Monday, June 8, 2015

Of Things Excellent and Praiseworthy


.....brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. [Philippians 4:8]


Sweet readers, recently I have been letting this scripture pull at my heart. Searching my days, I realize that without intention my thoughts are pulled far from things that are excellent and praiseworthy.

Each day I hope the Lord grants me a fresh desire to focus on these things He calls me to....the excellent.....the praiseworthy.

Here are a few songs about the prasieworthy and excellent that have been on repeat in my house.

I hope they bless you.




 



Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." [Hebrews 12:28-29]


Thanks for reading.

 - brook.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sunbather

Most every afternoon this girl can be found in my bedroom.

She shifts and moves as the sun tracks its way across the sky.....

......seeking out the bright sliver of light.

Her fur is almost too warm to the touch.....but not for her.....she wants to be warm.....

the little sun bathing beauty.

Thank for reading.

- brook.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My place in the family.

Everyone in the family has their place.

Just by the order we are born - we are given the place 'oldest', 'youngest', 'littlest'......

Not to mention all the 'places' that are attached to us because of our personality.

Oh, she is the 'reckless one'....or the 'fun one'....or the 'witty one'......the 'strange one'.....

And after a while, we can start to see each other not as whole people but rather as the 'place' we have been assigned. 

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do"......well, "When with the family - fit into the 'place'" :)

I can give you mine. I grew up in the place of 'responsible', 'cautious', 'prudish', 'decisive', 'pointed', 'consistent', 'structured'.....I don't see these as all bad or all good, in fact - all of these are a strength and a weakness of mine. 

It has taken me a long time to understand that these 'places' are not my identity. 

When I first became a Christian at the age of 15 I learned that with my new faith in Christ I also became 'new'.



Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: 
The old has gone, the new is here!    
2 Corinthians 5:17


In my young mind, this was exciting because I wanted something new, I needed something new. But the reality of faith lived out in the everyday is that in many ways I struggled to be new. I had these 'places' where I was supposed to fit in the family.

Overtime, I started to see how the promise of 'newness' is an ongoing living transformation.

My walk with the Lord unfolds newness in me everyday.



He who was seated on the throne said, "I am MAKING everything new!" 
Revelation 21:5


Most importantly I have learned- in the body of Christ - the family of believers - there are no 'places'.

The young can be old in their faith and the old, young. And how we see ourselves, is through the lens of the adoring Father. Walking beside Him, we are whole.....not a sliver of a confined 'place'.

In the body of Christ, women my same age or younger can be a 'mother' to me.

In the body of Christ, someone older than me can be my 'little' sister.

And roles can change, the body of Christ moves and molds to fit the needs of its people. In a single moment a friend can be the caring understanding one - who also administers hard to hear truth.

Those in this family, see a need and move to meet it. Quite often this means taking up a 'place' that is outside of our usual. Funny how the Lord always does that :)

It is still a daily process, but finally I am starting to understand my 'place' is in relationship with the Father. I don't have to be this way or that way, because He moves me, shifts me, stops me, starts me, pushes me, pulls me..........and it is new everyday.


Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  
Lamentations 3:22-23


Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Catch Up

Hello.

It has been some time now.....especially since I did a photo journal.

Life is full and that I love, but I have missed writing and posting here - I just haven't found the time.

I finally sat down and gathered some photos from the past couple of months. And here they are.

[1] Patient Super Hero.


[2] The Sidekicks.



[3] The Vehicle.



[4] Sweet Pup.

[5] Littlest Doodles.



[6] Cast Off Paint Nubs.

[7] Learning How to Wash a Truck.



[8] Museum View.



[9] In the Zone.



[10] Waiting.


[11] "Mommy, Flowers for you."



[12] Special Lunch.



[13] Big Boy Room.



[14] Zoo Birds.



[15] April Showers.....



[16] He is Risen.


See you around, hopefully soon.

- brook.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 12]


I haven't arrived, but I know where I am headed. [pg. 193]

This book has changed my life in so many ways. More than anything, it has made me realize how neglected my relationship with Christ has been.

That is the greatest gift from Joanna's writing - clear eyes for Jesus.

What God started on the day I surrendered my life to him, he will complete as I continually remain surrendered. It takes a process for me to become the kind of Christian I want to be - but Jesus Christ is lord of the Process, and the process is divine. [pg. 196]

A teachable heart, that is my most prized possession.

With a heart surrendered to His molding:

my weakness is His strength, my smallness is His bigness, in my hard places His grace abounds.

