On Hospitality and Seasons of Loss

by | Oct 29, 2014 | 31 Days to London, Encouragement


For whatever reason, we find ourselves in seasons where a lot of the things we believe stop being the things that we do. ~Shauna Niequist.

In those simple opening lines from the stage over breakfast, tears fall like sweat dripping on the outside of my water goblet. I dab the corners of my eyes with the cloth napkin lying across my lap. Two close friends seated on either side pat my arms with compassion.

I wasn’t supposed to be at the Allume conference, my move to England was supposed to prevent it.

Two writing friends surprised me with the gift of a found ticket and another offered a place in her hotel room and then paid for my parking bill. They were living hospitality, the theme of the conference, long before anyone spoke about it from a pulpit.

This lengthy season of waiting has left us without income and is schooling us on the realities of poverty. It is humbling to admit mental negotiation over spending two dollars on a bottle of Pepsi when you are a middle class woman living in a nice house on the Atlantic.

Shauna put words to more than just our current waiting period to London but a decade long season of poverty in hospitality that was once our lifeline. The tears were shedding grief and making room for future hope.

Poverty is often noticeable to those with extraordinary spiritual eyes, those who see the sacred work of Jesus in the midst of what others often overlook as ordinary. And I long to be a see-er; a watchman on the wall waiting for glory to rise on the horizon.

If we say we are Christ followers but walk blind through life, passing by pain as careless bystanders, then we are captivated by mediocrity at the expense of conviction. And the Christ life is anything but mediocre.

At Allume, I witnessed the healing work of hospitality, not in a Pottery Barn house or around Martha Stewart tables but in the giving away of self, our most precious commodity.

Many of us have built lives in order to impress people but what we really want is to be loved. We mistake achievement, public affirmation and being impressive for what we really want which is love . . . . We long to be loved but we settle for being impressive.~Shauna Niequist

In connecting with strangers around tables, in hallways with authors, leaning against book tables with new acquaintances and seated on upholstered cubes in the lobby; strolling through the city on an intimate afternoon walk and in lunch lines greeting blog followers, the holy work of love’s welcome provides restoration.

And a glimpse of the miraculous in the way God connects people.

God’s hands were guiding my shoulders toward people with a UK connection.

A blog reader and I face timed with her best friend who happens to live in the same neighborhood as our future address in London.

A random introduction turned into an hour long conversation with a couple who once lived in London with heart strings still connected. When I learned that one of the speakers lives in Oxford, I introduced myself and learned that we share common friends in the UK and in my current hometown on the Atlantic.

Random? Probably not.

For four glorious days, I practice the sacrament of presence, recounting God’s faithfulness with many I met for the first time in the prayer room at Allume last year. And He redefines my poverty with wealth in hospitable relationships.

True hospitality is giving people a place to be when they would otherwise be alone. True hospitality is creating sacred space for God to move in us and through us. True hospitality is when people leave your home feeling better about themselves not better about you.~Shauna Niequist

Every day is a blank canvas for God to fill with His glorious handwriting that is our life story.  May we be people of welcome and invitation with intersecting story lines for the glory of the Kingdom, for the sake of Christ.


Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. dukeslee

    You are one of these people — the welcoming, inviting, hospitable kind. Love you.

    • Shelly Miller

      I have a good mentor in you. Thanks Jennifer. Love you back.

    • Lynn D. Morrissey

      So are you, Jennifer. So are you!

  2. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Oh Shelly, I knew it; I knew it deep inside. You were meant to be there, there at Allume. Connections you made are living-stone stepstones leading across the London Bridge to home. Random? DEFINITELY NOT! How I wish I could have been an in-person arm-patter and heart-hugger. Know I love you. Know I’m praying!

    • Shelly Miller

      You were with us Lynn, loved by many who mentioned your kindness and wisdom. And I did share your sense of providence in going but knowing you felt that way also fueled the expectancy about it. Thank you!!

  3. Mary Gemmill

    Listening to your beautiful heart here Shelly….deep place words, these.

    I loved this: And I long to be a see-err; a watchman on the wall waiting for glory to rise on the horizon.

    Oh Yes~!

    But before that, I long to see you settled in London, well provided for, and with a great testimony to God’s ability to provide for your every need until you get there.

    Love and prayers ++++

    • Shelly Miller

      Your steadfast spirit to press through until fulfillment of promise is such an inspiration Mary. I’m so blessed to have you in my corner. Praying for you today.

  4. Kris Camealy

    This is beautiful, Shelly. And Jennifer is right. YOU are one of these same people. I love you!

    • Shelly Miller

      I kept thinking about you the whole time I was there with the theme being about hospitality. You would’ve loved it. And your presence was missed but you were where you needed to be. I know that.

  5. Diane Bailey

    You are a beautiful, inside and out. The Lord is moving in your life in mighty ways. Remember, still waters run deep. The quiet and wait of the Lord usually means something big is going on.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you for loving well Diane. Your friendship is such a gift.

  6. Janet from FL

    Wow! God is really taking care of you! He knew you needed these connections with people, and the love that was heaped on you by your friends who got you to Allume. Just by meeting the people from London, shows that God is encouraging you to know that you will be moving to London, but the delay is necessary. Only He knows the timing. God is blessing you in so many ways, Shelley! Take heart!

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, He is so intimate in the way He loves us Janet. I’m thankful for all the little details that make life an adventure.

  7. Logan Wolfram

    “I witnessed the healing work of hospitality, not in a Pottery Barn house or around Martha Stewart tables but in the giving away of self, our most precious commodity.” I love this Shelly! Love the connections that the Lord made for you, the soul care He poured out for you, and the “holy work of love” providing restoration! So so beautiful! Thank you for being a part of this beautiful community of His daughters!

    • Shelly Miller

      Lovely to see you here Logan, especially with all that you have going on. I’m honored you stopped by and left a comment. Allume was truly God’s gift and the timing was perfect for me. You set a beautiful spiritual tone for the conference and give so much freedom for the Holy Spirit to work among us. It’s truly breathtaking to behold. Thank you!

Pin It on Pinterest