I Never Expected This

by | Oct 1, 2012 | Uncategorized

When I started writing on this blog a year ago, I had no idea how a patch of sunlight would find its way through the dark canopy of my fears. Expose a rare flower in the High Calling, blooming generosity on the forest floor of my writing life. Its petals lying open handed, fragrance of Christ.

This group of writers, they offer the loaf of communion, one encouraging bite at a time.

As writers, we find the place to pull the cork on words huddled in the corner of gate 14B among the empty vinyl seats. Spread out on a café table infused with espresso in its cracks. Under the glow of fluorescent between jeans hanging in rows and robes on hooks. In a dimly lit room of shallow breath, lying beside the rise and fall of life we bore.

We pour paragraphs like coffee from a carafe, brewed early, left warm on the counter. Craft words of worried ways and welcome wandering. String sentences of settling in and spilling out. Wonder if what swirls in the cup will taste good, leaving them thirsty for more.

Inspiration scribbles into journals lying beside soppy cutting boards of ripe tomatoes, idle at the red light on the way to carpool.  And in the midst of flipping hamburgers on the grill, we realize that writing is more than endless laundry piles. It’s a lover our heart yearns for the moment we part.

But we win the battles of the mind in the company of our kindred kind.

At Laity Lodge, we pass tea carafes and lemon poppy seed loaf boards pondering our place on the grassy shore among the five thousand and baskets of bread.  Some of us stand beside Jesus passing out bread to their hungry group of fifty. Others wait along the fringe, uncertain about their place among eager crowds; worry there won’t be enough to feed everyone.

And the quiet waters of the Frio seep into the empty cracks life has worried into the soul with the words of wisdom gathered around the table. We claim victory over platforms and page views, agents and proposals, self-doubt and sorrow in the warm embrace of a fellow sojourner.

Because In the words of Ashley Cleveland, “It’s really about the people, it’s always about the people.” And all the way to heaven, is heaven.

While writing becomes oxygen to the soul squeezed tight with the cares of life, relationship with Him, with you, it’s the muse pulsing words to life.

I follow those who walk before me, stepping over boulders to sit on limestone terraces. Rest under cypress arms bent over Madeline L’Engle and Eugene Peterson stretched out with pen and prose in days gone by. Imagine their toes dangling in the water.

And I let go of needing to know all the answers about my future. Because this life He serves in the smorgasbord of options, it truly is a high calling. I’ll let him fill my plate, one meal at a time.

I’ll be writing here every day for the month of October on the practice of letting go. Because really, it seems to be a sacred echo in my life – letting go of what keeps me from walking in freedom.  Perhaps it is for you too.

We’ve started our journey sitting together on a limestone terrace, watching the rainfall on the Frio and who knows where we’ll end up. Maybe that’s part of letting go, not having a map or a final destination.

I know, it makes me a little nervous too.

I hope you’ll join me each day for a short story as a reflection to start your day. You can link back to this page to find each post, in case you miss one or several.

If you are a writer, you can join the community of 31 Dayers.  I invite you to link up a story you wrote on the theme of letting go in the comments on Friday of each week in October. I look forward to reading your words.

Linking with Ann, Michelle and Laura.

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


  1. Jennifer@GDWJ

    Gorgeous. Simply gorgeous. (Isn’t it unspeakably beautiful there? How I would have loved to have been with you!)

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It is unspeakably beautiful. I know Jennifer, thought about you several times and told someone I wished you were there. I’m looking forward to hugging your neck in April.

  2. Michelle DeRusha

    Oh my word, Shelly. You are beautiful. SO, so grateful to have met you in person. Thank you for shining His light into my dusty corners.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I feel the same Michelle, so grateful to call you friend. You enrich my life.

  3. glendachilders

    I have enjoyed reading reports and seeing beautiful photos of the Laity Lodge weekend. I see a few blogging friends in your photo, too. Looking forward to the rest of your series.


    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Glenda, it was my first ever writing retreat. I loved it and the people. Look foward to interacting with you through the 31 days.

  4. Eileen

    Beautiful pictures, Shelly. “We pour paragraphs like coffee from a carafe,…” Love that.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks sweet Eileen. I had so many good ones, it was hard to choose.

  5. Sandra Heska King

    Your words seep such beauty. This. This is. It. This is drenched with Him. Yes.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Sandy, its was such a joy to meet you. What a gift you are to me.

  6. tara

    THIS is what i was waiting for this morning 🙂 oh, i am SO glad that you had this time. I haven’t ever been to a writing retreat and i am just drooling. it looks like the perfect place to have your heart still and your mind just swirling with ideas and love all mixed in together. so lovely.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Put it on your bucket list Tara, its worth it. I thought of you while we were there. I think you would love it and oh how I would love to have time with you in real life!

