Beat the Summer Heat of Emotion

Sometimes the heat that comes with the summer is not always about the temperature.

Sometimes the heat in our lives rises to the pressure point or the stress level because…

the unexpected happens,
our circumstances change,
the rug gets pulled out from under us,
life comes crashing down,
hopes and dreams are shattered.

When the pressure is on, we need to keep an eye on our internal thermometer to gauge the heat caused by stress.

Just like a cup of cool water will replenish our body, God’s word will refresh our soul, renew our mind, and restore our emotions. Remember, God doesn’t always change our situation, but He will give us strength, hope, and encouragement so we can face each day. Reading scripture can be like a soothing balm to help us beat the heat that will inevitably come during any season of life. Redirecting our focus on God and His word, will help us to live above the stress and pressure of our circumstances.

I am constantly reminded that the issues, problems, and trials in life will constantly change, but God never changes. He is our anchor in the droughts and the storms, our lighthouse to guide us when we cannot see what lies ahead. Be encouraged and never lose hope, my friends.

These are some summer Bible reading tips that I enjoy. You might want to consider some of them.

  • Read a verse or a chapter out loud. You not only see the word, you also hear and say the word.
  • Memorize a particular scripture that is meaningful to you by repeating it over and over to yourself.
  • Personalize the verse by inserting your name. After all, God IS speaking to you!
  • Underline, date, and make notes in the margin when scripture speaks to you.
  • In a blank journal, write topical headings like hope, peace, contentment, etc. Write down verses you read that apply to each topic. Keep the journal with your Bible for easy reference and to add more as you discover a verse that fits your topics.
  • Write a “P” beside the scripture that is a promise from God and a “C” that is a command from God.
  • Read entire sections so you will not take anything out of context or misunderstand what you are reading.
  • Do a word study to understand what the word or phrase means.

Clip the verses below and post them on your refrigerator, mirror, in your car, or by your bedside. Add your own favorites to the list.

A Summer Reading List to Help You Beat the Heat

Jeremiah 29:12-13
Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will see Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Lamentations 3:19-25
The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease. For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.

I Peter 5:10
And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

Isaiah 40: 28-31
…Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 41:10
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 37:3-5
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He will do it.

Joshua 1:9
….Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Romans 15:13
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace.

Psalm 119:28
My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to Thy word.

Proverbs 3:26
For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.

Colossians 3:2
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

Philippians 4:11
For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory.

God, make yourself known to me through your word. Let me feel your presence as I go through a very difficult and hard summer. I am in a very dry and hard place in my life right now. Refresh, replenish, restore, and renew me. Amen

Knee-deep in Lemonade and Life Lessons

I wrote this timeless blog years ago about the summer adventures of my grandchildren and the things I learned from them and about them during our time together. Time has flown by so fast. Now, one is in college, one just graduated from high school, and four range from a freshman to a senior in high school. 

Since this blog was so well received by both moms and grandmothers, I thought it was worth repeating. The principles are as applicable today as they were then.


Then

My summer highlight is when all six grandchildren, ages ten to sixteen, gather together for a cousin reunion, better known as “Cousin Camp.” (May they never outgrow that name!) All the planning, preparation, prayer, and shopping that go into our once-a-year tradition has come to an end for another summer. I loved every minute. I cherish the legacy created, the memories made, the traditions established, the pictures captured—along with finding a hair band or a tee-shirt left behind.

Some things never change, but I smile at the new changes that come each year as everyone gets older. I find myself wanting time to stand still.

They are growing up much too fast and too soon.

Gallons of lemonade and my popular peach-mango tea were still consumed, but the new crave was―water. A trail of water bottles went from room to room. I finally had everyone put their initials on the cap with a Sharpie to identify whose bottle was whose. I still line up paper cups on the kitchen counter and have each person write their name on one. Sure saves a lot of confusion and fussing over cups—and water bottles.

I still made an abundance of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and mounds of spaghetti, but a big healthy salad was the number one choice with the girls. My oldest granddaughter loves to bake, so her desserts from Pinterest were a big hit with all of us, especially the boys.

