Book Review: Having a Martha Home the Mary Way


The dedication page in this book says it all: “This book is for everyone out there who needs to know that being a “good” homemaker has less to do with having a clean home and more to do with loving others well.”


I wrestled with this beast a few years ago and have arrived at a decent balance in my own homemaking. Could it be better? Of course. But life has seasons, and some seasons are less inclined to facilitate the kind of clean house I truly desire. (For me, that season is called “the school year”.) And at the end of the day, what really matters is how I use our home to love others through hospitality and fellowship.

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way by Sarah Mae is a 31-day devotional. I’m not sure I knew this when I opted to review it, but that’s okay. It was what I needed, and clearly the Lord knew that. The book opens with a forward, followed by an introduction that is completely worth reading. I admit to being an introduction-skipper most of the time; I just want to get to the meat! But the author gives her own story in it, and I think it’s helpful to have a grasp on her perspective before diving into the experience the book offers. (She seems to start from a point of chaos; the house is out of control, and the overwhelm has created a mode of analysis paralysis.)

Each day is structured as such:

  • a short devotional (usually a page or so in length)
  • a “Mary Challenge” (Scripture reading with reflection questions)
  • a “Martha Challenge” (a cleaning/organizing goal for the day)

In my opinion, this book is like Whole30, but for your house. It’s devoting 31 days to examining your own heart—Why do I want a clean house? And how will I utilize it for the Lord once I’ve completed this journey?—and moving methodically through your home to purge and reorganize and deep clean. It sounds overwhelming, and if you work outside the home (like I do), it would likely be too much for one month, unless you clear a couple of your Saturdays and involve the whole family in the Martha Challenges (which she encourages). But I think the book could easily be adapted for each person’s lifestyle and still accomplish the main goal, which, as the subtitle states, is taking “31 days to a clean house and a satisfied soul.” I think the author does a good job of pointing the reader’s eyes to Jesus (thus the satisfied soul).

My main takeaway from Having a Martha Home the Mary Way is this: If you don’t have a theological basis and vision for your homemaking, this book will help you create one. Having worked through this in the past, I can say that having a vision for how the Lord would want me to use our home—instead of simply how I want to use it—helps me to stay motivated in homemaking. Sarah lists her homemaking vision in the book, but mine is really two-fold:

  1. Create a warm, comfortable, safe space to serve as a place of rest and rejuvenation for my family.
  2. Keep that space tidy and organized such that we can offer hospitality at a moment’s notice.

Everything stems from that. Notice I didn’t say perfect; no lived-in space will ever be perfect all the time because, well, you’re living in it! I appreciate that Sarah Mae differentiates between a comfortable, livable space, and the unattainable perfect one.

Even if you’re a naturally organized person who loves a good purge one a quarter—I’m raising my hand here!—Having a Martha Home the Mary Way still offers good reminders and ideas to reignite your passion for a good purge. Speaking of, I’ve got a capsule wardrobe to assemble. 🙂

Soli Deo gloria,


*In exchange for my honest opinion, I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: