Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Silas For Real


The good news is, Cory is building me a paaaaaatioooooooo! (think Oprah)
The bad news is, "building a patio" equals "severing the internet line".

The extra-bad news is, I can't hear or read any rendition of the word "sever" without getting the shivers.

Did I ever mention I thought every single day before the age of 19 that I would one day be a doctor? And now I can scarcely remove a splinter from one of my kiddos.

Do you ever feel like I digress faster and faster these days?

Me, too.

The funny thing about this whole internet issue is that today is the last day for votes for the ol' Noonday trip I've been yammering about. I have had zero internet presence on this, the most "important" day of all, because I don't have facebook on my phone and even if I wanted to, which I don't, I have no idea what my password is, and retrieving it involves my ancient yahoo account, which also involves a long-forgotten password. I DO NOT HAVE IT IN ME. Like, ever.

Buttt.....I saw through my magical phone that I dropped from 1st place this a.m. to 8th place. I have all of the feelings about this. And I do mean ALL, but I'm burning daylight here in this coffee-shop-with-internet, so I won't even go into it all.

(Thank you, coffee shop! Said everyone.)

Spectacularly, Cory talked me through engaging with the coffee shop internets program.

So here I am, typing to you.
Asking you to vote one last time.
(just click that line ^up there^. it's super easy.)
Voting ends tonight (Wednesday) at midnight Eastern time.

You guys have been so good to me.
Inexplicably good.

To repay you, since I can't make surprise salsa drops, I'm including shots of Silas's current "bedroom" set-up. It is the best ever.

See for yourself:


THIS IS HOW I LIVE.

#allthecords

Seriously, if you ever make it to our place, hide your cords. He'll yank 'em.

I'm desperate to know what this one will do as he grows, and not just because he taped a plastic blanket bag to the cubbies as his personal trash can.

This is how he "plays". The only way. It's bizarre!! And fascinating!!! And wonderful!!!!

Please don't ask to see his bed.
I just can't. It wouldn't be right.
Invasion of privacy, etc...

Fine. He sleeps on the floor, on an unfolded pink, second-hand sleeping bag.
He outgrew the toddler bed!
Sue me!

In our defense, he loves it.
It's a very Korean way to roll, you know.
And I like to tell myself it's temporary.

Thanks for the votes and the love.

More on the flip-side, or whenever all that is severed doth be mended.

xo,
FPFG


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Help Me, Rhondas!!


#itwassunny

******* Red Alert *******

Guys. They just posted votes for the Noonday/IJM trip to Rwanda.
I've been in first place for the past week, and now I've fallen to 6th place. Yikes!

I need to really suck it up and ask for help, rally all my people (and yours), etc...

If you'd click the link and vote for me today and tomorrow, I'd really appreciate it!

THIS IS THE LINK. Click it. :)

You're the raddest ever.
You might get tired of me saying it, but it's true.

XO,
FPFG

Monday, May 26, 2014

All the Big Deals


The best thing about going away is that it always feels good to come home, no matter what.

The holiday weekend is winding down around us, we're all pink in the cheeks and so full of every good thing. The big kids still have 2 weeks of school left, but we're calling this a kick-off, and I couldn't have planned it better myself.

I'll have lots of pictures to share soon, and probably some ruminating, because I learned something around a late night (realllly late night) campfire last night: Some people are verbal processors and some are nonverbal processors. It's probably ideal if like marries like, but our straw poll indicated that hardly ever happens, giving cred to Cory's trials of listening to me hash and re-hash things in bed after midnight.

But what I also kept thinking was - I'm a written processor. Writing things down and tapping on these keys have taught me so many things about myself, and made sense of so many head-scratchers.

Turns out you guys are decent therapists, though it would be more relaxing if I could lie down on one of those little couches.

So.

I have big, celebratory, rah-rah, whoop and hollar news: WE FUNDED OUR PLAYGROUND AT CHAMBERLAIN ELEMENTARY!!!!! Guys. So many of you helped us do it. Every little box top was clipped and shipped and they really added up. Some of you locals bought candy.

Our tiny neighborhood church dreamed up a pie auction and raised almost $1,300 for this project.

In case you're wondering, my family brought home 5 pies. Five. Cinco.
In case you're also wondering: lemon meringue, 3-berry, apple-custard, chocolate cream, and raspberry.

All I can say about all that pie is, it was a good day to be on our good side. :)

Friday we held an all-school assembly and my friend Jess, the President of our PTO, stood in front of all the kiddos and announced that after 5 years of fund-raising, it was finally happening.

Cue screaming.

Then she flashed a picture of our future playground on the screen.

Cue pandemonium.
Cue me crying.



This is what happens when community comes together and when humans and churches do their job of loving their neighbor. It's the most beautiful thing.