This was the first year we didn’t make crafts. Our stapler, glue, cut-out, and color craft days are over. Last year, simple was replaced with sophisticated. Crafts became a life-work for everyone, so they opted out this year.

This year, the Disney channel took second place to the Food channel and HGTV. We all enjoyed discussing the food and home shows together.

Now

Key word—together.

Issues like fixing an overflowing toilet, running out of hot water before the last shower, and the ice maker running out of ice, never seem to change. They took more showers and spent more time fixing their hair—it comes with age, I guess.

I still took at least 100 pictures, but instead of hearing “Nana, please…n-o m-o-r-e pictures,” it was, “Let me see how I look.” Guess that comes with age also.

It seemed everyone was always looking for a missing flip-flop or phone charger. An empty electrical outlet was always in demand since being tangled in cords, plugs, and chargers is now a part of life.

I thought I was really clever in suggesting they each put their initials on their chargers with a Sharpie to easily identify them. They thought that was so smart. I may not know how all their electronics work, but my common sense sure was a winner. (Sharpies are my new best friend!)

This year I started a “no phone zone” and a “no phone time.” Nana’s rules: no phones at the kitchen table or in a restaurant during family time together, or when others are talking with you. I – w i l l – n o t – g i v e – u p – o r- g i v e – in!

My three grandsons and three granddaughters played board games anywhere they could gather around a table ― day or night. They rode bikes and boogie boards, went swimming, played kickball, wiffleball, volleyball, and softball for hours of fun and bonding. I stood on the sidelines with my pom-poms cheering them on.

The sound of giggles and conversations continued until “lights out” echoed up the stairs. Staying up late and sleeping in has become a summer ritual.

Another tradition is our “Summer Birthday’s Celebration.” Since we are all together only once a year, we celebrate everyone’s birthday with cake and ice cream, sing Happy Birthday as a group, and each person wears my silly birthday hat and has their picture taken. Corny? Yes. But they always seem to remind me not to forget. Some things never change…thank goodness.

I watched, participated, listened, and learned. I have tucked the tender moments in my heart.

God teaches me life lessons through the world of my grandchildren and reminds me of things I know, but can easily forget, in the busyness of my daily life. Perhaps they will be a good reminder for you too.

It’s not about me. I learned to put aside my schedule, my agenda, and my wants. Cousin Camp is just that—it’s all about the cousins.

Have no expectations. The sooner I learned to relax and let go of any expectations of our time together, the smoother the days went, and the more fun we had. God had to work with me on this one!

Above all, don’t compare. I was reminded that comparing grandsons and granddaughters who are different ages, have different personalities and temperaments, and come from two different family life-styles, is unfair to the child. Accepting their differences allows each one to be who God made them to be, without the pressure of performance to please.

Movies vs. games. There is a huge difference in watching movies and playing board games together. You have to be quiet to listen and watch a movie. Board games encourage conversation and interaction. There is a time for both, but I learned not to defer to movies to keep everyone occupied.

Making crafts creates memories. As long as they love it, do it. It gives them the opportunity to share ideas, learn from each other, and compliment each other on their accomplishment. Although my grandchildren have outgrown making crafts, they still have some of the simple things they made from years ago. When they lose interest in making crafts, there will be other ways for them to express their individual creativity. My granddaughters love to cook and bake. They create fun memories in the kitchen together.

Talk time is priceless. Whether it’s sitting outside or around the dining table, be intentional about gathering together, with no distractions, to create conversation time. With a few questions, I learned about what they were thinking, things they were doing, and caught a glimpse of life through their eyes. And they learned about each other.

A little space is a good thing. Every person needs some time and space to do their own thing. I learned they don’t have to always do everything together or in a group.

It’s caught, not taught. Kindness, thoughtfulness, and being considerate of others are best caught through the example of how I treat them and others. Pointing out the error of their ways in front of everyone else can be embarrassing and humiliating. If I had to correct someone’s behavior, I would do it one-on-one, away from everyone else. We would sit on the floor together, eye-to-eye, and talk it through, ending with a hug and a smile that conveyed my unconditional love.

