I Want to be More Like Mary- The Red Headed Hostess

Mary is such a hero to me.  I could study her and study her.  She has so much to teach us.  Woman to woman.

I am fascinated by her reaction to the Angel Gabriel.  A response like this one is hard to come by in the scriptures.  I wonder to myself, “Shannon, if an angel came to you, what would you do?  What would be your first, very raw, response?”  Would you be like Mary?  Or would you be like others and be afraid, and doubt, and wonder if they came to the wrong person, or brought the wrong message?” “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee:  blessed art thou among women.  And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.”  (Luke 1:28-29) I find it so interesting that Luke mentions that she was “troubled at his saying”, not “troubled at the angel”, of which Luke had no problem showing that Zacharias was earlier in the same chapter.  Mary was clearly a righteous young woman who knew much about the coming Messiah.  The verses that soon follow show that Mary understood the promised prophecies and at the moment was able to testify many things about him.  She would have known that the Messiah was to be born through the royal lineage of David, of which she was.  She knew that she was a qualified candidate for such a sacred position.  And in this unexpected moment, she was able to process the message of the angel, not just the shock of him being there.  What a prepared young woman she was!  Clearly, she already had faith in such things. “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.  And the angel departed from her.”  (Luke 1:38) She didn’t ask for a sign, or proof.  She just submitted.  I don’t think this is a response that could come without the kind of faith that you have been developing for a long time.  I can only imagine that if an angel appeared to me, I would reveal a lot about myself and where I really stood. I would love to know more about her.  I would love to hear what she was like, to hear stories.  Such a beautiful example of all of the young woman values.  Of faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity and virtue.


She never doubted, wondered or wavered at the Angel’s announcement to her.   Mary didn’t know the details of how she would fulfill the mission she was given, nor did she understand the full meaning of it.  But she trusted, believed and then acted on it.


She clearly had a testimony that life existed on the other side of the veil just as much as on this side.  She showed no need to gather her bearings that an angel actually existed.  She would have understood that Gabriel was a spirit, just as she was.  Both spirit children of Heavenly Father with divine potentials.


Mary never said, as others had, that she did not have the capacity to do this assignment.  She fully offered herself:  “Behold the handmaid of the Lord“.  She believed that she could, even if she didn’t know how she would.  This is the ultimate sign of humility.  Sometimes we thing that saying we can’t do something is humility, but perhaps it is actually pride.  Saying we can’t is doubting who we really are, and what the Atonement is really capable of doing in our lives.  Saying we can is fully submitting and then praying like crazy for the help to do it.


She clearly knew about angels, about the Messiah, and the prophecies surrounding the coming of the Lord.   After she arrived to Elisabeth’s home,  she was able to quote several prophecies, in what is now commonly known as Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:4655).  Also, the knowledge deeply rooted in her was able to steady her in an unexpected moment.  Her reaction to the Angel was so revealing of things she already knew.  That same knowledge would surely give her strength during her unexpected pregnancy, almost losing Joseph, her long journey to Bethlehem, the less than favorable birthing circumstance, having strangers suddenly appear to see her child, and her sudden announcement to escape Bethlehem because of Herod’s evil doings.


When Gabriel first appeared to her, his salutation was: “Hail thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee:  blessed art thou among women”  (Luke 1:28).  You don’t earn this title without a long history of proving yourself.  She must have been so righteous, and from the Premortal Life to Mortality!  For she was chosen long before she ever came to earth.  What a powerful spirit she was.  She had used her agency to become stronger and stronger, not weaker.  What a great example to all women!  Plus, Joseph had chosen her to be his wife!  The best description of Joseph is that he was a “just” man (Matthew 1:19).  If you are “just”, then justice or the law is on your side – you aren’t depending on mercy, you have done what is right.  Therefore, Joseph was a very righteous man, one who highly valued God’s laws and commandments.  And he had chosen Mary to be his wife.  He wouldn’t have wanted anything other than someone like her.


At the very beginning of her pregnancy, she traveled to where Elisabeth was and stayed with her for 3 months.  Before being pregnant myself, I didn’t appreciate how difficult of a journey that could have been for her, but it doesn’t seem that something be hard ever stopped Mary.  She did things because they were right, not because they were convenient.


I have often wondered how difficult it would have been for her to start showing her pregnancy.  Certainly a few heads were turned and a few gossiping interpretations were exchanged.  For someone so pure, and so committed to her standards, how would it have felt to know that others thought such things of you?  Integrity comes from the word “integer” which means “whole”.  So if you have integrity, you wholly live what you believe.  And who is a better example of that than Mary?  So to know that you are being accused of something so sacred to you… she must have kept a lot of feelings in.


Salutations and introductions of her highlighted her purity.  “To a virgin, espoused to a man” (Luke 1:27), “And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin (1 Nephi 11:13).  And it is her purity that qualified her for this sacred role.  If she would have lost her purity, she would have forfeited this opportunity.  I wonder how hard Satan had worked on her, as he is constantly trying to unravel God’s plan.  But Mary was pure, and purity brings power.  And that confidence that comes when you feel pure before God, would impact how she felt before the Angel and in accepting this call.  Its not just about being virtuous, its about being confident before God.  


