Hello there, friends,
It's always an honor when someone says they like what we're doing here at hello there, friend. But it is truly amazing when someone reaches out to say hello and thank you. This May, Shanna Mallon did just that. We received her email and quickly realized she's embodying so much of what we hold dear. From there, it's been good to get to know her better, read her blog, and follow her on social media. She's a deep thinker, curious and creative, and I'm always blessed by what she shares. We are truly excited to share a bit more about her with you today!
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who loves Jesus. She’s been blogging about food and everything else at Food Loves Writing since 2008, and finds everyday beauty arresting enough to still keep at the practice. Based in Nashville, Shanna works from home alongside her husband, Tim, and their toddler, Rocco.
As self-employed parents of a 16-month-old, a lot of our day revolves around our toddler’s schedule. It starts when we all wake up at 7 a.m., and one of us gets Rocco and takes him to the kitchen for fruit breakfast while the other makes the bed and opens the blinds to launch the new day. Typically, we take turns showering and getting ready, one of us in the bathroom and one of us with Rocco. From there, we’re reading our Bibles and then juggling time on our computers with time chasing him around the house, working while he naps, making him or us food, cleaning up messes, letting the other go into the office with the door closed to focus, etc. Some days, Tim goes to meetings outside the house, and that’s when Rocco and I keep up the routine solo. It’s also when I typically get less done.
If all goes well, I’m done with my main projects for the day by 3 or 4 p.m., at which point I start dinner while Rocco plays nearby or naps, depending on how the day is going. We don’t eat until 6 o’clock, but I’ve discovered that I save myself a lot (!) of stress when dinner and at least some cleanup is taken care of before the bedtime rush. After dinner, Rocco gets a bath, a story and a song. At 7 p.m., he’s down for the night and is truly out until morning.
Weeknights, I meet with some women who are all reading through the Bible together one night, and Tim meets up with some guys who talk and pray another night. At least one other evening is usually spent socializing in some capacity, either with people at our house or one or both of us out, and that gives us two more nights to be at home, spending time together or finishing up work that still needs to be done.
My friend Sarah Kate Branine wrote a post recently, "The Needed Intersection," in which she talked about the value of gratitude, not just for the beautiful, sweet parts of life, but also for the hard, painful bits. It’s been on my mind ever since, reminding me a lot of Ann Voskamp’s idea in One Thousand Gifts. When I start to see everything -- from disappointment in a relationship to the way the light hits the table during dinner prep -- as a gift being given to me, at exactly that moment, with purpose, it changes everything. For me, practicing gratitude has been one of the most joy-producing, life-changing disciplines of my life.
I love connection, so maybe it’s no surprise to say that, in different seasons of life, I have tried almost everything to stay connected to loved ones -- texts, emails, “let’s hang out” invitations, cards, FaceTime, visits, social media. Sometimes it’s worked, and sometimes it hasn’t. That’s why I’d say one of the most liberating, sobering parts of becoming an adult has been, instead making connection the goal, making love the goal. I have found that I can always seek the other person’s best good, whether or not we’re in the same place or in busy seasons or whatever. So while I still do a lot of those same things to seek connection, my goal is different. I ask the Lord to keep my heart open and soft to the ones I love, whether or not I am talking to them all the time, and in turn I think I am in a better position to truly love, whether or not I get the fulfilling connection I desire. I am seeing that this kind of love, the kind that seeks the best good of the ones I love, without demanding response, gives more freedom and more joy, regardless of results.
I am a big fan of The Rabbit Room and have found many favorite writers through essays published there. I love Lanier Ivester, Rebecca K. Reynolds and Sarah Clarkson, for example. I also just discovered Susan Branch, who started hand-painting cookbooks the year I was born, turning a painful divorce into the start of a new life. Her recent set of dreamy, illustrated memoirs, especially Martha's Vineyard: Isle of Dreams, are unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
I am almost embarrassed by the mounting stack of books and files by my bed, so maybe instead of listing all of them, I’ll just share what I’m reading right now! I’m currently reading Beyond Loneliness: the Gift of God's Friendship by Trevor Hudson with the Renovare Book Club and, on my own, Elizabeth Goudge’s biography The Joy of the Snow. Elizabeth Goudge is one of my newest favorite writers -- I admire her descriptive language and sweet themes. This biography is answering some of the questions that are always natural when you find work you love -- wanting to know more about the one who made it.
Shanna will be taking over the hello there, friend instagram feed on Monday to share more with us and respond to your comments. We hope you take the opportunity to check in and say hello to her!
Thanks so much, Shanna, for sharing with us today! We're so grateful for you! xo.