Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Reluctant Consumer's Gift Guide

I'll do my best to keep my complicated feelings about consumerism, commercialism, and Christmas in general brief, as I have positively exhausted my emotional output on this over the past seven consecutive Christmases.

Here's the skinny version: my family lives on a squeaky-tight budget (I know many of you are right here with us!) and we also happen to live pressed up against tremendous lack, in a low-income neighborhood with a church family and personal friend group that largely consists of people struggling through the sort of poverty that makes my daily bread look like the pricey, chocolate-laced brioche from Aldi that my kids ask for every time and that I secretly want, too, except FOUR DOLLARS? Gasp.

As an Enneagram 8 poster-child, I naturally bristle a little (a lot?) against anything that smacks of status quo, so as you can imagine, Christmas in my presence is the recipe for true joy, as long as you get a jolly kick out of the neighborhood cynic. (I have learned to turn down the volume on my inner challenger, but she's still kicking around with a megaphone in my heart.)

Christmas is supposed to mean something, we all know this in theory. But I believe we can find ways to make it more meaningful in practice, too. We can choose to quell the machine that threatens to pull us into an undertow of debt and empty emotional calories. We can learn as we go when it comes to finding ways to realign our focus. (I'll be re-launching my 12 Ways of Christmas series in a week or so, so stay tuned!)

We can embody the belief that Christmas is about God choosing to leave paradise so that His kingdom could arrive here on Earth, igniting the renewal of All Things. This is a very big deal. Because if He chose pain, loss, and longing, then we can, too. We were made to feel a wide range of emotions, to walk toward the suffering around us, and to make our home there with Jesus as our guide, holding the lantern as we move through the darkness.

But also? MAMA HAS GIFTS TO BUY.

The Martins keep Christmas buying simple, but I enjoy it, even as I side-eye the pressure and the hullabaloo, as my mom would say. I like surprising my people and having a reason to buy them things they don't necessarily "need" from places other than Goodwill.

For this reason, I put together a low-brow guide with links to my personal favorites. I want you to know that I artfully arranged my personal effects onto a large poster board on my living room floor, then painstakingly over-layed it with numbers because I am fancy in the ways of technology and it wasn't hard at all (that is a total lie) so FEEL THIS LOVE!

Each item on the list is part of my regular life, some items more than they realistically should be (cough cough I wear the same shirt for days in a row sometimes.) Many are also sourced from companies operating around the central ideal of bringing justice to marginalized communities.
His kingdom. Here on Earth.

Merry, heartbreaking Christmas, pals.
I hope you get something that you want.
And I hope you never stop longing, not for a moment.


{You might be interested in the conversation I was a part of on The Upside Down Podcast - episode 47 Consumerism and God's Kingdom.}




1 - Love Anyway sweatshirt from Preemptive Love Coalition - This is my absolute go-to. (They have a lot of really cool styles!)

2 - Denim Western shirt from ABLE I love the mission (and style!) of ABLE. Get 20% off with SHANNAN20

3 - Giving Keys necklace - each purchase supports employment opportunities for people coming out of homelessness. Keys are customizable. (Mine was a gift from a friend and says LONG HAUL.)

4 - Audrey Assad "Evergreen" cd - This is on heavy repeat. I cannot get over her lyrics.

5 - Flex "Veterans Mini" watch  10% of every purchase supports a specific cause aimed at making the world better. (Free shipping on every watch anywhere in the US.)

6 - Canvas HQ canvas (photo pulled from my Instagram feed) - I love the customer service and quality of this family-owned canvas shop. My friend surprised me with this canvas from my trip to Ecuador. Such a thoughtful, personal, affordable gift!

7 - Vintage hanky - because crying is cuter with one of these in hand.

8 - Mud Love bracelets (Shannan Martin Project includes "Neighbor" "Long Haul" and "Wider Circle")

9 - Good candle - This is a favorite and so is this.

