Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Book Review

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World (Book, Study Guide, and DVD)
by Joanne Weaver

I first read Joanne Weaver’s book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, years ago and I return to it often even now.  In any women’s small group, most of us would probably identify ourselves as “Martha”—prone to overwhelm ourselves with work—-rather than “Mary,” ready and willing to rest and learn at the feet of Jesus.  The truth is, it’s hard to balance work and worship in this world with its many demands, especially as women filling so many roles every day.  We’re wives, moms, sisters, daughters, friends, employees, bosses, leaders, participants, and servants.  How can we fit time with Jesus into all that?mary

Joanne Weaver’s book (and accompanying study guide and DVD) offers powerful freedom, grace, and practical advice for modern women.  This is so much more than the typical lesson about how we all need to be a little less Martha and a lot more Mary in this life.  Instead, the book follows Mary and Martha throughout the Gospel accounts and reveals what we can learn from Martha’s heart for service and her teachable spirit.  That’s a breath of fresh air and grace for those of us with Martha-like tendencies!

In this study, women are encouraged and taught how to overcome a tendency to worry, how to spend time with Jesus, how to serve with our spiritual gifts, and how to stop being a burden bearer.  One of the object lessons she uses, that of a wagon and rocks, is powerful, sticking with me just about 8 years since I first read it!

The companion study guide is great for small groups and gives space for answers to questions about the DVD as well as the reading material from the book itself.  She includes memory verses, opportunities to create a personal action plan each week, space for prayer requests, and a completely manageable amount of study questions even for those of us who are super busy.

I also loved the DVD created for this study.  The first segment includes images of women joining Joanne Weaver in her home, chatting, sharing in food, and then sitting down to hear her teach.    My small group has commented before about other DVD teachings that feel staged, distant, unrealistic, or over-rehearsed, but this DVD  was so personable and “real,” making the teaching time feel fresh, relevant, and friendly, like we ourselves were sitting in her living room.

Whether you’re reading this book on your own or joining in study with a group of other women, Joanne Weaver’s book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World can encourage and challenge pretty much any woman, whether you’re a ‘Mary,’ a ‘Martha,’ or somewhere in between.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Confident Faith, Book Review

Confident Faith : Building a Firm Foundation for Your Belief
by Mark Mittelberg

Confident Faith is one of those rare books for skeptics, new believers, and long-time Christians alike.  Mark Mittelberg was raised in the church, but when he went off to college, he found himself grossly unequipped to deal with the difficult questions of non-Christians professors and others.  Even when he returned to his home church and asked spiritual leaders to give reasons for their faith and arguments to support the Bible, they failed him.  They could do little more than say, “The Bible is true because it says it’s true.  Period.  End of Story.”confidentfaith

But Christians need to be equipped to defend our faith.  We need to be prepared to answer the hard questions when people ask them.  Sometimes as Christians it seems like we avoid digging deep on faith issues because we’re afraid that the Bible won’t ring true and bear up under the scrutiny.

Mittleberg begins his book with a discussion of six general paths to faith, such as just accepting the traditions of the path, or going with what feels right, or assuming it’s all relative anyway.  He examines the logic of each and argues for a more evidential approach.  Following that, he presents 20 arguments that show how science and logic point toward spiritual truth.  Along the way, he investigates the Bible, the Koran, the Joseph Smith papers for the Mormon church and other doctrines of various religions.

Some books that cover science, apologetics, and logic may be overwhelmingly dense and hard to follow.  Mittelberg’s book, however, is an engaging and informative read–fun even at times.  When you put the book down, you’ll be better equipped to understand your faith, share it with others, and defend it when necessary.  For those who aren’t Christian, it may be an eye-opening read and a great way to really investigate the claims of the Bible and get some answers to questions you may be asking.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Finding Room to Breathe: A 12-month pursuit of the presence of Christ

I’ve waved the white flag and retreated to the kitchen table this morning.

