Mary, did you know?

I never wanted a Christmas baby. Mostly because I love birthdays and celebrating them, and I didn’t love the concept of one of my children’s birthdays being swallowed whole every year by the hustle and manic rush of our country’s most cherished, most overblown holiday.

And yet, here I find myself, 40 weeks pregnant, not-so-patiently awaiting the arrival of a baby boy, not unlike a certain Jewish girl 2,000 years ago. (Although, yes I realize that Jesus wasn’t actually born in December).

I’ve never given Mary too much thought. I mean, after all, she was just the vessel. Just the container for the miracle that was God incarnate. Nothing special, really.

The thing is, it’s easy to dismiss Mary as ordinary until you read the Magnificat. I mean, historians estimate that Mary was somewhere between thirteen and fifteen-years-old when she received the news of her impending pregnancy.

So that’s…young.

If an angel of the Lord had appeared to my 14-year-old self and proclaimed that I would be supernaturally impregnated with the Savior of the world, I’m pretty sure my reaction would have been as follows:

1) pass out

2) wake up, remember what the angel said, and burst into tears

3) curl up in the fetal position and suck my thumb

And yet, Mary, a simple, uneducated teenager had this to say (among other things):

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of his servant…he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

Not only is her eloquence surprising but her poise is just astounding.

Was she scared? I have no doubt. Worried? Um, yes. Aware of the repercussions of a virgin pregnancy that no one would believe? I’m sure.

And yet, she chose to praise.

Which is very different from the response I had yesterday as I was lettering the words, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,” on a piece of burlap with a black Sharpie, feeling all of the weariness and none of the rejoicing.

thrill of hope

My body has been trying to go into labor for over a week now. At first, I was cautiously hopeful. After 5 babies, I am on a little too friendly of terms with my old friend, the Braxton Hicks contraction. But these were different. And if they could just establish a pattern and kick in, darn it, we could get this baby out.

9 days of (sometimes painful, always distracting) contractions later, and I’m no longer hopeful. In fact, I’m downright jaded. And annoyed. Maybe even a little persecuted feeling.

But as I was having yet another hormonal episode (right in the middle of touching up the word, “rejoice,” ironically enough), I thought about Mary.

Mary, who was forced to ride aback a bony donkey for days, hugely pregnant, with no hope of a bath or anything resembling a decent bed.

Mary, who, even when she did finally arrive at the closest thing to the prospect of a bath and a decent bed, was rejected out of hand with the terse declaration of, “No room.”

Mary, who suffered through contraction after contraction, crouched in the filthy hay, surrounded by lowing, braying, baaing creatures. No midwife. No dresser full of tiny, clean little clothes she didn’t have to sew herself. No freezer full of meals just waiting to be thawed in a magical contraption called a microwave.

Y’ALL.

My tailbone is getting sore just sitting here on my comfortable couch as I type this. If you asked me to get on a donkey, much less ride him for longer than 2 minutes, I might drop-kick you across the room.

Can you imagine her discomfort, her uncertainty, her worry that she might somehow manage to completely bungle this whole being-the-mother-of-God assignment? I can’t, and I’m feeling considerably more empathetic with her than I ever have before.

You know that song, Mary Did You Know? It posits all kinds of questions about whether Mary fully understood the impact that the tiny baby in her womb would have on the world. For eternity. I have to think that she didn’t. Couldn’t.

And yet, Mary did understand this: God is God. Period. And not only that. But he is Good. And that was enough for her.

May it also be enough for me (and you) this Christmas season.

Today, I am asking the Savior of the world to remind me, in “my humble estate,” to “magnify the Lord.”

Regardless of when these contractions finally decide to stop teasing and start torturing me to the point of delivery. Regardless of how much I don’t want to tackle another mound of dirty dishes. Regardless of how fed up I am with getting screamed at by teething toddlers.

Merry Christmas, friends. May a joy that has nothing to do with your circumstances and a peace that passes all understanding fill your hearts and minds this blessed season.

19 thoughts on “Mary, did you know?

  1. I love you, sweet girl!
    And I love your project and will recreate it …these words resound in my heart, thanks to you! “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices”
    Amen

  2. All these nice, serious, thoughtful comments here, and all I can think is KICK THE STUPID DONKEY!!! Haha!

    I did the Christmas baby thing 7 years ago (although mine was born on the 16th, not the actual day, and a few days “overdue” at that), and there is NO WAY, NONE whatsoEVER that Mary rode a donkey to Bethlehem!!! Not even being due in the magical month of December makes that something a due-any-minute woman would do. Oh the agony! My mom has always sworn that Mary probably had the easiest labor ever after all that walking. : )

    These last days are tough ones for you, I know. I’ve been there 10 times myself. It can be m.i.s.e.r.a.b.l.e. Keep your sense of humor, kick the donkeys out of your way, and have a great Christmas week! : ) You have a whole team out here praying for you.

