Surrendering to Sabbath – Week 17

by | May 4, 2013 | Uncategorized


My bags are packed with socks and scarves, and lots of layers for indecisive May in England. And we’re cousins, the weather and I, when it comes to books.

Because sometimes a trip isn’t as much about the change of pace and new scenery as the gift of empty time in the wait to get there. That time when I can’t do anything except read. And that’s where my indecisiveness hovers over the wings of the plane.

Which book should I choose first?

I’ve just finished Wonderstruck, Love Does and the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

I’m taking a journal, oh yes leather and a pen, to write down all the stories swirling in my mind. It sits right next to my Kindle, loaded with Thin Places, Free Fall to Fly, and God in the Yard. The new smell of pages in The Light Between Oceans awaits the christening of dark chocolate smudges and brown drip circles from Starbucks and Diet Coke.

Because when I read fiction, I need to feel the glossy cover and flip pages between my fingers.

Reading, it’s the gift I give myself during Sabbath. Because words change me.

“Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power?”   ~ Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

So what are you reading? What would you put in your carry-on knowing you have a window of eight hours of unscheduled time?

Click on the What I Read tab to find more good reads. The books below are from my favorite bookstore in London: Persephone Books.


Inspired reading around the web this week:

A Circuitous Route – Beautiful poetry by Elizabeth Marshall

On Dreaming and the Good of Contradictions – Ashley Larkin expresses how I feel about my retreat experience last weekend.

God in the Yard – Jody is slowing for Sabbath through the words of a book that is transforming her one word at a time. (and I have it now on my Kindle)

Why You Shouldn’t Read This Blog – because everything Margaret Feinberg writes is full of love and wisdom.

What Heaven Will Be Like – get some tissues and be prepared for God to meet you in this beautiful piece of writing by my dear friend Duane at Scribing the Journey.

Happy Sabbath Friends!


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  1. Jillie

    Hey there Shelly–Miss you already! But I see you having a wonderful time there in jolly-ole England! Say “Cheerio” to Kate for me–tell her she’s looking smashing in her maternity garb!
    I’ve just finished reading ‘Before Women Had Wings’ at the recommendation of a friend. A very difficult book to read, simply because it reflected some of my childhood. Alcoholic mother. Terrible names she would call her own daughters. Beatings. Plenty of ‘bad words’! My gosh..the bad words! Not a book for everyone, I suspect. But there was hope in the end.
    Now, I’ve begun ‘Carrie and me’…by Carol Burnett. About her relationship with her dear daughter who died of cancer. I’ve never read a book by Ms. Burnett, but have always loved her! Such a funny lady! The best! Even so, she has had much tragedy in her own life. Growing up with an alcoholic Mom. I see a theme developing here.
    If I had 8 hours of unscheduled time, I would put a lovely, new, (leather) journal and a pen in my carry-on, as well as ‘Love Letters To God’ by…..Lynn Morrissey…..a book I like to return to at least once a year. To keep my thoughts lovely on my trip.
    Glad you’re reading ‘Thin Places’–excellent book!

    • Lynn Morrissey

      Jillie, what a joy to see you here, and I agree: What will we do without our Shelly? Oh! I must say that I was totally surprised to read my book listed amongst the others. What an honor for you to mention it, and what a joy that you return to it like a friend. And what a joy that you, in Canada, found me, in St. Louis, about eight years after I had written Love Letters to God! That my mere words could inspire you to keep journaling fulfills my primary call: to encourage transparency in women with their God. I am so glad that Love Letters to God has done that for you. And guess what? My British friend talked about that “royal baby” in a two-hour conversation I had with her just yesterday. And guess what? She has invited us to come for a visit again, and we’re going! I am still in shock. Thank you again, dear Jillie, for the lovely woman you are, and for how you always credit the Lord. I rejoice that He has gotten you through a troubling childhood by His grace and mercy and that you give Him the glory!

    • Shelly Miller

      Carol Burnett was one of my favorite shows as a child. She still is one of the best comedians ever in my estimation. I was curious about her book myself. Let me know how you like it. Ah, yes, a journal and pen and that lovely book by our dear friend. Bliss.

