“In a world where hope seems dim and solutions feel complicated and partisan, Shannan Martin offers us a starting point that is as radical as it is domestic: widen your circle, hush your mouth, and pay close attention. This book 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.” —Emily P. Freeman, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Simply Tuesday
“This is a message the world needs. So often we overcomplicate ‘service’ or this elusive call to ministry when all the while ministry is right in front of us. Shannan reminds us of the simple, yet beautiful call to love our neighbor and what that could really look like today. We are reminded that extravagant love in ordinary moments does indeed lead to an extraordinary life.” Katie Davis Majors, New York Times bestselling author of Kisses from Katie
Popular blogger Shannan Martin offers Christians who are longing for a more meaningful life a simple starting point: learn what it is to love and be loved right where God has placed you.
For Christ-followers living in an increasingly complicated world, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to live a life of intention and meaning. Where do we even begin?
Shannan Martin offers a surprisingly simple answer: uncover the hidden corners of our cities and neighborhoods and invest deeply in the lives of people around us. She walks us through her own discoveries about the vital importance of paying attention, as well as the hard but rewarding truth about showing up and committing for the long haul, despite the inevitable encounters with brokenness and uncertainty. With transparency, humor, heart-tugging storytelling, and more than a little personal confession, Martin shows us that no matter where we live or how much we have, as we learn what it is to be with people as Jesus was, we'll find our very lives. The details will look quiet and ordinary, and the call will both exhaust and exhilarate us. But it will be the most worth-it adventure we will ever take.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)|
About the Author
Shannan Martin, known for her popular blog Shannan Martin Writes, is a speaker and writer who found her voice in the country and her story in the city. She and her jail-chaplain husband, Cory, have four funny children who came to them across oceans and rivers. They enjoy neighborhood life in Goshen, Indiana, a place they fall more in love with every year.
Read an Excerpt
Who Even Is My Neighbor?
I sat at the pint-sized table at the coffee shop downtown, my knees banging against its worn wooden edge each time I shifted in my seat. Across from me sat my dear friend Becca. Her hands were wrapped around a mug of coffee, probably something exotic like Sumatra or Ethiopian blend, all direct trade, naturally. But Becca doesn't particularly care about the origins of her beans, and I'm a tea-drinking contrarian. The coffee was never the point.
Conversation percolated around us, bubbling up now and then into laughter among women flushed and limber from morning yoga, stay-athome dads with strollers, city leaders, freelancers, and tunnel-visioned students. An orthodox priest in a floor-length black robe took the table to our left, and to our right sat two men knitting, one of whom wore a bun. Right in the middle sat the two of us, me hiding yesterday's hair under my signature red ball cap, and Becca wearing a sweatshirt decorated with an airbrushed, wintry landscape.
As usual, we were trying to figure out how to fix the world.
It wouldn't be unfair to classify this assemblage of two opinionated verbal processers as a glorified vent session, with plenty of comic relief mixed in. We were both political junkies (recovering and otherwise), so the upcoming presidential election was foremost on our minds, and the fact that we didn't agree on a solution only added punch to our discussion. On top of that we were both experiencing near-terminal church-related funk, the racial tension of our country continued to be revealed, religious people were damning each other to hell over a legion of issues, and there were new rumblings that we might be on the brink of war. It was a lot.
Along the way, Becca elevated the emotional atmosphere with stories about her former cough-dropaddicted house pig named Brats and her misadventures involving an accordion. When one of us rambled, the other went up for air, taking a sip of our now lukewarm beverages, careful not to miss a word. These coffee dates were not for the faint of heart, which presented a problem since Becca had been clinically diagnosed with a mouthful of medical jargon amounting to "faint of heart." As always, we tried to keep our cool.
Becca and I first met at the little Methodist church my family attends. Fueled by mutual intrigue and maybe a bit of shared loneliness, we graduated from Sunday handshakes to these intermittent Wednesday mornings.
Separated by twenty-five years, the two of us were never meant to be friends and certainly not coconspirators. She is a single woman with no children and a senior discount. I'm young enough to be her daughter. Our ideologies don't perfectly align. Our theologies tear away from each other now and then. Yet, in each other, we recognized the reward of stepping outside our norm, and our unlikely friendship grew. Before long, we were neighbors of the city and the heart, and, if I know anything at all, it's that the route leading from "neighbor" to "family" is surprisingly short. I never imagined myself with a friend like Becca, someone I would come to depend on in meaningful ways. And, yet, here we were. It wasn't hard at all.