  3. Thank you for your vulnerability and transparency in this post; it was especially encouraging to me. I felt like I could relate to you, like you were not perfect as I am so often tempted to think (I hope that does not sound harsh). I recently just went through at least a two year battle of extremely low energy and I have 3 young children. Making meals, let alone trying to do anything creative was difficult. I then had two months of amazing health and “normal energy” where I was actually able to keep up easily with daily life before I found out we were blessed with our fourth pregnancy. Extremely low energy has slammed me down again. Truth be told, I really like your blog, but sometimes I have to purposefully not read it for a while because I get discouraged to think that you are able to DO so much, and so seemingly well, with a perfect looking house and endless creativity, even while pregnant with your sixth precious one. It was/is very tempting to think that you simply were/are wonder mom. Can I just say, “thank you” for being an encouragement for a weary, first trimester (with 4th child) momma who is having difficulty making it through the day due to all-day morning sickness and super low energy. Even in your difficulty~or especially in~ you have blessed others. Thank you.

  4. I have been doing monologues of women of the Bible complete with costume…of course acting out Mary in this season…I end it with the song MARY DID YOU KNOW. It is overwhelming when you put yourself in her sandals! And it so affects me that if I hear anyone take the name of Jesus in vain it is as if they are blaspheming my own child…I don’t mean this to sound arrogant or whatever. But it has made me realize what God the Father must surely feel.
    Blessings on you my dear these next few days….may you feel His arms wrapped around you as you do the most important thing on earth!

  5. I have a Christmas babyboy!! He is a JOY!! He is 13 this year:)

    I so have the most humble respect for Mary!!
    What a wonderful girl she was and is!!! Our Lord always knows what he is doing,it is learning to trust him,that is the hardest for our humanity. Once we learn that, it is much better for us all indeed!! Nobody sings “Mary,did you know quite like,” Mark Lowry” He sings it the very best:) He wrote the song and Buddy Greene did the music for it.
    Check out His Youtube live video singing it:)AMAZING!!!
    God Bless YOU,Abbie,and your New little one to come!!!!!:O)))

  6. Abbie, I have always loved the Blessed Mother. When I experience challenges as a mother, I need only to look to her as a model of pure love, selflessness and strength. With her “Yes” she brought the Savior into the world and her only desire has been to bring people to Him. “Mary Did You Know” is one of my favorite songs. (You may also want to listen to “Breath of Heaven” by Amy Grant which also speaks to Mary’s experience). God Bless you and your beautiful family. Praying for a smooth, safe delivery. Merry Christmas.

  7. I love it when people can make me stop, think, and relate to Bible characters. We (I) have a tendency to separate them from everyday, relatable people that just lived in a different time period. They were human just like us and that is why they are all the more interesting, challenging and inspiring. Thank you for the reminder.

    May you be blessed with a safe delivery and a healthy baby! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  8. This is beautiful before belief. We have a seven week old and I have found myself contemplating what Mary’s experience must have been like. And there is nothing enviable about it. Praying for you! Hopefully he comes soon!

  9. This is your best written, most poignant post. EVER. It was inspired. I’m glad you let God speak through you. Hang in there, your little one will be here before you know it.

  10. Oh, yes. So many Braxton Hicks with my last. They are dirty little tricksters. Thank you for your words on Mary and putting Christmas into perspective. Praying for you and for a smooth (easy!) delivery!

  11. What a beautiful post… you HAVE to watch this video version of Mary Did You Know by Pentatonix. If you don’t get chills… well you just aren’t human! Seriously have watched and listened to it hundreds of times this Christmas. I can’t believe their is no accompaniment. The drum sounds are actually made with their voices… LOVE IT! Have a beautiful Christmas and best of luck with the delivery!

  12. I have been obsessing over the song Mary, Did You Know? this year! It brings a tear to my eye every. single. time. Just the overwhelming feelings she must have been experiencing. The excitement tinged with fear, the unknown with the silver lining of adventure, the immense weight of responsibility juxtaposed to her young age, the crude surroundings used to bring a perfect and flawless child/King of kings and Lord of lords into the world. I could go on and on. It’s absolutely mesmerizing to my mind and heart to think about and something that hasn’t grabbed my attention before so I’m right there with you. Congratulations on your baby! God is good 🙂 And thanks for sharing your thoughts on Mary too!

  13. Just awesome Abby! I have been overdue also (4 days with my daughter and 2 with my son). But b/c my son was VBAC candidate to doctors were putting INTENSE pressure on me to schedule a csection (daughter was a sunny side up baby and she ended up being a c-section). The waiting game is so tough, but it’s given you the space to reflect on what Christmas is all about!

    Thanks for your words and I will be reflecting on them today (with my December 4th pre-Christmas baby who is now 1 and FINALLY sleeping through the night!).

I love hearing from you guys!