asked him about he told me that it was because he smoked so much. He didn’t need to lecture. He was the dandy bad example that I didn’t want to become.

It is a big responsibility being a parent. I guess having children helps us as much as it does our children. I have watched my own children grow up and get married and have children of their own. Marriage and parenthood did wonders for their maturity level. Nothing will sober you up more

What amazes me is the love that a mother has for her children. Not a day goes by than being a parent. that my wife doesn’t pray for and discuss her children who are already parents themselves.

Parenthood is bond that is strong. It is a bond of love that will last for eternity. You will always be their parents no matter where or how old they are. It behooves us to put our whole hearts into it for we are forming (shaping) the future.


Jesus’ mother had such love for this gift of God to her. She was blessed among all women because she believed the promises made to her. She had such great faith that was totally contrary to all natural reasoning. The first thing that Jesus saw when he opened His tiny eyes was His mother looking back in tenderness (and mirroring His own love).

As they approached, the shepherds beheld a beautiful young woman silently gazing at her child in a way that only a mother can. The shepherds offered what little they had in love. There is no record of the shepherds giving gifts to the baby. (Many have guessed what the shepherds gave.) I don’t think they came empty handed. Perhaps they carried the offerings of their craft, milk to drink, cheese to eat, wool to warm him, a piece of lamb for a stew. Today in the mountains of Italy shepherds bring such presents to new mothers.

Interview with Mom

by Curtis Peter Van Gorder

Mothers give so much. Their entire life is a gift of love to their family. We journey far from our beginnings and then something tugs our heartstrings home to rediscover who we are and where we came from.

I sat down with my mother a few months before she passed away and asked her some questions about her life. If you have never done it, I suggest you do. It might help you to appreciate your mother more.

She told me much about her life -- about her dreams – both unfulfilled and fulfilled.

I asked her, “Do you have any regrets, what would do if you could live your life again?” 

She answered this and other questions by showing what she had written in her journal.

“If I could, I would find more country lanes, bake cookies, plant more spring bulbs, swim at dusk, walk in the rain, dance under the stars, walk the Great Wall, wade along the sand shores, pick up sea shell and glass, glide through fjords of northern lands, sing country ballads, read more books, erase dismal thoughts, dream up a fantasy.”

Is there any message you would pass on to your children and grandchildren?

“Stop waiting to live until your car is paid off, until you get a new home, until your kids leave the house, until you go back to school, until you finish this or that, until you lose ten pounds.

Pray for what you wish, for God loves to answer, because answered prayer deepens faith and adds glory to His name. 

“Savor the moment. Savor your walking and talking with friends, the smiles of little children. Savor the dazzling light of morning that holds the multicolored way. Savor God’s great earth, rolling hills, the birds, the blooms, the diamond dewdrops glittering on a crab apple tree -- all His wonders from His hand.

“ What special poet makes your heart strings ring, whose finally honed words gives you songs to sing through cold, winter nights? Who opens new sights and puts lights on dark hidden corners of despair, easing the ache, chasing out care? Who makes your feet to dance and your hands to clap? When you have found this one, you will have found a treasure for how wonderful it is -- a thought to hold.” 

My mother’s farewell poem to us read:

My love to souls whom I have known.

With thanks for tender mercies shown.

Your prayers have long sustained me

Through the leaden hours

Rekindled hope at winter’s door

And sprinkled petals on the floor

To soften summer’s way.

Be not disheartened, weep not for me.

For I am now and forever free from

This confining body that traps infirmity

Let me soar to the heavens

Where the angels play.

Of course, we let her soar – we could do no other. But the beauty of her soul lives in our hearts. She has given much and we have gratefully received.

Mothers are our wellspring. By discovering where we came from, we can understand better where we are going. We are the sum total of all that our mothers dream and desire. In discovering our mothers we discover a part of ourselves. Let’s not disappoint them. Show much love to them today.

