The Story Behind Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World

by | Sep 7, 2016

 The story behind the best-selling book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World

The whole thing started with a sermon I heard at summer camp…

I was a 36-year-old pastor’s wife at the time, and though I’d heard the story of Mary and Martha before, this time the sermon based on Luke 10:38-42 resonated in a fresh way.

Wow, I could relate to both women. Torn between motherhood and ministry and life, I felt a constant tug-a-war inside – like a lot of us do…

We want to worship like Mary, but the Martha inside keeps bossing us around.

As the pastor spoke, his fresh take on the story captured my imagination. I had dabbled around with fiction, and boy, this story had all the ingredients of a great biblical novel…

  • Sibling rivalry and conflict between Mary and Martha
  • Tragedy and disappointment at the death of their brother
  • Doubt and sorrow swallowed up by the triumph of resurrection

The book taking shape  in my mind was captivating to me! As soon as I got home, I threw myself into research, learning all I could about New Testament times. That was fascinating as well.

But as I returned to the Bible to do a deeper study of the story of Mary and Martha (found in Luke 10:38-42 and John 11 and John 12), God began speaking to my heart. Carefully reading each story, I saw the two sisters change before my very eyes as the bold sister became meek and the meek sister became bold.

Each woman’s encounter with Jesus left her changed in an elemental way. So winsome and lovely were these Holy Makeovers, they made me long for one of my own.

Suddenly I realized this was more than a novel. This was a message. A message every woman needed to hear.

Luke 10:41-42 - Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World

Writing Is a Whole Lot Harder Than Dreaming

With new vision and direction (and eventually, a contract!), I began to write. But it was a slow go. Writing and rewriting, and rewriting again. Months and months of insomnia and living in a wind tunnel of words and ideas.

It was a frustrating time, because I had expected the process to be more…well, more divine. Kind of like holy dictation, where God would speak and I would write. Pausing now and then for clarification, I imagined myself asking things like: “In that last sentence, Lord…Did you want the conjunction to be an ‘and’ or a ‘but’?”

Unfortunately, rather than experiencing a rush of inspiration or a warm sense of anointing, most of the time writing felt like an extremely audacious act of faith. Who did I think I was to presume God was behind the words I typed on a page?

Each day I prayed the words of Psalm 19:14: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” And each day, the Lord would help me. (Something I didn’t fully comprehend until after the fact.)

In the last difficult months as I labored to finish an acceptable draft, another prayer kept cropping up.

“O, God! Please. Just let me write ‘the end.'”

Finally, after a year and a half of multiple drafts and several rounds of excellent work by my editor, Anne Christian Buchanan, I held the typeset manuscript in my hands. As I sat down to read the book a final time, I took a deep, apprehensive breath and added a final prayer.

“Oh God, please let it make sense.”

One chapter in, I began to cry. The words and thoughts that I had struggled to put on the page seemed to have untangled and now had meaning. At least to my heart.

Somewhere in the process, despite my weakness and my fear, God had met me. He’d taken my offering and made it His. As I read the final page, I breathed a sigh of gratitude and committed the book to Him.

What God did with my offering would be entirely up to Him.

When God Goes Beyond What You Can Do

MH Old CoverMonths later, when a box of the printed books arrived on my porch, it was strangely anticlimactic.

I remember staring at the bound copy of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy with God in the Busyness of Life, but with a sense of detachment.

Sure, I had written a book. But would anyone actually want to read it?

I reassured myself that it would sell a few copies because it had a great title, but I couldn’t take credit for that. (Be sure to check out the title backstory, it’s so fun!)

At that moment, I had no idea whether the book had any value apart from the work God had done in me through writing it.

But then my Heavenly Father did one of those “exceedingly and abundantly above all you can ask or think” things that He’s so good at doing! He went beyond my puny prayers and chose to answer those of my earthly father.

I didn’t have faith in my writing, but my sweet daddy certainly did. From the moment I started working on the book, he’d prayed a bold prayer: “Let it sell a million copies, Lord!”

Miraculously over the years, it has.

