The One Thing

Ever hear of the sisters, Mary and Martha?

They were friends of Jesus and also among those who followed Jesus and listened to his teaching. Biblical scholars believe that Martha was probably an affluent widow. She also practiced hospitality.

When she invited Jesus to her home – she had to be ready for a crowd – his entourage came with him.

The Bible says she was encumbered or stressed by serving.

Luke 10:38-42

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.

So she does what most of us women do when stressed – she complains.

She goes right to Jesus!

She attempts to get Jesus to agree with her – “I’m doing all the work – shouldn’t Mary help?

God does not necessarily agree with the cause of our distress – we might think it is –

  • My mother-in-law
  • My child who refuses to potty train
  • My boss who doesn’t seem to understand that I have children
  • My adult child who doesn’t call me
  • My messy house

Jesus does care – just not about the same thing that is bothering Martha.

Mary chose the “good part” – that was The one thing worth being concerned about – which certainly meant what Mary made her choice to do—sitting at Christ’s feet, to hear his word.

So, does Jesus not want to eat, you may ask? Don’t we have to attend to the needs of our families, especially when there are little ones that depend on our care for their very survival?

Of course. The Bible is clear in teaching that we have responsibilities to fulfill and it is godly to do so.

Yet, are we so busy that we neglect the “One Thing” that feeds our souls?

“Martha’s care and work were good in their proper season and place; but now she had something else to do, which was unspeakably more needful, and therefore should be done first, and most minded.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)

I had the privilege of participating this weekend in a women’s retreat sponsored by a local church, yet including ladies from various congregations. It was a precious time of fellowship, worship and teaching.

It was a time to focus on the One Thing – sitting at Jesus feet.

God was faithful to meet us and His presence was evident as we shared together.

I am so thankful that I was able to be like Mary this weekend  – sitting at Jesus feet.






A friend called the other day and asked if I had anything blooming in my yard.

Yes, I did.

I told her it was a bit sparse bloom wise. It was between the blooming of the peonies and rhododendrons and the next manifestation which are the cone flowers, calla lilies and Shasta daisies. Yet the knock out roses were blooming full force and she was welcome to cut all she needed.

I love how God shows off His creative genius through the variety of color, shape, and form in flowers!

We do have beautiful flowers in our yard  – from the first blooms of the hellebore in February to the last blooms on the hydrangea before the first frost.

I cannot take credit for the beauty in our yard.


I only tend what God has so bountifully provided.

I was “tending” this weekend, weeding some flower beds and I was thinking how blessed I am to live in a place with good, old soil that is dark and rich. I also inherited plants from the previous owners including Peggy Mason who chose beautiful specimens that compliment our old farm-house. (the original owner was her grandfather).

None of this is my doing.

I was also blessed to have my father live with us for several years and his knowledge of plants and how best to care for them formed my pattern of “tending”. His love of God’s creation has impacted my enjoyment and my stewardship of plant life.

It made me ponder the idea that tending these plants in our yard is very similar to caring for our children. As a parent I am like a gardener in the life of my children.

  • God created our children in His image. (Jeremiah 1:5)
  • God blessed me with each child  – I did not “pick” them. (Psalm 127:3)
  • God chose to place us in this place  – in this time. (Esther 4:14)
  • God chose the DNA that makes up the genetic code that forms each child and determines their gender, their eye and hair color, and in many ways their personality. (Psalm 139:14)

As a mother, I had little to do with any of the above things except to shelter the egg that becomes the child and carry that child to birth.

After birth comes the “tending”. I can shelter, “prune” (discipline) and select the best environment for that child. Just as I decide if a certain plant needs shade or sun, each child has various needs. Not all children flourish in the same conditions, nor do all plants.

Some of my plants need tender loving care to get established, some have grown on the bank where I threw them to alleviate overcrowding. So much for me taking credit!

I have been amazed that certain plants have revived after a severe winter or a tree falling on top of them. I have also been amazed when one of my children has overcome a devastating situation – one that I thought might defeat them and leave permanent scars.

It is after those circumstances I KNOW that it is not my “tending” that brings results.

It is God who accomplishes anything that is worthy of praise.

We tend – God produces the results – in our children  – in our gardens.

In Matthew 6, Jesus uses flowers as an illustration of how faithful God is to us.

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

God will supply ALL we need to tend to our children. God is faithful.

He will do it.

Do the Next Thing (2)

Adah and leaves

I first posted the following blog in July of 2011. In talking to a lovely young mother recently – it came up again  – that feeling of being overwhelmed. I wanted to re-post this because we ALL need to be reminded of this again….and again!

We just had the privilege of taking care of our three granddaughters for a week. I am left with two overwhelming feelings – first – exhaustion – and then a new and deep respect for our daughter and son-in-law as parents. I had forgotten just how constant the care of young children is. There is never any down time while 6, 4, and 2 year olds are awake. As you mothers of young children know – you must be ever mindful of where your children are and what they are doing.

I enjoyed every minute of our granddaughters’ visit, yet I must admit I was worn out. I had planned to do several small projects while they napped or after they went to bed. One project was crocheting a border around a new, small blanket. for the 2-year-old to carry (so it wouldn’t drag in the dirt) RIGHT! That did not happen.

I was reminded of some helpful advice I received when our children were small. Elizabeth Elliot, author and Bible teacher, encouraged young mothers to deal with overwhelming stress by encouraging one to just “do the next thing”. I found this piece of wisdom so practical because I remember many times being overwhelmed by my responsibility as a mother of young children.

Instead of focusing on all I had to do and knowing there were not enough hours in the day to get it all done, I would “do the next thing ” and focus instead on the task at hand.

It sounds so simple – but it is excellent advice and it works. When I felt overwhelmed I would

  • change the next diaper,
  • put the next load of diapers in the washing machine (yes, I am old enough to have had three in CLOTH diapers at the same time),
  • make the next peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I found that it was not so much the difficulty of any one task that was overwhelming, but the sheer number of things that MUST be done. I found that instead of being paralyzed into doing nothing, I was able to gradually accomplish the most important tasks. In the workplace people prioritize, but with small children the “priority” task is not always the most important task. Sometimes reading a story FIRST will offer a child the attention they need and then afterward allow you to start supper without a screaming appendage attached to your leg.

It is part of life experience to be overwhelmed at times. In Psalms, David addresses God in desperation –

Psalm 61:1 – 2 “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”

When David was overwhelmed, he cried out to God.

I have done that often and will again in this journey as a mother. It is a blessing to know I am not alone with these feelings and that my heavenly Father hears my cry and answers. I had begun writing this post on July 4th, but the “next thing” for me that day was our 6 grandchildren, my parents, brother, sister-in-law and niece, two daughters, two sons-in-law, a son and husband. So, a week went by without a post, not a big deal.

Doing the next thing did NOT mean I finished everything, it did mean I finished some things and accomplished what was most important that day as a grandmother, mother, daughter, sister, and wife.

Then, I did the next thing.