So, I pray that where perseverance is needed, His grace will draw my eyes to Him.

I pray that I will have a heart inclined toward Heaven, a heart that longs for His presence.

I love, love, love this quote Joanna includes from Mother Teresa....

Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in his love than in your own weakness. [pg. 205]

So often I magnify the power of my weakness rather than the power of His love to do a great work through me.

So, I leave you with this final thought - a prayer from Joanna Weaver included in her daily devotional, At the feet of Jesus....

Lord Jesus, I give You my life.
I invite You to have your way in me.
Take me and break me. Shake me and make me.
Fill me and spill me. Change me and rearrange me.
But whatever You do, Lord, don't leave me the same.
Spirit of wisdom and revelation, I welcome Your work.
Open my eyes so I can see....my ears so I can hear....
I choose truth over comfort, challenge over complacency.
Lord, make me forever Yours.
And most of all, make me like You.
Amen. 




Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Balancing Work and Worship - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 11]


Jesus was the most balanced individual the world has ever known. In fact, that is part of why he came - to show us how to manage the tricky balance between work and worship, between what we do and what we are. [pg. 176]

Every time I read this chapter, it settles deeper and deeper into my thinking.

Of all the chapters, I believe this is one of the most important because here Joanna discusses what having a Mary Heart in a Martha World might actually look like.... practically speaking.

She points out that although we may think this is achieved through a tricking balancing act - trying to hit that perfect but small target.....

The act of balancing work and worship is a constant back and forth. Our days should encompass both duty and devotion.


.....the balance between Living Room Service and Kitchen Service more often resembles the up-and-down, back-and-forth motion of the teeter totter than it does that fleeting moment of synchronicity. [pg. 181]

Some days it is hard to know which is up. A day can get started and before I know it, it is almost done.  There was no back and forth between work and worship, in fact I wonder if I was even on the teeter totter to begin with.

I really like the Balance Checklist Joanna includes on pg. 182 and 183. I have used that several times to assess which end of my teeter totter should be in the air.

But of all the things Joanna writes in this book, the most impactful thing for me was the section on Sabbath Rest.

Josh and I have been church goers our whole marriage. After reading Joanna's three aspects of Sabbath-keeping, I realized that although we went to church on Sundays - it had very little to do with the Sabbath.

First, the Sabbath needs to be different. [pg.185]

For us, Sundays weren't really different than any other day of the week.....except that they were more stressful.

We were not treating Sunday as a much needed day of rest - for us it was a catch up day.  Every weekend, we try to prepare so that Sundays can be restful.

It is still hard with our two boys to try and settle in to the day so that we can rest, but we know that in order for the remaining days of the week to have a chance at balanced work and worship - we must purposefully put this time aside.

One thing that is a daily choice for me is to hand it all over to Jesus - I work so hard to operate out of my own strength and wisdom......thankfully, there is grace.

The secret to balancing worship and work, devotion and service, love of God and love of people is maintaining our connection to Jesus Christ. [pg. 190]

This week we are called to once again to connect with Jesus through God's word and prayer - this time seeking His balance for our lives. Let's be intentional about stopping the balancing ACT and work toward moving back and forth between work and worship.


Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mary's Extravagant Love - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 10]


Something is wrong. And yet, somehow, Mary senses something so right. It goes against logic. She can see the Master's weariness. The men are clearly worried and befuddled. And yet Mary feels a tremor within, like a single strum upon a stringed instrument. Like hope...or is it joy? [pg. 156]

This is one of the best descriptions I have ever read of where circumstances meet the stirring of God.

Every cue from Mary's environment was laced with stress and intensity - except for Jesus. His steady eyes and secure hold on the Father struck something within her. It was a quiet stirring.

Mary seemed to understand, for only she seemed moved to take the appropriate action. [pg.157]

Could it be that she felt lead to act because she was truly listening and intent on knowing the heart of Jesus?

Jesus had been pouring and pouring and pouring Himself over those in his presence. He spoke about all of the events to come.......and still, all except one - missed it.

We today have the FULL STORY, the work has been done, the veil is torn and yet we still miss the heart and essence of the Lord.

By the time Jesus arrived on the scene, the Jewish people were desperate to hear, feel, receive any movement from the Lord. And as all His love was about to be poured out.....Heaven opening itself up to all who would believe - still Mary was the only one in tune.

Mary alone seemed to hear the echoes of that music. Only she seemed ready to respond to the extravagance of Jesus' love. [pg. 158]

The teachings I have received from the church have always isolated Mary's 'perfume story' as a lesson in giving generously - even from a small pocketbook.