Time after time, we circle back to a few key questions: Why is this world so messed up? Why does God choose to fiddle around with the likes of us? What on earth can we do to make this sad and beautiful world a little softer for everyone?
I can't say that we often walk away from our time together with clear answers or solutions. But I always walk away feeling more hopeful. This is the promise of Emmanuel, God with us, who came near in body and stayed in Spirit. It's no accident that the solace of eternity is so often parceled out in one-hour chunks and passed around the table.
I know you're right there with me and Becca at that tiny table, nodding along. We believe God hasn't forgotten us and that he has a plan to renew the beauty lost in the weeds. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. We want the younger generations to thrive in a new way. We want the older generations to feel seen, heard, and valued. We're no longer satisfied with a solution that only serves us and those like us. We want a plan that serves the whole sisterhood, stretching beyond bloodlines and the culture that for too long has pitted us against each other.
Where we've been taught to self-protect, we're now ready to reach out, not just to people who remind us of ourselves, but to anyone in arm's reach. We're ready to lean in. We're just not sure how to start.
Though our lives feel ordinary and small, we're compelled by the possibility of making a difference where the problems loom large. We want to offer the hope of Christ in a world that feels increasingly fractured and gloomy. We believe we can be world shakers from our own little corners, where there are crumbs on the floor and no righteous plan for the dinner hour barreling toward us. We're growing desperate to experience the mess of the gospel, trading our tight reins and safe ways for the mystery and mayhem of God's kingdom making its way down.
It's all too easy to lose our purpose in the details of everyday life: the leftovers, the empty gas tank, the meetings that run too long. We know we're called to love our neighbor, but we're leery of risk. We come from a long line of social awkwardness.
And, anyway, who even is our neighbor?
In Luke 10, we peer in on a Jewish expert of religious law unwisely trying to trick Jesus. After an intense volley of smug superiority (Jewish guy) and the sort of composed calm guaranteed to rattle even the most seasoned debater (Jesus), the man asks the same question we're asking, "And who is my neighbor?" (v. 29).
In classic Jesus fashion, his answer comes in story form. In this parable, a Jewish man mugged, bloodied, and left for dead on the Jericho road is rescued not by a Jewish priest or a temple assistant, both of whom saw him and kept walking, but by a Samaritan. The Jewish people loathed Samaritans, considering them half-bred lowlives. Yet it was he, the unlikeliest ally, who "felt compassion" for the wounded Jewish man, daubing his wounds, hoisting him onto his donkey, holding him steady along that winding road, emptying his pockets for the Jewish man's care, and pledging his help until healing came.
Through this parable, we don't hear a single word from the injured Jewish man's perspective. We don't know what he was thinking or how he responded. We aren't allowed the satisfaction of him weeping in gratitude or apologizing to his rescuer for the rocky history between their people. We don't know if he received assistance with humility or if he choked back the judgment still coursing through him, just happy to be alive. Simply put, we don't know if the merciful encounter with his sworn enemy changed him. It's hard to believe it wouldn't have, but that isn't the point here.
The story is centered on the Samaritan, the one who had everything to lose, who couldn't bear to see someone hurting and dared to get involved. Though it certainly cost him, he chose the neighbor way.
In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, given the day before his assassination, he said of the parable, "The question is not, 'If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?'" Rather, it is, what will become of our bloodstained neighbor if we choose to pass by instead? "What will happen to them?" Dr. King asked the crowd. "That's the question."
Who is my neighbor?
It's not the one who looks like me. It's not the one I am most comfortable with or the one with whom I share hobbies, talents, or a go-to Starbucks order. It's not limited to the person next door or my favorite coworker. My neighbor might even be someone I despise.
My neighbor is the one who comes near in mercy.
My neighbor is the one to whom I draw near in mercy.
At times I am the Jewish man, with my insider status, skepticism, and, despite it all, my deep, immediate need. Other times, I am the Samaritan man, taking a risk by getting myself mixed up in the mess of someone's life when it would be easier to keep my distance. As I see myself in both men, the two-way street of kinship unfolds in front of me.
