Gloriously Ruined: Why We are Moving to England

by | Jun 16, 2014 | Encouragement, Uncategorized

On Sunday in church, a friend leans over the row of chairs holding each of my family members and whispers to H, “I walked by your empty office on Friday and felt sad.”

I haven’t visited his office since he packed books and mementos in boxes and moved the desk that was once his fathers into our storage space. I think the sadness might be too much for my heart.

Sad, not because he is leaving a title, position or a paycheck, but because the season of important work and influence for the Kingdom in this particular setting is finished. We don’t have complete clarity about the details regarding our future yet but we know we’ll miss the people; our everyday anchors in this particular port of our faith journey.

“I know, it feels surreal,” I responded, nodding in agreement.


Photos by Emily Elizabeth Photography 

It’s a bittersweet time for us. I’ve wanted to tell you about it, but like most stories, the parts keep moving, the plot shifts, the characters expand beyond my ability to communicate about them. Perfectionism keeps me from sharing.

Somewhere in this process, I forgot that you must read the messy middle chapters of my story in order to appreciate the fulfillment in the last.

We are moving to England this summer.

There. I said it. I feel better now.

For those of you who know me in the flesh or who have read here for any period of time, I know you’re smiling about this announcement. Our love for England rooted nearly two decades ago when God spoke to me in a vision during a prayer time with H.

It’s why when we sensed God say now about moving to London, H said yes and resigned from his executive position before knowing all the details. Risky? Yes. But comfortably attached to the familiar has never been a high value for us, or any leader with broad influence for that matter.

Whenever I watch BBC or The Holiday for the umpteenth time, when I read novels like Me Before You, The Secret Keeper or The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry or when someone tells me that my garden reminds them of England, something wakes up inside of me, like there is more to my life than what I’ve  experienced.

It is a sacred longing in my sinews, only comprehensible to the Holy Spirit.

Suddenly, I want to give all my possessions away to anyone who wants them and move my family to London. Perhaps this is what falling deeply in love with our Savior looks like. I’m smitten, gloriously ruined* for His presence and providence.

“Like the dormant gene that wakes with the dawn of our adolescence, rousing us toward adulthood, moments like these reveal we are destined for greater things than make-believe adventures in the fenced-in yards of our youth.” ~Ken Gire

I’m living in the tension of transition, that middle place of leaving the comfort of the present to wade through muddy waters in shoes, heavy with each unknown step. Weary with waiting but fully committed toward the fulfillment on the shores of promise.

Did I mention that word trust chose me at the start of the New Year?


I knew that I would need to trust Him for inspiration as I signed with an agent on my first book, that my daughter would be graduating from high school and stepping into a whole new chapter of adulthood. I knew that I would have to trust Him for finances to send her to college and trust Him for the things that seem to be stagnating instead of moving forward. But this international move with all its unknown variables makes those other things look like the playground of childhood.

“But heaven, heaven escapes our grasp. We can’t hold it any more than a leaf can hold sky.” ~Ken Gire

The longing that we have for England isn’t like satiating hunger with a hamburger, thirst with a drink or filling emptiness with a movie; it is a hole that can only be filled with our Yes. The more we taste His yearning for us, the more intense our appetite.

We are pilgrims on a surreal journey. Harvesting mystery and sharing it with you, our people.

Stay tuned. Over the next few months, I’m telling you about our wild adventure and the ways God is transforming us through it. I want to know what that sacred longing looks like for you, what things call it up to the surface. Join me?

*”Gloriously ruined” is terminology I borrowed from Kay Warren when she spoke from the Royal Albert Hall last month. I look forward to sharing more in future posts about her inspired thoughts.

Linking with Laura and Kelli and Amy for Trusting Tuesdays {OneWord365}.

Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here:


  1. Tracey

    Sounds fantastic! I’ll be praying for you when I drink my British tea.

    • Shelly Miller

      I need all the prayers I can get, I’ll take it Tracey, thanks!

  2. Heather Fignar

    So excited for you! We spent just 5 months there on a short-term assignment and loved every minute.

    • Shelly Miller

      I usually feel homesick when we leave to come back. So glad I’ll be going home this time Heather.

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes indeed Sandy, glad you are with me on the journey friend!

    • Shelly Miller

      Okay then. I’ll do it.

