Tears streamed from my eyes even as the anesthesia wore off; the nurse said that I cried through the whole procedure, even as I slept. My hands caressed and held my empty abdomen and the sheer vacancy of life pushed my tears to sobs.

Three days ago I was full of life and every part of my body responded to that life. My belly was hard and rounded. Smells were so overwhelming that they brought nausea. My hair was full and shiny and buttons pulled at my bust line. Every inch of me was changing to grow a tiny heartbeat, ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes, a tiny brain, tiny but full lips, knees, and downy hair. Miraculous and mysterious life, created from love and longed for, had been growing deep inside the hidden places of my womb.


My pregnancy officially ended the Tuesday before what was to have been my first Mother’s Day as a mother. Though still in utero, this life had already changed my identity to “mom.” But now, the life was gone. Heartbeat missing, limbs no longer growing. I wondered, as that Sunday approached, was I still a mother?


“In the beginning, God created…” these familiar words settle differently into my heart as a mother. Scripture doesn’t say that God built or planned or established. God created. God nurtured and grew and gave birth to. God created.

God, our Mother, first created a womb where life could grow and then created our lives to be lived inside it. God, our Mother, created a tiny heartbeat, ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes, a tiny brain, tiny but full lips, knees, and downy hair. Miraculous and mysterious life, created from love and longed for. And God said, “It is very good.”






God created life within that womb to be perfect. And it was. It was beautiful in location and rich in relationship: relationship between man and woman and relationship with God. All this perfection was contained within the circle of God’s love. In this place, maturity was the natural, grace-filled trajectory of life. The garden sustained the lives of Adam and Eve, God’s miraculous and mysterious loves, and encouraged them to thrive. They were created to grow stronger, wiser and more compassionate, while falling ever deeper into a loving relationship with God and therefore with one another. How God, our Mother, must have beamed with the fullness of this love!

And then…

Separation. The heartbeat of love stutters and growth jolts. Estrangement. A choice to pursue independence over relationship.





I wonder if God felt empty. Did God long for them in the same way that I longed for that baby who was gone? Did God mourn the absence and feel the changes in Her very being? Did God’s womb ache with emptiness as we fell?

God, Our Mother. 

Blessed be your name. 

May your womb be full of life and joy, on earth now as it was in Eden before. 

Would you give us this day our daily milk? 

Forgive us for separation as we forgive those who injure us. 

For yours is the life, connection, and honor for ever and ever. 



Rhesa Higgins

Spiritual Director and Founder: Eleven:28 Ministries

Highland Oaks Church of Christ Dallas, Texas


"But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength." 2 Timothy 4:17

Twenty years ago (AKA, yesterday) when I was a freshman in college, my long term plan was: graduate, get married, have children-- be a mom. Simple. Solid. Maybe even a tad stereotypical for a West Texas college freshman, but I was looking forward to stereotypical (minus the horse).

Raise your hand if your long term plans worked out to the full extent that you dreamed about as a 19 year old. If your hand is in the air, now slap yourself on the face. Just kidding! Pat. Pat yourself on the back. Your back-pat is well deserved. My hand is not in the air, but I am certainly patting myself on the back, too. In fact, I deserve all of the pats. I have learned in a different way than I would have ever imagined, to stop trying to make my freshman dreams come true.

I'm waiting for a home health nurse to arrive to our apartment for my last IV steroid infusion- Day 3 of 3. She arrives, hooks me up and starts the drip, and I sit on the couch chatting with her for the 2 hour duration. My mouth begins to taste as if I'm sucking on a handful of pennies (not recommended), so I unwrap another Jolly Rancher to mask the taste. The metal-mouth and temporary "port" in my arm are a small price to pay for the annoying relapsing symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis to subside.

My nurse casually mentions she is pregnant. She's four months along. It's a boy. She is excited. She is tired. She is thirsty. We talk about names. We talk about how expensive it is to afford day care in Los Angeles. She opines on whether she will stay at home and just work weekends, or whether they will place her baby boy in day care. For a moment I feel relieved. Those thoughts and burdens are stressful, and they are not my burdens today.

I look up at the IV bag where the liquid gathers, and watch as the sunlight shines through the slow forming droplets while they swell and sag, and finally break off and drip down. The cat closely inspects a thin hanging tube attached to the bag of liquid at one end; attached to me at the other. She scampers away. The air conditioning kicks in for another minute or two. Birds chirp outside, cars zoom past one another outside on the street. My computer chimes signaling a new email has arrived to my inbox. I click to refresh the screen and read about the urgent meeting that must be set for my boss.

Nothing is stopping. In fact, somehow the passing of time is accelerating. The final IV drip is complete. The nurse removes the needle from my vein. I press down on the cotton pad to keep my forearm from bleeding until a fresh bandage adheres to my skin.

I wish the nurse luck with her baby. She disappears behind the front door.

As I reflect, I marvel at my current emotional state. I feel as if I might have finally reached the other side of unbearable pain and longing when I think about having (or, not having) a baby. Maybe now all settings have switched to cruise control. Or even Zen? I'm no longer clutching that mothering dream in the palm of my hand, I've let it go so that I could steady my health instead, for now.

