In March, before boarding the plane that brought us to London, I sat in a quiet corner of the airport in Myrtle Beach, staring through a bank of windows over the runaway, watching the sun set golden in the distance. Bone tired from moving out of our house, the phone was pressed into my cheek for a requested conversation with an editor from Bethany House Publishers.
He had a few questions about my book proposal before presenting it to his colleagues.
This surreal moment will forever be embedded in my memory.
I was saying goodbye to the life we’d grown accustomed to in the coastal South, moving to England and stepping into this new season as an author.
I couldn’t tell you about the author part of my journey until this contract slid through the mail slot last week.
I have signed a contract (on my ironing board, isn’t that classy?) with Bethany House, a division of Baker Book Group, to write a book about the Sabbath Society!!
I’m passionate to write this book because I’m not just telling my story about the ways Sabbath-keeping has changed me; I’m sharing countless stories of transformation from the community! Two years of letters back and forth between hundreds of people reveal the truth. Sojourning toward a rhythm of Sabbath is a cold drink for a Church that is weary and thirsty for rest.
While signing a book contract feels surreal, I would be less than honest if I didn’t disclose that this all unfolded the way God told me it would happen a while ago. Except the details in the outcome weren’t quite as I envisioned them.
I knew fulfilling our call to England was somehow tied to the timing of the book. My prayer team confirmed it over and over again throughout the wilderness of our lengthy waiting period.
But the seeming silence from God while I waited made me doubt my ability to hear Him correctly.
You see, this is the second book proposal my agent, Chip, shopped for me. The first one provided numerous open doors with the same caveat, “something is missing.” And no one could name that elusive missing element.
God wasn’t closing the door; He was saying the timing wasn’t right yet.
And then something miraculous happened.
On a random day in January during the final stretch of our long waiting period to London, Dea and Jennifer, two close friends who speak into my life often, wrote to me within minutes of each other with the same message. They were unaware of their providential timing.
“What would it look like to compose your second book proposal? I can’t imagine a Shelly Miller book list without a book on Sabbath in the titles,” wrote Jennifer.
“Maybe you should start the next book. If you haven’t already…just a thought,” wrote Dea.
Those gracious, humbling words fueled an adrenaline rush inspiring me toward action. I completed the second proposal and a large chunk of the book while writing at Starbucks every day for one week. My relatives had no idea how useful those gift cards would be when they slipped them into my Christmas stocking.
The book was right there in my weekly letters to the Sabbath Society all along. Right in front of me but I didn’t see it because I assumed my first book would be about something different.
During our initial weeks of culture shock, I was also navigating decisions with my agent about publishing. Choosing the right publisher from several who offered and then combing through the details of the contract that arrived in finality on Wednesday, the hottest day on record for England.
A few hours after the contract arrived, H and I boarded a crowded train without air-conditioning, held onto to a metal pole, swaying as the wheels clomped over the tracks and air thickened in the coach. Sweat dripped down my back and beaded on my forehead while the Peace of God settled on the inside.
We are all created with a message God wants to speak through us for such a time as this. When you know it is your time, no matter the circumstance, it is a holy moment of wonder.
God’s timing is worth the wait, this is what I want to tell you more than anything. Hold on; wait for Him to orchestrate the details. Don’t mistake the silence in your circumstances as your opportunity to control outcomes. He isn’t ambivalent about your situation but working hard on your behalf, pulling a million tiny details together because he loves you and desires the very best.
The irony is not lost on me that both these momentous moments – moving to London and becoming an author — involve a day of travelling somewhere risky and being a little uncomfortable.
The fulfillment of dreams requires a deeper level of trust that is cultivated through uncertainty. Are you trustworthy with what I have planned for you? This is the ultimate question God is asking us in the silence of our waiting periods.
You see, H and I were on that train to have dinner with a Sabbath peep visiting from Canada. We cleared our schedules to meet with Celeste, a friend I’ve only known through words collected in four years of emails. On the same day I signed a book contract.
