It has been book palooza around here lately. I've been so excited to share with you about Embrace and Assimilate or Go Home, and now I get to add a final gem to this fall's trifecta of awesome! This week, my friend Shannan releases her first book, Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted.
I met Shannan at the Festival of Faith and Writing, where we were housemates and stayed up late eating ice cream and sharing stories about living in unconventional places and loving across cultures. I asked her three questions about her writing and her new book, and I hope you enjoy "meeting" her as much as I did. For extra delight, I'm sharing a free copy of her book to one lucky reader at the end!
Q: Can you introduce yourself to readers who've not visited your blog?
Absolutely! I'm Shannan Martin, wife to my jail chaplain husband, Cory, and mom to four quirky kids. I blogged for almost eight years as Flower Patch Farmgirl, and now I'm just regular ol' me, living life and writing it down. Five years ago, God thrust my family into the adventure of a lifetime, in which our safe, cozy, pretty, American Dream life was turned upside-down.
As you can imagine, it's a very long story... In short, we sold our dream farmhouse, moved to a shabby neighborhood in a nearby city, transitioned out of "impressive" jobs in federal politics, and found our faith come alive on the wrong side of the tracks, where we see God's goodness more clearly than we ever had before. Jesus chose low places, and we are discovering the thrill of doing the same.
But it requires the ache and burn of surrender, which so far hasn't become second-nature. We're still us, wearing different lenses. We couldn't have imagined how beautiful and simultaneously unsettling and difficult life would become when we began to walk toward the pain around us rather than away from it. But I can look you in the eye end promise - I'd never go back.
Q: You are mama in a multicultural family and your family lives cross-culturally as well. How has living across cultures impacted your worldview?
All four of our kiddos, ranging in age from 8 to 22, came into our hearts through the complicated, breathtaking gift of adoption. Each of their races and stories are beautifully unique. We began our adoption road after we faced unexplained infertility, but I now see that God was preparing us for something so much bigger than just the immediate building of our family. (Of course he was!)
I know now that as my heart opened to the belief that families are built outside of biology or genetics, I was learning deep truths that would carry me through the changes headed my way. It helped me understand that my kids aren't actually "mine," and that we are all better when, as Mother Theresa said, we draw a wider circle around family.
Over the years, our family has unofficially "adopted" many others into our homes and hearts, and we truly are better together. I'm extremely honored to have a window into the greatness of God and his compassion and love in creating a world rich with differences.
I love learning about the birth cultures of our kiddos. I love celebrating with them. I love the way it has allowed me to more clearly see the cultural differences of our new community as something to truly cheer about. Diversity is the MAGIC!
On the flip-side, having a twenty-two year old African American son with a heartbreaking history has split me open to the pain of racism flooding our cities and streets. We cannot love what we cannot know, and quite honestly, part of my "knowing" came quite easily to me through the love of my children. But I cannot encourage people enough to build friendships outside your race/socioeconomic status/religious tradition/political belief. It's the only way to begin to grow together.
Q: What is your hope for Falling Free? What do you hope readers take away?
My deepest hope is that those who read will walk away with a more luminous sense of how freeing it can be to lose oneself for the sake of God's kingdom. We get to be less.
We are invited into the cozy comfort of being smaller, of having less, of not being in control all the flipping time. We get to think outside the traditional box when it comes to how we view community, parenting, and even (especially?) church.
Everyone's story looks a bit different, by God's brilliant, perfect design. In Falling Free I'm sharing my story. But I believe deep in my bones that God has written stories for each of us that we cannot begin to imagine. The first step toward living those stories is opening our fist around the things we cling to, and beginning to really trust that we were never meant to be in charge. THAT, my friends, is freedom.
My copy of Falling Free is on the way, and I can't wait to dive into Shannan's beautiful words, wise insights, and genuine humor. It releases tomorrow, September 20. To win a copy, enter the raffle below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway