Friday, October 30, 2015

Baring Some of My Ugly



Last night I dreamed I was going to my senior prom. (And yes, I’m probably breaking every social media rule by opening a blog post with that line.)

I had no date, no dress, and no fairy godmother, though Angie, my friend since 4th grade, was a worthy sub, tossing me two last-minute options — white lace with a Victorian collar and a little black dress (LBD) that disproved the theory that you can’t go wrong with an LBD.

Either way, I knew I was cooked — as misfit as muddy boots in a marble hall. I woke up disoriented, an insecure seventeen-year-old in my own home, with my husband sound asleep beside me, three kids upstairs, and crow’s feet.

Let me summarize my last month or so: I’ve been floundering, emotionally. And all roads lead back to ME.

How do people see me? Am I really who I say I am? Come on, God, can’t I be me (ish) but also more like her?

I want to write like her, dress like her, raise my children like her.

I want people to think I’m cool, but not too cool. I want it to appear that I’m far above the fray. (Though once that thought finds its home in me, am I not precisely in The Fray?)

Honestly, it’s a strange place to find myself. After navigating high school, college, and most of adulthood without the strong urge to climb out of my own skin and into another, I’m not sure what to do when the whole world sleeps and I’m still busy trying to untangle all my knots. Most of all, I’m not sure where this dormant adolescent discombobulation came from, or how to send it packing.

Or do I?

**
 I'm over at (in)courage today, where I'm pulling off the mask and getting pretty real. It'd be a relief if you'd join me over there, and if you want to yank your mask off, too? All the better. 

Click here.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Books of Vacay

I heard Shauna Niequist speak once (love her!) and she mentioned that her pet peeve is people who shorten words for no reason. She said something to the effect of, "If you have time to go on a vacation, then you probably have time to say the word vacation." That's basically brilliant comedy right there, but also? Vacay. Vacay. I say it all the time. And I always think of her now. Hate me, Shauna!

Anyway, I read up a MEAN STREAK while we were in TN last week. Since it was a road-trip, I didn't have to stress about which books to take...I took them all! Winning.


I also took this photo with my phone late one night, in low-light mountainous conditions. It's grainy, but you can't make me care.

Since my love for books matches my love for you, I'm going to include links to each, along with some favorite quotes.

Let's begin.


Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger - I read this gorgeous novel for a book club I'm a part of. It's fantastic! The writing is perfection, the characters are robust, and the plot (part mystery) keeps the train zipping down the tracks.

"And whether you believe in miracles or not, I can guarantee that you will experience one. It may not be the miracle you've prayed for. God probably won't undo what's been done. The miracle is this: that you will rise in the morning and be able to see again the startling beauty of the new day." 

If that doesn't hook you, I don't know what will. (And if you read my last post, you understand why this passage speaks to me so hard right now.)


Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God by Lauren Winner - I'm only half-way through this one - it's meaty! But I'm truly loving it. The thought of seeing God very tangibly in ordinary things is so appealing to me, and the author makes the point that not only is it comforting, it's necessary. Throughout scripture God reveals and describes in ways other than Father or Creator. This books lends a very fresh perspective on who He is and how He loves us.

"The poet Maxine Kumin wrote an essay about making blackberry jam....she writes, 'making jam...is rich with gratifications. I get a lot of thinking done. I puff up with feelings of providence. Pretty soon, I am flooded with memories.'...I wonder if, while baking our manna and spreading our banquets and putting up preserves, God remembers. I wonder what memories flood the jam-making God. I wonder what beloved person, dead and gone, God talks to while sugaring the blackberries."

"Jesus's original audience would have known that when they heard a teacher talk about vines, they were hearing about themselves...It is as if Jesus studied the Hebrew scriptures and found the most precarious depiction of humanity He could, and said, 'That is who I am: I am allying with humanity when it is most endangered.' When I am producing bad fruit and farthest from God's pleasure, Jesus is already in that place. It is not alien to Him, and I am not alone."