  3. Barbie

    Wow, how exciting!

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, it is that Barbie. And a little unsettling on some days if I’m honest. So many unknowns right now. But the support here in the comments buoys me, I’m thankful.

  4. Elizabeth Stewart

    I am so very excited for you and for the adventure God has you on! I’m so glad we will get to join you via your blog!

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Elizabeth, love knowing you will be with me on the journey.

  5. Leigh Kramer

    I am so excited for you! This news makes perfect sense. I can’t wait to see what happens as you move forward.

    • Shelly Miller

      I saw you post about transition this evening Leigh. Our journeys seem to be parallel often, though the circumstances differ. Thanks for being here, you are a bright spot for me always.

  6. Nancy Smith

    Only my most favorite place on earth. We moved a lot- air force brat. We lived in Germany for two years, I went to summer camp in England. I never got over it. Fast Forward- married twenty five years- we go for a 16 day back pack trip to England. For the next year I moped, couldn’t explain it. But when the opportunity to go back came a year and a half later, and we went. I knew when I stepped off the plane- I had been homesick. I had never been homesick for a place in my life- I went to 14 different schools between kinder and graduation. I go back as often as I can afford it, I am drawn, pulled, hog-tied and thrown on the plane and if somehow my return ticket got lost and they said I could stay I would before I took the next breath. So, Shelly- I understand, it’s almost like when I describe why I write- I am compelled, there is healing and peace in those green green meadows and hedgerows! and I’ll be there in September!

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh my Nancy, you just expressed how I feel when I visit and have to come back. Nice to know I’m not the only one. So glad you connected here, hope you will be with me along the journey. It’s going to be a wild ride with twists and turns.

  7. Tara_pohlkottepress

    yay! so happy this is finally announced! I am so happy for you, but have felt and walked through these stretched thin places, and whisper in your ear to hold fast, you are making your way through. so, so happy for this new place that marries the places in your heart.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Tara, I need that affirmation, I do. Hold fast is one of my favorite songs by MercyMe, it seems I hit replay on that for longer than seems prudent but the words give me courage to wait. Thanks for being there for me always. Love you much!

  8. Michelle DeRusha

    Yipee!!! So excited for the official announcement, Shelly! Love you, girl.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks for being such a loyal friend and trusted confidante Michelle. I’m glad you are on this journey with me. The ups and downs, all of it.

  9. Lori Harris

    Thrilled for you and your family. A dream come true!! Can’t wait to hear more of your heart!

    • Shelly Miller

      Lori, your friendship means the world to me. You are truly a gift in this online world, I hope you know that.

  10. Beth Hess

    “It is a sacred longing in my sinews, only comprehensible to the Holy Spirit.” I know the feeling you describe here. Exciting. Scary. But undeniable. And exhilarating. I look forward to reading about how God continues to grow the England seed He planted in you long again. I am already sure it will produce beautiful fruit.

    • Shelly Miller

      Exciting, scary and undeniable . . . you’ve chosen the absolute perfect words. Thanks for being here with me, I’m grateful.

  11. Lisha Epperson

    ” it is a hole that can only be filled with our Yes.” All the God good decisions in my life were like this…filled only with the affirmative…an answer my soul knew well. Blessings on the next part of your journey Shelly! How exciting!

    • Shelly Miller

      Our first move as a married couple was like this Lisha. We were packing our UHaul truck with our wedding presents when the call came from seminary that H was accepted into the program. We knew God said go and that is all we needed. Maybe we were foolish, assumptive or just plan full of gumption. Whatever it was doesn’t matter because God made a way for us and blessed the journey. It wasn’t easy but we look back on the lessons with fondness. I know you can relate, I know you get this. Thanks for being here with me, I need some sturdy shoulders to lean on.

  12. DeanneMoore

    Sacred longing to me is coming to the place just outside of knowing, seeing the shadow, a sense that what I don’t know is what I need more than anything. It hovers in the deep calling to deep place, until it rises to greet the sky. Sacred longing is a seed that only the hand of good and glorious God can plant. So happy that God has entrusted you and H for race set before you… Love you friend of my heart.

    • Shelly Miller

      Honestly Dea, I’m not sure I could’ve done this without you. You have been a house built on a rock when I felt the sand give way beneath me. I’m so grateful for you friend, you just have no idea how much.