This invites some careful thought. Life is pulsing around us, waving us closer. Who, then, are we with?
Living an on-the-ground, available-and-engaged, concerned-for-our-neighbors lifestyle doesn't necessarily require moving, downsizing, changing jobs, or adopting a child. It only asks that we view our immediate world with fresh eyes to see how we might plant love with intention and grit. This means we'll have to unlearn what we've wrongly absorbed about who people are and what they deserve. We'll have to scratch through the surface and get down to the roots of the stories playing out in our midst. We will have to choose to widen our circle and allow our lives to become tangled up with those around us.
There at the coffee shop, amid our questions, anecdotes, and rants, what Becca and I were really asking was, How can we help? and, What do I have to offer this cynical world?
For Becca, the journey toward intentional action began with seeing her knack for storytelling as a legitimate spiritual gift meant to fortify the bruised and battered body of Christ. When an opportunity to teach creative writing at the county jail opened up, she defied logic and surmounted the hurdle of self-doubt by simply, magnificently, saying yes.
At the age of sixty-four, she drove her old beater out of the city and into what many see as a wasteland, inviting long-forgotten mamas to reconsider their stories under a new lens of empowerment and purpose. Each Saturday, she sits with them in a windowless room to discuss the life force held in the folds of their personal histories. They are Romans 5:3 in shapeless, beige uniforms, suffering, resilient, growing, and hopeful: "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance."
Every line extracted from their pain and scripted into fresh journals, every story shared without the threat of condemnation, every tear wept and every joke cracked has fused this haphazard gathering of society's outcasts into an abiding community of support and shared sorrow. As we sat together at the coffee shop, Becca marveled at the resourcefulness of the women —" They bring supplies and hand roll their own tampons while we talk! Have you ever imagined such a thing?" — and choked up at the ways this sacred space has fundamentally reshaped her worldview while she wasn't looking, immersed in simply loving them and being dazzled by their light. She can't fix the problems of drug addiction, broken families, or the plight of shattered confidence, but she can find her place in the lives of a few women and believe that it matters.
Somewhere toward the end of our coffee date, Becca smacked the table with the palm of her hand, and I knew to lean in. "We're paying attention now," she said. "This will change everything."
She's exactly right.
This mission humbly asks that we devote ourselves to the overlooked spiritual practice of paying attention to wherever God has placed us. That's where we begin, and, though it's not terribly complicated, it will ask more of us than we ever imagined.
Becca called early yesterday morning to say her heart was feeling faint again, but the doctors were working on it and she'd hopefully be as good as new for the next writing class.
I spent forty minutes this morning playing Emotional Bingo with an at-risk third grader at the elementary school who, in just two visits, had already mentored me on the ways of acceptance, fortitude, and grape-sharing.
Meanwhile, my husband, Cory, helped orchestrate an emergency bike delivery for a friend looking to be hired at the bacon factory across town, then shared lunch and a game of cards with his friends inside the jail where he works as the chaplain.
These small moments, over time, stack into something much bigger than ourselves. One tiny risk, one inconvenience, one imperceptible nudge after another, and here we are, thick in community among lonely neighbors, cranky neighbors, and neighbors whose love and optimism shine like the sun on our faces. There have been drug-addicted neighbors who drove us straight to the brink with them, and dark days when we watched despair grow fists and teeth and eat them alive. Even still, I couldn't have imagined the way this basic act of really being with the people near us would sweep through our lives like fresh air and impossible beauty.
The loudest revolutions often begin so quietly, so unassumingly near the ground that most don't bother to notice. I won't speak for you, but surrounded by cynics, worrywarts, doomsday prophets, and Facebook apologists with their lofty solutions, I'd rather be a hope-holder with mud on my shoes. We might have a zillion reasons to be jaded about our world, but that is not the kind of person I want to be. I want to be someone who clings to the grace and the gift and the good. Rather than spend my days scanning the digital horizon for a dopamine hit of false comfort, I want to keep my ear tuned to the groanings of my place. I want to stand ready, as Christ's ambassador in my neighborhood, wearing grace, flesh, and skinny jeans. I want to belong, just as I am, and I want to get better at loving people for every good and puzzling thing they are.