I'm thankful every single day that we landed here. This community and this school are gifts to our family. I don't know if most people here see it that way, but I sure hope they do. I hope they look straight through the negative things said about our little corner of town and see their strong kick of luck.

Our principal sent home a newsletter a couple weeks ago and included the following: "Recently I had a conversation with a family who is moving to Goshen and looking for a home in the Chamberlain neighborhood. They have chosen Chamberlain, as the mother states, 'so their children can have a diverse and enriching learning environment'." 

Here's my complete analysis of that: BOOM.

(It's just that I've had a long, wonderful, tiring weekend. I'm surprisingly short on words tonight.)

Thank you guys so much for helping and caring. We'll be building June 26-28th. Any and all locals are welcome to join us.

Finally, I have the Absolutely Avocados winners:


Becca May 22, 2014 at 12:24 PM
I would love to win this! I used to not know anything about the avocado but now since I can get them at Aldi for 30 cents I am trying to figure out how to use this outside of tons of guac every week!

jodyfoznot May 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM
Avocados are my favorite! I like my guac chunky just like my babies. Oh, recently, I decided to chop a mango and toss those orange bits of sweetness in right with the cilantro and lime juice...do not skimp on either!--so yummy! Forget the chips, just grab a spoon!

Lissa May 23, 2014 at 8:54 AM
I'm entering your giveaway because cookbooks are my thing! Anything with guacamole makes it my thingier! And I'm on a spending cleanse so I can't just grab it on amazon! I promise you I would cook from this book and love every second! It would, indeed, make my summer. :)
 
Send me an email with your info, Homgirls! (shannandmartin@gmail)
I loved seeing I'm not the only one in full-on avocado hysteria. 

We have another full week coming our way here. Fun company and big-time projects.
What's on your agenda?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

3-Day Wishing


The van is loaded and we're heading West for the next few days. We have enough salsa and gasoline, good tunes and high spirits. So ready to hit the open road, and secretly wishing for some surprise scenic routes. Why not?

Hoping you get a moment to breathe or sing or rest or dance or laugh your faces off.
Actually, let's just bank on all of the above.

I'll announce the Absolutely Avocados winners on the flip-side! I am loving hearing all your avocado ideas. Here's another staple around here: Sliced baguette brushed with olive oil and toasted in the oven for a few minutes, topped with bacon, smashed avocado, coarse salt, and a big hit of lime juice. Life = Changed.

Thanks for all the votes, too. Rumor has it I'm in the running, so don't slow down!

Lastly, I wanted to include the newest Fatherhood Project video that went live on Wednesday. It will slay you dead. In a good way.

Happy 3-day, Homies!
So glad I've gotcha.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Favorite Cookbook - A Giveaway


Grilled Chicken, Peach and Avocado Salad

When I stumble upon the gift of a lazy weekend, one of my favorite things to do is grab a stack of cookbooks/cooking mags and a legal pad and write lists about food. What sounds good, what I'm planning to make, grocery lists...

I don't know how this happened, because one minute I was an angsty teenager browning the meat for Hamburger Helper under duress, and the next minute I was buying goat cheese and complicated seasonings.

I love food. I love to cook.

I daydream about it. I plan my life around it.
It's my therapy.
It's my soulmate.

Just be glad I'm not prone to exaggerations.

Perfect Fish Tacos with Curdito - a cabbage slaw that is going to change your life!

There's nothing quite as bonding for a girl like me to find someone who can match my foodie fervor. As luck would have it, I traveled to Ethiopia with Gaby Dalkin of What's Gaby Cooking fame. I've gotta say, she might love salsa as much as I do. (What??) She definitely loves avocados more, but she lives in California, so it's not an even race. She lives and breathes delicious, fresh food. She's got a heart of gold and she's hilarious and she ran into Tim Riggins a few months ago at the airport and took a selfie with him.

What else do you really need to know??

A few months back she sent me a copy of her cookbook, Absolutely Avocados.
I adored it immediately.

Fiesta Fries

Since I'm not about reinventing the wheel, here's my Amazon review:
As a lover of food (particularly anything ultra-fresh or Tex-Mexy) AND a general lover of awesome people, this book grabbed me from word one. Not only did the photographs make me salivate, Gaby Dalkin's text read like juicy commentary from my favorite college roommate - equal parts funny and engaging, rooted in story.

This book is such a dishy read, it earned a coveted place on my kitchen counter, (rather than being relegated to the shelf in the basement.) I reach for it again and again.

And one lucky day, when my husband least expects it, I'll bust out the Chorizo Gravy Guacamole Loaded Nachos and our lives will be complete.


I can't stop loving every single recipe in the book.
It will revolutionize your Summer.

Because Gaby is as rad as she is wise, she's giving 3 copies of Absolutely Avocados to lucky, Tex-Mexy FPFG readers.

