Mother’s Day for the Motherless Mother

As Mother’s Day approaches, my heart is especially sensitive to my friends for whom this holiday will be hard. I have friends who will be standing by gravesites this Mother’s Day. I also have friends whose moms haven’t been a part of their lives in many years. And those who have challenging relationships with their moms who try to navigate Mother’s Day with grace but some necessary distance.

No matter the circumstances, I wanted a post that could help those feeling the sting of a mother’s absence.

My friend, Lisa-Jo, knows this delicate struggle in deep ways. And from her own pain, she pens these words for us…

My mom used to dance in the mornings.


A happy, shameless jig in her PJs right out there in the driveway as my dad drove us off to school. She’d dance and wave and grin and I could feel the love well up from my toes to my nose. It spilled out of me – this being someone’s daughter. Loved. Cherished. Celebrated.

She’s been dead now 21 years to the day since I turned 18.

Time passes and with it go the birthdays, love stories, anniversaries, new babies, first steps, preschool orientations, international moves, new jobs, hair color changes. And each milestone is a mile more in the road that we don’t walk together.

I am the motherless daughter.


And three continents and three kids later I have grown up into the motherless mother.

Of two sons. And a daughter.


Everything I can’t remember about my mother I see reflected in my daughter’s eyes. I am terrified by how much I love her. How does a mother bear it? The good-bye. Twenty years. Twenty years. It hurts to type it.

Twenty years ago I sat in a pew and sang the last words my mother left for us:

“Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
‘It is well, it is well, with my soul.’”

One week after I’d turned eighteen. I’m thirty-nine today. And I’m still singing it, Mom. I’m singing it still, and I still believe every hard, awful word to be true. That we can sing though the heavens crash open and the world comes pouring down around us. We can raise our eyes and our voices to the hills, where our help comes from, and sing. Even when all that comes out is a whisper.

“Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
‘It is well, it is well, with my soul.’”


So many of us make the journey to motherhood without a mom. Whether she’s absent because she chose to leave or because she was emotionally unavailable or because she died like mine did, we all have to make sense of what that means for our own mothering.

I am the motherless mother.

If you are too, can I take your hand?

Can I stroke the hair back from your forehead and just be here with you? Can I whisper, “I know” and let you cry if you need to? Can I just sit a while beside you as you shout the hard questions?

I believe God can take it.

I believe He invites it.

…the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26.

Go ahead and groan child. Let the part of you that never got to grow up with a mom, never got to bear down with her as you bore down in labor, never got to introduce her to your own babies — let that part of you weep if she needs to. You are beautiful and loved and not a single tear falls to the ground uncherished by the Father God who holds us both.

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
~Psalm 56:8

You are your mother’s daughter, created in your Father God’s image. And nothing can break that.

We’re in this together. Every step of the way. And you are braver than you know, for all the ways you mother.

{Click here to see the video if you’re reading in an email.}

So let us celebrate quiet together. Whisper into the comments what you miss, what you loved, what you wish she might have done different, what you wish you’d said, what you wish she knew about her grand babies, what makes you your mother’s daughter.

And today I will stop, remember, and rejoice with you, my brave, beautiful, utterly beloved sister!

Happy nearly Mother’s Day,


Photo credits: Mallory MacDonald

surprised-by-motherhood Lisa-Jo’s new book, Surprised by Motherhood, is her story of rediscovering her own mom through her kids and the Jesus who saved the best till last.

Click here to read the first three chapters for free.

Click here to order a copy for a special mother in your life.

Three Book and Tea Set GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY: In celebration of mothers everywhere, we’re giving away 3 copies of Lisa-Jo’s book — Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being a Mom AND three sets of Daily Grace Teacups and Teapots. If you are a mother, have a mother, or know a mother this book is for you. Just leave a comment to be entered. (Please note: this giveaway is only open to US residents.)



Holy Land – The Upper Room and His Prayer for You There

“The Teacher asks: ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there… When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.'”

Luke 22: 11, 12, 14-16

Jesus' Prayer for You at the Upper Room

They ate together. They drank together. They experienced Jesus’ last supper together.

All 4 Gospels give an account of this Last Supper. Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 13-17.

But I like studying this event as recorded by John the most since he was most thorough.

There was so much we could focus on in studying what happened in the upper room. I treasure reading about these last moments of Jesus with His friends. But at the same time, my heart aches as I read them. He knew all that was about to happen to Him. He knew.

John records so much that happened on their last night together. There was the washing of the disciples’ feet. Jesus tells them about His plans to prepare a place for them. He promises the Holy Spirit.

Then He prays. For Himself. For the disciples.

And then for you and me.

As I reread the account of what happened on this night, the fact that He prayed for us… you and me… in these final moments, astounds me.

I need to read what He prayed. Even more importantly, I need to live what He prayed.

“… May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me,” (John 17:23)

May those of us who He brought to complete unity let the world know about Jesus and His love.

Unity. Love.

That’s what He prayed. But is this what we live?

Do I see unity and love in the way Christians speak about one another online?

Do I see unity and love in the way I handle frustrations?

Do I see unity and love in the way I process people who think differently than me?

Do I see unity and love between pastors and churches and denominations?

Sometimes I do. But heartbreakingly, many times I don’t.

If I don’t see what should be the defining marks for us Christians, what must the onlooking world think?

Jesus' Prayer for You at the Upper Room

The last words John records of Jesus praying to the Father in the upper room were these, “I have made you known to them, and I will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them,” (John 17:26).

This Easter, might we each choose to redefine what unity and love looks like in our lives. We honor Him when we live His prayer.

As a special Easter giveaway, I will pick 3 winners to each receive a rock that I brought back from the Holy Land. I’ll write a note explaining why I chose this rock and include it in your package if you are one of the winners.

To enter, leave me a comment below telling me how you will seek to live Jesus’ prayer for unity and love more authentically this week.


Holy Land Lens at Home

When I was a little girl, someone pointed at the Dogwood tree and taught me to think about Jesus and the Cross.

The earth itself declares the truth of our Savior.

It went something like this:

The tip of each pure white petal looks like nail prints… brown with rust and stained with a slight red hue. The center is like a crown of thorns. And the timing of its bloom… Easter.

I don’t know where these thoughts originated. But as I walked where Jesus walked in the Holy Land, my mind came alive with how many common things Jesus pointed at or referred to when he taught.

Fish. Salt. Flowers. Mustard seed. Gate. Field. Sheep. Shepherd. Water. Wine. Bread. Storms. Coins. Mud. Clothes. Oil. Door. Lamp.

And on and on went “the pointing finger of Jesus” as our teacher called it.

Ordinary objects reminding us of divine thoughts.

Jesus used objects we’d encounter often to draw our minds to think on truth. After all, of all the reasons Jesus could have stated for coming to this world…

He answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth,” (John 18:37).

Truth. It’s what Jesus wants us to see. To know. To live. To remember.

So, I look at this Dogwood tree in my front yard and see a reminder. And I remember the glorious gift of grace given on a cross and life resurrected in an empty tomb.