Making It A Big Deal {Makes It Difficult}

by | Jun 21, 2013 | Uncategorized


“Making writing a big deal tends to make writing difficult.”

I read this line in Julia Cameron’s book, The Right to Write, and I thought about how writing deadlines can do this;  squelch all the creativity right out of your soul for the sake of timeliness.  Yet they are necessary and I daresay, helpful. But sometimes we make a big deal out of things unnecessarily, in other parts of life too.

Summer often arrives with a few parenting bricks I carry around on my chest. The weightiness of making sure my kid’s summer vacation is fun and balanced, lighthearted but responsible, restful with a hint of productivity swirled in for good measure. By the second week, I’m exhausted hauling around my own expectations.

So this year, I’m asking God this simple question before my feet hit the floor: “How can I love my children today and what does that look like to you?”

Last night, my son and I sat at the bar in the kitchen, indulging in Sonic for dinner because the other two are eating In and Out Burger to their hearts content all over the state of California this week. No background noise to distract, just conversation about what matters to him.  We lingered in some comfortable silence too.

I learned some new things about my boy.

And I wondered, could it be that God is answering my question with one word? Listen.

Sometimes we think observing Sabbath needs to be swept clean of interruption, tidy and routine in order to grant ourselves permission to rest. We make it a big deal and it becomes difficult. And perhaps all God is asking us to do is love Him by doing one thing. Listen.

He just might want to tell us something new.


When I struggle to write, it is because I am trying to speak on the page rather than listen there. ~Julia Cameron


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  1. Michelle DeRusha

    Wow, Shelly, so much truth here. And you are so right about summer – it’s a little hectic sometimes … and hard on the writing. I’m giving myself a break and racheting down the expectations. But I hadn’t really thought of listening, per se – as in listening to the page, as Julia says. Hmmmmm. And yes, listening to God, there’s that, too!

    • Shelly Miller

      Me too Michelle. Of course I will admit it’s easier to do that when your kids are more independent. I’m really enjoying this book, lots of underlining. And for me listening on the page is holding hands with God.

  2. Lynn Morrissey

    Yes, Shelly, it’s good to listen to people and to pages; when you do, you discover the unexpected. I never know what loved ones will say when I really listen and don’t preempt them with *my* expectations for what I assume is on their mind (or what I think *should* be!)–when they know that they have my undivided attention, they’re more apt to share from the heart. And when I come to the page sans expectations (translate: pressure I put on myself to produce “X” number of pages by such-and-such time or to steer the subject in a narrow, preconceived direction)–when I abandon those expectations and listen to timbres of text that emerge and just write wherever the “melody” leads, I am always surprised by what I end up saying–NEVER what I expected! That, too, takes the pressure off, b/c often when I think I have to make a big deal of my writing and force it in a certain, preconceived direction (like little soldiers in a line), it rebels, and what I write is wooden. When I just show up and listen to the page, by letting the words lead (rather than my leading them), magic occurs. That’s what I love about your writing–it’s freewheeling and open and always takes me where I least expect it to! KEEP WRITING WITH ABANDON, with that unique voice that is all your own, that is breathtakingly ORIGINAL!!

    • Shelly Miller

      You have such wisdom Lynn. I’m listening and taking it all in and applying it, one day at a time. Thank you.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        I appreciate your prompting my thoughts!

  3. Deidra

    For a long time, very recently, I was stuck by all the expectations I felt about writing. I felt as if I needed to write what other people wanted me to write, so I didn’t write anything at all. Lately, I’ve decided I don’t need to listen to those voices I’d invented. I need to write my own story, because it’s the most authentic thing I can put on a page.

    Have you read “Let Your Life Speak” by Parker J. Palmer? Your words here remind me of his…

    • Shelly Miller

      And here I thought I was the only one. I’m glad to know you struggle with this too Deidra. I haven’t read this book, the title intrigues me.

  4. Lynn Morrissey

    Had meant to add that I never planned Sheridan’s summer. We just went with the flow and it always worked out. She survived. 🙂
    Love you!

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, isn’t it funny how they do that? *wink*

      • Lynn


  5. Shelly Wildman

    I’ve got a lot of bricks on my chest this summer, so I needed to hear this. I absolutely love your style, Shelly!

    • Shelly Miller

      Glad to know I’m not the only one who carries around those bricks Shelly. Thank you.

  6. Jillie

    Excellent words today, sweet Shelly! “Listening”. To the hearts of our children in those rare moments when they feel like talking. And listening to the page. Listening to God, as the pen releases the ink and He releases the words. Like Lynn says, when we truly do that, “magic happens”. It really does.
    I write simply for my own pleasure, because it’s within me to do it. I journal prayer, because it’s the way given me. I write notes and letters, and I just simply love it and marvel at it, that He gives the words to touch other’s hearts. Writing is my ‘fuel’. My ‘passion’. And it’s obviously your’s as well. Keep doing what you do so very well, my friend.

    • Lynn Morrissey

      Jillie, always so lovely to see you here, and in recovering from illness and planning vacation, I”ve been quiet. That said, I love what you say here about journaling and correspondence. In my response to Shelly’s post, I was referring to writing an article, book–whatever. But I’m so glad that you brought up journaling (which you well know is my greatest passion). God makes magic happen on those pages as well. That’s the beauty of journailng. You start at A and end at Z, because you never know where His Spirit will lead and there is something about journaling that “draws you out”! Journaling slows you down (a great Sabbath theme, BTW, and one that Shelly just mentioned in her Sabbath email). THat’s one of its greatest benefits–this slowing before the Lord, writing out your prayers word-for-word, luxuriating in His presence. And obviously the longer you journal, the more insights you will receive from Him……and I think that that pleases God. He wants to draw us out, pen in hand and offer His thoughts and reassurance to us; when we offer little arrow prayers on the run (a good thing to do on the run, of course–always to be mindful of Him), we don’t tend to develop deep intimacy with the Lord that longer times of communion afford. I am so glad that you are faithful to Him to journal and also that you are sharing His encouragement with others via cards and letters. I am certain that I keep Hallmark’s and our U.S. Postal Service in operation! Just yesterday, I sent twenty handwritten cards! Oh my! Mike is sweet to let me keep this kind of expense priority in my life. Wonderful to read your words, Jillie. You always encourage me!

  7. Jenbh

    I came over from Simple Stories, and I’m so glad I did! Yes to every bit…I needed to read this today in the midst of a hectic week. Thank you!

  8. Nancy Ruegg

    Loving by listening–a sweet gift for anyone, including our Heavenly Father. I read somewhere that there are more talkers in the world than listeners these days. Add to the verbal talkers those who spend much time communicating by social media and yikes! Who is listening to or reading all this verbiage? James gave wise advice centuries ago: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak” (1:19). Thank you, Shelly, for your gentle reminder! Also must say I love the quote from Julia Cameron. More good food for thought!

  9. DeanneMoore

    Carrying those bricks too as you know. I connect with this concept of listening. I am surprised sometimes what I hear on the page and I wonder where “that” came from… Then I realize it was Him. Maybe my writing is for me than anyone else, and maybe it is a gift that I have never really appreciated. Thanks for writing what your listening to and sharing it here. Always a blessing to me.

  10. Anita_Mathias

    Yes, deadlines do that to me, freeze me. Oh, for the waterfall of God’s love to wash away the fear!

  11. Elizabeth Stewart

    I really love the tire swing photo. It speaks of carefree days. Oh, to learn to quit making things difficult!

  12. Joanne Norton

    Thank you for sharing. I love the photos. Also, I, too, struggle with the writing. Gotta get this figured out. [Would love to see you again!]

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