It was the unexpected nature of the rush and stress that did me in and led to my defeat.  I woke up without major plans or a busy schedule, determined to soak in the joy of winter break for just a few more days.

But then ‘it’ happened.

And by ‘it,’ I don’t mean one crisis.  Not an accident or disaster or tragedy.  No, more like life trampling all over my garden of peace and tranquility.

Like four children all needing help at the same time, calling out “mom” (or the newborn equivalent thereof) in harmony from all four corners of the house.  Suddenly I was off on missions of finding and fixing and feeding and changing and breaking up fights.

And that, my friends, is when momma gets grumpy.  My vision of winter break rest turned into sorting through the cabinets and cleaning out drawers and discovering where children had hidden the missing top to my water bottle (behind the television cabinet) and the missing Xbox game (in the very back of the DVD cabinet) and various other long-lost treasures.

All before mom had her cup of tea and time with Jesus.

Have mercy.

Life can suffocate us at times, slam right into our sides and knock the very life-breath out of our bodies when we’re not looking.  Pretty soon we’re panting on the sidelines, injured, weary, and defeated.

Yet, Psalm 62 says that God is “solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul” (Psalm 61:1-2, MSG).

I need the reminder.

In a few days, I’ll be back to zooming around town in the minivan, picking up children, dropping off children, passing sandwiches to the kids in the back because we won’t make it home exodus33for dinner and coaching them on homework all from the driver seat as we bounce from school to ballet to church to play practice and back again.

And right there, in the middle of the ‘mess, noise, and busyness’ of life is where I need God to manifest His presence and to breathe life back into my hyperventilating soul.

God promised this to Moses:

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14).

A promise like that might leave me in a blubbery mess of tearful gratitude and peace—His presence and the promise of rest.  Yes, Lord, Amen!!

The promise of God’s presence and rest didn’t come at the end of the journey or on the edge of Canaan either.  It was right there at a mountain in the middle of the wilderness.

So, Moses got a little bold.  Or a lot bold.

He said,

“Now show me your glory” (Exodus 13:18).

God did just that.

Here I sit at the beginning of a new year praying the same thing.  Please, Lord, show me Your glory on the mountain, in the wilderness, along the journey, in the everyday travels.  Let me know the heavy weight of Your presence as I go.

This year I’m choosing one word to focus my faith-journey and I’m making it a year-long pursuit.

I’ll be writing each month about how I’m pursuing God’s PRESENCE in a particular way.

Here’s what I’m thinking for each month (although I reserve the right to change my mind, move things around, alter, delete, and improve this list as time goes on!!)

  • January:  Be Still and Know
  • February:  Pray Simply
  • March: Unplug (Turning off TV, social media, and other distractions and tuning into God)
  • April: Enjoy beauty (Gardens, walks, nature, and more)
  • May: Create beauty (Dabble in the arts and get to know the nature of our Creator God)
  • June: Invest in Friendship
  • July: Retreat and regroup (Why we need to get away and how to make it happen)
  • August: Learn how to say ‘no’ (Because you can’t do everything)
  • September: Learn how and when to say ‘yes’ (Because you have to do some things)
  • October: Find sacred in the ordinary
  • November: Practice Sabbath-Keeping
  • December: Abandon perfection

Will you join me? 

Will you share with me in this pursuit of the PRESENCE of Christ?

I’d love for you to comment, write your own blog posts and share them with me, email me and give me tips, ideas, failures and success stories as we pursue His PRESENCE.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

A Heart Like His, Book Review

A Heart Like His: Intimate Reflections on the Life of David
by Beth Moore

Years ago, I sat propped up in bed and began reading the hardback edition of A Heart Like His.  For all my love of Bible Study, I’d never read one of Beth Moore’s books before.  A friend had recommended it to me and I settled in that night planning to read the book quickly and voraciously.aheartlikehis2

Normally, I speed through books, but this time I couldn’t.  After growing up in the church and hearing the stories of David portrayed on hundreds of flannel boards, I was shocked by the fresh perspective of Beth Moore.  Shocked that I had so much to learn about David.  Shocked by the application and challenge in each chapter of the book.

