Hope When Mother’s Day is Hard

Last year, I received many heartbreaking comments from women who were really struggling with Mother’s Day. Just the mention of the holiday stirred up deep hurt over infertility, adoption, and singleness. That’s why I asked my friend Holley Gerth to guest post today. She understands that deep hurt from her own journey with infertility, and I just love how she can shine a light into what can be a really dark place. Here’s Holley…

The single pink line on the pregnancy test mocked me from the bathroom counter. “You’ll never be a mother,” it seemed to whisper.

I sighed and dropped it into the trash—along with the hope it represented. Then I sat down on the edge of my bed and placed my head in my hands. “God,” I whispered, “Why does this have to be so hard?”

That scenario repeated itself for years in my life.

And then my heart began to slowly, unexpectedly heal as God changed my perspective on motherhood. A turning point came as I read the third chapter of Genesis one morning. In it Eve is called “the mother of all living.” In that moment God seemed to whisper this truth to my heart: All women are mothers. Because all women bring life to the world in some way.

We encourage. We feed bellies and hearts. We nurture dreams. We create beauty. We birth books. And, yes, some of us also have physical children. But that’s not the only way to bring life into this world—it’s one of many.

I am not barren,” I began to tell myself, “I am blessed.

I realized I brought life into the world through my words. I was a mother. Embracing that truth gave me new hope and helped fill the hollow space in my heart.

Years later I sat in my living room watching a documentary on kids who age out of the foster system. The narrator explained when these children turn eighteen they’re often simply told, “You’re on your own.” The story touched me deeply and when people asked if we’d considered adoption I started answering, “If I adopt, I’ll choose a twenty-year old.”

One time when I gave the response above a friend of mine asked, “Have you heard of Saving Grace?” It turned out a transitional living home for foster girls aging out of the system was being started right there in my town. I connected with the founder, Becky Shaffer, and when I told her my dream she didn’t look at me like I was crazy.

Although our lives were busy, Becky and I stayed in touch. The week of my thirty-sixth birthday she invited me to attend a banquet celebrating the accomplishments of the girls living at Saving Grace. God had impressed on my heart that my word for the next year of my life was to be love. And the night of the banquet I met my daughter: Lovelle.

How old was she? Twenty, of course.

Over the last year and a half we’ve become a family. She calls me “Mom” and my husband “Dad.” It turns out she’s a writer, speaker and dreamer too—which neither of us knew when we first connected. Those gifts were buried under years of abuse, surviving and even being homeless. But now they’re blooming like a sunflower. She married a wonderful guy in January so we now have a “son” too.

Do I know why I went through years of infertility or why Lovelle spent so much time without a family? No … and I won’t in this life. But I do know this: God is a relentless Redeemer. He took all the hurt we experienced and transformed it into joy we never expected.

God was not ignoring us. He was not overlooking our hearts. He was not holding out on us while giving everyone else what was good. Instead He was working the entire time to bring us to His very best.

Mother’s Day can be painful. Perhaps like me you’re in the middle of infertility. Or you might be pursuing an adoption that’s more difficult than you foresaw. Maybe you’re single and wondering if having the family you dream of is even possible. Wherever you are today, I want to whisper this to you … God is with you and He is for you. He will not leave the true desires of your heart unfulfilled; the answers just may look different than you planned.

All those single pink lines on pregnancy tests turned out to be lines in a love story. And I wouldn’t alter God’s ending for anything.

Lovelle & Holley

(Holley Gerth is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author, encourager and life coach. She’d love to have coffee with you. Until then, you can find her here or subscribe to her free devotionals. You can read Lovelle’s blog here.)


If you can relate to Holley’s post today, you’ll love her books! Today we’re giving away 5 bundles of What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days, and a necklace from the Proverbs 31 Ministries Faith collection.

Read the book for encouragement. Wear the necklace as a reminder that we can trust and believe in our faithful God.


To be entered to win, leave a comment below with how this post encouraged you.


