Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Speed Scrabble and the Condition of Our Heart

Over one year ago, we were turned upside down and shaken around until our hearts landed up in our heads. It's an odd place to be, especially in the early days. We juggled everything we thought we knew then tossed at least half of it out. You might think that left us half-empty, but what it really left us was twice as full. Like clearing the clutter from the kitchen island or finally getting around to organizing the dreaded junk room, it's amazing what a little breathing room will do for the soul. (*To catch up, read this label. Start at the bottom!)

What we realized was that our lives were small and safe, lacking the fulfillment and spice that our hearts secretly pined for, because we had spent our time focusing on the wrong things. We stood in a very tight circle and only looked in, mostly at each other. Family is important and I think it's clear that I'm in love with mine, but God didn't push-pin us down on this corner of land just to have fun and take care of one another. Let me tell you, that truth felt sort of brand new to me. I think I would have said that I knew better, but I'm not sure that I really believed it.

So, we began to seek. And what we found was God's hand leading us to put this pretty house on the market. From the start, we believed that our house was significant to His plan for us right now. We knew it was something we held tightly. We knew it was something we had to offer, something God could use. It was also a sacrifice, especially in the beginning. We saw two options: We could fill it up with other people, (but how?) or we could sell it and buy something smaller and cheaper, using what we saved however we were led. Over time, we felt very strongly that we were to sell, so we did.

Except we didn't.

We're still here. Some days we were here angstier than others. Many days I pitched fits while I cleaned for yet another showing for yet another family who would not be buying the dang house.

Mostly, I believed that it was a matter of time and I found my groove in looking forward to the future but remaining thankful for the day. This day. Whichever one it happened to be.

Tick tock. We have had thirty-odd showings and not a single smidge of an offer. The feedback has been 99% fantastic, but I'm still sitting here typing from my same ol' blue living room.

This is exactly the kind of thing that can mess with the head of a girl who is used to having everything lined up. The fact that God reshaped our hearts and lit within them a new dream told us all we needed to know: The house would sell.


In the meantime, we would keep our hearts and hands open for whatever might land in them.

Two months ago, something landed.

It's 16 years old with a smile as bright as her eyes and a heart that makes me want to hug it. It is temporary, but I'm learning that life is temporary. My long-term plans are overwhelmingly wrong, these days. My life can turn on a dime.

Our days have taken on a new rhythm and the dynamic has shifted a bit. We are all learning, every day, every one. My kids have the opportunity to see first-hand that our love will always be big enough for them, no matter who we share it with. They are beginning to understand that love and service sometimes mean sacrifice. (Every time they miss Wild Kratts because we're out running H around, they learn it all over again.)


My time is more limited than ever. It turns out 16 year olds don't bed down for the night at 7:30. It turns out that I will drop everything for a bowl of late night watermelon and a triple-round of speed scrabble.

Will we be right here six months from now? Two? I have no idea. But I know one thing for sure: I want to be exactly where He puts us, because there is no place more exciting, no place safer, no place at all where joy burns brighter.

63 comments:

  1. beautiful. and shannan, i do believe i love you.

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  2. awesome Shannan. You are showing Jesus to others. I do believe I love you too.

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  3. Wonderful news. Amazing what God does when we let stuff go. Praying for an extra measure of blessing for your family and your new addition.
    Diabra

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  4. Well, I know I love you and things are as they should be in the Martin house. You need that house Shan, that is just my thought, my belief, and if it sells tomorrow - then so be it. You got the real life going on there girl. I wish I had a 15yr old nappy head up on my couch all the live long day. I heart 'H'. And C, and C Jr, and R and S. And thee. Your family makes me want to shout.....(insert bug pic here)

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  5. You left me so full.

    I overfloweth.

    xxoo

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  6. proud...you are right where you are supposed to be!

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  7. What wonderful news! You and your family are SO inspiring. I am truly brought to tears {in a good way} almost every time I read your posts:)

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  8. :) I'm loving y'all! Beautiful, beautiful. Still learning why He moved me here.

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  9. Wow, this is huge news. I love how you are so faithfully open to what God is calling you to do. Yay for you guys!

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  10. (brace yourself, this is gonna get long)
    This weekend on my girls road trip to the Farm Chicks Show we were talking about blogs & bloggers and you, of course, are the first blogger I always recommend. This weekend I was raving about how much I love how much you love other people. You show Jesus to the world around you in so many tangible ways. Your heart seeks His.
    I have a special tug on my heart for older kids like H who need a home. Especially those ready to age out of the foster system. I want to give them roots. As hard as it is to wait on that, now is not the time for us to do that. I know it will be someday and in the mean time I'm so thankful for people like you who get to do it now. Your love and obedience moved me to tears tonight. I'll be praying for your precious family. All 6 of you. :)

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  11. " . . . God didn't push-pin us down on this corner of land just to have fun and take care of one another." Amen, Sister! Amen!

