How to Thrive in Exile: An Interview with Mary DeMuth

Margaret —  February 23, 2013 — 148 Comments

This week, I am giving away THREE copies of Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become More Like Jesus by Mary DeMuth. Mary DeMuth is an author and speaker who loves to help people live uncaged, freedom-infused lives. She’s the author of fourteen books, including six novels and her critically acclaimed memoir, Thin Places.

Margaret: What will readers find within the pages of Everything?

Mary: They’ll find authentic vulnerability about the Christian life and how to move from stagnation to exponential growth.

Why is this book timely?

Growing in Jesus isn’t a formula, it’s a lifestyle. There aren’t 7 easy steps to become an Everything Christian. The secret? Jesus—knowing, hearing, following, and imitating Him. Everything is written with this journey in mind, and it woos readers toward a deeper, more impacting Christianity.

You had a difficult life growing up, and this taught you who we should be seeking as our everything. How should our past inform the way we live for Jesus?

Our past is obviously what happened to us, and sometimes that past can be painful. But we don’t have to be entrapped by it. We can walk with healing from the past in such a way that others would never know we walked through devastation. That’s the power of the gospel to utterly change lives.

You mention in the book that we often flee the things that will bring us nearer to God. Can you elaborate?

No one should court trouble, but we also need to be realistic about the state of our fallen world. Trouble will come. The problem comes when we try to insulate our lives against it and protect our hearts at any cost. Most of our growth as believers comes from difficulties. Instead of running from them, we can do as James encouraged, to welcome trials as friends.

Some people struggle with control, yet you say that control is the very thing that undermines our relationship with Jesus. How?

I have been known to be a control freak (just ask my family), so I write from personal experience. Simply put, if I micromanage my life so that everything fits into neatly labeled boxes, Jesus can’t get a word in edgewise. God created us for adventure, and when we try to control every outcome, we shortchange the joy that comes in that journey. The truth: Either I’m in control or Jesus is.

Can we become Super Christians in our own strength?

No. We can never accomplish the Christian life if we bootstrap and buck up. That’s why the Holy Spirit lives inside us, to empower us to live for Jesus. If we could become like Jesus by our own prowess, we wouldn’t need the Spirit.

You tackle Jeremiah 29:11 in the book, about God knowing the plans He has for us, giving us a future and a hope. What is the central message of that verse?

Jeremiah wrote that to an exiled people. His point wasn’t that God would help us escape our frustrated lives, but that we’d learn to thrive in exile. Not everything will be peachy on this earth. What makes us stand out as believers is our ability to find joy in the midst of pain, to overcome difficulties, and to keep an other-centered perspective.

Overall, what do you most hope that readers will take away from this book?

That loving and following Jesus is a beautiful adventure. That He is worth following and laying down everything at His feet. That we’ll find more joy in that kind of relinquishment than if every single thing in our lives cooperated.


EverythingTo win a copy, comment on this ORIGINAL blog post at Winners will be selected and notified by Friday.

Congratulations to this weeks winners: Heidi, Gayle Manculich, tammy

What do you think keeps us from growing in Christ as we should?


148 responses to How to Thrive in Exile: An Interview with Mary DeMuth

  1. Chris Evangelista February 23, 2013 at 5:08 am

    Wow! Thanks Margaret for featuring Mary DeMuth! This is a great interview. I’ve been wanting to read her book. 🙂

  2. Thank you for this opportunity!

  3. This book sounds intriguing…just saying the title leave me questioning myself as to what EVERYTHING really, I mean really means. OK, well this was my 5 minutes on the computer today…back to my 40 day Bible reading challenge!! 🙂

  4. Sounds like a great book!

  5. I think it’s a matter of not being intentional about our relationship or a lack of focus that keeps us from growing in Christ as we should.
    Excited about this book/giveaway. 🙂

  6. What do you think keeps us from growing in Christ as we should? Us! We get in the way of God doing what He longs to in our lives. We want things done our way, in our time, for our glory not for His. It is hard to live a “hands off of our everything” lifestyle and be open to God having all of us, but we will never become the illumination of Christ until we do. I think often what trips us up is we don’t see it as a process of one area at a time, we see it as the whole enchalida from the get go, and then we get discouraged when we don’t see change in “all” areas. The book sounds like a great read.