  7. Jody Lee Collins

    Shelly–my eyes are brimming with tears as I read the words that surely match the beauty you experienced. I my heart resonated with the lines about why we write and how we feel about that ‘among the five thousand’………May Jesus give us all the courage to be the small loaf of bread where we are. You are a gift.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      On Sunday, instead of giving a message Lauren read this passage of scripture about feeding the 5000 several times as we closed our eyes and then she mentioned where we placed ourselves in the story. Afterward, in a lunch discussion we all talked about where we were in the story. It was fascinating to see how we each view our place in the story.

  8. Annie

    So many familiar faces in these pictures, souls full of such wisdom. This was beautiful.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, its a wonderful group of gifted and authentic writers whom I love.

  9. Jean Wise

    Wow Shelly – this is so beautiful. I felt like you shared a glimpse of peace and refreshment from that special weekend for those of us not there. What blessing to drink all that in, then invite us to walk with you. Thank you!!!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Peace was a word that kept echoing in my mind while I was there Jean. It truly was special and so glad you felt it in these words. Maybe next year for you?

  10. Eyvonne Sharp (@EyvonneESharp)

    So lovely, the way you string words together here. Moved by the imagery and rhythm of it all.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thank you Eyvonne, appreciate your kindness.

  11. altarofheaven

    Your writing and your heart blesses me. Thanking God for you 😉

  12. Mia

    I want to rip off the pages where I read your words. I want to swallow every magical word that you wrote. I want to tell you that I want to remember your words and your writing by digesting them in my soul. I’m teling you that your writing is God given and to never, ever think you are less than what He has giving. I’m so proud of you!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh Vicki, you made me teary. What a blessing you are to me, thank you so much. I’m sitting with your kindness and letting it seep.

  13. Lynn Morrissey

    Oh Shelly! Madeleine L’Engle, Eugene Peterson, and now Shelly Miller stretched out on Texas limestone, with a riparian ringside seat, pen in hand! I could just picture you all there looking out on that azure water. You and your fellow retreatants have joined the company of noteworthy authors, and there is always such rich fare in communion with like-minded artists, rich fare served up by Christ. Because He has called you all to this holy word-feast and you and others have been obedient to heed the high calling to write, there will always be enough loaves and fishes of words to feed wayfarers and Wayfarers. He will take and multiply what you offer. May I say that I have been so incredibly blessed to have eaten at your table. As you let go of expectations, and simply pick up the pen He has given you and let Him guide you across the page, I think you will stand amazed at where He will take you and your words! Love, Lynn

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I believe you Lynn, finding myself already amazed. Feeling the adrenal rush of his unexpected favor and goodness around every corner. And I’m so thankful.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        Oh this may sound silly, but I can’t help but think of the song, “Just Around the River Bend,” which Pochohontas sings in the Disney flick. God actually used that song in a powerful way to give me a gift of anticipation about writing a handful of years ago. I thought of it in regards to the river you just visited and your comment about “unexpected favor and goodness around every corner”! Dear, sweet Shelly, God really does have so many blessings and dreams in store for you just around the river bend! See you in April at Jump Tandem, just around the bend of a New Year!

        • Redemption's Beauty

          Oh my goodness, so excited to know you are going Lynn. What a treat!

  14. DollyL (@SoulStops)

    sigh…lovely…your words and your photos …thanks for giving us a peek 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks for peeking in Dolly, your always welcome here.

  15. ro elliott

    I love this…I am not up yet for writing everyday on- line…but I am in my own journal…and once again we seem to be tracking together…I “titled” mine…31 days to freedom….flying free. I look forward to hearing your words and heart as we start letting go…to fly free…blessings to you shelly~

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Ro, this is a faith challenge for me. Everything in me was making the list of why I couldn’t write on a blog every day. I’m just trusting Him for the inspiration and the time. It’s a good lesson in letting go. 🙂

  16. Danelle

    This post made me want to be there with you all. What a blessing! And I love that you are doing the 31 days. . haven’t decided if I can hang yet or not with words of my own. . but trust that I will be reading all of yours. You always bless me and I love you so much. 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I wish you could’ve been there Danelle, you would’ve loved it. You were there in my heart, thought of you many times.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Glad to have you join the conversation here this month. I look forward to reading your post, thanks for sharing it.

  17. Marilyn

    This…..was so beautiful….I had to read it twice, friend.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Marilyn, so glad you stopped by and thank you for the kindness of your comment. I couldn’t find you after we left security. I was sad we didn’t say proper goodbyes. It was so lovely to meet you at Laity.