10 - Constellation Moon earrings hand-crafted from polymer clay from Breath of Life Essentials (I absolutely love all of her unique earrings, but the name and composition of these have my whole heart! DM her on Instagram to order.)

11 - Dixie stud earrings from Starfish Project (These are my everyday earrings. I recently lost one and I'm not over it yet.) Get 20% off any of their earrings using the code SHANNANANDSTARFISH

12 - Dark Chocolate Butter Kek cookies from Aldi (TRUST ME)

13 - The Ministry of Ordinary Places - (I'll be starting an online book club in January! Stay tuned.)

14 - Tea! Current favorites: Tazo Green Ginger and Good Earth Sweet & Spicy

15 - I'm a gigantic fan of gifting vintage and thrifted items. My book and a vintage mug make an excellent combo.

16 - Mighty River Project basket - this organization employs women in Uganda so that they can care for their families. Orphan prevention for the win! (We use ours as a fruit basket.)

17 - Vintage bake ware - start trolling Goodwill and your local shops for tins, utensils, and tea towels. Pair them with some high-brow vanilla, whole beans, or good chocolate.


Other favorites:
Books! Always and forever books. Here's what I'm reading right now.
Church Forsaken by Jonathan Brooks
Executing Grace by Shane Claiborne
You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart
The Caregiver by Samuel Park


Calvin's picks:
Concert Eukulele
The Mysterious Benedict Society series


Ruby's picks:
Mixed-media art set
The Sprinkles Baking Book


Si's picks:
Snap Circuits
This lamp


Cory's pics:
Polaroid camera with this film.
This watch (In his effusive style, he says, "solar powered, so never needs a battery change, water resistant to 100 meters, great everyday watch.")



One last thing - I'll be signing books over at the Belove Gift Shop in Winona Lake, Indiana on Wednesday, December 5th from 6-9pm. If you've never been to Winona Lake, now is the time! Excellent food and shopping. Belove curates the best collection of gift ideas, and many of them are handmade right in the local area. Come out and say hey! (If you're not in the local areas, you can also shop online.)

XO,
Shannan





Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Where I've Been & Where to Find Me (the Podcast List!)



I knew I was in trouble when I went to switch out the mugs on my beloved rack last month only to realize I had never even put the summer mugs out.  There I was, in late September, with May's mugs staring forlornly down at me. It pained me to think of the ice cream cone mug languishing unused in the drawer all summer long. (I can't even speak right now of the whale mug.)

I've grown used to letting an odd month pass me by now and then, but I had never missed an entire season.

It's November now, and I only vaguely remember October. It rushed past me in a blur of book launch and mini van miles.

I'm laughing about it on the outside, but the deep-down truth is that it bothers me a little. I don't want to play at life this way. I don't judge a fast pace and I relish my very full, quasi-chaotic life, but something needs to give, and quickly. I have a hunch November is going to be my time to figure some of this out. I'll let you know if I find any trap doors that help me along the way.

In the meantime, I did embark on an 11-day road trip last month. Eleven days! I think it's the longest I've ever been away from home. The best news ever is that my family was with me for most of it. I found myself missing my bed, my neighbors, and my broom (sweeping my floor is a vital part of my daily sanity) but I never got homesick.

Eleven days, one carry-on bag, and nine separate lodgings = A LOT. But it was fun to break free from the routine a bit.When I finally made it home after a cancelled flight (my signature travel move) and an extra night in yet another hotel room, Ruby's thumb was broken but the leaves were at their peak.

I told my kids I was never leaving again.

(They didn't believe me either.)

 First official stop: The Nest Fest!
Charlotte, NC

This wasn't my first time at Nester's house, but it was my first time at her annual festival. It was so much fun catching up with old pals (these are the authors who were there signing books) and it was super special to to be able to introduce Cory and the kids to many of the women who I consider my internet colleagues.

Silas spent his time marveling at Nester's decor (the kid has an eye) and in particular, her vast array of hand soaps. He also believed for the entire first evening that I was the literal star of the show. He believed in his 10-year old heart that the lavish cheese boards, the mini bar, the live band, the throngs of people, were all there just to see me, "because they love your book." Ha! Life hack - take the kids with you, forever and ever, amen.


