When You Long to be Known {A Giveaway}

by | Jul 1, 2014 | Books


Surrounded by cardboard boxes stacked like a child’s fort in the garage, I lift the dusty lid off the one marked Shelly’s Keepsakes like a child opening a birthday gift. I think I might know what is inside but I’m expectant, breathing shallow, awaiting a surprise in the contents.

Cloth covered journals lie beside old photographs and mementos from high school and college. The orange and black tassel from my graduation cap, a magnetic name tag from Eastern Airlines with my name and campus representative engraved in it, the silver C pin I wore on my white lab coat behind the Clinique counter — they all harken me back.

But it’s the small navy journal I pull to my lap that does some good work toward transcendence. Words describing two weeks of my young life traveling through nine countries in Europe, my first cross cultural mission trip.

As I read about rolls of crusty bread with jam and real butter for breakfast in Austria, the lone castle in a wide expanse of rolling hills in Romania, breathing thick exhaust from cars while driving through Hungary and bathing in Poland from a bucket in the kitchen of a house, I remember. God’s presence was palpable with us through the uncertainty of each city we visited. The same way He is with us now as we prepare to move to London.

Then, we were bravely transporting Bibles in the interior walls of the cars we drove across the borders of the Iron Curtain, boldly risking our lives for faith in our Savior. Visiting underground churches packed with so much humanity we could barely breathe for the beauty of it. Our cheeks hot pink with the power of the Holy Spirit cutting away any language barriers.

Now we are bringing 25 years of ministry experience to a country where less than 6% of the people attend church weekly.

As I bend over the travel journal, H startles me with an exclamation, breaking through the mental trip I’m taking through Eastern Europe. He holds a small piece of paper ripped from a notebook between two fingers and says, “Here is a note from you with a picture you drew for me on it.”

He’s reading from one of the few journals he’s actually penned — thoughts about our tenth anniversary in Nanaimo, British Columbia, where we were gifted with someone’s time share at a nature resort – when the slip of paper falls out.

“Are you sure it’s from me,” I ask him. “I don’t remember drawing you anything.”

He is confident in his assessment. And so am I, after inspection.

On one side of the folded paper, I ask him a question “Isn’t it interesting that you said you felt called to an apostolic ministry and that is YWAM?”

He answers, “I thought the same thing. Who knew? (God)

On the other side, I draw a hand with an X in the middle. The hand is God’s hand; the X represents both of us. And underneath the picture I write, “This is how I feel right now!”

We joined YWAM in California after seminary in Tennessee, accepting an invitation from the international director to attend a yearlong internship for young leaders. Much of what we learned during those early years remains a sturdy foundation for our marriage and work.

Some things are unchangeable in God’s economy. Often we don’t recognize how our circumstances mingle with the eternal until we look back with binocular vision. And see we’ve been known intimately every single step of the journey.

I wrote that note 24 years ago. We remain in God’s hands, fulfilling the call he placed on us from the beginning. It started with a yes we’ll never stop uttering.

Life is an adventure when you risk boldly, like opening a familiar box expecting to be surprised by the contents.

IMG_9487-2Today, I am giving away a copy of Emily Wierenga’s beautiful memoir Atlas Girl, a page turner full of exquisite detail and inspiration. With a heap of honesty, Emily shares about brokenness through an eating disorder, an insatiable hunger for love from her parents and redemption through the selfless love of her husband. As she travels from Canada to Africa, Asia to Australia, South America to Europe, she finds home in the clutch of a Savior in the last place she expected. It is a transparent story of risking boldly and hope that doesn’t disappoint.

For a chance to win Emily’s travel memoir, answer one or both of the following questions in the comments. Where is your favorite place to live or travel? How has God used your past to speak into the future?



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  1. Sharon O

    Yes God uses my past all the time to speak to my future. To change the story, from broken to healed. From pain to hope. I am a better mom and better grandma because of my ‘past’ story.

  2. Becky Keife

    I actually just wrote a post about my favorite vacation traveling to British Columbia. What God taught me about releasing control through that trip is a lesson He is definitely still working on in my heart today.

  3. Elizabeth Stewart

    I didn’t know you had been involved in YWAM! Isn’t it fun to look back and see how God led and directed your lives. The hubs and I had a discussion just today about how through one decision we made in our lives when we were quite young we ended up meeting some people that were definitely divine appointments and have had great influence in our lives. God knew, of course, what He was doing even when we didn’t! Our favorite travel places: New England, PEI and Nova Scotia, Victoria BC., Southern Cali and Palm Springs area, the Gulf Coast…and Ghana, West Africa for totally other reasons than vacationing. I would love to see Europe some day.

  4. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Jennifer just commented on Emily’s book, too, and it sounds wonderful. I need to read it. I loved meeting Emily at Allume–what a sweet, humble lady. And, Shelly, you and your life never cease to amaze me! I had no idea that you had traveled before England and on such a risky and God-inspired adventure. It’s really staggering, you know, and seeing how God has woven together all the intricate details of your life and H’s. Sheridan and I went to the Czech Republic in 2011 on a musical mission tour, and I was so saddened by the oppression I felt there, even though it is technically not still under Communist rule. The people seemed glum, without hope, and angry. What an opportunity for us to share the love of Christ. Of course, I think that you may already know my favorite country in the universe–England. And it all began with a divine appointment (speaking of those!) and a letter. I was only 21, and I was conducting a student concert in a bank lobby, after which, a dashing English gentleman approached me with compliments and his business card. Three weeks later, I received a lovely letter from him in care of my school principal. We began corresponding, and to make a very long story short, he and I both got married (not to each other!), had families, and began to visit each other in our respective countries. That was over forty years ago, and sadly he died a year ago this last January. But Mike, SHeridan, and I visited his lovely widow and children in England last June, and I believe we’ve shared the love of Christ. I believe in God’s intricate weavings in our life–that we have met this family for a Kingdom purpose and not just to become random friends. And like you, I find a trail of clues (particularly when I declutter!) that have collected like bread crumbs leading me to His destination for me. They are all pieces of a puzzle that spell out His purposes for me in this life and for His Kingdom. I’m so glad you shared, Shelly, and I stand on tiptoe to see what God will do through you and H and Harrison in the land of mists and mellow fruitfulness across the Pond, and to the ninety-six per-cent who so desperately need Him! You remain in my prayers.