To throw your name in the hat, just talk foodie to me.
Tell me your favorite meal or your favorite avocado application or why spicy food completes you.
Tell me what you love or what you had for dinner tonight. Tell me anything foodish. 


ps - Click the vote button on my sidebar!! We're half-way there, homies.

*Amazon affiliate links used

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I Promise I Won't Keep Doing This


{a house on my block with a green door and a wild yard // i think it's lovely}

 Surprise! I love Instagram.

I'm such a weirdo. It's safe to say I have a real, visceral fear of most technologies. But trust me, it's warranted. Even Cory has come to see that I am, indeed, cursed. I have the power to make computers lose their dang minds.

(In the scheme of things, I feel like I got totally gypped in the superpower department.)

{silas and i walked to the post office // the power and proximity of this train almost stopped my heart for a beat}

But maybe sometimes my fear and, I daresay, my pride??? gets in the way of good things.

These are all Instagram pictures I took over the past 4 days. But hear me out, because I have a point to make.

Points, rather:

1) Having a camera on my phone is revolutionary.
2) Because, I'll be honest, I'd grown weary of lugging the big camera around.
3) Which meant I wasn't capturing much.
4) Which translated into writer's block.
5) Because I see my life and the world around me through my camera frame.
6) It's weird.
7) I'm not a real photographer or even a pretend one.
8) I think it has something to do with being intentional about saying, "You are worthy of my time".
9) And when I say "you", I usually mean "tree" or "flower" or "fence".
10) I'm low-stress about the photos I post. No fancy editing and I often don't even slap a filter over them. There's a lot of pressure to be fantastico on IG, but I'm not playing that game. I'm playing the same way I always do, letting pretty things and silly moments speak for themselves, with minimal tweaking.

{random tree at a random school on sunday}

Counterpoints:

1) I can see how it could become a problem to always have the phone too close at hand.
2) I don't want to be that Lady.

{park across the street // homegirl flies // #filter}

Solutions:

1) Sometimes I purposely don't charge my phone at night. This means it's almost dead in the morning, so I have to charge it then. And my charger is upstairs by my bed. Buried in a stack of books. It's a mind trick, but it works. It's easy to ignore it for hours.
2) I still find my life infinitely more interesting than my phone. Case in point: I came home from la clase del espanol last night at 8 and left my phone in my bag for the next 4 hours because I wanted to kiss my kids and lounge around with Cory and watch 2 hours of TV and eat salsa in my pajamas. None of that was photo-worthy, but even if it was? There was no way I was walking across the room to dig out my phone. Hard telling what I would have missed.

{it's all a matter of perspective // contrast is a beautiful thing}

Postscripts:

1) I was afraid IG would make me want to quit blogging.
2) Dumb.
3) If anything, it makes me want to blog more.
4) Right???!!!!

{raspberries are 99 cents at Kroger // the end}

Find me, homies. I'm flowerpatchfarmgirl.
I tried to be Shannan Martin, but the name was already taken, which was the sign I've been waiting for: Shannan Martin no longer exists. My entire identity is now Flower Patch Farmgirl even though I don't live on a farm and my "flower patch" consists of a few of perennials ordered by a dude who didn't even know me and Ruby's red geranium she won in a raffle.

Ain't life grand??

Last thing: I now have a VOTE button for my sidebar. ------> See it over there? All you have to do is click and it'll take you to my page.

Actually, one more thing:
"Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of the heart." - 1 Thess 2:4

It has nothing to do with the rest of this post, but I stumbled on this verse two nights ago when I needed desperately to hear the truth and now I can't shake it, it the best possible way.

Rock this Wednesday!






Tuesday, May 20, 2014

On Discovering Why We Need Each Other



I write about discovering urban poverty as if it were the ruins of the Santa Maria. It probably seems ridiculous, but maybe not. Because the earth almost shook and the ground almost split. It was surreal, tangible, shocking. Everything that had only been theoretical slid in from the edges and piled up around us.

Here it was.

This was middle-American poverty and it burned my eyes.

There was nothing sensational or strangely street-glam about it.
Rap music might bang out its bass-line, but this wasn't the backdrop for a hig-def video roped in gold chains with corks popping and legs for days.

This was my community, the streets and corners I'd always vaguely known about but had never identified as "mine". It had never mattered to me before.

The reality was painful, the burden impossible.

I felt helpless, then guilty. Guilty, then helpless.
Most of all, I was terrified.

It was little more than a glimpse, not nearly close enough to the flames for my cheeks to feel hot, but before long, my feet started moving. For the first time ever, it wasn't to run back into my bubble.

I was pulled straight into the gutter, and I brought all my garbage with me.

Down in a new kind of mess, I learned names and memorized the precise furrow of her brow, the pitch of his laugh, the way she wrapped her hair up in six different loops then just left it up there on her head, looking so fabulous I wanted to snatch it up and keep it for myself.

