Falling Free - A Book Review & Giveaway

Preface :: Every now and then I get all crazy obsessive about a book or something and go ballistic on social media outlets. #Sorrynotsorry I just love sharing the things I love with you. But all that to say, I want to clarify again, this blog & my social media outlets are not for sale. I choose to NEVER get compensated for my reviews because I like to keep this space as authentic as possible. I want you to know and trust that when I say I love something, it’s because I REALLY LIKE IT, not because there’s an ulterior motive. This has been an intentional choice of mine… so carry on friends and know that I’m about to totally 186% recommend something, and regardless of whether you click on the link or not… I will still receive ZERO dollars at the end of the day. So you should probably just go ahead and click on the link and buy the book anyways. YOU’RE WELCOME.

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Y’all, I posted an article by Shannan Martin a few weeks ago YELLING at you to go pre-order her book and I wasn’t kidding. I have officially finished Falling Free, and I cannot tell you how much I love it. (But I can tell you that if you’re related to me, there’s a 100% chance you’ll be getting this book for Christmas. So SURPRISE! Get excited.).

if you know me well, you know I love to read. A lot. And I’ve noticed a trend in Christian literature as of late. There are a lot books about Jesus that are inspiring, self-help books that give tips on how to make our Christian lives better. This book isn’t that; in fact it’s opposite. Falling Free is a memoir about how letting go of the perfect Christian life freed Shannan to live the life Christ had always called her to. In Falling Free you’ll hear stories of infertility, adoption, loss, hard relationships, beauty, meals spent with people with addictions, jail records, and sending kids to that school with the bad reviews. You'll hear her successes and her failures, her dreams and her crushed plans, but mostly you get a front row seat to God wrecking her calling and giving her a new one. It’s funny, relatable, but mostly convicting. 

In an age where the American dream is mixed together with Christian moralism, this book strips away our tendency for more and pushes for less. Shannan does a fantastic job at not writing a “how-to” book, but rather a collection of life experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly. Her storytelling inspires readers to pursue Jesus and his love for the marginalized, all the while examining our own hearts. 

Here are a few quotes from the book that hit home for me:

“It’s hard to pine for heaven when you already believe you’re there.”

(Oh OKAY Shannan, don't pull any punches now.)

and...

“We so often say we believe that there is no safer place than the center of God’s will, but we refuse to believe he would ever lead us to places of brokenness or danger.”

(Welp, I had to sit on that one for a while & really evaluate my prayer for God's will in my life).

and...

Y'all, as you can see from just the quotes... this book kicked my tail in the best of ways. 

So much of my hard-wiring as a southerner who values hospitality was challenged. Shannan’s realistic perspective about home, life, and community really convicted me to care less about what was served around the table and to care more about who should have a seat at the table. And as our family embarks on a move to Texas, it really has changed the way we look at the housing market, schools, church, and the many other choices we’ll make during this upcoming transition.

I could go on and on, but the truth is… you need this book. I need this book. The church needs this book. My only regret is that I haven’t lived a life that would qualify me able to write it. 

So do yourself a favor and meet Shannan Martin and pre-order Falling Free. You won’t regret it. 

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And BECAUSE I LOVE YALL & IT SO STINKIN MUCH. I'm offering a give away over on Instagram. The rules are pretty simple:

1. Follow me on Instagram

2. Just comment on the post on Instagram and leave your email address in the comment below! If you don't want to post your email address publicly just DM it to me!

I'll post the winner on Friday by noon on Instagram. 

Much love y'all,

Posted on September 14, 2016 and filed under Things I love---, Reviews.

A Post for The Fallen & The Shamed :: There's Room at Our Table for You.

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I’ve noticed a trend on the interwebs as of late. Many feel-good blog posts are for folks who have been wounded or walked through immense suffering. Don’t get me wrong, as someone who has seen grey days, I resonate 110%. But lately God has opened my eyes not only to the wounded, but to the wounders as well. 

So today I have a message for those of you with BIG mistakes. To those of you weighed down with guilt, shame, and regret… 

You are wanted, you are loved, and there is room for you in our homes. There is room for you in our churches. There is room for you in our social circles. There is a seat waiting for you at the table of grace.

Did you mess up big? Have you fallen from society’s good grace? 

No worries, me too.

And I have a word for you today.

Get back up and come sit with us at the table. You might believe that you’ve utterly messed up your life, but I’m here to tell you that a feast is just around the corner. 

“No, you don’t understand what I’ve done,” you say. And you’re right, I don’t know the details of your shame. But what I do know is that God does His greatest work in the most broken places, during the darkest hour. Redemption has always been His strong suit. 

Our hodgepodge heroes of the faith were prostitutes, liars, doubters, adulterers, and murderers (just to name a few), and trust me when I tell you that there’s nothing you can do to out-sin some of God’s best. Not to mention, when Jesus walked this earth, He ate with tax collectors and sinners, people like you and me. And when Pharisees, the religious rule followers, rolled their eyes about the company He kept, Jesus replied, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick… I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

You see, it feels good to sit in church and hear how David, a man after God’s own heart cheated, manipulated, and killed. But it’s much more difficult to do the hard work and say, “I am David, and He loves me still,” or equally hard to be like Joseph and say, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. I forgive you.” 

This is the Gospel and the table of grace you’re welcome to. It’s a table full of misfits and mistake makers, rebels with restored hearts, and I want you to know that today, there’s a seat for you here. 

