My skirt is still damp when I sit down between my husband and his co-workers for dinner. All eight of us turned around to inspect the water marks left from a drizzly boat ride at dusk moments before. Our soggy seat stains rival the sweat rings under our arms but I don’t mind. It’s the first time I’ve had dinner with friends in months. They don’t know that, no one does.
Lately, I’m alone at the community table, trying to read His lips across the street, through rain falling like a waterfall on glass. And no matter how close I put my eyes to the glass, how much I press on the transparent wall for clarity on all the questions that begin with why, all I see is my own reflection staring back at me. It doesn’t look the way I imagined; the empty table or my reflection. And perhaps that is the point.
In her new book Wonderstruck, Margaret Feinberg writes, “We all need a table, a place where we gather to be fully and truly ourselves. Without such a place, we may lose track of our souls, embracing a cheap, snap-together fiberboard image of ourselves instead of the uneven, rustic, knotty reality that, when unveiled, reveals the mystery and beauty of the imago dei—the image of God. We need a place where we pray for a replenished wonder of friendship and wait for God to answer in unexpected ways.”
My friends and I, we tell stories about honeymoons and memorable trips. Tip stemmed glasses to quench soul thirst and laugh about parenthood. And the heaviness, it falls off in belonging.
The more I live in the confines of my own mind, the busyness of my own making, the less I bare the image of His likeness. I forget the “uneven, rustic, knotty” soul that I am.
And I’m willing to wade waist high in floodwater to get close enough to hear His voice and touch his face but perhaps if I did, then I wouldn’t know the wonder. Wonder that comes on the heels of hunkering down in the wait of isolation, for the crack of light to skim the floor and turn my head toward the voices around the table.
Loneliness, it’s the rut we step over between the old eyes and the new ones being made in the hollow. New eyes to see that what we’ve taken for granted is often our greatest gift.
Margaret writes, “Despite the miles and meals they shared, those closest to Jesus had lost their childlike receptivity, their ability to recognize that both God’s response to us and our response to God is seldom what we anticipate.”
When taught by depravity, a hole in a leaf becomes an intricate web of myopic beauty, dead nettles like a choir of heads hallowing halleluiahs; sun, the illuminator of translucent glory, and a soggy water mark on the seat of your skirt, an answer to prayer.
That’s when you know you are Wonderstruck, that you’ve seen the face of God and you’re not alone.
“Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder.” Isaiah 29:14
Q4U: Where have you seen the wonder of God in your own life?
My friend, Margaret Feinberg, has a new book and 7-session DVD Bible study called Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God, which releases Christmas Day. Margaret’s books are on my Books I Read list and I’ve had the privilege of reading a few chapters of this new one. I know you will love it. So I’m giving two copies away today on the blog. Just leave a comment and I’ll add your name to the drawing on Thursday.
Linking with Emily, Jen, Eileen.
Leslie Durham and Michelle DeRusha won a copy of Wonderstruck. Congratulations and Merry Christmas friends!
“Wonderstruck” sounds like a enlightening book offering a different perspective on connecting with God and fellow believers.
I think you said it well Elizabeth. Sometimes the wonder is right in front of us and she helps us to see that.
Elizabeth, thanks for the comment. Blessings to you!
I would LOVE to have this book!
I hope you win Kaye.
fingers crossed for you, Kaye!
I know this new book will be well written and a great book just like all of the others. This is a great post Shelly. Good job. I would love to have the new book.
Thanks for the follow Angie and for leaving a comment. Come back here on Thursday to see who wins.
Angie, good luck! Would love to share Wonderstruck with you!
I just started following Redemption’s Beauty and appreciate your perspective very much. I would enjoy reading Wonderstruck.
Janet, so glad to have you join this little community on the web. Your voice has a place here.
Janet, May you be filled with wonder as you interact and join in community here!
Wonderstruck sounds great. I look forward to hearing more about this author.
Leslie, I’ve read all Margaret’s books and never been disappointed. She’s been a speaker several times for at our annual conferences and she is lovely inside and out.
