About the Author

Shannan Martin is the author of Falling Free: Rescued From the Life I Always Wanted, wife of a jail chaplain, and mom to four kiddos. She's a big believer in community and salsa, and blogs at ShannanMartinWrites.com.

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  1. This loving business is hard work but I’m slowly learning that it’s worth it, the smoky hair for the sparkly bits.

    “The best stuff is happening slowly, steadily, right here in our hearts, where the iron meets the rails.”

  2. Shannan,
    “We turn and run back to our comfortable filth…” Even when Christ rescues us from the cliff, instead of running into Him, we run back to our old comfortable ways. So thankful for His mercy that urges me on to love Him and to love others as I love myself. He patiently shows us how.
    Thanks for sharing a piece of your story and food for thought for us.
    Blessings,
    Bev

  3. Gosh, you write so beautifully, putting into words this often sludgy trek that is following Christ. Thank you Shannan and may God hold both your hands tightly at the moment as you endeavour to walk on. xx

  4. Thanks for sharing. What a great perspective for me as I begin the day.
    The heart-breaker weeks are the hard ones. So glad that God has put you in a place to be a blessings admist a ‘train wreck.’
    Blessings and (((hugs)))!

  5. Shannan, I love your writing and your heart and I will follow you where ever you are writing and if you need encouragement, I am your girl!
    Love me. Love them. A lot. That really is what it is all about – forget the Hokey Pokey – Love’s what it’s all about!

  6. Life often seems like one long road during the difficult times and a fasttrak during the good times. But God. He’s there right in the middle of it all, holding, loving, & guiding us safely through. And when we are built up in Him, He uses us to be a light for others. Thanks for the reminder Shannon!

  7. I love the very end. Sometimes I start at the end… to work my way back up the track. You said it sooo well. Thank you.

    Sometimes the train derails.

    And we wait.

    Because it’s one thing to fast-track a Kroger-run, but when it comes to community, when it comes to learning God’s goodness and bearing witness to His grace, there’s just no rush. The best stuff is happening slowly, steadily, right here in our hearts, where the iron meets the rails.

    • I sort of love that you sometimes start at the end.
      I used to do that, but I stopped. And I only realize this now.
      I wonder why?
      I like the idea of shifting my perspective a bit.
      Thanks for the kindness, Janet.

  8. Love your transparency…and know this train literally and figuratively. Right there with you…lots of question marks and snot on my side of the tracks too.
    So glad you are writing here!!

  9. Oh friend, I love this and you and your heart. Also: I do the SAME thing with our train tracks! ha 🙂 of course I do.

  10. There’s so much truth in this post I hardly know where to begin. Community takes time. Stuff happens and people fail. And yet we’re always trying to rush it. Always trying to get to the next “level,” whatever that is, with people.

    I think of Jesus and how He spent three years with His disciples. Surely they were closer at the end than at the beginning. But we try to skip all that. We don’t want the hardship, the ups and downs.

    Thank you for sharing this and for giving me much to think on.

  11. Thank you Shannon for your lovely and thought-provoking post. In addition ladies…your responses and reflection is so helpful! I read everyone and learn so much from you all. For any of you who are mothers, Happy Mother’s Day weekend!

  12. “This is the risk we all take when we embrace the foolish courage of God’s economy and walk in the truth that He alone can carry hurting people straight from the lives burning down around them.

    We know this because our own hair still carries the lingering scent of smoke.”

    Why is the risk so hard? Because we are scared of the lingering?

    Ahhh…your words. So needed and necessary and real.

    Thank you, as always, for speaking straight to the depths of where I feel God so strongly leading.
    Love,
    Amber 🙂

  13. i can appreciate your life with train tracks. i lived in a town for 15 years that had tracks i had to negotiate multiple times every day to get from “our side” to the “right side.”

    it’s one thing to sit idling behind the red striped gate and let it pass.

    it’s another thing ENTIRELY to stand on the sidewalk and almost get blown over by the wind, the grit, the heat, the kicked up trash, and the exhaust. pedestrians can’t escape the sensory overload that train’s passing causes. there are no windows to roll up or music to crank louder.

    authentic community is M.E.S.S.Y., and you’re living the life of the pedestrian at the RR crossing. you’re doing just what Jesus did: He waded into the mess, touched the lepers, ate with the outcasts, and invited the crooks into his inner circle. no one would ever accuse Him of making poor relational decisions, so don’t rethink your choice while things look bleak.

    thanks for being honest and for keepin’ it real. enjoy the night sounds and the occasional whistle for me. we lived close enough to our tracks that our house shook a little every time a train passed. i miss that.

  14. So blessed to have had a friend share this today. My husband and I are houseparents to 7 teenage boys, in addition to our own small children… and I am “weary at the roadside,” searching for some “sparkly bits.”

    “He says we’re worth this risk, so it just can’t matter that the job He gave us is slow or that it might leave us weary at the roadside.”

    Thank you for these words.

  15. Thank you Shannan for opening up once again to us, I am so glad to see your writing your heart out right here on this blog as well.

    I just had the AH HA moment, when you said that God loves us and some times WE go back to the “bad” things but he never gives up on us! Now I know that the “things” you think will never change in your life really does not matter because at some point they will and our job is just to love each other like he loves us.

    This is hitting me right in the face today, just what God wanted me to hear from this. THANK YOU! ~hugs~

  16. Oh man this is wonderful, loved every sentence. Your words are a gift to us all. Honest and beautiful. Thank you!

  17. “He says we’re worth this risk, so it just can’t matter that the job He gave us is slow or that it might leave us weary at the roadside.”