  1. Honestly, I feel like my Christmas gift was being introduced to your blog.

    Merry Christmas and thanks for creating such a beautiful place to learn.

  2. I SO agree!
    Thank-you for your insight! One year when I was in charge of the RS Christmas (enrichment, homemaking or whatever they called it then) I did the whole program, and called it, “Christmas through the eyes of Mary”

  3. I agree with Meg, I just found your blog about a month ago, and feel so blessed, so inspired.
    God bless you and your family.

  4. Thank you for sharing. I have a totally new perspective of Mary. Such an amazing woman. As are you. Your site has totally changed the way I study. Thank you so much. I am growing in a way that I never knew could happen.

  5. Beautiful. I love your insight. I wanted to let you know that we made scripture journals to give to our Relief Society sisters for Christmas and they loved them! We have a lot of activities already planned for next year that will focus on the scriptures and these journals will be very helpful as we go through each event. Thanks so much for your sharing heart. 🙂

  6. Thanks again for another amazing post! I loved reading your insights on Mary. I can’t wait to study more about her now. I definitely want to be more like her.

    I just got my scripture journals in the mail, my Christmas present. I can’t wait to open them Christmas morning and start on my journey! Thanks for sharing your talent and being a blessing in my life!

  7. One of the footnotes on Mary’s experience with the angel leads us to Hannah’s glory of the Lord at Samuel’s coming too. 1 Sam 2:1-10. I’d like to compare the 2 – what they said, where it’s similar. Does Mary quote Hannah? Is Hannah one of her Heroes? This is what I’m going to do this year!

  8. I totally agree. I love that she is so raw and real. Just an ordinary, most likely *very young* girl, given the chance to do something profound! And I think that’s how God often works now too. Obviously not angels and all, anymore, but through very ordinary people the most profound things are done in His name. It’s super humbling to know that one simple choice to trust him in this or that circumstance could affect millions down the road. How cool! 🙂

    Thanks for writing this!

    Check out my blog + giveaways if you get the chance!

  9. You are so amazing & wonderful to share all your thoughts & knowledge with us. I agree with everyone else. You are a Christmas present I am so blessed to have found your blog too.
    Merry Christmas!

  10. My goal for the new year in my scripture study, after nearly a year of promising myself I was going to do this, is to study and journal about each of the women in the scriptures and find the things I want to pull from their lives and examples into my own. What a beautiful post this is to get me started this year! Thanks for all you do, Shannon, and best wishes for a wonderful new year to you as you welcome your new little one into your home.

  11. Thank you.
    I have been studying Mary and other women in the scriptures. I am so glad you recorded, here, what you learned. I love this.

  12. Mathematically integers are whole numbers with direction (ie integers are both positive and negative numbers and positive and negative in math is directional). Mary was definitely whole with direction as to who she was and what she was going to do.

  13. Shannon I just found your site. It is wonderful!! You are so amazing. The scripture journals are such a wonderful idea. I love this post about Mary. You have made me want to study the scriptures more and in a more productive way. I want to pass this way on to my kids and their kids and so on. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your ideas!! You are going to be an amazing mom 🙂

  14. I have often pondered Mary as the Christmas season begins. I wonder what it was like for her to hear the prophecies of Christ and know that was referring to her son. She must have rejoiced in idea of the miracles and blessings that he would bring and her heart I am sure ached as she knew the challenges he would face. I am sure that she spent hours in prayer to know just what she could do to prepare him for such a sacred mission.

  15. She is an amazing example and there is so much we as women and mothers can learn from her. There is an excellent book called “The Life of the Virgin Mary” that tells so, so many things about, not only her life, but the life of Christ as a child. We read of his birth, his appearance in the temple at 12 and then practically nothing until his baptism. This is a gem of a book for anyone wishing to know what she was really like.

    Here’s a link to it: http://www.orthodoxchristianchildren.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=558&category_id=12&keyword=the+life+of+the+virgin+mary&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=100001

  16. Oh, just a tidbit I wanted to add… Mary was not afraid of the Archangel Gabriel, and I’m glad you noticed that because most people do not, because while she lived in the Holy of Holies since the age of 3, she was fed by angels. So she was used to seeing them. What scared her was his praises. 🙂

  17. One of her true virtues is that she stood as perhaps the only witness of the Savior throughout his life — from Gabriel’s announcement to the gathering in the upper room after his crucifixion. As a mother, she faced much including her other sons lack of initial faith in Jesus (See John 7:5), the Savior’s death, etc.

    Often the greatest contribution of a mother is the lifelong loyalty and devotion to a son or daughter, i.e., Mary was with the Lord during his ministry at Cana, Capernaum, Calvary, etc.

