Sharing Two Hearts – a man’s perspective on moving

As some of you may know, I was married for 45 years before Bill’s death. We weathered 14 moves, along with major life transitions, and huge personal changes that come with uprooting and relocating a marriage, children, home, lifestyle, and relationships.

I asked Bill some years ago to share some of his thoughts, fears, and feelings during our hard and difficult years of moving. My hope was that women would gain greater insight into what men go through during the transition of a move, and how to best encourage and love their husband.

I know his words are just as impactful today as they were then.

If I had known what was going on in Bill’s head and heart at the time, I would have worked harder (and prayed more) at bridging the gap between us.

God has once again reminded me of His grace by allowing Bill to see me through eyes of love and a heart of forgiveness for all the times I failed to be loving and forgiving towards him. I am amazed and humbled to know that anything I said, or conveyed through my actions during those years, had such an effect on him. Bill wrote:

Fear and doubt

Looking back at the many times we moved, I recognize my feelings of anxiety, fear, frustration, loneliness, and isolation. Doubt would flood my mind. Fear would creep into my day. Susan and I were disconnected by miles and emotions and I wondered if we would ever reconnect.
I often thought that I had made a terrible mistake by moving my family so often ― why did I agree to take this promotion and uproot my family? Will I succeed? Do I have what it takes? Why am I even doing this? What will I do if the job doesn’t work out?


Loneliness and pressure

My new job always seemed to start before our family moved. I wondered when we would all be together again and questioned why our house had not sold. I felt the loneliness and emptiness of spending another night alone in my hotel room, in a strange city, when everyone else at the office would go home to a family. Financially, I had to make the job and relocation work. I would tell myself that working long hours would get all the work done and put me over the top for job security.
I certainly couldn’t share all this with Susan. It would only upset her to know I had doubts and fears. She thinks I’m confident about all our moves and always excited about moving up the corporate ladder. Pretty tough stuff, and I wasn’t about to tell anyone my feelings.
If men would talk, we would tell you that we have feelings and emotions about moving too. Our thoughts come right from the core of a man. These thoughts address our worth, our ability to provide for, and protect, our family. Although I did not address feelings at the time, they were real, and drove my motivation, my emotions, and my behavior.


The impact on our marriage

What I didn’t know was how to help (or fix) Susan’s emotions while treading emotional water myself. We were fighting for our own survival, gasping for air, trying to keep our heads above water.
Susan’s words of affirmation, encouragement, and the assurance of her unconditional love for me were like pom-poms cheering me on each day during those difficult times. Her sacrificial love covered me with God’s grace each day while she minimized her hurts while helping to heal mine.
I have learned over the years that the total disruption of a marriage and family routine takes its toll on every member of the family, but not as much as in the relationship between husband and wife. Isn’t it just like the enemy to drive a husband and wife apart during a time when they need each other most?
It is when encouragement follows doubt and worry, when understanding comes after listening to fears and frustrations, when loneliness is melted away by coming together again, when communication brings connection instead of conflict, when God is the focus instead of yourself, and when praying rules your day, that love and hope will be renewed in your marriage.

So, grab a pompom and be your husband’s cheerleader! (It might even be contagious!)

~Tell him you’re proud of him and how difficult it must be with a new job.

~Try to breathe oxygen into his world by giving him lots of grace, reassurance, and encouragement.

~Look for the things he is doing right, not wrong, and tell him.

~Make it a habit to spend 20 to 30 minutes a day to debrief.

~Dwell on the positive, not the negative, things about the move.

~Be intentional about building him up, not tearing him down.

~Kiss him when he goes to work and when he comes home.

~Share something you appreciate about him, something you admire and respect about him, and a reason you love him.

On this Valentine’s Day, my card to Bill would read: I cherish you to the depth of my soul. You are truly God’s greatest gift to me and the love of my life. After all those moves, I would still follow you to the ends of the earth. And one day, I’ll follow you to our eternal home and we will be together again!

heart

Love, your Susan

Pausing to Prioritize

His mercies are new every morning

Once again another new year is here. Funny how it rolls around every twelve months! For me, January is a time to re-exam my heart, my life, and ― my calendar. I take a look at the choices and decisions I’ve made and what I want to change or do differently this year.