Knee deep in their weeds and tangled up in my own,we grew quite fond of each other.
I started to see the ways we each have something to offer.

Since then, we've traded heated words, we've lost our tempers, we've hoisted our Ugly flags. We have given up on each other a thousand times. We have walked away and said we were done. We have judged. We've used and been used. We've banged our heads against ever-changing walls and scraped and re-scraped the fragments of our honor for each other into something we could hold.

We have celebrated life, grieved loss, clocked the miles, opened the doors.

Some friends become permanent fixtures, others just pass through, but never without leaving their mark. Either way, there's something about simply knowing and being known.
It matters.

Sometimes, we retreat.
Sometimes we force our way back in.

All along, we have loved.
Every day, their love is our gift.

I still find myself pushing back the American impulse that rises up, telling me there should be an agenda here. We should either be fixing them or gaining wisdom and patience while we try. We should prescribe our middle-class remedies to their generations of doing-things-a-different-way and watch with delight as poverty snakes down the drain in shame.

At least we know enough now to eventually recognize our stunning arrogance.
Now and then, we're evolved enough to stop it in its tracks.

But often, we just keep being the same faulty humans, so mixed up, so turned around.
We keep failing our friends and our friends keep failing us.
We take turns, trade seats.
We hold their lives to the light and combust with the heat of our own glaring poverty.

Slowly, often imperceptibly, we drag each other back out into the noonday sun, where all the filth is exposed and there's no time to find shade.

We teach and learn and I hate the ways we keep screwing things up.

But the point was never perfection.
The point was community - sharing a messy life, in slivers and in shards.

There is no us/them. 
There are humans fighting for each other, humans more aware of each other, humans believing God wasn't playing games when he called us His family, effectively binding us together despite the barriers that always made us think we were meant to stay apart.

When we decide who belongs to each other, who is similar enough or different enough or..or...or.. We interfere with His wild plan of redemption for every one of us. When we make this all about cash or power, we miss the entire point.

This is the purpose of community - coming together to celebrate, work, learn, and drink watered-down Coke from a sweating paper cup.

I never cared until I knew their names.
And they might say the same.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Nook


You may have caught on to the glaringly obvious fact that I've got a bit of a book problem.
It's off the charts these days, in my brain and on my nightstand and everywhere, really.
It appears to be contagious. We're all in big trouble.

Death by books.
Not a shabby way to go, really.

Here's the thing about a small house: Just when you think you've sorta maxed it out, you surprise yourself. I find that I'm constantly repressing the urge to squeeze something else in, really push the limits on our square footage and our sanity. Inevitably, I rocket back the other way, and believe (so briefly) I should strip everything off and leave the place in a state of semi-nudity. (Have I mentioned I tend to be all-or-nothing about a lot of things??)

But this? This was a no-brainer.

My bestie-since-forever, Sarah, recently got some kind of a new shelf thing. She mentioned it to me in passing and as soon as she did, her words turned all slow and robotic and mannish. Like in the movies. You know.

Because all I could think about was the old green shelf.

So, duh, I broke my own rule, the one I parrot over and over to my kids, "We don't ever ask people to give us/buy us things." I asked if I could have it. I had no earthly clue what I would do with it.

She said yes.

This is the landing of our stairs. The map has been hanging there since we moved in, but it looked pretty lonely.

It's so perfect there. Makes my heart pinch up a little.
And it's a part of Sarah, and our history. LOVE!

Also, it's chippy. With aqua blue underneath.
It's wonky and colorful and my favorite thing du jour.

Also, free.

Plus, no more homeless books.
No more treacherous bedside piles.

Win/Win.

And, then....the rug!

I found it at Joss and Main. It's one of those websites that have different sales everyday. I think Nester made me do it. In hindsight, I'm surprised I did it? But in hind-hindsight, totally not. Because they have the best stuff at really good, TJMaxx-y prices. And it's unique, which is a big draw for me.

It satisfies that recurring itch I get to pretend-shop.
I'm forever loading up my little e-cart and then walking away, feeling frolicky and whimsical.

They have some really great stuff.

But sometimes...I actually buy things! (Like my kitchen shelves.)

A couple weeks ago, I had a $15 credit burning a hole in my pocket. It was about to expire.
I deliberated for weeks (you know I'm not even playing), then I found the exact right thing.


It's quirky and flowery and a little bit mod? Maybe?
I don't know. It's awesome.

Is it counter-intuitive and irresponsible to have a white, flowered rug in a high traffic area?
Maybe.
I don't really want to talk about it.

I weighed my options and all I can say is, there aren't many shoes in those parts.
The end.

I shut my oversized ears to your practicality.