Never, and I mean never until reading Joanna's book has it been pointed out to me that of all the people around Jesus during his final days - Mary of Bethany was the only one mentioned in the Bible who was moved to extravagant love merely by being in His presence.

Joanna also points to the story directly following Mary's giving at the banquet, Judas' betrayal.

One impending event (Jesus' death)...............two polar opposite reactions.
While the situation caused the evil dormant within Judas to rise to the surface, it was the same instance that brought something beautiful up from the depths of the maiden from Bethany. [pg. 163]
This quote from Joanna reminds me of one of my all time favorite quotes from Charles Spurgeon....

"The same sun which melts wax hardens clay. And the same Gospel which melts some persons to repentance hardens others in their sins" - Spurgeon 

Joanna writes about Judas' faith here...

Imagine spending three years of your life with the Messiah, yet walking away more or less the same - or even worse than when you started.  Judas did just that. [pg. 163-164]

Gulp!

Couldn't the same be true for those of us today who have lived out "Christian" lives claiming to know and love Jesus - yet after years and years we remain the same - immature and empty in our walk?

Joanna writes....

If we refuse to recognize the immensity of God's grace and its incredible cost on Jesus' part, sooner or later, we will take it for granted. [pg. 165]

God's word tells us...

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 
Romans 1:21

Lord, please give me eyes to see and ears to hear!!!!!

I want a heart bent toward generosity, a heart that see its wrongs and falls at the feet of Jesus....

....a heart that swells, weeps, and rejoices in thankfulness for the loving sacrifice of Jesus.

The later portion of this chapter Joanna tells of a time her life when she was called to leap into love and surrender to a walk of complete faith.

Conducting this book study here on my blog has been one of those moments for me....

For more than two years I have held back in sharing my whole faith because I knew what some might think.

Finally, I have acted. Finally, I am writing.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.   
1 John 3:1



Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Martha's Teachable Heart - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 9]


Martha thought she had value because she was productive. Jesus wanted her to learn she had value simply because she was his. [pg. 138]


This truth is still sinking in for me. It is hard for me to get off of my hamster wheel.

I have value apart from what I do or have to offer.

I have value because I AM HIS.

Joanna pointed out in chapter 2 that Jesus loved Martha as she was, but in His love for her He pushed her to change.

He was not concerned with her comfort - He was concerned for her heart.


His goal is not to pamper us physically but to perfect us spiritually. 
- Paul W. Powell [pg. 138]

I live my life as if the Lord owes me something. There is no more proof of this than when I look at the prayers I write in my journal. Mostly, they are the ramblings of a little child whining for what she wants. Joanna's writing challenges my view of what I think the Lord desires for me. Unfortunately for this fleshy Martha, He is not concerned with my mood or my whims.

He is concerned with my heart. He is calling me to be teachable.

Those closest to me would probably qualify me as a defensive person.

I am.

I have a really, REALLY hard time receiving criticism or rebuke without taking it personally. Even when it is clearly not personal, I find a way to make it such.

Joanna encourages us to understand the root of why we take a defensive stance.


...When you're busy in the Kitchen, the rebuke sounds harsh and demanding, just one more duty to fulfill. But when you listen from the Living Room, you hear the love in God's voice and it sounds like life for your soul. [pg. 141]

When I live my life in a place of productivity and performance, my heart is brittle rather than malleable.

Two chapters ago, Joanna wrote about our choice when it comes to matters with God.

With God we always have a choice in whether we acknowledge Him or accept Him.

Jesus' relationship with Martha was no different. She also had a choice....


For when we are corrected, rebuked, or chastened, we have a choice. We can receive it, or we can refuse it. [pg. 141]

Thankfully, Martha said yes! Because of her decision we get to see a personality like hers become teachable before the Lord in the possibly the hardest time in her life.

It is possible!

There is hope for Martha, and there is hope for you and me.

This chapter is a wake up call.

I don't want to live in a defensive stance. I want to be able to receive rebuke from the Lord and know that ALL He has for me comes from His great love.

This week we are called to have a teachable heart.


Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

1. Question 3 from the Study Guide asks - What did you discover about yourself when filling out the "Are You Teachable" questionnaire on page 139?

2. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lessons from Lazarus - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 8]


There's no easy way to find out how the story ends.
We just have to hang on tight as the plot line unfolds. [pg. 117]

Even though sometimes we want one, there is no crystal ball or predictive test we can take that will tell us how our lives will turn out for the rest of our days.