A few more highlights...

I finally met my Voxer pal Lisa Whittle for the first time! I felt weirdly nonchalant when we first said hello...I think I forgot we hadn't met before. Behold, the power of the internet! It's a beautiful thing. Also, Lisa and I are both Enneagram 8's so we understand each other in a special way.

I lumber over the magnificent Bri by approximately eighteen feet, so when we went to take this picture I hunched way down. But then she hunched with me, which sort of defeated the purpose. Naturally, we cracked up and I adore this outtake.

(Can we talk about why my "crack up" face is the actual picture of straight-up lunacy and Bri's is just completely adorable and celebrity-level? GET SOME CONTROL, SHANNAN!)


I LOVED meeting the women who showed up to say hello and grab The Ministry of Ordinary Places. Thank you!!!

I went to high school with Natalie. We were in Future Homemaker's of America together!
(lololol)

When Nest Fest was all said and done, I drove to Greensboro with my dear pal, Emily Freeman. We ate Wendy's french fries and got (most of) our work talk out of the way.

We went to church with them the next day* and our families finally got to meet. The kids played an elaborate outdoor hide-and-seek game involving our vehicles (we didn't ask) while the adults stayed inside and talked about church and the Enneagram. (Adulting! It's sort of the best, except for bills and chores.)

*GUYS. After church a woman came up and introduced herself to me, saying her family had just moved to NC after reading Falling Free. They had been struggling to settle in and find a church home and this was their first time visiting Emily's church, which they instantly loved. She was out-of-her-mind confused when I walked in and sat down right in front of her. Our jaws were all on the floor by the end of her story, the very best kind of weird and awesome that we should just know to expect from God by now. 





From Greensboro, NC we headed over to Franklin and Nashville, TN, where we ate up ALL of the biscuits/cheeseburgers/hot chicken.

I also recorded something for Q Commons!

I was thrilled to be asked to talk about their theme - The Power of We. But y'all (I'm allowed to say that now because I was just in the South) talking for only 9 minutes is NO JOKE for a big mouth like me. 

I learned a ton. A ton! I'm so grateful to have been invited to be part of it.

As we were walking out the door for dinner Calvin said, "We all look nice. We should take a selfie!"

When the slightly-emo 13-year old asks for a family selfie, you stop what you're doing and oblige. But y'all (omw, I'm practically half southern!) we need help.



The next day, my fam drove home, but not before stopping at a local Tennessee Walmart for Silas to buy a souvenir. 😂

I had met my publishing team for tacos and was then picked up on a side street by my sweet friend of nearly ten years, Becky.

This is her view every day and I didn't hate it.

And...she has one of my absolute favorite decorating styles - the perfect blend of white space, color, and texture. It's cozy and collected and the woman KNOWS the importance of quirky lighting. (You can scroll through more photos over on my Instagram page.)

She fed me well, tucked me in on the couch for a chick flick, and did my laundry, all while we crammed as much catching-up as we could into 15 hours.

I didn't want to leave.


From there, I hitched a ride to the Evolving Faith conference with my brand new friend, Elizabeth Baker, and her sweet mom. They welcomed me into their rental car as a complete stranger and we rode together for six hours.

Funny how eating lunch together at Cracker Barrel can bond people for life. ;)

I will never get over the kindness of the internet or the value of taking risks and listening to new perspectives. Never! I didn't get a single photo of us together, which I regret. I blame it on the fact that I had been traveling for nine days straight at that point, and spent half of the drive dozing in the back seat, probably with mouth hanging open.

(By the way, Elizabeth has written some scorching stuff over at HuffPo. She's a talented writer with a powerful story, which is to say, she is a force.)


The ladies dropped me off at an AirBnB in Black Mountain NC and I risked my very life by showering in a stranger's house under the cover of night. (I am not a very fearful person in general, but why does showering seem like the most treacherous activity known to man? What childhood movie scarred me for life? I rarely lock the door at home but I dead-bolt it when I'm about to shower.