  7. The busyness of our lives

  8. Sometimes we don’t take time to spend time with God. Allowing ourselves to try to control our own lives instead of allowing him to work in and through us.

  9. Thanks for featuring the book, Margaret. I so appreciate that and your heart!

  10. I can’t wait to read this book and I would love to win a copy!

  11. I follow Mary on her blog. Everything is a great book! I would love to win a copy to give to a friend.

  12. Thanks for giving away a copy!

  13. I believe it is losing our intimacy with Christ and not repursuing it. Intimacy with HIM is EVERYTHING. Without it, what is the point of Christianity?

  14. Thinking our walk is one of duty ….not one of love… Thanks for the chance to win this book…blessings

  15. Mary is open and honest about her struggles to overcome the residual effects of her past. I’m sure her new book will be great encouragement to discovering the beauty of a life of walking with Jesus.

  16. What a great giveaway! I think it can be so easy to take our eyes off of Jesus, especially in this world that we live in. To be fruitful, we abide in the One Who gives us life!<3 Thanks for the giveaway!

  17. Mary is one of my very favorite authors! I haven’t gotten this book yet, but can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the chance to win and the blog post. 🙂

  18. I have learned the most about God in the midst of my pain and am intrigued to hear from others about how God works in and through difficult circumstances. I continue to struggle to control my own life and need to let go more often. This sounds like a great book. I recently discovered Mary DeMuth and am looking forward to hearing more from her voice and perspective.

    • Melinda Lancaster February 23, 2013 at 9:50 am

      I think a lack of “wonder” keeps us from growing in our relationship with God. Our inability to see, hear, feel, or sense Him above everything else going on. That is why your latest book is at the top of my reading pile.

      I’d very much like to read Mary’s book as well. I believe the two go together well and could/will change my life.

      Or at least I pray so.

    • Ah, it’s good to be “discovered.” 🙂

  19. I’d LOVE to win a copy…I’ve been wanting to read her latest book!!

  20. I know for me, sometimes my own stubbornness, pride, anger, and disobedience keeps me from growing in Christ. Sadly, I make intentional decisions to do what I want to do, instead of listening to Christ. That decision leads me away from Him. When I give my all to Christ, though and obey Him, I grow and am blessed beyond words!!

  21. The Q&A is really intriguing. Its got me pondering. I always love the stories (if that’s the appropriate term) of lives coming forth from brokenness. My life has been obliterated and I’m only just beginning to understand a smidgen of what’s being expounded upon here.
    Well done, Mary. I wish you every success.

  22. I know what keeps me from growing toward Christ like God intends. Just one little word; C-O-N-T-R-O-L. I want all of it. All the time. I keep trying to give it up, but so far it seems to always end in disaster (from my perspective). So my very uncomfortable “comfort zone” is to pick up that control again.

  23. Ohhhh, this sounds like a delightful read!

  24. Mary has to be probably my favorite author, and a person I hope to meet in real life someday soon! My goal is to acquire (or purchase!) all of her books. Thanks for the chance to win EVERYTHING! Glad I hopped over to your blog to check it out. I will be back to “visit” again.

  25. I’m looking forward to reading this, it would be super if I won one of the copies, then I’d have to sit down sooner 😀

  26. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of this truth-telling book! I think for me, TRUST is the biggest issue in being afraid to give EVERYTHING over to Him.

  27. I love to read all the encouraging stuff from Mary and would love to have a copy of Everything! Thanks Mary for sharing your heart with those who hurt!

  28. Christine Dunsmore February 23, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I think Mary is so encouraging, she has helped me on many days…..i would love to have a copy of everything that she writes….Mary, u r such an inspiration……thanks

  29. This book sounds like a jewel! I wish there was a video driven bible study to go with it as I am currently searching for one for the women at our church to do after we finish Wonderstruck, which has been wonderful! I would have to say that the number one thing that keeps us from growing in Christ is our UNBELIEF!

