When Your Soul Sighs

by | Sep 10, 2012 | Uncategorized

Reheated tea from the microwave sits steeping on the coaster next to my computer waiting. A collection of old school supplies waits in the hallway too. The pile I step over to get to my bedroom. There’s a list of things to do in every room. Each item mocks me when I step through the door.

Yet, my soul calls for the sea, and all I know to do is listen to the Voice.

I slip on sneakers; pull morning curls through elastic, grab the sacrament of seeing across my shoulder and drive five minutes down the road to the sound of His voice.

Rolling waves of morning crystals laid out and showing off. For those who’ve gathered to see.

There’s a heavy sigh alongside calling.  A mother’s heart trembles when her children suffer. A wife exhales subterranean over the weight her husband carries, that which eludes her capabilities. Bottomless breath covers circumstance and promise that repel like twin magnets.

It’s why the Sabbath is a commandment and not a suggestion. He cares about our time. (Exodus 20:8)

Because at the end of checked off shoulds, there remains an abyss full of wanting sighs. And in the refrain of doing, just for a day, trust resets her clock ticking thankful.

My foot leaves an imprint in wet sand beside bubbles popping in the afterglow of frothy sea. A bird rests watchman on the wall, affirming my place in the wide expanse, slow twisted and tall.

God is here. He resides in every frame.

His presence sways in crowds of sea grass, and in the lone fisherman casting patience. In the anticipation of floating surfers, waiting for His hand to push waves ashore.

I release the sigh of yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s fears in the response of my souls call for the sea. All I know to do is listen to the Voice. Breathe slowly and remember who I am in His reflection shimmering on the water.

When life gets heavy, how do you find peace? Do you find it difficult to take a Sabbath?

Giving thanks for the nearness of the sea with Ann today for Multitudes on Monday and linking with On, In, and Around Mondays Playdates with God, Hear it, Use it, Soli Deo Gloria, Just Write, Into the Beautiful, Faith Barista Jam Thursday.

Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. Sharon O

    When life is heavy I go to the beach and I breathe in the air and I listen to the quiet as he whispers to me “be still and know… that I am God”.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I haven’t always lived near water, not sure if I could ever not live near it now.

  2. Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

    What a blessing to be so near the sea! I grew up around it, but even then we had to drive through mountain passes for about 40 minutes to get there. May his peace of this sabbath ripple through your week, pianissimo, over the keys playing his music across your heart….(An image he put on mine last week…) 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Its been a joy to live near the sea, but there is beauty in all landscapes, even the desert.

  3. Jody Lee Collins

    shelly, your words are so beautiful they make me sigh. Taking a Sabbath–a command, not a suggestion. Yep, I can sure be more intentional about that.

    This was pure loveliness. Thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Jody. Its often the first question my husband asks me on Sunday, “what are we going to do today.” I’m learning too.

  4. Theresa@HeavenlyGlimpses

    Sounds like the perfect way to find peace in the midst of life. I think I might have found Sabbath just watching my six-year-old daughter sleep the other day. Lovely post.

  5. lolitavalle

    I could just sigh more over those Sabbaths given up. I wish I could retrieve them. But I can’t.

    Thanks for the reminder as you take yours in the rolling froths and among the sways of the sea shore grasses, and in the salty winds ruffling hair. My abyss of “shoulds” needs my Sabbath repose.

    • Ben Nelson

      Me too – amen!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’m right there with you. Let’s move forward and not look back to what we cannot change. 🙂

  6. Ben Nelson

    Wonderful words and photos.