Rounding out the nook - my Barnlight Electric light that I won in their contest.*

The embroidered art came from a church-lady tag sale.
The ceramic boots are a Goodwill find.
And the wire locker basket holding Calvin's eclectic mish-mash was a gift from my friend Kim.

I have no recollection of where the map came from, and it honestly scares me, because I remember everything about everything about everything. Just ask Cory.

I pass this are tens upon twenties of times per day and it makes me happy for 100% of them.
Success!

What's your favorite space in your house right now?
Which corner makes you smile when you walk by?

Tell me everything.


*Speaking of contests...
 Don't forget to vote today! You get one vote every 24 hours, so if it doesn't let you vote right now, just try again later today. And you can vote every 24 hours on different devices. :) Thanks so much, pals!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Weekend Breathers


Cory's mom kept our kids overnight last night.

So the air around here is quiet and blissful.
No offense, shorties.

This was our first "real" alone-all-nighter in almost a year, since the last time our kids were gone we ended up with the stomach flu, but I'd really rather not think about that.

I've been on a couple of fun friend trips lately and they've fed my soul in so many important ways. But there's always a part of me that wishes for the same with Cory. This is the first time in forever we haven't done a long-weekend getaway and there's really nothing in the cards.

24 hours? I'll take it.

Maybe not everyone needs this kind of white space, but I just do. And I'm so thankful when it finds me.

We stayed up until 1, slept until 10, then shared a cinnamon roll at the coffee shop and browsed around the farmer's market. (flat-leaf parsley and a white delphinium came home with me)

Then I did my favorite thing in all the land: I puttered around in a quiet hour.
There is nothing better. Nothing. Don't even try.

Next?
Mexican food for lunch, because we're no dummies.

I hope your carve out a moment for yourself today, even if it's after the kids are all in bed. (That's usually when we find it.)

Here are a few of the reads I've been meaning to share with you for ages:

I'm Celebrating Mother's Day for the First Time - Holley Gerth
Holley and her husband adopted a 21 year old. I can't tell you how this story breaks me apart and fills me up.


The Road to Becoming - Jenny Simmons
Jenny came to my session at Hope Spoken. As I talked, my eyes kept meeting her and I felt for sure I knew her from somewhere. I bolted over to her afterward and introduced myself. She said I seemed familiar, too. She mentioned that she sings in my area sometimes. Alas, I don't think we've ever met.
At the time, I had no clue she was scheduled to sing and lead worship later. (I can be painfully out-of-the-know.) That evening, I accidentally whopped her cutie daughter on the head with my dinner plate. And then she sang for us. Her hour at the mic was one of the favorite moments of many of the people I spoke to, including mine. Jenny used to sing for Addison Road (I actually blogged about them ages ago!) and now she's doing her own thing. She has a special passion for incarcerated women and women held captive by so many different things.

Jenny recently launched a $20k Kickstarter campaign to fund her new book and music. She recently announced she ended up raising $50k! Here's what she plans to do next:

I want to give away 500 copies of the new EP to the women I meet and perform for throughout the year who are just coming out of prison or the sex industry, living in recovery houses or shelters. $50,000 would allow me to turn the digital EP into physical copies to GIVE AWAY!  - Jenny Simmons

I can't wait.


Have You Been Hurt by the Church - Songs of a Silhouette
"If you've been been hurt by the church, you have something in common with nearly every Christian on the planet. If you've left the church because you were hurt there, you've got something in common with me..."


 And now, as a token of my love for you, I leave you with The Fun Salad.

I know, it doesn't look very special.
But I can honestly say it is my favorite. Ever. Ever.

It's something about the dressing, which is a little cheaterish, but why reinvent the wheel?

The combo is perfection.
Everyone I've ever made it for clamors for more and asks for the recipe.

Upping its fancy cred, I was introduced to it over 10 years ago by the wife of Cory's boss, a US Congressman at the time.

Basically, this salad is maybe four or five degrees from Olivia Pope.


Fun Salad (name by me)

Dressing:
2 T (tablespoons) chopped green onions
2 T chopped fresh parsley (I often sub dried parsley, halving the amount)
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 (.07 oz) package Italian salad dressing mix (I use Kroger brand)
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients by whisking or shaking.

For the salad, I use a large tub of mixed greens, 2 heads of Romaine, and sometimes fresh spinach. Then add blanched green beans (these are a must!), dried cherries (have tried cranberries but cherries are better), toasted pine nuts, and freshly crumbled goat cheese (I scrape the tines of a fork against the log of cheese for a perfect crumble.)

GO FORTH AND BE AMAZED!

Happy weekend, Homies.

PS - Have you voted today? You have one vote per device per 24-hours. :) 


Friday, May 16, 2014

Human


Tonight, after chicken tikka masala, after la clase de espanol, after a piercing headache and warnings of record low temps, far after all the kids should've been sound asleep, Calvin called me upstairs.

