Intro — Mary Jo Pierce: “My journey into the kitchen began out of a place of burnout, fatigue, tiredness, realizing I was doing things for Lord, but I wasn’t doing them well. And discovering he has a better way. And his better way, is sabbath.”
Host, Yvette Walker: Hi, Yvette here. Listen, I’m just gonna take a few seconds to ask you for a big favor. If you love this podcast, then hit the subscribe or the follow button if you haven’t already, right now on your phone or on your computer, and leave me a five-star rating. And then leave me a review and tell me what you love about the show or what you’d like me to talk about. All this really helps to send out the message of the Positively Joy Podcast to the people who need to hear it. And, if you love it, then share this with everybody that you know. Thanks so much. That’s it. Let’s get on with the show.
Yvette: Hello, and welcome to Positively Joy, the podcast on searching for the light in all seasons. I’m your host, Yvette Walker. And today we have Mary Jo Pierce, who is a well, first of all, she’s an amazing lady and someone that I have come to know. She is an intercessor, who loves to pray. And in fact, we prayed just before this podcast, which is something I told her… Well, I thanked her for that, and I told her that that’s going to be a good way to begin the podcast from now on. So thanks for joining us, Mary Jo.
Mary Jo: Thanks for the invitation, Yvette.
Yvette: I’d like the audience to get to know you. You have a very unique interest that I would love to share. And that is baking, but baking, in His honor and in His glory. But before we get there, let’s get to know you a little bit. So tell me a little bit about yourself.
Mary Jo: Okay, well, personally, I am a wife of 41-plus years, we have two grown grown daughters, and five growing grandchildren. So the Lord’s really blessed me. And then in my walk with the Lord, I was raised in a liturgical home of home of faith. And yet at 29, in the Jesus movement of the 70s, so it’s 1976, not 29. I was 29. But people started talking about Jesus. But I’ve been saved for 44 years, March 16, 1976.
Yvette: What an anniversary.
Mary Jo: It was wonderful. It was wonderful. And I’m in a middle of a 40-day fast right now. Getting ready for in the Jewish world’s New Year. So I keep a spiritual calendar versus a Gregorian. I don’t know if that makes sense. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. But anyway, the point is, I’m in a 40-day fast right now. And part of the fast is revisiting 44 years of journals. So the Lord can reset and remind me and reset some things in my life for this new season ahead.
Yvette: So you have been a journaler all this time.
Mary Jo: I have. I love recording, it’s so important for us … this (the Bible) was so important that they recorded it. And we have this. I’m not, I’m not adding to this (the Bible).
Yvette: And the this you are referring to is the Bible.
Mary Jo: Yes. Oh, yeah. My hugging Bible. (She hugs it.) And so since out of the Word of God, God speaks to me personally. I believe it merits writing down. To walk with the Lord for 44 years. Always been interested in prayer. In fact, I write about in my baby book by my recorded my first prayer. So she knew how she recognized even at that young age of two, how important it was for me to connect with God. I would walk around the house going “Buzza Buzza Buzza” you know, just mimicking family prayer, but you know, connecting. So, prayer’s always been a thread in my life. From the time I got saved. I’ve always lived outside my comfort zone, doing things God’s required or asked of me that I don’t feel equipped or qualified to do. And for the last 16 years, that meant being on staff at a church in the local area, Gateway Church, brought on in 2004 to establish a culture of prayer and intercession in the church.
So during that time I like what God asked me to do. Because, you know, Scripture says teachers are called to a greater account. And so I have been called to a greater account. And that’s really required me to dig deep and press in and lean on. And so it’s been a wonderful time.
Yvette: You invite people into your home, not just for hospitality’s sake. But for teaching. I probably first heard about you through a program called DIVE, which I’ve mentioned on this podcast before, where during the dive retreat, you open your home to the people who are on the retreat, and do a very special thing with them. But before we talk about that, I just want to talk a little bit about that, that Christian hospitality, the fact that you open your home, and we see that in the Jewish faith.