  7. Lynn Morrissey

    What a truly beautiful post, Shelly, and oh my!……the photos are pristine perfection. I am wondering if it is you, sitting and watching the ocean in the first one?! (How I wish I were a photographer so that I could record what I see through a camera’s lens. Even my old Instamatic photos were blurry! 🙁 But like you, I can ask for the “sacredment of seeing.” I love that! Certainly seeing can be sacred and mysterious–a sign of inward grace–when we ask God for eyes to see Him in our world and take the time (the Sabbath) to do it. When we are at inward rest, and the world is not whirring by us in a blur, it’s then that we have eyes to see the sacred–eyes to see the sea, and the depths of His love. What I saw in this post is a stark juxtaposition between the bottomless breath heaved over life’s troubles, the abyss of sighs of wanting and the fathomless depths of the sea, the endless depths of God’s love. The ocean of God’s love is so much deeper than these difficulties (and they *are* so hard!!) that we encounter in life. HIs love, like the sea, covers them all and consumes them. By your taking a Sabbath at the sea, I hope it slowed you to focus on the depths of His love and His grace which flows endlessly to you. Judging by what you said, I think it did! Praise Him!
    Love, Lynn
    PS (By now, you have likely read about how God used the ocean and all its metaphoric, splendid symbolism to heal me of great pain. Sometimes I think He created the sea just for me, and I’ll bet today you thought the same about yourself! 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It isn’t me in the photo, but I felt like it was when I took it. Love your words here Lynn, you open up new layers of thinking. Thank you.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        Thank you so much, Shelly! I know you took a “mental photo” of you beside the sea. And because it’s in your heart, you are free to insert Jesus sitting on that rock, right beside you! 🙂

  8. Judy

    The sigh seeps out, taken out on the ebbing sea and in its leaving, a moment of peace – a Sabbath stillness. And the breath in – salt air to purify – a holy healing.
    Yes, the Lord called you there for these gifts.

  9. Danelle

    Just beautiful. We are leaving for the beach in two weeks and I am looking forward to standing on the sand each morning and hearing Him in the roar of the waves, in the magnificent power and beauty of the ocean. It never ceases to amaze me the way my soul soars when I am there.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh, how fun Danelle. Which beach? This is the best time of year to go.

      • Danelle

        We are going to Hilton Head Island. 🙂 Yay!

  10. Gayle

    Enormously difficult or me to take a Sabbath! Let me put on this load o clothes, Oh I need that at the store… and on it goes! But it blesses me as well, enormously. I wrote this week about heading to the sea as well, you will have to pop over and see the pics o the pacific northwest. Have a blessed week,

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It is a discipline to take a sabbath, isn’t it? Will hop over to your place in a few, anxious to read your post.

  11. tara pohlkotte

    i feel your tie to the beach. I see your loveliness crash back onto shore with each of the waves. rest and be steadied. find strength by these waters. your words and pictures are just so beautiful.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Its so close yet I forget the way He speaks to me until I return. It had been a month since I stood on shore.

  12. Paula

    The “sacrament of seeing”……..and, oh my………..your photos are sooo wonderful. I’m about to decide that “seeing your photography” is part of my Sabbath! So glad you have “your water” so close!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      so thankful for my camera – thanks Paula!

  13. Danise Jurado

    There are many things in life to pull me away from the still voice of God calling me to rest in Him… I have learned with experience it is best not to ignore His voice, and then I am divinely equipped to handle all the obligations I return to. Great post! stopping by from hear it use it – Blessings to you today! 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think if I could change anything about the early years of raising kids it would be to find quiet with Him instead of cleaning my house or a million other things on a list. The more time I abide, the more things seems to fall in place. So glad you stopped by.

  14. Kelly

    Beautiful ponderings. Sometime you just need to sit in beauty and soak Him up! Blessings to you from Uganda

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Enjoyed your post today Kelly. Love that you are serving in Uganda.

  15. Ells....ro elliott

    Oh the gift of living so close to the sea…it soothes my soul just to sit…watch and listen…so glad you can go and drink up all His goodness there…lovely post and pictures~

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too and I’m ashamed to say that I often take it for granted.

  16. Sherrey Meyer

    Sighing is a favorite “exercise” of mine — I imagine soaking in everything He has placed around me, no matter where I am. And then breathing out, I imagine that I’m spreading my sigh filled with His love. Silly maybe, but it’s what I imagine. So grateful for your words and photos this morning. A good start to my week.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Not silly at all Sherrey, I think that is wonderful.

  17. Dea Moore

    James 3:18 says, “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” I know you like gardening so I thought this verse might resonate with you in the sighing. I was thinking about this verse and my struggle to keep the command of the Sabbath and I thought how necessary it is to be at peace with ourselves, to really know the wholeness of our identity in our Savior. He is our peace. I wonder if we can ever live deeply in this truth apart from Sabbath? Can I sow what I haven’t harvested for myself?