"This is why Jesus is hymned not as grape juice but as wine: because He is dangerous and excessive. He is more than you need, and He is more than pleasure, and if you attend to Him, you will find so much there that you will be derailed completely. And you will think your heart might break. And then, per Louis de Blois, He will withdraw and you will be miserable and sick until He returns."

Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World by Emily P. Freeman -
Emily Freeman is one of my top five favorite writers ever, so there was never a chance I wasn't going to love this one. I'm only four chapters in, but it's so good that I keep stopping to read things out loud to Cory.

"Creation invites a vastly different image to this word small. Driving toward the mountains, standing on the beach, sitting beneath the sky on a moonless night - I feel small, but I like it this way. It's comforting, like I'm not in control and I wouldn't want to be.

In these places, I'm small enough to breathe in deeply, small enough to see what's happening, and small enough to let go, to be loved, to remember the with-ness of Christ. This kind of small carries wonder, gratitude, and peace. This kind of small leads to worship."
"Learning to live well in ordinary time isn't a call to elevate moments; it's a call to draw close to Christ."


The Road to Becoming: Rediscovering Your Life in the Not-How-I-Planned-It Moments by Jenny Simmons - I met Jenny, former lead singer of Addison Road, a couple years ago in the buffet line at Hope Spoken, when I dropped my plate on her little daughter's head. (No injuries were sustained.) I felt an instant connection with her, and that's before I even knew she was writing a book. Once I heard, I had no doubt that I'd love it.

It is so, so good. Her writing is fresh and homegirl has a knack for telling a story. She's the normal, funny friend you wish lived next door. I'm only a few chapters in, but so far, her book is sprinkled with pop culture references (this wins in my world, every time) and she writes things in italics sometimes, like "Carpe freaking diem." 

"I was the kind of girl who wanted faith for other people. Me? I wanted answers, happily-ever-afters, and enough control over my life that I did not have to cling to Jesus for my very breath, my very bread. I only wanted religion." (<< I just got goose-bumps typing that out, because Hi, Shannan Martin.) 
"I will choose to be a dreamer in the face of reality because that is the only way I have found to be fully human." 

Parable Treasury by Liz Curtis Higgs -When we returned home from TN, this children's book was waiting for us. I left it on the coffee table and Ruby, my earliest riser, came down an hour early and read the whole thing. Last night, I read one of the stories to Silas before bed, and it is precious. Such a beautiful way to teach parables to Littles...and with awesome (culturally diverse!) illustrations.


I'd like to offer an Honorable Mention to: the current issue of Cooking Light magazine! It has outdone itself. So many weird, pickled things. It's like they instinctively know how to win friends and influence people.

You're turn. What are you reading?

I'm all ears.










Literally.


*Amazon affiliate links used, because the book beast must be fed...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Scorched


Two weeks ago, a friend detoxed off meth on my bathroom floor while I scrambled between rubbing her back and tucking kids into bed who prayed for her, believing she'd caught a fierce case of the flu.

She cried and shook and puked her guts out and my heart was all hers, but my eyes watched from somewhere outside my body in the atmosphere of how did I get here? What's the next right move? How can I do anything other than somehow make things worse?

I have an incredible capacity to detach. I noticed it five or six years ago, and just like the false bravado that fills streets and jails, it has served me well.

But I'm not saying it's healthy.

The past year has scared me stiff with the ways I've absorbed the pain around me. Unspeakable things have happened to people dear to us. We rally and console and do what we do, but I have not shed tears, and I begin to understand why so many faces are often so flat. I sort of see how, over time and repeated exposure to things that cut, the soul gets scorched and life distills down to two basic emotions - apathy and rage.

Last night I drove home from my Monday night class, thoughts ripping around in my head, the usual list of things I need to do, conversations I still can't make sense of, and how I think God should solve the problems blanketing my city.

Sirens tore through town, and I edged over to the curb, then drove toward home.

That's when I saw the smoke pluming thick in the night sky.
That's when I saw flames shooting out a living room window like a thousand tongues of injustice.

