It all began with the desire to write biblical fiction. I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10, but as I looked at the rest of their story found in John 11 and 12, I realized that there was much more than just a novel in these two sisters from Bethany. As I began to outline the actual book, God reminded me of a retreat I had attended many years before whose theme was: “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.” The speaker never even mentioned Mary and Martha, but the theme stayed with me and resurfaced as I wrote the book. I remember thinking, “Well, the book might stink, but what a great title!”
I had tried to find out the source of the title so I could get permission to use it, but no one seemed to know where it had come from. Eight years after the book came out, I was speaking at a Nebraska women’s conference when one of the leadership team asked where I’d found the title. I told her my story. Then Candy Arrington told me a story of her own.
“About fifteen years ago I was asked to be the women’s ministries director for our state,” Candy said. “But I argued with the Lord, telling Him that they needed a Mary for this position and I was way too much of a Martha.”
“The Lord seemed to agree,” Candy told me with a smile. But then He whispered something to her spirit she would never forget.
“Yes, you are a Martha. But I want you to do this with a Mary Heart.” That phrase became her theme – Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. She put it on her stationery and that stationery went around the country. Somehow, the phrase ended up on a list of suggested conference themes and I ended up at one of those conferences! The rest, as they say, is history.
I can’t tell you how much it meant to meet Candy and be able to thank her for a phrase that has not only changed my life, but continues to impact the lives of women around the world. But what really touched my heart was the fact God cared enough to bring us together all these years later, solving a mystery that had nagged for years in my mind.
Thanks again, Candy, for your gracious permission to continue using the phrase God used to expand your life and ministry as well as mine!