When I get past all the stuff that is beyond my control, or is just wishful thinking, the really important things to me are the matters of my heart. I want to live my life to bring glory and honor to God, take more time for the cherished relationships in my life, and give my children and grandchildren a legacy of unconditional love, a strong faith in God, and treasured family memories. These are the things that really matter in my life. These are the things that I can intentionally choose to do that will make a difference in my life and in the lives of those I love. Not just in the new year, but for years to come.

God knows our hearts. He knows the good, the bad, and the ugly us. He knows when we get it right and when we screw up big time. And believe me, I’m the first in line to say I didn’t always do it right or say it right. My choices and decisions weren’t always wise and my calendar was often too full with no boundaries or margins.

Ah, but for His saving grace and forgiveness! A new year, a clean slate, and another chance at putting the often misfit pieces of my life together again.

May we never lose sight of God’s power to change us—our life-style, our thinking, our habits, our actions, our attitudes, and our words.

Here are a few things nudging my heart for 2019:

Stop limiting God. Oh.my.gosh. How many times I’ve kept God in a box by putting limits on what He can do! He is the God of the universe and nothing is too small for Him to accomplish. How easily I forget and how it limits my faith and trust. 

Give my day, and whatever it might hold, to God before I get out of bed each morning. Thank Him, regardless of what kind of day it was, each night when I go to bed. Not all days are great, happy, or filled with sunshine. But wow, I learn a lot about myself ― and Go ― in the unexpected, not-according-to-my-plans kind of day.

a cup of kindness

Remember that kindness trumps everything else. May I never forget to make time to be kind by my actions and words, even when I’m busy and my schedule is full.

Release guilt of all I haven’t done and focus on what I have done. I am so bad about this! I need to remember the things I haven’t done will all be there tomorrow.

Write more handwritten thank you notes and fewer text thank-yous. I know texting is quick and easy, but I also know what it means to get a handwritten note. I keep treasured written notes and re-read them on a rainy day. 

A full calendar is not always productive. At the end of the week, or month, I can look back and know the days (and nights) that were full , were more exhausting than productive.

Be less judgmental. I meet so many new people that I sometimes find myself assuming something about someone, or her circumstances, that may not necessarily be correct. A good reminder is for me to ask first, ” Tell me about you,” or “Tell me your story.”

Procrastination doesn’t always get the things on my to-do list done. Grrrrrrr….. It’s always easier to do the things I want, or love to do, and put off the things that are difficult or stressful to do. I need to work on this big time!

Never underestimate the power of prayer. I am reluctant to say that sometimes I do just that― I underestimate my prayers! I need to pray with reckless abandonment and not hesitate to pray for what I think is too hard or impossible.

Re-do my bucket list. Stop putting the things I want to do, and can do, on the back burner. With each passing year, time is so precious. There are dear family and friends that I want to visit, places I want to see, things I want to do. If not this year, when?

Tell it, sing it, and live it! I resonate with the words to this old hymn, “This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long….” 

Have you had any nudges from God lately? If so, this might be a good time to think about the matters of your heart, the choices you make, and what you want to change or do differently in the new year.

I’d love for you to stop right now and join me in praying this little prayer from my heart to yours:

First of all, God, I want to thank you for last year. It was a difficult year in many ways, but you never left me. Your word gave me peace.
Your provision gave me hope.
Your presence gave me comfort.
I am in awe of how you work in and through all things.

Now, as I enter into the new year, I pray for wisdom and discernment in the choices and decisions I will make.
Direct my steps and walk with me each day so that my life will reflect you.
Transform not only my heart, but my thinking.
Give me courage to do the right thing, not just the easy thing.
And above all, may I give you all the honor and glory for the mighty work you will do within me this year!
Amen

I’ve even added some scripture that will help guide us. You can add some of your favorites too.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding,
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5,6

And may the Lord direct your heart into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.
2 Thessalonians 3:5

Commit your works to the Lord,
And your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.
Psalm 32:8

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105

From My Heart to Yours,

Susan Miller

Look for Jesus

Over the years, I have had many cherished memories of Christmas with my family. One memory in particular that I love to share often was about a nativity set I had given to my grandchildren. I wanted them to have the freedom to interact and play with each figurine so it would help them learn about the birth of Jesus.

nativity set

A priceless moment was when my 4-year-old grandson and his little sister were playing with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. They would take the small figurines all over the house playing out the scene in the manager. Invariably, they would lose one of them, and then desperately search room to room for who was missing.