Mary Jo: So in the, in the 90s, when churches started revisiting how we did church, that’s when groups were birthed. Mm hmm. At least were where I was. And it was exploding. They were called cell groups in groups. But I’ve always wanted to add people, I always loved having people over in my house, it’s a little of the home lacking me. And it’s a little nesting. But you know, what, I always like to create a safe place, and a comfortable place, whether it’s in a prayer group, whether it’s in a teaching equip, whether it’s today, you and I talking, we want to create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable and can lean in.
The best part of it is the God in you, you give it away. So with cell groups, and leading cell groups and teaching cell groups, so I moved to Colorado Springs full time in 2002. And we were in a new neighborhood, new home in a growing neighborhood. And so I went to the doors of every house, and I invited them over for tea or coffee. And everybody wanted to get to know someone. So they came over and out of it I started a Bible study group. Everywhere I live, I believe God has a purpose for putting me there. So my home in Colorado Springs, I asked him what he wanted to name it. So I called our home fig tree from the Scripture, invite your neighbors to come sit under a fig tree. It was a place where the Jewish people would almost siesta and sit and talk about the coming Messiah. That’s what God said, that’s what I want this home to be a place where people can come in and rest and talk about Jesus.
So I started this group, and I call them my figs. And their husbands call themselves the fig newtons. And we had a great time, going through Bible studies and being there for one another and doing community. This house that we’re in now, the Lord gave me Psalm 16, five and six, the Lord will hold and maintain our lot. It was one of the few lots left in this neighborhood. Hmm. The Lord will hold and maintain my lot. Surely the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places. So then, the name the Lord’s given us for this home is pleasant place. And that’s what we want to do. invite people into our home, create a pleasant place for people to share about the Lord. enjoy each other, make bread, laugh, hang out in my prayer room. fall asleep in my listening chair. We have a lot of fun here.
Yvette: I was gonna say I think you can see so many places in the Bible, particularly Mary and Martha. I think that people come to that when they when they think about Jesus going into homes and having meals with people and doing his teaching from those homes.
Mary Jo: Yes, yeah. And in small groups, even you know, I just, I treasured that about him. And I want to replicated as much as I can.
Yvette: Now, there may be some bread bakers who are listening, but there probably are no bread bakers who do what you do. So tell us a little bit about, about your bread, and what you do and how that got started.
Mary Jo: So in my home, I’m fortunate enough. I have a designated prayer room. And I write about it in extensively in “Adventures in Prayer.”
Yvette: Yes, you do. And I let me jump in. Let me jump in. You encouraged me through “Adventures in Prayer.” I don’t have a prayer room but I have a prayer corner. You started off with a prayer chair and then a prayer corner and then a prayer room. So I don’t have a room yet but I do have a prayer corner.
Mary Jo: And so what does that mean to you?
Yvette: Well, it happens to be in the bedroom. And I know that’s not the best place for it. But the first thing I see when I wake up is, is that prayer corner. I have two little wall hangings, one says Blessed. And then there’s another one who says actually something else I forget. But the word Blessed in rather large letters are right there. I see that first thing.
Mary Jo: See, that’s wonderful. I mean, it’s a place set apart to meet with God. So I also want to PostScript what I say about bread and tell you what I believe about prayer. Prayer is living with God. Sometimes it’s words and sometimes it’s not. You know, worship is singing, which obviously you probably do. I’m an unofficial member of our choir. I only open my mouth. I don’t use sound. You know, worship is not commonly but you think of guitars and pianos and people who lead us yes – those Levites – worship in my life is more of how I offer things to him. How I worship. So I have my prayer room. And my journey into the kitchen, began out of a place of burnout, fatigue, tiredness, realizing I was doing things for Lord, but I wasn’t doing them well. And discovering, he has a better way. And his better way, is Sabbath. So when I say that I take prayer out of the box, I live prayer, you live worship, to sometimes you’re singing, but even you doing this podcast, you’re that this is worship to you. You’re making an offering to the Lord.