  30. I would love to have a copy of Everything. Sounds like a gear book.

  31. I have been wanting to read, Everything! And I am looking forward to hearing from you at an upcoming conference Margaret! 🙂

  32. Thank you for writing about this book! It looks like a must for my reading list. Reading Wonderstruck right now and loving every minute of it.

  33. love the book cover! :o)

  34. I think fear keeps us from growing more than any other thing. the what if, the why, the concept of “do it scared” resonates.

  35. I would love to read this book – thank you for the giveaway! What keeps me from growing in Christ? Neglect – on my part.

  36. Jeremiah 29:11 is my favorite verse…sounds like a great book!

  37. Sounds like an awesome book, I would love to win a copy!

  38. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity- this book sounds great!

  39. Love Jeremiah 29:11. Thanks for the heads up about a book that sounds like a good read.

  40. Thanks for featuring Mary — she is on my list of new authors that I want to read! Thanks for a chance to win!

  41. My pride keeps me from growing in Christ as I should–I am too prideful in my everyday life sometimes to realize every second of everything I do should be used to grow in Christ. I think I control what I do during the time I have when all Jesus wants me to do is abide in Him and let Him use the seconds He gives me.

  42. Thanks for the giveaway, looks like an amazing book!

  43. Looks VERY interesting! I am trying to learn lessons from every situation… Lord, please don’t let me miss it!

  44. What keeps us from growing? Not spending time with the Grower!!! We need Son and His Living Water!!

  45. Sounds like an awesome read! Hope I win. God bless! 🙂

  46. What keeps us from growing in Christ? First thing that came to my mind was pride and self-reliance. We set ourselves up to be our own gods; we think that we have the answers, that we can solve difficulties on our own, and then we let other things, events, people and situations come ahead of Him. Sounds like a great book!

  47. “Jeremiah wrote that to an exiled people. His point wasn’t that God would help us escape our frustrated lives, but that we’d learn to thrive in exile.” I really appreciated this answer.
    Jer.29:11 was my favorite verse in high school, but as I moved through the college years it became cliche and I lost the hope. I kept looking for that escape from my abusive childhood and although I knew that God had brought me through. I was looking to education and college to make me complete and then maybe I would be happy. I misunderstood the point. “Thriving in exile” not after I have escaped.

  48. Anxious to see this! I know we must give Christ EVERYTHING – often hard to do. Thanks Margaret! your blogs are a blessing!

  49. So, if I read this book, does it means I’ve read Everything?

  50. Looks like a great book!

  51. May His Kingdom advance in our hearts and communities!

  52. Thank you for posting this! Excited to see what God has in store!

  53. Love to win because I love to read. 🙂

  54. Another great one I would love to win!

  55. What a great interview. Thanks!

  56. Looks like a great book! Great write up on it 🙂

  57. Thanks for the opportunity to enter! Mary is very inspiring.

  58. This sounds like an excellent book. I especially want to read about living in hope in trying times; relying on God; not striving but letting the Spirit have control.

  59. I thinks it’s ALL the “other” stuff we cram into our lives that robs our time, energy & especially our passion that keeps us from growing. Sounds like a great book to read and share!

  60. I appreciate that DeMuth discusses Jeremiah 29:11 in context. Too often people quote this verse as affirmation that everything’s going to have a “happy ending,” as we define happy endings. In fact, most of the people Jeremiah is talking to won’t ever see their homeland again. Even so, God’s plans are good. He is faithful.

  61. I think I deserve this book after figuring out how to post a comment:)

  62. It seems that life is filled with so many so called “necessary” distractions that we (OK, let me get real here – I) slip through the day mindless of the many opportunities that I miss to connect with Jesus and enjoy Him. Solitude and Silence are two companions I MUST spend time with on this journey called life if I want to capture the opportunities that come my way to know Him more deeply and authentically!

  63. Sounds like a great book!

  64. Poor time management, let other things get in the way.

  65. I enjoy your posts on Facebook so much Mary, and love the encouragement you give there. I haven’t read any of your books as yet but would love to! Everything sounds wonderful!