    Feel free to email if you ever have teenager woes. I've got three of 'em. :)

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  12. You just continue to amaze me with your open heart and arms. I feel so inspired every time I read a new post...you are truly a gift from God.

    I think I need to venture out of my circle that I look into and see what I can bring in it. :)
    Sarah

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  13. Awww...you are so inspiring. I was just thinking about big kids and tugs on my heart. It is amazing who enters are doors when we allow them in, isn't it? Hugs to you!
    julie

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  14. i sat down to read this post all swirly with selfish. pigpenish. it was palpable.

    i had plans. but our extended family, those children who live steps away needed more. and my plans got shelved.

    sometimes it gets ugly, my heart. thank you for bringing it back to simple, pure Truth. Love.

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  15. Your heart is beautiful! Your words are inspirational! Your ministry is admirable! Your family is blessed! You are loved!

    xo jamie

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  16. You continue to be such an encouragement with your words - with your life - because you are so authentic. My husband and I have had many conversations of why God has us where He has us lately - and He is stirring things in our heart - planting and watering seeds that may not be growing if we were where WE wanted to be rather than here. All of this rambling to say thank you for continuing to share your journey - it helps me see that He is always faithful.

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  17. What a sweet and lovely story, Shannan!

    H is lucky to have you as I'm sure you're lucky to have her and are learning from her as well.

    I have a niece who is 20 and a nephew who is 17 and no...they do not bed down at 7:30, do they?

    Life is so much grander and more exciting once you open your heart to it all and what God has in store for you, rather that what you thought you wanted or needed.

    Good for you.

    Kudos for your bravery and for living fully.

    I've said it before and here's a repeat:

    You rock, girl.

    PS: Good job with the Scrabble..btw..;-)

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  18. Sometimes, God only wants you to just be willing to follow... to put Him back in front, to say, "wherever You lead, I will follow" and then He says, "Good. Sit tight and carry on!"
    You are truly an inspiration!

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  19. Oh my goodness.
    Goosebumps.
    That last picture--beautiful in so many ways.
    I heart your heart girl.

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  20. So did she come to you through a fostering agency or another arrangement? We fostered teen girls so I know some of what you speak. It was quite the whirlwind. Hugs!

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  21. You have such a big heart and I know God is using you exactly as He planned.

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  22. You do have a big heart. There is always room for one more. The last picture just says it all. God Bless your family.

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  23. Perfection... you and your sweets are a true blessing to all who enter your home. Thank you for being open to love and His wishes for you. You are truly a gift to so many!!

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  24. wow! i love that last picture, too. so cool. you are doing wonderful things shannan, all of you!

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  25. thank you for opening your heart.
    your home.
    sharing your love.
    so beautiful.
    thank you for reminding me to do that too.

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  26. Wow! You're always up to something! Maybe God just wanted to see if you were willing to sell the house and when you were He let you keep it. Bless your heart.

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  27. chica, you amaze me. i'm with the girlies up there....i just love you. you're letting God use you and not closing your ears.

    blessings to you and yours...all of 'em,
    {alicia}

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  28. I love your heart to serve the Lord. I want to be exactly where He wants me too, there is no better place than to be in His perfect will.

    I pray I have a heart like yours, Shannan!

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  29. I love that last picture. Yay!!

    bye.

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  30. To quote our beloved Nichole Nordeman..."You make me want to be brave."

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  31. love, love, love you Shanny. You are good peeps. And not the marshmallow kind.

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  32. yep. I get it girlfriend. you crawled into my mind and said it just like I think it... peas in a pod!

    Also, and this has nothing to do with the depth of your sweet and heartfelt post but I'm kind of half in love with Chris Kratt. We never miss a wild Kratts episode... He's such a cutie daddy type. Sigh.

    Love your sweet heart.

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  33. Mmmmhmmm. Amen. You're stor'in up treasures in heaven. Beautiful writings.

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  34. I'd rather read your blog over a devotional any day. Food for the soul! You have touched my heart this morning...and almost every day I read. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

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  35. That's really beautiful.

    Keep on keepin on - where he leads is where you stay. It's really encouraging.

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  36. Grace embodied. Thank you.

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  37. Love it. This is just what I needed to read today.

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  38. Thank you, thank you for sharing.

    "But I know one thing for sure: I want to be exactly where He puts us, because there is no place more exciting, no place safer, no place at all where joy burns brighter."

    So true.

    Linds
    http://thisabode.blogspot.com

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  39. I understand your angst over not selling your house. We have been in the same boat for nearly 5 years. It has been very hard to live with the unknown tomorrows. Some days I think we should just stay put and other days I know our house is just too big for us now. The unsettledness is maddening. Keep me inspired.

