The Metamorphosis of Beauty {A Giveaway}

by | Jun 25, 2013 | Uncategorized


A friend leaned over in church, whispered a compliment in my ear during the middle of the sermon about the doodles my daughter drew on the back of her bulletin. I pulled in close and told her that she also drew the clothes she needed to pack for her trip.  Drew them.

Murielle didn’t create a checklist of items to fold into a suitcase for a week in California with her Dad, she sketched each blouse, skirt, pair of pants, and accessory she intended to take with her in an imaginary closet. Each item so intricate, I could’ve gone to her closet and packed her myself. A rendering with a pencil on lined paper in a spiral notebook, not a fancy art journal.

I have stacks of church bulletin sketches I can’t bear to throw away. Just yesterday, I found a crude stick figure drawing of Jesus hanging on a bent cross in some old paperwork. She showed me a long time ago, that listening comes easy when her hands are busy and letting go of perception provides a portal to providence, a glimpse of her beautiful soul.

My girl, she has never been one to compartmentalize her creativity to the art room. It’s part of her lifeblood. That’s why I’m not surprised she’s looking at colleges for architecture and design.

A few days ago, I stood in the middle of the card aisle with my son at CVS when the phone rang. It was her, calling to download after a campus tour in Pasadena. Harrison was pushing patience through a sieve, pacing with the birthday card he picked out for his Dad in his hand as I talked to his sister.

“I hate that school,” she said. I knew it wasn’t going to be the short conversation he was hoping for.

“The walls were all stark white for one thing; actually I didn’t like anything about it. I realize I want to go to a school that offers design and this school was all about the engineering side of architecture.”

Right there, surrounded by rows of greeting cards, I thought about the lopsided watermelon people with viney limbs she drew on sticky notes as a child, the hours seated at her miniature table in the kitchen creating masterpieces, summers of art classes, the PowerPoint presentations she creates “just for fun”.

“Yes, I get that honey, design is your thing,” I affirmed.


In the early years of parenting, a table loaded with glue, paint, fabric scraps and a bucket of buttons held her attention for hours. Over the years she earned the title as the girl Most Likely to Be Picked as a Partner for School Projects. The day she uttered, “I wish there was a class offered at school for doing projects all year,” was the day God gave me a glimpse of His next chapter in the story of her life

Often the mundane minutiae of modern life we see as mindless interruption is actually God’s carefully crafted key opening the beauty of the Kingdom.  

And here we are, parents on the precipice of positioning our daughter for more than just finger paints – a future in creating art for people. A sign that some of our seemingly insignificant Saturday’s were actually part of the intricate planning by the Master of design. But then again, nothing is insignificant to God is it?

After church, I crawled into the passenger seat and turned around to see both the kids bent over their phones. I thought about my admission to you – here on the blog last week – about closing the lid on my paint palette because of perfectionism.

“Hey, I was thinking about taking some art supplies up to the cottage this year,” I said to Murielle, “I haven’t done that in a long time. We could have rainy art days.”  She nodded in agreement and looked out the window.


Today I’m giving away one copy of Life After Art:What You Forgot About Life and Faith Since You Left the Art Room by Matt Appling to a lucky person who leaves a comment on this post. Winner announced on Friday.

Tell me, what do you want your life to say about you?

Linking with Laura, Jen, Jennifer and Emily.


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  1. ThandiweW

    Hmm…what do I want my life to say about me? That I always sought the lesson and the joy. Even when it was really hard….
    Murielle sounds extraordinary. Hoping when our time comes that I will have wonderful things to share about our college pursuit journey.
    Peace and good, Sabbath Sister

    • Shelly Miller

      I have a feeling that many people already say that about you Chelle. Love sojourning with you toward Sabbath.

  2. Pam

    Beautiful picture of your beautiful daughter’s spirit, Shelly. Mmm… Lately, I want others to say of my life… I found Him in the creative work of her hands… (writing, drawing) – Pam, apples of gold,

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, I echo that one Pam.

  3. Amy L. Sullivan

    OHHHHHH, pick me, pick me. Uhhh, Uhhh (I’m waving my hand in front of you!).
    Me? I want my life to say…that Amy Sullivan, she loved God, and she loved others, hard.

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, I think many will say that about you Amy. It’s obvious. And you are so cute, waving back.

  4. Beth

    Your words made me think of my own son as he pursues a degree in music…there was no doubt this would be the next chapter in his life. What do I want my life to say about me??? Oh my…I’m about to copy Amy as I really wanted to say that she loved God and loved others. I’m really not meaning to copy. 🙂 Beautiful words Shelly. Blessings.