Mother's Gift 

By Curtis Peter Van Gorder

You once

Waded barefoot in cool mountain streams

Roller-skated in closed off Sunday streets

Sang with your friends from the back of a rumble seat

Did the impossible scholastic feat

Swam as if you were floating

Went on long trips hiking

Shared your thoughts -deeply emoting

Tamed Teutonic tongues by translating

Captured a field of flowers on canvas

Graduated at the head of your class

Danced the jitterbug with your suitor

Sipped German wine on the deck of a cruiser

Read love letters in praise of your beauty

Wrote love letters in praise of his beauty

Photographed wonders of the eye

Filled countless albums with memory

Tasted of sorrows and joys

Gave birth to a girl and two boys

Gave them all till your youth was spent

Gave your beauty till it went

Long after the death angel called you home

You live on in your children who have grown

The beauty and love you have given

Keeps on giving and living.

…shopping for a long time to buy a present for my mother with the little money that I had. I finally found a prism glass necklace that she treasured. When I visited her 40 years later, she still had it with her most expensive jewelry.

His mother called his name Jabez, saying, "Because I bore him in pain.

Notice that it even mentions his mother. You mothers are in God’s hall of fame. You bear a lot of pain both in childbirth and in the daily struggles – the agony and the ecstasy of everyday living. Raising a child in today’s world is not an easy task, nor has it ever been, but God will bless you, for all of your labors of love, especially if you teach your child to pray often in looking to God for their answers.

1CH.4:9 Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, "Because I bore him in pain."

1CH.4:10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!" So God granted him what he requested

That Your hand would be with me  On the way to accomplishing our increased vision, we are bound to meet many difficulties.  Sometimes we feel like the eaglet who is thrown out of the nest by its mother but then as the birdling is plummeting to the earth the mother swoops down and rescues it on her wings. Like this verse: 

Deu 32:11  As an eagle stirs up her nest, flutters over her young, spreads abroad her wings, takes them, bears them on her wings:

Deu 32:12  So the LORD alone did lead him.

That’s the kind of God we have. He not only gives us the vision but He then helps us to accomplish it.

Rainbow Clipper

By Curtis Peter van Gorder

I grew up aboard a fantastical magical sailing ship. Actually, it was a painting that my mother created that was hung over our fireplace. Its sails, painted in bright, crisp, prismatic colors, were an eerie combination of reality and fantasy. The ship sped on powered by a full head of wind to some unknown destination through a deep blue sea of choppy foam-crested waves.

As a boy, I stared at it imaging what mysterious port was its destination, what cargo they were carrying, and what mission the crew was sailing towards. I now realize that this one painting had a big influence in my life. When I was young, I was convinced that I would grow up to be a sailor. Now, though my career has taken a different tack, I do have this painting on my computer’s desktop to remind me of my journey. I have never changed this picture as my desktop as I have never found a picture more meaningful to me. 

Painted just a few years after I was born, (I am the oldest child in the family), it represented all my mother’s hopes and dreams for our up and coming young family.

As we children grew up, I think it embodied our hope, perhaps symbolically, of each of our life’s journey - What lands would we travel to? Who would we ship with as fellow sailors? Under what flag we would sail? Would we be a passenger ship, a merchant ship, a fighting galleon, or, heaven forbid, a pirate vessel?

Like this imaginary rainbow clipper, we too are bound to sail through some rough seas maybe even typhoons, but if the Lord is our Captain  at the helm, we will reach our desired haven in good time.

Psa 107:23  They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;

Psa 107:24  These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.

Psa 107:25  For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.

Psa 107:26  They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.

Psa 107:27  They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.

Psa 107:28  Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.

Psa 107:29  He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.

Psa 107:30  Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

  • Then there are the classic stories of other greats like Thomas Edison, who patented over 1093 inventions in his life time. Yet, in school, the young Edison often day dreamed, so much so that his teacher, labeled him "addled" (confused, mixed up like scrambled eggs).  So ended Edison's three months of official schooling and began his home schooling education with his mother, who was one of his greatest motivators.
  • Edison recalled later, "My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.


Sail in the Ship You Build

by Curtis Peter van Gorder

I awoke this morning to a very vivid dream. It was one of those unique dreams that give you a tingle and light fire in your soul. It certainly gave me a focus for meditation this morning. It was of a mother singing to her children of how they were building the ship they would sail on their voyage of great adventures to exotic lands throughout their lives. That family was all working together to build the ship. They seemed to enjoy the work as they conversed and laughed while they cut and shaped the timber beams using an adze.  The warmth of that happy scene would contrast greatly with the ferocious storms and giant challenges their ship would soon face in the wild ocean of life. 