  13. Dena Dyer

    So thrilled for you. Leaps of faith are exquisite–in both the difficulties and the joys–if you have someone to leap with. I’m glad you do. 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, I think H and I are good jumping partners. We do this well together, God definitely knew what he was doing when he joined us.

  14. ro elliott

    Shelly how exciting for you…how fun it will be to follow your journey. Sacred longing… I feel I am pregnant … Holding inside some new paths ahead… Sometimes I feel like I am ready to push… But resting in the midwifery of His Spirit…the Spirit knowing when it’s time to push. Blessings as you and your family follow God’s heart beat!

    • Shelly Miller

      Resting in the midwifery of the Spirit . . . that is a beautiful expression Ro. Love the imagery of that. It is so accurate. I’ve been waiting for him to tell me when to push and sometimes I feel like I might die for the time ticking and the pain of delayed birth. Love you!

  15. Amanda Johnston Hill

    I can’t wait to see where the journey leads!!!

    • Shelly Miller

      I know, me too Amanda. It’s like a banquet table has been filled for me and I’m waiting for the right moment to take my plate and fill it. It’s all so new and wonderful and scary.

  16. Mary Gemmill

    Shelly_ I have just sent this on to my daughter Amy who will move to Thailand on Mission in 4 weeks with hubbie Kieran. I felt that much of what you have shared here mirrors what she is feeling-and I think reading it will bless her. Your way with words is a true gift! Praying down blessings on you as you come to terms with all this move will mean. Love, M.

    • Shelly Miller

      So happy to be introduced to your daughter Mary. It’s good to be connected with people who get this. Thanks for praying, always.

  17. Anita Stadler

    Your life speaks even louder than your words Shelly. Did you know that? I’ve been waiting to celebrate with you since H shared the news. Lots of love to you both.

    • Shelly Miller

      Aw, thanks Anita. I forgot about your being on Terry’s board. Thankful we still have a connection and hope you are doing well my friend. Your encouragement is a gift, thank you. Hugs.

  18. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Shelly, it’s good to read about this in an offical way–your big YES to trust, to God, to a life of unknown adventure and unending satisfaction. I can’t wait to read the chapters as they unfold here, in personal emails, and hopefully in a not-too-distant phone call. I share so many loves with you, and surely our love of England is a big one. We first visited there in 1981, and I was smitten. I even came home and named my house and everything! =] We made our fourth trip there, as you know, last summer. I can’t wait to share our penfriend’s name with you. I’d love it if you could connect. And next time when I go back, I will hope to visit you and H! The Lord is doing something new and exciting and world-transforming through this move. I just know it. And apparently, you have known for years! Can’t wait to hear more about that vision (and yes, hear about it not just verbally, but in your memoir, in which, I believe, this move will play a critical part). You and H and the children are ever in my heart and in my prayers.
    PS We celebrated Father’s Day at the London Tearoom in St. Louis…….a far cry from London, perhaps, but very nice, and it quite reminded us of a darling tearoom in Southwell, England. Oh how I will envy you those cream teas!

      • Lynn D. Morrissey

        I LOVE that photo!!! I hate posing for them anymore, but what a delightful remembrance. I love how you darling girls (you are to me!) have taken me in. You are all so precious and talented. You are priceless to me, Shelly!

  19. Anita Mathias

    Very, very exciting. Can’t wait to meet you in real life. I am 55 miles away in Oxford, and perhaps you can visit when you are settled.
    I guess you will share if you have a job in London, or are walking on the waters in faith!

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m sure our paths will cross more than once in England Anita, can’t wait to meet you inRL! Yes, I’ll share more as we have details. Exciting stuff!

  20. Leslie Durham

    I guess I should not be surprised. It is great to know that you will still be as close as my computer screen. I am so excited for you to see the the dreams of long past come to fruition.

    • Shelly Miller

      That is the glorious thing about writing online, it doesn’t matter where I live or when I post, I can still connect with everyone like I do now, nothing will change that. I’m grateful you’ve been with me from the very beginning Leslie, what a treasure.

  21. Christie Purifoy

    “… it is a hole that can only be filled with our Yes.” I love that! So pleased and excited for you.