    • Shelly Miller

      No fine print here Beth, you can echo someone else. *wink*

  5. Kathy

    Struggling with life and with painting. Not sure where to put the next step or brush stroke. Just know that when the step or stroke is made the next one is easier. Painting and walking were he leads just putting one foot in front of the other.

    • Shelly Miller

      That is so true Kathy. I think the hardest part is starting. May He inspire you with direction and clarity as you are faithful to take those steps.

  6. Diane Bailey

    I love Kelli Woodford’s comment!

    But, what do I want my life to say? I want it to say something Similar to Erma Bombeck, My version would be, “I want my paint wells to be empty as I stand before the Lord. I want to be able to say, I have nothing left; I used all you gave to me, then gave everything away to others.'”

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh, I love that Diane. So good.

  7. Amelia Rhodes

    Oh I love his quotes! My husband is a designer and artist, and he too listens better if he’s sketching and drawing. He explains his ideas better that way too. Words don’t come easily but drawings too. Blessings on you and your family as you send your daughter off on her next God-aventure!

    • Shelly Miller

      Amelia, its lovely to meet you here. I think its common for creatives to multi-task in order to function in their gifts. But obviously, you already know that.

  8. DeanneMoore

    Loved this beautiful picture of Murielle’s life, her gifting. So many of her contemporaries have no idea what their lives are speaking. I hope you’ll take the watercolors with you to the lake. No telling what you two will create? Love you question—need to answer it…

    • Shelly Miller

      I think I will take them Dea. And our scrapbooking stuff too. I might even take a journal to write in, instead of my computer. Of course, I’ll take that too.

      I’m so thankful Murielle does have a sense of direction. Of course, it could all change too. But for now, it’s life giving to her and I’m grateful.

  9. Glenda Childers

    A sweet story.


  10. Nancy

    I shut out art for far too long and am finding ways to put it back into my busy life. Thank you for your blog.

  11. Lynn Morrissey

    Just looked it up: Means “Star of the Sea” or star-bright! Artistic, indeed!

    • Shelly Miller

      I haven’t heard that on Lynn, interesting.

  12. Deidra

    I’ve never been crafty or artistic. Not like Murielle. I paint walls. And I redecorate. I hang curtains on windows and pictures in frames. I have a friend who doodles while she listens in a meeting, and she creates the most beautiful works of art — right before my eyes. So incredible!

    What do I want my life to say about me? Love and grace. And that I grew a bit along the way.

    • Shelly Miller

      Um, I think if you paint walls, hang curtains and decorate that is crafty and artistic. She actually loves doing that stuff too.

      Love and grace, they look good on you.

  13. Mia

    Dear Shelly
    My oldest is much the same as your daughter. Art is sort of part of their lifeblood! And this year he is finishing his masters degree in Architecture. He also wasn’t the art school type of person, yet even before he started his studies, he already deigned a house for someone which was well accepted and built. It just is something that is part of them!

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh wow Mia, that is awesome. My husband actually has a degree in architecture, she is following in his footsteps. However, he never practiced, went right into ministry and got his masters of divinity.

  14. DawnatDawnings

    I would love for my life to say I never gave up. Despite my lack of talent or my perfectionism or my insecurities. Follow the artist within like a child does — with abandon and lack of self-consciousness.

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh, those are good Dawn. Tenacity, courage, determination, bravery . . . I say yes to all of those too.

  15. Emma

    I let my art fall by the wayside, I’m happy to say in the last couple of years I have picked it up again. I’m so much happier now that I am not only creative again but fully acknowledge who created me to be so. So I guess I’d like my life to say happily creative, inspired by The designer.

    • Shelly Miller

      Emma, I love that. It’s like settling into part of yourself you didn’t even know you were missing.

  16. Debbie

    What I want my life to say about me is that she spread the fragrance of Christ wherever she went.

    I love this post and to read about your daughter. As a little girl, I was sidelined because of a heart defect. I spent hours painting and drawing. Once I had surgery I was able to be energetic and play with other children. I lost some of that quiet time of art. Now that I’m working with preschool children, art is coming back into my life and I’m loving it.

    Blessings and love,

    • Shelly Miller

      No wonder you love children so much Debbie, you have empathy from your own past. I’m sure to the children you love on every day, they will remember you as being the fragrance of Christ.