So I slowed down and read the book in small pieces.  Now that I’ve re-read the book in the paperback edition, I knew what to expect from Beth’s studies—in-depth discussion of Scripture and continual life application.  This is not Bible Study aimed at filling our heads with knowledge; it’s a passionate look at Scripture so that we can learn, change and grow.

The book is divided into 52 chapters and covers the backstory leading up to David’s life and kingship all the way to his death and the legacy he left with his son Solomon.  Each chapter is short and easy to read in one sitting with prompts directing you to the passage of Scripture being covered so you can read it first in your own Bible.  Whenever possible, she aligns the descriptions of David’s life with his own poetry and songs, making this an in-depth study of 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Chronicles and portions of the Psalms that works well for individuals or groups.

Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to a group of women share what they had learned after studying the life of David for nine months as a group.  Some women confessed struggling to understand how a guy who made so many mistakes could have a heart like God’s.  Others stood to their feet and admitted that they felt just like David and his need for God’s grace.  Ultimately, any study of David isn’t really about David at all; it’s about God and how He works to draw us to Him, to transform and mature us, and to make us usable vessels that bring Him glory.  That’s just a portion of what you’ll learn as you read this book, which makes it worth reading, studying, re-reading, and sharing with others.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Out and About: A Radio Interview and Book Signings

It’s been an exciting season here for me with a new baby and a new book!  Many thanks to you all for your prayers and encouragement!

Yesterday, I shared a little bit about the book on our local radio station’s morning show!  I’m sure I’ll write more about it later, but for now I just wanted to say thanks to the many who were praying for me and sent me messages afterward saying that you were listening in!

For locals, I’ll be signing books at two locations in the next two weeks.  Please consider stopping in and seeing me (even if you already purchased a book!).ask-me-anything-lord_kd
I’d love to have the company and opportunity to chat or pray with you!  If you are interested in buying a book that day, I’ll have them for sale (cash or check only please) and will sign them right there for you!

On Saturday, November 30th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., I’ll be at the Heaven & Earth Christian Bookstore in Hayes, Virginia (in the YRC Shopping Center).  I’ll be giving away a tea-and-chocolate gift basket and a $20 gift card to Heaven & Earth to two lucky winners.  To enter, you simply need to stop by and put your name and number in that hat!  While you’re there, you can get in some Christmas shopping!!  They have amazing Christian books, music, gifts, cards, and ornaments!  I might be doing some shopping of my own that day.

On Saturday, December 14th from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., I’ll be at The Wild Rabbit Cafe on Main Street in Gloucester, VA.  Stop by for some coffee, hot chocolate or tea and visit with me!!  I’ll have a tea-and-chocolate gift basket and a gift card to The Wild Rabbit to give away to two lucky winners!

Everything, Book Review

Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus
by Mary DeMuth

In her book, Everything, Mary DeMuth writes about letting God transform every part of our lives—our thinking, our hearts, and our hands.  We can give it all to Jesus and trust Him with the results.  It is, in essence, a book about living the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”everything

Always vulnerable, always real, always honest, always practical, Mary DeMuth’s description of the Everything life can shake up our expectations.  It doesn’t mean ministry is always successful in the way we define success.  It doesn’t mean relationships are always smooth and peace always easy.  It doesn’t mean our plans always work or our past is always perfect.  It just means we trust God with every part of our lives and serve Him with whatever He’s given to us.

Mary herself talks frequently about how her imperfect childhood has been transformed by God’s grace and her time on the mission field of France, far more difficult than she had imagined, was a precious time of yielding everything to God.

Sometimes it was the unexpected twists that kept this book interesting and relevant for me.   Her thoughts about writing, for instance, were precious and often missed in our celebrity society: focusing on what God wants her to say rather than pushing and pushing and pushing for success, striving to be noticed and to build a platform.