  66. I think we do not grow in Christ if we think that EVERYTHING is going well and we forget why it does go well.

  67. I am replying to think you for the thoguht provoking is one that God has been asking me over and over again lately. My New Year’s goal is to draw ever closer to God and to do so, I really need to answer that question. So far my answers have been single words such as–Believe, trust, listen, cooperate, let go, focus, concentrate, confess, hear and see.

  68. I’ve struggled with feeling stagnant in my faith and in my relationship with Christ for a while now. Several things that keep me from growing in Christ include: distractions and other idols I seek after, a lack of passion and desire for God and His Word, not making it a priority to daily seek Him earnestly in silence and solitude, unbelief, believing my feelings and circumstances dictate truth over God’s Word, believing the lies of the enemy, being self- centered, and fear of completely surrendering my will to God’s will.

    I’ve really been wanting to read Everything, and now I’m all the more eager to read it after learning what I did from this interview with Mary! I loved Mary’s insight on how “we often flee the things that bring us closer to God” and what she shared about Jeremiah 29:11 was really a blessing to me. I’ve lived with chronic physical pain for 12 years now and am mostly home bound at age 23. I truly want to be close to God yet I so desire to be free from pain. I need to “learn to thrive in exile” like Mary described. This book sounds amazing and I’m sure it would be helpful to me in many ways! Thank you so much for doing this great giveaway!

  69. Dusty B. Allison February 23, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Being self-focused instead of God-focused…allowing the things of the temporal get in the way of the eternal. When I believe Abba is sovereign, then I can say ‘anything and everything’, knowing He always has my best and His designed purpose for me in mind as He allows things in my life.

  70. What keeps me from growing in Christ as I should? I don’t act intentionally to pursue the lifestyle He calls me to. I am easily distracted. I might be faithful for a short term, but when it gets hard, I don’t dig in and reach for God, I try to escape. Also, there’s a real disconnect for me between my devotional time each day and living what I’ve just studied. I’d love to read this book for some insight!

    By the way, Margaret, I’m trying to follow through with your 40 day Bible reading guide. Thank you for challenging me!

  71. I have been wanting to read “Everything” by Mary deMuth and would love the opportunity to wi the book. I love the blog above which highlights that knowing Jesus is not a formula but a lifestyle. I would love to learn more about this.

  72. I love Mary’s stuff! Would love to have this book!

  73. Everything sounds like a phenomenal read! I’d love to add it to my ever-increasing collection!

  74. I’d love to learn more about empowering the Holy Spirit within me so that I can live more for Jesus. Sounds like a wonderfully, inspiring book. Thanks for the change to win a copy!

  75. I struggle with keeping Jesus in the driver’s seat of life and not letting the “busy-ness” get in the way of my communication with Him! The book sounds inspiring! 🙂

  76. I can’t grow until I am faithful to what He has already taught me.

  77. Sin and trying to do it on our own instead of relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to set us free from the sins that keep us from growing. It’s not about us and our work to grow or even our lack of work to grow. It’s about daily seeking and surrendering to Christ and by His Spirit being empowered and drawn into authentic desire for growth and change.

  78. I think unwillingness often thwarts our growth. We want to grow (or do we really?) but we don’t want to give things up or do the crazy-sounding stuff God says. Which is just like like we’ve always been, right? A stiff-necked people?

  79. I think the fact that we have so much…time, comfort, food, things…we don’t surrender ourselves completely to him because we are so full…our hands and hearts included…we don’t allow him room or freedom to change us…to grow us…

  80. I think that we think we can do things ourself without God’s help. I also believe that when we take burdens to the altar and pray for God’s will, we pick the burdens back up and take them with us instead of leaving them in God’s hands.

  81. “Everything” sounds like everything we all need to read!

  82. Lately, God has shown me that I have been stunting my spiritual growth by being distracted by other things and not seeking Him and His presence. I am learning to take time during my day to simply stop, close my eyes, and put myself in His presence.

  83. This sounds like a good book. I would love to read it.

  84. Sounds like a book that I could really benefit from reading.

  85. I would love to read this book.

  86. Our women’s book club would love to read and review this book!

  87. This book really does cover ‘everything’. I’m not familiar with the author, but I think I should start reading her stuff.

