Two Words and I’m Wonderstruck

by | Apr 3, 2013 | Uncategorized


It really is more of a blessing to give than to receive, and Jesus wept. Those two phrases float through my mind in the first moments I awaken, like an airplane pulling a message in morning sky. I roll over to look at the time blurred on my clock. It’s 7:30 on Saturday morning.

This happens to me often, hearing Jesus’ words clearly in those first few moments awakening from slumber, before the busyness of life pushes them below the surface, swirling like murky dishwater down the drain. But today, I’m slowing for Sabbath. Those words brew as I linger on the pillow.

I realize it only takes two words to know that Jesus understands me.


I pick the small grocery cart on purpose. We’re only buying what we need during Lent. I hadn’t planned on going to the grocery store and fighting weekend crowds, until I realized I had no plans for dinner. I only need one bottle of root beer for the recipe but I have to buy six. And the cart is suddenly full, top to bottom, when I check out.

The man in front of me pushes his bag of rice and lesser cuts of meat wrapped in cellophane up further on the conveyor belt, making room as I swallow the guilt, laying out the muffins I don’t really need. He wears a white sweater embroidered with golfers on the chest underneath a tired black coat, sleeves below his fingers, tentative eyes shielded by a ball cap. I notice kinky grays dotting his hairline, how he’s sneaking a sideways glance at my cart, avoiding eye contact.

Maybe you should give him a bottle of root beer, I hear myself think. Just like those phrases I heard earlier on my pillow.

“Do you have your Food Lion card,” the cashier asks him leaning her chest into the buttons. His almond shaped, pink nails curl around the familiar yellow card faded to dirty mustard, worn down white on the edges.

“That will be $10.38,” she says. And he swipes a credit card through the kiosk.

“It says insufficient funds,” the cashier reads through her glasses tilting her head down to see. Momentarily silent, he leans over and whispers that he just used it next door, then rifles through the bag deciding which item from the four to put back.

Now I know it’s not root beer that he needs.

“How about this,” I say wisking my card through the kiosk, “I’ll pay for your groceries.” And he stops what he’s doing to get a closer look at me.

“I didn’t ask you to do that,” he says quietly.

“You didn’t ask me, I want to do it,” I reply grabbing his bulky right arm while patting it. And now he’s mumbling something about washing my car. “Oh no, this is a free gift, you don’t have to earn it,” I tell him, “enjoy it.”

As I look up to see two women wiping tears from their eyes thanking me repeatedly and smiling, I turn back to him and say it again. It’s a free gift.  And then I realize, it only takes two words to know Jesus understands our plight. How an interruption of a grocery trip is an opportunity to be wonderstruck. That it really is more of a blessing to give than to receive.

When have you taken a risk and been wonderstruck by God in the process?


Today Duane Scott and I are launching a book club, co-hosting a discussion on Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg on our blogs. Link up your posts on finding the wonder of God in the everyday (they’ll show up on both our sites) and join the discussion in the comments and on our Facebook page throughout the week, Redemptions Beauty Book Club


April 3: Chapter 000 – 001

April 10:  Chapter 002-003

April 17: Chapter 004-005

April 24: Chapter 006-007

May 1: Chapter 008-009

May 8: Chapter 010-Final Thoughts

Every Monday in April, I’ll be giving away a copy of Wonderstruck to one lucky person who leaves a comment at Living the Story, my column at

Linking with Emily for Imperfect Prose.

Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here:


  1. 1lori_1

    Bravo….wonderful post! It’s all about the grace. Freely we have received, freely we give. It’s all those little (big) things we do in the course of a day that God smiles on. So glad to have joined on this journey of wonder along with you…..blessings on your day. Lori

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks Lori, you are right, it’s all about grace and being aware of it in the everyday of life. It’s all around us waiting for us to take notice. Glad you are joining us.

  2. Sylvia R

    What God does in us and through us in those spontaneous moments is truly a cause to be wonderstruck! Delightful! (And may those two words, “free gift,” echo through that man’s and those two women’s hearts and summon to them truth of that great Free Gift Easter celebrates–and leave them wonderstruck, too.) Blessings on ya!

    • Shelly Miller

      That was my prayer too Sylvia. And I think reading this book has helped me to be more alert to the wonder found in spontaneous moments – where I least expect wonder to present herself.

  3. Duane Scott

    In a way, we wrote down the same avenues today.

    Yours is taking a risk and finding God.

    Mine is simply opening one’s eyes and finding God.

    I, for one, have a lot to think about and carry me through the remainder of the week because I want to take risks like this, love like this, see God like this.

    Beautiful as always, Shelly.

    • Shelly Miller

      I think sometimes the risk looks like foolishness at first glance. I’m learning to discern the difference and be okay with looking foolish. And don’t we all need to take more risks to love well and see God? I know I do. Thanks Duane, love doing this with you.

  4. Nikki

    It’s true–it’s a greater blessing to give than receive…don’t you think when we give, we do receive? I’m certain Jesus makes sure of it…so why don’t I give of myself more? I get hung up on “what do I have to give?” when really…I have all I need. For I have Him…

    love this, friend. and can’t wait to get my book!