  17. Joy Lenton

    This is a lovely unfolding of the metamorphasis of beauty, art and life, Shelly. What a talented, creative daughter you have in Murielle – just like her mum. She is already bringing beauty into the world through her gifting. The Matt Appling quotes are wonderful. I have his book on my birthday/Christmas Wish List, but it would be great to win a copy here instead! The expression of our creativity is found in numerous ways. Art, poetry and writing used to feature in my life when I was younger. Then, insecurity and lack of confidence kept it hidden for years. Now, I seek to draw life from observation and paint the poetic with words as writing has come to the forefront again. I think I would want my life to say that I found life-transforming grace in Christ and it transformed me into an encourager and supporter of other hurting people as I desire them to know Him too.

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh, I hope you win Joy.I’m so glad you’ve found your spot in creating art, what a gift for you, others and to Him. I’m sure He is smiling over the way you are using the gifts he gives you.

  18. Heather

    I appreciate how you and H have nurtured and encouraged your daughter’s talent and encouraged her to pursue it as a career. It makes my heart glad and somehow, in some small way is a healing thing for my inner teenager…if that makes any sense. Well done, Mom.

    • Shelly Miller

      Aw, I’m so glad to know that Heather. Honestly? I never even thought about not encouraging her in the direction she felt led to go.

  19. rachel lee

    you have no idea (or maybe you do) what that kind of encouragement from parents will do for the heart of your daughter. i had amazing parents that saw my artistic leanings and stood behind me…though it took a long while for them to understand.

    your daughter is truly blessed, shelly.

    and as for me…i want my life to say that i reached out, was quiet, and simply held others. i want to be His hands and feet.

    • Shelly Miller

      I haven’t thought about it as much as I have here in the comments as people like you remind me of what I take for granted. Thank you. The hands and feet of Jesus, yes you are.

  20. Janie Seltzer

    Hi Shelly, wonderful post! Right on point for where our ministry is~ the place where faith and beauty intersect 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      Lovely to see you here Janie. Hope you are doing well. I’ll have to take a peek at your site. Thanks for leaving the address.

  21. Jillie

    Hi Shelly, beautiful post! Your Murielle sounds like my Jessie. Such a creative girl with mountains of potential. My daughter has chosen not to pursue higher education, at least not right now, but is currently managing a store here and doing a wonderful job. But this girl can do anything she sets her hand to. She has more talent in her baby finger than I have in my whole body! How wonderful to encourage these brilliant young women, knowing that God has a purpose and destiny for them, equipping them with all they need to make their God-given dreams come true. I wish Murielle all the best in her future endeavours.
    I may not have yet found my ‘art form’, or my way of leaving my mark on this world, but I hope people will remember me as one who had great compassion for the failings of others…and that I loved others for just who they were.

    • Shelly Miller

      What a awe-inspiring thing to say Jillie, I love that. That we would be known for having compassion for the failings of others and we loved people for who they are . . .why does that feel holy somehow? Beautiful.

    • Lynn D. Morrissey

      It seems to me that that kind of compassion IS an art form, Jillie!!

  22. Anne Peterson

    Beautiful post, Joy. How exciting, we both have artistic daughters. And both you and I love to paint with words. Loved the post. So, you would recommend this book for Jess?

    • Shelly Miller

      I would recommend this book to anyone who decided that art is only for the art room, yet have a desire to create. It’s encouragement for anyone.

  23. HisFireFly

    I want my life to whisper, shout and scream – God is good!

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes and amen!

  24. Lynn Morrissey

    My Dearest Twin!!!
    Ok, now add to the lengthening list that we both have artistic daughters! Sheridan will be a college junior next year and is an art major. She absolutely loves what she’s doing! We (Michael and I) wanted her to pursue her passion and God-given talent. I love how you and H are tupporting Murielle along these same lines. I will never forget the sadness of one of Sheridan’s high-school classmates, who was amazed that I was letting Sheridan pursue her dream. She wasn’t envious of Sheridan, but just sad for herself. Her mother insisted she be practical. (She had a beautiful voice and wanted to major in music)/ But where would we be without the arts and the artists (of all kinds) who bring them to us? What kind of world would this be with no beauty and grace? I don’t think that that would be very practical. The arts are noble pursuits, which I believe that the Lord will bless. Will Murielle be a senior next year? This will be such an exciting year for all of you as you begin that joyful journey into her future. And yes, as you quoted, you must make the choice. I’m so glad that you are making it with her.
    The book sounds wonderful. I have heard of it. I appreciate all your recommedations!!