The world around us does its best to make us suspicious and wary, but when we stand together, we are closer to hope.
Wide awake and fully present, let's stick around and dig deep.
Who knows what might happen next?CHAPTER 2
Locking Eyes with the World We're In
The paint was already flaking off the baseboards before I realized it was time to stop calling our house new.
The signs were everywhere. Mature grass finally blanketed the postage-stamp yard. The tree we'd bought with 2013's tax refund was large enough to produce a spot of shade exactly wide enough for one person to enjoy. And the clincher — we had returned home from an out-of-town trip and the house didn't smell new. Somewhere along the slow rush of time, when we were distracted by other things, the lumber, paint, and drywall had absorbed the precise essence of us.
My new reality still took me by surprise.
I had evolved from the fresh-faced farm girl living my version of the American Dream with a side of Jesus. I'd become the gutsy, subversive, city-loving advocate. The new neighbor. My kids went to a new school. We lived in a new house.
On and on it went, my fists closing around this latest rendition of my identity, just as they had before.
But as people came into our lives and left us, as the carpet wore down in the sorry way carpet is prone to disappoint us, it became harder to ignore. We were no longer new. We were just here. The headline had faded. The sparkle dimmed.
Our earlier questions — Where are we going? Why are we going? and Will we ever fit in? — were replaced with just one: Now what? Surely God did not lead us here just to live. Surely spending our lives for his sake would mean more than attending PTO meetings and allowing the neighbor kids to conspire with ours in tearing up the yard. Wasn't there some grand, specific thing he wanted and needed me to do here?
One late August morning, right in the middle of this heightened spiritual unrest, I decided to walk my kids to school rather than driving the short distance. I'm not sure what flipped the switch. It might have been the hissing shame that I was modeling an odd brand of privilege and laziness for my three young kids. But I had seen enough to understand that growth often requires death, and sometimes death looks like losing that extra fifteen minutes of sleep. Sometimes it asks us to surrender our softest pajama pants and lace up our walking shoes for the greater good, even if we're not quite sure why it matters.
We set out with no grand or holy awakening in mind. I simply wanted to be a more positive presence for the three quirky kids who greet each day with gusto and would surely benefit from their mom at least trying to do the same.
And so we began. We walked almost every morning that year. Day after day, my feet traced the path south, then home again. Rain, shine, under what was often still the cover of night and through the driving snow that makes us ask deep, philosophical questions like, "Does summer really exist? And if so, why does it allow winter to happen to good people?" We walked like a small assembly of sturdy postal carriers saddled not with junk mail, but with backpacks, a violin, and widespread concern over the daily cafeteria menu.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Ministry of Ordinary Places"
Copyright © 2018 Shannan Martin.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Call xv
Part 1 The Lost Art of Paying Attention
1 Who Even Is My Neighbor? 3
2 Locking Eyes with the World We're In 13
3 Speech Therapy for the Common Big Mouth (Like Me) 25
4 Salted Chocolate 37
5 How to Love 45
Part 2 Love Like a Neighbor
6 Misfits, Randoms, and Regulars 57
7 Whopper Extra-Value Meal 65
8 Tacos and Tea 77
9 Searching for Your People 91
10 Nachos by the Hour 99
11 Let's Stop Loving on the Least of These 113
Part 3 Work Like a Neighbor
12 Contact Burns 127
13 We All Are Mothers 137
14 Arms Linked 149
15 Redefining Success 161
Part 4 Love Song for the Long Haul
16 A Theology of Endurance 175
17 The Discipleship of Sticking Around 187
18 Better Homes and Gardens 199
19 We Bloom 207
A Personal Note from Shannan Martin 219
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The author of The Mystery of Ordinary Places, Shannah Martin, added “waking up to God’s goodness around you” to her front cover. This is the perfect way to describe the contents of these pages. Shannan was chasing after the dream. I’m not talking about God’s dream for her life, I’m referencing the American Dream. She was trying to get ahead, to be a bulldog in the workforce, to make a lot of money and get the dream home to match the dream career. But when God gave Shannan and her husband a wake-up call, every dream she ever had became the opposite and God’s goodness shone like the sun. The imagery Shannan uses in her writing will take your breath away. She has a way of taking seemingly ordinary and simple things and allowing you to see them in a new light. She has a way of writing about the everyday occurrences in the life of her and her family and allowing you to read your way into it. She also has a way of taking what we have traditionally seen as ordinary and causing you to rethink it all into something beautiful, magnificent, and mysterious. I found myself highlighting and underlining a quote on almost every single page. This is the type of book you need to sit with and let soak into your bones. It is filled with stories that also translate into practical