Why the Details Matter

by | Apr 14, 2015 | Encouragement, Trust

On Sunday, during announcements in church, I’m distracted by a butterfly fluttering high on a wall of stained glass windows in the balcony. Sun streams through each colorful shard illuminating cabernet to cherry, gold to lemon, navy to sapphire. The butterfly is drawn to light as the pathway to freedom.

The longer I watch a silhouette of wings dust the glass I realize what I’m witnessing is the continuation of what He began whispering just minutes after my alarm went off.


A few hours before arriving at church, I lay cocooned in bed under covers, holding my phone above my head, scrolling through Facebook when I stop on a photograph that captures my attention. A friend’s mother wearing a sweater imprinted with butterflies. It feels significant somehow.

And then I remember.


On August 19, my son’s 15th birthday, I wrote these words to my friend Lynn in and email. “It seems everything is on hold, life is frozen and it feels as though I may crack.”

It was my response to the first of many delays in getting to London over seven months.

Lynn wrote these words back to me, “You are being protected in the chrysalis. It is a safe place. You will not crack, but the chrysalis will split at just the right time and you will emerge to take flight. All is being readied.

The chrysalis–the in-between place–is a time of preparation. You can’t rush it. You don’t know God’s full plan or timing. If the chrysalis is split prematurely, your wings will be disabled. The chrysalis is a safe place, a place of rest, a place where He is forming you in order that you will be ready for your final destination and flight.

Take hope. God is shaping you and He is arranging beautiful colors and colorful experiences. He is asking you to trust Him in the chrysalis “soup,” when the way seems murky. This won’t last forever, and everything will suddenly crack open (you will not crack up!), and you will spread your wings and take flight–straight across the ocean.”




After church, I engage with a new friend from Lithuania when I notice in my peripheral vision someone waiting to speak to me. Turning around, I greet a young woman wearing a backpack. She smiles and introduces herself.

The accent is American; her name and countenance, familiar.

Twenty years ago, I knew her as a little girl lighting up the hallways with her presence at Valley Cathedral in Phoenix, the church where H and her father were pastors together.  She is travelling through London, navigating the city on her own to find us at St. Barnabas on Sunday.

A piece of the past surprises us in the present on the same morning H uses a sermon illustration that happened at Valley Cathedral two decades ago. A story I had forgotten about.

But Jesus doesn’t forget the details because He is present within them.



When you are tempted to think your days are checked off as inconsequential until the moment your life becomes significant, may I remind you that in Christ there are no throw away moments. No random intersections with people or places.

God knows what you think before you think it. The details reveal the beauty of His presence in the process of preparation.

In hues of paint, the view you see through your window; in rogue butterflies trapped inside a church and the stream you’ll see when you open Facebook. In people who surprise you from the past on the day He knows it will be most meaningful.

If you are in the uncomfortable place of the chrysalis, remember we are all beautiful butterflies in the process of salvation.

It turns out Lynn’s words were prophetic. Take hope, His timely release is a flight worth the wait.

Seek the Light; it is the pathway to freedom.



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  1. Kris Camealy

    What a wonder. I love the way God is connecting the threads of this season for you. He has known all along, and knows still, the details yet to unfurl. I love the reminder of the chrysalis. We’re always in such a hurry, always eager to fly off. The journey is always worth the struggle. Always worth the resting in transition.

    LOVE you!

    • Shelly Miller

      I agree Kris. I think waiting is the hardest yet most essential part of life. Love you too!

  2. Celeste

    I have come to expect a word of encouragement from your blog just as I need it.
    Well, we are moving. Unexpectedly and not to England like we talked about.
    Last week our landlord asked us to move.
    The timing never seems perfect and yet…who am I to question timing?
    Your words are reminders to me. We are not just left alone to work things out, there is a purpose. More than that, someone working out all the dynamics that circle around inside my head.
    Thank you Shelly.
    ps. Loving all your photos.