Their chatter back and forth stopped, and then I overheard Savannah say, “Has anyone seen Mary?” It was only a matter of minutes before Mary was found under the kitchen table.

Not long after that, Austin lost baby Jesus somewhere between his bedroom and theChristmas tree downstairs. In a panicked voice he yelled, “I lost Jesus! Where is Jesus?” He ran through the house in a desperate attempt to find the little baby Jesus. No one spoke a word as they searched all the places Jesus could possibly be. Then, out of the silence came Austin’s voice with both relief and excitement as he shouted, “I found Jesus! I found Jesus!”

I smiled as I grasped the impact of those words.

Oh, if only we would all find Jesus with that same kind of profound joy and excitement! Sometimes in the busyness of our days, we seem to lose sight of Him, only to rediscover He’s been there all along.

This Christmas, I hope you too will find Jesus― in unexpected places, in the ordinary of your days, somewhere between where your morning starts and your night ends.

He’s just waiting for you to discover Him ― or find Him ― and to call Him by name.

And when you do, I can just hear the excitement in your voice as you say, I found Jesus! I found Jesus!

And you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!

Luke 2:10,11

Merry Christmas from my heart to yours!

Susan Miller

A toothache, a root canal, and a dental visit I’ll never forget

(This month we bring back one of Susan’s most popular blogs. Definitely worth repeating!)

 

dental chairIt isn’t actually the tooth that hurts, it’s the gum above the tooth, I told myself.

I put up with the discomfort for a week, but when a week came and went, my better judgment said go to the dentist. I called my dentist office and they got me right in. One look, one x-ray, and he sent me straight to the endodontist.

“It’s an abscess. You’re going to need a root canal, and then some further surgery due to bone loss,” he said.

Oh, this is just great, I thought. Like I need the expense and inconvenience of a major tooth problem right now.

I took a deep breath as the dental chair reclined and the shot in my gum began to numb the area. I knew I’d be held captive with my mouth open and the sound of the drill for at least an hour. My nerves began to kick in and I could feel my heart rate increasing.

I kept repeating over and over again in my head, Take my hand, Lord, take my hand. I envisioned God placing His hand in mine and squeezing it tightly to calm and comfort me. I even opened my hand slightly, eagerly waiting for His calming touch to come.

both handsAs if the words were audible, I heard, I don’t want one hand, I want both hands.

Pretty profound, huh? It was for me.

I took another deep breath and wrapped my thoughts around what had just happened.

As a visual learner, I clearly got the message. God wanted all my anxiety and fear, not just one handful. I could hear God’s voice saying, Let go, Susan. Don’t hold back. Give all your emotions to me. I will calm you, comfort you, and give you peace.

…and I did…and He did.

No matter where you are―even in a dentist chair―God will speak to you somehow, someway when you call out to Him. Perhaps His message to you will be similar to mine: Let it go. Give it all to me. I will calm you, comfort you, and give you peace.

Let Him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you (1 Peter 5:7, TLB).

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers (Philippians 4:6, TLB).

From My Heart to Yours,

Susan Miller

Just Two Words

In the rush of moving on to the next thing on my schedule, or being preoccupied with my thoughts, I can’t believe how easy it is for me to actually forget to take time and say two little words.

In the busyness of my life, I often underestimate the power of saying thank you to acknowledge someone for their kindness, service, or thoughtfulness.

thank youTwo simple, little words that can make a person’s day. It can change an attitude from negative to positive. In an often thankless job, it makes a person feel appreciated for what they do. It can encourage a discouraged heart. It sets an example that hopefully will be passed on to others. You and I know how it feels when we are thanked for even the smallest thing we’ve done or said. And yet, so often, I miss the moment when thank you can impact a life.