  1. Cheryl says

    Thank you Holly. Your story really spoke to my heart. My “Ma” went to be with Jesus 20 years ago. I had became a Christian only 3 years before she passed, and during our time spent together durning get illness, I was able to share Jesus with her. She was baptized in her hospital bed (she had to be sprinkled) and the Pastor said that she just seemed to want more and more water sprinkled…. It was truly amazing and I will always remember the confirmation Jesus gave me as He lifted her up and took her home. I felt a complete peace and unexplainable joy. I went through infertility for years but did have one child at 30. He is now 28 and giving me my first grandchild this June! God is good!

  2. Teresa says

    This post so touched me for more than one reason. I am a mother of 2 adopted children. We adopted them both as newborns. They are now adults and now i even have a granddaughter! I am 54 and am past the age for having children but have always felt a void for never having borne children., yet my husband and I raised our 2 children from infancy. I recently read something that said women are sacred vessels because we carry llife within us. I thought I couldn’t be a sacred vessel because I have never carried life within me. I so needed to read this.

  3. Ashlee Petrilli says

    Wow! So encouraging! Mother’s Day hurts me (and Father’s Day hurt my husband) since our daughter was born still-born. I’m happy for friends and strangers who have babies and are moms, but it still hurts too. I feel so excited and ready to teach and train a child in the way of the Lord, that I often joke about adopting an older child because I don’t want to wait the years they’re young to start teaching. But now I know that I’m not as crazy as people think I am! It’s definitely time to adjust my prayers and better listen to God on this. Thank you for your post!

  4. Carol says

    Honestly my first thought was ‘this is not comforting’ because I am so far away from being able to accept the hand I have been given and I can’t possibly imagine myself saying that I am ‘blessed’ after experiencing the death of my baby during full term childbirth 4 months ago. But I do love that you were able to come to a place of acceptance and that your hurts have been redeemed. I am going to hold on to the following quote as I try to trust God to help me through my deepest grief. “God was not ignoring us. He was not overlooking our hearts. He was not holding out on us while giving everyone else what was good. Instead He was working the entire time to bring us to His very best.”

  5. Melanie says

    I’m amazed at how God transformed your heart to be prepared for His best. I remember my dad saying, “You might not be a mother”, and my melting into his arms sobbing that “Yes, I would”. I didn’t know how then, but the desire of my heart was children. We’ve been so incredibly blessed and have 3 children who I treasure to tears. It was a painful season, both physically as they are IVF babies, financially, and most significantly emotionally and spiritually. This season drew me close to my Abba. And he directed me to learn from Hannah and Elizabeth. God bless you women who so desperately want to have children. I’m tearfully praying for you as I write.

  6. Tina Woods says

    Thank you for your words today. I spent 15 years in infertility. I have 7 children in Heaven and one living daughter, 6 1/2 yrs old. She is the love of my life, a blessing and ministry. I have been with my husband for 25 years. He’s a wonderful Godly man. Just this week, I met a 15 yr old girl in my small group, I teach for 10th grade girls. She’s been in the foster system for 5 yrs after coming from Haiti after the Earthquake in 2010. I would love to minister to her. I cannot imagine her pain but yet she’s full of joy…. Somewhat like myself during infertility. So she heartbroken not having a mother as I was heartbroken not having a child… Ironic? No, Gods perfect puzzle pieces connecting…then were able to see the big picture. He’s so good to me and his plan has always been bigger and better than I could ever have dreamed.

  7. Shelley says

    My Best Friend was never able to conceive. My Husband and I got pregnant with our first, after trying for two months. My Best Friend got pregnant a couple years later, but had a miscarriage. Five years later, we had another child. Though she was happy for us, my heart broke for her. I wanted her to have a child of her own. God had other plans for her and filled her life of that void. She became a Mother (to two Step Daughters) and a Nana to two granddaughters. God filled her heart in a way she never imagined. My Best Friend feels so Blessed to be a Mom and her world is more full than she Ever imagined. Watching her with her Step Daughters and Grandchildren, made me realize, this was God’s plan for her all along ❤️

