Poetic Meditations of a Christian Woman 







A Tribute to Gertrude Sanborn

Best Selling Author of With Tears in My Heart:  Poetic Meditations of a Christian Woman  

"Reflections of a Daughter"

by Yvonne S. Waite



        After my mother died, I went through her personal possessions. You who have buried a mother or father know this difficult and eye-opening experience. I saw her life stored away in boxes and drawers and closets. I saw a part of her I knew nothing about--her shoes and dresses, her combs and curlers, her medicines and manuscripts. I never saw some of those things before because I lived far from her and only visited once or twice a year.

        Her dresser drawers were filled with unused treasures--silk scarves and little fans, artificial flowers and lace-trimmed handkerchiefs. Why do we women save the beautiful for special occasions? "No occasion is special enough!" we think; so we never use such things. We store them in drawers where no one can see. I remember peeking inside my husband's grand- mother's dresser drawers. They were filled with beautiful gifts given to her from loved ones, many of them from my mother-in-law. Yet, Grandma never wore them. She just showed them to visiting people like me while the men were talking in the parlor.


        I cried as I touched the precious things peculiar to my Mother. "I didn't really know you, Mother," I said to myself. I saw her shoes standing neatly on a shelf; her dresses arranged in order; her nightgowns ready--especially for Daddy. There I was, intruding into her private life! I felt as if I were standing on holy ground. Tears came to my eyes. Often I had to leave the room to return another day. As I handled those treasures, her death became a reality to me. Yes, I thought I knew my mother; but those years of separation, those decades of my being married with a home of my own, and our living in New Jersey--far from her home in Florida--separated us from the mundane, little things of her life.


        Then one afternoon, I opened a drawer heavy with notebooks--all mother’s studies from God’s Word were collected in one place. How could I touch them? I saw before my eyes her years of pouring over the Scripture collated in a bureau drawer! All this study--first hidden away in her heart--often told to others, and now it lay dormant in a drawer. What an unspoken visual aid of my mother's dedication to God! No wonder she knew the Bible! No wonder visitors came away from my parent's home blessed! No wonder their friends rejoiced in the Lord after such visits! No wonder her grandchildren rise up to this very day and call her blessed!


        My mother’s funeral was a time of stark realization. Death is final. Death is cruel. It is a reality. Yet, death can be kind. For the physically dead Christian, death has no sting. How do we know this? God's tells us so. Yes, we who survive the death of a loved one experience sorrow and cry tears. We may be redeemed by the precious Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We may have the hope of eternal life, but we are human beings, too. We "sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13) The Christian woman who has died is free from grief. She has been liberated from the woes of life and is with Jesus. As Fanny Crosby wrote: She is "safe in the arms of Jesus." But, oh, the one who has died and has rejected the Lord Jesus--that one who had trusted in her good works--that dead one will experience an eternity of grief. For me, my mother's funeral was a time when we gathered the fragrance from GER TRUDE SANBORN'S life to perfume our future days with beautiful memories.


        Let me tell you something interesting that I observed during the days of sympathy cards and consolation. My women friends comforted me in a manner I don't think they even realized. Each one would talk to me about her mother's death. Each one would tell me of her mother's last days and the emotion experienced during that unforgettable trauma. I listened. They cried. I cried too--for them and for me. They told me about the deaths of their mothers as if it happened yesterday when in reality it happened ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago. At the time, I recalled my mother-in-law's tears over the loss of her mother who had died over forty years previously. I remembered my own mother speaking of the death of her mother as one of her greatest griefs. My maternal grandmother lived to be ninety-one. Did they expect her to live forever? I didn't understand then. I do now. One fact I have learned never changes. We are always the children of our parents; and no matter how we deny it; we are always the children of our mother. Another hymn writer, Frances Havergal, lost her mother at age eleven. She wrote to a friend, "The death of a mother is childhood's greatest grief." Do you think Miss Havergal would have felt less grief if her mother had died in her adulthood?