Don’t limit the ways to express your thanks to a family member, a child, a friend, or even a stranger. It can be verbal, in a note, a phone call, a text, an email, or perhaps even a small gift. And don’t forget that a smile and eye contact speaks volumes when thanking them in person.

I can’t help but recall the story of the ten lepers who had been healed by Jesus (Luke 17:11-16). Only one of them stopped, turned around, and went back to thank Jesus for what He had done. Wow! It makes me wonder how many other people that Jesus healed had stopped to even whisper “thank you” in His ear before they went on their way.

When was the last time I stopped, turned around, and went back to thank someone in the busyness of my day? The story of that one leper who took the time to stop and say thank you reminded me of my own forgetfulness to do the same thing.

shopping cartI thought of this vivid word picture from scripture the other day at the grocery store. I was in the parking lot with a loaded cart in the Arizona heat. I was so ready to get the bags in the car and turn the air conditioner on to cool off. Then I noticed a young employee limping across the parking lot as he gathered carts to return to the store. His shirt was wet with sweat.

It suddenly became a matter of my heart, not the heat I was trying to escape.

I spotted a cart two cars from mine and saw that he was walking over to get it. I quickly pushed them over to him and thanked him for gathering the carts on such a hot day. He smiled and said, “My pleasure, this is my job.”

It wasn’t hard to come up with a list as I determined to be more intentional with people I encounter weekly.

Perhaps you can make your own list also.

The waitress or waiter that serves me in the restaurant. 

My neighbor who rolls my large garbage can to the street for pickup each week. 

The checkout clerk at the store. 

The person who takes the time to hold the door open for me. 

A friend who gives me the gift of listening to the cry of my heart. 

A grandchild who does me a favor without complaining about it. 

The receptionist on the phone who is courteous and helpful.

The older gentleman who takes my ticket at the movie theater. 

The teenager at the drive-through window.

Oh Jesus, I need to begin and end my day with thanking YOU first! May I never get so distracted that I overlook your mercy, grace, and yes, healing.

YOU fill me with your love, goodness, encouragement, and kindness. I am blessed by your presence each and every day.

May I never forget to stop whatever I’m doing, turn around, go back to Jesus and whisper, or even shout, THANK YOU!

Go out and make someone’s day with a “thank you”…and start with Jesus….

From My Heart to Yours,

Susan Miller

A Bittersweet Goodbye

sold signI know the time was right, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s never easy to let go of something that has become a part of your life and your memories for thirteen years.

When the “For Sale” sign went up in June, it became a reality that this would be the last summer at our little getaway place near Flagstaff, Arizona ― only an hour and a half from Phoenix. I knew selling would become inevitable as the years went by. The grandchildren were growing older, the small rooms that once were adequate seemed to be getting smaller, college was looming in the future, and their interests had broadened beyond our small community there.

When the “sold” sign went up soon after that, I walked from room to room, my eyes covering every inch of space within each room’s four walls, as my mind recalled the memories held there.

Our Happy Place

I could smell the cookies and brownies in the kitchen as they baked in the oven, with only the aroma left behind as they quickly disappeared off the platter. I could see all the smiling faces when they sat around the kitchen bar, knowing I had their full attention as they gathered to eat anything that wasn’t nailed down. It wasn’t about the food for me, it was the priceless interaction of conversation that I loved. I looked beyond the kitchen to the living area and saw every seat filled with six grandchildren, then spilling over on the floor with their friends. They always got such a kick out of me being able to flip a bottle of water right side up on the counter, teaching me to dance to their music, and singing popular songs along with them.

I could hear the laughter and giggles in the loft filled with bunk beds and sleeping bags long after “lights out!” echoed up the stairs. The empty stairs were once filled with flip-flops and sports shoes in hopes someone would claim them.  As I walked by the bathroom, I could hear the knocks on the door with a loud voice, “Hurry up, you’re taking too long, it’s my turn!”