advice about loving your neighbor. She challenges everything we’ve been taught about what hospitality looks like and shows us the possibility that can see the light of day when we open up our homes, lives, cars, families, meals, and time to those in closest proximity to us. She comes up against the idea that in order to help others we need to have a lot of resources. Shannan tells the stories of her early church experiences. She calls out the harm in some common church practices such as witnessing to people without having a previous relationship with them and the hard truths about doing outreach events in lower income areas. She also talks about the way we have used the gospel to make it fit into the mold of our American dream, instead of being molded and broken to fit into the gospel mold. Shannan speaks of the power of inclusion and belonging to each other. She speaks the truth about addiction by quoting Johann Hari, “…The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is a human connection” She says that essentially, addicts die of loneliness by clinging to whatever brings comfort when they can’t cling to a relationship. She tells the tales of those who have no voice and voices the importance of giving them a safe place to begin to speak openly. Shannan takes the shame out of our leftovers and funky meal pairings to make sure there is enough food for everyone. She reminds us to invite people as they are, and see them as God sees them. She shows us the importance of endurance and deciding to stick it out. She gives us example after example of going against the traditional grain and staying in our uncomfortable situations in order to see the fruit of our faithfulness on the other side. This book is about linking arms and getting dirty with our neighbors. Near and far, all our neighbors, the way Jesus defined being a neighbor. My favorite quote: “My song is always the same: ‘I almost missed this. I almost missed this.'” My favorite chapter: Chapter 16, “A Theology of Endurance”
The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Waking Up to God’s Goodness Around You is Martin’s anthem to God’s goodness in shrinking her world and her calling “down to a pinhole, one solitary shaft of light.” (16) She learned that although the problems that come to us in our news feed are large and insoluble, there are people just around the corner who need a glimpse of hope and maybe a ride to visit their dentist–or their parole officer. The Ministry of Paying Attention When my eyes are focused far ahead or high above my life here on a country hill in Maine, I’m likely to miss God’s calling in the present moment. When Shannan remembered that Jesus admonished us to “pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given,” she became serious about forging relationships with the people who stood outside her church smoking between services. She also knew she would need deeper and wider wisdom to respond in meaningful ways to the voices of her multi-racial, adopted children when they posed questions about skin color. Even though the truth of the Gospel puts tools in our hands for managing the complexity of life on this planet, it turns out that complexity is an acquired taste. I’d much rather trumpet the goodness of God against a backdrop of success and answered prayer than to cling to the knowledge of His goodness in the context of cancer diagnoses and stories of wayward teens and heartbroken parents, and yet Jesus entered time and space to rescue us “from the things we think we want by giving a face to the heart of God.” (39) He alone is equal to this ministry. The Ministry of Flattening Divisions Shannan shares a story from her neighborhood about a woman whose power was about to be shut off in error, but she had no phone to make the necessary calls. With no option but to ask for help, she showed up at the Martin family door asking to use a phone, but finding friendship in the long run. Of course, things could have been very different with Shannan in the “have” seat and her neighbor firmly fixed in the “have nots,” but Shannan’s goal was to defuse this dynamic. By allowing this shy and lonely woman to be the giver at times, she models a redemptive and counter-cultural approach to helping that is sadly lacking in existing welfare systems and charitable efforts. “Most of us want the kind of friendship that is defined by mutuality, where we’re too busy enjoying each other to watch for pecking orders or power rankings. We don’t need more colleagues or service providers. We want two-way streets paved with the truth that life is more bearable when we walk in the same direction.” The Ministry of Sticking Around Five years into their urban neighborhood commitment, the Martin family makes very modest claims for impact or outcome. This rings true for me, a practitioner of mundane faithfulness that looks like showing up with a mediocre casserole for a friend who’s had surgery or opening the Bible in a corner rocking chair in someone’s cozy living room. When God calls us to “the ministry of ordinary places,” we give up the luxury of life from a safe distance in exchange for a discipleship that Eugene Peterson famously defined as “a long obedience in the same direction.” Sticking around in faithfulness to the call of God may look like “less,” but if it is the “more” that God is calling you toward, He has made strong promises that look like abundance to carry us into and through those ordinary places.