    Thanks for sharing…

  18. Wonderful thoughts!! Love this.

    On a side note can you tell me what font you are using that looks like its handwritten?


  19. “…Its not just about being virtuous, its about being confident before God.”
    “She did things because they were right, not because they were convenient.”

    I am extremely glad and thankful I came upon your blog. Truly Inspirational!

  20. We are planning on doing this for our December program this year in Young Womenr’s. We wanted to give the girls little Christmas gifts and love the picture that you have of Mary holding baby Jesus. Where did you find it? Who is the artist? Is it available for purchase?

  21. Thank you for this article. I am to give a talk in Sacrament on December 23 ” Mary’s divine calling as mother of Jesus Christ”. You truly captured her virtues and inspire me to convey thoughts to live righteously and be steadfast in our callings.

  22. I am doing the Christmas lesson for our Young Womens and I wanted to focus on Mary and then I found this post and it was exactly what I was wanting to focus on! so thank you very much! I also made a video that I am showing at the end of my lesson. I am using some of your words since they just said exactly what I was wanting! So hopefully you dont mind! anyway if you are interested in seeing it here is the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-WlZb-lkS8

  23. Hi! I am so EXCITED about this. I found it on your earlier post from 2011, and have decided to use it as my Christmas Lesson for my Young Women class. It is an amazing recollect of the values and traits of such an inspiring and faithful woman! Thank you for this!

  24. Using this for my christmas lesson this year. I’ve attached a scripture to each value and having the girls highlight those verses in the coressponding value color. THANK YOU for great insights. This is a true example of how the scriptures can truely come to life and how they can influence us to be more like Christ. Thank you.

  25. Dear Allison,
    I just watched your beautiful video. Is there anyway to download the video? If so, could I trouble you to email me at [email protected]. I, too, and going to teach this wonderful lesson. What great ideas! I am planning to give the girls journals as a gift, so that they might be inspired to keep a journal of the scriptures, similar to The Red Headed Hostess. I am specifically hoping they will used it while reading the Book of Mormon–their Virtue value project. I only wish I had ordered the beautiful Mary bookmarks in time to get them for this coming Sunday. Oh well.
    Thank you.

  26. Michelle, I don’t know how to email you directly but I would love to see the scriptures that you attached to each value if you don’t mind sharing it!
    I’m not sure if The Redheaded Hostess would be able to share her email or ask her for me. Thanks!


  27. I am looking for the downloadable version of the beautiful Mary video that Allison created. Could someone forward on that link to me please? I am in hopes to burn it to a dvd and show it to my YW this Sunday. 🙂
    [email protected]

  28. I’m also planning on using this for our YW Christmas lesson on Sunday. Does anyone have any ideas on how they are going to expand on this and involve participation from the girls that they’d be willing to share?

  29. This is awesome. i love it and I want to use it in my Christmas lesson on Sunday. Thank you so much for sharing your talent.

  30. Thank you so much for reveling this to us. We are happy readers indeed and to think you could have inspired so many! Bless you.

  31. A friend recommended your blog. I just started reading some of your articles and I’m so thankful you share this with everyone. It’s very helpful!!!

  32. I love this! Thank you so much for sharing. I would love to use the video that Allison Stoker created in my YW Lesson this Sunday. How would I download the video? If you wouldn’t mind, you can contact me through my e-mail. ([email protected]) Thanks!
    Oh, I also noticed that Michelle mentioned that she used scriptures for each value. Could I get these, as well?
    Thanks again!

  33. I’m so excited to share this with the young women in our ward. I’ve invited family and friends to hear this neat lesson as well. I’m actually having one of my Miamaids help me teach this Christmas lesson. I too would love to get ahold of the scriptures Michelle mentioned as well as download the amazing video from Allison. I’m really hoping Allison can email me her very adorable quotes with each value that is shown on the video and the Be Like Mary end page. I would love to use these as handouts. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much! [email protected]

  34. You might enjoy Fr. Michael Gaitley’s book “33 Days to Morning Glory”. You’ll learn many things about Mary. Highly recommend this great book.

  35. This is amazingly beautiful and so relevant for our Young Women; thanks for sharing! I am on the “I would love the video and scripture” bandwagon as well. Don’t know if Allison would be willing to share her downloadable video, but I would love to be able to share it with my girls; as well as the scriptures Michelle mentioned. ([email protected])

  36. Where can I find that clipart of Mary with the baby? She was very lovely with the baby. I love that picture. I would like a copy of it so I can frame it to remind me daily about my being motherhood to remember what Mary had sacrifice to humbly honor Heavenly Father’s will.

    1. Hi Tamiko!

      I think that is my Liz Lemon Swindle and I either found it in the Ensign or had a print from Deseret Book. If you search online “Liz Lemon Swindle Mary” you can find that picture and where to find it.

      Thanks! 🙂 What a great idea!


  37. I have never heard a non-catholic talk about Mary the way you did. You used just the right words. It is beautiful! I agree with every piece you wrote. There is no doubt Mary is a great example to all of us.

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