Walking out on the deck, I took a deep breath of the cool, fresh air and smiled as I remembered the summer the deck became “Nana’s Nail Salon” for my granddaughters and their friends. “By appointment only,” I said. They waited patiently as I painted nails and toes of each girl. I could hear my grandsons and their friends playing board games on our deck, and soccer, dodge ball, and kickball in our large neighbor-shared backyard, where the balls always seemed to end up on our deck.

I sat down for a moment, and stared at the beauty of the flowers I planted each year. I gazed at the blue sky and green grass ― a different landscape from Phoenix in the summer.

I thought back over the thirteen years of memories, first with Bill, who loved coming here before he died. It was our place to rest, renew, and regroup. I called it our “Happy Place.” It was where I grieved in the solitude of long walks and where God soothed my broken heart as He began to put the pieces of my life back together again.

Then there is the legacy of memories for our grandchildren, who spent every summer there for thirteen years, and will, I’m sure, share crazy stories about “Cousin Camp” around the table when they are grown. Priceless memories were shared together with our beloved and long-time friends from Phoenix, who said many years ago, “There’s a place next door to us going up for sale, you might be interested….”  There were also other dear friends close by from Phoenix, and neighbors I looked forward to seeing each summer who became a part of our little community of friends.

this is my happy placeOur “Happy Place” was perfect for our Just Moved Ministry Staff and Board Retreats, where the most faithful, committed, and amazing women gathered for R&R, and to cast a vision, to plan, and to prepare for the year ahead. Not to mention, the great food, fun, laughter, and fellowship we shared! And, sometimes I would invite a friend for a weekend who simply needed encouragement and a little TLC.

A New Season

As I drove away this summer, I took one last glance at our “Happy Place” and my red geraniums left on the steps for the new owners. I was reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1, There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under the heaven. This is a new season in my life now and I choose to embrace it wholeheartedly.

geraniumsYou can do the same thing if you have had to let go of a place you loved. It’s not always easy when the place you left behind is intricately woven in your life,your heart, and your memories.  Perhaps you’ve experienced a move, or a military PCS. It could be downsizing, retirement, or other circumstances that have uprooted you beyond your control.

Cherish, Don’t Cling, to the Memories

Anytime during a hard or lonely day, you and I are blessed to have a storehouse of memories that reflect the place we loved and the special times spent with family and friends. Cherish your memories, don’t cling to them. Don’t let living in the past keep you from all God has planned for you in the future. We can acknowledge that moving is not the end, but the beginning of making new memories and new friends. We can choose to embrace a new place and all the opportunities to see God’s goodness and faithfulness.

Remember, God wastes nothing, not even having to move and leave behind what you hold most dear. This is a new season in your life too. Join me, and choose to embrace it today.

From my heart,

Susan MillerSusan Miller

 

An Afternoon Life Lesson

TrishTrish was in our After the Boxes Are Unpacked study many years ago, after she moved here from California to retire. We would see each other at church for a few years after that, then our paths didn’t cross again. As the years slipped by, Trish faithfully stayed in touch with our ministry and became a personal encourager to me through her lovely hand-written notes.

When I received a particularly endearing note not long ago, God prompted me to go and see Trish for a visit that was long over-due. I called to thank her and set a time to get together along with our good friend, Joan. During the 20-minute drive to her assisted living community, I was thinking of all the different things I could say to entertain her and keep the conversation going. “After all,” I thought,”someone who is ninety-four years old will need me to initiate conversation, be encouraging, and inspiring.”

Trish was waiting for us in the lobby, dressed up in a stylish velour warm-up suit, with a necklace that added a little glitz to her jacket. She probably weighed all of 90 pounds, and was about 5’1″ in height with her shoulders slightly bent over. She took Joan and me on a walking tour of the facilities.

puzzleFirst we went to the community center to see the 1,000 piece puzzle she was putting together. It was spread out meticulously on a table. Then we went to the dining room, where she knew everyone there by name, and proceeded to introduce us to her friends.

It was enchanting to step out of the busyness of my world and enter into the simplicity of her world. I could see how pleased and proud she was of this place that she called home. I could feel her excitement for our presence.