That's when the dam inside me broke.

There are infants whose cries are not answered, who spend their lives in front of television screens while their beautiful mamas believe this is the best they can offer. They know what they've seen, their heritage is survival. Their kids will grow into untrusting adults. They will believe they don't belong, will inscribe hatred onto their skin, will carry the scent of sorrow, will choose the distraction of attention over the discomfort of love.

God help them if they make friends with the needle, because I'm losing hope that anyone makes it out of that alive.

These cycles, they are breaking me. I cannot find my place in these waves of loss and pain.

Who lived in that house? How broken are their hearts today?
And my truest, ugliest, most unfair thought of all: what were they cooking?

Maybe it's my ability to compartmentalize pain that keeps me sniffing out the wayward flowers tangled up in chain link fence across my neighborhood. If that's what it takes for me to believe, on most days, that there is always hope climbing out of the cracks, pushing toward the light, then I'll hold on until my bones are dust.

Because driving home last night, I lost almost all of my faith, and when Jeremy Camp sang to me on the radio "There will be a day, with no more tears, no more pain, no more fears", I wanted to punch something.

That's great for you and me, Jeremy. What about everyone else?

What about the ones who were never taught to believe? The ones not taught to care? The ones who turn toward death because it trumps what they know of life? I was shown that God is good. What about everyone else?

What if my son is one of the unlucky ones?
What if my friend ends up in an early grave?

What's the point of yearning for heaven when others are doomed? Why are our tears the only ones that get wiped away? There was a time when the thought of eternity was only good, back when I was surrounded (or so I thought) by others on the express route. Now I wonder what the rush is. I honestly don't care if it all seems backwards. I'm grasping for time on behalf of those who still don't know, and I'm frustrated, because I can't make them believe or heal them up.

Today my faith hinges safely on the belief that God can return hope to me. It probably won't be today, but He'll wait with me, and it won't be long.

My prayer today is not that He will fix the battered hearts. I have no words, and I'm tired of repeating myself. If it's true that He loves them more than I do, then somewhere in the mystery, he has a plan. Heaven help us all if He's waiting for me to ask one more time.

My prayer, my only prayer right now, is that He feels gut-punched, too. I just need to know He's in this with me, and with them, sitting very near while this poison leaves our bodies, absorbing part of our pain with proximity.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Tennessee

We pulled out of our drive six days ago. The leaves were just beginning to turn and the week was our gift. So, we traveled South, a good eight hours, and when our wheels stopped turning, we'd found a certain paradise.

And that wasn't even the best part.

 

The sun was chasing the mountains and all we saw were trees. When we woke up the next morning, Calvin showed us the fog rolling up off the surface of the pond.

We got to work with our hooks and our books, cups of tea and mugs of coffee, shoes that could get dirty, and morning blankets on the porch swing.

There were no hair brushes, no agendas. Heck, there was barely enough cell signal to send a text.





 
We moved through the day with our own rhythms guiding us. If we wanted to play, we played. If playing seemed to hard, well, we rested.

For three days, the only problems that needed solving were a 300-piece jigsaw puzzle, deciding whose turn it was to steer the boat, and choosing which book to read first.


Oh, and how to catch a fish.
That turned out to be a major problem, but one that was somehow more motivating than frustrating.

 





When it seemed they would never catch a thing, they turned their attention to crawdads and, despite conflicting research, they boiled one up and ate its meat.

But that most certainly was not the best part.


Every half-day or so, we'd wonder how long we could all keep this up. How long could we live like this, so removed from the world around us, so utterly drawn together from all sides?

We settled officially on quite a while, because calendars and math had no meaning against a back-drop where every good thing was seen in double.

Somewhere after our thirtieth hour, we figured out how to work the satellite TV.
Then realized we didn't even care.

We ate hot soup around the table with a fifth chair brought over from the desk. We painted, because I suppose that's what your hearts asks of you when you find yourself in a place where so much beauty bangs up against so much quiet.

