M and M

A Month with Mary and Martha – Day 15

It’s time to wrap up our month with Mary and Martha.  I have a feeling I could go on and on, but I don’t want to beat the story to death.  God’s Word has many layers and just when you think you’ve dug out all the treasures, up pops something new.  I love that.  So “shalom” to our girlfriends from Bethany.  For now, anyway.

Dear Martha,

I just want to say I’m sorry for the other day.  I knew you needed help in the kitchen, but I couldn’t pull myself away from Jesus.  Forgive me for leaving you with all the work.  Sometimes it probably seems to you that I’m not pulling my weight around here.  I’ll try to do better.  I’ve always admired you for being so good at organizing everything and knowing so much about cooking and entertaining.  Even though I’ll never measure up to you, I want you to know that I think you are amazing.  I’m so glad you are my sister.  I love you so much. 

Your loving sister, Mary


Dear Mary,

Thanks for your note.  I’m afraid I came on a little strong the other day and I’m sorry if I embarrassed you in front of everyone.  Please forgive me for getting upset with you.  I was really just stressed out with all those people to feed.  I’ll try hard to be more patient.  Secretly, I have always wished that I had your sweet, sensitive spirit and your ability to stay calm.  Hopefully some of that will rub off on me someday.  I couldn’t have asked for a better sister and I’m so thankful to have you in my life. 

Love you, my dear sister, Martha 

Main Course

A Month with Mary and Martha – Day 14

“Mary has chosen the good portion…”  Luke 10:42, Amplified Version

When I was eight years old, I signed up for 4-H.  One of my projects was “Foods”, an opportunity for young girls and boys to learn the basics of planning, cooking and presenting healthy meals.  One requirement was attending the “Food Revue” – a school gymnasium filled with young people who set up their best presentation of an appealing, nutritious meal.  A judge would go around and look over each entry, ask every entrant a few questions, and pass out ribbons at the end of the day.  Some kids brought in linen tablecloths, candlesticks and centerpieces to display their elaborate banquet.  I brought a peanut-butter-and-apple sandwich.

I used to be (emphasis on used to be) a picky eater.  Every single day from 1st grade to 3rd grade, I took a peanut-butter-and-apple sandwich to school in my lunch box.  So when I had to whip up my best meal for Food Revue, there was no question about what I would make.  It was the very best I had to offer.  I don’t remember winning any blue ribbons that day.  I do remember that the judge was very kind to me…and that she couldn’t stop smiling.

I’ve learned to cook a wide variety of meals in the 43 years since my first Food Revue.  I love cooking for my family, but when company comes, something in me wants to kick it up a notch.  I offer my guests the chicken breast that hasn’t stuck to the bottom of the pan, the spoonful of mashed potatoes that has the melting butter pat, and the top part of the sweet potato casserole with all the brown sugar and pecans.  I make sure our visitors get the inside piece of cake, not the edge piece. 

Perhaps Martha was working on a culinary masterpiece for the Master; only the best portions for her guest of honor.  When she approached Jesus with her complaint, He was kind enough to use kitchen jargon so she could understand.   “Martha, I’m the main course.  Come on in here and let Me feed you for a change.”  Because Martha was so intent on giving Jesus what she wanted to give Him, she actually deprived Him of being able to give to her.

I know I deprive myself when my busyness keeps me away from quiet time with Jesus.  But I am stunned by the thought that I might be denying Him the joy of feeding me when I don’t come.  *shiver* 

“You are my portion, O Lord.”  Psalm 119:57

“The Lord’s portion is his people.”  Deuteronomy 32:9


A Month with Mary and Martha – Day 13

Lately I’ve noticed that things just don’t seem to last. 

A few days ago, smoke was rolling out from under the hood of our van.  I’m no mechanic, but I’m pretty sure that’s bad.  So this morning we needed to take our high-mileage van to the shop so they could tell us that it’s bad.  I was to follow in our other high mileage vehicle and give PB a ride home from the repair shop.  But the little car wouldn’t start.   I turned the key and…nothing.  Cars just don’t last.

Four kids and a dog have taken a toll on the carpet in our family room.  There’s the burn spot where somebody thought they could iron their shirt on the floor.  There’s the spot where someone stepped in oil (probably dripping from our van) and walked through the room.  Here and there, bits of unravelled carpet threads are sticking up.  And there is a well-worn path from the kitchen to the bedroom hallway.  Carpet just doesn’t last.

I have an old ipod that was handed down to me from one of the kids.  It doesn’t hold a charge very well anymore and I have to refresh and reset every so often.  I have my son’s old cell phone.  The screen is scratched and I can’t download any apps.  Gadgets just don’t last.

So what does last?  Time spent with Jesus.  Mary’s choice to come and listen to the Master’s teaching could not be taken away from her.  My highlights will fade, my jeans will wear out, and my toenail polish will chip.  Children grow up, friends move away, and kingdoms rise and fall.  But my relationship with Jesus will last for eternity.  Any time I choose Him, He promises that it will not be taken away. 

