Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hold the Phone...

Pals, I am coming straight to you from my kitchen island at 8:21 a.m. with (2-day) bedhead and my cup of Pumpkin Spice tea to give this important message (or, as Calvin would have said back in 2012, "A very important newsletter." It's been six years and we still reference this at least once a week. Never gets old!)

Father Boyle has a new book coming out!

If you have known me for more than one hour or if you have read Falling Free or heard me on a podcast or sat with me at Bible study or just talked to me in passing, you know that my favorite author in the entire world is Gregory Boyle, of Tattoos on the Heart fame.

His new book releases in a couple of weeks. It's called Barking At the Choir (!!!!!!!!): The Power of Radical Kinship and you can pre-order* it now, like I just did thirty seconds ago. Click here. (Sidenote: pre-orders really help the success of a new release. It's a great way to love an author!)

And now for some not-as-urgent backstory.

Back in 2010, Greg's publisher reached out to me to see if I would like a free copy of his book to review. He wasn't well-known at that time. My blog reached maybe 200 people. And this was the first offer I'd ever received of this kind. I was like, "Who, me? A free book? YES, please!" I thought I was Queen of the Nerd World.

They sent it.
I reviewed it.
And it knocked me sideways.

I have never recovered.

It changed the way I saw the world. It changed the way I saw God. This was back on the farm, back before Goshen and Robert and the jail. It was before we had ever set foot near a jail. God used Father B's words to move me in fundamental ways. I couldn't have guessed what would happen next, or why the rearranging of my heart and soul furniture would be so important. But I know, there are no coincidences.

True story: when we were going through the editing process for Falling Free, I had to TRIM BACK my Tattoos quotes. I had too many gems, like these, "There is a longing in us all to be God-enthralled." Or, "Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a covenant between equals." Or, "What seems to vex us is our tendency to conjure up a tiny God." I WILL STOP NOW. But trust me, I don't want to. My copy is almost obliterated with dog-ears and markings. It's just so stunningly beautiful.

A couple of years ago I was talking to my friend Emily about my book that would be coming out, and who I would ask to endorse it. She asked who my Dream Endorser was, and I said him, without hesitation. I set out to find a way to contact him, but it turns out that is easier said than done. No one knew how to reach him.

In the 11th hour, my brother-in-law found a random, old business card from when Greg had spoken at a conference he attended. Within the next hour, I sent him a too-long, ultra-verbose email shamelessly saying things like, "Tattoos on the Heart has shaped me more than any book I have read. Over the years, I have given copies to innumerable friends, recommended it on every podcast I've been on, and reread it countless times. And while it's easy to love you for your evocative writing, I think I love you more for this, 'How much bigger is the God we have than the God we think we have?'" 

He emailed me back fifteen minutes later, saying yes.

A few weeks later, this showed up in my inbox, along with the kindest note, "Be prepared to have your atrophied, tired notion of God propelled into a new and spacious place. With humor, grace, and not a little jostling of your comfort zone, Shannan Martin will introduce you to the mess at the margins. 'See Jesus in the lowly place,' St. Ignatius writes. You will see Him, in this book, as never before. We are invited here to stare at our 'shared ruin,' so that we can walk away astounded that we belong to each other." - Gregory Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Industries, author of Tattoos on the Heart

I sobbed alone at my kitchen table. It was the only time I cried during my entire publication process. 

Short story long, as kind as he is, he doesn't "really" know me. I'm not sharing about Barking at the Choir as a favor to him. I'm sharing as a favor to YOU. This will be another game-changer. I can't wait.

Happiest of Tuesdays,

*Pre-ordering means you reserve your copy today and it's sent on the day it is released, (Nov. 14th.) You don't actually pay until it ships, and then you get this awesome surprise in the mail! And if the price drops by the release date, you get the lower price. Win-win-win!


  1. i'm stoked to know that my library has Tattoos, so after i read it, i'll be on the hunt for Barking (great title!). thanks for sharing.

  2. on it. you never steer me wrong.

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