Leslie, thanks for the affirming comment! Blessings to you this Advent season!
How my soul longs to be Wonderstruck afresh by the beauty of God’s presence. To see the marvellous in the mundane. To taste the glory in the general hum and thrum of life. This is vital for us all. And not just in this season of Advent and Christmas waiting, pondering and celebrating. After all “Earth’s crammed with heaven”. It sounds a wonderful read! 🙂
Me too Joy, your words are beautiful and express my heart well.
Joy, “To see the marvellous in the mundane. “–love how you phrased that. May your eyes be opened to see and the longing in your soul satisfied
I believe one of the enemies greatest schemes is to keep us all isolated. Three cheers for a book that says just the opposite.
I think you are right Glenda. It’s not good to be left alone with just your own thoughts to guide you. We need each other for perspective.
glendachilders, you’re right. It’s a dangerous scheme and one that works painfully well
How sweet… my heart was leaping to the tune of longing to be wonderstruck and wishing for a suddenly experience of all that my heart is missing. I just know I will love the reveal this book contains. Move us all, Holiness, move us all with wonder upon wonder.
Nodding my head yes with you Myra.
Beautiful prayer, Myra!
Where have I seen the wonder of God in my own life?
In the way that, every morning, the sun continues to break apart the horizon, spreading mercies to the ends of the earth.
In the love that cycles over and through me when my sons fling arms round my neck and nestle deep.
In the way my heart breaks from the weight of this world and slowly, every time, the pieces are put back together with grace and starlight.
It is everywhere…this wonder.
And you have eyes to see it Holly. It’s evident in your writing and it’s a gift, this way of seeing the wonder.
birthjoy, “the pieces are put back together with grace and starlight.”–how beautiful and poetic!
I sat around a table for thirty this weekend. It was in huge cabin overlooking a lake. My niece got married twenty minutes away in Silver Dollar City. You know the place? Lots of family and community this weekend. It was a wonderful, whimsical wedding that fit the bride’s personality.
While pulling off pieces of funnel cake at the amusement park, my son-in-law questioned, “Isn’t this just fried pancake batter?” I replied, “Sort of, but don’t take the wonder out of eating it!” 🙂
Looking forward to reading this book. It will be the first that I have read of Margaret except for her blog. Keep stepping over that “rut” my friend.
I saw your group photo on FB and was smiling about the way you are in your spot, right where He wants you to be.
I grew up going to Silver Dollar City with my grandparents when I was young. Loved every minute. Of course I wouldn’t recognize it today, it’s so big now.
Love the funnel cake example, it’s perfect.
Dea, I also love the funnel cake example. Both perfect and yummy!
I was recently wonderstruck over a Christmas luncheon where faces, that were just known with bits and pieces of their stories, blossomed into relationships that are alive and that will grow and where one will nourish the other and God’s beauty will be spread all around.
Love that kind of unexpected gift around a lunch table. Beautiful!
hisbenefits, sounds like an amazing lunch. I wish I could’ve sat in and overheard the snippets of stories!
i loved “trying to read His lips across the street” but only seeing your own reflection in the glass. wow. such imagery. and those new eyes being formed from the fodder of loneliness. that spoke deep, too.
thank you for always stilling me, Shelly. your words pull off the scales.
I think perhaps we’re doing that for each other Kelli. I’m so grateful to know you, for the inspiration that comes from the way you live your everyday life.
kelliwoodford, may the scales continue to be peeled off as you awaken to God’s wonder and love around you
“The heaviness falls off in belonging.” What a beautiful way to put it! I have so found that to be true in the discovery that as an abused woman I’m not alone; there are countless others who have walked a similar path. As I attend support group with them, their stories blend with mine into a chorus of praise to the One who is setting us free, binding up our wounds, and giving us hope. I leave there completely wonderstruck.
I love you Jessica. I’m so grateful to know you and get a glimpse of the way your living this new chapter of your life with courage and fierceness for your faith. Praying for you and think of you often.
