I stumbled into Shannan Martin some nearly 7 years ago, when I was new into the blogging world. Following a link-up, or some other chain of links, I found myself reading at her (then titled site) FlowerPatch Farm Girl. I was immediately hooked. In those days, she and her husband lived on what appeared to be, an idyllic piece of property in the country with their 3 adopted children. Shannan has a fantastic sense of humor, an eye for decorating and a gift for writing words that make you laugh out loud one minute and then catch your breath in the next, for the sheer weight of what she is saying. There’s nothing surface-y about this lady, though she’d probably argue that she’s not “deep”.
That’s bull. She is.
Having followed Shannan around on the internet for the last 7 years, I have read all of the parts of her story that she’s been willing to share. So when she and her husband pushed a “For Sale” sign into the yard of their “All-American-Dream” yard, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. When they both walked away from their careers for a different kind of life, in an impoverished community, where they began to open their door to struggling neighbors and a young man who would be in and out of jail, I read on in wild-eyed wonder at the journey that God had her on.
“This is what our faith requires, not to close our eyes to an open door.” (Shannan Martin)
Her words have challenged me, inspired me, and upset my comfortable life in ways that keep me coming back for more. She writes about things that make my palms sweat and my stomach churn with nervous excitement about the hard-heart workings of the Holy Spirit. I keep reading because Shannan isn’t just telling her story week after week, as she is peeling back the layers of what God is doing in her own heart. She’s telling a bigger story, a gospel story.
When I heard that Shannan was writing a book, I knew It was one that would simultaneously wreck and inspire me. I couldn’t wait to read it. When she sent me a copy of her book along with a peony root, I gasped at the goodness of God, and the intention with which He speaks to our hearts. Peonies are my favorite. Shannan had no idea…
Turning the pages, I find this passage and choke back my tears for the revelation of it. I see myself in her story:
“For most of my life I had attended church, sung like I meant it, tithed and made the near-fatal mistake of molding scripture around my plans for my future.” (Shannan Martin)
The farther I wander down the road with Jesus, the less room I have in my life for the stuff that doesn’t challenge me, call me out of sin, or wring me inside-out. I want to grow, even though I know it’s
probably going to hurt. I’ve lived in some of the very same heart-spaces that Shannan writes about–the comfortable cocoon’s of my own design, wrapped carefully (tightly) in the bands of scripture that make me feel warm and safe and comfortable, while conveniently ignoring the parts that squeeze too tight, sometimes even rejecting them outright, for the havoc their impact will wreak in my life. I’ve molded scripture to suit my liking, and lived beneath it, foolishly thinking I was living in the fullness of God, while feverishly trying to re-write my life in a way that wouldn’t cost me too much.
“God offers a better way…He inverts our plans, extending the option of total surrender like a May bouquet of decadent, gutsy, full-bloom peonies.” (Shannan Martin)
This is a phrase that grabbed me by the neck some years ago and continues to wring me out again and again. With every twist, I become less, and it’s exactly as it should be. I’ve grown in gratitude for the ways God brings me to the edges of myself. Not because I like it, but because it means I am closer to Him. I don’t love to surrender, but I love Jesus and the only way to get closer to Him is to let Him have His way in me. The only way to be full of Christ is to not be full of me.
“Our simple human brains just can’t fathom his goodness, or the way it sometimes orients itself as a hot mess.” (Shannan Martin)
Shannan’s book, Falling Free: Rescued From The Life I Always Wanted, is poking at all the right places in my heart. I am reading each page with slow intention, letting the words sink in, giving God space to re-arrange the furniture in my life with the upside-down message of the Gospel.
It’s Shannan and Cory’s story, but his is a book for all of us. This isn’t just about the journey that God has them on. It’s an invitation to journey with God in a way that re-centers your life on the gospel. Falling Free plunges you right into the heart of Jesus. Glory be!
“God says we get to be part of his grand scheme to redeem his people. He doesn’t need the help of us broken bandits. He wants it…He chooses us against all the evidence proving we’re not to be trusted. He welcomes our mess than asks us to do the same for each other.” (Shannan Martin)
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