Saturday, November 29, 2014

One of My Greatest Struggles

Love never gives up -

The clock on my grease-spattered oven read 5:40. I gave the pot on the stove an extra stir and set my peripheral vision to the dark street just past our living room window. Were those headlights? Would they even be arriving in a car? There’s so much we didn’t know about them—including their last names. They were ten minutes late, and I stewed.

I, of all people, should know better. For my family, ten minutes late means right on time. We’re fashionably relaxed, here to show the world there’s really no rush.

But I was edgy on the other side of that minute hand.

I'm over at (in)courage today. Click here to continue reading about one of my greatest struggles right now.

(And I am LOVING the fancy way they put that verse across my photo! Eternal swoon.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I Hugged Bob Goff at Jail

Now and then, I read a book that snakes in and changes the fabric of my heart. After that, I tell everyone (EVERYONE) to read it. Sometimes I'm inspired to conduct impromptu readings full of social awkwardness.

I'm a big book bosser. If you talk to me for more than 15 minutes (I'm allergic to small talk and prefer to get straight down to business,) I will end up asking, "Have you read ________? Because you need to."

I don't even say, "You might want to." I say "need," as in, I'm your high school English teacher or your supervisor at work or RoboCop.

I love being changed by a book, and when it happens for me, I'm sure it will also happen to you.

That's how it was with Love Does, by Bob Goff.

I'd heard about it for a while, and I read Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, where he talks a lot about Bob. But when it first came out and I saw all the hype, I was reluctant. I'm afflicted with a strange rebellion which causes me to lose interest or feign indifference when something becomes a big trend. (Exhibits A-D: The Purpose Driven Life, The Shack, The Hunger Games, technology.) Also, I made a wrong and stupid assumption that Love Does was a fluffy, feel-good book. 

Um, wrong.
It's relatable, funny, engaging, and easily applied to a personal experience. It's also packed with meaty, chew-all-day truth.

I devoured it in that unique, "I can't stop reading/I want to slow down because I don't want it to end" sort of way. Then I bossed Cory to read it, adding, "You need to read this with the jailbirds."

Note: I call guys in jail "jailbirds". Don't be offended. The alternative is "inmates", which makes them sound too much like criminals (it's complicated). 

Long story longer, Cory read the book, and took it into the jail, where he gathered up a group of men with the following pre-qualifications: 1) You have to be a reader and 2) You have to be ready to discuss.

And then all Heaven broke loose. The guys talked. Some got emotional. One shared the following epiphany, "The Devil is a tricky bastard."

I mean, I can't argue with that.

Since Bob famously printed his cell phone number in the back of the book, we decided to call and invite him to the book club. Alas, the mailbox was full. So Cory, being all kinds of social media savvy (no) "tweeted out a post" to Bob. But, you know, Bob is a busy guy with a fairly robust schedule and that was the end of that.

A couple months later, I tweeted a picture of Cory and the Love Does book club.

5 minutes later, BOB GOFF RETWEETED ME.

This is basically a miracle. So since we were already standing at a parted sea, we doubled down and invited him to visit the jail - #bobgoffgoestojail.

And since he's Bob Goff, he immediately responded, "Let's do it! Email me!"

At this point, I RAN upstairs to call Cory, only to see that I'd missed roughly 28 calls from him after he discovered Bob had sent him the exact same tweet...TWO MONTHS EARLIER.

Hey, Cory. Hey. When you "tweet out" a personal invitation to a celebrity, you might want to check your account to see if they "tweeted you out" back.

Bob was coming to the jail.
Love Does!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And then a couple weeks later he wasn't coming to the jail, and Love Doesn't. (We got lots of mileage around here with that one, even though we secretly totally understood and it was an honor to just be nominated.)

Taking a page from my playbook, Cory did not relent. He offered back an "open invitation" and all the 'birds wrote Bob letters telling him how God was using his book to show them, some for the first time ever, what the love of God and following Jesus really looks like.

Finding it all irresistible or perhaps just finding a break in his schedule, LOVE DID.

I waited out in my van like a total creeper and met him as he was leaving, then I got my picture with him and I don't even care that I have a double chin and a mysterious black speck on my tooth.

From there, Bob and I both drove (separately, dang it) to Chicago for the Storyline conference, where he shared a picture of his time at the jail. You know I cried.

Do you think we can ever get our faces off ourselves enough to really love the people around us? Do we believe God wants us to actually do right things for the people around us, not just read our Bibles and mind our own bee's wax?

God reveals Himself through other people. Through us. 
This is the miracle of the manger.

Jesus came and grew and spent his free time eating with crooks and whores and murderers and thieves. He palled around with the poor - finding commonality with them because he was one of them. He chose to give what He had. He refused to store up earthly treasure, understanding it was all just rust and ash. He loved people. And he RoboCopped us to do the same. That's our J.O.B., to love the people around us as much as we love ourselves.

God is God and I am not. And even though I occasionally find myself thinking, "What would Bob do?", he isn't God, either.

But God's love fuels Bob's life. It caused him to hop in a rental car and drive hundreds of miles to spend 45 minutes hugging criminals and promising them the kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.

I want to live inside that heartbeat.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and it's my job and yours to make sure we're loving others as much as we're loving ourselves. We're slinking towards the Most Trickyful Time of the Year, when it's so easy to get wrapped up in the hype that we risk missing the entire point.