But before you sit down, let me first say this. 

I’m sorry.

You see the church has this beautiful messy job of being the hands and feet of Jesus, and sometimes, (ahem most of the time), we don’t do it perfectly. But in spite of our brokenness, Jesus left the keys to His kingdom in the hands of a bunch of zealous misfits who rarely get it right. 

And sometimes, in pursuit of holiness we get caught up in our self-righteousness, instead of His righteousness. We “do good” to those it feels good to “do good” to, and forget that the greatest good we could ever do is love our neighbors as ourselves, even if... no, especially if our neighbor is that guy who was charged with embezzling, or that girl who has a reputation. Or what about that brother or sister who wounded us? We can forgive others, but not them; the wound is too deep. Instead of grace upon grace, we heap coals of shame and cries for justice upon each other’s failed shoulders as we pridefully thank God that we’re not like that person.

 Jesus loved the outsider, the doubter, the guy who stole money from others, the woman who had been with multiple men. The broken, messed up people that religious folk turned away, these were the people God-incarnate sought out. Yet we hide our reputations behind the appearance of holiness and keep the folks Jesus loved most at arms length.

We forget that it’s not our reputation we boast in, rather it’s in the one we’ve been given. Not earned by any good deed we’ve accomplished, but by one good deed done once and for ALL. We bought the lie - hook, line, and sinker - that we aren't one of you. We believe the lie that we're all better now, and that the sin nature we were born with is gone now that we've said a prayer. 

And for that, I say, We Are SORRY. I am sorry. We have failed you by making you feel like you aren’t good enough or cleaned up enough or like you don't belong here. The truth is, none of us ever were good enough and we still aren’t.

We’re sorry for creating A-teams and B-teams, varsity and jv, when the gospel says ALL of us are big sinners in need of a BIGGER Savior.

We are sorry for pushing you out, rather than drawing you in. 

But that’s the thing about this beautiful messy table of grace, we all are wounded and wound each other. And all at the table must learn to both dish out and receive forgiveness like it's Thanksgiving Pie. 

So today, I’m begging you. Come sit with us, forgive us, find your place of rest here amongst other sinners like you. Start the journey of healing with us by your side and a God who is fighting for you always, because we’re all healing from something. And by sitting with us, sharing your story, letting us walk these messy days with you, you bless us. You help us see Jesus better by letting us sit with you in your broken story, as we ask you to sit with us in ours. Because make no mistake, regardless of pretense, everyone at the table of grace has a broken story and our common denominator is that we are all deeply loved by a gracious God.   

So today, if you’ve fallen, get back up.

Have you messed up big? Redemption awaits. 

There’s room for you at this table, always has been, always will be. Have a seat and enjoy the feast. Be known, be loved, you are welcome here. 

Posted on September 1, 2016 and filed under Story, Spiritual Journey, Suffering.

Twinsies Turn 4

I was out wrangling my crew at Mama Mecca the other day (aka Target) when a seasoned mama, with grey in her hair and wrinkles around her eyes, stopped me. She talked to the girls and fawned over Jude, and then she turned to me with tears in her eyes and said, “You have a beautiful family. Don’t blink, it really goes too quickly.” 

I’ve heard this sentiment a thousand times, and every time it strikes a note in this weary mama’s heart. 

She gently squeezed my arm, and then left me in my un-showered, dry shampooed, no make-up, hot-mess-whirlwind feeling like I had won the lottery to get to just BE in that moment. And I was truly so thankful. 

Truth be told, 30 minutes prior I was yelling at my children to HURRY UP, GET IN THE CAR, WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES, DON’T PICK YOUR BROTHER’S NOSE, AND WHY DO YOU HAVE TO PEE NOW THAT YOU’RE BUCKLED IN???? We Salmons aren’t great at transitions I’m learning. Fuses are short, children are children, and this mama is always on the go… hurry hurry hurry. 

But that sweet seasoned mama, with grandbabies of her own, really blessed me by helping me remember to slow down & enjoy these chaotic days. The days truly pass by so slowly, and yet so quickly. 

The twins turned four a few weeks ago and my mama heart can't take it. I told someone the other day that I’m pretty sure I’m not going to survive motherhood. I’m already weepy about the small milestones like birthdays (it's 4, they're not turning 13 for heaven's sake! And I canNOT even start thinking about 16 #JesusTakeTheWheel #literally). They're running around still all cuddly and I'm all HOW AM I GOING TO SEND THEM TO COLLEGE????!!!!

YALL, I’m gonna have to get a grip or that Ben Salmon is going to have quite the time reminding me that they’re simply arrows in our quiver. They were made to fly and never mine to begin with. 

And boy do those girls know how to fly. 

(Someone hold me.)

Well my independent sassy girls wanted a Dory/Nemo themed bday party so a week prior Ben and I looked at each other and said, “OH SHOOT, it’s the twins' bday next week!!” So we texted our friends (no invites bc BLESS #hotmess) and off we went to the Dollar Store. 

I wanted to blog these photos because so many of them capture the epitome of who the girls are during this season. It was truly such a fun day celebrating their vibrant little lives. So without further adieu, the girls’ 4th bday… (And for those of you who still can't tell them apart, Felicity is in the Blue swim top, Noel is in the Pink). 

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And just like that... they're 4. And 20% of their time with us is gone... That sweet grandmama was right, it just goes by too quickly.

Much love,

Posted on August 20, 2016 and filed under Family, Twinsies.