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.



Feeding the Twelve

A Month with Mary and Martha – Day 12

When our son was in 7th grade, he began to invite his basketball teammates over to our house on game nights.  We only lived a block from the school and there was about two hours from the end of school to the start of warm-ups.  One day I looked out my kitchen window and saw twelve hungry 7th grade boys running through the back yard heading for my door.  It sent a moment of panic through me.  I opened the pantry and saw several boxes of mac and cheese.  Yes.  And the package of hotdogs in the freezer were the perfect complement to balance out the gourmet meal.  Hey, we’re talking about 7th grade boys here. 

Evidently, they were satisfied.  They kept coming back every game night for six years.  And I loved it.  I knew they were getting some nutrition (do you realize how much calcium is in mac and cheese?) and they were off the streets, safe and secure in my basement playing video games and spilling kool-aid on my carpet.  After that first night, I vowed I would be ready for those boys when they made a beeline to my door. 

I poured over the “cooking for a crowd” sections of my cookbooks.  I stocked my freezer with homemade cookies and cupcakes.  By the time those boys were seniors, I was making chicken breasts and special potatoes, lasagna and garlic bread, Swedish meatballs and Swiss steak.  Gone were the days of hot dogs on stale buns.  Nobody asked me to feed the team, but if they were going to be in my house, you better believe I was going to come through for my son and make his friends feel welcome.  Nobody asked me to provide four course meals, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching them scarf down heaping plates of protein and carbs.  They probably would have been just as content with peanut butter sandwiches and cheetos, but somewhere along the line, the tradition was established and who was I to stop it?  Besides, I discovered that, for me, feeding people = love.  I lived by the creed: “You come to my house, you eat whether you’re hungry or not!”

I admit, I burned out by the last basketball game of their senior year.  But I adored those boys and missed them terribly when they graduated. 

All this to say, Jesus was in Martha’s home.  If they had been in someone else’s house that day, I just bet Martha would’ve been right there with Mary. 


A Month with Mary and Martha – Day 11

We all have a little bit of Martha and a little bit of Mary in us.  (Kinda like Donny and Marie – “I’m a little bit country, I’m a little bit rock-and-roll…”  You do remember Donny and Marie, don’t you?)  I don’t think there are Marthas out there who can’t worship, or Marys who can’t serve.  The idea is to find a healthy balance: to know when to sit at the feet of Jesus and when to kick it in gear in the kitchen. 

 Jesus didn’t tell Mary to leave the living room, but He also didn’t tell Martha to leave the kitchen.  Maybe He didn’t have a problem with what she was doing, but how she was doing it.  If my service for Jesus causes me to be all tied up with anxiety and I’m increasingly frustrated with the people around me, that’s a red flag that something’s amiss.  If I’m calling out my sisters and brothers because they aren’t measuring up to my standards, I might be using the wrong yardstick.  If I’m seeing God as being part of the problem because He’s not agreeing with me, well, I’ve got a problem. 

Jesus didn’t take sides between the two sisters.  If Mary had been sitting at His feet biting her nails and pulling her hair out He might have said, “Mary, Mary…”  If Martha had been happily slicing and dicing away in the kitchen with the door open so she could hear the Master teach, she might have been commended. 

It seems that balance has a lot to do with attitude.



A Month with Mary and Martha – Day 10

If Jesus was in my living room teaching a Bible study to a group of people, I don’t know if I’d have enough nerve to walk in and interrupt Him, especially to complain about my sister.

If I see someone I really need (want) to talk to and they are engaged in a conversation, I might stand around and wait for an opportunity to jump in by saying, “Excuse me, I don’t mean to interrupt, but…”  Of course, I do mean to interrupt, rude as it is.  This type of behavior boils down to an attitude:  “What I have to say is infinitely more important than what you are saying so I have a right to barge in and say it.”  Cringe.

Today I began to wonder if my poor social habits might be carrying over into my spiritual life.  Do I interrupt God?  What could be more important than what He has to say?  Think about it: He spoke the words, “Let there be light” and there was light.  Who would want to get in the way of that kind of creative power?  Jesus spoke to the wind and waves (“Quiet!  Be still!”) and they obeyed him.  Don’t think I’d jump in on that conversation. 

Martha’s many worries interrupted the very voice of God; and so do mine.  What’s worse, her distractions were used to try to draw her sister away from time with Jesus.  It’s a weighty thing to pull others away from the Word of Life. 

Instead of me interrupting God, maybe I should shush up so I might hear Him break into my life saying, “Excuse Me, I don’t mean to be rude, but….” 


A Month with Mary and Martha – Day 9

“But Martha was distracted…”  Luke 10:40

I just wrote the title “Distractions” and then noticed that there was some painter’s tape left on the baseboards from when we painted this room.  So I spent the last 10 minutes pulling off little pieces of blue tape.  Right after I typed the word “Distractions”.  Huh.