  8. Lissa says

    Oh how I can relate to this! I spent years just looking for “the right guy.” Then it took several years of waiting for him to be ready to be a father. Then we went through years of infertility, six miscarriages, and several failed adoptions while we watched other families around us grow. I spent a lot of time being angry and frustrated. In 2005 we went to Venezuela thinking we were adopting a sibling pair. When we got to the orphanage we were told those boys weren’t “next.” They offered us to take a 10-year-old boy and separate him from his sister! I was horrified! We left the country devastated. After we landed in Miami and began our long drive home, peace I had never experienced before, came over me. Not being particularly “religious,” I didn’t understand That I was experiencing the Holy Spirit. However, I found myself explaining to my husband, “we may not understand why things happened this way now, but we will eventually know and be oh so grateful.” Six months later I was pregnant with our wonderful daughter! Since her birth we have adopted another child and had two more!! Our life is truly blessed. I know now that our Lord had a plan for us. We are exactly where we are supposed to be! And I ur experience has allowed us to be encouragement and a shoulder for others experiencing infertility and loss. Praise the Lord!

  9. Sarah says

    I dealt with the inability to get pregnant for years. We finally had a son last year and now looking back I know God, as always, knew what was best and making us wait for a baby. I am also a teacher and I think that I definitely think of students as my kids and hope and pray for them as if they were my own.

  10. Carol Foose says

    Mother’s Day is not a “Hallmark Day” for all mothers. For me it is a day to get through. There empty arms, but also hurting hearts.
    I was blessed with 7 pregnancies in 10 years that resulted in 6 live, beautiful babies and 1 miscarriage. Each child was prayed for before they were only a thought and each was welcomed into the world.
    A broken marriage resulted in broken lives. One of my children is deceased and of the remaining 5 only one has stayed in touch. All cards and letters I continue to send are never responded to or acknowledged. In addition to the joys and pains of childbirth, loss of a child, there is the pain of separation.
    I have 8 grandchildren and recently learned 2 great grandchildren. Some I have seen, some I may never see or know. All live in a different state than I do.
    Church on Mother’s Day is a difficult day, that I would rather avoid. It is a painful reminder that I will always be a mother, even if I am not acknowledged by my own. I rejoice for the families that are together and hurt for those who are not.
    My children are always in my thoughts and prayers. God is a God of miracles. Maybe there will come a day.

  11. Carol Foose says

    Holly’s post is a blessing and inspiration. She has made something good out of something hard.

  12. Cynthia says

    This is “my story” also. Painful Mother’s Days, making up excuses to miss baby showers & too many tears when another month passed us by. God too healed my hurt as my husband and I met, fell in love with & adopted our amazing 11 year old daughter after 12 years of being childless. Since the system called her unadoptable, we decided to call her OURS! We did not understand all of the “why’s” but now we understand at least one “why not!” The answer was that God wanted us to raise one of HIS own!

  13. says

    Hi, Lisa! I’m Tatiana. That girl that welcome you this morning at Elevation Church. I was totally excited to see you there. I was in training to be volunteer and that time we were having the volunteer experience to greet people and I had the best experience to meet you. I’m brazilian married with American. I came from Brazil 4 years ago. Well, just to let you know how you bless me in many ways through bible study, blog…and really fortify my faith. What a gift to meet you today, because I know today new things are coming to me life in serve people at church. Much love, Tati 🙂

  14. Rhonda says

    As a mother of two beautiful daughters, I never struggled with infertility myself. But, now that my daughters are young marrieds who both struggle with infertility issues, my heart hurts for their hurts. I can already feel the ache within me for them as another Mother’s Day approaches. Your story was very encouraging to me because it served as a reminder that God was always up to something in your life. He knew you would be a mother, and chose you for Lovelle! I continue to remind my daughters that I know God has chosen them to be mothers, too. He is working in their lives and changing their perspectives. One day soon, I pray I will meet my beautiful grandchildren! Oh, what a day it will be!

  15. Gabrielle Su says

    Wow. I had never even thought something like that was possible. What an amazing story. Reminds me to remember it’s God’s plan and not mine. I have someone close to me who may never be able to have her own biological children, but now I have hope that God may have a different, wonderful plan for her. Thank you.

  16. Jenny says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! For your sensitivity to this topic and the hearts of us who wrestle with the reality of our hopes deferred and heart-sickness over this loss of life that never was…

    My journey with infertility has brought me to a crisis of faith. And finally, after years of grief and anger and wrestling with God, the ugliness of infertility has deepened my faith as God has helped me to abandon my dreams in order to reach out for His.

    Thank you, Holley, for sharing the hope that God turns hurt to joy and that He is working to bring His best.

  17. Kim Embler says

    My mother passed suddenly 5 days before my marriage and Mother’s Day 29 years ago. She never got to see any of her five grandchildren. We had a terrible argument the day before. I know she is in a better place but I have many regrets.

  18. Trina Underwood-Bailey says

    The post about The author’s journey to Motherhood really touched a tender spot in my spirit. I too had issues not only becoming a mother, but had such sexual dysfunction that my dreams of being a mother of four was impossible.
    After seeing many doctors for the body and the mind, they all concluded that I was mentally and physically incapable of consummating my marriage, and my womb was too scarred to conceive.
    Along with friends from my Bible Study group, I kept praying and trusting God to heal me.
    Four painful years later, I conceived my son, but sex was still excruciating.
    The Lord led me to a Christian physician who was able to get to the roots of my physical issue. Not only was I a mother, but now I was a wife too in EVERY sense of the Word.
    Praise Him!!!

  19. Erin b says

    This reminds me of how Jesus adopts us…regardless of age, situation or circumstance. And then He creates beauty from ashes. What a mighty God we serve!

  20. Tami Fancher says

    Mother’s Day is hard for me too. I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters, whom I love with all of my heart, but I also have a step-daughter, who has never accepted me as her mother, and in her teenage years has pushed me completely out of her life. These are hard times for me, and although I know that God has a plan, and He certainly can redeem our family, sometimes I feel hopeless and depressed about how hard things are. Thanks for your words of encouragement! I definitely needed to read this today!

    • wanda,calhoun says

      Bless your heart. Your post was heart warming , than heart breaking. I pray that your step daughter realizes what she is missing. Take care of yourself please.

  21. Trisha says

    Thank you so much for sharing a testimony of hope & God’s great provision. I needed the reminder that God can do more than we can ask or imagine! As an adoptee with insecurities and a mother (with adopted children) who see-saws between joy and defeat, today’s blog post helped me take my eyes off myself and back on our Redeemer.

  22. Paula says

    As a mother of two, Mothers day has a sweet sting. I enjoy a beautiful close relationship with my daughter and a painful non existent relationship with my son. My heart sings and cries everyday. God has a plan for my family as well. A lesson for me to learn and a story to share, however I must hold tight – both hands and with all my heart.
    Thank you for sharing your story. It is always encouraging to be reminded of God’s amazing methods.

    • Melanie says

      You are not alone. Although I don’t know the circumstances of your relationship with your son, I am in the same boat with one of mine. When the father of my children and my only husband, a deacon in our church, etc. etc. left us after 18 years of marriage, he filed for custody of 1 of our 3 children. That’s the son who I’m totally estranged from. Mothers Day is hard for me too despite the closeness I share with my other two. It’s a strange bittersweetness. Though I would not wish this on anyone else, it also comforts me to know that I am not alone in these feelings.

    • vicki says

      Mother’s Day will be very hard for me this year. I am a single mom of a 19 year old son and have recently been dealing with issues I never thought I would have. I am trying to get him off drugs and taking him to counseling to see that what is missing in his life cannot be filled with drugs. I am worried about where he will even be by Mother’s Day. It huts to be a mother in this situation and I’m looking for some hope that God is listening to my prayers and will heal this situation.

  23. Cyndi says

    i do not personally know anyone actively struggling with infertility. However, I was so inspired by the story that we all are “mothers”. Also., I recently met someone involved in transition from foster care to “real life”. Very touching about Lovelle

  24. Paula says

    Wow!! Thanks for this lovely encouraging words I read it in tears because this is me. I been married for twelve years and my husband and I been trying since.. Thanks very much this mean so much to.

