When You Think It’s About Blogging, And Then It’s Not {Day 29}

by | Oct 28, 2013 | Uncategorized


The place between comfortable chatter and quiet holiness is a doorway without hinges for acceptance. I walked through it at a blogging conference.

Carrying inspired words from platforms at the Allume Conference, I traded the beauty of the masses for a prayer room of candlelight, hushed voices, and women silently dancing like marionettes around 453 journals, writing words of encouragement. And suddenly, I was captivated by the possibilities hovering over deep brokenness seated around the room.

Sinking into a high back armchair like a child seated at an adult feast, her tiny frame bends over her knees in an arc, hair hangs down like shiny black curtains framing her face. I notice the repetitive movement of her frail hand cupped with wads of tissue toward her face, sopping up surrender. Glancing up intermittently from her central place in the room, she offers a tilted smile of kindness to sympathetic sojourners brushing past her knees. And I see myself in her countenance.

Drifting in a boat of solitude longer than seems adequate, I recognize the expression of isolation on a stranger’s face now like the jawline of my kin.  Instead of looking past the uncomfortable pool of sadness, I’m drawn to it, like a lamb startled by the voice of her shepherd and running to him.

I feel the pain of isolation’s process, like shadowing a terminal illness and living to tell about it. Recharged by what death’s bony clutch intended to suffocate, I am a purveyor of hope’s breath.

Bending over, I touch her knee gently and whisper, “Would you like for me to pray with you.”

Her watery eyes look straight up, into mine and she whispers in response, “Yes, I would, that would be nice,” while pressing the ball of tissue under her nose. We collect our notes, books and purses and move to an out-of-the-way place in the room, huddle together and talk.

As we hold hands, she pours out the ache of lonely struggle and I have a revelation.  I realize that while rocking in my empty boat on the uncertain waters of this season of life, my obsession with weather reports was misplaced. I was attempting to harness outcomes before they took place, all the while, God was pushing the oars through deep water, moving us closer to shorelines crowded with brokenness.

I couldn’t see above the water line of my circumstance because I was supposed to trust where He was leading instead of trying to figure it out.

I’m concerned about lightning strikes to my steel boat, asking Him why I am trapped by undesirable and unwanted situations, and I was missing the point. He was preparing me to deliver a hopeful message. The pain of isolation is the schoolroom for empathy to do her work.

Life, it’s not about what you think. It’s not about the perfect outfit, your beautiful business card or how many people “like” you. It’s not about platforms, microphones, your bank account or marketing campaigns. No, that’s all a distraction, isn’t it? Because life, your life, it’s about relationship with Jesus. It all goes back to how much he loves you, for you, not for what you do.

Your story of survival while alone in a tiny boat glugging with difficult circumstance is the life raft for those who are perishing without hope.

Don’t you want to know the secret to finding your true self, your purpose, and calling? This is it: Give yourself away with abandon and don’t waste a minute. (Matthew 16:25)

I don’t want to set up kingdoms for myself, I want to deliver His kingdom through the doorway without hinges, to those longing for purpose and meaning, those who struggle to find it. That’s what I learned at the Allume Conference. {And we thought it was about blogging, didn’t we?}


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  1. dukeslee

    I’m climbing aboard your boat, friend. Thanking God for the journey with you.

    And this? This’ll preach: “Because life, your life, it’s about relationship with Jesus. It all goes back to how much he loves you, for you, not for what you do.”

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks for being here Jennifer. You make a difference in my life, you do.

  2. Kris Camealy

    Oh Shelly. I can see it. The metaphor, the beautiful dark waters leading to the shores inhabited by the broken. I wasn’t there but this same message has been pounding in my own heart, and so I feel His message confirmed in these words. Thank you for sharing this–just as it is. Love you.

    • Shelly Miller

      I love knowing that Kris. Sacred echoes among heart friends is a good thing.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Christie.

  3. Emma

    Tears flowing here Shelly – my season has three little words – I trust you. I get the trying to figure it out thing – I’m there with you. Thanks for sharing, love this & you.