What an education building a ship must be. There is a lot of mathematics needed to get the dimensions just right. Each piece has to fit precisely. To get the curve of the ship, the boards are put in a steam box and shaped to the exact right shape. Of course, you need to be able to read to study manuals from the shipbuilders who had come before.  No one just chops and slops a boat together. We have much to learn from the masters.

My first thought was that the family I envisioned in my dream was an ancient shipbuilding community or perhaps just a family who was devoted to this purpose. My research drew a blank, but then I remembered the greatest example of all - Noah and his family. I am sure the whole family helped in some way to get the job done.  Those children probably didn’t fully realize it, but not only did their lives depend on how well they built that ship, but the future of mankind as well.  It was a long term vision, too. Some scholars estimate it would have taken them some 120 years to build such a large vessel, which means that their life span must have been longer than ours- Take home point being, building your boat is not a slapdash affair. No, it takes time, patience, and a lot of it.

The main criterion of the ark of course was not elegance but buoyancy. It had to be water tight that’s what all those layers of tar pitched ‘within and without’ were all about. It takes only one leak to sink a ship out on the wild blue waves. It only takes one unguarded moment to wreck a life. Building a boat or a life is a lot about getting the details right.

Building a ship is all about getting somewhere. It is shoving off from the security of the safe harbor to new lands. A ship is not an idle pleasure. In fact, a cargo ship sitting in port doing nothing may cost its owners tens of thousands of dollars a day. Carrying something that someone needs and to make a fair trade is what ships are all about. Which brings us to the question, what do we have in our cargo worth trading for? The greatest resource we have of course is God’s love – something everyone needs. Freely we have received, and so freely we give. Our pay is on earth as it is in heaven.  Perhaps the greatest being, when the Lord says to us, “Well done sailor, you have sailed the course I have charted for you. Enter into the safe harbor at last.”

By the way, I wonder, what song the mother of this dream was singing to her children?  If you listen closely you may hear her singing it to you.

“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work,

but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery quotes (French Pilot, Writer and Author of 'The Little Prince', 1900-1944)

“Sail Forth- Steer for the deep waters only. Reckless O soul, exploring. I with thee and thou with me.

For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared go. And we will risk the ship, ourselves, and all.”

 Walt Whitman quotes ( Poet, 1819-1892)

The Power of Our Stories

by  Curtis Peter van Gorder

My latest obsession is interviewing people; well, actually it has been growing quietly in fertile ground for many years.

It may not be a new idea, but perhaps it is one we should develop more – find out the treasures hiding within the exceptional people we meet.

As often the case when you get a ‘bug in your bonnet’, something comes across your trail to confirm your direction. I discovered some great TED talks on interviewing that might be useful to anyone interested in picking up this torch.

 Here is a link which shows a great actor who has dramatized some of the people she has interviewed, which could be an idea to try with some of these stories.

 One advantage of interviewing people and getting their stories is that you gain a better perspective of knowing how the story turned out after they have gone through the experience, as opposed to someone who is telling their story while they are still going through it. The story doesn’t have to have just happened last week or last month to be of value. A good story is timeless as the Greek classics and others have shown. 

 Just about everyone has a story to tell. If you are a channel to receive them, you can be enlightened by the many amazing adventures and experiences people have to tell you, especially those with relevance for us today.

 I will get the ball rolling by sharing how I first started writing consistently. I was visiting my mother who was 82 years old and who was suffering from cancer. I asked her if she could relate to me what she remembered of her life. She began and was finished in only 45 minutes.

 I asked her, “Is there anything else?”

“That’s all I can remember.”

I determined then that I would not let that happen to me, I would write down my experiences as they happen; not only for the purpose of passing it on to my children, but also to reflect more deeply on them.

 As I was going through my mom’s many journals and notes shortly after she passed away, I found this soulful passage which gave me a deeper insight into her heart and dreams. For me, it reinforced the need to write my life stories down. Her writing was better than a photograph in that it recorded not only the events but also the emotion and the deeper meaning behind it.

 “My dad got a new car, which had a rumble seat in the back. Betty Jane, Annabel, and I would sit in the rumble seat and sing. A rumble seat was a bench that folded outside the doors of the car, so you got the full effect of the wind on you.”

 Here is her poem about that experience.

Chevy Coupe

 By Erika Lutsch van Gorder

I remember our first family car,

A golden Chevy coupe with a rumble seat.