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  40. Have I ever mentioned what an inspiration & an encouragement you are to me?! :)
    Today you are leaving me with the question...'am I doing enough or just enough'?

    I am excited to read where the lord takes you & often wonder if you'll end up leaving your 'little slice of paradise' or if it's just a test. Only to be laid down at His feet & given right back to you. Secretly, my fleshly self hopes the later for you. Time will tell...

    Like many of the readers above "I Love You too."
    With a heart as true as yours it's hard not to!

    Praying upon you a sunny day filled with watermelon kisses!

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  41. Wow!! I followed your posts from last year and in so many ways I felt like I was reading my own story....God has been shaking "our" foundation, rocking our world (which, by the way, is a very pretty, safe little life with beautiful children, flowers, chickens and much more). In January we were faced with a job loss, I am a stay at home, homeschooling mother of 5. I don't know where God is taking us, but I know the possibility of leaving our saftey net is real. I am encouraged my your journey to be excited at the change that God has for us, it is, after all, what we truly want. To live fully in Him, through Him and for Him <3 Thank you for sharing your story and your heart!! God Bless you and your family.

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  42. your about His business while your waiting to get to where your going, maybe your already there! It's just another reminder from you of what church really is, actions... not the Sunday morning tradition.

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  43. Beautiful, inspiring, awesome post. Thank you for sharing what God's doing in your life.

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  44. I can't help but smile as I think about how God, the Unchangeable, can bring about so much change in and around us as He molds us into His plan. But the change that it brings? It's such a safe place to be, in the solid arms of the One who knows just what's next.

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  45. I loved this post!!!!!!!! Doing what God wants you to do is never easy but always worth it. Thank you for sharing how God has been stretching you. You are an amazing woman!!

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  46. Sometimes GOD just wants to know if you are ready to drop all things and go where he would tell you to go. He knows your heart more than ever now as you got ready. Its easy to say "Yes Lord" but to actually do it.... well you got ready and you proved to him. Sit back and wait on GOD's next move. The next move could be to just to stay put.

    Helping you in prayer. May God keep you all safe.

    Tammy
    SimpleSouthernHappiness
    still having trouble with leaving comments

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  47. Awesome!! And in response to those last few lines: AMEN!

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  48. Oh boy, the life of a sixteen year old. So complex. I always thought busy was the younger years, and then we grew a sixteen year old girl. So many blessings are coming your way. Sixteen years olds have a way of forcing us to look long and hard at ourselves. Enjoy. I'm loving every minute... except sometimes I don't realize it until later : ) They see truth like no other.
    Dana

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  49. You are an amazing lady and I know you are blessing the socks offa her. Blessings to you today.

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  50. We, too, had a sixteen year old young lady show up at our door one fall day. She has been a huge blessing to us and her "little brother". We adopted a young son through the foster system, and fostered many younger children. K was the only teenager God sent our way. These days, she shares with us her sweet husband and 2 beautiful sons. God bless you and your precious family as you continue to share Him with those in your path.

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  51. You never cease to amaze me. What a beautiful heart you have!

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  52. I think it's amazing what you are doing. My husband grew up in an orphanage and his house parents are the reason he found the Lord. You are making a difference, girlie. Shine on!

    XOXO,
    Angie from Ohio

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  53. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I too will drop everything for a late night bowl of...well, cereal but watermelon is good too :)

    XOXO

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  54. I too agree with Jamye!! Grace is always amazing. The older I get the more it amazes me. And to see it well lived in you and Cor's life, is a treat indeed.

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  55. I've been out of blog world for a month so am just catching up! What a blessing your family continues to be. Can't wait to hear how the story unfolds, sending joy and love your way! xxoo

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  56. It turns out that I will drop everything for a bowl of late night watermelon and a triple-round of speed scrabble.

    My kids have the opportunity to see first-hand that our love will always be big enough for them, no matter who we share it with.

    Maybe the best lessons you could possible impart on kids. Awesome, mama.

    Love it when I miss a bunch of posts and get to catch up in one giant swoop!

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  57. Your family is such a gift, so inspiring....and I just ate a bowl f watermelon!!!
    xo,
    LuLu

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  58. I'm pretty sure you live out my life dreams ;) I love watching it and knowing that there are people out there who give their heart so freely to others and who feel the beautiful need to tell others about how wonderful (and how hard) it can be. You are so right in that God is amazing and continually moves our lives in the direction that He sees fit and in the way that He most feels that we will be of blessed use. Be glad for what He has brought to you and know that there are many, many others who are so thankful for you.

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  59. this, too, is The Stuff of Dreams. makes my heart thunder. love you, my girl.

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