    • Shelly Miller

      It is weird how much we have in common isn’t it? I love it. Was just telling a friend on the beach about you today. Our friendship increases my faith in God in a new way. Yes, Murielle will be a senior. Can’t believe it. It feels surreal.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        It increases mine, too. You are precious in His sight and mine! Oh, a senior! Savor every minute, Shelly. It’s a wonderful time, and I will be praying for Murielle’s college search. It’s important, but God has it all in control. He showed Sheridan just the right university at the very last minute, but it was just enough time, and the perfect provision for her. THanks for telling your friend about me. I do the same with you. In fact, I wrote another friend tonight about how I love sharing friends!

  25. Janis Van Keuren

    Hi Shelly, I truly enjoyed your recounting of how The Lord made it so clear to you which path He had purposed for your daughter.
    What do I want my life to say about me? That I served others.
    The artwork on your page is beautiful.
    Blessings, Janis

    • Shelly Miller

      I read in my daily readings this morning that Jesus was a servant first. I think that is a noble thing for someone to say about us, isn’t it? Thanks for visiting Janis.

  26. janetb1

    This was rich. Thank you for your beautiful gift that you share with us.
    I seem to be in a season in my life that says “She got it! She loves Jesus and she has that life he came to give her.”

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh what joy Janet. Rejoicing with you in this season of life.

  27. Marty

    I believe it was Edith Schaeffer that said a Christian above all people should live a creative and aesthetic life…we are formed in the image of God, the ultimate Creator. Hope you create something beautiful at the cottage this year. And maybe some art too 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Marty. I think I’m accountable to do that now, aren’t I? I love that quote btw.

      • Shelly Miller

        Marty, congratulations! Your name was selected to win a copy of Life After Art. Send me your mailing address at and I’ll get it in the mail to you.

  28. dukeslee

    I am such a broken record here, but I don’t care, I’m going to say it again. You are such a great writer.

    I smiled as you told of the church bulletins with kid drawings. I have so many of these tucked away. Can’t bear to toss them.

    • Lynn Morrissey

      Oh Jennifer….have basically been staying quiet, freaking out over packing!!! BUT I am reading whenever I can. Both you and Shelly are soooo gifted!!!! And just had to say: I have all those drawings too. Sheridan will thank me some day. And doncha love the way the legs come straight out of the heads on those baby drawings? At least Sheridan’s did! And to think, she is such a gifted portraitist now. On second thought, she was gifted then and obviously very imaginitively so!!!! =]
      Love you, girl.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you. Admitting I don’t get tired of reading that in my comment box from you. 😉

  29. dukeslee

    Oh … I should probably tell you not to include me in the drawing. I already have that book. Loved it!

  30. Being Woven

    I love this! You write so beautifully…I seem to be sitting right there with you and sense all of this. Makes me want to go and weave something (that is my creative bent!).

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh, that I inspired creativity . . . that is one of the best things you could say. Thank you.

  31. soulstops

    Hi Shelly,
    What a lovely rendering in words about your daughter’s artistic gifts 🙂 Matt’s book sounds fabulous. Thanks for running this giveaway.

    • Shelly Miller

      Think you would enjoy it Dolly, thanks for leaving a comment.

  32. Elizabeth Stewart

    There is something so freeing about letting yourself create, paint, draw, whatever…even if you’re only about a third grade level artist like myself. 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      I agree Elizabeth. It’s invigorating.

  33. Elizabeth Marshall

    I can’t remember if I commented or not. So….I love hearing about Murriell’s developing gifts and her passions being fed by you and H. The Lord will do amazing things with her life. I hope she ends up closer to home and to your heart. But those flapping wings will take her wild and wonderful places. Can’t wait to get a copy of this book in my little hands. SOON.

    • Shelly Miller

      It looks like it will be SCAD Elizabeth. Yay to closer to home. Now for the scholarships . . .

  34. Nancy Ruegg

    Your question deserves careful thought! A meaningful answer could be a guide for all decisions–even the small ones. The first idea that comes to mind: I want my life to bring joy to others. Even after I graduate to heaven, I want people to feel uplifted in their spirits when they think of me. But I plan to mull on this question a bit, to see what else God might reveal to me. My life needs to communicate what he has designed it to say, for maximum, impactful results. Thank you, Shelly, for giving us rich food for thought. I never come away from your post hungry!

    • Shelly Miller

      I think the same thing Nancy, I want my life to matter in all the good and joy-filled ways. Glad you are pondering.

  35. Anna White

    I love the quotes from the book that you shared. I’ve never heard of this but I’m going to have to seek it out!

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks Anna. Check out the book, think you will enjoy it.

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