Some parts of our lives will unfold for us to see in the coming months and years we have to live and other circumstances we face will not be resolved this side of heaven.

The Bible says there are things that even the angels in Heaven do not know - only God Himself.

Although much of life is a mystery, there is clear direction in God's word on His purpose for each of our days - regardless of the season.


The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him. [Psalm 37:23]
And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  [Romans 8:28]
- emphasis is mine. 

In this chapter, Joanna brings to light one of the strangest stories in the New Testament.

A man dies. This man happens to be the brother of Martha and Mary.

Before he dies, Mary and Martha summon Jesus to come and heal him.

They want nothing more than for Him to preform another great miracle but this time in their own family.

When Jesus gets word of Lazarus' condition, He does not come......He purposely waits.

Neither the sister's desire for Jesus to draw near nor their great faith in Jesus' power could save their brother.

Lazarus died and they had to wait four days for Jesus to arrive.

The greatness of Lazarus' story is not that he was given more life on earth by Jesus, that could have happened through the healing touch of Jesus days before he passed.

The greatness of Lazarus' story is that he died and in his death there was a lesson. There was intention from God to reveal Himself to us.


“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” [John 11:4]

Joanna writes.....

For tucked among the twists and turns of the everyday plot are valuable lessons about who God is and how he works and how we fit into the tale. [pg. 119]


But what about when life REALLY hurts?
When the answer to a prayer is 'no'.....
When the physical healing doesn't come......
When your husband leaves and doesn't return....
And the list goes on for the length of our days.

Kara Tippets poses these painful questions so beautifully when she writes about her loosing battle with cancer.


Imagine if he showed Himself in my hard, which He did, and what if the hard of my story is the beautiful redemption of my today? 
Could the suffering then take on a different hue? 
Could the coloring of the hard not be so dark, so hateful and gloomy?
If our hard is the absence of a good God, then how can anyone walk in faith? 
......
My hope is not in the absence of suffering and comfort returned. 
My hope is in the presence of the One who promises never to leave or forsake, the One who declares nothing "will be able to separate us from the love of God" (Romans 8:39) 
Nothing. 
The Hardest Peace ~


We all will face great trial and tragedy in our own way, but those hard parts of life are where the Lord most clearly reveals Himself.

His love for us is great through all circumstances.

His covenant of grace is steadfast - even through the deepest valleys.

But His grace abounds only to those who know Him.

I love Joanna's encouragement to us in this chapter......

If you are struggling to hang on in the midst of your difficult circumstances, let me remind you to go back to what you know about God. Open the Bible and find scriptures to cling to - scriptures that reveal the heart and faithfulness of God. 
Remind yourself that God is your strength. 
That he is the source of your comfort. [pg. 124-125]

What we will find in His word is a God who sent His son, Jesus.

And Jesus understands it all. All the pain and struggle, all the suffering.

This week we are called to get to know this suffering Savior and claim His victory in death for our own lives.



Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

1. Joanna includes a list of verses on pg. 135 to help point us to Jesus' understanding and experience with trials within his own life. Which of these scripture references do you find most comforting?

2. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Better Part - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 7]

In past chapters we have......

- reviewed the story of Mary and Martha, learning the difference between these two women.
- explored the rebuke given by Jesus to Martha and how that applies to our busy lives.
- discussed the need for choosing 'the better part'.

This chapter is full of actionable how to's.

Now that we 'know' the one thing that is needed - we have to put one foot in front of the other and apply it to our life.

Joanna encourages us to make a crucial daily choice.......make room.

If we want intimacy, we have to make a space in our schedule to experience it.

I love the short story she included from Stephen Covey about the professor filling the container.

It clicked with me instantly. Big rocks first....duh :) I have never thought of shuffling my priorities in this way.


Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

Make room in your heart for me, and I'll make room for everything else. [pg. 104] 

It is important for me to remember, I choose the order of my priorities.

My spiritual dryness is due to the order of my priorities - not the Lord's inattentiveness.

He will court us and pursue us, but he'll never push himself on us. We can actually say no to the Maker of the Universe. We can choose to keep him in a corner of our lives. [pg. 105]

Since November of last year, I have really been working on my commitment to a DAILY quiet time. I had gotten into a rut of using the difficulties of this commitment as an excuse. Throughout my walk of faith, I tried having my quiet times at different times of the day and gave up quickly on each citing a variety of reasons why this particular time of day just didn't work with everything else I had going on.......until there were no other times left.

This chapter has helped me to realize the commitment to a Quiet Time is a matter of will and more importantly, it is a spiritual battle.