Most of the guys in the photo above will be spending their holidays eating a single tray of crap food and sleeping as much as possible so they can forget about the life they're stuck in. Yes, they're in the grip of justice, but isn't that a terrifying thought? What would our holidays look like if justice wrote our script?

Let's love more.
Let's love bigger and rowdier.
Let's extend foolish grace and walk in the grace we were given.

Happy Thanksgiving, favorite homies.

ps - Buy this book for someone this Christmas. You NEED to.

* amazon affiliate linkage

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Becoming: The Unfolding of You

Now and then, an opportunity comes along that I don't even need to think twice about. I read the details, feeling my heart beat faster. In two seconds flat, I'm emailing back, "I'm IN!"

This is one of those times.

My beautiful friend, Jeanne Oliver, invited me to be part of a brand new, **FREE** course she's offering this January called Becoming: The Unfolding of You.

As Jeanne says,
This January join 20 women for an 8 week study all about finding your true identity in Christ. Each week you will hear unfolding stories from the women in this study. We will be sharing truths about who the Lord says we are and our personal journeys to accepting those truths.

We will also have fun creative videos that follow the study where the women will share one of their gifts. Think guitar playing, bread making, painting, entertaining and more. You know I can’t have a course without sharing how the Lord uses our creativity! My hope is that the study will give you fresh eyes for the Lord and yourself. When we know who we are in Christ it changes everything and opens our paths and gifts in incredible new ways.

Some of us are carrying around “truths” about ourselves that are flat out lies and it time to lay them down

 Jeanne is a creative, soulful woman who listens to the Lord. Her obedience and kindness have stopped me in my tracks more than once, even in just the past year. She has loved my family well and supported me in wonderful ways.

{You might recall our Creativity Takes Courage video chat we did last year? You can still watch, if you'd like to! Warning: We are hilarious. At least to ourselves.}

I'm so honored to partner with her again - along with the talented ladies pictured above - as we all journey into the heart of who God created us to be. We'll each be sharing our hearts, on camera, with you. We'll also be talking about the ways God has made every one of us (that means you!) uniquely creative. Jeanne is a wildly successful fine artist, but this course is truly for everyone, and if you don't believe that? Remember I'm part of it. :) Jeanne has already opened my eyes to the ways I really am creative, and I'm pumped to explore that even more.

I can't think of a better time of year to settle in and mine God's heart for the truth about Shannan Martin. (And I can't wait for you to see the little video I'm putting together for the course!)

Will you join me?

Directions to register:
To join this free study you just need to be registered at (registering is free).
Once you are on the site you will find this study, free videos (business and art), my Creativity Takes Courage series and new online courses along the left hand side of the page.
You will find all of our courses/videos under the COURSES heading.
To register for Becoming | The Unfolding of You
1) Go to COURSES along the left hand side of the page
2) Go to the bottom of the course and click “view all” to find Becoming | The Unfolding of You
4) Click on Becoming | The Unfolding of You
3) Click the +join button on the upper right hand side
4) All of the details are on the page and you are all set for the study to begin on January 6, 2015

This study will be open and honest, real, Bible based and a bit of creativity too. Join us January 6, 2015 for this free online study!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Family Pictures & Why Marriage Is A Miracle

A few weeks ago Cory took some quick family pictures.

The main thing I want to call your attention to in this photo: Ruby appears to be a teenager.

The second thing is: We are ALL rocking at least partially-thrifted outfits!

I never want to go too matchy-matchy for family pics. It always looks contrived and if you're not careful, people start to blur together into one giant blob of khakis and denim.

This was my inspiration photo. I loved the casual, colorful vibe and their mix of prints.
In usual Shannan fashion, I didn't give it much thought until two days before, at which point I realized Calvin and Ruby were both in dire wardrobe straits. They have plenty of stuff, just not anything that would really work together for the common good. I wanted to find a flannel or plaid shirt for Calvin, with something floral for Rubes. There was a time when I would have run to Target or Old Navy. No more! So I did the next best thing and crossed my fingers for a hot streak of luck.

Lo, an angel appeared at my door the very next day with two garbage bags full of clothes for Calvin, all of which appeared to be next-to-new, including this shirt. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then I hit up a new Goodwill in a neighboring town and scored dusty pink Gap cords for Ruby, along with this *perfect* shirt, which still had the original tags attached.



{Cory's sweater came from my fave consignment store in town a few months ago, Silas is rocking hand-me-downs from his brother, and I'm wearing old Target jeans, a sweater I've had for 7 years, and a gray tank from my trip to the thrift store during Camp Create.}

All of this required minimal cash, next-to-no time, and Cory took exactly two photos. Boom. Don't over-think it.

Speaking of not over-thinking it...

This is the first family picture we've had on my parents' side in roughly 8 years.

We hauled the tripod over to the woods on a windy day. Voila.

This is so us. It makes me laugh.
And honestly, we KNEW this was happening. This was actually planned, people.
My niece is wearing a beautiful dress, Ruby is in tie-dye, Silas is dressed for Summer, Calvin for Fall. I'm wearing my mom's cardigan because I was chilly, along with a ponytail.


And this is Cory's family - of collected, coordinated, pre-scheduled fame.

Both families are equally rad. Both are full of good, caring people.
But these pics might hint at some underlying familial modes of operation that don't entirely align.