    • Shelly Miller

      Love you too. I’ve been thinking about you today and missing you. I am sipping tea and eating one of the ginger tea biscuits you and Jane sent me. Thankful for your friendship.We’re in this new level of trust together and that makes the journey sweeter.

  4. Shelly Wildman

    This: “Give yourself away with abandon and don’t waste a minute.” Funny thing is, this is why I’m not blogging right now. God has called me to a place where I’m giving myself away. As much as I’d like to be writing and going to blogging conferences and writing some more, I’m in a place where I can honestly say I’m giving it all I’ve got. Thanks for this important reminder, Shelly.

    • Shelly Miller

      I love that Shelly. I think blogging opens the doors for me to give myself away like that. It leads to all kinds of things I didn’t expect off line with people. I’m thankful.

  5. DeanneMoore

    Somehow i am not surprised by this post 🙂 Oh to have been in there with you…I can’t even comment and I don’t have to because you know what I mean. Kind of undone really… because I told you not to give too much of yourself away…and then the Holy Spirit told me to take it back and I didn’t. But He knew! He knew! I love God. He is so awesome even in this broken world…He always gives us lifeboats and hope. Dig deep with those oars friend…dig deep, you always do.

    • Shelly Miller

      I hope you can go some time Dea, I think you would love it. Mostly, I hope our time will come. Praying for you.

  6. Laura Boggess

    Your gentle presence was a blessing to many who longed for just that this weekend. This post ushers me into the holy, Shelly. I’m so grateful for you. For the ways you give of yourself and all the love you share. Blessed by your friendship, lady. Love to you.

    • Shelly Miller

      You bless me Laura, thank you.

  7. Elizabeth Stewart

    “I know that I can trust You…my life is in the hands of the Maker of Heaven”, these words from a current song have wrapped themselves around my brain and my heart. And yes, so often I find though I’ve fought the path He has me on, though I’ve resisted and griped instead of trusted and rested, that He’s used that path in my life for me to be able to help someone else along the way.

    • Shelly Miller

      It’s so hard in the midst of it Elizabeth. It’s often in looking back that I can be thankful and feel gratitude for the hard stuff that feels abandonment.

  8. Lynn D. Morrissey

    I peeked in that prayer sanctuary all aglow with candlelight and burning hearts, and then I didn’t go in. I didn’t see anyone I knew. It’s my loss. I’m sorry I missed your praying for me, Shelly, but I know you do, and I am so grateful. How this ministers to me and (as Deidra would say), we’re linked heart-to-heart in tandem here. Back in my room I was praying for God’s direction and He led me to Luke 5. It’s about the disciples who’d fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus says to Peter, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Though it made no sense, Peter obeyed, and he was awestruck by the abundance of the net-breaking catch. Later, Jesus would lead His disciples on expeditions to fish for men–men who were broken and bruised on the far shores of life, and who would need redemption and restoration. The next day at the Hyatt, when I read in “Daily Light,” which I’d brought from home, this same passage was given. Finally, God reemphazied this message a third time when I opened a gift from a beloved friend–a beautiful, hand-stiched towel, with acqua-threaded letters that read, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” His message is clear, and for a non-swimmer, it’s frightening. But you can’t give your life away and head towards the fish if you don’t let go of the shores of shallowness, of shrinking back, and of shirking His will. No, one definitely must get off the platform and into the boat, and push off with abandon into the deep–into the depths of His love and loving others from the depths of one’s heart–no holds barred. Yes, Shelly, it’s about surrender and trust.
    Just beautiful. Thank you.

    • Shelly Miller

      Wow, the sacred echoes are amazing Lynn. I had that made just for you because you mentioned that scripture ministering to you on my very first post in this series on October 1. And this comment makes it even sweeter.

  9. Beth

    I need to come by more often because your words and your heart are always a blessing. Beautiful!

    • Shelly Miller

      I love seeing you here Beth, thank you.

  10. Debbie Keady

    Thank you for the beautiful hope-filled words this morning. Exactly what I needed to hear in the “storm” of trying to control the outcome……

    • Shelly Miller

      Debbie, I’m thanking God that this was a timely word for you. When that happens I often feel like its a confirmation that what I thought I heard him say in my prayer time was actually accurate.