    • Shelly Miller

      You’ve found the gold nugget Nikki, that we receive the most when we give and what we receive is the best kind of fulfillment. Look forward to your thoughts as you read.

  5. Nancy Franson

    Oh, Shelly! This just did my heart so much good first thing this morning. Some days I wander around, wanting to be used by God, wanting to be a blessing to someone else, but not really seeing what I’m supposed to do. I love these moments when there is such clarity, such a profound sense of the Spirit’s prompting. My mother-in-law has such a gift for recognizing the whisperings of the Spirits and responding immediately with a kind word or gesture.

    I’ll be back later with my thoughts on Wonderstruck. Right now I have a date with my coffee mug. So glad you and Duane are hosting this.

    • Shelly Miller

      I feel that way often too Nancy and then God shows me I have opportunities to serve right in front of me.

  6. Ro elliott

    I had a very similar experience in the very beginning of my 1000 gift journey…and I know I would have missed the opportunity…stood and judge if the woman was just trying to get out of paying her groceries…etc… if God had not started this work…but I knew…and I paid…and it did something wonderful…it made me feel small…like I wanted to scrunch down low and run quickly to the door as the cashier started calling out to others…did you see that…did you see that lady pay…their was joy in giving…but oh how I longed and prayed that the lady would know….really know that day…how much God loves her. I wonder how many opportunities i have missed…but so thankful that living with my heart and eyes more opened…I won’t miss so many in the future

    • Shelly Miller

      I had a similar feeling Ro,like I wanted to evaporate. I didn’t want any credit for it.

  7. Amy Young

    I was wonderstruck today as I almost missed my train back to Beijing. We are starting the three day “Tomb Sweeping Holiday” and the train station was SO SO SO packed. People, people, people. I see obstacles keeping me from getting where I want, but Jesus knows EVERY single one of their stories and their names. Wow.

    • Shelly Miller

      Amy, it is so good to hear from you, its been a while. I hope you were able to catch another train.

  8. Lynn Morrissey

    Shelly, this is such a beautiful story of redemption and grace. To me, it has two crucial points–that God really does speak to us in the quietude of our hearts–His words can actually form there, and once we hear, our expectations rise, and we look for opportunities to fulfill His word to us…as you did with this gentleman. God had prepared you in advance for what He wanted you to do. When you really probe the depths of this–that our wondrous God really does communicate with us so intimately–we are wonderstruck. It’s a miracle that God speaks to us personally. I’m glad that you obeyed and showed the generosity and love of Christ to your neighbor. I just read the story of the Good Samaritan in my quiet moments this morning. I think it applies to you and this man. What a wondrous sight it would have been to behold this.

    • Shelly Miller

      I have noticed that sometimes those first words are hints or foreshadowing to my day. I love how He often connects what seems to be random dots, linking people, places and circumstances. That alone often leaves me wonderstruck.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        Amen, Shelly!

  9. Mia

    Dear Shelly
    We are so used to the ways of the world that we know the performance language very well. We find it hard at times just to receive! I want to thank you too for helping this man. Oh, the joy of giving with a cheerful heart. Visiting via Duanne’s.
    Much love XX

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks for linking up Mia and for leaving a comment.

  10. Margaret Feinberg

    Breathtaking. Thank you for sharing your story, Shelly. So excited to what else God chooses to reveal to you and teach you during the next several weeks! Thank you for your willingness to lead this journey!

    • Patricia Ellis

      Thank for this book Margaret. Downloaded on my kindle this morning and read through first two chapters….simply beautiful…want to go back and reread again. I had goosebumps reading of the wonder out there and how it can strike at any given moment….causing me to remember to keep my eyes open and to listen to the small voice…can’t wait to read on … You will bless many people with this book

    • Shelly Miller

      Love the way God brought it all together. It honestly just fell in my lap, and like you, I’m excited to see the outcome.

  11. Megan Willome

    This is beautiful, Shelly. I’m shocked he accepted the help.

    • Shelly Miller

      I hadn’t even thought of that Megan. But I’m glad he accepted it.

  12. Starla K Smith

    this is a beautiful painting of Jesus life in you… :0) well done

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Starla, appreciate that.

  13. floyd

    How amazing is our Father to redeem our hearts to know that you received as much or more than the one you reached out to. And now we receive a portion of that gift that He multiplies like the fish and bread. Great and encouraging story.

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, I did. I received so much more and I’m thankful to share it. Thanks Floyd.

  14. BrennaDA

    So beautiful.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks Brenna.

  15. kelli woodford

    so late in getting here, but wow.
    one of your best here, girl.
    those two words. oh, yes, there is nothing like watching His plan unfold.
    living the story.

    (and what awesome participation on your link up!! so glad for you!)

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks Kelli, its never too late to hear from you. Appreciate your encouragement. And I’m excited about what God is doing among us already as we launch into Wonderstruck.

  16. Lisa Kerner

    Oh my, I was so convicted by this read. I have actually read it a couple of times, through my reader. How often do I walk away from such a Wonderstruck moment out of fear? Well Shelly Miller you have encouraged me to get over myself and step out and find the pixie dust! 🙂


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