I’ve been grappling with writing this review for a few days now. I’ve been fortunate to be part of Mary’s “Launch Team” for the book and so received an advance copy of the PDF. I’ve been blessed by participating in a closed group on FB with the other 100 or so members of that team.
I so wanted to be praising this book from the rooftops. All the other reviews (at present) are overwhelmingly positive which is fantastic. I worry that I’ve missed something significant.
But I must write what’s in my heart.
This book has so much going for it. Let me list some of them:
1. Mary is a passionate lover of Jesus and pours herself into everything she writes. This is no different. We see Mary so wanting to share her journey, warts and all.
2. It’s cleverly structured into 3 parts: What we Think, Who we are, and How we Live.
3. The writing is excellent using lots of great Scriptures as well as other appropriate references from people such as Oswald Chambers, who lived a life of giving “everything” to Jesus. As a result it is easy to read, not getting bogged down in over-complicated theology.
4. There are lots of super soundbites. I love soundbites, little takeaways that you can store to memory and draw out when chatting with others.
5. Mary’s messages challenge you to stop, think and lean into Jesus some more. Which at the end of the day is a great outcome.
Mary’s lived a rich life of experience. Some really tough times that have chiselled her character and strength in Jesus. What I’ve grappled with is I felt as the book progressed we had less of this experience from the perspective of taking me inside her story.
I’m a huge fan of Ann Voskamp’s “1000 Gifts”, which Mary also refers to. What was so compelling about that book was I felt Ann’s story. I was present folding the laundry with her as she grappled with her faith, or sitting in the passenger seat as she went on her travels.
Reading “Everything” I felt I was in the dressing sheds being encouraged, at times exhorted, by Mary, my coach. Let me illustrate with two examples. The chapter titled, “Follow the Leader”, is all about surrendering control of the daily happenings in our life to Jesus. This is one of those areas we all struggle with. We have the head knowledge, but how do you actually do it with all there is to get through each day. I would have loved Mary to take me inside her daily life, beyond list making, and shown me, how she may have done it in those days when everything insider of her is yelling, “trust yourself Mary, you’re in control here.”
Similarly, the last chapter that contains 10 disciplines that she has benefited from in her spiritual growth. These could easily fill an entire book itself and I’d encourage Mary to consider doing that. Once again, I didn’t feel I was brought into her journey of self-discovery, rather told doing such and such would help you. But I’d suggest this was more to do with the need for brevity.
I loved how Mary summed the book up in her Epilogue by describing her two selves: the “Everything Mary” and the “Reality Mary”. I feel this book would linger longer in my heart if we experienced first hand Mary grappling with her “twin selves” as many of us share this similar frustration.
Do read this book as you will learn a lot and be better equipped on your own journey.