  25. says

    Every Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day) my husband and I are reminded of all the years of trying and being disappointed. Both of our mothers died at age 54. We tried adoption and it fell through after 4 months-she wanted to keep the baby. And I could say in my heart then she should, but I imagined it to be along the lines of a miscarriage since we had been preparing to “have” a baby. I once told my Pastor that Mother’s Day (and Father’s day) were the worst days for many people. Parents have been losing sons and daughters in war since time began. That day is another reminder for them. I can gratefully say that my Pastor took what I told him to heart and now he celebrates the nursery workers, childless or not, and the Children’s church workers all the way up to those who mentor the teens and pray for the children in the church daily. I have to admit it still stings, but as you said, now we sort of celebrate womanhood and how it plays out in many lives we don’t even know instead of just giving birth. We love to celebrate with the new young mothers and the oldest mothers there, but we have “adopted” so many of the kids/teen in our church, that we, too, believe those were the children we were meant to touch the lives of. Thanks for your article!

  26. Stephanie says

    I often fell like I have failed “Parenting 101”, and at age 55, shouldn’t be reduced to tears when my son sasses me, or talks back to me.
    These lessons will help me know that I am a good mom.

  27. Michelle Winchcombe says

    I didn’t relate in the mother aspects if this blog, but somthing I often feel let down when things don’t turn out as easy or in the way that I hoped. After reading this I was encouraged to think that God has His plan so everything will be ok!

  28. LULU says

    Advice for a mom whose 14 year old daughter wants only to dress like a boy and says that she is bi sexual. I am shaken and fear ful.

  29. Carly Diefenderfer says

    Wow. I just told myself last night I am a horrible mama. I have a 4 week old and I’m exhausted. Beyond exhausted. She eats every two hours. So no sleep for this mama. I mess up and forget when I last fed her and feel like oh my gosh I will never be a good mom! Thank you for the encouragement. It came at the perfect time.

  30. Kyleiann says

    Wow, God led me to this post and brought me to tears. I am struggling with the fact that I can’t have another baby. I had a high risk pregnancy with my one beautiful boy. He was in the NICU for a couple weeks for breathing issues. It was the most trying time for me and my husband.

    He is such a blessing. Healthy and busy. I always envisioned a couple kids but because of my history and our time in the NICU, I was advised against another pregnancy. This came with lots of grief. This post reminds me that I may be a physical mom to one boy but mothering extends beyond that.

    Thanks for the encouragement and the reminder of my blessings. I’ve been having a lot of hard mommy days in addition to this.

  31. says

    I’m a psychiatrist specializing in women’s reproductive health and treat a lot of women in a lot of emotional pain due to their infertility. This is a great story that every woman needs to hear! Thank you.

  32. danette says

    Mother’s Day is a difficult time. I was never able to keep my own children through full term pregnancy. I married a man with three children and love them dearly. I am so thankful for the years they lived with us and for grandchildren who consider me their OMA. There is still that deep prick in my heart though. I count on God wiping away all of these hurts one day.

  33. Becky says

    Although I haven’t experienced infertility, I have a dear, sweet friend in the midst of this trial now. Holley’s story touches my heart and allows me a glimpse of the struggle my friend is going through. Thank you for sharing your heart and God’s blessing!

  34. Paige E says

    I had to go get my journal and take some notes here. I so needed the reminder today that God is not ignoring me. He is for me. I have to trust He is still working when I can’t see and don’t understand. When even the “right” thing seems unattainable. His answers may look different than my plans but they are working toward His very best. I’m hanging on tightly to your promises, Father. Even when my emotions don’t feel your presence. I choose to obey. Give me faith!

  35. Karen says

    Thanks for sharing your story. Oh how my heart ached and I cried. My husband and I got pregnant when we were first married but I lost it. Iv not been pregnant since, even with fertility treatment and will never be. Your story has encouraged me in that there are many ways to be a mother and I shall strive to open my heart and arms to the many possibilities that lay ahead. Thank you XXX

  36. says

    So inspiring, Holley. Thank you. I’m not sure if I’m truly at the point where I can just be “okay” with not getting pregnant or having children… some days, weeks, months are harder than others, but God is growing me and teaching me through it all. Thank you for sharing what God has taught you and placed on your heart. Your adoption story is beautiful.

  37. says

    I do have children, but Mother’s Day HURTS.
    I usually only get a text or a Facebook Happy Mother’s Day, or Happy Birthday.
    I would never think of doing that to MY MOM. Those are so impersonal those are what to tell people you barely know. I called my mom every sunday when I was no longer living at home. She would send care packages for no reason. Unless, I call, write or Facebook or text, I don’t hear from my kids. Where did i go wrong.