The enemy doesn't have to work too hard at discouraging me in my mothering or being a wife if he has successfully discouraged me away from a daily quiet time.

Joanna has included SO MANY helpful tips to help shore up a commitment to daily time with the Lord, as well as, ways to keep it an engaging time to look forward to.

She outlines her process of 'Journal the Journey' on page 114. If you have not had the opportunity to complete Appendix D of your book, I encourage you to do so. Approaching scripture in this way (read, meditate, underline, choose, and respond) has enriched my walk with the Lord in so many ways. Most notably, it has increased the amount of scripture I have been able to commit to memory.


As we surrender our hoops to the Lord Jesus, as we center ourselves in him, something wonderful happens. He takes these hoops and makes them dance. He turns the spinning circles of our chaotic lives into a steady, stable gyroscope mounted and held up by him alone. [pg. 116]


I want to end this week with a simple prayer Joanna included in the beginning of this chapter.


Teach me, Lord. Show me the rhythm of life.....Be my center. [pg. 100]




Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

1. Journal the Journey - If you completed this particular exercise using Joanna's outline in Appendix D and guidelines on pg. 114.....Please share the scripture you used. I would love to read that same scripture along side you.

2. Which one of the 3 C's of Quiet Time (Consistency, Creativity, Conversation) do you plan to focus on in the near future in your walk with the Lord?

3. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Kitchen Service - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 6]


We've been filled with great treasure for one purpose, to be spilled. [pg. 82]


After I read chapter 1 of this book, I looked at the table of contents and Chapter 6 stood out to me (I almost skipped to it, but I didn't).

I wanted to read about this concept of Kitchen Service and how it would fit into the puzzle of the Mary and Martha story. Is Kitchen Service allowed? For so long I have wondered.

I wanted to learn how to be more of a Mary without squashing the Martha that is so much a part of me.

Joanna fills this chapter with the truth that we are vessels.

We are made to be loved and filled by God and then to serve others. Kitchen Service is a key piece to living like Jesus.


So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?
"You have called Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet."
"For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you."
John 13:12-15


This was Jesus' 'Kitchen Service'.

Even though he was the greatest of us, He served through work. 

Kitchen Service, you see, isn't optional for Christians. We're supposed to spend a good part of our time following our Lord's example. [pg. 82]

I have a confession.

Before this book, I didn't like to read the story of Mary and Martha.

I felt it was the Lord's way of asking me to stop being myself and start being someone else.

I am the busy one who often holds resentment for others not pulling their weight. And besides - how unreasonable of Jesus - we have to eat, someone has to keep the laundry going, and the house tidy. And really, what is wrong with throwing a beautiful party.

Even though I had read this passage of scripture many times, I was missing a key detail.


When Jesus rebuked Martha, he wasn't rebuking her act. He was rebuking her attitude. [pg. 86]


The Lord is calling me to an attitude adjustment.

Serve, but do it with an open and receptive heart.


Duty gets offended, quickly if it isn't appreciated, but love learns to laugh a lot and to work for the sheer joy of doing it. [pg. 90]

This passage from Linda Anderson reminds me of a well known quote that I have hanging in my laundry room.



The Lord loves Mary, but He also dearly loves Martha.


...the key is not in our activity, but in our receptivity to God's voice - and in our willingness to be used in whatever ways he brings to our attention. [pg. 94]


This week you and I are called to the Living Room to be filled by the Lord and then ushered to the kitchen to serve with a renewed heart.



Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

1. Question #1 from the study guide asks - Who was the first Christian in your life to live in such a way that you could clearly see Christ? How did that person affect your life?

2. Question #4 from the study guide asks - In what unexpected ways could we wash the feet of those around us?

3. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.




Monday, February 9, 2015

Living Room Intimacy - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 5]


You who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
 Ephesians 2:13

This truth mentioned in Ephesians saved me 19 years ago when I became a Christian.

The richness of this scripture is still unfolding to much deeper meaning for me.

The Lord loves me. The Lord longs for me to understand that I have been brought near to Him.

I have spent a good portion of my adult years trying to 'fix' some majorly screwed up relationships in my life, with little success.

It can hurt so bad when human love fails.....

When what you want isn't what someone else wants....

When what they need, you aren't able to give.....and vice versa.

I am beginning to understand that one problem in these failing relationships of mine is my expectations.

I expect these relationships to provide things they were never intended to provide.

In this chapter, Joanna begins to dig into the details of the most perfect unfailing love. A relationship that meets our needs, comforts, gives rest - is the fulfillment of every desire we have ever felt for what lacks in our earthly relationships.

