Christmas,  Parenting

Mary, Did You Sew? My Questions for the Mother of Jesus


Dear Mary,

Is it true you weren’t in a barn when you gave birth? Was it better than what artists always draw? I hope it was better. Smart people who study your era tell us it was probably a cave.

That doesn’t sound better.

I gave birth in a sterile building, complete with a bed, fire sprinklers and female helpers who tended to my needs until a blurry-eyed man ran in with untied shoes to catch my son so he didn’t touch the ground.

And it still hurt like hell-o.

I don’t know many young teenage girls who could have done what you did. I see you wrapped in dusty fabric, ambling along on donkey-back with your betrothed leading the way. I wonder what you talked about in the midst of the awkward. Did you ever try to explain yourself? I picture him defending you when stares and whispers crossed your path.

Photo by Josh Bean on Unsplash


These days most girls focus on electronic devices, how to make themselves prettier, and how to get as close to boys as possible without getting a baby out of the deal.

But you… so humble and meek, taking on your most confusing, holy assignment ever. I’m utterly impressed, but not in a weird, I-think-I-want-your-autograph way. Your actions make me sit back and turn them over in my mind.

And though I’ve never ridden a donkey, my experiences on horses were enough to sear a mental note: Don’t do this pregnant. You didn’t have a choice, I know, but my doctor would have never signed off on such a trip.

Your boy arrived sad, wet and dependent. That child you delivered, your firstborn, would soon deliver you? Such a mix of strange and cool.

So how did the whole laundry thing work? Picturing the Lord of all creation in cloth diapers jostles my brain a bit, but the reality of your daily work does not skip over me. No Walmart down the road, no Target ‘round the bend… shall I assume you sewed your clothes? Did your mom/grandma/aunt teach you how? Where did you get thread? Were needles even a thing?

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash


I see you out there in the yard, scrubbing clothes in the sun and rain. On a rock, right? Now that I live in the States again I have a metal box on the inside of my house. I know—it’s crazy. All I have to do is turn a dial, squirt soap in the bottom and dump in a basket of nasty.

Some people have fancy boxes that look like spaceships, and the overzealous ones pay up to $4,100 for brands we can’t pronounce. Their clothes come out clean, too.

Does it surprise you more that humans invented this technology, or that 2,018 years later some people on the planet still scrub on washboards? My neighbor in Baja lives that life.

Your trips to the local market sound quaint, but dragging five kids down long, dusty roads to fetch baskets of lentils, olives, figs, grapes, fish and dates sounds tiring. Good thing you had one perfect child. Did James, Joseph, Jude and Simon get honey sticks if they behaved?

My crockpot gets a workout when the season begs for cozy, but lighting a fire to cook whatever Joseph killed? I grew up in the woods so I’m totally on board with quaint fires and I love stacking paper, kindling and wood when we roast mallows. But not for three meals a day… everyday… no way.

If our worlds collided I would drop everything to help you, Mary. Washing, cooking, bending, cleaning. My back hurts everyday—more when I think of yours.

Since your boys didn’t have lacrosse, Boy Scouts or Krav Maga, what in carnation did they do all day? Sticks and rocks with a side of mud? In our world we call that camping, but most people don’t like to pay money to sleep outside and get that dirty.

Did your kids all use little camel banks to save their shekels? Our boys use plain envelopes in a safe. I’m embarrassed to say it’s not met with excitement, but we teach them to give back to your Son.

If Jesus learned carpentry from Joseph around age twelve, I can’t imagine what kind of furniture you had by the time he turned twenty. Did he make you a table for Mother’s Day? You probably gathered around rustic pieces that would make Pinterest women drool. (That’s a new word for sharing photos of decor and recipes that cause jealousy or stress.)

I’m guessing there won’t be rockstar status in heaven, and I’m certainly not a stalker, but from my earthly, human perspective, I have every intention of seeking you out the minute I get there.

Well, you and Eve. I have a few questions for her.

I’ve heard everything will be answered upon arrival, but I still want to thank you. Not necessarily for the parts you couldn’t control, like the whole virgin birth thing, but for your example. Thank you for your willing spirit. For your attitude, flexibility and open hands. You’ve taught me to say yes to whatever God asks of me—even when it seems absurd.

You realized what God wanted was more important than what you wanted, and you weren’t even old enough to drive. I’m old enough to be your mother and I still have to remind myself of such wisdom: you said yes because you wanted what God wanted.

So I repeat my desire to obey, remembering you in the process: I want what He wants. Just like Mary—I want what He wants. Even when it’s ambiguous, unconventional, complicated… I want what He wants.