We snuck wedges of cake. We laughed our heads off, playing games after dark.

We bickered.


We fell into bed rested.
Then did it all over again.

But that wasn't the best part.

By the start of our fourth day, it was time to pack it all in. Three miles down into the holler, the kids were all car-sick. Only once did we see another vehicle - a tractor! - so we edged up to the shoulder and let him through, a farmer with a handlebar mustache. "You know he's lived his entire life in these hills."

We drove north.

And we drove, our hearts full of remembering that we are a family, even when the fish won't bite.

We crossed the tracks and our city blazed gold and persimmon.

The kids were running across the yard to see the vecinos before Cory had even killed the engine. They couldn't be bothered with dinner, so we let them play until dusk.

"It feels so good to be home", Calvin said.

And that is the very best part.

~
 
We stayed here, and I can't speak of it highly enough. It belongs to my legendary friend, Edie (we all love Edie!) and I adore the grace with which they offer this gem to you and to me. It might take some doing to get there, but it's SO affordable, especially considering you're not going anywhere for a while, once you're there. :)

Stay tuned! I'll be sharing what we ate on vacation (with recipes!) and what I read on vacation later this week. Because a vacation without good food and good books is one I don't care to ever experience.

*half of these pics were taken by the illustrious CMB, aka, The Bearded One. :/

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Come Change the World With Us


So, it's been over a year since I've hosted a legit bash of some kind. WHAT?!

When I found out Noonday Collection is partnering with Adopt Together to host trunk shows throughout October in honor of #WorldAdoptionDay, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. And I wanted to invite you!

Whether you're able to come to the actual party or join us online, together we're going to change the world.

I know I've got a strong bent for drama, but I'm stone-cold serious.

Tonight I read  Love You Forever to Silas. (sob!!) He was tummy-down on our bed, helping me flip the pages in his tighty-whities. I felt that familiar pinch in my heart, because I simply cannot imagine life without the exact kiddos I have.

All the years were worth it, every stitch of pain. God knows about the blurry line between endings and beginnings, and for Silas, and for me, adoption absolutely changed the world. When we help families to come together through adoption, we are world changers.

My neighbor/Noonday Ambassador, Jolene, happens to be another powerhouse adoption advocate. We met a couple weeks ago to cook up a party in honor of our mutual friends, Brooks and Erica Egolf, who are working toward bringing home a little guy from China.


Erica writes, "Having grown up as an only child, Brooks was determined he only wanted one child.  I, on the other hand, always wanted three children. Three girls later and 13 years full of every excuse you could possibly imagine, we've decided it's time to follow our hearts and bring home a little boy from China.

In the midst of excuses ...its costs too much money, we don't have enough room in our house, how could I love a child that's not my own, I'm perfectly content with my three girls ...we have continually come back to the idea of adopting. What would it look like to have a little boy in our family?  At the beginning of 2015, with three very excited girls, we finally decided we'd wasted enough time dodging what we knew God was calling us to ...the meetings and paperwork (lots of paperwork!) began."

Noonday and Jolene are donating 20% of the proceeds from our trunk show (both online and in-person orders) toward Egolfs' adoption. From someone who has gone through three adoptions, I can't even tell you what a blessing this will be as they dive into this long, important journey.

On top of that, Noonday partners with talented artisans in developing countries around the world through fair trade practices, creating dignified and sustainable business opportunities for people in vulnerable communities.

Your purchases through this trunk show will have double-impact! 

I'd love for you to join us on Thursday, October 29 from 6:00 - 8:30 pm at the Fruit Hills Winery and Orchard (55503 State Rd 15 Bristol, IN) for a Noonday trunk show extraordinaire. We're hosting it Open House style, so pop in whenever it works for you.

The winery is offering free wine tastings...and we've got some great surprises up our sleeve for you.


For all of you far-flung friends who can only be with us in spirit, we're offering an FPFG giveaway - just for you. For every online order you make toward our fund-raiser for the Egolfs, you'll be entered to win this Rachel necklace ($68 value). One of you will be the lucky winner!