    So thankful you have the sea…it calls to me too. On the right day I can step out in the pine grove and if the wind is blowing gusty, I can close my eyes and “hear it”… No wind today. A brilliant blue tent lays out above the pines…what I call a New Mexico sky (no humidity!). Of course, I am neither by the sea or in New Mexico…but I am exactly where God wants me to be.

    Much love and prayers…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Dea, so good to hear from you, always. I love that verse and it is a timely one for me. And no, I don’t think we move into wholeness without Sabbath, that is my humble opinion.
      No humidity sounds divine. We awoke to cooler temps and less humidity this morning. We were all excited. May even enjoy open windows this evening! I’m going on a walk!

  18. Dolly@Soulstops

    Your words here:”Because at the end of checked off shoulds, there remains an abyss full of wanting sighs. And in the refrain of doing, just for a day, trust resets her clock ticking thankful.” I’m grateful you listened to the Voice, and shared your photos with us. We were able to walk along the Pacific Ocean, thanks to friends, this past Saturday, and it always refreshes and points my gaze back to Him…blessings, Shelly 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I love the mental picture of us walking along the shore on opposite coasts, refreshing our souls.

  19. Alicia

    We’re neighbors today at SDG and after reading this post, I’m longing for the sea. (Not much more than a lake in my corn-field covered land!) Love the reminder that God invites us to breathe Him in and out as we slow our souls and trust. Beautiful.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh, a cornfield sounds lovely too. Everything the eye sees, a palette of His beauty. Thanks for stopping by Alicia, enjoyed your froggy post today too.

  20. bluecottonmemory

    What a beautiful place to be with God – I love the photo of the man fishing – the water and waves are just striking. Sometimes we just need to get away from the chattering chores – and find a place where we can hear God – your post shows that so beautifully!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I walked onto the shore and saw that man sitting there like a painting waiting to be captured. The light was so perfect.

  21. Lindsey Van Niekerk

    Wow! You are right…we really were on the same page with our thoughts this week…I love the way you took your thoughts of the see…the way that the Lord spoke to you… #JustLovely

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Lindsey, great minds think alike! 🙂

  22. TheJackB

    I never get tired of the ocean. It refreshes and restores me.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too. Never get tired of it and every time I go I see something new.

  23. ljbmom

    Oh, *sigh*, Shelly. To live five minutes from the sea…

  24. Eileen Knowles (@cupojoegirl)

    Nothing recharges me like a trip to the ocean’s shore. Actually, just looking at any body of water relaxes me and reminds of who I am in relation to Him. Thanks for linking up, Shelly

    • Redemption's Beauty

      We have come from the desert Eileen, we know how to savor the beauty in a large body of water, don’t we?

  25. Tricia

    So beautiful – your words and your images. I wish I had such a beautiful place to find peace.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think we all have to find that special place where our heart and ears open a bit wider to Him. For me its the ocean, but sometimes its a walk in my neighborhood, or sitting in a garden.

  26. simplystriving

    Love how He calls you to the sea and me to the trees… How He speaks to you through the tide and me through the leaves…

    And still we both simply need to remember to breathe.

    The Sabbath is something He layed on my heart awhile back. And I haven’t been sorry. I don’t know why I thought I needed that day for me when clearly He fills me up better than I every could.

    • simplystriving

      *laid…clearly. one of these days I’ll slow my comments down 😉

      • Redemption's Beauty

        I get those confused all the time, still unsure. I’ve probably made mistakes I don’t know about. I wouldn’t have noticed it, trust me!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too Nikki. And really, I’ve come to the place in my life, where I can hear Him just about anywhere. Everything is a canvas with his fingerprints.

  27. Stefanie Brown

    Life is very heavy right now ~ very heavy indeed. Today, in fact, I’m in sweats, no make-up and plopped on the couch reading emails, blogs and responding while watching Downton Abbey ~ again. Soaking all of it in, but nothing too terribly challenging. I’m like a emotionally soaked sponge ~ can’t absorb much more. Thankful for HIS strength and peace. Relying upon Him.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Praying for you today Stefanie. I’ve been there friend. And I know He is with you.

