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“It’s not that I didn’t want to help my sister. I had done it many times before. I understand my responsibilities.”

“But when he speaks, I am half mesmerized and half confused. I know that what he is saying is important, even if I don’t understand it all.”

“He looks me in the eyes when he speaks. He never asks me to move over, to make room for someone else.”

“I am right where I need to be in this moment, at the Teacher’s feet.”


“It’s not that I don’t want to hear what Jesus is saying. But we have people in our home, and my way of doing what’s right is to care for their practical needs.”

“He was gentle when he pointed out my sister understood something I was missing. To be at his feet and hear from him is the most important. Maybe if I start there and not here in the kitchen?”

“Hospitality is important to God, too. I know it is. Jesus just wants to fill me up first.”

When the flight attendant gives the instructions for the sudden loss of air pressure, we understand that we cannot help those around us if we cannot breathe. “Put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others,” we’ve heard countless times.

The same is true of love, and the heart of loving begins at the feet of Jesus. Sweet Mary chooses this place. It wasn’t to spite her sister. She simply longed to be there. Sweet Martha wanted to serve, and Jesus honored this with His gentle guidance. We can hear the bitterness, though, when she grumbled about her sister’s priorities.

Looking up and out this time of year to serve and show hospitality is noble and right; in fact, it’s God-honoring. But first, let’s put on our own oxygen masks. First, let’s sit at His feet and be filled with His words and breathe in His presence. Then, let’s join our sisters, get up, and serve with all the vigor of Martha.

It is in God’s words and presence that we find renewal. It is in the quiet moments before the house stirs into its frenzy that we can be brought into that hushed and secret place. A place quiet enough to hear our instructions, to inhale our hope again, for the day.

“I bring you good tidings of great joy,” the angel announced. And it is this joy that fuels us when we do hard things. “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” Nehemiah told the people after their labors. And before they got up to work again (Nehemiah 8:10).

We need joyful strength when we invite our next-door neighbor over for the hot chocolate bar. We need energy to arrange the cookie exchange so we can talk to the woman who God has been prompting us to meet. We need great joy to sweep and dry-mop one more time, to have those families over for s’mores because we know there are difficult circumstances in their lives right now.

Mary didn’t have life all figured out, and Martha wasn’t told to ditch the apron. Jesus simply wanted to show them both how to live with joy-filled strength.

The weary world rejoices when it glimpses peace, strength, and hope. And more than in our clean kitchens, or thoughtfully chosen gifts, or homemade touches, that peace and strength and hope shines from a renewed face.

The invitation starts at Jesus’ feet and moves up and out to our hearts, our priorities, how we hold ourselves, how we make eye contact, smile, and ask, “How are you today, friend?” And then to how we lean in to listen.

When we ask in prayer, God will show us not an overwhelming list but the one thing. The one word we need to hang on to, as Mary did. The one choice we need to make that day. The one person who needs us to pray, to check-in, to offer hope today. The person who needs to know there is more than the endless task list, daunting caregiving, worrisome finances or health, or broken relationships.

At his feet, I find the joy-filled strength to love her, him, them. To bring that gift, arrange that walk, do that outing, or just send that text and pray today.

I get excited that, when I listen as Mary did, when I open the Bible and journal, and pray and process with trusted friends, Jesus meets me. I hear the nudge-whispers, “You know that woman across the street who lives alone. Even though you’re not baking right now, buy those cookies, tie them with a pretty bow, and bring them by.” And my joy-filled strength gets stirred.

“You know that young couple who just moved here? Don’t assume they have everyone they need already. Offer to take them to see the Christmas lights and show them the city you love.”

And then, I start making joyful plans and take that next faithful step. And I don’t know what is more fun, seeing my life blossom into a blessing or knowing that God loves to talk to me when I first listen.

Jesus, thank you for giving us ways to hear from you and serve you. Thank you for Your joy-filled strength to love as you love us.

And sweet Mary, thank you for showing us where to start. Sweet Martha, thank you for showing us how to bless. Both of you, thank you for showing us what it looks like to be joy-strengthened sisters.

Naomi’s Recipe of the Week:

Reindeer Chow

What I Love About This Recipe:

Well, first of all, it’s delish. Secondly, it’s Christmassy. Thirdly, it’s EASY!

So, when we are being like Dear Mary, and soaking up God’s treats for our souls this season, we can also be like Dear Martha and thinking of other people’s needs. This might be better named “Mary AND Martha Mix!”

In fact, I’ve just renamed it that in my mind.

So, here’s my fun challenge for you this week—only if it invites you to live extraordinary: Make this mix, put it in a pretty box, gift bag, or just a resealable bag you can tie with a bow, and take it to someone. Who? That’s the fun part.

Ask God to show you someone who could use some “sweet” for their season. Maybe ask God to show you a whole BUNCH of someones! This mix can easily double and could be something you leave on the doorsteps of your entire condo complex, or your cul de sac, or drive around, text the person ahead of time that you’ll be dropping something by, and leave it on her doorstep along with a nice note. Take pics, and post on our Facebook and email it to me at [email protected].

And I’ll join you!

No holiday party is complete without a big bowl of reindeer chow! This Christmas chex mix is loaded with chocolate flavor and is perfect for feeding a crowd.
  • 6 cups Rice Chex cereal
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup dry brownie mix or 1 cup powdered sugar mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 bag Christmas M&M’s, 12-ounce bag
  • 2 cups mini peanut butter cups
  • 2 cups pretzel twists


  1. Place the cereal in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate chips and peanut butter. Microwave the chocolate mixture for 30-second intervals until melted; stir until smooth.
  2. Pour the chocolate mixture over the cereal and use a spatula to gently toss the cereal in the chocolate until completely coated.
  3. Place the brownie mix inside a resealable gallon-sized plastic bag. Add the chocolate-coated cereal. Seal, then shake until cereal is coated in the brownie mix.
  4. Spread the cereal out in a single layer on a sheet of parchment paper; cool completely until dry.
  5. Combine the cereal, M&M’s, peanut butter cups, and pretzel twists, then serve.

To make this reindeer chow peanut-free, use white candy melts instead of peanut butter in the Chex and swap out the peanut butter cups for mini marshmallows.