Hanging By A Thread

by | May 1, 2013 | Uncategorized


Sometimes I feel like it’s all hanging by a thread. Just one tug in the wrong direction and life, it might just all unravel. Best laid plans once worn snuggly around your neck can suddenly become a single strand of fuzzy remembrance. What did my life look like before all this? It’s what I hear myself say, as I back onto the driveway and watch the slow descent of the garage door.

I have forty-five minutes to drive to a doctor’s appointment one hour away; in the car I’ve delayed maintaining. An appointment I made before I knew I’d be travelling to England. Before I knew my daughter would be sick and her car held hostage by a mechanic. Before my mother-in- law agreed to fly from Phoenix and land in the opposite direction.

My suitcase lays open on the chaise lounge in my bedroom, its emptiness heckles me from a distance. I removed its dirty socks and Dayspring trinkets but the smell of joy lingers in the pockets from the trip I took last week.

As I pull onto the highway, the road zips open and evergreens unfold like a children’s pop-up book. My leather van seat is an empty bench at a quiet museum; the horizon, a fine painting hanging on walls of clouded sky.

I can’t stop and I don’t have my camera. But I’m framing each piece of landscape in my mind.

Of ivy hanging on crumbling pylons, water logged tree statues, stark and naked, their bony knees stuck in still waters hued in morning sun. Tuscany’s lavender wild cousins carpeting both sides of pavement, waving southern in the wind. Birds soaring overhead like paper airplanes thrown from the tops of tall buildings, gliding and unaware of time.

Suddenly, I’m breathing slow and thankful for this quiet and solitude. I’m thankful for doctors and praying for those that don’t have access to one. I’m thankful that I’ll celebrate twenty-three years of marriage in a place that feels oddly like home, though I’ve never lived there. I’m thankful that my daughter doesn’t want to miss her chem lab, even if her head rests on the glass the entire way to school. For morning prayers together when she’s usually scurrying off  alone. And for my mother in law, who makes it possible for me to experience a few days of bliss.

What I thought was hanging by a thread is actually a tapestry cupped in His hands. I just needed a few moments of silence to see it. To recognize the handprints of God.

Through praise and thanksgiving, we reflect on the transcendent nature of God – the reality that he is above all. As we look up toward God, we also can’t help but be reminded of our smallness. This shift in perspective softens our hearts, inviting us once again to lean into God’s goodness, to look up for his salvation. ~Margaret Feinberg, Wonderstruck, Chapter 009

When has God redeemed hardship in your life and transformed it into a moment of gratitude?


Today Duane Scott and I are co-hosting a book club and discussion on Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg. 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.


May 1: Chapter 008-009

May 8: Chapter 010-Final Thoughts

Linking with Emily for Imperfect Prose and Jennifer for Tell His Story.

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


  1. Lisa notes...

    It’s easy to get lost in your words. So beautiful.

    Although the details may differ for each of us, the big story is the same, and I need those reminders to transcend the details and notice the fingerprints of God, his grand tapestry.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Lisa, the details help me to slow down and get perspective. I’m not sure if its the season of life I’m in but I’m noticing them in ways I never have before.

  2. Ro elliott

    Yes…really starting to see…In EVERYTHING give thanks… and how opening my heart…eyes and mind to all that is around me…slows down my mind…slows down my heart…and my eyes are opened to see…His Beauty…even in the ugly beautiful.

  3. Emma

    Oh Shelly, I can so relate to the life imploding thing. Just today I too have experianced exactly what you share. Life hanging like a lead weight around my neck, convinced it will pull me under at any moment but a car journey gave space and time to realise it is already in hand, in fact it was two weeks ago, as the panic subsides; the gratitute rises amazed at the provision yet again. He does indeed have it all in hand.

    • Shelly Miller

      Look forward to seeing you in a week Emma! Whoot!

  4. Jillie

    Beautiful as always, Shelly. Yes! Those quiet moments. Solitude. Getting ‘life’ into perspective, and seeing God’s hand in it all. His beautiful tapestry, even though it may look like snarled lines of confusing, random threads to us.

    Even with all the random threads of my life…sadnesses, loss, pain, sin committed by me and sin committed against me…I see His fingerprints on my whole life. His redeeming grace all the way. Lessons learned the hard way…lessons to pass on. He never wastes a thing. He always uses it for the good, amen?

