Today is the release of the new book, Falling Free by Shannan Martin.
Since I received an advanced copy of the book, I am almost finished reading it. I will warn you this is not an easy read. Which is exactly why you need to read it. Seriously, go buy your copy now.
Shannon is a mom, blogger, writer and speaker who answered God’s call to uproot her perfect, farmhouse life and move to the other side of the tracks in the city. Her friends were shocked at the idea that of her family leaving their safe, happy home in the country. Trading picket fences for chain link, Shannon transferred her kids to the local, challenged public school. Her husband became chaplain at the jail. They regularly opened their doors to their neighbors, inviting them over for dinner.
In Falling Free, Shannon describes how God stripped away everything she thought she ever wanted from life, but gave her a new way of living that is SO MUCH MORE than she ever desired.
“Shannan’s story feels at once familiar and spectacular, ordinary and exceptional. You will discover that at the same time her words make you squirm, you will wish you lived next door to her. You will want her wisdom and you will want her pickles.” —Jen Hatmaker (from the foreword)
I agree with Jen Hatmaker, Falling Free made me uncomfortable. It made me question if I am living out God’s calling for my life. My life is comfortable and, probably like you, I LIKE living in my comfort zone.
While I don’t think it is everyone’s calling to sell their home and move into disadvantaged neighborhoods like Shannon, I do believe that we need to consider what life would look like if we lived beyond our comfort zone. Below is a list of questions I wrote down for myself while reading Falling Free. You may also want to ask yourself:
- Are you only serving others who are just like you? Who live is similar neighborhoods, go to the same church or school?
- Are you asking God to use your talents to bless and serve others?
- Are you asking God to open your eyes to where you need to serve? Could this be somewhere outside your “safe” bubble?
- What is stopping you from stepping outside your comfort zone?
- Is fear or insecurity holding you back? What could happen if you fought that fear?
More is Found in Less
Shannan discovered that God’s MORE is found in LESS.
Once I started to let this idea sink in, it was actually a relief! God is not asking me for more, he is asking for less. Less selfishness, less accumulating stuff, less commitments on my calendar. Over the past year, I have been in a season of spending more time with God and less time seeking the desires of my heart. Over the next few months, I will share what He has put on my heart. But I can tell you it is about God’s MORE. It will look more like opening my heart (and maybe my home), gathering people in community (and maybe around the table) and sharing my story.
Like Shannon, I am a mom, blogger, writer and follower of Jesus. The desire of my heart is to write books and (hopefully) influence the people who read them. However to get a book published, you must prove to a publisher that people will buy (and read) your book. You need to have a sphere of influence. Usually this comes from an established presence online, like a blog.
I have blogged for over 7 years. During that span of time, I created and wrote three blogs; Suiresphere, Food and Fitness 4 Real and StephanieSuire.com. At one point, with Food and Fitness 4 Real, I built up a significant number of readers and considered my blog a success. I was making money from sponsored posts and ad networks, getting free race entries and connecting with companies to try their products. However, I gained this readership by imitating others. Writing about their topics, posting the same number of times a week, attending the same conferences. Imitation is a form of flattery but soon I got tired of trying to be someone else. While I learned a lot about social media and marketing, I felt like I never truly found my voice.
About a year ago, I launched StephanieSuire.com and have been searching to find my writing style and voice. If you measure the success of my blog by hits, views and readers, it would be my biggest failure. I have less readers after a year than I did after the first month with Food and Fitness 4 Real. It is discouraging but God is gently reminding me that MORE is found in LESS.
A Snail’s Pace
Yesterday while working out at the gym during lunch, I listened to Shannan on the Happy Half Hour podcast with Jamie Ivey. While the podcast was not entirely about Falling Free, Shannan shared the one thing that she attributes to her success. It was that her writing her writing career that developed at a snail’s pace. Instead of finding success soon after she started writing and blogging, Shannan experienced years of doing her own thing while no one really cared or noticed. This gave her time to know herself and understand how important authenticity was in her writing, without outside expectations or pressure.
Years to learn now to become a writer. That sounds familiar.
Not only did Shannan’s book open my eyes to giving God more, I realize that my blog is about less. Less readers, less sponsored posts and less pressure to be perfect. StephanieSuire.com is my own private, personal space to practice my writing without worrying about outside expectations. To learn authenticity with my writing and to get to know myself. Of course, I still share my blog publicly and I love to hear from you! All five of you. Leave me comments, ask me questions, share with me what you are struggling with or where you are succeeding. Share with me how God is doing More with Less in your life. Let’s share this journey together.