  5. Shelly W.

    Oh, there is so much to say about how God uses the past to speak into the future. He has used my brother’s death to show me how to parent my three daughters. Much to say about that. 😉 As far as where I love to travel–England! I fell in love with that country in 1984, and it wasn’t just the beauty, which is a bonus. I realized, as a college student, that these people needed Jesus. The lost look in their eyes as they rode the tube, the weight that each seemed to carry, spoke volumes to me, and for the first time I realized that the mission field is everywhere. Jesus died for the people of England just as much as He died for the people of Africa or China or India or America. I am so glad you are carrying the cross to what might not seem like a dark place, but really is.

  6. Lisa

    Pender Island, BC ~ A smal lush garden filled with Asiatic Lilies and other scrumptious blooms beckoned me one morning. Camera in hand, the morning became un emotionally intimate experience with God, His creation, and the blessing of deep quiet. The experience launched my practice of photography, painting, and writing as a means of celebrating faith.

  7. Linda

    Just so thankful that God is still calling people to serve Him in the country of my birth :)) yes, many are lost and without hope, including my family members, and it breaks my heart when I visit family to see how off track in just a couple of generations a country can become.
    May He use you in many ways to minister His love.
    May He also use Emily’s book to minister to those of us who continue to struggle with many issues, including weight, who we are, and how much we are loved.

  8. Natalie

    What a lovely post:) I have the book, but I’d love to answer you questions. My favorite place to live is wherever my home is. It’s taken me awhile to remember that. It got kind of lost for a while. And even though I have been to lots of wonderful places, my favorite place to travel is Yellowstone. I love mountains and it feels like home. Your last question? I have to think on that one and that, I think, is good.

  9. celeste

    It’s very cool to read other peoples comments about BC, where I am from and currently living. We live in Vancouver where we feel exceedingly blessed. As for a favorite place I would have to say Oxford where we traveled last year. I have traveled to Pakistan and am sorry that the current political arena means I may never return.
    As for my past….I can look back and say with certainty that God directed me to my husband and then later, to our adopted son. I think I can say here that when you are in the thick of things, perhaps struggling with something, you miss God’s presence but then you look back over that path or mountain and see with a smile how He worked in all of the details.

    • Shelly Miller

      Celeste, my kids picked your name as the winner of Emily’s book. Congrats!!! Your going to love it.

  10. DeanneMoore

    I wrote about being in Cuba on my blog last week—a post to join other bloggers and supporters of Em and her compelling story she titled Atlas Girl. I would go back to Cuba in a minute if I had the opportunity. Of all the places I have traveled, my time there changed me and, maybe more awesome, continues to change me. The surreal place and the people that bring color to the culture of Cuba has come into better focus with the passing of time. It is also the place where I saw, what I believe, may be one of the most incredible Kingdom-focused churches in the world—so much to learn from those who live in the Kingdom of God, in glorious freedom, in a place where freedom as I know it is only a dream. Continuing in my prayers for you and your family as you transition to the new in the palm of His hand. (Have the book—so you know.)

  11. Power of Modesty

    thanks for sharing, I’m grateful to be a part of this journey with you

  12. Alabamabelle

    I love to travel home to Mobile, Alabama and see family and share with my children where I grew up and they can put a picture with all my stories. God uses my past so that I can guide my daughter and hopefully help her not make the same mistakes.. LOL she will have plenty of her own..

  13. Guest

    I love to travel home to Mobile, Alabama and see family and share with my children where I grew up and they can put a picture with all my stories. God uses my past so that I can guide my daughter and hopefully help her not make the same mistakes.. LOL she will have plenty of her own..

  14. Jillie

    Hi Shelly…I hope I’m not too late to enter the draw for Emily’s book?! She is a wonderful woman, so soft-spoken, so humble, so full of Jesus. I would love to read her latest book.
    For me? To go where you’re going, England, would be my fondest dream of a place to live. Perhaps in the southern region of Devon, the birthplace of my dear Gram, (and of the middle name I am so proud to bear.)
    As far as God using my past to speak into my future, I guess the greatest example would be how He so clearly led me to His Son, and then told me that I was not doomed to repeat the family life I grew up in. I could be the mother I always yearned for: loving, committed, supportive to my own two. A mother who could raise her kids in a Christian home, breaking the cycle of alcoholism. And I believe God helped me immensely to, in turn, teach my husband to love our kids in godly ways…especially our daughter. So many destructive cycles in my history have been overcome and replaced with what is true and right, all be His power and love.

  15. Theresa @ Heavenly Glimpses

    Yes, all that we see in hindsight with binocular vision…love that, and so true how our circumstances intermingle with the eternal. Thank you for that beautiful image.

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