My grandfather called me one Saturday a year or so ago, and through tears of fond joy, told me about his favorite Aunt. As I walked down the sidewalk I listened through the overheating iPhone against my cheek as Granddad gushed about her. She never had children, though she wanted them. She doted on her nephew and niece as if they were her own--and spoiled them rotten. I understood what he was trying to tell me, and I cringed. I remember wanting to throw my phone into oncoming traffic. I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to imagine myself as the favorite Aunt/never mother/forever.

Granddad was onto something with that phone call. He planted a much needed seed of acceptance in my heart. I wasn't ready for it then;I'm not even sure that I'm ready for it now, but I think it sprouted in here somewhere.

Do I think not experiencing childbirth means God doesn't WANT me to have children? Absolutely not. Do I think that my lack of fertility reflects a lack of my faithfulness? Shoot, no. It certainly does not. And I haven't yet thrown in the towel. But I think I'll call my new handful of fresh perspective, or, lack of a tight grip, progress.

Angie Willis

Culver Palms Church of Christ Los Angeles, CA

Muscle Memory

Hosea 11:1-11

My girls had been begging to pull out home videos from the days when they were babies. We took a leisure morning and replayed the past, recounting birth announcements, first steps, Christmases, birthdays, vacations, and a few random life moments of twirling in princess dresses and living room dance parties. As we watched, I experienced a phenomenal flood of mental photographs. Moments that had settled to the back corners of my mind were catapulted to the front and suddenly I could remember the most obscure details. The sound of their baby voices triggered emotions and memories of cutting grapes into tiny bite-sized pieces and daily fearing I was doing it all wrong. I remember sleepless nights, when two straight hours of sleep was a victory and the pains of a tight pocketbook that limited our fun outings to story time at the library and picnics in the park. The loneliness and isolation of being a young mother was brought back into my rearview mirror. In the moment, life can seem so hard. But the videos reminded me that even though some moments were challenging, we smiled and danced through it.

Part of the joy of watching home videos in the present was being able to look over at my babies who are no longer babies drink in our story. These big kids, who can run on their own and do algebra, laughed in awe as they watched themselves learning life’s fundamentals. Muscle memory has a way of forgetting over time and we take for granted the effort put into learning these fundamentals. That’s why it is important to recount the story.

Hosea reminds us to recount the story. The priests were accused of failing to do their job. They have failed to teach God’s word and they have failed to instill the importance and practice of steadfastly loving God. Instead of preventing idolatry, they learned how to profit from it. Syncretism abounded. The people failed to acknowledge God as the giver the good gifts. Hosea reminds that religious practices are no substitute for steadfast love. God offers to do for them what they cannot do for themselves.

When trouble arises, Israel looks to Assyria for help rather than to God. Without God’s presence, they are vulnerable to destruction, even if it is of their own doing. God’s desire for his people to know him and be faithful to him is not for his own benefit, but for theirs. In their rebellion, they are destined to return to slavery. God’s love for his people causes him to lament the absence of their reciprocation and repentance.

Hosea uses the mothering imagery to express the suffering heart of God for Israel. Like a mother holds little fingers while her young one is learning to take first steps, God reminds Israel that they haven never walked alone. The God of the universe desires to have a relationship with creation. Elizabeth Achtemeier, an Old Testament scholar, describes this holy metaphor beautifully. “’Yet it was I who taught you to walk’—God the Father bending down to offer a supporting finger to the unsteady, toddling infant Israel; letting him fall at times; encouraging his little steps; praising him when he does well; and then sweeping him up in his arms when he starts to cry, wiping away his tears, and comforting him against his cheek.”

God desires to offer creation the steadfast love that is experienced within the Triune God. God gives this steadfast love and desires to receive it. When we rebel, we reject this steadfast love and God knows that rebellion leads to self-destruction. God is willing to allow this punishment so that there can be restoration of steadfast love (hesed). He allows calamity to occur so that his children can be brought to a place where they are wiling to let restoration to take place. Restoration is always the goal of God’s judgment.

Watching my girls witness their own first words and steps was significant. Though they were there for those moments, they are too young to remember. Yet they can’t remember a time when I wasn’t there to lend a hand. They learned to reach out for a steady hand as infants and it was that training that prepared them to walk steadily now. But when the ground seems wobbly, they instinctively know where to reach out. That is the concept of reciprocated steadfast love that God desires with his people.

Do you remember learning to walk? Recount your story. Remember when the Lord held your hands and taught you to walk. Muscle memory has a way of forgetting over time. Don’t take for granted the effort put into learning these fundamentals. Seek the Lord and cling to his unfailing love.

God, help us as your people to be completely devoted to you. Help us to keep your word on our hearts so that we can experience community with you. Turn our hearts to you when they begin to wander, even if that means allowing us to experience difficult things. We trust you, Lord, to love us and restore the community you desire to have with us.

Summer Morris, Children’s Family Minister

North Davis Church of Christ, Arlington, TX