He was so tired.
I was so tired.

But his heart was heavy and as we whispered in the room he shares with his brother and his sister, I could feel the weight of his 9-year old pain. We swam in the tension while the ceiling fan whirred. These moments always feel big with him, because his heart understands things well past the borders of his age. These struggles catch him off guard, before he's really ready to grasp them. Before he should have to.

He holds the ends of friendship, responsibility, loyalty and simple kindness in his hands and tries his best to tie them into one clean bow.

His instincts say to run toward justice even if it means he'll pay a debt that isn't his. He cannot understand why others don't think and feel the way he does.

"But why is the world like this? I just wish it would be different."

This one is my part-time worrier. He likes stability and consistency. I know he's worried about the school year coming to an end. 3rd grade was so good to him.

He borrows trouble between yawns and his words slow.
I whisper back all the same things you've whispered to your children.

I tell him the truth again - that all I want is for him to love the people around him well, and try his best to be a good learner.

Focus on those two things, and nothing else matters.

Nothing.

~

My latest obsession, one of my favorite finds in all of history, is Humans of New York.
On Instagram, it's humansofny, which I read as "human sofny". Always.

Their posts are my hands-down favorites. The author so brilliantly captures each individual. I'm amazed by his ability to distill each human down to one line that explains exactly what I wanted to know, even if I didn't realize it at first glance. I'm amazed by the way he inspires them to spill their guts. I applaud his compassion that filters through each pixel and line. Every time I think, This is the Kingdom of Heaven. This is it, right here.

I always walk away with the essence of a real person seared into my heart.

Often, they make me smile.

Today, this post wrecked me.
I can't seem to shrug it off. I keep carrying it around, and it's painful.

Now the day is almost done, and I shouldn't be surprised by the way these threads make twine.

I wish we could all offer the benefit of the doubt to the rest of the world. I wish we could lay down our faulty ideas about who matters more or what matters most. I wish we could find the best in every single human.

I wish I could go back in time and fix that 10-year-old's birthday.
It truly seems like it would have changed the trajectory of his life.
I wish I could believe it's not too late for him.

I wish we could all stop looking to the horizon for beauty and find it near us, all around us, profoundly close to us in the hearts and faces we meet each day.

I wish my heart would never stop softening, never tire of breaking, never quit believing for one second that every human matters.

All we need is more love.

The good news? We grow it the same way we grow peas and peppers.
We grow it by planting it.

There's enough to go around, but it has to start with us.

"Beauty" sweatshirt by Sevenly. This week's charity is To Write Love On Her Arms, an organization dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery. With the purchase of any shirt this week, $7 is donated to TWLOHA.
  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

This is Where I Ask For Your Help


 Love Does is officially overdue at the Goshen Public Library by 8 days. I read the notice they sent via snail mail, and all I could do was sniff with the stubborn air of the unmoved and toss it in the trash.

I didn't expect this book to nick a groove in my heart.

And now, I'm having trouble letting it go. I feel like it's mine, but we all know it's not. What I'm trying to say delicately is, I've given thoughtful consideration to hijacking the library's copy.

At the end of the day, I feel like Bob wouldn't support such behaviour, (and not just because I accidentally type with a British accent.)

That's the way the chemistry of God's love and our creativity work together when combined. No reservoir can hold it, no disappointment can stop it, and no impediment can contain it. It can't be waved off, put of, or shut down. It doesn't take no for an answer. Instead it assumes yes is the answer even when it sounds an awful lot like a no to everyone else. - Love Does by Bob Goff

I finished it two nights ago, and left my book-mark on page 212 because those words, they did something to me. And I wanted to share them with you.

That's all I knew.



Yesterday, I found out about the Style For Justice trip Noonday is doing with the International Justice Mission. They're taking a group to Rwanda this July, and they're accepting submissions for one more person to join the team.

I'm throwing my name in the hat.

Here's where it gets dicey for me - I have to ask you guys to vote for me. I'm so allergic to this sort of thing. But I believe I'm supposed to apply, and I didn't make the rules.

The good news is, God has already decided which girl will join them. The odds are stacked against me, and I'm okay with that.

No matter who tags along, this trip will be one to watch. You may have noticed, but I've become an enthusiastic advocate for Noonday and its relentless pursuit of global justice. I'm in love with the work they do for the cause of Christ. I'm so excited to see the way hearts are changed through their willing obedience to go where they've been sent.

So.

I'd love for you to vote. To have the privilege to use my creativity and combine it with the chemistry of God's love would be such a gift. I'm learning all the time, this is what love does. It goes to the hard places. It uses its voice for justice and for good.

I've only read two other submissions so far, and I honestly felt this way after both of them, "Yes, you should totally be the one who goes." So, maybe you'll want to vote for me, or maybe you'll get over there and find your finger hovering over another lady.