  2. Lynn Morrissey

    Shelly, I look in envy at your packed luggage, which appears quite compact to me. I can NEVER decide what clothes to take on a trip, and I always over pack. Once I didn’t, and regretted it because I didn’t have something I needed. This indecisiveness kills a perfectionist like me–just drives me totally nuts. And now *I* must decide! Last night, Michael purchased three round-trip tix to London, and we leave June 29th. I told him last night in our dozing-off conversation, “Well, at least I will have almost two months to pack.” He had almost drifted off to sleep, when he suddenly burst out laughing. He knew that I was serious, and he just couldn’t believe it. Well, “packing” for me, also means shopping for stuff I need (or think I do–and I hate shopping about as much as I do deciding). And that when I asked our English friend what the temperatures for typical English summer weather are, and she said nothing was typical, my indecisive mind nearly flipped out. But I have been admonished by my beloved to PACK LIGHTLY. This seems to me to be a great metaphor for life. And in that regard, literally just before I read your post, I was wondering what books I should bring as I glanced at all those stacked on my kitchen table where I have my “quiet time.” Books are heavy when traveling, and I will need to pare down. I have books everywhere (boxes and boxes weighting down the basement to near sinking, and books lining shelves in our hearth room (where they are actually supposed to be), on desks, in baskets, and even in my kitchen pantry–seriously! They’re food for thought! So I grabbed my indecisive self by the scruff of my neck and said, “You will take your Nook and not lug books all over the British Isles.” So that is what I will try to do (though I love the heft and feel and smell of a good book). My ESV Bible is already loaded on my Nook and some great spiritual reads like Tozer’s Pursuit of God. But I think what I want to take is British fiction. I very rarely indulge in fiction, and it’s time to dredge up Jane Eyre again, my favorite novel. How I wish we’d cross paths with yours on those circuitous cobblestone byways, but I hope you can give me some site recommendations via your blog (or a quick email later). I’m praying that this is a glorious, life-changing trip for you and that you will have lots of time to READ, RELAX, and REJOICE in the wonder of it all and our God who makes your travels possible. And praying for safety too!
    Love you,

    • Shelly Miller

      Jane Eyre is one of my favorites too Lynn. And the Nook will be a definite. I always bring one real book with me for good measure. I just wandered through an old book shop yesterday and was tempted by a first edition of a George Elliot book but the price was too steep. I’m posting later today on our first three days with some photos. We’ve had gorgeous, unusual sunny weather as we wandered through the Cotswolds. And yes, I’ll fill you in later on good places to go.

  3. Jody Collins

    Shelly, thanks for including me in your weekly gleaning. Safe travels!

  4. Ashley Tolins Larkin

    Thank you, dear Shelly, for including my words among these great ones. Good reading, restful Sabbath and wonderful travels to you!

  5. Kimberly Sullivan

    I haven’t made much time for reading lately….I’m in a doing mode….but Im badly in need of a reading Sabbath. Have a wonderful time, friend.

  6. Nancy Ruegg

    “LOVE the Annie Dillard quote, and say, “Amen” to a reading-Sabbath. Right now I’m devouring One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It has been a Thanksgiving feast for my soul. Ann serves up familiar ingredients, such as appreciation, blessings, and grace, but in delicious new ways. This is a book I will NOT be reading just once and putting on a shelf. It begs to be savored again and again!

    • Shelly Miller

      I’ve read Ann’s book three times Nancy and I keep going back to it from time to time. It is indeed a glorious, transforming read.

  7. Megan Willome

    Love, love, love, love, love Harold Fry! I read it in August, and it’s the best thing I’ve read in a long time. I think it saved me in advance for all that’s come since.

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh, I’m so glad to know you’ve read it Megan. It was a new title to me. And books have a way of doing that don’t they? Saving us.

  8. Kel Rohlf

    Just got back from a trip where I read Annie Dillard’s, The Writing Life… just ordered God in the Yard via Jody’s recommendation,,,read Coffee with Hemingway, a little book written as if the author was interviewing him, which was fun to read since I was in Key West. In the process of reading, A Writer’s Paris by Eric Maisel which is a clever metaphor for encouraging you to write wherever you are…he recommends visiting places as an artist, rather than tourist. Also dabbling in Mysteries and Manners, essays on writing by Flannery O’Connor compiled posthumously. So glad you have your journal and what a wonderful place to practice Sabbathing! Cheers!

    • Shelly Miller

      Kel, wish I would’ve known about A Writer’s Paris, that sounds interesting. I’ll have to pick it up for future journeys. And Flannery O’Connor was recommended to me by Graham Tomlin the last time I was in London. A sacred echo there. Thanks for sharing. You’ve left a wealth of inspiring reads.

  9. Ahyana

    Just working on my book list for a trip to San Francisco. I’ve added The 12 Tribes of Hattie and The Other Wes Moore which a group of students are reading at the University where I work, and I added Love Does to the list. Should be great for the direct flight from the East Coast to the West Coast. I’m thinking up[on my return I may need to add a few of your suggested readings. Thanks for sharing and happy travels!

    • Shelly Miller

      You will love Love Does Ahyana, I savored it one story at a time. He inspires.

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