This book is amazing. If you're ever wondering how you can live with intention and make the most out of every moment, READ. THIS. BOOK. Popular blogger and now author Shannan Martin shows others what it's like to love your life and love others right where God has planted you. Live with intention in your neighborhood, love those in your city, and make your mission field your street. Ordinary doesn't have to mean boring. It can mean intentional, consistent and committed. In a world where everyone lives more in their phones than in their yards, something that will bring it back to ordinary sounds like just what our neighborhoods need. Make a change. Right where you are!
Shannan Martin wrote The Ministry of Ordinary Places after moving from her “dream life” as an upper middle class married mother in the country to living in a low income neighborhood in the city. After her move she gradually discovered that her purpose was “to love and be deeply loved right where we’re planted, by whomever happens to be near.” The sub-title for her book is “Waking up to God’s goodness round you” and it aptly sums up the book’s purpose. This book is about loving with intention the people that are around us. It is a wonderful memoir-with-a message book. Martin’s book was helpful to me right now as I am dealing with some life transitions. I am seeking to learn more about how God wants to use me now. Martin’s book encourages me to pay attention to what is around me and learn more about the people that I encounter. She encourages us to be quiet and minimize distractions. In contrast to many in America who preach a health-and-wealth gospel, Martin reminds us “we aren’t supposed to live dry-eyed. No, we were made to feel pain. It rends us from ourselves. It smudges our view, hides us away.” As I have been volunteering at the local crisis pregnancy center over the past 18 months, some of Martin’s reality has also been mine. She found that living among the poor caused her to fanaticize less about having more. She now sees her gifts as tool’s for God’s kingdom to be share with all of those around her. That is how I aspire to live my life too. The Ministry of Ordinary Places is an inspiring glimpse into one family’s life of sharing God’s kingdom with the world around them. I highly recommend this book! All quotes are from The Ministry of Ordinary Places. I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book challenged everything I thought I knew about hospitality and serving others. Especially those we may not think "deserve" to be loved or served over and over again. Your eyes will be opened to be able to see people around you...for who they are and how Jesus sees them. You will learn to share what you have instead of clinging tightly to your things and desiring more. It is ALL God's and to be used for His glory! This book took a lot of chewing for me...(ya'll, the titles were almost all food). I have shook my head and thought "she's got this all wrong". I have put the book down and walked away and picked it back up only to threaten to throw it against the wall. My heart is selfish...and this book reveals the deepest places we don't want anyone to see. God will use this book to get your attention and shave the rough edges off your heart if you are willing. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you read and pray your way through each chapter. Eventually, a light bulb will come on and you will "GET IT"! I received an Advance Reader Copy from Harper Collins Christian Publishers. God bless you as you read this, share copies with others and praise Jesus for giving Shannan Martin this word of truth.
Shannan Martin's book, The Ministry of Ordinary Places, has a permanent place in my book collection. I am on my second time through! I felt as though I sat down to talk with her over a cup of tea. I appreciate her genuine transparency as she shares her life in the ordinary and deeply loves those around her in joy and in sadness. She shares her highs and lows as she opens her eyes and grows in paying attention to those around her, and what she sees is beauty. Beauty in the hard places. She challenges me to open my eyes, pay attention, and be available to love those around me in my community. I'm encouraged that in the ordinary everyday life, I, too, can be open to all those God has called me to love and share life with in their joys and sorrows. If we all took her message to heart, it would change our homes, our communities, our nation, our world. I highly recommend The Ministry of Ordinary Places.