I’m not as bad as my dog, Bo.  When I take her for a walk, she is a study in distractions.  Bo is part beagle, so her nose goes to the ground and she’s off, following a scent.  When a dog barks in the distance, her head pops up and she starts off in another direction.  But then a squirrel runs out in front of her and she gives chase.  Suddenly, her nose picks up a new scent….  It’s a frantic, harried existence. 

Bo has another side, though; one of intense concentration.  In the morning, when my English muffin pops up from the toaster, Bo trots into the kitchen.   As I put butter and jam on the muffin, she stands right beside me.  Bo follows me to the breakfast table and sits at my feet, not taking her eyes off me.  I take a bite and she edges a little closer.  I take a second bite and she rests her chin on my knee.  Another bite and she begins to drool.  Drops of dog drool down my leg.  No scent of rabbit, no sound of trespassers, no fluffy tailed squirrel can divert her attention at this point because she knows something: that last bit of crust will be lovingly tossed to her.

I can be like Bo and start my morning with my nose to the ground (or grindstone) chasing here, there and everywhere.  Or I can be like Bo and begin my day at my Master’s feet, my eyes fixed on Him, trusting fully that I will receive from His hand not just a bit of crust, but a better portion. 

“When Your words came, I ate them.  They were my joy and my heart’s delight.”  Jeremiah15:16

p.s. That is not a picture of Bo’s nose.  Her nose is way cuter; she just wouldn’t let me take a close up of her nose, which I totally understand.



Tattle Tale

Day 8 – A Month with Mary and Martha

When Sam was little, he didn’t like to talk.  It didn’t take him long to figure out that if he’d just point at something and scream, his big sister would get it for him.  That worked for awhile.  Eventually, Katie began interpreting the grunts from baby brother and he didn’t seem to mind her doing all his talking for him.  Finally he started saying our names, “Mama, Daddy, Katie”, but when he tried to say “Sam” it came out more like “Tham”.  The little guy had the cutest lisp, which may have been the reason for the point and scream technique. 

I don’t usually like other people talking for me.  I prefer to stick my own foot into my own mouth, thank you.  I’m not comfortable with other people saying nice things about me in a group, either.  That’s awkward.  But I’m really not ok with someone pointing out my shortcomings in front of a crowd.  That’s embarrassing.

Martha’s problem was with Mary, but she didn’t address her sister.  Instead of pulling Mary aside and speaking to her privately, she went straight to the top and announced to the room full of disciples,  “Lord…my sister has left me to do all the work by myself..”  I think Martha expected Jesus to agree with her and send Mary back to the kitchen.   Mary might have been a little embarrassed, but Martha was in for a big surprise. 

Tattling on people to Jesus may not turn out the way we expect.


Day 7 – A Month with Mary and Martha

“Mary has chosen what is better…”  Luke 10:42

Every week I’m faced with some really tough decisions.  I’m talking about extremely overwhelming choices to make each and every week.  My palms sweat when I know it’s getting close to decision time.  I throw up a prayer for wisdom, take a deep breath, and force myself to deal with what is before me: the cereal aisle at my local grocery store.  There are 282 different brands of cereal to choose from (yes, I counted); is that really necessary?  Do I need 282 options when it comes to cold cereal?  And spaghetti sauce – I would have to make spaghetti every week for two years and three months to give them all a taste test.  And peanut butter: there’s creamy and crunchy and roasted honey nut and natural and reduced fat and rich roast and super chunk and extra crunchy and simple blend and honey blend.  GASP.  Wouldn’t life be a whole lot easier if there weren’t so many choices?

In the story of Mary and Martha, I’ve pictured Mary listening  to Jesus’ teaching from the kitchen doorway and becoming mesmerized by His words.  Without even realizing it, she wanders into the living room and finds herself at Jesus’ feet.  I have been picturing wrong.  It seems Mary made a choice.  She knew Martha needed help in the kitchen, but she chose to go into the living room anyway.  Gutsy girl. 

Choosy mothers may choose Jiff, but choosing Jesus is better.   

Who Cares?

Day 6 – A Month with Mary and Martha

Right before Martha bossed Jesus (“tell her to help me”) she asked him a very interesting question.  She didn’t pause long enough for Jesus to answer, but it was a good question.  Martha didn’t hold back; she put it right out there – the same thing you and I have asked many times.  “Lord, don’t you care?”

I think Martha really knew the answer to that; she knew Jesus cared for her.  I think she was saying, “From where I stand, it doesn’t seem to me that you care.  At this moment, I don’t feel cared for.  I’m not sure you are paying attention to what’s going on in my life, because if you were, you’d do something.”  What Martha didn’t know was that the Rabbi sitting in her living room was on his way to Jerusalem to die on a cross for her sin.  What she didn’t know was that as Victor he would rise from the dead and alter the course of history.  What she didn’t know yet was that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.  (She did get that later!  See John 11:27)

I, however, know that Jesus died on the cross for my sin.  I believe he rose from the dead and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  I’m not sure there’s room in that affirmation of faith for the question, “Lord, don’t you care?”  I think that’s been settled. 

“Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”  I Peter 5:7