Cory and I grew up in shockingly similar families with values and traditions that were almost universally the same. His parents and mine get along like old mates. We're all fairly roll-with-the-punches people And still, given all of that, there are deep differences and subtle shifts in structure and ideals and tendencies that amount to these two very different photos.

This is why marriage is a miracle!

Two people come together knowing only what they know, and they somehow take some of this, a bit of that, and cut a brand new path, together. They raise their kids with old traditions and new philosophies and mash-up hybrids of everything that matters.

And then their kids grow up and do the same.
(Am I the only one humming Circle of Life right now? Because it feels positively croon-worthy up in here.)

Generation after generation, there are slow shifts and turns that measure in single degrees. Things begin to look different, but take a closer look. I don't think my little family operates profoundly differently than the families from generations before us.

Does this strike you as amazing as it does to me?
Or is it just my Earl Gray-and-Midol cocktail talking???

My family is basically a hydroponic tomato.
(So is yours.)
A gradual morphing of what always was.
Grown differently, but basically the same.

And to that, I give a rowdy, rebel-rousing, "Viva!"

Happy Monday, Beefsteaks.

PS - Some of you have mentioned that you're not seeing my posts in your Facebook feed anymore. I'm streamlining my personal FB account and moving all of my blog/online stuff over to my FPFG facebook page. You can find me there and Like my page by clicking on the Facebook icon at the very top of my blog sidebar. If you want to be sure not to miss any of my posts, it's SUPER easy! Just click on "Follow by Email" near the bottom of my sidebar, enter your email address, follow the directions, and my posts will be delivered directly to your inbox. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Weekend Cheer-Ups

:: Lean in and see how some families are born.

:: Am I the only weirdo who never tires of looking at beautiful weddings? My pal's little sis styled this one!

:: Apparently I didn't save the right URL for that last link, so I had to search around for minutes and minutes. Instead of silently muttering my usual, "For the love of Pete" I said, "Did I do thaaaat?" In the Steve Urkle voice. I can't explain it, but I sure feel better now that the secret's out.

:: This provoked my Ugly Cry, on contact.


:: I love, love this song. His voice does magical things and I'm inclined to buy the cd (yes, I still buy cds. shut up about it.) but I still haven't recovered from being duped by Elliott Yamin...

:: Hey, one of my favorite companies posted an interview with me!

:: I like the way this one tells the truth.

:: I'm on the secondhand hunt for a pair of these (WHY did I toss mine in college???)

:: LOVE is right. Yes to a green kitchen!

:: Add this to your kiddos' library, stat.

:: This sincerely feels like a website we all need, and I'm not even playing.

:: This woman somehow takes my kind of life and makes sense of it.

:: I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT THIS. Mostly laughter. Related: Sarah and I used to have an entire "Secular" list, documenting all the times our pastor said it, with passion and earnestness, LIKE IT WAS AN ACTUAL THING.

Happy Weekend, Homies!

*A wee affiliate link was used for that there book.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

This is How God Speaks

I spent yesterday with some of my ladies. We ran through Goodwill (duh) then settled into a booth and asked the server to "keep the salsa coming". Then we shared what was on our hearts, and it was some serious business.

We're all in a time of uncertainty, aren't we? No matter what's going on in our world, there are unanswered questions and niggling feelings of internal wonkiness. We want what we don't want, we don't want what we do want. It's all a bit of a mess, and we've grown accustomed to the yank and shove of working out our faith, making it something that belongs to us, something that's all of us - fully in and through us.

Our words still ringing in my ears, I grabbed our kids' devotional book this morning and because 1) I'm not a morning person and 2) God is God and I am not, I read yesterday's page. By "accident".

So this is completely for me, but it's also for you. It's for the ladies who shared lunch with me and all the ones who came before. It's for those of you I may not share a chip basket with this side of eternity. (Sidenote: Jesus, keep the salsa coming!) We are in this together. We've been grafted into community with one another for a purpose.

So grab my hand, let's say what's true.

Follow Me. No matter where I lead you, just follow Me. Don't worry about how everything will turn out. Just trust Me, and I'll show you the way.

Think of your life as an adventure, with Me as your Guide and Companion. Don't worry about where our path will lead tomorrow - just live in the adventure of today. Keep your mind on staying close to Me.

If our path takes us to the bottom of a steep cliff, don't be afraid. Just hold tightly to My hand, and take a deep breath. I'll help you climb all the way up to the top. And when we come to a peaceful resting place, stop there a while and rest with me.
Is that just what you needed, or is it just me?
The devotional ended with this, my very favorite Bible verse. Because of course it did.
"For I am confident that I will see the Lord's goodness while I am here in the land of the living." Psalm: 27:13-14

Happy Thursday, Homies.
Thanks for being my people.

*I only feel slightly too-bossy in saying you need this kids devotional in your casa. Even if you don't have kids, because sometimes we need God's word as plain and simple and profound as it was always meant to be.

** I sent invoices out last night for Thrift Fix 1.0! Check your email. If you didn't "win", there's always next time. :)

*** Yes, that is an affiliate link up there.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why Contentment Isn't Enough

Back when you asked me all your burnings questions, one of you asked, "If someone dropped $40k in your lap right this minute--what would you do with it? Can you justify going on vacation or do you easily talk yourself out of it because you could better spend that money feeding the hungry/housing the homeless, etc?"