My first experience reading Shannan Martin was her book "Falling Free" It is one of my most favorite books I have read. Her new book Ministry of Ordinary Places is just as great. Shannan has a way of making you feel like you are sitting at the coffee table chatting with her over a cup of warm coffee or tea. I love the stories she shares about her family in this book. And helps us all to understand that we can all do ministry in those ordinary places of our every day lives. I love this quote "This world, it will change us in so many uncomfortable, astonishing ways." Shannan's words are filled with truth and hope. Order your copy TODAY (It's book birthday is today!) ! I promise you won't be disappointed. I received an Advance Reader Copy from Harper Collins Christian Publishers.
Shannan Martin challenges readers not to settle for a sedentary Christian life, spent waiting for God to reveal our calling or wondering if there is a grander calling waiting for us. She encourages us to look right outside our homes and work places to find our mission fields, then get to the business of simple, ordinary caring for others and sticking around in their lives. The book is an enjoyable and meaningful read, filled with examples of loving others well from Shannan's community. It is challenging me to reevaluate how I interact (or don't) with my neighbors and where I might love and serve when it would be easier to turn away. Shannan's message of deeply loving and being loved wherever we are planted is timeless and relevant for any reader. It's a book I will be referencing for years to come. I received an Advance Reader Copy from Harper Collins Christian Publishers.
Have you always wondered what it would be like to be a missionary? Travel the globe, minister to others who are in need, share the love of Christ with them? Guess what? You already are a missionary, if you choose to serve the people right around you! Open your eyes to the ministry of the ordinary, as shared by Shannan in this articulate, engaging read. She shares many personal stories of what happened when she took off her blinders, relocated her family to a more multicultural neighborhood, and began investing in those around her. Shannan is very real, open and honest. If you think that choosing to live this way is easy and pain free..it is not. There are real hurts, real tears and lots that you'd like to help that perhaps you can't. You could invest and never see an immediate return..but that's what makes the sacrifice sweet amongst the bitter. I enjoyed the lyrical way Shannan writes, as she sees her neighborhood with new eyes--ones that seek the good, the beauty stuck in the middle of concrete, the pain and needs. The choice to watch without participating versus rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty is one we can all make. Why complain, why feel lonely and see others struggling with the same issues you are? I plan on sharing this book with those I love and feel honored to be an early reader. I received an early reader copy and chose to review. All opinions are my own.
Shannan Martin has a way of painting the most lovely of pictures as she takes you through her neighborhood. She opens your eyes to what it means to truly love your neighbor, to love right where you are no matter your surroundings. Planted in the middle of an often over looked community, Shannan and the Martin family open their eyes, hearts and home to the ordinary people and places around them, only to find out that it's all rather extraordinary after all. With a lighthearted touch, she brings the truth about living in community in a hard hitting way. Many times I found myself astounded as I began to see things through her lens. My pages are underlined, highlighted, journaled and sketched on as I found my way through her story; which is ultimately our story. I am so encouraged to starting truly seeing the people around me as my neighbors, lovely, ordinary and just like me. Don't wait, order your copy today & while you're at it, grab a few more for your new neighbors
In this follow-up to her compelling memoir, Falling Free, Shannan Martin takes readers a step deeper into the waters of “love God, love people.” She opens the definition of people–not limited to or excluding those just like us or vastly different from us. Shannan draws a picture of love. As she fills it in with color, she paints a little outside the lines of church programs and one-day “least of these” events. The Ministry of Ordinary Places is rich with layer-upon-layer of love in action. Not only does Shannan write with poetic grace, but she also digs deep into the fertile ground of loving others. She lives and writes across the line of comfortable Christianity and invites us to join her there. Life isn’t always easy over there, but it’s the where the gospel calls us to go.
“I wish I could reassure us that God just wants us to be happy.” Shannan is privileged in many ways, but has learned many lessons by being present in a place many would consider “undesirable”. I was hooked on this book immediately- the introduction made me cry. There were so many times I was nodding my head in agreement or re-reading passages to my husband. I could quote here so many good passages! “We might have a zillion reasons to be jaded about our world, but that is not the kind of person I want to be. I want to be someone who clings to the grace & the gift & the good... I want to belong, just as I am, & I want to get better at loving people for every good & puzzling thing they are.” This book contains the reminders I needed to hear & the push that we can serve others around us, we don’t need to travel far. Receiving an advanced copy of this book was a privilege. I appreciate the opportunity to review and share my thoughts with others.