mary's book basket ~ "everything: what you give and what you gain to become like Jesus" by mary de muth

In "Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus", author Mary de Muth takes the reader on a journey through worry, brokenness, fear, and failure all the while learning to lean on Jesus, who is our "everything". She walks through the valley exploring how, with Christ walking by our side, we can once again arrive at the mountain top, having grown in our relationship with Our Creator becoming more like Him with each challenge faced.

"I don't write this book as a condemnation or as a sermon. The last thing I want to do is provide a 'how to be the best Christian in ten easy steps' guide. I pen these words as a fellow struggler who is learning that what we think about God matters, how we allow Him to reign in our hearts matters, and how we obey Him in the moment matters. It "all" matters. Everything."

There are times when a book lands in your lap and upon opening it, you realize that God's timing is indeed perfect. That's how I feel about this book. It has turned into a game changer for me. I was at a crossroads when I began reading, struggling with a choice over which road to follow. I was filled with angst and worry about the future and over the course of the nest week or so, I began to understand what was happening and why. The path in front of me was once more illuminated by God's grace and wisdom and I have Mary's words to thank for that.

This book was a true gift to me these past few weeks. Ms. de Muth lays out in three sections how we, as Christians, can grow closer to Our Lord through our heads, hearts and hands.

"This book follows three truths. We start with our heads, what we think about God. We'll move to our hearts, the place Jesus wants to revolutionize, to become our everything. And we'll end with our hands, how we live out Jesus' internal transformation."

Sounds simple right?

Ummmm...not so much.

Ms de Muth challenges me ( and you ) to think outside the box, to get comfortable in our "uncomfortableness", to let go of our worry, our brokenness, our past sins and mistakes and move into the place that scares us...the let go of control...and allow Christ to lead. She encourages the reader to trust in a plan we cannot see and many times may not understand. If He is our "Everything", than trust should be absolute and there is nothing to fear about the future or any challenge it may present. After all we are to live in the present, learning, loving and serving as best we can.

Mary shares much of her personal journey with the reader and her upbringing was fraught with peril. She was sexually abused, grew up in a house filled with alcoholics and drug addicts. She was alone most of her young life and has the scars to show for it. You can read more about her journey in her memoir "The Thin Places".  It is an amazing read, filled with the healing grace of God.

Below is an article (re-printed her with the authors permission) that Mary has written in support of this book release. She explores the theme of resilience further in Chapter Six of "Everything". It's one of my favorite parts of the book.

Jeremiah 29:11 Doesn’t Mean What You Think it Means

Most of us are aware of the popular verse, Jeremiah 29:11. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

We quote it, share it with grieving friends, and cross-stitch it onto pillows. But do we truly know what it means? In order to understand its meaning, we have to hang out in the preceding chapter, understanding the history of Israel, the nature of the exile, and the promise of the future.

The Jewish people disobeyed God in every possible way. They traded Him for evil gods, preferring to worship demons than bow to the King of Kings. As a direct result of that disobedience, God sent them into Babylonian exile.

In the midst of that, we meet Hananiah, a seer. In chapter 28, he prophecies peace for Israel, saying they will be returning to Jerusalem soon. His message? All will be well.

Problem was, he didn’t tell the truth.

All would not be well.

In this day, we see hundreds (thousands?) of Hananiahs prophesying the same thing. All will be well. Prosperity is coming. Claim your victory. And then we lump in Jeremiah 29:11 in with that. We want to believe the Christian life is all about our happiness. We want growth, but we don’t want exile to create it. We want to be strong in Jesus, but we don’t want to walk the Calvary road He walked. We want holiness without pain.

The context of Jeremiah 29 is exile. Jeremiah, who rebukes Hananiah and predicts his death, reminds the Israelites that their exile was to continue. Relief would eventually come, but not swiftly. He encouraged them to marry and bury, to plant vineyards, to seek the prosperity of their current place.

God’s heart in Jeremiah’s famous verse is not that we escape our lot, but that we learn to thrive in the midst of it. Jesus uttered the same truth: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NLT).

We look for a better kingdom. As exiles and aliens on this sin-darkened earth, God doesn’t call us to escapism, but to thriving in the midst of our trials.  God gives us holy hope that this is not all there is. Our suffering here means something. It helps us long for a better country, a better place.

Yes, of course God knows the plans He has for us. And ultimately He will give us a glorious future. But as we walk out our lives on this crazy earth, let’s remember that the best growth comes through persevering through trials, not escaping them entirely.

 Yep, it was an eye opener for me. I love that verse. I call it Courtney's verse and what I realized is that my daughter, who is blind and doesn't speak understands it and lives it better than myself. But now I have a holy hope and a deeper understanding of the walk that I must undertake in order to grow in my relationship with Christ.

Amazingly when you meet Mary, you would never know that such horrific things were part of her story. The healing that she has experienced at the foot of the Cross spills over into her daily life. I had the great privilege of sharing a meal with her (and many others) at last year's Relevant conference (now called Allume). She smiled warmly, welcomed me, listened and encouraged me in my writing. She was a woman filled with grace and a tremendous sense of peace. You remember that conference. I wrote about it here in this space. I had a complete and total meltdown over what I was even doing there.

What Mary doesn't know is how her words of encouragement and truth have stayed with me over the last year. That dinner the first night was worth all my anxiety and worry. I realize a year later that the whole weekend was a holy failure for a very good reason. God needed my full undivided attention when it came to Courtney's care. She would have several crises over the next nine months. It was not the time to grow my blog or spend hours completing my memoir. I was needed on the front lines of Courtney's life to pray for her, care for her, and love her as best I could without distraction. Mary told me that night that it would come together when the time was right. No truer words were spoken that weekend.

It is my honor to be able to support her work through this blog tour. She is the real deal my friends...she has gone through the pit many times over and been raised to the mountain top, each time growing in her relationship with Christ and allowing His love to shine through her life and words, sharing her broken life so we might have hope in our own shame.

"Everything" is about praising Him in the pit of despair and praising Him still at the top of the mountain. It's about letting go of control and trusting that Jesus does indeed have the wheel. He has a plan for each of us. He allows challenges to arise so that I rely more on Him for the answers and less on me. I must decrease so HE can increase within me. It is a lesson I relearn every single day. I highly recommend this book and have awarded it

5 CUPCAKES = I feel like celebrating for the joyously awesome fabulously wonderful read and it will remain on my keeper shelf

Mary DeMuth is a nationally-known speaker and the author of 14 books. Her passion is to help folks live uncaged, freedom-infused lives. Her latest release, Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus (Thomas Nelson).