I picked this puppy out myself, as I've had my eye on it for some time. It's perfectly neutral and snappy, goes with everything, and features my favorite Ugandan paper beads.

You can shop the party online right here.




One lucky party attendee will take home this Westward bag (retail $132). I got to see this in person at Jolene's casa and it made me drooly. It's made in India...and has the RADDEST contrasting floral lining.

For those of you who are quasi-local...this would be the perfect time to make a little overnight road trip with a few friends! There are so many ways to spend a day in Goshen. And starting it off at a winery isn't too hateful at all.

Just be sure to RSVP by emailing me at shannandmartin at gmail.com so I know how much grub to make. :)

Thank you for all the ways you guys continue to love your neighbor well! And if there's any chance I might see some of you on the 29th, I'd be pretty giddy about it.

Ever,
Shannan



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Junk Art

Last Spring, I went walking with my friend Meg, and we must have been taking a break from our usual conversation topics of SNL sketches and tacos, because she ended up telling me about something called a junk sculpture, and it stopped me in my mental tracks.

Instructions: Collect junk. Hot-glue into a sculpture. 

It was one of those out-of-body experiences, or maybe I'm just being dramatic. All I can say is that my youngest child's love language starts with a J and ends with a U. N. K.

I've said it a thousand times, but the kid eats, sleeps and breathes weirdness. It's sort of the best thing ever, especially since I've learned to roll with it.

Here's a common daily conversation at our house:
Silas: Can I have that orange juice jug/ground cinnamon jar/dish soap bottle when it's all gone?
Me: Totally.

The dude just wants some containers, man.
And copious amounts of trash-junk.

Over the summer I gave him the empty laundry detergent bottle with a built in spigot and he very nearly lost his ever-loving business.

You get the point.

With Meg's magical junk sculpture, there would be an actual reason to collect these, uh, treasures. We were giving ourselves homework we knew we would ace.

I didn't give a full explanation of the project as much as an invitation to collect whatever "junk" homeboy found, all summer long. I drew the line at trash, but among many other things, Summer 2015 shaped up to be the year I learned to tread lightly upon the line between one man's trash and another man's junk.

There's no shortage of good junk around here, and I'm not just saying that because we happened upon an intact Neil Young cd on our walk to church one Sunday. No offense, Neil.

In true "Classic Shannan" form, we collected our brains out, then left the bucket sitting all trashy and ignored on my counter for months, taking up prime real estate by the toaster.

Until yesterday.
Daddy worked all day, the neighbor kids had gone missing...it seemed like the right time.

I called dibs on arranging the junk for our art survey.
 

And the kiddos got to work while I retired on the couch with my library book, under strict instructions not to turn around until they were done.

IF I MUST.

When I turned around, I was stone-cold stunned.

I mean, have you ever????

I can't look away.

This just in: my kids are budding physicists.
The balance!
The technique!

Also, they're child prodigy sculptors.

The artistry!
The ingenuity!
The imagination!

Just stop it, genius children.

This is officially the best project ever.
Silas got to man the hot glue gun, and I had a good reason to shuttle broken golf tees and odd bits of rusty metal around in my purse.

This isn't the time to wonder why someone would have left a tiny pink pooch in the gutter.
All that matters is that she's home now, on top of a grocery bag handle, and she's never held a post so significant.

Viva, weird art!
Viva, weird kids!

VIVA!!


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Lit


She said she was pissed because some girl with a ghetto street name was wearing her son's shirt. She'd rifled around in her drawers while she was at work, this near-stranger who lives in what used to be her home but has become just a roof and four walls. Who the hell does that? These were her words, not mine, but trust me, I'm editing, and sometimes, I grow weary of it.  Sometimes I want to tell you like it really is, give you all the throb and every bit of the tension that bangs around a room jammed with broken people.

