Inspiring Reads for Moments of Rest {And a Giveaway!}

by | Sep 2, 2016 | Moments of Rest


“With every word, I pulled myself a little bit further out of the abyss. With every sentence, my focus sharpened. With every story I began to form myself from the inside out.” Dani Shapiro, Still Writing

Content. I didn’t realize I would use this word to describe myself until I scribbled it into my journal on my birthday. Alone in a screened gazebo, I listen to distant sounds of boats and waves churning on the lake, empty lines in a journal balancing on my lap, pen tapping against bare skin. A breeze quickly shifts to gusts of heavy wind, blowing hair up and covering my eyes.

Waiting. My husband and son woke up before the house was humming to tow the boat across the lake. On the journey to Canada we all breathe a little shallow until the boat motor roars and we watch it float out of the cradle. Two days and we haven’t been able to exhale deeply yet. We’re anticipating playing hard but not able to fully rest until we know the outcome.

Aren’t we all waiting for something?

For the mailman to show up, a promotion to be granted, the release of a dream, a response to a proposal. I’m waiting to see how my daughter’s future evolves, if my son’s test results are good enough, how my first book will be received by the world, for lake water to warm up, for a boat to carry us safely into the deep.

Expectant. The clank of spoon on glass bowl causes my gaze to shift from a boy on a paddle board to the house. Vertical blinds shimmy and bump into each other over the sliding glass door. Beyond them, my daughter is making crust for a blueberry pie next to an abandoned chess game spread out on the table.

Nothing seems fully real or understandable until I pen words on paper and transcribe what I’m experiencing. “Language became my navigational tool.”

On vacation I took along some good reads. Six books, some of them new and some I re-read, inspired thoughts I fastidiously penned. Today, I’m sharing quotes from the ones I love.

And I’m giving away two copies of Soul Bare, a collection of stories about redemption written by 31 authors and edited by Cara Sexton. I’m one of them! Redemption Looks Beautiful on You, it’s been the tagline for email subscribers for years and the title of my contribution for Soul Bare. Read this review and check out my vacation reads.


Breath for the Bones by Luci Shaw – “Faith informs art, and art enhances faith. They both, for each other, are breath for the bones.”

Falling Upward by Richard Rohr – “We are created with an inner restlessness and call that urges us on to the risks and promises of a second half to our life. There is a God-size hole in all of us, waiting to be filled. God creates the very dissatisfaction that only grace and finally divine love can satisfy.”

The Joy of Poetry by Megan Willome – “Inner quiet is available at the end of a fly line in a cool river. It can also hide in a poem.”

The Listening Life by Adam McHugh – “The truth is that your listening style reveals your lifestyle. If you life is saturated with busyness, hurry and distraction, then your listening will be scattered and rushed.”

Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer – “We listen for guidance everywhere except from within.”

Walking on Water by Madenline L’Engle – “The novel we sit down to write and the one we end up writing may be very different, just as the Jesus we grasp and the Jesus who grasps us may also differ.”

What book do you love? What book makes you think? What book inspires you? Tell me in the comments for a chance to win Soul Bare. I’m selecting two winners!

Giveaway is now closed. The winners are Jolene Underwood and Nancy Ruegg. Congratulations!


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  1. Jolene Underwood

    Love these thoughts, the book suggestion, and this giveaway Shelly. I’m passionate about soul care which makes me think this book, Soul Bare, would be a lovely read. When I see all the people who contributed, I just KNOW it will be a lovely read!

    • Shelly Miller

      Jolene you were selected as a winner! I am pleased to send you a copy of Soul Bare. Send me your mailing address to and we’ll get a copy in the mail to you. Congrats!

  2. Emily

    Love these book suggestions. Walking on Water is next on my list after I finish your book!

  3. Cathy

    Sounds great! I would love a copy! Pretty please!!! lol 🙂

    • Cathy

      I want to read Walking on Water.

  4. Lyli Dunbar

    I finally got around to reading Every Little Thing by Deidra Riggs earlier this year, and it’s stirred up so much on my heart. That’s my favorite so far this year.

    On writing, Laura Boggess pointed me toward The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. so good!

    Jean Fleming’s Pursue the Intentional Life is probably the book that stuck with me the most over the last few of years.

  5. Karrilee Aggett

    I believe you may need to send my husband an apology note… I don’t have ANY of the books you mentioned above! I’ve been meaning to grab a couple of them for a long long while now… #UhOh

    And yes… Soul Bare, I am pretty sure, features some of my favorite people. So there is that, too.

  6. Chelle Strech

    I Want GOD by Lisa Whittle…I can so relate to that book! Soul Bare looks great. Wold love to win and read.

  7. Lynne Cole

    I guess I have been really fortunate to be on 3 book launches. God has been good in giving me these opportunities. All three books have proven to be really inspiring and have worked really well together. The first is Jennifer Dukes Lee book ‘The Happiness Dare’, which has really opened my eyes to the beauty that is around me. The second one is yours Shelly, ‘Rhythms of Rest’. I’m only into the 2nd chapter, but it is already proving to be challenging me in ways that are deep. The third is ‘Come, Lord Jesus Come’ by Kris Camealy. This is also very thought provoking and fits in very well with my period of waiting.

    • Lynn D. Morrissey

      All three are glorious, aren’t they?!

      • Lynne Cole

        They certainly are!

