When You Realize Life is Precious

by | Oct 19, 2015 | 31 Letters from London

This is day 19 in a series: 31 Letters from London. In October, I’m doing something a little different and writing to you about the realities of life as an expat; finding the nearness of God through random experiences with new culture. It’s important to begin here and find the collection of letters here. We’re breaking for Sabbath every Sunday.



On Sabbath in the Cotwolds, I sat down at the kitchen table in front of a bowl of freshly harvested hollyhock seeds and a lady bug emerged from among the pile of remnants. And then through my lens, I discovered she had company.

They circled the rim of the bowl like the brain trying to make sense of a mystery during sleep. I was going to write you about something completely different today but this came pouring out instead.

I’ve shed tears three times today.

Once when I realized today is my brother’s birthday. And how I know not having him on the earth any longer is a grief my parents will never get over.

Once after writing a letter to a friend in celebration of her 50th birthday. And how the impression she left on my daughter when she was only six made a long-lasting impact. Shouldn’t this always be the mark of a good teacher?

Once when I read the email my Dad sent to me explaining why it looked as though he gave up on being my Father, but he didn’t. And how so much time has passed between us without knowing.

What does this have to do with living in London? The farther you move away from the places where you find your identity, the closer you are to becoming human.

While I am becoming a boss at navigating new culture, I am, at the same time, losing a bit of myself. The parts Jesus is chipping off. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17)


London thrums with possibility, opportunity, and new adventure and I am embracing it with abandon. When we pay attention, He provides a binocular view of the seeds we have planted and harvested so we can see the way our Saviour has been close by, intimate, and entangled in every blessed minute.

The way to move forward is by looking back. You see how far you’ve come, realize life is precious and cry for the beauty of it.



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  1. Pam

    Funny, but I’ve been teary in very similar ways about similar thoughts today… Especially love this sentence: He provides a binocular view of the
    seeds we have planted and harvested so we can see the way our Saviour
    has been close by, intimate, and entangled in every blessed minute. (Love that you are also taking on the English “ou” spelling of your words too 🙂 ) Blessings in your new adventure, Shelly.

    • Shelly Miller

      I’ve realized I’m doing that often Pam. Had to edit some of those words in my manuscript yesterday. eep. It’s so great to see you here in the comments again. I’ve missed you!

  2. Lynn D. Morrissey

    I am so very sorry about your brother’s loss. I remember exactly when this happened, and didn’t he die on Harrison’s b/day? I am so sorry for your grief as you recall what would have been a happy birthday for him. He was young, and it is so difficult to understand his passing. I know you know your identity is in Christ . . . and I’m thinking that grief and tears are part of that identity, no matter where you live. And it is serendipitous to read about your unbidden tears now, because just today, I was writing about unbidden tears, but on another subject but in a strange way related to Sabbath. The Sabbath is the Lord’s Day, and maybe tears on His day are His gift–His way of uniting us more closely with Him.
    Thank you for sharing your heart.

    • Shelly Miller

      You have an incredible memory Lynn, can’t believe you remembered the day my brother passed. Wow. And I love thinking that tears on Sabbath are God’s gift to us for greater intimacy with Him. Awesome thought.

  3. Devi Duerrmeier

    Once again you have me in tears, Shelly. Reading your words as we get ready for our move has been like reading letters from God day after day.. thank you for this.

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m honored by your comment Devi, thank you. The book I’m writing is about letters between me and the Sabbath Society and in essence letters between me and God. So, your comment feels somehow providential. Thank you for being here.

  4. Leah

    Such a good, vulnerable post. So sorry for your tears of grief, and so blessed to hear the preciousness of life in your words.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks for the affirmation Leah. I wrote it very late at night so this is grace.

  5. Janet from FL

    It is so interesting how moving to England has brought new enlightenment to your thoughts. Maybe getting away from your usual routine, and seeing so many new things, instead of seeing the same things every day as most of us do, not even seeing them because they are so familiar. Anyway, I love reading about these “aha” moments you have been sharing with us!

    • Shelly Miller

      I think you are right Janet. Appreciate you!

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