From breastfeeding anxieties to toddler tantrums to the teenage years, all moms know the value of connecting with other moms. We need each other. There’s just something encouraging about hearing “I’ve been there and it doesn’t last,” or “You’re not alone, that’s normal.”

Perhaps that’s why I take such comfort in the stories of moms in the Bible. They aren’t super-women who mothered flawlessly and raised perfect children. Quite the opposite! The moms of the Bible are just like you and me. They made mistakes. They sinned. Their children sinned. They served God imperfectly, and yet their stories of making a difference in God’s Kingdom primarily through their roles as mothers are woven throughout the greatest book ever written. Here are a few of my favorites, which serve to remind us that raising children, however imperfectly, is truly Kingdom work.

Sarah (Genesis 16,Genesis 17, and Genesis 21)

Sarah became a mother in her nineties. Her son, Isaac, was a fulfillment of God’s promise to build nations through Sarah and her husband, Abraham. But Sarah was impatient with the promises of God. She tried to make motherhood work according to her own agenda. There’s a lesson for us all in the outcome, but ultimately God multiplied her mothering efforts to number more that the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5).

Bathsheba 2 Samuel 11-2 Samuel 12)

Bathsheba became a mom under difficult circumstances. After King David saw her on the roof and called her to his bedroom in the palace, she learned she was carrying a child that did not belong to her husband. Upon news of her pregnancy, David had Bathsheba’s husband killed. As a result of David’s sin, the child they conceived died.

These are mothering circumstances that would make any of us throw up our hands in defeat. Bathsheba went on to give birth to Solomon who became the wisest man in all of Israel. We can assume that Solomon’s mother had something to do with his vast knowledge about God. Mothering was hard for Bathsheba and it came at a heavy price, but her loss was not her legacy.

Hannah (1 Samuel 1-1 Samuel 2)

Hannah is another momma whose story keeps my heart in check. Hannah could not get pregnant and desperately wanted a baby, so she went to the temple and wept and cried out so intensely to the Lord that the priest thought she was drunk. Hannah was so desperate to become a mom that she promised God that if He would give her a son, she would dedicate that son to His service in the temple. When Hannah’s longed-for baby boy arrived, Hannah made a mothering decision more difficult than any I’ve ever had to make—she kept her promise.

The Bible tells us that she raised her miraculous firstborn son only until he was weaned, and then she took him to live with Samuel, the priest. We have proof that Hannah still tenderly mothered the baby she could not keep because the Bible tells us that every year Hannah took her boy a “tiny coat.”

Author Dorothy Kelley Patterson gives this interpretation of why Hannah might have prayed for a son specifically, “Her request had been carefully fashioned in her mind and heart. She asked for a male child because she wanted to give that child back to the Lord to use in a special way. Her maternity, that nurturing instinct in her heart, responded, ‘Lord, this son will be my gift to you.’”