The beautiful gift bag waited next to my front door. I noticed it, but my spirit just shrugged…meh.

A brilliant sun and clear blue sky stood in stark contrast to the state of my heart that Mother’s Day Sunday. I was just a few years past the decision to stop fertility treatments and had launched into different areas of life and purpose.

But…Mother’s Day. Such a hard day for so many situations. A not-so-surprisingly difficult day for women in the church. I went to church that day and while I celebrated my friends and family who were moms, the overwhelm came flooding back once I sat in the cocoon of my car.

Then, that gift.

I certainly wasn’t expecting a present and when I opened it, I had to sit down. Two teenage sisters I mentored reached out in a meaningful way that day and God used them in such a powerful way.

On the inside cover of the prayer journal they gave me, each one wrote a short letter describing how I was like a mother to her. (Their mother is one of my closest friends and an amazing mom and she said the gift was all their idea.) These sweet girls wanted me to know the depth and breadth, and meaning of our friendship and life relationship.

Then I discovered a much smaller treasure wrapped in tissue paper at the bottom of the gift bag. A silver refrigerator magnet inscribed with the words, “I Love You, Mom.” Well, I fell to pieces, in a fall-to-my-knees-in-grateful-joy kind of way.

More impactful than the physical gifts were the words they offered that began the slow fissure allowing Mother’s Day hope and healing to begin peeking through. I like to say they were the ones who began to redeem Mother’s Day for me.

Many years later and I still don’t have adequate words to express how their gifts influenced my heart and spirit trajectory that day. God used them to offer a taste of the breadth, width, height, and depth of His loving care for me.

For any of you who struggle with Mother’s Day, I pray you feel God’s love this year in a tangible way. For my sisters out there, who specifically struggle with Mother’s Day while in the pain of infertility or involuntary childlessness, I pray you experience God’s love through others and know the balm of His tender care.

For anyone who struggles with Mother’s Day (infertility, child or adult child loss, difficult mom relationship, empty nester with a different looking Mother’s day, the passing of mom – no matter how young or grown you are, etc.) join me and my friend, Leslie Blum, on Mother’s Day afternoon, May 9 at 2:00pm CST. We created an event on my page (Dr. Julie Shannon). There is no cost, but we do need to know you’re attending. The day before we will provide a Zoom link. We want to gather together and offer hope and joy. Click here for more details.

If you know someone who struggles with Mother’s Day, reach out to them. Send a card, call and leave a message, find a sweet remembrance gift in honor of a child they lost, invite over for a meal (not out in public with all the celebrations, just a simple, meaningful meal in your home). By the way, you don’t need to give a big, expensive gift – a set of letters and a refrigerator magnet changed my life!

Let them know you are thinking of them. Just knowing you care and their life holds purpose helps ease the sting a bit…or a lot!


Moms – I pray you receive loving gifts from little (or larger) hands this Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to you!