So in that time of trying to figure out rest and health, in balance of serving the Lord. And I came across a quote from a book, Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew. He was a congressman in in his book, “The gift of Rest,” he says, He quoted on the first page, the Talmud, the Holy One, blessed be He says to Moses, Moses, and my storehouse is a goodly gift. And Sabbath is its name, huh? And the Lord said to be married to a few learn to Sabbath, you’ll go another lap. Instead of under the bus. I got to be in the bus, you know? Yeah. Oh, I set out to learn Sabbath. I’m not Jewish. In fact, I had my DNA done. I was zero Jewish. I’m the most grafted-in Gentile you’re ever going to meet. I am grafted in.
But being raised in a liturgical home. I’ve always loved the Jewish people, they live their faith out loud. Their feasts mean something. They live according to a calendar that Lord Jesus lived. And they Sabbathed. In fact, I’ve been to Israel, they really Sabbath. They have a Shabbat elevator that you can’t even push a button on because that’s work. Wow, it just goes to every floor. So the Lord wanted me to learn rest. Okay, so that’s kind of like a mini detour. Let me get back to the bread. So part of the Sabbath experience is communion, or the elements, the bread and the wine (in my house is pomegranate juice). And so I thought, Well, you know what, I’ve never made bread. But I had an desire to learn how to make bread. So I graduated from a bread school.
Mary Jo: YouTube University. I went on, and I’m just watching those YouTubes and I’m getting my flour out. And I’m getting I’ve never worked with yeast before. It just touches me so much. All the things God taught me about a few simple ingredients and settling down with him to worship on a Friday afternoon for a gathering that evening. And if the gathering is two, my husband and I… or it’s a group … if it’s pizza on paper plates… or I bring out my good China, It’s a gathering. So I started learning how to make bread. So let me say that I’ve taken a lot of people with me in learning what I call my act of worship. And my kitchen has become my second prayer room. And I get in there, and I get those ingredients out. And there’s something about doing it that has elevated my walk with the Lord, in such an intentional way. You know, we have to be intentional about God. Then just happen. You set your alarm to get up at five, very few people wake up on their own. People say I need prayer people go, I pray for you. But how many call and say, let me pray for you now? So it needs to be activated, and I believe in activating my faith.
Yvette: I love that you say activating one of my guests talks about activating your joy. And I love that.
Mary Jo: Absolutely. I think I listened to her. Absolutely. So many things lay dormant. And God’s just going “Wake up, wake up, wake up.” He’s got so much more for us. And so there I was in my kitchen. And listen, if I do a little, and I think it’s good, that means I need to do a lot. This is what I tell people, I may not know much, but what I know I’m going to give to you. And so people gather in my home. And I’ve had close to 500 people now or more men, women, young, old families, groups, departments, DIVES, friends, mother daughters, and they get around the kitchen. And I am I have that many aprons. She has how many? (laughter) So everybody puts an apron on and I’ve got the recipe out and I make everybody feel the flour. And listen, I’m going to go over here for a second. And I hope I can pull it up easily. But there’s a scripture in Deuteronomy 28 five, and it says, God’s blessing on your basket in your bread bowl.
Yvette: Nice. nice.
Mary Jo: In fact, in another translation, it says a blessing on your grain basket. In kneading bowl. Hmm. When I read that I just cried. I mean, Don’t you love it when scripture just I mean, you talk about joy. Yvette, is one of your greatest joys, opening up a scripture and hearing God speak to exactly what’s on your heart?
Yvette: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Mary Jo: I can’t get beyond that. That’s sometimes I have to close it and go, Oh, that’s too much. I can’t do this. How would you do that? And so we started learning how to make bread. And now I absolutely love it. So I do what I call porch drops. And I have some white bags. And I have a label printed up that says begin with bread acts 242. Because when I gather people in my house, acts 242 says, continually devoted to teaching, studying by minute teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer. So I bring people into my house for what we use for about six hours.
Yvette: And that’s a commitment of time.