Now THAT is a question.
In the 2 months since then, Cory and I have had 20 at least conversations about it. It's a fun one to ponder and I highly recommend it the next time your husband is relaxing on the couch with his nose in a book. :)

We've been all over the map. Family Vacation. Giving to missionaries. New camera lens (Cory). All of the throw pillows in all of the stores (Shannan). I daydreamed about replacing our towels and buying a good set of pans (the things that seem necessary after 15 years of marriage, but never seem to actually happen.) We'd like to finish the basement, and we tell ourselves we "need" to. (Another post for another day.) There's the despairing fact of our two troubled mini vans. And the looming threat of braces. And still, after all this time and all we've learned, there remains the pulsing instinct to "put it in savings".

Every time it came up, when the daydreams had thinned into the air around us and all that was left was the truth, we came back to this: We would pay off our house and immediately buy another one.

We'd buy something small and grubby, in our neighborhood. We'd doctor it up and figure out how to become landlords. And that's what we'd be. Against all logic, Dave Ramsey be danged.

If you'd asked that question two years ago, or even one, our answer would have been different.

But you can only sit around the table so many times with beautiful, broken people and watch the world close in on them before it starts to kill you a little. And isn't that the point of life? Aren't we suppose to lose ourselves?

We're in a season where God is making good on His promise to bring us a new community, and it's a community of brokenness and deep need. Patterns keep emerging, a never-ending rabbit trail, the curling loop of infinity.

It's the broken child who becomes the angry man who commits a crime who does the time who puts ink to all his pain who won't be hired who can't find a home who works for minimum wage who owes the system who doesn't see his kids who has no car who signs over his soul to a slumlord who is bled dry by greed who walks to work in the cold with a flame at his lips who wants to quit, wants to save, wants to dig out, wants to start fresh, wants to know God, wants to feel loved, wants to lock eyes with another human, wants to convince me his gang is full of "good people", wants to change, wants to move, wants to leave, wants to quit, wants to try try try. But can't.

Those blue eyes, they're so kind and he will never get out from under the system. Do we really want him to? Do we care?

We tell him to change, to prove it when he has, but would we even listen? Will his change ever look like enough to you and me?

Not when half his teeth are missing and "F**k the world" is scrawled across his forearm while our eight-year old sits with her bowl of soup, just two chairs down. Not when bed sheets covers his windows and he gets jittery when he needs a smoke. Not when he pays through the nose for a crap-hole because no one else will trust a felon. Not when nothing about him shows us he's moving up.

That's what we want. We want everyone to move up, to meet us where we are, but we keep climbing while they crawl and we know they'll never catch us. We kind of like it that way.

Do you want the secret to contentment? Break bread with someone who has nothing then watch their backs get smaller and disappear as they walk home on ice-covered streets wearing thin, zip-up hoodies. I dare you to go to bed that night and think about what you need. You'll fight sleep as you look around your cute, cozy bedroom. You'll swear you'd rip the fixtures from the ceiling and sell the duvet if you had to. Your cheeks will flame in the dark while you pretend your closet doesn't hold 12 pairs of shoes.

I've been so wrong, so long. This death is hard. It's painful.

People like to tell me it's okay to have nice things, or that it's wrong or prideful to get caught up in having less. I understand it. I feel some of those things, too. I don't think we're called to be monks or make our shoes from cardboard.

It makes us uncomfortable to consider choosing a life of lower means. We want our stuff so badly. I want it. I like it and I love it. It makes me happy, brings me joy, gives me something on which to hang a bit of my worth. My stuff defines me.

His does, too.

If I had this riddle all worked out I probably wouldn't be tapping these keys. We're learning to be more content, but I still have miles to go. All I have to do is look to the South, look to the North, and I'm schooled. It's in my face, and I still resist it every day. I find it impossible to reconcile the woman I am and the woman I'm meant to be.

It's not much, but here's what I know for sure about contentment: If you want more of it, stop only hanging around people who have as much as or more than you. Spend time with friends who tell you that every pay-day, they go to Goodwill and buy a dish or a pan or a sweater because a few months ago, they were evicted again, lost everything, and had to start over from scratch.

Here's one more thing: If you do this, you will never be truly content. Your wanting might mellow a bit, but it'll be replaced with the hot burn of injustice at point-blank range and you'll begin to believe it is your job to right some wrong things. You'll find it impossible to watch humans around you - humans you love - suffer.

The truth is, if $40,000 dollars fell into my lap, we'd take these kids of ours on a simple vacation.  As sure as I'm sitting here, we'd make an unnecessary trip to Target and eat somewhere nice without that fluttery feeling in our gut. And then we'd find that little cottage and believe that it could change something for someone.

I guess I'm some kind of a holy roller this morning. I'm here running the aisles because I'm tired of sitting still. I'm spitting into the mic, crashing the cymbal, begging you to believe we were given this job, to find these people and love them straight to the cross. Let's not be content with contentment. Let's believe it's our high honor to give a rip.

We can support them in meaningful ways and love them to the feet of Jesus. From there, the rest of the work is His. We can do this, friends. We can do the job we were given - a tangible job, nothing theoretical or hypothetical about it. We can actually do actual things for His kingdom here on earth. Today.

We can decide to never be the same again.

"Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone." 1 Thess. 5:14

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thrift Fix - 1.0

For the past year, various blog friends have harped (ever so nicely) on me to hop aboard the Stitch Fix bandwagon. A few made a great case, saying this is a needed service for women who don't have time to shop or don't trust themselves to put together an outfit that they'll feel great in.