  11. Jillie

    Oh Shelly…This was inspired and inspiring. That dear lady at the conference will never, ever forget you for what you did for her. And that’s what it’s really all about: “Giving oneself away with abandon…and not wasting a minute”. Seeing that one in the crowd with the sadness in her eyes, the need in her heart…and taking the time…for her.

    • Shelly Miller

      You know, one of the fun things about this conference is that we all gave business cards away so we have somewhere to connect afterward. I can’t wait to go visit the people that God led me to meet at the conference and I hope to keep up with this one I wrote about.

  12. Susan Rinehart Stilwell

    So beautiful, Shelly. I also feel like my empty boat is rocking on choppy waters this season. Everywhere I turn I sense the Holy Spirit nearly jack-hammering Prov 11:25 into my heart:
    The generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
    I wrote it in the cover of my Allume journal, and I’m hearing it in every post I read. Thank you for being one of His confirming voices, both online AND in person!

    • Shelly Miller

      Wow, I think I need to copy this one in mine too Susan. I loved meeting you in person and laughing together until way past our bed time. It’s always different talking in person isn’t it? What a gift those late night gatherings in our hotel rooms were. The best memories ever.

  13. Brianna Wasson

    Hi Shelly. 🙂 Such beautiful words. I love this especially: “I was attempting to harness outcomes before they took place, all the while, God was pushing the oars through deep water, moving us closer to shorelines crowded with brokenness.” That God uses our times of desperately trying to hear Him or see Him or figure out His plans to make us more like Him, more filled with His message of beauty through broken — what a beautiful picture you are of this. Thank you, friend.

    • Shelly Miller

      That’s a lovely compliment Brianna, thank you. I enjoyed those few sacred moments we had some time to talk in our room about the way God is showing up for you.

      • Brianna Wasson

        Me too. 🙂

  14. Janet from FL

    Yeah, it is easy to get distracted by what to say in our blog, how many comments we get, how many subscribers, how to work on our platform… But what our purpose in blogging is to help other Christians deepen their relationship with God, and in the process, deepen our own relationship with Him, too. God doesn’t need subscribers to do that. He finds us in quiet corners, or sitting at a computer, or sitting on a park bench. I needed to see your story, to help me understand this. Thanks.

    • Shelly Miller

      I’ve heard God say the same thing to me over and over during my writing journey. “Be faithful to what I’m giving you and write about it, and I will take care of the rest.” He means it and he does.

  15. Carolyn Counterman


    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks Carolyn, its been nice having you here this month.

  16. Missindeedy

    That boat is a lonely place to rock, for me, until I look up long enough to see that He shines through the stars (all of you) and lights my path. I loved meeting you in person – and only wish I’d taken time to sit and chat longer. Hearts connected over a piece of writing take on a new dimension when connecting face-to-face, don’t they? This was beautiful, Shelly.

    • Shelly Miller

      I think you are right about the difference in connecting face-to-face. It seemed like we kept bumping into each other wherever we went, loved meeting you in real life. You exude the essence of joy, something I would’ve missed out on had we not met. Thankful to have you here.

  17. Alia_Joy

    Love your heart, friend. Loved being able to see you again and even though we didn’t get to chat much, just know that this “The pain of isolation is the schoolroom for empathy to do her work.” speaks to me so much. I think the closer to God I get, the more I see the absolute beauty in the midst of pain and hurt. It doesn’t just draw us closer to God, it draws us closer to each other. And when we do that, this happens. ” I want to deliver His kingdom through the doorway without hinges,” I’m with you, friend.

    • Shelly Miller

      I love your generous, authentic heart Alia. It’s been so wonderful getting to know you and even though we didn’t get to talk much, I feel such a kindredness with you that it doesn’t even have to be spoken. I’m praying for you as you prepare for Africa. I cannot wait to hear about it afterward.

  18. MsLorretty

    I experienced the beauty in the midst of your obedience. I regret not having an actual “moment” with you however, I there was a “flow” I felt the whole time and I’m glad to know where you were in it. Bless you Sister

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