    • Shelly Miller

      Glad you are on the journey with me Christie, I know you get this.

  22. Jillie

    Well Shelly, it appears I am a day late in receiving the news. I am floored! Just can’t believe it! To see the fruition of your vision and dreams coming to pass. Must be honest–I’m green with envy. What is it about the lure of England?
    I am praying for you and H as you make the transition. I see you in a stone, ivy-covered cottage in the green, taking tea & crumpets every afternoon at 5:00. Can’t wait to read your posts about this journey with God, AND about the vision He gave you! I just know He will continue to use you and H in wondrous ways over there. God bless you both and your family as you go in His Name. So exciting!
    Love, Jillie ‘Devon’

    • Shelly Miller

      Can’t wait to share the details as they unfold with you Jillie, perhaps we’ll meet there one day! And you aren’t late, I only posted this late last evening. Can’t believe the outpouring, I’m blessed beyond words.

  23. Emma

    So excited you have finally been able to share this news. I don’t need to tell you how excited I am we will both be on the same continent, do I?

    • Shelly Miller

      I know Emma, it feels surreal. I’m so excited to be able to spend more time together. Who would’ve ever thought I’d make such a dear friend through a blog. Only God. I’m thankful.

  24. rita

    Shelly, So excited for you and understand all the emotions involved in such a move. Can’t wait to read about this next adventure God has for you and your family. It will be something only He can write.

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, only something He can write. As it should be. Your excitement is a blessing, thanks.

  25. CindeeSniderRe

    A grand adventure this journey with the risen Christ, the One who whispers to our souls, “Come,” the One who created us and longs for us and loves us with wild abandon. So excited for all of you as you say, “Yes,” and follow this glorious invitation of the Spirit to feast at His table in England. Blessings, Shelly, and prayers for you and your family. <3

    • Shelly Miller

      Thrilled to have you following the journey Cindee.

  26. Jamie H

    Love this, Shelly! And I am excited to see what He’s gonna do!

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks Jamie, I can’t promise neat and tidy with bows on top but lots of adventure for sure.

  27. KimberlyCoyle

    I’m thrilled for you, Shelly:) London is and always will be my heart’s home. The years we spent there were some of the best of my life, and I hope they will be the same for you. Many blessings as you plan and dream and say yes!

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m assuming they will be some of our best years too Kimberly. We hope to be there indefinitely. I told someone today who asked, “how long” that they might have to bury me there. Thanks for your support.

  28. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Shelly, can you put up that link to Kay Warren’s talk again? I’m not finding it and some may have missed it. I started to watch and ran o.o. time, but it seemed powerful and moving.

  29. Laura Boggess

    A longing fulfilled…the Psalmist describes it well. My heart is all wrapped up in joy and expectation for you and H. I just know God is working something amazing. Holding you in prayer, letting my spirit feel the yearning you describe and rejoicing that there is One who holds the plans and spins the stories we are living. Much love to you, Shelly, as you walk this road.

    • Shelly Miller

      Me too Laura, I’m expectant. And the fact that you feel that way makes it even more special. I often call myself a wannabe Psalmist. *wink*

  30. Sharon

    So very excited for you!!! I look forward to hearing about your adventures across the pond.

  31. Being Woven

    Praising God for His perfect timing, your trust, and His guidance.

  32. pastordt

    Praying for all of this, Shelly. With thanksgiving first and foremost.

  33. Lisa notes...

    “Pilgrims on a journey” – yes, aren’t we all? Praying for you to see God gloriously there, and to make him known!

  34. Laura Werezak

    I’m coming over from the Trusting Tuesdays link up. It’s amazing to me how similar our life situations and our posts are this month! My husband and I are also in the middle. He has quit his job and we don’t know what’s next. We are resting in prayer and dreams. Our dream is New York City, but we can’t see how to get there yet. Thank you for the encouragement that dreams are worth holding on to!

  35. Ashley Tolins Larkin

    Grateful for God’s leading, your “yes” and the way you mentor many with your faithfulness. You are a gift, and I am so excited for you and H.

  36. Jennifer

    My husband and I have been praying about living and working overseas one day as well. maybe more dreaming and spent less time praying… but I am about to change that. What a blessing. have a wonderful journey there. Amen.

Pin It on Pinterest