I remember, too, my father’s pride

As he buffed its sleek and polished frame.

This car was Papa’s gift to us and to himself.

It was the celebration of the truth of thrift

And the immigrant’s dream.

I remember the wondrous rumble seat

That unlocked new vistas on my narrow world.

On summer Sundays it hugged three happy girls

Singing and laughing as we bounced along.

Our little Chevy briefly set us free to sing.

Whatever became of rumble seats

And dreams

And three happy girls who felt summer

And knew the words of its bright song?

Just about anything can trigger a story. Maybe you are watching an angel movie or a TV show, especially around the holiday season or maybe you drive by a store window and some angel art is on display like I was the other day. In that case, you could ask your fellow passengers, “Has anyone ever had an experience with angels from the spirit world?” You will probably get a few responses like I did from the backseat.

excerpt of comments on paintings at Italian art museum 

Another reoccurring motif was the pelican feeding her young as a symbol of Christ. It is the symbolism of the mother pelican feeding her little baby pelicans is rooted in an ancient legend which preceded Christianity. The legend was that in time of famine, the mother pelican wounded herself, striking her breast with the beak to feed her young with her blood to prevent starvation. Another version of the legend was that the mother fed her dying young with her blood to revive them from death, but in turn lost her own life.

“Given this tradition, one can easily see why the early Christians adapted it to symbolize our Lord, Jesus Christ. The pelican symbolizes Jesus our Redeemer who gave His life for our redemption and the atonement He made through His passion and death. We were dead to sin and have found new life through the Blood of Christ.”

From the Play "Shapes of Love" perfomed in Kampala, Uganda National Theatre. 

An old man was next, “The Creator loves me, because He is my master.”

“Tell us what He has done for you.”

“He has given me a job and I have a mother, my sisters, and child.”

A young woman spoke, “Love is where you have a problem. Yes? And you need someone. Maybe he helps you to overcome that problem.” Many nodded in approval as they remembered someone who had helped them in time of famine, disease, or drought. Some of them were now standing opposite them as their enemies.

“Did anyone ever show love to you by helping you in some way?” the traveler asked.

A young woman raised her hand and spoke, “Once I was sick and had dizziness. A lady helped me to find the way home and gave me a drink.”

A strong tall man said, “Love is giving and receiving. It is normal. We have to share. It is not one-sided. You give to someone what he or she demands. And then the same person has to give to you what you desire most. It is a matter of sharing. Love should not be one-sided.”

“Who showed you love in that way?” The traveler asked.

“My mother. Right now I am working. I have to give to my mother some materials, which she needs. She gave me a lot of things, which I can not enumerate. Soooooo much! She brought me up from childhood when I knew nothing, to adulthood until I was married. Even when I was married, my mother loved me so much.”

“Can you tell us a story of how your mother loved you when you were a child?” the traveler asked.

“When I was young, she would take me up to school. At lunchtime, she would go for me and bring me back home - Every day. It was a kilometer away. If she had not done that for me, maybe I would have stopped learning on the way. That was so great for me.”

The traveler called out, “Someone else?” Many different ones responded.

“People show me love, by not forcing me to do things that I hate doing.”

“My neighbor showed me love, by doing a fun project with me. She taught me how to make gifts to show thanks to people who had helped me.”

“When my cousin died, my friends were there for me and comforted me.”

“My friend helped me out when I needed him most.”

And so it went on until the sunset. Everyone had a story to tell of how love had touched their lives. The traveler smiled and said,  “Now you know what love is. Live a life full of love. Go in peace. Love one another – for love is of the Creator. Some of you may think that you have never seen Him, but remember all of these deeds of kindness that you heard today.”

The Zambezis and the Mukulus put down their stones and spears, embraced their former enemies, and went home. The traveler turned his wagon to the sunset and drove off. He never needed to return for the two tribes began to trade with each other again and lived in peace happily as they had done before.






Submitted: May 02, 2016

© Copyright 2022 curtis peter van gorder. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:


Oleg Roschin

This is wonderful. I was entertained, impressed, and touched by this. There is so much kindness and wisdom in what you say, and you write with great passion. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you!

Mon, May 2nd, 2016 11:41am

Facebook Comments

Other Content by curtis peter van gorder

Poem / Religion and Spirituality

Poem / Religion and Spirituality