    • Shelly Miller

      He does use it for His good, all of it. That is why we can’t sit in a stance of looking back and wishing. We know and trust that redemption lives just around the corner.

  5. dukeslee

    Pure poetry here. As always! Enjoy the next leg of your life’s journey. Bon voyage! xo

    • Shelly Miller

      Always appreciate your kind words Jennifer and the way you champion me. That random conversation at the retreat during Emily’s session has replayed in my mind over and over again. Thank you.

  6. Megan Willome

    When? Ask me in a year or two. In the thick of it right now.

  7. kelli woodford

    i think we miss the miracle of the small because we are often looking for something big. we want to see the complete tapestry, woven and finished, but we don’t see that it’s made up of all these single threads. the kind we are hanging by.
    love this post, Shelly. and have a great trip!

    • Shelly Miller

      I know that is the case for me Kelli, always want to get to the end product, the outcome, without savoring the in-between. But that is often where the richness of life resides.

  8. Elizabeth Stewart

    Have a wonderful trip! Can’t wait to see the lovely photos you’ll take! I also feel “undone” if life gets too hurried or the schedule too full. Unfortunately, I seem to crave more margin in my days the older I get. Wondering if this is normal…

    • Shelly Miller

      Me too, craving and needing more margin and white knuckling it these days Elizabeth. Hope to share some beauty with you on the blog next week!

  9. Nancy Ruegg

    Your creative, poetic descriptions lead my spirit to praise and gratitude, Shelly. You provide a new way of seeing, hearing, and feeling. Thank you! And may your trip be inspiring and restorative.

    • Shelly Miller

      Nancy, you have no idea how your words bless me. If there be any consolation in gratitude and praise, its the grace of Christ.

  10. Allie

    wow, your writing is so moving. i love this post. very relatable.


    Allie @ Framed by God


    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Allie, glad you stopped by.

  11. Lynn Morrissey

    With breathtaking brushstrokes of your pen, you paint me breathless yet again, Shelly. I’m in awe of or your creative world. Like you, I was zooming off to yet another doctor’s appointment just yesterday, begrudging that I had to sacrifice more time to medical necessities, wishing I’d gotten an earlier start, hoping for some quietude in her waiting room, only to be bombarded with a deluge of new forms to complete just because *she* changed locations! And then, when I got home, I spent over forty minutes on the phone with *another* doctor’s receptionist trying to untangle the twisted threads of appointments, and mammogram and MRI scheduling for both Mother and me for *next year,* that had somehow gotten all fouled up. I’m not even finished mapping out this year, and already I have to orchestrate 2014. It was all too much. So life’s tapestry is complex with its variegated and sometimes gnarly underside. But you remind us to take time for beauty and to appreciate the warmth and wonder of the shawl God is draping over the shoulder of our days. Instead of begrudging all these necessary doctor visits, you remind me to take time to appreciate that I have a beautiful eighty-three-year-old Mother, whose last mammogram showed her cancer-free (she’s had breast cancer twice and lumpectomies), and to thank our good God that my recent breast surgery was negative. We really do need eyes to see, and just a momentary pause in which to see God, wonderstruck. Praying for your trip. When do you leave?
    Love you,


    • Shelly Miller

      There is a calming in knowing you and I were thousands of miles apart at doctor’s appointments Lynn. I’m so thankful for you, for your refreshing honesty and genuineness, a rare jewel in the muck of life for sure. I leave today, and I’m still packing. 🙂

      • Lynn Morrissey

        Your comments mean the world here! You know, Shelly, I am pretty much of a mucky mess half the time (or more! 🙂 Oh! REally?! Packing now?! I hate this word, but I totally freak out packing. I can never ever decide. You will be so lovely. I will be praying for your safe travels and just the most wonderful time! And I must tell you. I just spent two hours on the phone with our English friend (whose husband died in January–my original penpal before they married), and she stressed again that we are most welcome to come. Mike is really seriously looking into this, so we might be going in July. I will keep you posted. It would have meant the world to me somehow to see you there (what were the odds, though?!), but if we go, now you can give me some tips. I’ve not been to England since 1989. If we go, this would be our fourth trip, and I never think we will get to go back. We’ll see, but it just might happen! PRAYING!
        Love you so,

  12. Nacole Simmons

    I love your poetry, and I love the way you see, friend. I could get lost in the bad mood that rainy days bring for me, but there is always something to be thankful for.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Nacole, thankful for you and the way you see God too.