    Preach! *dual hand snaps in the air*

    Thank you for the humbling reminder that He risks his heart for us too-each day. He extends the love and grace hopeful that we are committed to this whole business of loving right along His side. I often forget that He has feelings too.

  18. You know what?…when we first moved to our little town I was woken in the night by the train…I thought it was coming right through our bedroom!! Love your heart, thanks for sharing it and keeping it real.

  19. You have a way of weaving beauty into the not so beautiful and somehow that allows it to be redeemed. So glad you share your heart and your faith with us.

  20. Oh Shannan,

    So thankful to have found you- you put into words what my heart is feeling most days as I travel this hard path with my child. Be ever thankful for the support of your husband- mine is not walking with the Lord any more ( he just gave up) and so I do this alone…

  21. bah.

    “He says we’re worth this risk, so it just can’t matter that the job He gave us is slow or that it might leave us weary at the roadside.”

    please never stop sharing what He is teaching you! such a privilege to hear/read/soak it up/see what He’s doing!

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  23. First of all, congrats on your first post here! You’re perfect for this place because you really do encourage…or incourage. Whatever. : ) And you’ll keep it real and quirky and awesome and that’s my favorite combo.

    This post. Girl, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry your hearts are breaking and for all that seems unfixable. But you are there, wreckage and all. That’s all you can do. Be there. Keep loving. Keep feeding. It’s not yours to fix. {That last sentence is one my one husband just texted me today. It seems mess is everywhere.}

    Happy Mother’s Day, friend.

  24. “The best stuff is happening slowly, steadily, right here in our hearts, where the iron meets the rails.” Thank you Shannan, for reminding us (so cleverly and wisely!) that Slow and Steady win the race. I tend to be task-driven and in a hurry; God values perseverance and trust.

  25. Well, first I have to say how happy I am to see your words here, Shannan. I just can’t stop grinning over the grace and goodness that is YOU.

    And as one who runs to the comfortable filth more often than I care to admit – especially when I am roadside weary – you help give me the push I need to keep on keepin’ on. To not only believe God means what He says but know it’s worth it to do what He asks, too.

    Thank you, Shannan. Wonderful post. xo

  26. I love the way you write. I felt your heart and loved your honest realness. When we’re really about Gods business it gets the devil mad “BUT” even if it doesn’t work out as quickly or as easily as we hope, I will worship you Lord! There’s the heart attitude that carries us through the tough stuff

  27. Shannan, I’m so thrilled your words are here in this place. They are always such a gift!

    The truth is I’m always tempted to duck and cover when the shrapnel starts to fly. But oh how I want to love God and love his people instead of retreating.

  28. Where the iron meets the rail……that’s just got me tonight. It’s where the good, hard, beautiful stuff happens.

  29. Isn’t it wonderful to know that even when the train derails there is One who is at the end of the tracks; arms wide open ready to embrace us after a collision? Mercy lathers us in arms of Grace & Peace. We must hold on for the ride! Great Devo…. bless ngs

  30. Yes, yes, yes! “He alone can carry hurting people straight from the lives burning down around them.” Need this as a daily reminder as I love and support socioeconomically disadvantaged middle school kiddos as a school social worker. Sometimes the load seems too much…thankful (every time) for your raw, real words.

  31. Your train metaphor is spot-on! Your posts always leave my heart all twisted up in the best and most challenging ways. I teach at an urban alternative high school and this year more than ever, I find myself ALL IN for these kids. Most days their pasts, families, and choices derail any small steps of growth, as our culture tends to recognize it. I pray God’s lavish grace and love for me spills over them. Shannan, Happy Mother’s Day and blessings to you whether you are flying over the tracks or waiting at the crossing. You are changing lives. Love you-

  32. I love this so… and you… and I have been praying for you this week – believing with you that Love will have His way! So happy to find you here, at another one of my favorite places!

  33. My first comment ever – even though I’ve been reading your blog for over a year. This train post really inspired me to write! (I’m referring to the literal train here!). When we bought our first house 17 years ago, we were soooo worried that the train was so close and LoUD! Our new neighbors assured us we would get to the point of not even hearing it- they were right! My LOVE for that very train came after I had my two boys. There precious faces would light up at the first sign of the train and they would bolt to the couch under the window and watch it pass every time. It makes me teary remembering how adorable that was and how much they loved loved loved anything train related. When we sold that house 11 years ago and prospective buyers expressed concern, I would tell them how much we loved our train. I can still sometimes hear it in quiet nights, as we are a few blocks away, it makes me so happy. Yes, it holds me up regularly but I think of two little boys ( now teens). Hope you learn to love yours like I do!
    PS- LOve your family – darling darling kiddoes!!!

  34. Being drawn to the shortcut even though it might cost you? Yes. I will be thinking a lot about that and ways not to do it. Beautiful words. Funny how your post about dark days feels so sunny and hopeful. Must be Him. xoxo

  35. congratulations lady! happy you’re posting over here.

    your words are clear and true, like droplets of love, hope, and even grief – I love to sit and soak up your message, knowing full well that I must get up and do something with the wisdom you’ve imparted.

  36. Interesting post! Loving your neighbors is hard. Much much easier to run to what is comfortable. Getting out of your comfort zone is hard work!

    Prayers for you as you trek through life and try to beat the train!