Scripture: “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” Proverbs 31:27-28 ESV

Devotion: Happy Mother’s Day! It is difficult to properly evaluate the incredible impact of mothers on our lives. We don’t have to look far in the Scriptures to see this truth. From Jochebed who hid her infant son Moses in a reed basket in the Nile then cared for him as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, to Hannah who prayed for a child, then gave her son Samuel to the Lord’s service as a priest, to Mary the mother of the Lord Jesus, mothers have had a profound influence on the lives of the leading men of the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5): “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” What an influence they had on the life of young Timothy. Moms matter a great deal in the Bible.

And that is true throughout history. Susannah was an amazing mother who had 17 children. Can you imagine? And yet somehow she made time each week to speak one on one with each of them about the love of Jesus and to teach them the Bible. We think that we don’t have time for one or two. But she had 17! And two out of the 17 are worthy of our consideration because one became one of the greatest preachers/evangelists of his generation, the other became one of the greatest hymn writers in the English language. Who were they? John and Charles Wesley! The renowned English Poet, Robert Browning, wrote: “Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” So, it is good and proper that we celebrate mothers on this special day.  

One of the first Mother’s Day celebrations in America was held in Boston in 1872 at the suggestion of anti-slavery and pro-women’s suffrage advocate Julia Ward Howe, author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” However, it was Anna Jarvis of Grafton, West Virginia, the granddaughter of a Baptist minister, who championed a national Mother’s Day. Anna was a member of Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, where she taught Sunday school. In 1876, after one of her lessons, she closed with a prayer:

“I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial Mother’s Day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.”[1]

Anna’s own mom had organized the Mother’s Day Work Club to care for wounded Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Anna’s mother tirelessly raised money for medicine, inspected bottled milk, improved sanitation, and hired women to care for families where mothers suffered from tuberculosis. Inspired by her mother’s self-sacrifice and generosity, Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her and all mothers. So, on May 12, 1907, Anna persuaded her home church to have a special Mother’s Day service. It was so well received that church leaders agreed to set aside the second Sunday in May, closest to the anniversary of the death of Anna’s mom, as a day to show appreciation to all mothers.

With the financial backing of department store owner John Wanamaker and H.J. Heinz, maker of the famous ketchup of the same name, Anna Jarvis began her letter-writing campaign to ministers and politicians to establish a “national” Mother’s Day. By 1909, due to the overwhelming support of pastors and churches, 45 states had observed Mother’s Day. People wore white and red carnations on Sunday to pay tribute to their mothers, both dead and living.

On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first National Mother’s Day as a: “public expression of ... love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”[2] President Reagan said in his Mother’s Day Proclamation, 1986: “A Jewish saying sums it up: ‘God could not be everywhere – so He created mothers.’” American poet William Ross Wallace wrote: “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” For Mother’s Day 2020, President Donald J. Trump proclaimed:
On Mother’s Day, we celebrate the exceptional mothers in our lives. It is through the unwavering love, comfort, and guidance of these extraordinary women that we first learn to experience joy and the wonders of life. Whether they became mothers through birth, adoption, foster care, or other means, these women are deserving of our unending gratitude and praise this day and every day.

The intuition and wisdom passed from mother to child strengthens the fabric of our Nation and preserves generations of wisdom and familial values. In our earliest days, our mothers provide us with love and nurturing care. They often know our talents before we do, and they selflessly encourage us to use these God-given gifts to pursue our biggest dreams and most admirable ambitions. As we grow, our mothers teach us to be productive, contributing members of society and to care for one another as they have cared for us. As life-long supporters, mothers provide reassurance and guidance when needed most. President Abraham Lincoln described this spirit of compassion: “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” Our mothers embrace us for who we are and help guide us to who we are meant to be. They advocate for us and counsel us, and above all else provide us with a steadfast and enduring love each day.

Today, on Mother’s Day, we celebrate mothers everywhere and thank them for all that they do to enrich our lives, honoring how they raise us with a special grace and endurance. Their character, courage, and compassion are gifts that transcend time and span generations. May today be filled with the joy of knowing their contributions to our society are immeasurable, and their love for us does not go unnoticed or unappreciated….

I encourage all Americans to express their love and respect for their mothers ... whether with us in person or in spirit, and to reflect on the importance of motherhood to the prosperity of our families, communities, and Nation.[3] 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, we bow before you with gratitude and thanksgiving for the mothers in our lives. We thank you for creating each mom with a special combination of gifts and talents. We thank you for the way they love sacrificially and give of themselves to make all our lives better. We thank you for their tirelessness, their perseverance, their devotion. We pray you give each mom strength, patience, and flexibility. Help her to see in every routine task the enduring and cumulative significance of her service in shaping and molding the next generation. We thank you for each mom and ask your blessings on them in Jesus’ name.

  • Meals: Plan to do breakfast for your wife or at least give her the “day off” by making reservations and eating out on Mother’s Day.
  • Gifts: Homemade cards with personal notes of appreciation and handpicked flowers from the kids are always a hit. But purchased gifts are good! One appreciated gift might be a gift certificate for a manicure or pedicure.
  • Picnic: If the weather is agreeable, plan to take mom on a picnic at a nice place.
  • Games: Invite the family over for a game afternoon or evening. There’s usually lots of laughing involved.
  • Walk/Hike: If the weather is nice and mom enjoys a little exercise, take her to her favorite hiking trail or walking path, or just go for a stroll around the neighborhood.
  • Photos: Get dressed up in your Sunday best and take photos with mom and the family after church. It doesn’t need to be a professional. You can do this at home or find a suitable outdoor location. Print out the pictures and make or buy a photo frame and present it to her as a gift.
  • Movie Day: Take mom to the movies or make some popcorn and spend the day watching her favorite movies.
  • Crafts: If mom loves crafts, find something fun the kids can make together.
  • Volunteer: If your mom has a ministry she supports, find a way you can volunteer for the day. Or find a local soup kitchen and serve Mother’s Day dinner to those in need.
  • Include your mom, and grandma if living, in all the day’s celebrations.
   [1] Katherine Lane Anatolini, Memorializing Motherhood: Anna Jarvis and the Struggle for Control of Mother's Day (PhD Diss). West Virginia University (2009), 25.