As I write this to you now, Dea is staying in my guest room. We’ve experienced exactly four days together in person.
I’m learning God is a divine networker if you allow Him the luxury. His timing is perfectly perfect, even when you feel like He is moving slower than you would like Him to on the details.
And that is worth celebrating, yes?
Yes, lets…celebrate!! The word “Sabbath” once was an other-worldly word/day for me—from a different time and place, but now Sabbath speaks peace and rest into my life, and most certainly trust in times of uncertainty. Sabbath is the space for faith to grow…so thankful “Sabbath keeping” was the “second book.” I can’t wait to read it. 🙂 [Commenting from downstairs! Ha! So fun!]
So glad you are here to celebrate so many milestones in my life. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for each of us!!
Such a beautiful story. So excited that the next chapter is finally set to begin!!
Thanks Christie! That conversation you and I shared in the hotel lobby at Allume will forever be a fond memory of starting the publishing journey together. God is good!!
Shelly, I am so thrilled for God’s plan and timing unfolding in your life with the publication of your first book (notice that I said *first*!): The Sabbath Society. I wondered if you would use that title! 🙂 For such a long time, I have called God the Divine Networker, because for so many years, I have witnessed His “unfoldings” in such minute detail in my life: meeting people, having a spark of an idea in a journal, hearing a word (rhema) from Him in His Word or even a word in my head, noticing an unanticipated circumstance, which becomes an open door. It’s He, the Divine Networker, who orchestrates all these circumstances. I am so glad that He introduced us, and so excited to be a witness to what He is doing in your life and others’ through you. From the day I first encountered your exquisite writing on your blog, I just knew there was a book in it!!! We just didn’t know which one! 🙂 And in His grace, He even had you writing it, before you knew it existed. Half your work is done! And as you point out, sometimes, when we know we’ve heard from Him, we just misunderstand the orchestration. God had me publish two books (interestingly the title of one which I had written in my journal, but not about a book!!), before in His timing, my third, my passion book, was ready to be written. I had some crucial living to do first, because God wanted those experiences to be included. Plus, over the course of time, He gave me a much different format from what I had originally envisioned for Love Letters to God. But the title and concept always stayed true to the vision. God let you know you’d write a book, and He’d actually given you the vision, but you didn’t realize it. I just love this story of publication. You are infusing your future-author readers with hope. And I Iove the gift you and the Sabbath Society will give an exhausted and disillusioned Church. I want to be first in line to read it! Love you so much.
I wouldn’t be able to write this post without you Lynn. God divinely, providentially, graciously and generously linked you and I together and for that I am a better person.
I feel the same way about you, Shelly, and so very privileged. You remain in my heart and in my prayers…..always.
Shelly. this is great news! And such a good piece!
In the rewrite of my book, I am getting to write the thing first suggested to me five years ago. It wasn’t even a dream, just a good idea I couldn’t make work. Until all the strings pulled together at once.
Thanks, as always, for your encouragement.
Yay for God turning beauty to ashes in all things we think are lost. Love you Megan and thanks for cheering me on. Your encouragement is truly a gift.
I love seeing how He orchestrates our lives and our heart’s desires and seeing your obedience to Him. This post is lovely “allow Him the luxury” – exactly.
Thank you Nancy, your words are a blessing.
As another famous Brit once wrote, the world is your oyster….I think of that, Shelly, because of the way God has tightened the borders around all those ‘Sabbath Peeps’ scattered far and wide who have grown to be such good friends. Like the one staying downstairs 🙂 That just made me smile.
Your walk and faith are an encouragement friend. Good on you! Again.
I love those words you used Jody, “God has tightened the borders around all those Sabbath peeps scattered far and wide.” Beautiful imagery of community gathered specifically for God’s purposes. Yes!!
THIS – right here: “He isn’t ambivalent about your situation but working hard on your behalf, pulling a million tiny details together because he loves you and desires the very best.” While my dream is not so much about writing a book (I am working on memoir writiing for my family/friends), I had just posed on Facebook a comment about how one of my long time dreams has become pretty faded and I wondered if I’d ever get to do it. And then I read this.