I read in Hebrews 12:1 how those who have gone before us are cheering us on. Honestly, I’ve never pictured you in heaven, but the thought of you cheering me on, wanting me to be courageous, brave and faithful pushes me.

Well done, good and faithful servant. Your life spoke volumes when you carried my Savior.

I carry respect.


Until we meet for real,

Carrie (the one in Murrieta)


“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit!”  Hebrews 12:1 (MSG)


Buddy, Did You Know?

From Michael English in 1991 to Pentatonix in 2014, “Mary, Did You Know?” quickly became a modern Christmas classic. Mark Lowry penned the famous lyrics and Buddy Greene set them to music.

A regular artist at Mount Hermon (the camp where I grew up), Buddy and his family have been friends of our family since the early ’90s.

He travels around the world sharing his music, and once played for 250,000 people in New York’s Central Park. Don’t let the Dove-award winning singer/songwriter title with over 30 years of performing under his belt make you think he’s overly confident or uppity though. The harmonica and guitar player oozes grace and humility, even when people find out about his famous song and the famous people who wanted a piece of the action.

For almost three decades, dozens of artists have put their own spin on the profound song that now floods our stores, churches and homes including Donny Osmond, Natalie Cole, Reba McEntire, Jessica Simpson, Rascal Flatts, Jeremy Camp and Mary J. Blige.

Even Jordan Smith chose Buddy’s music and gave a memorable performance on The Voice during the season nine finals.

You can find Buddy on Facebook and on his website where he has his CDs, concert schedule and a fun conglomeration of pictures with other artists. The ones from back in the day are especially epic.

Kermit says it ain’t easy being green. Someday he needs to meet Buddy.

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    • Carrie Talbott

      Gracias, Lydia! You are now entered to win the January issue of Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr. Magazine with my stories in it. 🙂 Thanks for playing!

  • April Greer

    I will repeat what I may have told you in person that I rarely read a Blog post that has more than a paragraph or three long. Which is odd because I’m an avid reader.

    I always finish yours and I’m always inspired. I think having met you and able to hear your voice reading your words to me in my head is extremely enjoyable. That may sound weird but it’s true.

    Happy New Year!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thank you, April. That’s a huge compliment considering I usually write a little more than 3 paragraphs. Ha. Your generous words got me all pumped up and ready to tackle new subjects in 2018.

      Got any ideas? ????

  • Imelda Montes

    Gracias Carrie, ha sido inspirador leerte. Me encanta, aprendo y disfruto mucho tu escritura.
    Que Dios los bendiga a ti y a tu bella familia, se les extraña
    Feliz Navidad

    • Carrie Talbott

      Ahh… muchas gracias, mi hermosa amiga. Que Dios los bendiga ustedes, tambien. Saluda a tu familia, y Feliz Navidad!

  • Susie Ford

    Thank you Carrie for another great read. You have such a clever way with words that is light and fun but leaves a deep and meaningful message. Thank you for the reminder of Mary and the model she can be for us.

  • Lynnette Maynes

    You are such a talented writer, Carrie…fun, thoughtful, humorous, meaningful. I love to read what you pen. And that was such a nice salute to Buddy Greene…another talented guy! Keep it up!

    • Carrie Talbott

      And you are such a gracious reader, Lynnette. Thank you for taking the time to pass on your kind words. I appreciate you!

  • Jeanne Baker

    Thank you so much, Carrie – for the time it takes for your thoughts to “jell” and then share with us “listeners”
    to your meaningful comments. I, too, am challenged by Mary’s “… and she kept all of these things in her heart.” blessings to all the vom Steegs – Heidi just told me you bought a home in Temecula – and Doug is doing his thing at the highschool – “taking it by storm!” were the words his sister used to describe him ! True !

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thank YOU, Jeanne, for taking the time to write your thoughts and pass on kind words.
      Yep–we’re settling back into the States, but it’s still a pretty bizarre feeling. Just found out reverse culture shock is actually a thing, so that’s a bonus. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  • Kristy

    Carrie, I love your earthy writing. So down-to-earth! And I love this, “You realized what God wanted was more important than what you wanted…”

  • Joy

    Great post. I also ponder things and riding on a donkey while with child (soon to be born) is one. No where in the Gospels does it say she rode a donkey. I’m thinking that walking would have been the mode of travel. However it might be based on my preference. The closest thing for me was riding in a golf cart around the course (all eighteen holes) three days before delivery. I kept getting out to walk. It was much more comfortable.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Good point, Joy. I wonder why we always assume it was a donkey. Maybe because it was a popular mode of transportation back in the day and walking might have been to hard on her. I liked your visual on the golf cart. I don’t recall being anywhere near a golf course three days before I gave birth; I just stayed home and cleaned the top of my fridge. 🙂 Thanks for chiming in!