Today I am thrilled to introduce you to my friend Andy Lee, author of A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called.
Isn’t she the cutest? And I have serious typewriter envy.
Andy is humble, honest, insightful, compassionate, and funny—the kind of woman you want to have deep talks with over coffee. I loved reading A Mary Like Me. Andy dives deep into the lives of the Marys of the Bible: Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdalene. Andy’s fresh insights into their stories and personalities cover such modern topics as women’s role in ministry, mental illness, grief, messy motherhood, and strategies for in-depth Bible study. In her interview, Andy shares more about who she is and why she wrote this book. I know you’ll love getting to know Andy (and the Marys!) as much as I have.
You wrote this book in part to inspire and empower women who have been called to ministry. What are some of the inner obstacles women may have to overcome when choosing to answer God’s call for their lives? What obstacles have you had to overcome?
Andy: Oh my, so many obstacles! The enemy of our lives is threatened by us, and loves to discourage us in our calling. A huge obstacle is comparison. That’s why I wrote this book. If I compare my speaking, teaching, writing, mothering, cooking (which I’m not a fan), decorating, gardening (which I don’t do), cleaning (which I don’t want to do), etc. to my friends’ and virtual friends’ cooking, writing, speaking, mothering, etc. I’m sunk. Comparison throws a blanket of discouragement over my soul, and I want to quit. I fight comparison by admitting my imperfectness and thanking God for the opportunities He puts in front of me everyday, and I ask for grace to do my best for Him, not for Pinterest or Facebook or the Mother of the Year Award.
For women called to preach and teach and perhaps pastor, there will be many obstacles. All I can say is, “Trust God.” Trust that He will open and close the doors. Go where He leads. Know that He is creative with His calling. It may not, and probably won’t, look like you envisioned when you first knew He was calling you into full-time ministry.
Finally, don’t despise small beginnings, the hidden places. God’s economy is not ours, nor is His timing. Live and serve right where you are with the people He has put in your life. They may be smearing jelly all over your television with chubby fingers. Pray for grace. Kiss those fingers. Thank God for today, and use the hidden places, the small beginnings to grow deeper into Him. Practice His Presence. And practice your calling right where you are now.
We tend to read Bible characters as flat, unrelatable characters, distant from us because of time and cultural differences. How do you hope your book helps modern women to better connect with the Marys of the Bible?
Andy: Oh . . . this is such my heart. Yes, they were from a different culture and spoke a different language, and they lived so long ago, but I am convinced that all of the biblical characters, men and women, dealt with the very same heart issues we do today. We see it easily with Peter and Paul, but for some reason, the “good girl” biblical characters have a holy glow when we read their stories. This detaches them from us, which distances God from us in our hearts because we don’t think we could ever serve Jesus as they did. It’s that comparison thing again. But when we find someone who can relate to our struggles, we are no longer threatened by them. Camaraderie encourages us and draws us closer. I also think that once we connect with the Marys’ human hearts, the thousands of years, language, and cultural barriers disappear, and the Bible becomes more real and applicable for today.
I love the way you incorporate the Bible’s original languages, Greek and Hebrew and even Aramaic, into your study of these women. Your book gives great pointers on simple, non-intimidating ways anyone can add this kind of study to our own Bible reading, even without a Bible degree. What does it add to our Bible study when we explore the original languages?
Andy: Oh my gosh! It adds LIFE to our Bible study when we study this way. It is incredible. My husband says that my goal is to turn everyone into a Bible nerd. It’s true, but only because digging under our translation has brought so much excitement and joy and life into my walk with God. Nuances have been lost in translation that can be discovered by word studies, and exploring the ancient language also brings a fresh understanding into familiar scripture. If the Bible seems dull or hard to understand, you’ve got to try studying this way. You’ll never read the Bible the same, and you’ll find the truth of Hebrews 4:12, “The Bible is alive and active . . . .”
You use the Marys’ experiences to address deep topics like grief and mental illness, with stories from your own life and ministry. How can an encounter with the Marys in the Bible help Christian women who are grieving a loss, or wrestling with mental illness?
Andy: It goes back to camaraderie. You aren’t alone. We find comfort when someone shares what we’re going through. It also takes out some of the power of the grief or depression when we realize someone else knows our pain. But what I really hope the reader sees in these stories is how Jesus interacted with these grieving, mentally ill women. He was loving, caring, and desired to heal them. He cried with them, and He understood their human heart. What kind of God does that?
I love what you wrote about Mary the mother of Jesus: “Mary wasn’t a perfect mother. This gives me hope. . . . My mommy failures won’t wipe out my kids’ destinies either. And neither will yours.” What advice can you give to moms like me who are painfully aware of our own shortcomings—we are striving to grow as Christians and moms, but sometimes we long for perfection and feel overwhelmed by Mom Guilt?
Andy: None of us are perfect mothers. None. Of. Us. We each have our strengths and weaknesses. I knew I’d be a better mom when my kids were teenagers than when they were babies. (And I was.) It’s probably a miracle they came out as good as they did. I prayed a lot. I prayed for God to redeem my mistakes. And He has. Comparison gets us here too. If Pinterest makes you crazy and depressed, don’t do it! I remember watching a friend get up from where the mommies were sitting and walk across the yard to whisper into her son’s ear, and that day I thought, “Oh! What a great idea. Instead of yelling at my kids I should get up, walk over to them, and talk to them.” It took energy. Everything about being a mom takes energy. So, I prayed for energy and creativity in the discipline department, and I did my very best to enforce quiet time in the afternoon so that I could do my Bible study while they were resting. The kitchen sink was filled with dirty dishes, but I was a much better mama when I had my time with the Lord.
See? I told you Andy was amazing! I know you’ll love reading A Mary Like Me as much as I did.
To stay connected with Andy, visit her website and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. (Tell her Elizabeth sent you!) Andy offers a free chapter of her book here after you sign up for her newsletter. You can purchase A Mary Like Me on Amazon and at your nearest Lifeway Store.
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