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Despite being a mum to three gorgeous boys I find Mother’s Day services in church at best somewhat cheesy, usually uncomfortable and at worst painful.

I have three beautiful boys, they are my adopted children. Each of my boys has multiple mums; one is their birth mum, at least one foster mother and me, their forever mum. The run up to Mothering Sunday, the day itself and the aftermath can be very unsettling, their powerlessness in the process of being taken into care, in being moved from one foster carer to another and in the limited communication they have with their other mothers means that Mothering Sunday as we celebrate brings up some very conflicted feelings for them and for me. 

Nearly every church we’ve been part of has given flowers out asking the children to come and collect them to give them initially to their own mother and then to the other women. As I’ve watched my boys collect flowers and walk toward me it is always laced with a peculiar adoptive mother guilt, these flowers should be going to the mum who grieves that my boys were taken from her, these flowers should be going to the foster carers. Of course we celebrate the joy of adoption, but the complexities of helping my children sustain relationships with multiple mothers makes Mothering Sunday difficult.

I want to bring the shadows into the light to allow the difficulties of motherhood to be present to God with me but find Mothering Sunday services usually so focused on the light that I can’t find my truth.

It has been a growing desire to find a way to worship God whilst acknowledging the grief and pain that can surround mothering for many. My hope is that Mother’s Day Runaways is a service for those wanting to find God’s presence in the midst of their grief. My hope is that Mother’s Day Runaways will give me the opportunity to explore the complexities of my own role as mother and daughter.

This is a story about God,

God and a woman who waited,

waited 5 years then conceived me and rejoiced

but the pain of the waiting never left her.

God spoke to her, through a prophet

(He does that):

“Sing, barren woman,

you who never bore a child;

burst into song, shout for joy,

you who were never in labor;

because more are the children of the desolate woman

than of her who has a husband,”

quoted the prophet

to the woman; round, glowing and full of me, her baby.

And she knew God had been in her waiting.


This is a story about God,

God and a mother who loved,

loved so generously & unconditionally

that her children did the same.

Heavy hearted, expecting first day tears

she led her daughter to the school gate

but the strength of the mother's love

& knowledge of God with her

gave the girl enough to overflow;

she took the hand of a crying child and comforted them.

“She'll make a great mother” they said

to the woman, proud and full of hope.

And she knew God was in her parenting.


This is a story about God,

God and a mother who grieved,

grieved quietly confused for the daughter

once full of love but now remote and raging

angrily distant, so the mother asked “why?”

And, again, 5 years she waited;

5 years her for daughter's rebirth.

And more for her to speak the truth of the horror

that made her soft heart, hard and jagged.

“She's a typical teen” they said

to the mother who waited and grieved

(they didn't know the whole story)

and she clutched at glimpses of God in her grieving.


This is a story about God

God and 2 men that were broken

so broken that their sinful nature violently engulfed the girl

in episodes of unspeakable horror

that a Sunday school vision of God could not contain

but He was there

For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost

and they were very lost, the two men

who did not hear God...maybe they have now?


This is a story about God

God and the hurt, angry girl

the girl lost in the shock and the fear and the shame

the horror, the violence, the dirt

and the disease it caused in her inner most parts

beyond her capacity to feel,

beyond her vocabulary to express

self anesthetised with street drugs

internally destroyed & alone

externally a dark silence PAUSE

eventually with the tangled anger of a toddler's tantrum

the girl cried out to God: 'Its not fair'

And, surprised, she heard him agree.

And the silence was broken.


This is a story about God

God and the man who said,

“I love you, not just your womb” when,

days after they met, his suggestions for children’s names

(Josh, Tom and Beth)

were met with tears

because the girl's diseased inner parts

were potentially broken

by the 2 men that didn't listen to God

but there was still plenty of hope

as little was known

and high expectations remained

“You'll have fun trying” they said,

to the couple who knew

God was with them in their marriage.


This is a story about God

God and the woman who hid,

hid under a bushel of disappointment

when, after trying and failing,

the image on the screen

showed tubes twisted and closed

and the young nurses looked away

and the cold instruments offered no comfort

and the woman could not hide

the pain in her heart

that her husband could see

before her words could say

I'm sorry, it is as we feared: I'm broken.


This is a story about God

God and the couple who prayed

prayed with faith and with doubt,

and were sometimes more bruised

as their faith was questioned

& others spoke promises not theirs to make

(you are already pregnant said one, she was wrong)

and over time their prayer changed

no longer a plea for pregnancy (but that would still be nice)

now desperation for grace

to find sovereign God's peace with how things are

and in the unfamiliar quiet beauty of a high healing mass

the flooding of the spirit with the words:

In the name of God who gives you life.

Receive Christ's forgiveness, his healing and his love.

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

grant you the riches of his grace,

his wholeness and his peace.


This is a story about God

God and the woman who hoped

hoped in Christ alone

who did not promise pregnancy

but the greater, fuller hope of heaven

Christ who saw a whole woman,

not just a womb,

and loved her,

and comforted her,

Christ who understands her trauma

who shares her continued grief

as even in a home filled with sons,

sons that grew in her heart through adoption,

her womb's emptiness aches

but no longer the primal dark grief of her youth

but a dull ache which does not obscure

the light of Christ

who tells her she shines

and she knows God is with her in the grieving and the living.

This is a story about God,

God and me, the barren woman that many call mum.


Testimony written for Trinity College Chapel November 2011



Lizzie is an author, speaker and church planter who lives in Liverpool with her vicar-husband Dave and their dog Betsy. She loves talking about the messiness of life and creating safe spaces for people to share their stories.

Lizzie writes for award winning blog Saltwater and Honey which is a collection of voices sharing their stories about infertility, miscarriage, childlessness and faith. These experiences can be painful and leave you feeling isolated but we want you to know that you are not alone, it’s okay to grieve and your story matters.