    • Shelly Miller

      Seeing you in my comment box always brings a smile to my face Celeste. Thinking about you as you navigate what sounds like a new transition you didn’t expect. May God’s peace and providence fuel you.

  3. Lynn D.Morrissey

    Shelly, it is has been a long and difficult day, and so imagine my surprise to read my notes to you online as I just turned on the computer having been gone most the afternoon and much of the evening. More later (b/c I am literally falling asleep here), but I just rejoice to see what the Lord has done. Cheerio (as your new friends say) and more soon.

    • Shelly Miller

      So sorry to hear you’ve had a difficult day.I hope seeing one example of the many ways God has used you in my life brought a bit of redemption. xxx

      • Lynn D. Morrissey

        See above. 🙂

  4. Leah

    This is a wonderful story-post Shelly: The feeling like you are going to crack in the waiting. For me it’s not A Thing I am waiting for, but several shifts that are requiring me take small steps, for an eventual big change; one day ministry work. I am in constant flux, it seems most days, between trying to crash my way through the process or wanting to retreat deeper inside and do nothing. Being purposeful and driven to find out what path God has for me to follow, and being purposeful and slow to enjoy life with my children and husband and friends now, seems like an impossible see-saw.
    Your testimony is a vivid image for me to trust the complicated process to God, day by day, minute my minute.

  5. DeanneMoore

    I love this telling. As I try to picture you noticing the butterfly, remembering Lynn’s words to you, I sat for a moment and looked up, not into stained glass but into the pines. My prayer this day (I’m just beginning it!) is for eyes to see what matters…..thank you for this reminder. Life truly is in the details.

    • Lynn D. Morrissey

      Deanne, that is so beautiful. And I must tell you that I pray for heartsight–eyes to see. I’ts the name of my ministry.

  6. Janet

    This is so beautiful! Tears of amazement and happiness. You have given us a beautiful glimpse of God’s love and care. We don’t always see the way God has worked in our life, but glimpses like this confirm that He is with us always. Thank you, Shelly, for sharing this.

  7. Karrilee Aggett

    I love this so… I just don’t have any more words than this: Thank you, friend!

  8. Nancy Ruegg

    “In Christ there are no throwaway moments.” What a beautiful, encouraging thought. Makes me want to live with more intentionality and more gratefully! Thank you, Shelly.

  9. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Shelly, I have had time to mull this over again. It’s truly one of your best posts, and not because Im quoted in it! Ha! 🙂 WHat you have expressed so confidently, hopefully, and artfully here, is God’s strong provision and intimate care. He orchestrates every little detail–each shard–into mosaics of delicacy, intricacy, and beauty. I love your line here:”The butterfly is drawn to light as the pathway to freedom. ” And this one:”No random intersections with people or places.” I think back to our own meeting, and how I just happened to follow your link from Ann V’s blog (and now she no longer has those link-ups). And you told me later that you didn’t connect from her site very often. But I believe God knew I would somehow be drawn to your blog title, and later to your ethereal, lyrical posts and photos–all art. And then He would connect us heart-to-heart with your having lived your childhood in what remains my hometown–and right in the nrighborhood where my grandmother and aunt lived. How many people who follow you ever even heard of Jennings?! What are the odds?! But God knew. He knew we would have a strong empathy, similar values, and a passion for words and the Word. He knew we would each need to encourage the other–to be each other’s champions. He knew we’d be drawn to the LIGHT. I rejoice in what He is doing even now in your life, nad how that place so far away from me here, is becoming your home. Thank you so much for sharing what I wrote to you a year ago, in hopes that it will be able to help someone else–especially with your fresh perspective now.
    Sending much love,

  10. Paula

    This was a beautiful post. I am loving the glimpses into your new life through your beautiful photography. It always inspires me, as do your words. It is raining here today and off and on all week (it is spring) so it is a delight to see the flowering trees in your photos and a glimpse of sunshine. What a treasured surprise visit from an AZ connection.

  11. pastordt

    Lovely, lovely, LOVELY. Thanks, Shelly (and Lynn!)

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