  13. Margaret Feinberg

    Thank you for the refreshing reminder to be grateful even in the midst of chaos!

    • Shelly Miller

      It takes a bit of wrestling to get there Margaret, truthfully, but when I arrive, I don’t look back. I’m just thankful he got me there.

  14. Lori A. Heyd

    Beautiful piece of poetic writing here…..I love moments like that, when everything suddenly slows down and God rewards you for noticing! Say hello to my Dad’s native country for me, someday maybe I plan to see it for myself. Looking forward to the pics I know you will take 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      I realize that the more tired I get, the more my words sound like poetry. I wrote this quite late at night, which isn’t my optimum time for writing. But you know what, I realize it is who I am, and not contrived.

  15. DeanneMoore

    I can’t believe you left without your camera but you didn’t need it, these words said it all. So grateful for you my friend, for the life you live, the light you shine, the path you walk before us. God bless you and H on your trip.

    • Shelly Miller

      I know, I rarely leave home without my camera, right? I covet your prayers as we embark on our journey.

      • DeanneMoore

        You know I will pray. There is something waiting for you there… just saying. Please don’t leave the camera and watch you backpack on the trains. Have a beautiful time, be filled my friend.

  16. Duane Scott

    Your adjective use! It’s absolutely stunning.

    Yes, yes, I love looking for the unnoticed, the small things. But God has noticed. As you so eloquently said, He placed His hands upon them.

    And I’m a fool for not seeing them more. Thank you for opening my eyes!

    • Shelly Miller

      I think you actually see them more than you realize. You often help me to see differently when we talk on the phone and when I read you.

  17. Ashley Tolins Larkin

    Such beautiful imagery, dear Shelly. Thank you for your words here, for the reminder to stop long enough to see the threads that are all the while being formed into something beautiful. Enjoy your trip!

  18. Chris Olson

    I’m working on letting God redeem those moments. Hope that makes sense.

    • Chris Olson

      sorry – Brother Ollie on Imperfect Prose

  19. Nikki

    This is woven altogether lovely, Shelly.

    I’m finding my tilted stance helps me see things more clearly. and I wonder if it’s because my vision is closer to His fresh handprints.

  20. dramaticelegance1009

    this is just beautiful!

    what a precious reminder to see the small miracles in the tapestry of the big!


  21. Diana Trautwein

    I hope this trip is a restorative and blessed as the last one, Shelly – looking forward to your photos and reflections. We leave for Europe next week as well – 2 weeks of city touring and river cruising from Berlin to Prague. Love this post as I head off to bed, very late indeed.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Diana, we are leaving expectant. I’ll look forward to hearing about your trip too. Hope it is full of wonder and rest. So glad you stopped by.

  22. Lisa Kerner

    Ahhh, and there it is. Joy is all in the choosing. To stop and see the miracle right in front of you. But all too often I fly past and see it all as ugly. Paul said joy is learned, we have to learn to stop and see joy. I loved this post, especially your magicallly discriptive words.

  23. Elizabeth

    Shelly, you point me to a place of re-focus on the working out by grace of a life in the making. And that is it, no, we are being made and formed and regenerated moment by moment so that they all are significant. Every fragmented moment is integral, though they may seem inconsequential at the time. Safe travels, friend.

  24. Starla K Smith

    just beautiful !! i like this line I’m breathing slow and thankful for this quiet and solitude. – May that be my heart!

  25. Jennifer Dougan


    Our Bible study has just started this book. I am enjoying it and am chapter two. Looking for His wonder and savoring it is a nice new discipline. It continues the theme that Ann Voskamp started in her one thousand gifts too.

    Jennifer Dougan

  26. Courtney Buxton

    God does this for me all the time, every day. Just this morning I was in Holy Yoga, thinking about a bit of a mess when God just sort of tapped me on the shoulder and showed me exactly what my issue is. It totally turned the tables on me, in a good way. Suddenly the mess wasn’t that big of a deal.
    I hope you have a good trip!

  27. selenasaad

    Recently I was extremely low on cash and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money.. on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this! – 2xvu


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