How five “mother figures” changed history

Posted May 14, 2019

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Daily Scripture

Exodus 1:15-2:10

15 The king of Egypt spoke to two Hebrew midwives named Shiphrah and Puah: 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women give birth and you see the baby being born, if it’s a boy, kill him. But if it’s a girl, you can let her live.” 17 Now the two midwives respected God so they didn’t obey the Egyptian king’s order. Instead, they let the baby boys live.

18 So the king of Egypt called the two midwives and said to them, “Why are you doing this? Why are you letting the baby boys live?”

19 The two midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because Hebrew women aren’t like Egyptian women. They’re much stronger and give birth before any midwives can get to them.” 20 So God treated the midwives well, and the people kept on multiplying and became very strong. 21 And because the midwives respected God, God gave them households of their own.

22 Then Pharaoh gave an order to all his people: “Throw every baby boy born to the Hebrews into the Nile River, but you can let all the girls live.”

2:1 Now a man from Levi’s household married a Levite woman. 2 The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that the baby was healthy and beautiful, so she hid him for three months. 3 When she couldn’t hide him any longer, she took a reed basket and sealed it up with black tar. She put the child in the basket and set the basket among the reeds at the riverbank. 4 The baby’s older sister stood watch nearby to see what would happen to him.

5 Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the river, while her women servants walked along beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds, and she sent one of her servants to bring it to her. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child. The boy was crying, and she felt sorry for him. She said, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children.”

7 Then the baby’s sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Would you like me to go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?”

8 Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, “Yes, do that.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I’ll pay you for your work.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. 10 After the child had grown up, she brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I pulled him out of the water.”

Reflection Questions

Mothering is not only biological. One of a mom’s primary purposes is to keep her children safe and secure. Moses’ biological mother did just that in a heartbreaking, unconventional way. Pharaoh wanted Moses killed, but Moses had several other mother figures from his birth. He was snatched from the reeds by his eventual adoptive mother and nursed by one who had to hide her identity as his mother. Without these women, Moses likely would never have lived to carry out God’s mission to deliver his people from slavery and bondage.

  • Moses played a pivotal role in the Bible story. He was the human instrument God used to deliver Israel from slavery in Egypt. How crucial were his mother’s (and sister’s) courage and creativity in saving his life? In what ways do you see God’s power at work with and through Moses’ biological and adoptive family? What blessings and limitations do you see in your own life, past and present?
  • Keeping a child safe involves more than just physical protection. What are some of the ways your biological mother or other mother figures have protected you? On Mother’s Day, we remember that not everyone has the privilege of a positive mother figure in their life. Are you in a position to offer the gift of love and protection to someone who needs it?


Loving God, thank you for the mother figures who have kept me safe and guided me throughout my life. Give me the strength to offer this gift to someone in need. Amen.

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Denise Mersmann

Denise Mersmann

Denise serves as the Early Childhood Coordinating Assistant at Church of the Resurrection.

In the story of Moses, several women contribute to his safe upbringing. Without any one of them, his life would have turned out very differently. Prior to having kids, I thought that was a cool story about how Moses--how his life was spared and how he went on to do great things for God. 

Somewhere, about the time our first child was born, that story began to look a little different to me. Not only was it a story about Moses' life. It was a story about women coming together to save a child and ultimately change the world.

As you can imagine, I have never had to hide one of my kids in a basket in a river, and there weren’t people trying to kill them because of their gender or race. But there have been a lot of women who have come alongside me on this parenting journey and absolutely changed my children’s lives.

First, there are the women who have loved my kids, spoken hard truth to them, held them accountable and had their backs more times than I can count. These women provided rides to and attended my kids’ events, they have cheered them on, picked them up, bandaged them and hugged them when they needed it. These women are as happy for Kate and Ryan’s achievements as they are for their own kids. They share stories of my kids’ successes and stand by, camera in hand, to witness and record the great moments. These ladies aren’t just in it for the highlights, though--they stand beside my kids when they face tough times. For Kate and Ryan these women are a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board, a slightly less emotional voice of reason when my husband and I are too invested. They love my family like their own and I know if either Kate or Ryan needs them, they would drop everything and be there in a moment. I know my kids are well aware of the influence these women have had in their lives and I know that the love my kids have for these women is beyond measure. They are the “other moms” without whom Kate and Ryan wouldn’t be who they are today.

Then there are the women who don’t really know my kids at all. They know of them, and they know me. This second group of women have changed my kids’ lives by helping me be the best mom I can be. They have pulled me back when I was over the top, they have given me advice and direction when I didn’t know how to be the parent that my kids needed and they have cheered me on and sang my praises when I have parented well. During my worst moments, these people have carried me until I was able to walk on my own again. Without really knowing Kate and Ryan, these ladies have indirectly impacted my kids’ lives, and our family is infinitely better because of it.

All of these women are my team.

Many of these women don’t know each other, but they have one thing in common. My family matters to them. They love us, support us and want the very best for us. I cannot imagine my life without each and every one of them. 

The story of Moses isn’t just about Moses, and this isn’t just about Kate and Ryan. This story is about the strong women who are heroes for my family. Without any one of them, Kate and Ryan’s lives would have turned out very differently. I will never be able to adequately thank my team for all they have done. I do hope, in some small way, I can be part of another mom’s team by loving her kids, supporting her parenting efforts and being there for them at a moment’s notice. I can’t think of a better way to show my love and gratitude than by paying it forward to another family.

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