        My mother was not only a poet, she was a born teacher. I don't mean that she was a licensed school ma'rm or a college professor. No, but what she learned she taught, and she taught me so many things. You've heard that we are what we eat or that we are what we read. I say unto you, "We are what we are taught." Mother was a gifted Bible teacher--the best Bible teacher ever! In fact, she was my husband's first Bible teacher--and mine. What she taught, her pupils learned. This was true, not only of her Bible teaching, but also in her "mothering." Many men are in the ministry today because my mother encouraged them in the Word of God.

        How do I know the proper way to set the table? Mother taught me. The other girls didn't know where to put the knife and fork or how to fold a napkin. I did, because Mother taught me. Other people didn't know how to make an introduction, give a speech, write a paper, or make a proper bed. I do, because Mother taught me.


        She taught, by example, how to dress like a Christian woman. Although she was well dressed, Mother did not conform to the fashion of the world. She was a conservative. "Always remove one piece of jewelry before you leave the dressing room," she would tell me. She never wore earrings, or lipstick, and never, NEVER dark red nail polish--in fact, no nail polish at all. For her, it was a sign of "worldliness." It used to be for everyone. To mother, this was "world conformity"--and maybe she was right? When GERTRUDE SANBORN got up to teach or sing, her clothes, her jewelry, or her hairdo did not distract her listeners. They saw Jesus.

        My mother never wore slacks. During the closing months of her life I tried to get her to wear some of my sister's slacks so she wouldn't be cold when she went outside. I thought I could fool her! I thought I could persuade her, for she had had strokes, was weak, and didn't always remember. She looked at me and said, "I don’t wear slacks!!" Do you know something? Now, I don't wear them either! THAT'S INFLUENCE!


        Mother taught me to sing. She had a beautiful voice. It was full and expressive. She sang for big crowds and she sang for little crowds. She sang when she worked; she sang when she was glad; she sang when she was sad. Yes, she sang through her tears--and Mother had many of them. Why do I know so many gospel songs, hymns, and anthems like "The Holy City"? I know them because Mother sang them. Our house was filled with singing. "When you sing a solo, don't sing all the stanzas--maybe only two," she would say, "Stop while the people are enjoying the message. " She taught me to keep singing, even if I made a mistake. "Make the words up as you go along, Vonnie, no one will know the difference; and don't forget to look at the people."


        Mother taught me to love the Bible! Al- most all of the Scripture verses that I have retained are verses my mother taught me. She taught me to respect and appreciate the AUTHORIZED VERSION, and not to become ensnared with paraphrases and the dynamic equivalent method of translating. She became militant for the Textus Receptus. This was Mother's conviction and my father's too. Along with her Saviour, the Bible was her "High Tower," her "Strength," her "Rock," and her "Hiding Place." In times of deep distress (and she had them) she ran to the Book of books-- her Escape, her Place of fortitude, and her comfort during the cares of life.


        Mother taught me to live while holding hands with sorrow She and my father were living examples of reaping in joy while sowing in tears. Why do I say this? I will try to be brief. My parents had three children (three daughters) and a son-in-law--making "four." I am the oldest. Each one of us had a radical problem. Problems few had ever heard of at the time. The second-born died at the age of twenty from cancerous Hodgkin's disease. (That is the same disease from which my husband, my sister’s brother-in-law, is presently in remission.) My baby sister, who was born in 1935, was a perfect child until she was born. During the birth process, her brain was injured and she has lived the life of a dependent toddler all these years. Until the hour my eighty-three year old mother went to the hospital to begin the dying process, she cared for Beverly. And me? As a three-year-old child, I had a bone disease that kept me in a hospital bed. How would you like it if your little girl had to lie flat on her back for three years? Praise God, I can walk; and can I ever talk!! The Lord has blessed me with a husband who loves me, and with five adult children and four "in-law" children, too.

        At about eighty-two, my dear father had his leg amputated. Perhaps that was my mother's greatest grief. Daddy never complained. It was amazing. Until the day of his death, he worked as hard as he ever did--from his wheel chair. I thought my mother's heart would break over Daddy's loss.

        Then Mother, with so many burdens of her own, shared my grief with the continuing illness of one of her grandsons. Her grief was a double one--sorrow for him and for me, his mother. How I miss her prayers and tender compassion! She taught me much about "mothering." She taught me how to smile through tears. She taught me to trust God in the fire and in the flood.


