Friday, September 30, 2016

What it Feels Like {& Giveaway Winners!}

I woke up two Tuesdays ago - the birthday of Falling Free - in a state of emotional disarray. The fact that I'm just now talking about it should tell you something. I was jumpy and on guard. Excited and strangely, a little sad. The sky kept talking to me, saying in shades of amber and coral, "all is well, all is well.

Morning stunned me into a place of quiet, so I followed it home to the rhythm of surrender, then sat at the edge of my neighborhood and took a few deep breaths. What did it feel like to have my book "out there"? I had no clue. And that scared me. It was a new day. I was still me. But I couldn't help looking over my shoulder and straight into the sun. I prayed along, "World without end, amen," yet found it impossible to ignore the urge to race ahead of this slow, steady start, or simply to retreat.

The thing about publishing a book is that you both anticipate and dread what people might say about it.

So I hopped into the van with Cory and my travel mug of tea, and we drove North, to the shore of Lake Michigan. I thought I just wanted to look for sea glass - an easy distraction. What I soon realized was that I wanted to stand near the edge of something much bigger than myself, and my long string of words. I wanted to stare at seagulls and contemplate the tides. 

There was no sea glass. None at all. The one piece I found was jagged and crystal clear, not so much treasure as actual trash. I hesitated, felt its weight in my palm, did my best to convince myself it counted. Then I threw it back, wondering why my pulse wasn't slowing down, wondering why escape always seems like the best option in a pinch.

I swear I tried to rally. But I was cranky with Cory, and more sullen than usual. I'd been tempted to hold onto that gnarly, unready piece. I didn't want to leave empty-handed, not in the state I was in. It doesn't make me selfish or scared. Only human. The part that embarrasses me is that I had the nerve to wish God might reward my surrender. Isn't that the point of the book I had written? That surrender is the beginning of a better dream? Didn't it make sense for God to prove it (again)?

Heading back to the van, I veered over toward a cache of boulders. And there it was, as the water rushed over and away, the faint glimmer of mistakes that had been remade into something so much better. Redemption. Sea glass, catching the light and holding it strong. 

Yes, I'm typing a lot of words about sea glass. Yes, I know how ridiculous it might sound. No, I don't fancy myself a modern day Anne Morrow Lindbergh. 

I'm just a woman on the verge, a woman afraid the world isn't small enough to keep me safe, a woman still afraid to come to God like a child, needy and single-minded. I can talk about laying things down, but I am still prone to holding them, instead. I can tell you about surrender, but it remains the fight of my life.

We ate lunch on a roof-top patio, me, still in yoga pants and unwashed hair. The waitress recommended the Reuben for Cory and handed me the most breathtaking salad with giant globs of goat cheese. She was guarded at first, so obviously wary of humans, or at least humans like us. She was tatted and tattered and I looked across a sea of privileged people eating overpriced sandwiches in the middle of a Tuesday, and I wondered if she could begin to imagine that she is who I would take home with me if I had to pick just one. She is my people. That's something I didn't know about myself a few years ago when my life felt simpler and I was all angles and edges. She is the one I'd most want to talk to as the city around us slept and raged, as my children dreamed and maybe hers did too and as dishes waited dirty in the sink.

For the past ten days, I have been loved well. It's undeniable. That so many of you helped spread the word*, sent notes of encouragement, bought a copy and read it? Well, I don't know the best way to carry that debt. So I'll just say thank you. 

You are the glass and life is the sea and yes, you have been banged up and tossed around. You've been cast aside, overlooked, and the world has often been unkind. But look at how much softer you are for it. The pain that should have hardened you made you smooth, instead. You catch the light. You shine it full and bright in my face. You show me a better way, a quiet redemption.You show me Jesus.

Confession: I came here to talk about my trip to Nashville and all the wild places I've been in a week that felt like five. I came to be funny and self-deprecating and to pretend that it isn't awkward at all to keep talking about myself. 

Apparently, this needed to come out of me first. In retrospect, it makes all the sense in the world.

I'll be back soon, with stories, pictures and sky-high drama. 

Until then,

* I randomly picked two winners from the comments of the last post. JS McCabe and Denise (@mimipapa07) you are each the winner of a Shannan Martin Writes exclusive plate collection! :) Email me at and we'll round out the details.

 ** Amazon affiliate link used