While lots of people I love use Stitch Fix, it was never the right fit for me (ha), primarily because I don't buy retail very often. I'm a big believer in buying secondhand. It's the best value and it works against the popular norm of cranking out more "stuff" when this world has plenty. Plus, it requires a little more creativity and patience, both of which I could always exercise more.

So, welcome to Thrift Fix!

Every now and then, I host a sale of secondhand outfits I've put together with much love and affection, JUST FOR YOU. (You can read about the first sale, similar but not entirely the same, right here.)

I'm committed to buying ONLY things that I would wear. In fact, I feel some level of visceral pain that I can't keep all of this for moi. If I'm buying it, I love it. And I try to pair things up in a really FPFG sort of way, but remember that these are pieces you can mix-and-match however you'd like. They would also work well with things you already have!

Boss Notes
If you're interested in an outfit, leave me a comment with the outfit number (the number is directly BELOW the photo) along with your PayPal address. I will randomly choose a winner for each outfit and send you an invoice.

Shipping is only available to the Continental US.

Sadly, there are no returns. I do my best to accurately provide size information, making notes when items look larger or bigger than their actual size. If your outfit doesn't work, you can feel free to comb back through the comments and find someone else who might want it!

Comments will be open until tomorrow, at noon ET. (Saturday the 15th)

Outfit 1
heathered blue 3/4, scoop neck T - Old Navy, size XS
citron/light grey striped sweater - Old Navy, size XS
plaid scarf

Outfit 2
hunter gingham button-down - Gap, size XS
black turtleneck sweater with "leather" elbow patches - Max Studio, size XS

Outfit 3
navy flowered button-down - Banana Republic, size S
varsity cardigan - Forever 21, size S

 Outfit 4
striped "dress" (it's short, so I'd definitely wear with leggings or skinnies, a thin belt and boots!) - Rue 21, size M (runs small, so would def be more of a S)
pinstriped button-down with ruffled front - American Eagle, size 4


(blurry! sorry!)

Outfit 5
grey long sleeved "Live Free" T-shirt - Old Navy, size S
leopard cardigan - Old Navy, size S
plaid scarf

Outfit 6
long, sage green sweater with pocket - Banana Republic, size S (runs a bit larger, more like M)
polka-dot thermal - Belle du Jour, size M
knit scarf

Outfit 7
knit sweater dress - size M (Think leggings and boots again!)
**Note** I discovered a tiny hole in the armpit when I was taking the photo. Should be an easy fix, but this is sold as-is!

Outfit 8
sheer, black flowered long-sleeve T - Free People, size S (runs big)
knit tank with swingy hem - Pink Rose, size M
(My friend Alison paired a tank over a LS t-shirt last week and I immediately vowed to do the same. Looked so cute!)

Outfit 9
blue pin-striped button-down with ruffle placket - Eddie Bauer, size M
grey polka-dot T - JCP, size L
*Note: This T has a loose, slightly-cropped cut.

Outfit 10
navy blue courduroy blazer - H&M, size 10 (runs small)
cobalt woven tank - Ann Taylor Loft, size M

Outfit 11
flannel - Club Room, size L
flowered thermal - Mossimo, size L
(Flannels are HUGE right now and this monochromatic pairing is a great way to break into mixing patterns.) :)

Outfit 12
loose, comfy-knit grey T - Whisper, no size (looks like a Large, but could work for a Med, too. I have a similar shirt and wear it ALL THE TIME. Looks cute with leggings (it has a longer hem in back) or skinnies!)
navy blue scarf - (this thing is huge, like the scarves I wear! you can twist it up a million different ways.)

 Outfit 13
Xhileration dress, NEW WITH TAGS! - size XL
thin, studded wrap bracelet
(People. This dress is so killer. I wish it could be mine. Black tights and black booties!!!)

Outfit 14
white, comfy-knit shirt - Old Navy, size XL
black/gray gingham scarf
(Same notes as gray T above. This is the sort of thing I live in. Would probably need a cami or tank underneath.)

Outfit 15
blue pin-striped button-down with ruffle placket - Old Navy, size XXL
burnt orange velvet blazer - Talbots, size 16
*This is one of my all-time favorite thrift finds. I have a velvet blazer that I wear ALL the time. It's so polished but also looks great with a junky T underneath. The color in this photo is way off. Sorry. It's a much more mellow, burnt orange. And the blazer appears to be brand new!

Leave your preferences in the comments with a PayPal address! Total for each outfit is $23, which includes shipping.

Thrifty Luv 4-Ever,

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Closet Rehab - When Your Clothes are all "Blah" (and an announcement)

I go through phases where I stare blankly at my closet, believing nothing works anymore. I despair. I hate everything. It's all out-of-date. I'm tired of it. I wear the same things all the time, but I don't have the panache of Carolina Herrera to pull off the signature "uniform". (I culled that CH trivia from the fashion-magazine-obsessed recesses of my adolescent brain. Who cares if I got a C in Spanish II, Mom? I WAS BUSY.)

Back in the day, when these moments of  bleak fashion forcasting struck, I would decide it was time to go shopping. Invariably, I'd bring home a few crappy shirts that I didn't even love, and the cycle would begin again.

Since we're 2/3 of the way through the Secondhand Fashion Challenge, I've had to gather my wits and be a big girl. I've *definitely* added a few "new" things to my shelf, but I'm also more committed than ever to making my old stuff work.