  28. Christina

    I need to step over my own piles and put aside my own lists to be with Him. Thanks for this. Beautiful as always.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      We all have piles don’t we? I can’t seem to conquer mine lately.

  29. illumylife by Joy

    Oh this was so beautiful. Nothing is more calming to my soul than an early morning walk on the beach with God. I loved the part about the fisherman casting patience. That’s exactly what I need to do. I wonder if that’s why Jesus chose fishermen to be His disciples Blessings to you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too, I’m hoping to get one of those walks in today!

  30. cbuxton03

    We are so fortunate to live near the ocean, aren’t we? I always find God there. Always. But even when it is so close, and so obvious, I still find it hard to “step over the piles,” and take a Sabbath. You’ve encouraged me to do a better job of listening to that Voice. Thank you 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I feel the same Courtney, always find Him there among the waves and sand and all that beauty in his people walking on shore. And I take it for granted too. Trying to be more intentional about savoring it more.

  31. Annie

    This was beautiful, Shelly. You put into words much of the weight I’ve been feeling, and the gift of rest that lifts that weight. I wrote about the same this week, and how it slips through my fingers so easily. I’m always needing to return – Sabbath calls steady like the ocean. This was beautiful, thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Glad to know our hearts were resting in the same thoughts Annie. Love the way God does that among His people. I notice it even more, the common themes, as I blog and read around the web.

  32. Gianna

    I don’t know if that’s the REASON for Sabbath, but Sabbath lets you sigh. That’s for sure! Your writing is beautiful!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, I agree Gianna, this post doesn’t encompass the full meaning of Sabbath, just the fringe. Glad to connect with you friend.

  33. Barb

    I find peace by going to God. Sometimes peace is right there waiting for me as soon as I close my eyes and fall into His arms – but sometimes I go to Him day after day for a week, wrestling to see my problems from HIs perspective and only seeing sporadic peace here and there. But even during those wrestling seasons – He is still my Peace!!!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Barb, you said it well. I feel this too. As a matter of fact I was just asking God to forgive me for the way I vascillate in emotions dependent on my ability to find peace in my circumstances. And as Ann Voskamp says, “Peace is a person, not a place.”

  34. Jennifer Johnson Camp

    I just love that you listened, that you heeded, that you followed the One who called. So encourages me. Beautiful.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      And you listen well Jennifer too, I know that.

  35. Lisa notes

    First this:
    “There’s a list of things to do in every room. Each item mocks me when I step through the door.”
    I totally get this. I’ve recently made a list of things to do in each room. Overwhelming.

    But then this:
    “Because at the end of checked off shoulds, there remains an abyss full of wanting sighs. And in the refrain of doing, just for a day, trust resets her clock ticking thankful.”
    I totally get this, too. I’m at the beach this week, letting all else go. And it is good. It is God.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yay for beach time. So glad you’re able to have time to just be. Enjoy Lisa.

  36. Genevieve Thul @ Turquoise Gates

    I was just talking about this very thing with a good friend of mine who is going through some horrific trials, feels “stuck” and hasn’t found her personal therapy, her “off switch”. I have danced around Sabbath all my life – playing piano, dabbling in art, journaling here and there, writing poetry and music. But I never made it part of my daily routine until I actually went through a mental “breakdown” of sorts after being excommunicated. THEN, it suddenly became a necessity. I had to find a way to make my brain quit spinning in circles. I have a variety of different things I do to find rest – one of them writing my blog – and for a while, I had to keep a list of my options on my bathroom mirror and my kitchen window, the two places I often found myself weeping when I was overwhelmed by the day. Now it has finally become habit, and I remember what I need to do.

    If I lived by the sea, as you do, it would definitely be a part of my list! What beautiful words strung together like pearls, and the pictures beautiful punctuation marks to this piece! Thank you for sharing over at Bonnie’s today!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I love your idea of having something somewhere you normally go in a place of sorrow that brings you back to a place of peace in Him. Thanks for stopping by Genevieve, its so nice to connect here.

Pin It on Pinterest