How to Actually Be a Mary Instead of a Martha

“MOM!” the three-year old yells from the toilet where she is waiting for me to wipe her bum.

“MOM!” calls the 12 year-old from the dining room table. She needs to know why her Zoom call for algebra won’t connect.

The pile of work looms behind me as I glance at the clock and then turn to meet their needs.

Time. As much as we’d like to pause it, multiply it, fast forward it, or store it up, we can’t. We simply spend time one second at a time.  And 2020 has in many ways redefined how we spend our time, hasn’t it?

Some of us have had our calendars open up with a freedom we’ve never dreamed of. And some of us have had COVID slam us into overdrive. Some of us have had more alone time than we’ve ever wanted, and some of us have had more togetherness than we’ve ever wanted.

But we are learning, perhaps as never before, that how we spend our time matters. It matters because uncertainty is certain. Life and systems and plans are fragile.

As life attempts to find a new normal, we want desperately for that new normal to be good, for what matters most to drive how we spend our time. As Velvet Ashes readers, as sisters in this global kingdom-minded community, I think we all agree that the ultimate priority of our lives is our relationship with God. That’s our one absolute certainty. From that core flows everything else – our decisions, our reactions, our joy, our hope.    

We also know that the requirement for relationship is… time. Any relationship will feel off or distant if significant time is not spent connecting. This is true of all our human relationships, and just as true for our relationship with God.

That is why we here at Velvet Ashes believe in the practice of spiritual retreat. We need time spent away from everything else so we can spend it solely focused on connecting with God.

Let’s go back to that moment when my children are calling for me as my pile of work looms at me. In that moment, I think of the famous biblical sisters. Is my heart like Mary’s or Martha’s? I find that most often the answer to that question is found in how I’ve spent my time. Does God meet me when days are non-stop full? Absolutely. But can I stay functioning with a deep connection with God when I don’t have any time set aside just for him? Nope.   

Like Mary, we need time at the feet of Jesus, otherwise we’ll all be Marthas, hustling around to change the world for Jesus, while missing the one thing that is truly needed.

“If my prayer life can be said to be a journey from the Martha-state to the Mary-state, then solitude can be said to be the vehicle in which I will make this journey.” – Mark E. Thibodeaux

It is in that deep alone time with God where we splay our hearts before him, where we give time and space for the profound transforming work of God to take place in our hearts. The Velvet Ashes retreat is the invitation for you to do just that. Take an entire day just to be with God.  

For the first time ever, Velvet Ashes is offering a retreat in October. This retreat can be done anywhere in the world, just find some quiet space. We’re taking a break from technology overload and going “unplugged” for this retreat. Our printable retreat guide will gently lead you through an incredible time of connection with God, allowing you to process with Jesus where you are right now – heart, soul, mind and body.

You’ll go on a personal journey with God through Scripture, discovering the life-defining truths behind the covenantal words, “Here I am.” Just show up for this time with him saying, “Here I am.”

Trust that he will meet you and fill you. Trust that this inward journey will shift and shape how you journey outwardly in the world. Sitting at his feet doesn’t mean we stay sitting. We get up and do. But how we do life will be different. The fullness you receive from him will come out in beautiful ways to those around you.

We’re so looking forward to processing our experiences together in the richness of community after the retreat weekend in our Live Debrief Webinar and on the blog.

Check out all the details here. We hope you’ll join us for Velvet Ashes’ Unplugged Retreat. Because it’s all about time. Time at Jesus’ feet.

How can we pray for you and your Unplugged Retreat? Please share. We will pray.    


  1. Michele September 17, 2020

    When I first found out that there was going to be a retreat in October, tears came to my eyes! I’m taking that as a sign that I will be needing it. I can affirm that quote about solitude… and I have just gone from months of it in my host country to 24/7 with people and BUSY in my passport country. I’m enjoying the work and time with family, but it’s only been a few weeks and I already feel that longing for some time alone with the Lord. Thank you for doing this!!

  2. Danielle Wheeler September 17, 2020

    That’s a drastic shift to go through, Michele! I’m so glad this retreat is timely for you. Sounds like he’s been stirring deep desire in you. I trust that God is going to meet you in a special way.

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