Jessica, I pray God continues to bind up wounds and to fill you with hope. May your eyes be opened to what he is doing in and around you!
I see the wonder of God in a circle of women trusting others with their stories, choosing to trust, even though it is vulnerable and hard. I see it in the warmth of my daughter, wrapped up in a blanket on a cold morning, as she sits on my lap. I see it in the wisps of hair that my son brushes out of his eyes, over and over again.
Yes, I do believe you are Wonderstruck Jennifer.
Jennifer, what a beautiful picture you painted. May you see more and more of God’s wonder this season
“We all need a table, a place where we gather to be fully and truly ourselves.” Amen to that. I find “my table” in coffee shops and restaurants with my two closest girlfriends. The place where we can let it all hang out, warts and all, and still love and cherish each other. The place where laughter, tears, confession, forgiveness, and real ‘heart talk’ happens.
I see the wonder of God in the faces of these friends. And I see the wonder of God every day in the face of my sweet husband, and in the faces of my children and their spouses. When I consider the time in my life when I was such a horrible mess, and never thought ‘family’ would happen for me…well, I am grateful. HE has restored to me the years the locust had eaten.
So thankful with you Jillie, for those friendships that stand the test of time. Cherish them. And for redemption that stands waiting around every corner. He is good.
Jillie, I also see God’s wonder in my friend’s faces. So thankful God restored those years to you!
Thank you, Margaret. Good friends are hard to find, and I do cherish so much my time with them. Cannot imagine my life without them. And yes, God has been so good and faithful to me.
Jillie, I loved reading about your restaurant rendevous with friends-of-the-heart. Sometimes, retaurateurs have had to boot my friends and me out because we’ve talked so long :-)….and once, my precious friend and I talked from a 7:00 a.m. breakfast straight through the lunch hour (we noticed a waitress take lunch orders)! I was unbosoming my soul to my friend about something very deep and painful, and time stood still for us both. I thank God for setting a new table for you and me across two countries. You feed me with your words and wonder and wisdom, Jillie. God bless you so much, and Merry Christmas!
I love this post. It reminds me that both fellowship and isolation have their place in my walk with God and that too much of either one will take me steps backward and then I remember that some of those steps backward catapulted me steps forward. Child-like receptivity?? Man, that sounds like something to pray for and crave with my Savior.
Oh, you got it Lark. That is exactly the point I was making with this story. Paul spent years in prison, in the classroom of isolation before God catapulted him into ministry but he also walked the road with fellow sojourners. God uses it all, not a single moment wasted in God’s economy.
Lark, may you be filled with an insatiable desire for God!
Thank you so much for that wish for me. It is happening and is life-changing to say the least. I never dreamed that walking with God would ask so much of me or give so much to me. It is beyond my ability to understand or to predict. I love Shellie’s website. She brings so many pertinent issues to the table. If I don’t win the book I will certainly buy it. Much love, in Christ, bless His majestic name!
Thank you so much for writing this beautiful blog. It’s funny how lately I have felt “extremely” lonely although I have been surrounded by people that I love and appreciate. I need to be Wonderstruck today!
Silvia, may God surround you with love and warmth during this time. May God’s wonder knock you off your feet!
I really needed to read this today…..the phrase “The more I live in the confines of my own mind, the busyness of my own making, the less I bare the image of His likeness.” is SUCH a home-hitting reminder for me!! Where have I witnessed the wonder of God? Well, the first and most recent thing that comes to mind is a conversation with my 19 yr old daughter yesterday, in which she responded to me in such a way that I can only think that God planted in her mind exactly what I needed to hear. I was dumbfounded by the remark, which wasn’t something I expected from her. The Lord truly does work in myseterious ways!!
Sherri, God often uses children to share His wonder with us! So glad you got to share such a moment with your daughter
Wonderstruck: what a gloriously quiet grace! The features on my sleeping child’s face, the breeze drifting across my body, the sun kissing my skin, the look of sorrow on grief stricken face, the smile through the tears, the wonder of the heart….yes He speaks to us in places unexpected..in quiet places.