Maybe someday I'll tell you about the song I was sent to help me understand what it feels like to be an addict and how for a fraction of a second, a single atom of me understood. It didn't matter that it was loaded with the f-word. I felt just one molecule of the despair and it made want to rage. It made me want to sob until my sides ached and I wondered if God is really big enough to rescue someone from meth. And if he is, why not here? Why not now?

I wanted to share it with someone, but I wasn't sure who could handle it or who would want to. We're taught not to invite suffering and I won't overstate it, I can't suffer for a song. But I also can't escape this one, and I'd like another person to absorb it by half. That's how I feel a lot of the time. I want to unburden, but who wants this load?

I don't know these answers, so I edit.
I save.
I hold back out of fear of offending, and I'm the one left wondering. Who are we to be offended? Where do we get off?

I want you to know that this is what they think about when they think of us. They believe we cannot handle them. They think we'd never want to. They see us as too clean, too good. They hate us for it, because they believe in their bones that we're better than them. Even if we are a bunch of hypocrites.

Over time, their gut knows they are unholdable.
It's not the streets that teach them this. It might be the needle, but just in part.
We could blame their record or all their baby daddies or the ones they wanted who didn't want them back.

We'd only be half right.
These are their wounds, but we bring the shame.

Driving across town just an hour ago I saw a man in a different broken-down neighborhood. In a Land's End half-zip, he held his to-go coffee while he spoke to a woman on a bike. His eyes were filled with kindness. I'm lucky I didn't drive straight into his neighbor's front yard the way I whipped my head around.

I don't know the story, but I wrote one anyway.

He lives in that house with its suspiciously bright white paint.
No one quite understands why, and that includes his people and theirs.
He loves his neighbor.
And he's waiting for someone else to see that the "his" and the "theirs" are marked off with a soluble line.

I'm dying to know him. I want him and his unfussy wife with her homemade quick bread in my kitchen and I want them here yesterday. I want his rowdy kids hovering over Minecraft with my own. I want them to tell us everything, because I need to hear it. I want them to tell us nothing at all, because I already know.

He's a middle classer. I see it like I see the first-hand boots on my own two feet and our second freezer full of meat. I know it like the tea in my hand and the curtains pulled wide at my window. I can't say exactly why I know it, only that I do.

And if it's true for him, it's true for me.
I will never blend in all the way, and this causes me more angst than you will know.

But I saw the way he cared for his neighbor, so I wrote the ending, too.

He loves them.

He refuses to turn away from their pain.
He stands with his coffee and talks to the lady on her giant tricycle bike and it's worth it if he's a few minutes late to work because some of them love him back, and that's what wooed him there, not just to love them, but to be loved by them.

I don't know most of my neighbors and I don't love any of them like I should.
The human part of me wants to chisel off all my hard edges, become someone entirely new, who feels and lives differently, unafraid and unselfconscious.  I want to be friendlier. I want to kick language barriers in the mouth, bake cookies, and take more walks.

It doesn't come easily for me, and I wonder if that's the whole point.
If nothing else, it serves as a constant reminder that I'm the one waiting to be rescued.

I close the distance between me and whomever stands nearest, that much I can do. Accidentally, I've arrived at a place where I don't flinch when God and prayer and f**k fall cleanly in the same phrase.

Sometimes, secondhand smoke is the fragrance of Christ himself, and I pull a long drag.

I stand close to their flame and my edges melt. But theirs do too.
This can only mean that I carry some burn of my own.

They can handle what I've got. They don't turn away with the Jesus that falls from my lips or the opinions I'm prone to offering without invitation.

Real love does not apologize, and we keep on learning the way truth can cut chains.

God loves me exactly the way I am right now, in my Goodwill sweater and my morning hair. He loves me, and I can be sure, because I stare hard at faces lined with pain and all I can see is His glory, shining off their hard surfaces, lighting everything around me like a fuse.
 


Friday, October 2, 2015

The Eagle

For the rest of my life, whenever I hear "The Eagle", I'll think of my friend Jessica's car, back in high school. It was a station-wagon-esque boat of a vehicle that could be started without a key. In the scope of cars, she was a sturdy, mustachioed Polish woman with a soft side and a mad craving for Taco Bell. We called her "The Eag" for short. Because we were busy.

