There is nothing that lights my fire more than watching someone live what I call a good story. There are as many ways to describe what ‘good’ means as there are trees in the forest. A good story makes my heart beat fast and I know when I see it. It pours out a certain energy that sparks the desire to live my own story better.
Shannan Martin is living one of those and she’s written a book that has set my heart on fire. Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted releases next week and I have no doubt her story will spark better stories in all who open its pages.
After finding her blog a few years ago, I was drawn to her personal and quick witted writing. I could sense she was the real deal, especially after reading about the lifestyle choices she and her family were making. I had the privilege of meeting her briefly at a conference and soon discovered she was even more delightful in real life as I listened to her story.
When someone lives through a filter of unselfish, ladder descending, stooping low intentionality, their life tends to shine bright off a background of darkness.
In this memoir/collection of essays Shannan writes about the decision she and her husband Cory made to stop climbing the middle class ladder toward entitled success. They sold their dream home in a dream school district beside a dream church and bought a house in a new town on the wrong side of the tracks. Cory took a job as a county jail chaplain and they put their kids in the poorly performing neighborhood school. They walk down the alley to a small church at the end of their street.
And they’ve discovered freedom in falling backward, blindly off the ladder.
She generously shares what that freedom looks like in the call to love their neighbors. It is absolutely not easy. But it is beautiful. She describes how they are choosing to do community and church and family in counterintuitive ways. She invites the reader inside her heart and home, opening up dirty closets to see the reality of the journey. She does not sugarcoat with God talk their life that includes Robert, an adopted son who happens to be a felon.
I know this is a special book because I closed it, not feeling guilty or shamed, but gently encouraged to look at my own choices and life and neighbors through the lens of her story and to bravely begin making some decisions that just might push me off the ladder toward freedom.
Trust me, you won’t be able to put this book down. She tells her story with grace and humor, leaving you convicted in just the right places. Meet my friend Shannan and her beautiful family here.
“I was never meant to save a soul, and no one was purposed as a project. We were meant to be comrades, mutually passing around whatever we have to offer. If I believe my less ensures someone else’s more, what else could I possibly need to know? Why is this dilemma so often a source of nagging conflict and emotional bartering instead of a simple no-brainer?”
“For all the ways we’re prone to over thinking ministry, conditioned to see it as a checklist of duties rather than a natural expression of love, clinging to the classical ‘missionary’ framework where only some are called and the rest of us dodged the bullet, Cory and I are discovering that one of the most meaningful gifts we can offer the kingdom is our reputation.”
“Hospitality is the gospel hidden deeply in our souls and in the corners of our homes. It’s not Pinterest-worthy and requires a level of mutual trust. Take me as I am, and I’ll return the favor. It’s the unwavering belief that when I add your mess to my own, the place has never looked better. “