We then walked around two huge apartment buildings, took an elevator to the second floor, walked down a corridor, turned the corner, and finally arrived at Trish’s apartment. Her pace was brisk and steady. By this time, I was ready to sit down and catch my breath.

As we walked in, Trish said, “Let me take you on a tour.” She showed us her very small living room right inside the front door. It had one well-loved recliner, a small end table with a lamp, and a small painted bookshelf – all within arm’s reach of her recliner. A shelf by the window held her sewing machine.

From the living room, we walked in the very small bedroom with a single bed and one dresser. A colorful print sheet served as her bedspread. There were no halls to get from room to room, so the bathroom was conveniently adjacent to the bedroom. We walked back through the living room to a very small eat-in kitchen, with a round table and two chairs. You could tell we were expected. The two kitchen chairs were already positioned in the living room, across from the recliner.

As Trish nestled in her recliner, Joan and I sat in the two chairs, like an audience to the Queen. And indeed we were. We listened to Trish as she told us about her life.  We were spellbound for over two hours, captivated by amazing stories of her life in the early 1900’s, the history of her family for four generations, her short, romantic marriage, and her love for Jesus.  After all, it’s not every day I get to sit at the feet of a ninety-four-year-old who recounts the details of a fascinating life like they happened yesterday.

When Trish stopped to open a little gift we had brought her, my eyes glanced around the room once again. Then, I asked the ultimate question. “Where’s your TV, Trish?”

She looked at us and said with conviction, “I got rid of my TV. I was spending too much time watching it, and it was a distraction from my time with Jesus. I spend my time reading my Bible, praying for other people that live here, writing notes to encourage them, and, I’m also in a Bible study. I don’t know how much time I have left before I go to heaven and I want to be real close to Jesus when that day comes.”

Oh. my. goodness. She was truly prepared and ready to meet her Lord and Savior.

Our conversation about Jesus went on for a while. There was no doubt how much she loved Him and how close she was to Him. It was obvious she was at peace anytime Jesus called her to her eternal home.

Trish walked us to the car and hugged us goodbye. We promised we’d come back to see her. We wanted more – more of her stories and more of Jesus.

We faced the four o’clock, bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway, but it didn’t seem to matter. Her words echoed in my mind the whole way home, “…a distraction from my time with Jesus…”  They have lingered with me since that visit. I need to be intentional about my own distractions from Jesus.

There were many take-aways and life lessons from our visit with Trish that I will lean into and learn from. For many of us, they are a gentle reminder of what we already know, but need to hear again.

*       Take time to listen to the stories of someone who is from an older generation. The chapters of their life are like reading a history book and a novel all at once.

*       There is much to learn from someone who has traveled the road of life before us.

*       Ask questions, the answers are often humorous, insightful, and may give you another perspective on things.

*       You receive more than you could ever give, though you may think your visit is for them…

*       Life is precious. Make every day count.

*       Time is your greatest gift to someone.

*       Don’t put off the overdue visit.

*       Too much stuff, too busy, and too much TV can be a distraction from Jesus.

*       Less is more.

*       Jesus is all you need.

From My Heart to Yours,

 

susan millerSusan Miller

Standing in line at the check-out counter

When I am standing in line at the check-out counter, the magazine covers and article titles are a stark reality of what the world would have me buy into, and believe, about how to look, how to behave, what to buy, and what to wear. (Sometimes the only positive thing I see is the emphasis on eating healthy!) The sad thing for me is that so many of us, our daughters, and granddaughters, are buying into this advertising as an accepted way of life.

Every time I’m waiting in line with the magazine covers screaming “pick me,” I have to remind myself of the source of my identity, my self-worth, and my confidence. These things come from Jesus Christ, not from what I see and hear in the magazines and advertisements.

I refuse to buy into what the world would have me believe, but choose to believe what the word of God tells me about who I am. 

Yes, I want to know the latest trends in fashion just like everyone else. (Although I have learned over the years that everything that’s trendy doesn’t always look good on me, or is appropriate, even if it is “in” or popular.) Of course, I want tips on how to look my best for my age, height, and weight. I’m always looking for a bargain, so naturally I want to know where and what is the best buy. However, none of these things are who I am. They may help pull me together on the outside, but it’s what’s going on inside that reflects my confidence and self-worth.