  8. Susan Shelfer

    “Redemption looks beautiful on you.” I LOVE that and I love that His redemptive places are always available. Soul Bare sounds wonderful and like something I would enjoy!

  9. Julie Dodson

    Sooooo, I read the review…..Soul Bare is my kinda story telling……seems we share more than curly hair. 🙂
    I’m kinda giddy over the reading list, thanks.

    I just finished All The Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth. It made me want to read more memoirs and inspired me to work through my own history. In the morning I’m reading Intentional Living by John Maxwell because my mid life needs some prompting and in the evening I’m reading Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl because I’m a sucker for history and wisdom that can be gleaned . Next I’m reading The Happiness Dare, who doesn’t need more happiness? Then there’s this cool new book about sabbath rest that I’m savoring for a second time with my afternoon coffee. (insert happy giggle here).

  10. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Shelly, like you, i love books and I interact with their authors all the time by journaling my reflections right in the margins. I can’t believe it! I have every single one of these books except Falling Upward. I think maybe I saw that Michelle DeRusha is reading this, so I would surely take both your recommendations. Like you also my thoughts become more real, more clarified if I sort them out in my journals. Writing itself brings me great satisfaction. We were just at Mother’s this evening and she and I are two peas in a book-brimming pod. And we lament how lately before finishing one book, we are already dipping simultaneously into another. She said her greatest regret in life will be all books she longs still to read. I understand this lament.Currently I’m dipping in and out of these poetry volumes: Denise Levertov’s The Stream and the Sapphire: Selected Poems on Religious Themes, Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s The Unicorn and Other Poems, Dylan Thomas’s Collected Poems, Louis Daniel Brodsky’s last book of poetry The Words of My Mouth and the Meditations of My Heart (he is a dear and prolific poet friend who died two years ago of brain cancer–still can’t believe he’s gone, but his poetry lives on in my heart), the book you are reading by Megan, Acceptable Words: Prayers for the Writer, and I’ve just finished reading Christie Purifoy’s Roos & Sky, Tullian Tchividjian’s Surprised by Grace: God’s Pursuit of Rebels (on Jonah), Randy Alcorn ‘s Happiness, Jennifer Lee’s The Happiness Dare, Taming Your To-Do List by Glynnis Whitwer (on procrastination), and I’ve just re-read Just Think: Nourish your Mind to Feed Your Soul by Nancy J Nordenson, Ken Gire’s Windows of the Soul: Experiencing God in New Ways. I want to re-read also AW Tozer’s Pursuit of God and am starting to dip into Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. Both books are on my kitchen table, where I do most of my reading. And from what I hear about Soul Bare, this will be a must-read too. It sounds wonderful. I have found reading a most nourishing, soul-sustaining Sabbath rhythm. What would we do without our books? Thanks for encouraging your readers to share. That’s where I get some great recommendations.

  11. Patti Miinch

    I’m a huge reader — sometimes I read multiple books each day — so it’s hard to choose just one inspirational one. That said, I think I would have to choose “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman. From the first time I read it to each time since then (I read it twice a year or so), I gain so much. For me, it’s been the most life-changing book.

  12. Jerri Miller

    Love this list! I’ve been wanting to read Luci Shaw for some time now, but I think I might need this;

    The Listening Life by Adam McHugh – “The truth is that your listening style reveals your lifestyle. If you life is saturated with busyness, hurry and distraction, then your listening will be scattered and rushed.

    I think I might need Soul Bare, too …

  13. Sharon

    I soo love this! I’ve been wanting to read Soul Bare.
    All those books sound amazing. At this time, I am reading The Joy of Poetry for the second time. The first was on my own, and no I am taking a Tweetspeak Poetry workshop, The Joy of Poetry and Memoir.
    Thanks for offering Soul Bare!

  14. Lisa

    I re-read (for the third time) Walking on Water this summer. <3 The Memoire Project is wonderful, as well as all Julia Cameron's works and Lamott's Bird by Bird. Buechner's books are beautifully written. LIT, the true story of the writer's journey from addiction to faith is also a very powerful read.
    I could go on and on 🙂

  15. Jennifer Bedley Hoos

    Oh my. There are so many. My two most recent reads are the books I love best right now. “When Breath Becomes Air” and “Called”, the former about a doctor who is dying, and the latter about a writer learning to live. Love L’Engle, Luci Shaw, Malcolm Guite and Elizabeth Goudge. Really, just love anything that teaches me to think better about this life and about eternity.

  16. Nancy Ruegg

    Thank you so much for the tantalizing book reviews, Shelly. I’ve added several to my reading list. ‘Recently finished an old classic, “The Higher Happiness” by Ralph W. Sockman (1950), with a chapter devoted to each of the beatitudes. Wise insights. Also rereading a newer classic, “A Quiet Place in a Crazy World” by Joni Eareckson Tada, in which she nudges the reader to “draw near to God through prayer and praise,” and discover God is with us wherever we find ourselves in life. Also want to reread “Run with the Horses” (based on the life and book of Jeremiah) by Eugene Peterson. Another insightful read that deserves more attention. As for fiction, my all-time favorite: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. So much more to the book than in the screen play or movie!

    • Shelly Miller

      Nancy, you were selected as a winner! I am pleased to send you a copy of Soul Bare. Can you send me your address to this email: Thanks so much for being here.

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