Mary, Martha and Me

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

A little update on the project: 

1. The Title

We’re thinking of titling the book Mary, Martha, and Me:  A Yearlong Experiment in Biblical Womanhood. What do you think about that? 

2. Mary Kassian


Speaking of Mary, on Thursday I spent a couple of hours on the phone with Mary Kassian, one of the leaders of the True Woman Movement. She couldn’t have been more gracious and I was honored to be invited to The “W” Conference later this month. I can’t help but chuckle at the idea of spending the night at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary after my little run-in with Al Mohler! But this will be a great opportunity to immerse myself in the contemporary “biblical womanhood” movement, so I plan to take her up on it.  

3. Mary of Nazareth

My friend Elizabeth Esther wrote an AMAZING series called “How Mary Brought Me Back to Jesus” that you simply must read: Part 1Part 2. One of the most rewarding parts of my journey so far has been reexamining the stories of biblical women (and female saints) who consistently challenge and transcend our notions of “biblical womanhood.” I’ve been especially drawn to Rebekah, Tamar, Deborah, Vashti, Ruth, Mary, Martha, Junia, Tabitha, the woman who bled (Matthew 9), the Samaritan at the well (John 4), Saint Teresa of Avila and St. Clare of Assisi. I’m looking forward to weaving the stories of these women into my own.

4. The Roof

With a grand total of 89 cents in the Jar of Contention, I spent an hour and 29 minutes on the roof Monday morning doing penance for a month’s worth of complaining, nagging, exaggeration, gossip, and snark. This was to honor Proverbs 21:9, which states that “it is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” I wanted to get an idea of the lengths a person would go to in order to escape my less-than-gentle habits.  Dan took some photos. (The hat was to keep my face from getting burned.)


5. Etiquette 101


After my morning on the roof, I drove to Knoxville for a private etiquette lesson with Mrs. Flora Mainord. It was absolutely fascinating, and will certainly make for one of the most colorful sections of the book. (As it turns out, continental dining does not refer to the free breakfast you get at the Hampton Inn!) Proverbs 11:22 says, “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion,” so I asked Flora to focus her lesson on gentleness and discretion, and she totally rose to the occasion. (Just sent my properly formatted thank-you note to her yesterday.) I also learned some great dining tips that I plan to incorporate into my month of domesticity—particularly when I host Thanksgiving Dinner later this month.

6. Domesticity 

November focuses on Domesticity, so I’ve been devouring my copies of Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook and The Martha Stewart Cooking School. (In the mail are The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Shaeffer and Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey.) It took me three freaking hours to make Martha’s homemade chicken soup last night, but I was so proud of myself afterward that it was worth it. (I have a real aversion to handling an entire bird. I don’t like to get that intimate with my meat—feels kinda primitive and icky.) Oh! Don't forget to send in your original recipe for a chance to see it published


So what do you think of the experiment so far? What do think of the proposed title? And is anyone else afraid of meat?  (Learn more about my “year of biblical womanhood.” See more photos on Facebook.)

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