I appreciate this and wrote the quote in my journal today and read it to my husband as we have been through a time of waiting and a future that feels pretty blurred and has been that way for the past couple years. Thank yo for this.
and congrats on your publication and you have a lot happening at once!
Thank you and yes, so much at once I feel like I’m swirling in a sea trying to focus on the horizon without drowning right now!!
Thanking God that he uses our stories to inspire and inform others Carol. Praying for breakthrough for you in your circumstances and clarity about next steps.
This makes me so happy!! So exciting!! Yay, Shelly!! Yay, God!!!
Thanks for celebrating with me Sheila!!
Congratulations!!! I’m so happy for you. I love the perfect way God weaves His plan!
Glad to have you with me on the journey Elizabeth, appreciate your encouragement. Thank you!
Well its been two days since leaving London and I am experiencing the pangs of jet lag. In other words, no sleep. During these moments I think back upon our meeting and say thank you for being willing to ride that hot train to meet me. I hope that one day we can be sitting together in a Starbucks here in Vancouver.
So glad we were able to make it happen Celeste. God is good!
Congratulations Shelly… To be honest… This is not a surprise to me… From the time we both entered the blog world… It was evident to me that one day a book would grow from this space… You are a beautiful, honest writer and I know your book will continue to bless many… Blessings and much Grace as you set into this new space!!!
Thanks for believing in me Ro. Those initial days of blogging and finding community are really fond memories for me.
So happy for you, and for those who will have more of an opportunity to read what you have to share.
Those waiting times are hard, hard, hard, but so often followed by a flood of blessing. I tried to keep the reality of Isaiah 43:19 before me during a long, dry waiting season (Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.), knowing that he was obviously doing a new things, a thing that often times I did not like and trying to believe that understanding and the way in the wilderness and the rivers would follow, but it was hard. I almost lost my grip. But God is good, and he strengthens us to hang on. You hung on through a long season, my friend, and now we all get to reap the blessings. He multiplies.
Thanks for celebrating with me Natalie. We’re in this together!!
I am so,so excited and delighted about this, Shelly. But I think you knew that already. 🙂 Love you, girl.
Thanks for the vote of confidence Michelle, couldn’t do this without you!
Now this news pleases me no end! To follow a writer that one admires greatly and then to have that talent be recognized by the publishing industry is most satisfying. I anticipate and relish your weekly posts and now look forward to your future book. Delighted for your blessing!
What lovely words Lisa. Thanks for the blessing!
Well ain’t you all fancy dancey? That’s so great. Congrats.
Not sure what fancy dancey is but I’ll take it. Thanks Seth! Appreciate your encouragement.
And I am celebrating with you, my friend! I remember when you first asked me what I thought a book by you would look like. “The first thing that comes to mind is Sabbath,” I remember saying :). Isn’t it funny how we are always the last ones to know? I am so excited for you and yes, it is a breathtaking unfolding, the way things have played out. This is an amazing story in itself! Maybe it’s not too soon to start that third book proposal…
What joyful news, Shelly! Huzzah! Huzzah! I smiled while reading the first part of your post. Then two paragraphs in the middle made me cry, because your words seemed to come straight from God’s heart to mine: “We are all created with a message that God wants to speak through us…” Praise God for his “holy moments of wonder” that include your book contract and his promise for each of us! Blessings, sweet Shelly!
I can’t wait to read it, but while I wait, I will pray for you. Pretty sure the enemy will do all he can to stymie this story of rest, needed so desperately by so many.
Your words are timely and so encouraging to me, Shelly. Thank you and congratulations! I look forward to reading your book!
I am so, so thrilled for you and excited about this, dear friend. I love your words about waiting, and have found them to be true MANY times in my life. It’s hard in the midst of those seasons to remember, though. I’m thankful for friends like you who help remind me. Congrats!!! Doing the happy dance for you.