Here's what I wore to church a couple Sundays ago.
It's nothing legendary or super-creative. (I'm thinking of you, polarizing man pajama!)

But Everything I wore was, in my mind, old, tired, or in some way less than my favorite.

I know you're thinking, "Back up, FP. You're wearing gingham! How can you expect us to believe you don't love it???"

Truth: I have 2 navy/white gingham shirts. One of them I wear CONSTANTLY. This one is wonky and hardly gets worn. The collar is strange and it bells out at the bottom in all the wrong ways. I've tried to love it. I swear. But it never happened.


I layered it under a very blah, beige sweater that I'm still not sure why I bought in the first place. (Must have been in one of "those" crises - see above.)

I grabbed my vintage (in internet years) Noonday necklace and piled on some bracelets, then pulled on my old Target boots that resemble the neck of an old man or a turkey. I'm not sure which.

I was surprised by how much I liked it all.

Here's what I'm preaching: Its time to renew your vows to the stuff you already own. Love is a choice, people. Love is a VERB. Just ask DC Talk. Or John Mayer.

(Actually, don't ask John. I don't trust that rat.)

Your closet is FULL of things you might buy this very day if you happened upon them in a crowded rack at Goodwill with the intoxicating lyrics of Genesis or Cyndi Lauper pulsing through the grimy store.

Pair them up in a different way. "Make it work!"   
We'll try, Tim. We'll surely try.

Let me know how it goes.

And now, for a "very important newsletter":

Tomorrow at 12:00 PM (Eastern Time) I'll be posting a fresh batch of secondhand outfits. All sizes. REALLY GOOD STUFF. (As in, I feel visceral pain that it's not all for me.)

New rules: You have to leave a PayPal email address with your outfit choice in order to be entered into the drawing to "win" said outfit. I do this because it makes it 1,000,000 times simpler and more organized from my end, but also because I love bossing people around. (Ask Silas.)

Cost per outfit will be $23, including shipping. Each outfit includes 2 pieces (sometimes 3! what?) that can be worn together AND mixed-and-matched with the sleepy, "give me another chance" stuff you already own.

Comments will be open through Saturday morning, so you've got to move it-move it. 

Consider this your fair warning. Tomorrow, friends! It will be such a party. Spread the word to anyone who might be interested. (But only if they wear a different size than you, because you know...)

On the 'morrow!!!,

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How To Be A Friend

Back in August, I told you to ask my anything. As much as this space is "mine", it's also very much "ours". You and I, we're friends, and I love it when we can chat.

One of you asked a great question about what I value and seek in friendships and how I maintain friendships that thrive. Right away, and I knew it was something worth talking about.

Truth is, I don't feel like the worlds greatest friend. I'm historically awful at remembering birthdays, I'm not great at keeping up on social media, I'm an introvert and intermittent hermit who loves time alone. I fail often, but I'm always trying to regroup because I love my friends. I rely on my people. They make me better. They make my life fuller. Anything I know about being a friend, I learned from them.

While I'm by no means an expert, here's my take on how how to be a friend.

Be Safe
This tops my list. To me, the most important quality in a friend is the ability to be trusted. I'm fortunate to have a circle of friends who I can (and have) trusted with the most vulnerable places in my life. I gauge the safeness of my friendships in a couple of ways. First, do they gossip about other people to me? (There's a difference between chatting about other friends and gossiping about them.) A friend who will tell me someone else's dirt will just as easily dispense mine. Second, are they vulnerable with me? When a friend bares her guts, I know she values trust, and I'm more inclined to offer more of myself back to her.

Be Real
I want to see behind the curtain with my friends. I want them as they really are, not as they think I want them. I need to see their life isn't perfect, that they struggle just like I do. I'm honored to be welcomed into their messy homes, all bed-head and heaped-up dishes. I want to be near them when they're spiritually dry, when mothering feels impossible, when marriage makes them weepy, when their kids are tyrants, when chaos reigns, when they're angry, guilty, entirely spent. I have a few friends who are more Type A than I am, and I want to embrace them exactly as God made them. But my radar is keen, and striving women make me edgy. I don't like wondering if someone's taking mental notes on my relative put-togetherness. (That's a test I'll never pass.) So, tell me your doubts. Show me your mess. I'll love you forever.

I have a friend who tells me when she gets a bonus at work. I've seen glowing cheeks across the table as a friend tells me her son is the best reader in his class, or that she ran her best marathon to date. These conversations make me very happy. As much as I want to share in the hard places with my ladies, I love sharing in the parts of life where they're just killing it. This tells me they aren't score keepers. They're people who operate under the assumption of abundance, rather than lack. They know I want to cheer them on, and they want to do the same for me. My success doesn't rob them of their own. There's enough for everyone. I've learned that sharing a life without sharing our victories means we're hoarding half the story. We aren't vulnerable and knowable if we can't reach the place of believing there are people waiting to hear all the dirt. A true friend offers the glimmery parts of their story as living proof that they want to see the glow of mine. Boom. Pass the shades.