Anyway, on a scale from 1-10, the rental house was "No Exterior Lighting and A Gift Basket Filled with Pork Rinds and Cotton Candy."

Which is to say...it was a bit like a clown house at the fair, confusing and slightly terrifying, but mostly fun!

I stayed with my dear pals, Becca and Sarah. Over the next day or two, we heard from interesting women (and a few men) about why we shouldn't be scared when the bones of our faith start creaking a bit. There's so much more I could say about that, but this post is already 12 times longer than I anticipated.

In summary - I burned up over a third of October, but my heart stayed warm for every bit of it.And, as always, I'm thrilled to be home.

Last thing - I have recorded so many podcasts over the past two months so I thought I'd round them up right here. I'll try to update this list as I continue to make the rounds.

Each one of these conversations has been a gift and I'm not even surprised anymore by the way each conversation takes a unique turn. (On Sarah Bragg's episode that drops today, we accidentally spent several minutes talking about our heartfelt affection for chicken thighs. (shrugs))

Have a listen! Let me know which podcasts spoke to you. If you're willing, share it with a friend or online. The Ministry of Ordinary Places is finding its place in a world that's hungry to connect and neighbor and really see God's goodness because you guys y'all are talking about it.

There aren't enough thank you's in Goshen, Indiana!

Here we go! In no discernible order...


Going Scared with Jessica Honegger

Pairadocs with Dr. Jimmy Myers and Dr. Joshua Myers

Mom Struggling Well with Emily Thomas
 
Lighten Up Melanie Dale

Mama Bear Dares with Tesi and Leslie

Not Terrible with Jess Hooker and Mary Graham

Uniquely Woman with Lisa Hensley

That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs

Rising Stories with Corine Sandifer

For the Love with Jen Hatmaker

Cultivating Lovely with MacKenzie Koppa

Wonderfully Made with Rachel Brown

5 Word Prayers with Lisa Whittle

By Design with Lyndsye Feldman and Dannette Gora 

Front Porch with the Fitzes

Fierce & Lovely with Beth Bruno

Charisma Connection

The Next Right Thing with Emily P. Freeman

Facebook Live interview with Sarah Quezada (please note how I messed up the intro by taking a photo, not realizing we were already life. Profesh!)

Surviving Sarah with Sarah Bragg

Nestled with April Nicholson and Bayleigh Malone 

Nourish with Kim Bakaev


Coming soon:
Collared Chicks with Rev. Monica Reynolds

Open Door Sisterhood with Krista Gilbert and Alexandra Kuykendall

Changing the Conversation with Mocha Club
 
You're Invited with Tatum, Ashlee, Tiffany, and Whitney

Walk the Walk with Hayley Morgan
 
Honestly Adoption with Mike and Kristin Berry

(I've done my level best to link all of them. If I missed something, apologies! Please email me and let me know and I'll fix it!)

Blog Posts:

Glorious Table - Tacos & Tea (an excerpt)

Jerusalem Greer - Just Live
"I can get on board for for the Ministry of Ordinary Places and ordinary life – on the farm, in our tiny town, in our thriving church, in the life as a band mom, and morphing jobs, in feeding of the animals,  and the painting of rooms, and the fixing of the unsexy air conditioners, and the making of lunches. Over and over again."

Emily P. Freeman - The Ministry of Ordinary Places
"I have a hunch that if Shannan was a stranger to me, maybe you would trust me more when I tell you how much I loved this book. This is the right book for this moment in time and I simply cannot get over it. I either laughed or cried on almost every page. We need these lyrical, prophetic words now more than ever before."

Patheos - Let's Stop Loving on the Least of These (an excerpt)

Ann Voskamp - What We Can Offer to a World Crying Out (and It's Not What You Think) (an excerpt)

Ann Voskamp - How to Make Peace with Daily Bread (an excerpt)


XO,
Shannan