  18. Jillie

    Hi Shelly…I have been so looking forward to reading about your retreat. Already I sense the deep and soul-satisfying time you had there. Can I ask where you saw yourself in the telling and hearing of the ‘Feeding of the 5000’?
    I will never be a writer like you, Shelly—you are SO anointed and gifted for this—but I love to write for myself…for self-fulfillment, and I prayer-journal. But I know exactly what you mean when you talk about the NEED writers have–“Writing becomes oxygen to the soul squeezed tight with the cares of life…” Prayer-journaling, and just ‘plain’ journaling…they call to me. They really do. And when I can use words to touch another’s heart, to edify or to give comfort…well, that’s the best of all. ‘Cuz then I know it’s truly come from Him…not me. REALLY looking forward to this next month. I have so much I need to release to Him. And to grow in trust. Blessings Shelly.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I saw myself standing next to Jesus feeding my group of 50 while He was filling up my basket. I’m so glad to hear you are writing, its such a good discipline and really reveals more than we expect. And I agree with you, when my words edify another person it makes my soul sing in a way like nothing else. It confirms His presence every time. Glad you’re following along Jillie, its always a pleasure. And I haven’t forgotten about your question from the last post, planning to email you soon, I’m trying to catch up from being away. Much love to you.

  19. Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

    I’m so glad you had what I think of as a “lightpost” weekend… a light post of his love and leading, confirming your writer’s heart. Love the words you share about that calling so many of us feel… To sing with words, mmm yes!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Lightpost weekend is the perfect expression Pam. Yes, it really was that for me.

  20. Amy

    Shelly, this just helps fuel the hope that I will meet you in person some day 🙂 myself!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I hope that becomes a reality Amy, it would be a gift.

  21. ljbmom

    Oh, Shelly. How I wish…but oh, what a blessing to see your smiling face over the waters I so love. Maybe one day we will meet up over the Frio? Such a gift that would be.

  22. Beth Werner Lee

    Typing in the dark while my little one (11) falls asleep, that’s me! Was that Diana Trautwein in the first picture? What a cool group of writers, lovely.
    Letting go…I’ve been challenged to let go of judging others, and to catch up in caring for my body since I dealt with a pinched nerve all summer. This fall I’ve had a really busy schedule, but wonder of wonders all is well.

  23. Sandra Heska King

    I sigh at your words, always. You’ve nailed this, Shelly. And this: “But we win the battles of the mind in the company of our kindred kind.” And to share communion of bread and spirit in this sacred place–next best thing to heaven.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I wish you all lived down the street from me. Being there fulfilled the missing community in my life currently. I’m already looking forward to April. Thanks for your generous encouragement Sandy.

  24. Sandra Heska King

    Oh, and P.S. Do you mind if I swipe my picture?

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Not a bit. I can send it to you, I have others of you that are good as well. I think I will publish most all of them on FB after this week of writing is finished.

  25. denadyer70

    This is so beautiful, and true. I’m blessed to have met you…and I can’t wait to see–like Lynn (who I met years ago through AWSA)–what’s “just around the riverbend” for you. 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Dena, it was such a pleasure to meet you at Laity. So blessed you stopped by. I look forward to visiting your place too. I’m still trying to catch my breath. Still have a full suitcase on the couch in my room.:) Lynn has been a great encourager for me, so glad to know you know her.

  26. Ann Kroeker

    Fun, fun, fun!!

  27. Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

    Shelly, remembering your invite here to link up on Fridays with our own “letting go” story, I’ve been trying to figure out where you want the linked stories… I hopped over to the 31 days, but clicking on your button only brings me back here. So I’ll just note it here in your comments. This is a story I wrote last week, and it has “letting go” behind the words. After praying so long – most of my life – it is hard to just “let go” now with the death of someone I don’t know for sure gave heart to the Lord…but God keeps speaking to me to believe and trust He did not let him go. So this is one of my stories along this theme… 🙂 (I don’t think I’m done writing about how God is “letting me know” but here is the first part…)

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Pam, can you go to today’s post and link it there so others can find it? I’m asking people to link on Friday’s post.

  28. Megan Willome

    That photo of Deidra and Marcus is fabulous!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It is isn’t it? The light and surroundings made for some lovely photos that day, and the rain held off the whole time we walked around.

  29. pourcettetemps

    Every word you wrote here made its way into my heart…crashing into my soul and filling me with joy and peace. T hank you so much. Those pictures are beautiful. Your dear High Calling family knit so close and dear through this time together, feeding each other literally and spiritually. What a beautiful blessing.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Your comment brings me joy. I can see you smiling in it. Thank you, it’s nice to have you as part of the family here.

  30. lolita

    Sorry that I have been absent at this table, Shelly. I maybe late but nevertheless filled. Even the crumbs and left-over from the baskets is way far more than I need to take in. He sends more than enough always. It is people’s shortsightedness that makes us think we are wanting.

    Thanks for the filling I could carry in my pocket, treasured shells. Funny as I wrote that. I call my wisdom collection Seashells and a hoard of treasure comes from here…. “Seashells from Shelly.” And I feel like Mia, wanting to digest every word you write here. I love how she expressed it.

    I am happy for you to be in the High Calling crowd in retreat.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      so very happy you are here, *late* or not.

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