Offer the Benefit of the Doubt
I promise, if we're friends it's just a matter of time before I say something ridiculous or even stupid. I will definitely fail you and let you down. I'll arrive late to dinner. I'll forget your birthday or miss your big news because I go weeks without scanning my facebook feed. I want you to love me in a way that views my mistakes as evidence that I'm simply human. I'm on a mission to extend the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. (Note: It's possible 99.9% of the time.) If you stick your foot in your mouth, I'll laugh about it and breathe a bit more easily in anticipation of the day it's my turn to cash in on a little grace. I want to be slow to upset and even slower to get my feelings hurt. If you say you love me, I believe you.

Having said that, an apology goes a long way toward keeping friendships fortified and sturdy. A while back, I had dinner with a friend. We laughed and caught up and I left remembering, all over again, how much I adore her. A full week later, she left a voice mail apologizing about a particular conversation where she felt she'd spoken out of line. She wanted to make it right with me. (I had no recollection of the fumble and still don't, which she chalks up to the goodness of God rather than to me being a poor listener. Benefit of the doubt! *clink*) Her actions were such a testament to her character. That she cared enough to be vulnerable in this way spoke volumes to me. It renewed my resolve to default to apologizing when I fear I've been out of line, or when I worry that something I've said or done *might* have been hurtful, even if that was not my intention. I want my friends to know I value our relationship over my pride.

Tell the Truth
This is a variation on all of the above, but I want to know my friends value truth, even when it's unpretty or scary or dicey or awkward. Don't tell me things are fine, because it's never true. I'm guilty of tossing out that pat answer when I don't want to engage, but "I'm fine" actually translates as, "I'm alive. I still have a pulse." That's not what we're asking, is it? If life is good, I don't want you to tamp it down. If life is hard, don't be scared, I can handle it. If I ask for your opinion, it's because I'm on the fence - I need your wit and wisdom. I want to believe you can tell me hard truths when it's time. 

I'm learning the value of asking for help. It's not realistic to expect our friends to anticipate our needs. In fact, one of the best ways I know of to forge a new friendship is to ask for help. For two years one of my neighbors and I struggled to move past waves and hellos until the day she sent me a desperate text asking me if I could babysit. Voila. We were friends, because in coming to me in need, she showed me I could do the same. It takes a village, and we belong to each other a bit more now.

On the flip-side, my closest friends are quick to offer help when I haven't even asked. They're teaching me to do the same. Ladies, we are smart humans. We're intuitive. We know what life is like. There are so many times I want to help and let it slip away before I act. But there are also times when I know a meal, or an offer to watch the kids is all it would take for the waters to part in the sea of our emotional well-being, providing safe passage to shore. Don't ask "Do you need help?" Ask, "How can I help?" or even better, "What time should I pick up your kids/bring you dinner/do your laundry?"

We need each other, ladies. We aren't experts and we'll continue to botch things up. But it's worth wading through some ditches to find the people who will help hold us together forever. Is there someone you admire? Tell her. Is there a woman you want to get to know better? Ask her out on a date. Friend her on facebook. Be pen pals. Pick up the phone. (GASP!)

Take a risk. Be fully you, and you'll open the door for her to do the same.

Now tell me, what is my list missing?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Weekend Cheer-Ups

:: A mom tells the truth and we all exhale. (Or maybe it was just me.) "i want to keep losing myself and my reputation so that all you see is my need for grace."

:: I love everything about this cozy study, especially the horse ribbons.

:: The 10 Commandments of Tacos

:: My kids all share a room, so I loved this post on tips for a shared kids' room.

:: This series was about simplifying home-school (I don't homeschool) but it applies to most of life. 

:: We watched Chef last night. It has f-words. But it is a beautiful, inspiring, happy movie. Featuring lots of food, and Jon Favreau ('nuff said.) 

:: Speaking of food, I'm reading this right now (amongst the rest of the stack) and the first chapter was sort of a downer because it's about eating gross food, but it was also hilarious because I learned as a child to be a bit "loose" with my stance on "old" "food". (Wanna come over for dinner????)

:: Powerful words about raising black sons.  

:: Nester and Tsh created an INTJ Pinterest board and IT IS GOLD.

:: Raspberries were on sale two pints for $1! I'm making these.

:: Bradley Cooper and Jimmy Fallon can't stop laughing. (And neither can I.)

Kick it this weekend, Homies!


Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday APB

I woke up this morning before the alarm. The instant my brain roused, I was filled with a profound truth.

Naturally, I tweeted it.
(Or, as Cory would say, "I tweeted it out.")


It's 11:35 now, and I've hardly moved today. I'm working on my book proposal (prayers, stat!) and generally basking in the wonderfulness of having no where to go today, which hasn't happened in months.

But I can't escape that before-dawn feeling, and I don't want to.
I feel like maybe some of you need it.

"Guess what? Your past is not the boss of you. Pat it on the head - it taught you important things. Then walk away. Live in your made-newness." - Me, in my pajamas

Next thing:
I'm "streamlining" my personal facebook page. That's basically a nice way of saying I'm unfriending a bunch of people. Blerg.

We're trying to worm our way into deeper community, the skin-and-bones kind, and facebook is a great way to do that, but I needed a bit of organization up in here.

A few times I've invited you guys to friend me. (And you did!!) And I loved it. But since then, I started an official FPFG facebook page. I would love it if you found me over there. And I'm sorry I'm so bad at these official, techy things. (Basically, I'm punishing you for following directions, then giving you homework. I'm your 4th grade nightmare.)

Right now, I'm posting things double, on my Shannan page, and my FPFG page, and I'm going to start posting blog stuff, deep thoughts and general ridiculousness only on the blog page, rather than trying to keep up with doing everything on both.