I guess all I'm really asking is that you click here and vote. 
Each person is allowed one vote per day from now through May 28th. (It's not necessary to sign up for the Noonday emails, though I get them and enjoy reading what they're up to.)

I may remind you a few more times over the next couple of weeks but I'll try to tamp my obnoxiousness down to a dull roar.

I hope you're not tired of hearing it, but I'm quite fond of you guys. You push me to be courageously foolish for Jesus, and I love you for it.

xo,
Flower Patch Shannangirl

ps - One more thing, since I'm in an asky mood: read Love Does so we can discuss!


*Amazon Afilliate links used

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hope for Lost Mamas


I remember two years ago, getting groceries with Silas while Calvin and Ruby were at school. Our window was small, with Ruby's pre-school clocking in at just two hours and the drive to-and-from eating up an easy 40 minutes.

We raced the aisles, my belligerent comrade kicking and disagreeing and raging in the seat of the cart, perched on the very edge of his tipping point, ready and scary-willing to blow at the slightest infringement of his personal preferences, and ohmygosh, the list was long.

It was a battle, and I was losing every single day. Especially the days that found us in the public square, or the cereal aisle, as it were.

I never understood the depth of my emotional fragility until an adorable tyrant wormed into my heart.
I never knew how much I sought the approval of others until I felt like I had lost it.

I never knew.

I dug my palms into the bar of the cart as cheap insurance against doing something regrettable and wheeled a week's worth of food and my kid to the van, both of us on the verge of tears and rage, if memory serves me.

Behind us, close enough to recognize the song they were giggling, a happy mom pushed her happy daughter to their happy van.  I turned back to look. I couldn't help myself.

Her hair was done. She looked entirely alive and real, not like a woman on the edge.

Instantly, I fumed, "Must be nice to get groceries with just one kid in tow."

It took me a second to recognize my mistake.

And though I should have laughed, I know I didn't.

I felt the familiar throb of heartache as I stared down the face of my reality: Parenting Silas felt like parenting a small, unruly tribe.

His emotional output was so great, so steady, it felt like too large a quantity to be contained in just one wiry small person. He always felt like far more than I could handle.

Cut to yesterday.

We met a friend at the McD's play area for an hour or so, and my dude was helpful and kind and just the normal amount of rascally.

Then we headed to the farmy greenhouse where we buy our flowers and plants each Spring.

We traipsed down the flower-thick aisles while he suggested I buy every single hanging basket we saw and said things like, "I can't stop loving you!", "I can't stop kissing your hand!", "I can't stop living with you!" (He's long been on the fence about whether or not our living arrangement is permanent or something he can abide on even a short-term basis.)

A rogue rain shower cranked into a downpour and we ducked into this greenhouse then dashed to that one before deciding, what the heck, what could be better right now than getting drenched together?

A girl in a bonnet rang us up while he chattered to me about which plants were the best. "I'll carry the awkward one," he said of the purple basil.

(Cracked me up.)

Then I pushed the cart while he ran ahead, both of us laughing our heads off while rain licked our cheeks and splashed up around our ankles.

For so long, I believed I had lost myself in my youngest child. In my most hidden places, I believed I would never return to who I used to be. She was gone, in so many different ways, but especially this one.

And now here he is, right with the only Shannan I've ever known how to be, hustling flowers and dancing in the rain.

If you're where I was two years ago, please hang on to hope. Clench it with the power of every fear you've known, every lie you've believed. Pinch it when you're feeling low, and on the verge. Grab it when you're crying on your pillow. Find it when you know you've never been more lost.

I know our stories are not the same. I know two hours ago in our house may well have been two years ago. But progress is coming for us, Mama. Make sure you know it when you see it. And maybe even write it down, like I did here, for the days when you need a reminder.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

All the Things


Last weekend I had my second fun trip in two weeks. Who does that??? Not this girl. Not until now.

I met up with Emily, or as I like to call her, my writing therapist.

We gathered ourselves in separate rooms on the fake-13th floor of a hotel and we holed up to work on writing projects. In between work-related fits, we walked to business casual restaurants in yoga pants and janky ponytails and got caught up on life and all the other importants.


I'll be honest, I wasn't at a good place with my current project when I arrived.
I was lost.

It was lost.
I lost it somewhere in the Polar Vortex. (Best scapegoat of 2014 and the year isn't even half over!)

Some silly part of me thought she might agree that I should just hang it up. I kept telling her how it was so hard, too hard, shouldn't it be easier than this if I'm "supposed" to write the dang book?

That sassy lady looked me square in the face and said, "Sometimes a book just falls out. But other times you have to beat it out." 

Oh my word, she scared me a little.

I decided if anyone was going to beat this thing out of me, I'd prefer it be me.
So I got to work.

That's all I know.