All we really need is Jesus. For he is all the evidence we need. The Father actually wants us close and is willing to do whatever is necessary to make sure it happens. [pg. 65-66]


Understand me when I say, human relationships are important.....so important. But people can never love us in the way God does. His love is a feast.


I'd settled for stale cheese and shriveled apples instead of enjoying the rich table God had prepared for me. I kept waiting for the day I'd be worthy to sit at his table, never realizing that the cost of such fellowship was included in the price Christ paid for my passage. [pg. 67]


One of my favorite parts of this chapter is 'Spiritual Snicker Bars'. Here Joanna writes about the things we 'feed' ourselves that calm our spiritual hunger pains but do not meet our need.


We can fill up with spiritual Snickers bars while all the time our spirits are withering for want of real food. [pg. 70]


My spiritual Snickers bar is a listening ear.

If I can find someone to listen to me when I am upset or going through a difficult time, I 'feel' better. The problem is afterwards I don't get around to praying about it because my energy on the topic is spent even though the issue is far from settled.

Only intimacy with the Lord will heal my heart.

But even more than my need for intimacy with God is the fact that He desires fellowship with me!
I had to put an exclamation point there because that is amazing - He desires me!

Joanna writes to this so perfectly.


What an amazing thought - that Christ wants to spend quality time with me. That he looks forward to our time together and misses me when I don't show up. Once that message started sinking into my heart, I started looking at my devotional time in a whole new way - not as a ritual, but as a relationship. [pg. 73]


There are so many good things written in Chapter 5, but what I found most impactful are some of the verses Joanna references throughout.


"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. " John 14:23 
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me."  John 15:4
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3  

Those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior, the Lord is near.

Will you walk with me this week in reminding ourselves of His nearness and quieting ourselves so we can hear His whispering voice?



Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

1. On page 74 'Creating a With-Drawing Room', which of these ideas listed do you plan to implement within your quiet time?

2. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Winter Walks

Our family loves to take walks.

Now, everyone is able to walk on their own. This is a fairly new thing for our group seeing as the littlest of us has just passed the 2.5 year mark.

The boys love to explore along the way and recently have taken a liking to walking our pup.

Mama is now hands free and forgotten. I enjoy this new independent way of family walks.

I am able to clear my head.

My favorite thing about walking in the winter is the way the trees look against the sky.




Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Cure - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 4]


God continued to unload the wagon, removing both light and heavy items. They dropped to the ground, the dust swirling up around them. The man who had hoped to help God grew silent. [pg. 50]


The first illustration of this chapter hit me directly in the face. Except rather than piling additional rocks onto what the Lord has placed into my cart, I am guilty of taking out the rocks the Lord has put there to replace them with ones I feel should be in there.  Ugh! talk about growing silent.

What rocks should stay? Which ones need to go? What rocks did I take out that should go back in?

These questions have been swirling around in my mind since I read this chapter. Thankfully Jesus offers such sweet words to these questions.

"You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed." Luke 10:41-42

Only one thing. That is all, to sit at His feet. Not only do we NOT have to be worried and upset but only one thing is needed from us....Availability.

Joanna writes to this SO well.

We can add so many requirements to our faith that the "one thing" is swallowed by the "many", and the "best" is obliterated by the "good". [pg. 61]

I found that even though my heart was changed by this lesson, being available on a daily basis is some times easier said than done.

The rocks in my life not only seem to fill up my cart, but they eat every two hours and giggle and scream and move around a lot :) But I believe that even in this season of raising small children, it is possible to be available. The reason I know this - because Jesus told me so :)

At the end of verse 42 in Luke chapter 10, Jesus tells Martha that 'the better part'....the one thing that is needed - will not be taken from Mary.

That is the truth.

Most days, I have to really wear out Tip #2 from pg. 58 - "Ask God to reveal the next step."

It may not always occur at the same time of day, or for the same amount of time.....but I can say that every day that I make my heart available step by step, He shows me where my quiet time fits in. I don't know how it all works, but it does.

And on the days I fail.......


What will we do when told we've missed out on the best God has for us?
Will we bow our knees, or will we run back to what is familiar?
Will we sputter excuses or humble our hearts? [pg. 55]


In His full grace and mercy, He gives me the opportunity to choose again and again and again.



Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

1. Question 3 from the Study Guide asks - What do you think Jesus meant in Luke 10:38-42 when he told Martha that only one thing was needed?