  88. Mary is just awesome!!
    I bet this book is too!

  89. This book sounds amazing, and I’d love to read it. I couldn’t believe the reference to Jer 29:11 – this verse (and the often-overlooked context of the hearers being in exile at the time) have been coming up for me over and over again this year. Thanks for sharing.

  90. A major reason we don’t grow in Christ is because of the weeds that choke out the good seed, the cares and riches and pleasures of THIS life that distract us from our TRUE lives, a life that’s hidden in Christ. I would love to read Everything! Thanks for the chance to win.

  91. I am struggling with life right now. Trying to understand what good I am in this broken body that doesn’t want to work properly. I know its the devil stealing my joy. It can be so hard to be positive when I feel so trapped and powerless over this disease.

  92. This book has been on my wish list for quite a while! I’d love to win a copy!!

  93. I would love to win a copy of this book 🙂

  94. I would love to win a copy of this book. Mary DeMuth is an amazing woman!

  95. Yes, INDEED. “Everything” is exactly what must be RETURNED to God because HE has given us everything! Thank you for the opportunity to win the book and experience the writings of Mary DeMuth. God BLESS you today!

  96. The more we relinquish, the more we gain. It’s strange, but true. Looking forward to all He gives in return.

  97. In Christ, we always get so much more than we give. I’m so grateful to be surrounded by such beautiful artists in my sisters and brothers.

  98. I have never heard of this book, but would love to read it! I think my own self keeps me from growing in Christ. My worry, anxiety, stress, inward thinking etc.

  99. Wow….I have a friend that this would really speak to right now. Heck, it would speak to me!! Thanks for the opportunity!!

  100. I only just found out about Mary de Muth today, and now come across a giveaway of her book! God is amazing! 🙂

  101. Anytime we focus on anything other than God creates a pause or stagnancy in our growth. We can wonder how we can possibly focus on God all the time…I mean, what about all the things we have to DO??? We focus on God and do the things he wants us to do…in HIM! 🙂 It’s not that God is at the top of our lists and overrides everything else. It’s that he’s in the center of who we are, and he guides everything else. When we focus on God, everything else is filtered through him. Everything.

  102. Thanks for the giveaway! I would probably answer the question by saying ourselves,get in the way a lot of the time.

  103. Loved the Q&A. All so true. Looking forward to reading this book recommended to me by my friend.

  104. Would love to win! Sounds like a book I could really benefit from…I could use a little freedom!!

  105. Would love to win… My answer to the question is “unbelief”

  106. what keeps me from growing is first, not putting my time with God first in my day. after the day gets rolling i get caught up in all my to-dos and lose sight of my eternal focus. second, pride. i hate to admit but it’s true. i can see so easily my lack and i often fail in getting my bristling pride out of the way so that He can transform me. i would love a copy of mary’s book! she is an incredible mentor and inspiration to so many. thank you for offering her work to us!

  107. No stagnation! It’s Spring and Jesus has risen…I need the reminder to wake up.

  108. Well this sounds pretty much exactly like the next book I should be reading. Insightful and directive at many of the struggles I’m facing right now. And I completely agree…though tough at times, following Jesus IS a beautiful adventure.

  109. I just found out about Mary today, and I feel like I’ve finally found a woman who’s story and struggles struck a chord with me. For years I’ve looked for a real woman, a positive role model to prove that, although there are so many levels of pain to be worked through after abuse, it’s possible. I can’t put into words how much hope this gives me. Thank you.
    God Bless <3

  110. Awesome give away. Thank you for always being generous

  111. I love Mary’s answer to one of the questions. This caused me to stop in the middle of my busy day and ponder this thought.

    That loving and following Jesus is a beautiful adventure. That He is worth following and laying down everything at His feet. That we’ll find more joy in that kind of relinquishment than if every single thing in our lives cooperated.

  112. I love Mary’s books. I have read a few fiction books as well as Beautiful Battles. I believe whoever wins this book will be blessed. Mary truly speaks to the soul.

  113. Excited to read – new author to me. Excited to discover Mary Demuth for myself.

  114. I have followed Mary for about a year and would love to read this book – thanks for offering the giveaway!

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