Like anything I do anymore, I try not to worry about "success" or even how to define success. I can't promise it'll ever meet the light of day. But I believe I'm supposed to write it, so I am.

(Read this post tonight by Donald Miller and thought the timing was interesting. Also, his comments section is popping. yikes.)


In other news, the fun ladies of Junk Evolution fame asked me to lead a single-evening class called Blogging 101 on May 22 at 6pm. Since you all know what a slick techy I am, you won't be surprised to hear that I'll be focusing on the really basic basics of how to start a blog and then what on earth to do after the third random blog name you punched in at 2 in the morning is secured. (People, I was thisclose to being Farmgirl Foodie. What???! God is good, all the time.) If you're near the South Bend, IN area and you're interested, click here for details and to sign up.

So. The good news is, Hope Spoken is selling the audio files from the conference back in March. The bad news? One of them is mine. The good news? You've all been duly warned about my "husky" voice, so we shouldn't have to go through all that again. The best news? I didn't cry as often as I remember, though indeed, this is the session where I had to take a brief time-out, turn my back to the audience, and regain my composure. It's meaty, emotional stuff, people! Click here then hover over the pictures to purchase the file from any of the HS14 speakers.

Okay. Oy. This post was very me-me-me-ish. I'm sorry. LAME!

Consider Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With my apology.

And then, you know, offer me some Tuesday wisdom.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Neature


I had a very outdoorsy weekend. And I didn't even have a book.
So out of character!

It was 80 degrees. Summer is really happening, or so they say!

Here's an important question: How did we survive our youth without razor scooters?
I had a blue banana-seat bike. So rad. 

By fourth grade, I was riding it into town (2 miles away) along a....uh, main road, so I could tool around our podunk town with my townie friends and buy cans of pop and penny candy at Midge's.

My parents were so rogue.
Were yours? Or was it just mine?

In similar wildcat fashion, Cory and I are contemplating letting Calvin bike a two-block radius this summer on his own. Because that's almost the same not at all.

Just don't tell him I told you, because it's all still a working theory.


This morning the kids served me full-on breakfast in bed. With zero help.
Like in the movies, I woke up to some distant banging around and the smell of frying eggs.

They even made me a cup of Earl Grey - using the tea kettle!

It was bliss.

I was so super impressed by their mad kitchen skills and general lack of kitchen bickering. (Don't say that five times fast.)

After church I got to pick, so we headed over to my version of Disney World: DeFries Garden. I don't know that I've ever been there in spring. Shameful.

I feel especially bad admitting that because on the way over, I judged every single person living in a 2-mile radius of the gardens who wasn't at the gardens. There's just no reason for that kind of foolishness.

If I were them, I'd be dropped off right around now, and I'd set up housekeeping through September.

I'd read by the hellebores, joke around with the lady statue, have salsa near the red bud.

Glamping.


How neat is that?

 
That's pretty neat.

The kids' goal in life was to catch a snake. Hallelujah, they were failures.

Nevermind about living there. I forgot about the whole snake "issue".
And the mosquitoes.
And I'm not friendly with snapping turtles.

Just nevermind.

Sorry, dude. Don't look at me like that.
Nevermind.

But day trips are pretty much perfection. 

Silas is my A-#1 picture poser. He forever wants to pose for pictures. He went through a really stoic phase with his poses, and now he's into cheesing so hard that his eyes disappear.

I mean, either way.
I'll keep him.

Since it was Mother's Day I thought I should get one of me with the three Littles.
This was the best option of the 4 Cory took. It's the absolute best we could each muster.

Why???

What is wrong with kids and people?

Why is everyone on earth such a weirdo, especially the ones I mother?
Why do I secretly love the weirdness so much?

Why the blonde Marilyn Manson creeper in the background?

Also, is Marilyn Manson still a thing? Is he still real?
Let's not think on that too hard, I've just been wondering lately.
And that's no joking matter.

There's a lot happening here.
And yet...almost nothing at all. Including nail polish.

Just the most important day ever. No big.

The rest of today included buying $1 perennials at the roadside, cleaning the house (don't judge, I wanted to do it), left-over pasta for dinner, and a whole lot of nothing else.

Hope all you ladies had a real fine day.
If you're waiting to be a Mama, have so much hope.
If your mama is no longer with you, feel so much peace.
If you're not a mama and you think you're really onto something, sleep an extra hour for me. And paint your toes.

No matter who you are, lady, no matter what your situation is or the condition of your heart tonight, you're a woman, and you give life to the world in all the best ways.

Would it be too weird to say I love you?
Would it seem too abstract and hypothetical?

Because I do.
Because we're pretty much sisters.

I'll split the cookie and give you the biggest half. Pinkie swear.

XO,
Shannan

PS - Because this day never passes without my heart beating double-time for the birth moms of all of our kids, I'm linking to this , originally posted one year ago.