Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You Can't Let Go On Your Own

These things that we've done, the things we're doing, we're not doing them to try to be anything. We didn't wake up one morning with the sun in our eyes and say, "Hey, let's stop thinking so much about money. Let's just decide that we believe our money doesn't really belong to us. Let's fill up our own little heads with the truth about poverty and loneliness and orphans and people right on the verge."

We aren't trying to make it into a newspaper article or impress the people around town or you. We're not trying to impress God.

We don't feel adequate. We don't get things right all the time. We get grumpy and too easily frustrated. My heart breaks for children with no home and no hope and then I yell at mine, I ignore my own because I just can't take it anymore and it rolls over like a smoke cloud, "Who do I think I am? I'm no poster child."

But then the smoke clears and I know this truth - I know that I prayed for a changed heart and it's being given, in small pieces, one chamber at a time. It doesn't mean that I'm perfect or all-wise or that I wear a perpetual smile. I don't. I'm not.

Isn't that the biggest, wildest beauty of it all?

The beauty is that God can turn us right around at a moment's notice. He can shove us out of our Anthro daydreams, beyond our decorating magazine pipe dreams, and push us into the glare of everything else, everything that we were always too busy to notice before. He can make our hearts break a million times in a million ways. He can make us start to wonder about wells. And he can do it all without you or me.

He swept me off my feet, left me dizzy as He yanked control right out from under me. He knows I'm not ready. He knows I'm not able. I'm not capable or nice enough. I'm still selfish and greedy. And He chooses to use me anyway. He doesn't need a poster child. He doesn't need me at all.

But He'll take me, yes He will.

He'll light a spark of willingness in my spirit and tune my strings to the keys of brokenness and grace.

I'll find myself in mundane moments noticing almost for the first time that this isn't who I always was. I didn't care so much, before. And now, here it is. I cry into my salsa bowl at lunch when I read posts like this, my Asian baby shouting jibberish hymns down the Brady-bunch hall when he should be sleeping. This is my life, and I didn't make it so.

All of this grace, all these gifts, every kind of lavishing. My husband, my children, my quirky rental home, my job loss, the pay cuts, the medical bills stacking to the sky, the dented van, the achy heart, the slivers of sadness, the ribbons of bright joy. I deserved none.

I don't exceed expectations and I don't even meet them. I'm a constant, daily "requires some improvement", and still, the gifts.

So all I want to do is give it back. In all my imperfect, sassy-girl, prideful, selfish woundedness, I give in the only way possible - through the One who heard my prayer and answered it. He makes me want to care more, shrink more, thank more. And that's as big a miracle as these brown eyes ever need to see.

*For the rest of the Letting Go series, click here.

Well Update:

We're at $2,673.

27% of our goal.


Don't lose steam now. Join us in obedience to the command to meet the needs of the poor. Every little bit helps get us to our goal.

Click the button below to link to the FPFG fundraising page. And feel free to share it on your blog, Facebook or Twitter. (code found in my sidebar)


  1. I can't wait for your book : )
    Love your grand adventure so much.
    Every day I pray I will find some extra money for the well project.

    There is this family in Kaishon's school that has been needing help lately and all of our spare funds and even some of our not spare funds have been going to help them. I must find more to give to the well though. I simply must.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. I think you're one of my all-time favorite people ever.

    No, really. EVER.

  3. You are humble, and I adore that.


  4. I love your posts, you inspire me to think differently, I appreciate that:)

  5. I absolutely love to read your blog! You are so very entertaining:) And I love your heart for God's will! I want to share your button on my blog!

  6. I agree whole-heartedly with Courtney & STJ all-be-it a bit envious of the fact that they get to 'really' know ya! :)

    For lack of seems your art of photog sure has managed to step right on out ~ that peony pic is AMAZING!!!

  7. I am amazed every time I read your posts. This one has my head in a whirl. I plan to read it again.

  8. Shannan! Does your wisdom know no end?? I'm not going to give you all of the credit because we know that God has chosen you to have this amazing gift, ;) I'm so happy that you have accepted it and use it to glorify Him! I wanna be like you when I grow up! (Even though you are 2 months younger than me.) Love you and your obedient heart!

  9. Tonight at church we talked to our students about what it means to use their story for God's glory. I think you're a walking example of what that means. You continually look for ways to turn it back to Him. It's a beautiful thing.

