Embracing the grace to mother this season

As I write, I am nine months pregnant, preparing to give birth to my fourth child sometime during this Christmas season. The aches and pains typical of these last few weeks of pregnancy are my normal. There is no denying that this stage of pregnancy is just plain uncomfortable.

And then I think of a fellow mom that lived a couple of thousand years ago. A mom who was probably half my age. A mom who in all likelihood was fearful of this thing called “giving birth,” especially in a strange city, far from anyone she knew and loved. A mom, who no doubt had been ridiculed, sneered at, and laughed at because of the growing belly she could not hide.

I feel the hard kicks of my unborn child and think of Mary as she felt the kicks of her child, her Savior.

I ache as I pull myself out of bed in the mornings, and wonder at Mary who slept those last weeks of her pregnancy on the ground, rode miles a day on a donkey, all to be “numbered” so prophecy could be fulfilled.

I wonder what it must have been like to be Mary. To experience pregnancy with all its joys, aches, and pains, all the while knowing that this was God-made-man that she was carrying. An incomprehensible miracle.

Mary experienced pain in childbirth. She likely shed some tears when she held her child for the first time.

She knew unfathomable joy. She knew anger.

She was a mom.

She did right by her children.  She wronged them.

She was a mom.

She embraced motherhood. She grew weary in the job.

She was a mom.

We should neither deify Mary, nor minimize her significance. Mothers impact their children. Mary had impact and influence on Jesus, and of course her other children. She was no different except that she was blessed with the amazing and unbelievable gift of mothering the God-man. This is what sets her apart. And indeed, this is significant. In all other regards, however, she was a mom doing the everyday, mundane work of motherhood.

I share this badge of motherhood with Mary and thousands of other mothers that span generations and continents.

We know tears. We know joy.

We see pain. We see healing.

We toil in the mundane. We dream of the impossible.

We long to see dreams fulfilled. We labor at the tedious work of training.

We do well. We fail.

We love so much it hurts.

We are moms. Imperfect moms.

Mary was shown incredible grace. Grace that would allow her to ride a donkey for hundreds of miles in her last weeks of pregnancy. Grace that would give her the strength to give birth in a stable. Grace that would give her the daily courage to embrace the beautiful calling of motherhood.

And that same grace is available to me.

I’m embracing that grace today with a heavy, bloating body that aches. I’m embracing that grace today as I train and disciple a 5, 3, and 2 year old. I’m embracing that grace to fulfill the joys and the toils of motherhood.

Being pregnant at Christmas gives me a new perspective of Mary. It’s her realness that I find remarkable.

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed”

Mary was blessed above all other woman. She was chosen in her humble state, and given the gift of mothering an infant. An infant that was also her God, her Savior.

I am blessed by Mary’s humanness. She was real. She was a mom. She had no super powers that made her job any easier. She simply embraced the grace that was handed her.

I am embracing the grace to mother today. You can too.


  1. Beautiful, Johanna. Embrace the grace. Praying for your new baby and you.

  2. “She had no super powers that made her job any easier.” I love the perspective you have on this. And I’ve desperately needed grace to mother well lately. I’ve been thinking about and praying for you a lot lately.

  3. Debbie Dierking says:

    I remember having these same thoughts in 1987, the year I gave birth on Dec. 1. I loved telling the Christmas story to our older children, while holding an infant. It made the Christmas story so much more poignant. I just never expressed it as beautifully as you did here! Thank you. =)
    Aunt Debbie

  4. Beautiful! “And that same grace is available to me.”–so true! I’m embracing that along with you and so many other moms in the “trenches.” Thanks for the encouragement and the beautiful meditation on Mary during this Christmas season!

  5. Beautifully written. Have you read the picture book, “Tonight You Are My Baby”? I think you would like it :)


  1. […] Read the Christmas story while you are nine months pregnant and you have a new understanding of what that trip must have been like for Mary. [I'm certainly not signing up for any donkey rides right now] […]

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