My favorite portion of the book is actually her discussion of spiritual disciplines because she assumed you knew the basics like Bible reading, church attendance, and prayer, and wrote instead about truly unexpected but absolutely beautiful disciplines we often overlook: Rest, forgiveness, creativity, silence, gratitude and others.

In some ways, the book is about the lessons she has learned in disappointments, “failures,” and unexpected life events.  It’s about not fighting against God, but surrendering it all to Him.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

365 Pocket Devotions, Book Review

365 Pocket Devotions: Inspiration and Renewal for Each New Day
by Chris Tiegreen

This little book, 365 Pocket Devotions: Inspiration and Renewal for Each New Day, is another treasure from Chris Tiegreen, author of various One Year devotionals.  I fell in love with Tiegreen’s book, The One Year Worship the King devotional a few years ago, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to spend a year with his insights into Scripture again. pocketdevotions

The devotions in this pocket-sized book are shorter than most and aren’t necessarily the deepest of in-depth Bible studies.  Yet, I do find they often provide more insight and things to think about than many other devotions you could choose.  Often, he’ll look at a passage or concept in enough of a fresh way to stir me into deeper thought, deeper study, deeper prayer—and that’s the beauty of a well-written devotion.   It’s not utter fluff that leaves no impact.  It’s a stirring of the heart and mind to seek for more of God and His Word.

I love that the entries in this book are not firmly linked to the calendar.  Instead, they simply are marked as “Day 1….Day 2….etc.”  That means you can start any time you feel like it rather than waiting for January 1 to roll around.  It also means if you fall behind, there’s no need to catch up.  You just keep going where you are left off.  Days one through five in each week are regular devotions with extra short offerings on days six and seven (presumably when you might hit on a weekend day if you are reading Monday to Sunday).

Perfect for that first moment with God every morning or the last thing you read before sleeping at night, these pocket devotions could really fit in any time of the day, slip into a purse or car easily, and bring a little fresh inspiration into your Christian walk.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Be The Mom, Book Review

Be the Mom: Overcome Attitude Traps and Enjoy Your Kids (Focus on the Family)
by Tracey Lanter Eyster

Sighing.  I find myself doing it a lot some days.  It’s because I’m not a huge fan of interruptions and it’s because I’m selfish and neither of those issues mesh well with life as a work-at-home mom of three young daughters.bethemom

So, I sigh.  “Mom, can you?”  Big, shoulder-heaving sigh.  “Mom, I need help . .. ” Deeply dramatic sigh.  “Mom, I’m thirsty.  I’m hungry.  I’m tired.  Can I cuddle?  Can we play Candy Land?”   More sighing.

Sometimes (maybe more often than that), I need the reminders in Tracey Eyster’s book on being the mom—that this time with my young kids is precious and short-term, gone before I know it.  She hits on attitude “traps” that probably many of us fall into—feeling like a martyr, trying to do this whole mom-thing like everyone else tells us to, being too busy to stop and build into relationships with our kids, and even feeling like we’re of little value.  Yes, we begin to feel like we’re “just a mom.”

With lots of grace, humor and vulnerability about her own tough mom moments, Eyster gives us an attitude check.  She’s laced practical tips with Scriptural encouragement and storytelling, making this book feel like a big sister or an older friend sharing some wisdom she’s learned along the way.

Chances are good that if you are a mom, you’ll find yourself somewhere on these pages.  I did at times.  And when I did, I was reminded to make some changes so my kids feel like they are important to me, worthy of my attention and not the recipients of sighing anytime they need my help or affection.