Mary Jo: Oh, it is. But you know what, bread cannot be hurried. That’s one of the blessings. Bread is the boss when we get together. literally takes my metronome and slows it down. He slows down my heartbeat. He slows down my mind. He slows down and I’m in this place of worship. I teach about Exodus 33. Seven to 18. Some of my favorite scriptures, but it’s the Tent of Meeting. It’s where Moses leaves the busyness of life. It’s crazy out here. And he pitched a tent outside the camp. And they met with God face to face and the Lord called him friend. And it was out of that place. Moses said If you’re rest doesn’t go with me. And that’s how I feel. When I get in my kitchen, which I call my second prayer room. I feel as if I’ve left the busyness of life. And I’ve gotten into my Tent of Meeting. And I’m meeting with God, and I’m having fun and praying through it. But I’m meeting with God for His glory. And his rest goes with me. It’s amazing. I highly recommend it. So now I’m learning three braid four braid, six braid, and I put like, fig in it. And I put I’m having a lot of fun.
Yvette: Now, now the bread. So first of all, you quoted that scripture that I think some people can’t connect with. Because we don’t make bread anymore. We go to the grocery store, and we buy bread, right? And so we don’t really think about grain or flour, a blessing be on your grain or blessing be on your flour. We don’t really think about that, because we don’t really know how to do it. We haven’t done it. I made bread before… I used a bread machine!
Mary Jo: I threw mine out. I mean, I gave mine away when I discovered how. And listen you guys, gals? It’s easy! Bread is so forgiving, huh? It’s so easy.
Yvette: Let’s talk about the kind of bread so it’s not just any bread. It’s and I’m gonna, I may mispronounce it. But is it? Is that Challah bread? Or do you…
Mary Jo: It’s Ch-allelujah bread! (laughter)
Yvette: And it’s the bread with the braids, you just talked about three braids four braids sixth braids. So not only are you and it’s interesting that you say that bread is forgiving, because yeast scares me.
Mary Jo: I can help you with that.
Yvette: I think I’m gonna do something wrong. But not only are you having to figure out making sure that you’ve got the right proportions and things, then you have to know how to braid and make it look good. But when you’re doing that, though, you’re not just –and you tell me if I’m wrong – but you’re not just doing it just to make the bread or for you to get the glory. You’re doing it for hHm. And I’d imagine if I were to do it, and I really want to try, and maybe we can get back on a zoom call and I could do it with you. Would that be fun?
Mary Jo: I think we can arrange that. You’re so much fun to hang out with. Let’s do it. Let me tell you, though, this bread is not my idea. This bread is a traditional Challah bread. That’s traditional for the Jewish Shabbat on their table every Friday night, our two loaves of Challah. And this bread represents the double portion. God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness the night before Shabbat … Sabbath, so they wouldn’t have to work on Sabbath. But these two loaves represent God’s provision, God’s promise, God’s rest. Don’t worry about tomorrow. I got tomorrow covered. Come to me all you are weary and heavy laden, I will give you rest. Are you tired? Are you burned out on religion? Let me give you the unforced rhythms of grace. And I found that in the kitchen.
Mary Jo: So I come up with these ingredients. And I’m thinking I am in my way, as a Gentile grafting in to Jewish women and men all over the world who are making bread, who are getting ready to present an offering. And listen, you want to get happy? You want some joy? You get a concordance or go to Bible gateway.com. And you put in the word bread. You put in the word presence, because bread is his presence. Exodus 25:30 p in the tabernacle, on the table, always presenting the show bread always a continual offering before the Lord.
So I told you I’m going to a 40-day fast right now. And so part of its to take communion every night. Hmm. And so or at some point during the day, so here’s my Challah I made it yesterday. And I take communion from it. So this is the traditional three braid holla Isn’t it pretty?
Yvette: So let me just describe it. So it’s, it’s beautifully proportioned. The braids are not all lopsided. It’s lovely. It’s got a beautiful Is that an egg wash sheen?
Mary Jo: It is.
Yvette: It’s a beautiful sheen. I can’t smell it, but I know it smells good. And I must tell you that you’re going on a 40-day fast and you are holding a loaf of bread and smelling it. You’ve got some. Yeah, you’ve got some real power there, lady.