And that rabbit trail perfectly illustrates the problem with being a writer.

Words and phrases have limbs and joints. They carry weight and occupy space inside my head, scurrying around, cuddling up to old memories. They fire off and ricochet around. They make me feel - a swirling symphony, a sonic boom.

They derail my train of thought.

I did not come here to talk about cars or Taco Bell or even my friend Jess, though she is totally blog-worthy.

I came here to tell you THE EAGLE HAS LANDED.

I turned in the manuscript for my book late last night.

WHAT.

It has me all:
 
 
 
Because this is inexplicably important to me, I'd like to announce to the whole world of FPFG readers that it wasn't actually due until Monday. This is the first time in my life that I've turned something in early. And not only that, I still had time last night to unwind with a bowl of generic peanut butter "Cheerios" and two episodes of Parks & Rec. (We're almost finished with the entire series but I'm far too fragile to go there right now...)

I honestly don't know what to do with myself today, or what to think. Or if I even can think. Or if I can do anything at all except drink tea and grin.

At the risk of sounding like a giant whiner, pulling this off was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It took me by surprise. I started off on my high horse, "I write every day! This will be a cinch!"

But before I'd even officially started, the horse had pitched me off and run for the hills, my pride was sore, and my countenance took on the eerie glow of a crazed woman.

Then I accidentally took the entire summer off.

Then I plunged straight into the depths of fear, despair, and copious amounts of Coffee Shop food and days on end where I barefly moved but still fell into bed exhausted.

It was also really fun, some days.

Mostly, it was all consuming. I've heard of "baby brain", and this feels like that baby's cousin.

The process was something like:

 
{here we go...}

{falling apart}

{everyday, I'm hustlin'}

{caught something!}

 
{hello???}

{oy.}

{piles upon piles of clutter}

{led by a pillar of fire???}

 
{get me out of here!} 


{grrrrowllllaghhhh!}

I took two wrong turns for every right one, and I honestly don't even know if I ended up where I was supposed to.

That's not a problem for today.



Today is for:







As of now, my big plans include writing a proper list, getting a full cart of groceries, and (shocker!) making dinner. This hasn't happened in a while.

I also have some books to read. (Hey! Hey! Hey!)


Tea and/or basil gimlets to drink.

Salsa to eat. (Said Ms. Obvious)

And an entire house to clean. (It's quasi-terrifying in here.)

There are miles to go and months of editing ahead of me, but today? I regroup. 

I want to thank you from the bottom of my dusty, mixed-up heart for all the ways you cheered me on. Part of me wishes I didn't need cheering. I know most of you accomplish much harder things, every day. It makes me want to deliver dark chocolate brownies to your door, and it also makes me feel a little like a baby for feeling so dramatic over my own stuff.

But then I remember that's sort of the whole point of the book I just wrote - that we were made to need other humans. We were created to own our smallness and lean on each other. We were built to fall together, not to climb mountains alone.

I'm more fragile than I thought and I'm learning to see vulnerability as one of the best things I can offer God's kingdom here on earth.

So, thank you for the notes and packages (you guys!?!!!), the prayers and the emails, the text messages and the butt-kicks, and the half-gallon of cider with donuts that just showed up at my door.

I love all of you big-hearted weirdos. You're my favorite kind of people. 

 
Honest to goodness, next to God and Cory, you're the reason this is happening. And while a month ago, that made me want to write passive aggressive notes to you and tell you you're mean, like Silas sometimes does, today it makes me want to sit really close to you and kiss your cheek, like Silas sometimes does.

I'm beginning to accept that the point of all of this isn't to make any single human proud of or happy about my words.

But if I had to bend the truth just a little, I'd bend it toward you.

Ever and Ever,
Shannan


*All photos found languishing on my wonky phone.
*Amazon links. (duh)