Have you ever cried so hard, been so upset, that you couldn’t catch your breath? Have you been so overwhelmed by life—violence … inequality … death … brokenness—that you couldn’t imagine what the future would look like for your grandchildren?

One day Charlotte, my then 1-year-old, was crying and couldn’t catch her breath. She was that overtired—I just-want-to-keep-playing-but-I-can’t-stop-rubbing-my-eyes-tired. I sat in the rocking chair with her in my arms in a darkened room. Quiet surrounded us. I laid her on my chest, holding her small, vulnerable body, and rocked her. I waited for her breath to calm. In between the breaths I heard something, I felt something. Her heartbeat next to mine.

Body to body, all we could hear were our hearts beating together, our breath in time together. And God’s heart beating for us.

Together we rested. Together we listened. Together we were held by God.

Imagine how Mary must have felt the night Jesus was born. There she was in a cold, dark stable, exhausted and maybe a little afraid.

Can you imagine how she may have felt hearing the baby’s heartbeat, knowing this was God’s son? God’s gift to the world. A heart beating for us all.


As a family look through books and magazines or go online for pictures of people different from you. Say a prayer of thanks for them and remember that God’s heart beats for them too.

Rachel Macy Stafford, blogger at handsfreemama.com, does a daily “heartbeat check” with her family. To try it, each morning or night gather to listen to one another’s heartbeats. Children listen to their siblings’ and parents’ heartbeats, and parents, grandparents and guardians listen to their children’s heartbeats. Remember that God holds us all, and that God’s heart keeps beating for each of us. “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12).

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, spouse of an ELCA pastor and co-author of The Beauty of Motherhood: Grace-Filled Devotions for the Early Years. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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