        Mother taught me to love the Saviour. She opened up that Black Book and taught me about Jesus. She showed me within its pages that I was a sinner and needed a Saviour. I, who was a "good" little girl of nine years of age, was not good enough to go to heaven. She showed me John 3:16 where God loved me so much that He sent Jesus to be my Saviour and to die for my sin. She taught me Romans 10:9-10, and I confessed with my mouth the Lord Jesus and believed in my heart that God had raised Jesus from the dead. She explained that it was with the heart that I could believe unto righteousness, and with the mouth that I should confess this belief. I saw Jesus Christ on the Cross in my place. I heard of His love for my soul. I believed and I was saved from Hell's doom. A little child can be saved! My mother was not only my "birth mother" but also, she was my "spiritual mother." No wonder I loved her?


        Mother was a separatist! She taught me not to become entangled with the world, nor to mix my life with those who mixed with the ungodly. She taught about the apostasy and the need for ecclesiastical separation. She was an old time Regular Baptist. She and my father knew what it meant to come out of the Northern Baptist Convention (now the A.B.C.) and the price for being in the fray!


She taught me that I, as a Christian woman, should remember that my body belonged to Jesus, and that I should not give it or lend it to a man apart from marriage. When I was growing up, there was nothing to admire about an unwed mother or an adulterous wife. Perhaps today, with the emphasis among Christians on "pro-life," we may be forgetting about the sin that caused a woman to become an "unwed mother" in the first place--the humiliation and the shame. I am not talking about our compassion for the woman or for the child. I'm talking of the sin against God and against her own body when she commits such immorality. Yes, I know God forgives. I'm talking about the fact! It should not be named among us! When I was young, the fear of an unwed pregnancy was part of the deterrent for young girls to remain pure! Fornication and adultery were sins, and every- body knew it. By the way, they still are! Mother never heard of an "alternate lifestyle" or “recreational sex." In my day, "just say no" was what a girl was taught to say to her boyfriend, and a boy was taught not to ask. Who ever heard of drugs?--except from the drug store; and only bad girls smoked! 


        During her whole lifetime, a daughter seeks for the imprimatur of her mother--her mother's stamp of approval. Yet, during that same lifetime, that same daughter strives not to be a rubber stamp of that mother. Then one day in her maturing years, that daughter gets up in the night and looks into a mirror and sees her mother's face looking back at her. Believe me, it is scary! Just the other day I met women whom I knew as a little girl. She looked at me and she said, "Vonnie, you look just like I remember your mother!" Do you know something? She looked just like I remember her mother, too!


        A mother receives a lot of rejection. Have you noticed? Often her "good" is evil spoken of by her daughter. A mother longs for her daughter. She lives for her daughter. Her daughter is her life's work! A mother is a woman who loves, laughs, listens, labors, and laments where her daughter is concerned. Often her daughter misunderstands her. Some daughters do not perceive that Mother is a person, too. During my Bible School days, a friend looked at a picture of my mother and said, "Your mother is pretty." For the first time, I really looked at her picture, and saw that she was pretty! I was startled. Up until then she was just Mother. Sad to say, some daughters, who have never married or who have never born children, seemingly never understand their mothers, because they have never been mothers themselves.


        There comes a time when a mother must realize that she cannot live a vicarious life through her daughter. A mother must not dream her dreams through her daughter, or live her unfulfilled life through her daughter's fulfilled life. A successful mother cuts the ties and loosens the cords. That way both mother and daughter have freedom to grow. Some mothers forget this. This "letting go" of the emotional ropes tying mother and daughter together should begin quickly--perhaps at the baby's first step, then in grade school, more in high school, much at college, and most at marriage. This "letting go" process is where some mothers may fumble. I have found, in my experience, that this emancipation of my daughter from our home--never from our heart--has returned her love, appreciation, and respect for her father and me one hundred fold! I cannot express the satisfaction it is to have a mature daughter (a mother herself) walking in The Way of the Lord.


        Both females--mother and daughter must become individual, God-fearing women. There is bound to be rebellion sometime in this mother/daughter relationship. It may sprout up often, or only once. That is how it is. There is nothing we can do to change it. Oh, that such rebellion (though it be unpleasant) comes while the daughter is within the love and the discipline of the family home! How better then, than after the daughter marries or is established in the business or missionary world.