I’ll be honest with you, it took me a lot of years to figure this out. I think we all go through stages in life where we get wrapped up in the wrong identity for any number of reasons. I know I certainly did.

Then, as I became more secure and confident in my relationship with Jesus over the years, I began to dress myself in the identity of Christ.

Perhaps you are at a crossroad of belief in yourself right now. You stand at the check-out counter on the brink of choosing a magazine that you think will make a difference in how you look, or feel  about yourself. Oh, go ahead and buy it, it will make for a good read—just don’t “buy into” it. Instead, choose Jesus for your role-model, and  “buy into”  His word.

You are precious in His sight…Isaiah 43:4

You are loved more than life itself…John 3:16

In His eyes, you are accepted…Romans 15:7

You are valued beyond measure…Matthew 10:31

Through Him, you are forgiven…Nehemiah 9:17

God’s truth about who you are will make a life-changing difference in defining your identity, from the inside out.

Susan MillerFrom My Heart to Yours,

Susan Miller

 

The View From My Bike

pink bikeExperiencing a Zacchaeus moment. 

You would love my cute pink bike with my pink pom-poms hanging over the handle bars and big gerbera daisies in different shades of pink clipped on the front of my bicycle basket. Oh, and I also have a honking pink horn on the basket! If I add too many more accessories, I’ll have to add a side extension to the bike.

Ever since a good-Samaritan-friend graciously fixed my bicycle tire leaks, I can, as the song says, “ride like the wind” all over my neighborhood. Funny how my bike seems to glide with ease and little effort when there is air in the tires!

With the MapMyRun app on my phone, I can run, walk, or cruise and know how many miles I’ve traveled and how long it took to pedal my way back home. I’ve actually mapped out a cool three-mile ride around my neighborhood. Believe it or not, the last mile ends up through my church parking lot. I can pull in off the street, starting at the beginning of the parking lot’s first lane, and go the full length of each lane, winding up and down all the way to the last lane ― and it’s one mile! Who knew?

There’s something special about riding a bike. (As there is about walking, both of which I love to do.) I know it’s my imagination, but I feel like I could reach up and touch the trees as the sunlight glistens through the branches. I love to be sitting up high, it seems I get a different perspective on everything around me.

It’s as if I’m having a “Zacchaeus moment.” When Zacchaeus was standing on the ground he couldn’t see over the crowds, so he climbed up a sycamore tree to get a clear view of Jesus. (Luke 19:1-10) Life came into perspective for Zacchaeus when Jesus called his name and his life was changed forever. When we focus on Jesus, instead of our surrounding circumstances, our perspective and life can change. In the solitude and silence of riding my bike, I can hear Jesus call my name, “Susan, listen to me, don’t try to figure out everything yourself, you are not alone!”

When steering my bike, the need to focus helps to clear my mind when my heart is heavy over a situation, or when I’ve had a stressful day. Sometimes when I have to go around a hole in the pavement, or hit a bump in the road, it is a reminder to me that life is full of holes and bumps ― much like the unexpected, uncontrollable situations that happen in life. All the more reason to keep my focus on Jesus and trust Him.

So… do you want to know what I actually do on my bike?

I pray as I pedal. It’s the perfect opportunity, without interruptions, to pray for those on my prayer list.

I raise my hand to praise God for the beauty of nature around me. (There was a time I could steer my bike without both hands on the handlebars, but I haven’t tried that lately.)

And what about the pom-poms? Well, you never know who might need encouraging along the way. They always bring a smile when I see a neighbor and wave my pom-poms as I ride by.

By now, you probably feel like you’ve ridden with me on the back of my bike, holding on for dear life. Perhaps you’ve learned a few insider things about my three-mile ride.

The next time you go on a walk, run, hike, or ride your bike, you might think about having a “Zacchaeus moment” too. Perhaps you are going through a heartbreaking situation, a broken relationship, or circumstances beyond your control.