2. What are some of the rocks overloading your cart?

3. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

November / December 2014

Over the course of my almost two years of writing here on this little blog, I have tried to summarize/document each month's most special moments. Most times my memories come in the form of photographs....this time, they come more in words.

This past Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons were so many moments wrapped up into one common focus - these two.

These boys have been charged to Josh and I - we will not have them long. Lord willing, we will have them under our care until they reach into a full and healthy adulthood, but ultimately they are close and under our wing for a finite time.

This past November and December we enjoyed lots of good food, family, and presents. We talked about and celebrated the goodness of the Lord in our lives - even though we were met with weeks of sickness and well intended plans broken due to circumstance.

There is so much we want them to know about this good and faithful God, especially when life doesn't look the way we planned.....that the beauty found in the lights and sparkle of the season don't even scratch the surface of the beauty of His love for us.

I can't believe it is already the last day of January 2015. I don't think I will ever get used to how slow and fast time seems to pass all at the same time.

Thanks for reading.

- brook.




Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Diagnosis - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 3]

When I read the list on pg. 33 'Ten Signs of a Big Worrier', I found myself to be 8 of the 10 :)

I. Am. A. Worrier.

I go through seasons of life when I worry more than others, but worry comes easily to me. I usually find something to worry about on a daily basis.

This chapter is such an encouragement to this worrying mama.

I love the illustration Joanna writes comparing worry to a thick fog.....


While physical fog may seem dense and almost solid, scientist tell us that a fog bank a hundred feet deep and covering seven city blocks is composed of less than one glass of water. Divided into billions of droplets, it hasn't much substance. Yet it has the power to bring an entire city to a standstill. [pg. 35-36]


This picture exposes the truth about worry. It is made of so little, yet yields the power to consume and paralyze us.

Later she gets to the root of this issue on worry when she includes a quote from Gary E. Gilley.


Worry is allowing problems and distress to come between us and the heart of God. It is the view that God has somehow lost control of the situation and we cannot trust Him. A legitimate concern presses us closer to God and causes us to lean and trust on Him all the more. [pg. 38]


I may tell myself the need for worry is great because of the importance of the issue at hand. But, I could not list for you 99.9% of the things I worried about over my lifetime.

The truth is I fear a potential future event because I have stopped trusting God.

The problem is not the one in one million things that may or may not possibly happen. The problem is that when I worry, I have stopped trusting God.

I find this comforting, because I have felt so helpless to my incessant worry. How could I be anything but helpless in situations where I am battling in my mind over 'potentials' and 'what if's'.......reviewing over and over conversations that will probably never happen the way I envision them.

God's Word speaks directly and specifically about this problem of worry.


Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7 


As Joanna writes on page 40, the steps to combat worry have been laid out for us in scripture.

Be anxious about nothing.  Be prayerful about everything. Be thankful for all things.

I am thankful for what it says in verse 7. With these three things, we receive the Lord's peace that not only defies our logic but also guards our hearts and minds!

That is what I need, a guard for my heart and my mind.

So this week, we are challenged.......


Will we pray? Will we be worried? We really can't do both. [pg. 42]




Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

1. The third step to gaining victory over worry is to 'be thankful for all things'. What is something you will remind yourself you are thankful of this week?

2. Page 47 includes 'Top Ten Ways to Tame Your Worry Habit'. Which of these do you find most helpful? Is there one you will try this week?

3. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"Lord, Don't You Care?" - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 2]


There should not be any limits to what I can do.
I am the only person available to help.
I must never make a mistake. [pg. 15]


These are lies I have told myself for as long as I can remember. Forget family, career, and marriage - I am the one who puts the most pressure on myself.

Because of that friendships, family, relationships and my spiritual life have suffered. My striving has been a dominant struggle throughout my life, even before I became a Christian.

At some point in every season of my life I have asked "Lord, Don't You Care?". Whether my time is spent in majority at my home (as is the current season) or fully on developing my career and working in the workplace (as it was for a decade), I have found times of experiencing 'loneliness' where my heart has spent far too much time comparing and very little time seeking the Lord.

Joanna wrote in Chapter 1 that 'busyness breeds distraction'. She furthers this thought here in chapter two with the 3D's: Distraction, Discouragement, and Doubt.

I loved how she writes specifically to each of these three words. It has been a lesson to me on how my frazzled state all began and how the cycle can continue daily if I do not pay close attention.

My busyness distracts me from the cross. Without my eyes there, I am primed and ready to be derailed by discouragement and self pity. I then doubt the Lord's love for me and in turn doubt my purpose, my decisions and my direction. The 3 D's build upon each other to a final result of unbelief.