        Let me ask you a question. Will you ponder it, please? Who says that a mother and daughter are to be friends during the girl’s formative years? It would be nice, but it seldom happens. Oh, there may be flashes of friendship, to be sure. There may be mother/daughter talks and confidences and sentimental mother/daughter banquets. Such moments of companionship may be brief. The truth is this: from birth until adult- hood, a mother is to be a ruling mother! Notice, I did not say "through" adulthood! But, up until adulthood she is to be the Mother--no matter the cost. Otherwise, there is an irreparable break- down in the family. When a mother's word is ignored or laughed at, she has no authority. When a father prefers a daughter's desires and/or demands above the mother's commands, he has dethroned his wife in the daughter's eyes. The mother has a certain status in the family, which demands respect. She should never abdicate! She has a certain mandate that she must fulfill. That is why a good father will never permit his son or daughter to "bad mouth" their mother, and will take steps early in this parenting to cease any sassing or hitting of the mother by the young child. That is why a father should defend the mother's position as "mother!" It is another reason why a husband should be true to his wife and close any wandering eye or fanciful thought to- ward another woman.


        If you have not discovered it yet, you will find that a mother must bear correction from her daughter. Have you noticed? I don't say that this is right but it is an observable fact. Perhaps it has something to do with them both being female, with them both vying to be "top dog" in the eyes of the husband/father and before their peers, I don't know. I suspect it has something to do with "growing-up." Remember the Chinese symbol for “trouble”? It is two women under the same roof? It is not easy. I've noticed from personal experience and from observing others that this corrective procedure begins early into the "job" of "mothering" and never stops to some degree during the whole relationship.

        A daughter watches with critical eyes her mother’s behavior--her dress, her walk, and her talk. This policing of a mother never ends. It seems to have no age barrier. As a daughter moves into puberty, she monitors her mother's every move, her every gesture, and her every eye movement. It is as if the teen-age daughter has switched places with her mother, and is the parent now. It seems that almost everything a mother says brings a roll of a daughter's eyes ceiling- ward, accompanied with the all too familiar sarcastic whine, "Oh, Muutherrrrrr!"


        Mothers should “build up” daughters--not only when they are insecure little girls but also when they are grown women and become mothers and wives themselves. One of the most important forms of “building" womanhood into a daughter is for the mother to be an example to her daughter “of” and “as” a submissive wife. The mother should teach a daughter by example to love her husband dearly. Remember that “love” is a matter of one’s will! A daughter may read many books on marriage, but will remember best what she saw in the home on the subject. This is no easy assignment!


        On the other hand, daughters have a "building job” to do, too. Sometimes a daughter is the only person who can "build up" her mother. A daughter can feed or deflate a mother's ego like no one else is able to do. A daughter can show appreciation to her mother as a member of the human race like no other friend is able to do. Daughters have a powerful tool in their hands called "love." They should use it on their mothers.


        Have you noticed that there is something paradoxical about this mother and daughter duo relationship? There are times when our daughters worry about us mothers, and then there are times when we mothers worry about our daughters. There is a bond between mother and daughter that fathers don't understand. Anymore than mothers understand that certain "something" between fathers and daughters.


        Then someday--that dreaded “some day,” you daughters will become “mothers” to your mothers. You will feed them, bathe them, dress them, and change their adult diapers. Those mothers with sickly bodies and baby minds will cry for you in the night hours. In their helplessness, they will need you like you have never been needed before. Their frightened eyes, like wounded animals, will search your faces and haunt your memories. They will not know who you are. They will not know your name. Your heart will break. You will weep and won't know why. You will long for a "mama" to understand and hold your hand; but you will have none. Your roles will be reversed! No longer will you have a mother to share your happiness or your hopelessness. You will be the "mother" of your mother. For your mother will be trapped in the past, or caught in the silent cone of the infirmed.


With Tears in My Heart

400 Poetic Meditations of a Christian Woman

Original Poems With Complementing Scripture

Gertrude Grace Sanborn

BFT #3196

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Last modified: December 06, 2005

With Tears in My Heart

  By  Gertrude Grace Sanborn