Mary Jo: I’ve got some real purpose. And if you’ve got purpose behind a fast, the willpower comes because the desire trumps the willpower. So when I made my yeast, just let my prayers rise like incense, you know, remember that song that your prayers like rise like incense before the throne? Yes, that’s what I’m doing. And so yeast is special, and of course, the bread and the flour. And then I don’t put sugar in my recipe. I substituted and I put honey in it. Because that’s Biblical. And that’s what makes it MY honey Challah. And then I go, I don’t want sugar, I put in Honey, I don’t want oil, I’ll put in butter. So I actually made it my recipe. And you know, we create safe places just like you’re doing on your podcast, you’re creating a safe place for people.
So they come in, and I just watch God move. Everyone’s different, because I’m watching what the Holy Spirit is saying and showing me. So I’ll make some adjustments based on what I’m hearing and seeing. And they were very leaning in. And one man said pastor Mary Jo, where where do we where do I begin? Where do I begin? And I said, do this, on Friday morning, get up, go out, buy your wife, a pair of candlesticks. Buy your wife, a takeout meal and go buy some Challah and go home and say to her Honey, I don’t know what it’s gonna look like. But I know that God wants us to have his rhythm and rest in our home. And I want to come alongside you. Let’s figure this out together. And that’s just what I’m suggesting. There’s, listen, we’re very fortunate to be Gentiles grafted in. There’s very… you know, there’s not rules. But there’s some absolutes. So here’s my four absolutes for my Shabbat dinner. May I?
Yvette: Yes, please.
Mary Jo: So remember how I said I like to live prayer out loud. And I like to surround myself with what God’s saying and doing? I decided I wanted a bigger table to fit comfortably. And I couldn’t find what I wanted. I had a picture of what I wanted. So I went to Pinterest and I found this table. And when I saw it, I knew immediately. There was this huge chandelier sitting over a barn wood table.. And I knew I wanted the glory of God over a man-made simple gathering table. So a friend of mine who has never made a table yet, so or me until I asked. He made me what I call my Shabbat table. And it’s oak, cedar and Sycamore three biblical woods. There’s no nails in it. There’s 24 dowels, 12 apostles 12 tribes.
Mary Jo: Everything in it is like amazing. The leg of the table is a sycamore trunk and it’s quartered. And all he did was sand them. So it’s very fluid. And on each leg, I have a Hebrew letter branded, that says Yod–Heh–Vav–Heh. So when we’re seated together, we’re in heavenly places. And then I have the largest gaudiest that I could afford, that my ceiling could handle, Glory chandelier above it. And then on the four corners of the table are the four components of what I believe can make any Sabbath meal, whether it’s pancakes on a Saturday morning, whether it’s Friday nights. On the one table in the corner, it says worship in Hebrew. Hmm. I put that music on and the presence of God. He’s just, you know what? We’re honoring him. And we’re honoring the commandment. And we’re honoring family, and we’re obeying and what does he do when we do that? He shows up. Here I do my worship. And then over here I light my candles. And then I do the communion, the pomegranate in my house and the Challah, we take bread. And then the third component is bless.
So I have learned more from watching Jewish fathers and grandfathers and uncles bless their children and their children’s children and their wife. So we were in Israel one time on one of my prayer tours, and we were sitting at our table on a Friday night behind us were this long family, there must have been 50 or 60 of them. And before the meal came, they just went around the grandmothers hugging the children’s faces, the uncles hugging each other speaking blessings. Isn’t that powerful?
Mary Jo: Think of the whole think of the atmosphere in homes and in marriages. At every Friday night. The husband publicly declares a blessing on his wife and his children.
Yvette: Wow. It has nothing to do with what we end up eating. So is that what you call it? Begin with bread?
Mary Jo: I did.
Yvette: Wow. Wow. Because it’s not really the bread. I mean, it is the act of making the bread and worshiping but it’s you begin with the bread.
Mary Jo: Nothing to do with this. Yeah. This is the joy part of it. In fact, the fourth component in Hebrew on the fourth corner, it’s enjoy, because God really wants us to enjoy each other. So I asked the Lord one time, can I get to do what I do? I feel so honored. To teach people prayer to pray with people. Just Why? Any you know what he said? Because you get me. You know, you enjoy me. Yeah. And I want people to enjoy me. I don’t take God lightly. Hmm. I do enjoy the wonder of being able to be this little speck on Earth. One of those pieces, one of those grains of sand. I’m called daughter.