Find me here! Please. I don't want to lose you. And I don't want anyone's feelings to be hurt, which is why I'm making this awkward for everyone by talking about it for 5 straight paragraphs.

Oh, hey. TGIF!

We have big plans to split up for a Boy Date (Korean food) and a Girl Date (deciding between tacos and Olive Garden. Ha.) I don't know if we've ever done this in an "official" way, and we're all keyed up about it.

What do you have up your sleeve today?

PS - The pink flowers in the top photo? SIAMESE TWINS.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I've Been Everywhere, Man (Oct. Ed.)

Last month I...

Attended Catalyst with these nerds, Lori and Becca

Got schooled by the likes of Melissa Green (I have plans to officially start stalking her for various reasons...) Jen Hatmaker, Esther Havens, Ann Voskamp, Lindsay Nobles, and Jennie Allen.

Flew from Catalyst in Atlanta straight to Denver, where spoke at the Passion For Orphans conference. I didn't take a single picture on this trip, because it was an extreme whirlwind. But I had a fantastic time. (And I only had to turn around and compose myself during my talk once, and just for like two seconds.) ;)

Took Calvin to see his doc, which ended up being a bit of a fiasco. But Silas wrote "I can love you" on the dry erase board, so that helped.

Had these rad kiddos over while their Mama was being Superwoman and their Pop was in Nepal fighting for girls who have been trafficked. (Want to live out the Gospel in a new way? Support this organization.)

Experienced the week where every tree in the 'hood set itself on fire. (Took pictures accordingly.)

Parent Teacher Conferences! 3 glowing reports.
(And our church serves dinner to the teachers every year, which I think is the best idea ever. Especially since it was tacos this year.)

Helped at the Neighborhood Pumpkin Extravaganza hosted at our church.
(Followed immediately by Family Picture Day.) 

Went to Michigan for the Anniversary trip of the ages!

Headed down to Ohio to retrieve my Fall-breaking kids, and stuck around for a day.

We woke up to crazy-thick fog. The kids were already out running wild in the field and screaming just to hear the echo.

Then we visited my dad's garden, because it still looks like this, so why wouldn't we?

The kids each ate a giant carrot for breakfast.
(Best kind of weirdos. Best kind!)

Spent time with my new nephew, Hans-David. He's super happy, except for when his Aunt Shannan holds him.  :/

Back to the pitch dark.

Calvin and Ruby started chess club.
It does strange things to me to have them in chess club...good strange things.
Some days I hope they'll teach me to play; other days not so much.

Calvin practiced Tae Kwan Do take-downs on his Dad.

Spinach and chicken quesadillas with sauteed zucchini, ready for the grill. Delish!


We burned up our last warm days at the park. (sniff sniff sob)

Calvin tested for his navy blue belt!
He broke two boards put together with his foot...on the first try.
(Speaking of his feet...they are my favorite part of this picture.)

{And speaking of Calvin...shhh!...he sometimes still holds my hand in public. If no one his age or older is around.}

Two little houses are going up, right next to ours!
Come be my neighbor. Think of the fun we'd have.

I'm the new Box Top Coordinator at Chamberlain Elementary.
Next stop? The White House!!

We're still collecting and I LOVE getting all of your sweet notes and envelopes of box top love. The school office saves every one for me to see. You guys are the official BEST!  This month we used part of our cash to pay for a walking field trip to the pretzel shop for all the 1st Graders. :)

(If you want to send some, mail to Chamberlain Elementary 428 N 5th St, Goshen, IN 46528.)

I logged some hours staring through the screened window of my bedroom. This is where I do my "official" writing, and it helps to be able to look out over part of the world.

We walked to church almost every Sunday. My favorite!


I've had more trips in the past two months than in the entire year prior. 6 states in 31 days. Some days I feel all hush-hush about it, like there are people who might have "opinions" on this sort of thing. Other days I want to crawl in a hole and hibernate.

Most days, I'm thankful for this season we're in, where for the first time, with the kids in school, we're able to focus a little more on my work. I'm grateful for a husband who shares my philosophy that our partnership is equal. We agree on our schedule, and when I'm not here, he is. He does all of the things, even Ruby's hair.

I like that my kids see that sometimes I'm the Mom and sometimes Dad's the "mom". We all share the load. (Just don't ever ask me to unclog a toilet, or I'll faint dead away. That's full-on Dad territory. Period.)

The deep guts of life is that this week has been hard for me, even though I'm finally back into my normal routine. EVEN THOUGH I SCORED A MUCH-NEEDED PAIR OF JEANS FROM THE CONSIGNMENT STORE IN TOWN. (Jeans in my size? Second hand?? Jesus did rise from the dead. This is proof.)

I spent the end of October at the Storyline conference in Chicago. I soaked it all in, took mental notes and real ones, waded into deep waters with dear friends. I felt God speaking just to me. I felt brave. Gutsy. Loved. Held near.

This week, the enlightenment feels mostly gone. This week, fear creeps in.
But I know it's a lie.

So for now, I might be a bit quieter. I just need to let a few things settle into the cracks.

The Epic October of 2014 has wrapped, but life is still full. It's full of rhythms and seasons and wild, vibrant people. It's full of work and fun and helping and learning.

It's beauty full, so we lean in when it's harried and lean out when we can.
And then we do it all again.