Even on those days when I have the best of motives, my heart can be pulled away from doing things "as unto the Lord" and settle for simply getting things done. [pg.18]


"Simply getting things done"....that isn't a life lived victoriously. I want every one of my days, even the mundane ones to be lived fully. Don't you?

Joanna continues to speak so directly to my heart when she writes.....


When we no longer believe in God's goodness, when we no longer trust in his care, we end up running away from the very Love we need to live. [pg. 26]


I don't want to doubt God's goodness. I want to see my life as the redeemed story it is. I want to trust Him to finish the work He has started.

This chapter has taught me my 'busyness' blocks me from experiencing all of these things I so desire - life to the full, with a hope and a future - and instead leaves me a weary, easily offended, a closed off shell of who I am meant to be.

How many of my troubles have lingered because I have focused my gaze downward in frustration rather than looking up to see His presence in my story?

Joanna ends this chapter with so much encouragement and hope.


He longs to reveal his love to you. But you won't find it shaking your fist in his face. You won't find it by barging into his presence and demanding to be treated fairly. You'll find it by sitting at his feet and remembering who he is. [pg. 29]


Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

1. Which of the 5 Strategies for Fighting Discouragement on page 21 do you think might be most helpful for you?

2. Study Question #6 highlights Psalm 103. Which of the many truths about God's love mentioned in this Psalm do you find most prevalent in your walk?

3. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Tale of Two Sisters - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 1]



Nurturing your spiritual life seems like one more duty - one more thing to add to a life that is spilling over with responsibilities. [pg. 2]


Wow! If she didn't take that thought straight from my heart!

I know having a daily quiet time is important. I even crave time to sit and receive from the Lord, but still - it is difficult for me to fit it into everything else in my day.

On the surface, I am a 'Martha'.


"Where's Mary? Has anyone seen Mary?" she asks a servant scurrying by. If Mary changed the sheets, Martha might have time to fashion an ark from the cheese and carve the fruit into little animals marching two by two. [pg. 4]


Hahaha! Every time I read this illustration Joanna wrote of what might have been going through Martha's heart, I laugh out loud.

I laugh because I so relate to her, building such high expectations for myself.

"If I preform perfectly - I will be satisfied, right?"

"If I go the extra (10) mile(s), it will be worth it, right?"

Right? :) I want to be able to say yes to these two questions, but the reality is the answer is almost always 'no'....actually, I feel tired, worn out, taken advantage of.....and even worse like I have missed out on the heart of the moment.

Joanna's writing in this first chapter encourages us to look closer at both sisters. Yes, there were two for a reason. Of course, we see ourselves as either more Mary or more Martha, but the Bible includes both, because in fact there are lessons to be learned from both.

Both sisters felt the full weight of Jesus' presence. They each react in their own way to how important He was to them.

Mary, like a magnet to His side, sat ready to soak in whatever He was going to say.

Martha.....kicked into high gear to honor Jesus with the best her home and homemaking had to offer.

Joanna's perspective pulls out a greater depth to Luke 10:38-42. It isn't that we shouldn't prepare food and our home for guests, but more that we should seek to understand the difference between what is 'nice' and what is 'needed'.

How nice would it be to offer the above mentioned efforts on our table?.....An ark of cheese and fruit animals!....an A+ Pinterest effort.

But really...all of that was not needed to make Jesus feel welcome. He came seeking her fellowship, not her fancy homemaking.

Joanna writes...

He isn't looking as much for workers as he is looking for sons and daughters - a people to pour his life into. [pg. 10]


What spoke most to me from this chapter is that Jesus seeks my heart not my ability.

My 'Kitchen Service' should flow from His anointing. And the only place I can receive His anointing is through 'Living Room Intimacy'.

Even though, by nature, I am a busy worker bee - not all on my to do list is 'needed' - there is space for me to make myself available to heart opening fellowship.

Even though I am naturally more of a 'Martha', I must choose the better part and meet with my Heavenly Father, as Mary did.




Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented - everyone loves encouragement :)

1. Question 2 of the study guide asks what inanimate object best describes how your life currently feels? What is yours?

2. Who do you identify more closely with? Mary? Martha?

3. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

January 10, 2015 - [Ten on Ten]

Capturing beauty in the 'regularness' of life.
Ten photos taken one an hour for ten hours on the tenth.




















For some reason, there is a 'drink theme' to this set :) Didn't notice that until I collected all the photos together :)
You can see others participating in the Ten on Ten project this month ------- here.

- brook.