Just like Jesus saw Zacchaeus in a crowd of people, He sees you too. You are not forgotten. You are not alone. He’s got His eye on you. In fact, He could be calling your name right now, but you’ve been too busy and too preoccupied with getting through each day to focus on Him and listen for His voice.

Rise above the chaos around you and keep your eyes on Jesus. He can change your life and perspective forever.

Susan MillerFrom my heart,

Susan

A few of my favorite things and the memories they hold

Welcome to the tea partyIt was pure joy to host a “Tea Party” recently for a dear friend and her guests. The food was prepared by a lovely English friend (thank goodness for that!), so I could focus on what I love best―getting the table ready with all the details and little things I love to do. I plan ahead, make a list, and do all the preparation ahead of time. Then I can focus on the people, not the preparation, when the party starts.

Let me stop right here to say that usually I am more casual than formal when I have a party. The most important thing is for everyone to feel special, welcomed, and loved―whether I use paper plates or china, red solo cups or crystal, plastic utensils or sterling silver, paper or linen napkins.

But then there are times when I love to go all out and use the lovely things passed down to me from my mama and grandmother, especially for a tea party. Let’s just say it’s part of my southern heritage and the legacy of tradition in the south.

I had not taken out many of the things I wanted to use for this party in a long time. You might think I’m a little silly, but I was pleasantly surprised at how it soothed my soul to recount the cherished memories of the people who gave me each thing as I washed, polished or ironed it. It was a step back in time. A ritual that slowed down my usual fast-pace day. What would normally be considered a task, became very enjoyable as I let my mind wander back to family and friends from years past.

favorite heirloomsI remember my mama giving me the few pieces of china she had gotten when she and daddy married. Back in the 40’s, giving a gift of fine china was hard for those who farmed crops in the small country towns of South Carolina.  She would tell me to use it often and enjoy it. “Don’t let it sit on the shelf, Susan,” she would say. Thanks for the reminder, mama. I need to be better at that.

I remember when my grandmother passed on some of her crystal goblets, linen napkins, and doilies. Some had a few stains that couldn’t be gotten out with just soap back then. I call them “story stains.” I smile when I recall the stories told around the dining room table as food was spilled―and wiped up―with a napkin.

When I was eight years old, I carved my initials in my grandmother’s sterling candle holder that always sat on a small table in her living room. Guess who got the candle holder years later! Now it proudly sits on a small table in my living room.

Coming from a large family on both mama and daddy’s side, I was blessed with two grandmothers and lots of aunts who gave all the grandchildren and cousins some reminder of them for our home. I cherish each thing that helps me set a pretty table today.

I remember dear friends over the years who gave me a teacup for a special occasion to add to my collection. Each one holds a special memory of their friendship as we shared laughter and tears together over a cup of tea or coffee.

And, I tenderly remember when Bill had just gotten out of the Air Force and was going to college on the GI Bill. We didn’t have two nickels to rub together in those early years of marriage. We both had part-time jobs and I was pregnant. He came to me in great anguish as he asked me to consider selling the few sterling silver place settings we had gotten at our wedding to help pay hospital expenses for the birth of our baby. Of course I said yes. You do what you have to do when times are hard. He promised that some day he would replace every piece and, years later, he did just that. I now have enough place settings for my family around the table.

Now let me put all this in perspective. You see, all these lovely things, are just that―things. They mean nothing without the love behind them. Some of you may have nothing passed on to you but the memories of a fractured, painful past with a disconnected family.

This is what you need to remember: It is never too late to start making memories and to start traditions now, for your children and for your grandchildren.

You don’t need “things” to pass on. Give them yourself, your love, and live out Jesus in your home.  

That, my friend, is the greatest heritage, the greatest thing you can pass on to your family that will affect generations to come.

“Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing….” Psalm 16:5 NLT

Jesus expressed great hospitality even though He never owned a home.
He never possessed a set of china and never wrote a book on etiquette.
Without beverage, Jesus refreshes us,
Without a table, He has banqueted us.
Jesus embraces us when we are filthy, oppressed and undeserving.
Jesus welcomes us graciously by saying…
Come unto me…You are welcome here.
(author unknown)

From My Heart to Yours,
Susan Miller Susan Miller, America's Moving Coach

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