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Childless, but a Mother-in-Faith

Childless, and Yet …

I have never borne children. I’ve never been pregnant. I am childless. Several times when I thought I might be, I was quietly delighted. But bearing and raising a child is not something God has given me, or that I chose in my circumstances. But my life is fulfilling.

One of my favorite photos of Dad and Mom. Dad’s been in heaven twenty-two years already, Mom four.

The difference between our expectations and reality can be large. The question is, how do we fill that gap? Do we fill it with bitterness, sadness, withdrawal? Or are we open to other ways God provides to fill those gaps?

My childhood dream was to have a loving husband and several children. I grew up in a home where love and discipline worked side by side. I wanted something similar.

My dear mother and dad are in heaven. They influenced my life for God. Dad led us in family devotions every night after dinner (although I confess we sometimes almost feel asleep through Mom’s long but heartfelt prayers). They modeled loving each other, and they loved us. They weren’t perfect, and neither were/are we. But they reflected grace, forgiveness, and love in ways that helped each of us grow.

An Older Bride

I was 36 when I married my late husband, who was 46. After a lot of prayer and discussion, we decided having children was not the best choice for us. We both had thyroid disease. Did we have the energy to keep up with little ones? Jerry would be almost 70 when a child turned 20. Would we, could we still relate? Did I grieve? Oh yes. Did a little burst of hope fill my heart those few times I thought “Maybe …” Yes indeed. And did we get the inevitable questions about when we would hear the patter of little feet? Of course.

So, in this week before Mother’s Day, I hope to encourage those of you who either chose not to have children of your own, or were unable to birth babies. Either can be painful. So can having a rebellious child you remember holding, nurturing, loving with all your heart.

Mother’s Day Carnations

One Mother’s Day after Jerry and I had decided not to pursue parenthood, the ushers in our church handed carnations to each woman. Red if you had children, white if you didn’t. I got a white flower. I cried. All. Day. Long. I didn’t see any other white flowers among our married friends.

My husband hugged me, held me, and felt desperately helpless throughout the day. But I grieved the death of a dream.

Some of you have grieved a stillborn child, an aborted child, a child who didn’t survive ‘til adulthood, or one with unique challenges.

Spiritual Children

God has indeed enlarged my borders and has given me the desire of my heart–children, in most cases, of faith. He filled the gap between my expectations and reality in ways I never imagined on that day I wept, letting go of my dream of motherhood. And while I haven’t had the joy of birthing, raising and teaching a child of my own, I have had the joy of helping with three-year-olds in Sunday school, working with middle and high schoolers in Christian clubs, and ministering to both children and adults in the LA ghetto. I’ve watched spiritual birth take place, and mentored young women with truths from God’s word and my own heart.

Thursday I met a spiritual daughter for lunch. Tanith has been in Don’s and my life for about ten years. I had the joy of leading her to Christ. We’ve seen her go through some very challenging times. I’ve also seen her grow in her faith and trust in the God who has helped her in many previous situations. Tanith has sent me a Mother’s Day card in many of the past years.

So at one o’clock I walked into Aqui, the Cal-Mex restaurant where we met, to see a stunning bouquet with white hydrangeas and pink and off-white roses grace the table, along with a Mother’s Day card. I was, and am, deeply touched by this spiritual daughter’s acknowledgement of God’s goodness in bringing us together. I too feel his kindness, the joy of loving a younger woman and walking with her through life.

So, while I have no birthed children, I have several spiritual daughters I love deeply. I also have beloved nieces and nephews and their children, and Don’s children, grandchildren, and two greats!

Filling the Gap

If, on this coming Mother’s Day, you feel a hole, a gap between your expectations and reality, you might ask God to show you other ways to fill that hole. It may be through discipling, mentoring, fostering, teaching, or adoption. It may be loving on the son or daughter of friends. Statistics tell us that if young people are connected to an adult in the church other than their parent, they are less likely to leave their faith when they hit college age. You can be a terrific force for good—for God—if you are willing to step into whatever situation he brings your way.

Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good.  These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. Titus 2:3-5 NLT

And if you’re a mother, God bless and guide you with strength, patience and perseverence. There are times in every marriage, every family, when we must choose to love, rather than waiting on its feelings. You may be filled with joy at your children’s development and faith and pursuits. I delight in watching my nieces and nephews, as well as our grandson, raise their children intentionally.

Or you may be grieved because your son or daughter is not walking with God, and may be on a path to destruction.

Pray and Love

Franklin Graham was a rebel in his teen years. His parents, Billy and Ruth Graham, continued to pray for him, love him, invest in him. And now Franklin is changing the world through both Samaritan’s Purse ( and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (

Pray! And Love! And continue to hope in God. Pastor Rene Schlaepfer says if you have hope, you can become a force for love.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. II Corinthians 5:17 ESV

New creations. The old—sin, past mistakes, gone. A new life in Christ! That gives us reason to hope. And so, whether or not we have birthed children of our flesh, we use the opportunities God gives us to invest in others, and to help change the circle of influence where God has us.


  1. Edith says:

    Thanks Carol for your thoughts on this subject. I ofte am very sensitive to my daughter’s heart on Mother’s Day. I give her something every year to let her know that she is appreciated and she does have some “babies” of her own! She looks after exotic birds !

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Thanks for your comment, Edith. You, you have experience with this issue. You’re wise to remind her every year how loved and valued she is. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  2. JoAnn Payne says:

    Thanks for your encouraging story, Carol. I too have our daughter who married at 40 and hasn’t been able to conceive. She just turned 43, and the topic is still sensitive, so I don’t ask many questions. As you voiced, I realize that Mother’s Day is hard for her, and many others.

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Yes JoAnn, your daughter is in a painful and very sensitive situation. I’m sorry they have struggled so with conception. I’m sure you and Joe are wise in loving them and not asking many questions. We love you. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  3. Susan Jones says:

    So good to hear about Tanith’s spiritual growth!! Yay God!! I know God has used your blogs to encourage and build up those new to , or searching out faith in our Lord! In Heaven you will be surprised to meet all your spiritual children. Love you!
    Susan Jones

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Thank you, Susan! I pray he is using these messages for his glory. I love you too and miss you! Let’s try to do something about that! Happy Mother’s Day!!

  4. Such a heartfelt message! I’m sorry you got a white flower when all your friends got red. Someone didn’t understand your pain. I’m glad Jerry held you!
    God used you in special ways — bringing a spiritual daughter to faith is amazing. Thanks for your words of encouragement.

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Thank you Ruth. As I look back on it, giving different color flowers wasn’t very sensitive. I think the church has learned since then that Mother’s Day is painful for many, and not to call it out in that fashion. But God has been gracious to me and I am thankful! Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  5. Laura Bennet says:

    What a sweet post! It is such a blessing to have those daughters in faith. I’m glad yours blessed you for Mother’s Day. <3

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Thanks so much Laura. Indeed, I am blessed. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  6. Allen & JoAnn Antons says:

    Thanks for always being a loving friend. We have loved every moment we’ve spent with you. Only wish it could be more often.

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      What a sweet note Allen and JoAnn. You are dear friends and we too would cherish more time together. Love!

  7. My dear friend, Carol. You have been a “mother” to many and heaven will reveal all the nurturing and caring you did for others. You have been such a blessing to me! Thank you for this sensitive and touching article.
    Much love and apprecition,

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Thank you dear Jeannie. I’m amazed at how your own flock has increased – many quivers in those arrows indeed. Thanks for your encouragement.

  8. Carmen Peone says:

    Carol, this is beautiful! I’ve learned that one can be another mother to children. My boys had other mothers, even when they are childless. I love how God uses women this way. God bless you!

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Thank you Carmen. And it’s a gift when you allow others to step into your chidren’s lives for good. Isn’t God good!

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