Yvette: So what would you repeat your four? Yeah, four points.
Mary Jo: The first pillar worship, pray, bless, and enjoy.
Yvette: Yeah, yeah. I love that. I love that. I’m sure there are many times. But can you describe a time when you were overwhelmed by the love of God?
Mary Jo: So this is I have not even posted or blogged about this yet. But I will. During this 40-day fast, and fasting is always a time to look in and let God. So I was this was three days ago. And I said to the Lord, Lord, what about my sins? And he said what sins? I still can’t think about it without crying. I told my husband last night for the first time and I was crying. So let me elaborate on that. I was so overwhelmed with the fact that he does not remember my failures. My, my sins, my disobedience, is my shrinking backs, by my sin. Isn’t that beautiful?
Yvette: That’s beautiful. You know that he’s God. He could remember everything if he wanted to.
Mary Jo: He could. But you know, here I am. I’ll be 74 next month. Having walked with the Lord 44 and a half years. And I understand as far as the east is from the west, he doesn’t remember, you know, you forgive. I understand it. But that moment, it really drew a line in my heart. When I heard him say what sin. So that’s the last time and that was a couple days ago.
Yvette: I hope that that would happen to everyone listening to this, that they would have a moment like that.
Mary Jo: In fact, can we do something? Lord, I just lift up every listener right now. Lord is they’re seeking you with their heart, their soul, their mind. And the accuser who stands before the throne accusing day and night. We silence that accuser. Because the Word of God declares that he does not remember as far as the East is from the West. And when he sees us, he sees the righteousness. The robe of Christ. I pray the grace of God for every single listener, that they’ll be able to apprehend, grab hold of what’s sin and not judge themselves? Because the Lord is surely not sitting in judgment. Amen.
Mary Jo: Yvette, can I just say, that does not mean, the Lord’s ignoring sin? That means that that there was a series of repentance and processing. And sometimes there’s an aftermath to sin. There’s, those are called consequences.
Yvette: That’s right.
Mary Jo: And so you’re walking that out, though. But you’re walking it out with the grace of God and the love of God knowing, hey, come here, daughter, come here son. We’re going to work this out together. So, amen.
Yvette: Oh, my goodness, I tell you what, there’s nothing we can do. Now that’s going to top that. So I’d almost say let’s end on that. But I want people to know where they can find you.
Mary Jo: I’m asked more times than anything. Can I be mentored? That was a very frustrating thing for someone who likes to say yes, and give away what God’s given. So I wrote a mentoring discipling prayer book, that whether you’re new to prayer, or whether you walked with them for 44 years, this book is a great resource, a great measuring rod. And it’s called “Adventures in Prayer.” Very simple, short, 40-day stories, and at the end of every story is my message to you where I exhort the reader, God’s message to you scriptures, and then your message to God.
And then this one was fun. I thought this one was going to be first. But this one’s called “Follow Me – An unending conversation with Jesus.” And I’m just going to show you real brief. It’s written in color. This is my actual journal from 2012. Wow, where I said to Jesus, listen, it was November 30. I thought, I said, I don’t have anything planned for December. Is there anything that you want to do? I was in my listening chair. It really wasn’t the Jesus it was the Godfather, Son, and Holy Spirit. And I had this idea to walk through the gospel of john, having a conversation with Jesus using the relative words. So I have got some resources there. I’ve got a website, maryjopierce.com. And if you go to my YouTube, I think you can find it by “Begin with Bread” or Mary Jo Pierce. But I there’s a full demonstration. It takes 50 minutes, but you can I’ve segmented it down. So if you just want to learn grading, you can look at the grading part.
So, thank you for coming and stopping by I had a ball!
Yvette: And we had a ball too. So now I guess it’s time for me to dust off my apron, conquer my fear of yeast, and begin baking Challah bread just like Mary Jo does in God’s honor and glory. Thanks so much. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Please go to positivelyjoy.com for a free teachable on five steps to choosing joy and to listen to previous episodes. Thanks a lot and farewell for now.