She writes at the end, “There are no perfect moms, and there are no tips or suggestions that will make you the world’s best mom.  But there are practical tips and training that can embolden you to stay the course.”  Books like hers give us the pick-me-up, gentle reminders and advice we need maybe not to be a perfect mom or the world’s bet mom, but to be a better mom.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe, Book Review

Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe
by Jenny Lee Sulpizio

I never was into Wonder Woman as a kid and may not have went through a superhero crazy, but as a mom I definitely feel the pull, the push, the drive, the compulsion, the pressure or whatever that is to be SuperMom.  Yes, able to clean messes with a single swipe, keep her home immaculate, her meals delicious, her husband happy, her children super-successful, and herself looking amazing.  There’s really no end to the perfection we moms sometimes demand from ourselves.wonderwomanwannabe

That’s why Jenny Lee Sulpizio’s book, Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe, can be such a treasure box of useful tips, tools, ideas, and resources for any busy mom with a young family.  She’s engaging, witty, and vulnerable as she shares her own mom-mistakes, mom-discoveries, and mom-expertise.

Sulpizio weaves reminders of God’s grace and His promises to help us while creating a practical resource or handbook for everything “Mom.” She includes chapters on everything from meal planning, grocery shopping, coupon clipping, house cleaning, taking care of your own health and beauty, how to pack emergency supplies in your car, and what to keep in your purse.

If you’re a natural organizer and planner, many of these tips and ideas will come naturally to you.  Perhaps you even subscribe to your favorite Mom-blogs with much of this information.  But Sulpizio has done a great job of compiling a ton of resources that could help any mom (naturally organized or not) be a better manager of home and family.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Anything, Book Review

Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul
by Jennie Allen

Breathtaking.  People use that word to describe physical beauty, like a bride on her wedding day or the ocean view out their vacation home or the first time they touch their feet onto African ground and view the landscape. It’s all so breathtaking.anything2

Me, sure I’m a lover of physical beauty, but it’s words that make me gasp for breath.  I’ve had a few books that make me suck in air when I sit down to read and after a few minutes it feels like I haven’t taken another breath.  Dishes don’t get done.  Laundry remains in a pile.  And then I look up. I’ve finished.  I gasp for air.

Jennie Allen’s book took my breath away.  It’s her writing, so raw and lovely, so rhythmic without being in-your-face poetic.  But it’s something more.  It’s because just over one year ago I told God that if I could have anything I wanted from Him, it’d be His glory.  Just be glorified, Lord.  And whatever you want me to do to glorify Your name, then I’d do it.

Jennie prayed that same prayer, but she used just one word: “Anything.”  She told God she’d do anything at all in obedience to Him and He took her up on her offer.  He messed with what she’d always wanted out of life and stirred up a desire in her heart for Him before everything .  . . and anything . . . else.

I found myself nodding my head with her pursuit of passion for God and the struggles, the difficult walk of obeying Him, because when He says, “Follow me,” it’s not always an easy jog to our destination.  Sometimes it’s an uphill hike or a marathon.

In some ways, this is just another book by an author challenging us to live radical lives because we’re so crazy in love with Jesus.  You’ve probably read books like this.  I’ve read them.  I’ve liked them.  But Jennie Allen’s book worked for me in a way the others didn’t.  She reminds us that sometimes this means moving to Africa to be missionaries, but sometimes it means moving close to your sick mother to care for her.

I’ve walked away from similar books disillusioned and frustrated sometimes because I want to be obedient to Christ and I don’t live a materialistic, comfy, self-focused life.  I desire to put Him first.  I want to do anything, give anything to live that radically obedient walk . . .but then God didn’t call me to full-time missions or urban ministry.   So, it seemed so illusory.  Makes for a great book, changes lives for others, never really changed mine.

Yet, Jennie Allen reminds us that we don’t get to pick and choose what God desires for us and how He uses us.  Sometimes the call He gives us seems small to others and insignificant in comparison to the ministry of those we see. We can’t please everyone along the way either.  The important thing is to do whatever He has said, big and small, simple and terribly risky, and do it because He said and that’s enough.

This is not one of Jennie Allen’s Bible studies, but it is a walk through two years of her life when she and her husband committed to doing anything God asked.  It’s fabulous for an individual read, maybe even a book club or small group looking for something different to read.  For those who want more of a Bible Study structure, I encourage you to check out her other resources.  I know I will.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”