  10. Thank you....I just put groceries away, filling up our cabinets, and I started to cry. I cried because we have known empty. I cried because my in-laws are kind enough to give us some 'extra' grocery money, more than I could every dream of. I cried because if someone said they needed the food from my cupboards, I would hand it over, knowing that God will find a way to fill them again. So I thank you....for all of it.

  11. Your heart is genuine. Thank you for writing about when you don't feel adequate, too. The words are beautiful, and the "realness" is as well.

  12. I love this giving back--how you give back who you are now to God, acknowledging that He answered your heart-cry (and gave it to you in the first place), and how amazingly He moves. It's such a powerful truth.

  13. I love your heart, your funny and serious words, the way you bring me right into your 'brady bunch' rental home, the way I am walking along side your dented van and this amazing Christ who connects us though we are strangers, you and I... Thank you for sharing all of this with me. With us, your sister-friends in Christ... What a fantastic and amazing journey the Lord has you all on... Blessings, friend.

  14. I'm just so glad to see you live your life in obedience, so we can all be encouraged. You inspire me, Shannan. Thank you.

  15. I love your honesty...

    and I'm heading over to donate to the well right now..meant to do it earlier..but had to wait for our stack of medical bills. :-)

    ..and you're totally right- any amount with the well helps.

    Keep on Truckin'..;-)


  16. Usually reluctant to comment...a little on the shy side:)

    But, this post.

    This post has me weepy, and thankful that a perfect God uses imperfect girls like me. Stirs us all up until we have to dig down deep beyond our own mess to the perfectly, righteous, holy Jesus inside of our hearts, and hang on for dear life.

    Simply Inspiring.

    Planning on reading it again!

  17. What a great post. I feel ya at every turn. Our life has been a great big adventure over the last few years. Very, very hard at times but I'm always amazed at God's grace. How we wouldn't have food for the next day but I could still feel Him through a sunset...and have joy. Amazing, His love for us. Really, truly.


  18. "He swept me off my feet, left me dizzy as He yanked control right out from under me. He knows I'm not ready. He knows I'm not able. I'm not capable or nice enough. I'm still selfish and greedy. And He chooses to use me anyway. He doesn't need a poster child. He doesn't need me at all."

    Thank GOD he doesn't need us to be his poster children...THANK GOD.

    I'm proof that he can use ANYBODY. I would say that we only have to be willing, but he's used me before when I wasn't willing. He's so good like that.

  19. oh, we've sold quite a few signs this month so far, so I am STOKED to give to the well at the end of November. Stoked is SO not a Tara word...not sure where that one came from.

  20. What God is doing in your life has touched me deeply! Tiny Hands is on my mind all the time. We may not be able to turn around all the injustices of the world, but that doesn't mean we can't make a difference in someones life. Or a whole village without water for that matter. I think of the parable of the talents, and I want to invest mine into the Kingdom, not into my own comfort zone. Also love so many of the blogs you follow, they inspire me!!!

  21. You are one of my all time favorite bloggers, because of posts like these. You are honest and inspirational.

    I was diagnosed with cancer in July and was told I may not be able to have children. You are one of the people I thought of because you have such a beautiful and loving family. My husband and I decided that day, we WILL have children, one way or another. :)

  22. Such wonderful, heartfelt words. I can appreciate the slow journey toward the kingdom. It feels like baby steps some days and "Mother May I" leaps on other days. Keep ministering to those you influence through your truth and sincerity. God has given you this platform for a definite purpose, it's great to see Him revealing that in so many ways!

  23. i'm not capable or nice enough. this resounds with me strong right now, and once again i wish we were just up the street.

    praying for your heart and mine. you're a boon to me, shannan.

  24. Thank you for this post! "Praying for a changed heart." Since I got back from Kenya I have struggled with reconciling this life with what I left behind in Africa. I struggle with my own desires and the things I've convinved myself I need, yet don't. In the past 6 months, God has used so many circumstances to change my life and open my eyes to a world far beyond my own. One that is filled with a lot of human pain and suffering and He has called me to do something about it. What little I can. I keep forgetting to pray for a changed heart. He is changing my heart, I act, then I struggle and feel like I'm back where I started.

    Your post nearly had me crying over my coffee this morning. Thank you for your words, your honestly, and authenticity.

  25. I love you Shannan Martin. The end.