These Small Seeds Make One Big Life

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May you know today that the details of your life are scattered like small seeds dropped on fertile ground over each day of the past week. You may not realize how a smile gives a stranger hope or words flowing freely from your lips are honey to bitter circumstance for an eavesdropper.

Take comfort. The grains of the way God made you, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, sow into the Kingdom and grow into branches for others to rest upon. When you are tempted to think your minutes, hours and weeks are mundane, overlooked castaways, remember that the character of Christ is inscrutable.

Our most fulfilling moments are not in big things figured out but in smallness deeply embedded in the mystery.

Happy Sabbath Friends!

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When It Comes Down to Your Best Yes

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Standing on the corner of a busy street in South Kensington, I look at my watch and exclaim, “Oh my gosh! Is it really almost 5:00pm?” Two new friends visiting from the US immediately pull up a sleeve making assessments while simultaneously checking mobiles.

Caught up in meandering through five floors at Harrods, after a girly lunch at Muriel’s Kitchen, I lost track of time and all responsibility.

A few minutes later we part ways in the tube station; west on the Piccadilly Line for me while they travel east to explore an art store on Russell. I’m not late for an appointment; I’ve just had to say no to some good things lately.

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This month, H is preaching a series called Navigating Change at our church. A few weeks ago, he spoke on Saying No to Say Yes; no to our old self, no to fears and insecurities and no to good things in order to make room for saying a bold yes to Christ.

In choosing to part ways with my friends I said no to a good thing but it wasn’t exactly saying yes to God. Or was it?

As I navigate changes in roles as a writer, mother, friend and wife, all wrapped up in a new culture, I’m thinking about my best yeses quite a lot lately.

How do you identify the best from a smorgasbord of good options and opportunities?

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In the past, I might’ve assumed guilt about making that small decision to go home instead of site-seeing with my friends, feeling a bit selfish. Or I might’ve transferred my own assumptions into the situation, choosing false empathy instead of truth.

When sacrificing time comes from a place of guilt, the result is like eating too many donuts. Immediate gratification without thinking through the consequences ultimately leaves you regretful and sick.

My best yeses flow from knowing who I am and what my ultimate contribution is to the world around me. That discovery has taken a few years of coaching and intentional time wrestling through the details of my past.

What I’ve learned in the process is our best yeses are constantly changing because the Christ-life is a continual discovery. God isn’t static; He is always in the process of creating.

And that’s why we can’t put new wine into old wine skins.

The new thing God is doing in us cannot be accomplished by continuing to live in the way we’ve always done it. New seasons, new calling, new purpose – they require new rhythms, new risk, new levels of surrender and sacrifice. Confidence in saying no comes alongside our best yeses.

We cannot enter into God’s intended rest by continually adding things to our lives and then pretend life is as it always has been. It’s idealistic and may I suggest, self-sabotage, to think you are a time-keeping super hero. Ask me how I know that!

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On a sunny day in London, walking serpentine through crowds of people, I parted ways with my friends because it was a small act of obedience honoring the time God gives me. My ultimate contribution that day was to make dinner for my family; fully present at the table instead of hurried up on the inside.

The Gospel of Mark tells us what happens when we try to insert something new into our old life. It’s messy, that’s the gist.

We are created with purpose for such a time as this. I want my choices to be golden, not second rate. You? For me, that requires some fear of God when I say yes to opportunities.

How are you choosing the best from the good in your everyday life?

 

On Becoming an Author: What I’ve Been {Not So} Patiently Waiting to Tell You

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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.

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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.

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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?