Without any huge publicity push or brilliant strategy on the part of myself or my publisher, God has placed it in the hands of thousands and thousands of women all over the world. And nobody can take any credit. It’s been His work and sovereign kindness from beginning to end.

So, it is with a bit of fear and trembling that I come to the next part of what I want to share today. For there is no way we could ever improve on what the Lord has already done for Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, nor would I want to.

Except…I really believe God has asked me to shine a fresh spotlight on this book and DVD.

And so, may I invite you to join me on a new adventure?

Shining the Spotlight

Having a Mary Heart DVD Bible Study Set by Joanna WeaverLast summer, I had the privilege of working with my very first launch team. When I posted an invitation on Facebook last April, nearly 200 women showed up to help me promote the release of Lazarus Awakening: the DVD Study.

Though it involved a lot of work, it was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever experienced.

With that amazing experience fresh in my heart, I’d like to invite you to be part of a new launch team we’re forming for Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: the DVD Study.

This fall (2016), we want to give the same kind of attention and prayerful publicity to a message that continues to resonate with women around the world…

Jesus longs for a personal friendship with each and every one of us – Marys and Marthas alike!

What Does It Involve?

All of the Launch Team activity will be hosted at my private Living Room Facebook group. For the next several months, our goal is to:

  • Introduce women and ministry leaders familiar with the book to the new DVD study, outlining the many ways the video curriculum can be used.
  • Take the message of the book and DVD study to a new generation of young women who long for intimacy with God, but struggle to find it in the busyness of life.

Grand goals, eh? But you may wonder what kind of commitment is involved.

I’m glad you asked, because there is a level of dedication required. While we won’t check up on people or ask for detailed reports, we are asking that you commit to the following:

  • Regularly share quotes, graphics, videos, and tweetables we provide on your social media platforms – (especially Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter)
  • Promote contests, webinars, and e-course – (details to come on that!)
  • Post reviews of book and DVD study – (samples of material provided)
  • Pray, pray, pray! – (the most important launch ingredient ever!)

If you’d like to learn more about the DVD study, check out my brand new booksite [Click on graphic below]. It’s filled with lots of resources and samples, including bonus videos, promo material, a complete leader’s guide, retreat option and much more!

www.HavingaMaryHeart.comWhere Do I Sign Up?

If you feel the Lord’s leading to be part of the Having a Mary Heart Launch Team we’d love to have you join us!

However, please know…this group isn’t for everyone. If you have any hesitancy about joining, please feel free to decline. I won’t be offended – not even a tiny bit!

If you decide to sign up for the launch team, you’ll be added to my private Facebook community – The Living Room. I know you’ll love the amazing women that have already gathered there, and I can’t wait for them to meet you!

So, here’s what you need to do…

1) Click on the information form below and fill it out completely.

2) Then come back to this page and request an invite. Once we have your completed information form, we will send you an invite.

3) Accept the invite and you’ll be added to the team!

If you have any problems, you can contact my assistant Crystal. Because we will be sending periodic emails, please add to your “friends” or “contacts” list. That will keep us out of your spam folder, which would be great. (It’s lonely in there!)

Launch Team or Not – We Want You!

Whether you choose to join the launch team or not, I hope you’ll stay connected here at the blog and check out all the happenings over at my Facebook pages. You’ll find:

  • Beautiful Mary Heart graphics to enjoy and share
  • Regular Facebook Live videos on topics related to having a Mary Heart
  • Brand new monthly podcast with amazing Mary-Hearted guests!

We will also be active on Pinterest and Instagram as well. (“Follow” to ensure you see the posts.) Over all social media platforms, we’ll be hosting contests, giveaways and lots of wonderful surprises you don’t want to miss!

HINT: Wonderful surprises like online events and a FREE resource that has the potential of drawing women closer to God!

Wow. Just writing all that out makes me tremble a bit.

Here’s the deal. We don’t want to run ahead of God or do a crazy, full-tilt campaign in our own strength. We want this to be a God Thing. Not a social media thing.

So please, if you would, keep us in prayer. Thanks so much!


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