Alba, those all sound beautiful. Thanks for painting such glorious word pictures!
This year has been a difficult year. I’ve cried on my knees more times than I can count and there I have faithfully encountered the wonder of God… when I rise from prayer in tears like that I always walk away with such calming peace and a sense that I’m not alone. He is so very good. Blessings!
PS… such a beautiful post, thank you!
Heidi, I can relate. Right there with you friend and so inspired by your honesty. Thank you.
Heidi, I think we’ve all been there before at one time or another. So glad you were able to find wonder and peace during those times!
I’m hearing a lot about this book lately – I’d very much like to read it!
I’ll be taking a social media hiatus over Christmas, so if I don’t talk to you before then, have a blessed, joyful and peaceful Christmas, Shelly!
Me too, taking a hiatus and looking forward to some time off. Merry Christmas to you too Michelle, love you lots.
Michelle, whoo hoo for a hiatus! Always needed 🙂
Thank you for the delightful chance! I’m a shy but loyal reader of your blog, and your words bless me more often than you can imagine. 🙂 I’d be thrilled to win this book. May God bless you with megadoses of His grace that leave your heart happy-dancing.
So glad you un-lurked and let me know you’ve been walking right there beside me for awhile. Hope you win the book.
mimithekitten, wishing you luck!
i’m eager to read this (and i recognize your story, shelley). i’m seeing wonder this advent in the liturgy, in light persisting in the darkness.
suzannah, lots of wonder is buried in liturgy–so thrilled you have been able to discover some of it!
I see the wonder of God in my oldest daughter’s return to the Lord.
Despite the tears we shed, the knees we felt we wore out, one day she realized
she missed Him. It took us by surprise. Because what was it about that day which would
cause her to come to this declaration? But yet God was not caught unaware or by surprise.
I see wonder in the unseen and I pray that in my bouts of impatience, I will continue
to wait for things longed for and not miss the wonder only He can offer.
I can’t wait to read this book…one way or another!
Helen, I’d love to hear your thoughts about Wonderstruck when you do!
This is such an exquisite post, Shelly (and which ones aren’t?!) And Margaret’s quotes are likewise deep and revelatory. I love this quote by Benjamin Warfield, as well: “A glass window stands before us. We raise our eyes and see the glass; we note its quality and observe its defects; we speculate on its composition. Or we look straight through it on the great prospect of land and sea and sky beyond.” It seems to me that part of what you and Margaret are both talking about with regards to being wonderstruck, is transparency—both in allowing ourselves to be unveiled to reveal the wonder of who we *truly* are (knottily beautiful, created in God’s image) and in seeing beyond the transparent veil that reveals the wonder of God’s presence, purposes, and glory. This quality of transparency dispels loneliness as we communicate honestly with one another (because those who hide behind fake-fiberboard armor, even in a crowded room, are ultimately lonely), and when we are able to see beyond the transparent veil of our life’s vicissitudes, with childlike receptivity, as Margaret says, we recognize that God is, indeed, present. We see His face. While it is possible still to be lonely, it’s much less likely, when we have eyes to see that He is *with* us and that He never leaves us. If that reality doesn’t strike wonder in the depths of our weary souls, I’m not sure what will. In my life and ministry (Heartsight Journaling), I constantly beg God for (as you say), “new eyes to see” what I’ve taken for granted. This quote by Marcel Proust graces my study wall: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Shelly, you are one of the few truly transparent authors I know (and now, thanks to you, I’ve discovered Margaret, whose work I’ve not read, but would like to)! I believe God has blessed you with new eyes, Shelly. Keep pressing your face to that waterfalling wall. Keep your eyes open and keep looking beyond it. Sometimes new eyes simply take time to focus. That “through-a-glass-darkly” wall will one day turn completely clear, and God will answer your questions about loneliness with the depths of His presence and new revelations for His purposes for your life. And, dearest Shelly, you will stand completely wonderstruck in awe of His matchless majesty! Love, Lynn