When I read that Melanie Shankle had a new book, Church of the Small Things, coming out, I was thrilled. She has been one of my favorite authors for years, and quite honestly, she doesn’t write books fast enough for me. Because if it was up to me, I’d like one every 6 months, thank you very much!
Melanie’s books are part memoir, part comedy, part heartfelt philosophy, part perspective shifting and completely enjoyable. She’s written a book on motherhood, Sparkly Green Earrings, one on marriage, Antelope in the Living Room, and one on friendship, Nobody’s Cuter than You. I’ve loved them all. But then there’s Church of the Small Things….friends….I’m struggling to find the words to express how deeply this book has affected me.
I was thrilled to be chosen to be on her book launch team, and even more excited to be chosen to be on her ‘blog tour’ of bloggers who shared reviews of the book. When I asked for a Friday in October to have my post go up, I thought I had plenty of time. And I did! I had a whole blog post written in my mind. A couple, actually. Pages of notes. And as life has the habit of doing….it got in the way of my plans. Weeks turned into days and my post still wasn’t written. But, as God so often does….He reminded me that He has called me to write for Him and not me. That my timing isn’t His timing.
And the reason that I hadn’t written this review yet was because I wasn’t ready.
But I know now that I am. And what I’m about to share with you is nothing that I planned. I do plan to write the posts I have notes and ideas for. But those aren’t for today.
For today I need to let you in on a part of my life I’d rather not.
The last 2 weeks have been really, really hard.
I’ve referred to them on more than one occasion to friends as crappy. (sorry…just being real)
The details, which matter….but also don’t, are that there have been a number of close people in my life making bad decisions. The kinds that have big consequences. To them, to others, to my family. The kinds that hurt hearts, including mine.
The kinds of consequences that hurt to watch unfold. Unsettle me. Keep me up at night. Make me doubt myself, my parenting, the choices I’ve made in the past.
And I know that I will wrestle through this in the coming weeks. It’s not over…but the one thing I know is that God will use all of this to bring me closer to Him and bring Him glory. How soon, I don’t know. But I know His promises, and I trust Him and His timing.
So how does all of this fit in with Church of the Small Things?
I might not seem to at ground level. But the truth is, as my mind is cluttered with decisions, emotions, worries, God has lovingly, sweetly reminded me of the one of the messages of this book.
The situations I’m going through are no surprise to God. Through them I’ve seen Him be faithful. I’ve seen friends love me in tangible ways. I’ve seen my husband and I be united on things we could’ve disagreed and argued about. I’ve prayed with renewed vigor.
A few years ago, these problems would’ve been catastrophic to me and my faith. I might have fallen apart. But because of who God has helped me become, I am leaning on Him in ways I never could have. I’m trusting Him in ways I never have.
And I am truly learning to delight in the church of the small things.
This might mean taking an extra second to enjoy the sunrise. Remember a sweet memory that had been long forgotten. Savoring the cuddle of a child. Taking a moment to thank the girl in the drive thru and tell her to have a good day.
Did I do these things before?
But on the rare occasion that I did, it didn’t feel important. I simply noticed. But now, I feel a shift deep in my spirit. One that signals how my heart is changing. How my mind is changing. How I now whisper little prayers of gratitude throughout my day.
I have so many small wonders in my days. In my life. And by focusing on them and the One who gave them to me, I realize that God is slowly shaping me to be more like Him. Slllllllooooooooowly, but surely.
His work in me will not be done until I reach heaven, but He is faithful to continue to help me grow in love for Him and His people. Help me grow in bringing Him glory. Help me grow in wanting to make Him famous instead of me.
I have a long, long way to go…but I know as I focus on the church of the small things, I will not doubt that God can use small moments to bring significance to my life. That He can and will use the small, holy moments of my life to shape me into the woman He wants me to be.
And that’s all I could ever hope for.
I know this post has gone much deeper than a typical book review. But that’s the part about this book that makes it so special. I could tell you how Melanie writes about Sunday afternoon naps listening to football on TV (hello…one of my favorite things!), how I laughed until I cried, about the pitfalls of getting bangs, white couches and how her dogs are canine delinquents..because all of these things are in the book. And more! You might laugh until you cry, and you might just cry, because this message is the balm for your unsettled heart like it was for mine. And you might just love the book because Melanie is charming, hilarious and has a gift for sharing stories that make you feel like you were there. No matter the reason you think you would like to read this book, I promise, you will! Get yourself a copy. I promise it won’t disappoint!