Choose your battles. I learned to ask myself, “Is this a hill high enough to die for? Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? At the end of the day, will it really matter?”

A sense of humor goes a long way. I learned to lighten up, laugh a lot, and that being silly brings giggles from all ages.

Manners matter. Please, thank you, excuse me, I’m sorry, chew with your mouth shut, and elbows off the table, have always been a part of “Nana’s Manners,” and manners are not left at the door at Cousin Camp. My daughter often says in jest, “You don’t want to have to go to ‘Nana’s Manners School.’ It lasts for hours!” I learned that you don’t give up on what matters.

Hold hands and stick together. Cousin Camp is all about connecting with each other, building memories, and learning the importance of being a part of something bigger than yourself—your family. I learned that when you encourage them to hold hands and stick together, one day you will have the joy of seeing them do it on their own.

I am also reminded that these are not just lessons learned regarding my grandchildren, but also with my adult children and their spouses, extended family, friendships, and those I serve with in ministry. Lord, keep teaching me, reminding me, and never let me forget.

May Cousin Camp memories live on in our hearts for years to come.

From My Heart to yours,

Susan Miller

P.S.  As an encouragement to all those who tirelessly pour time and life skills into your children and grandchildren thinking, “Will I ever see the fruit of my labor and love?”―don’t give up! The seeds you plant, the things you say and do, and how you continue to pursue a life worthy of imitation will, at some point, begin to bear fruit and grow. Even though we may never see results in our lifetime, God is faithful and will honor our good work in His perfect timing.

As my grandchildren get older, I see kindness and thoughtfulness emerge all the more. I hear manners being practiced at the table and with others. And just recently when all the cousins were together for a yearly visit, they were united and bonded as a family who has connected and built memories together. 

May Cousin Camp memories live on in our hearts for years to come…

The Men in My Life

As you can imagine, I have faced numerous home and yard maintenance challenges over the years since Bill died. He was a great handyman fixer-upper. I learned a lot about the basic how-to’s from Bill, and can still hear his voice explaining the way to fix things.

home water main

For the most part, I will either seek Google’s input or YouTube’s visual step-by-step instructions. I have even gone to Home Depot’s workshop on how to fix sprinkler systems or, as I call it, “sprinkler school.” If you need your sprinkler fixed, I’m your girl! Needless to say, persevering to learn how to fix, repair, replace, or install has given me a sense of empowerment in being able to take care of my home and yard.

But don’t let all that fool you my friends. My “I can do it” mantra certainly has its limits. There are definitely repair issues that are beyond my capability to fix. I’ve certainly tried to patch a leak on the roof (silly me), change out the entire shower head components, and fix major plumbing leaks – among other crazy over-my-head things I won’t mention! I have to remind myself often that at least I excel in growing beautiful geraniums!

life ring

From the beginning of life without Bill, there have been men who remain friends and brother’s-in-Christ to me. There are those who have never forgotten Bill’s mentoring during their early years of marriage, his teaching that impacted their life as a husband and father, his friendship during a crisis in their lives, and husbands of our beloved couple friends. They are caring, attentive men who continue to honor Bill by checking in periodically with me over the years. Yes, I am blessed beyond measure and deeply grateful.

It has never been easy for me to ask for their help. Maybe that’s just a southern thing, like trying to be a steel magnolia. Who knows.

I don’t want to impose, inconvenience, or bother anyone. Everyone’s life is so busy these days. No one needs one more thing to do on their plate.

Over time, my heart and attitude has begun to change. I kept hearing the same thing over and over again. “I know it’s hard for you to accept my help, but don’t deny me the privilege of helping you.” I had been thinking about this all wrong. I was trying to be too self sufficient, they were trying to serve me.

I thought it would be an imposition, they thought it was a privilege.

Oh. my. goodness! I was denying God’s provision to meet my needs. And my God will meet all your needs….Philippians 4:19

Perhaps you too are alone. Your husband might be deployed, or you might be single, divorced, or widowed. You might be young and able to tackle any challenge you face in life, or maybe you’re older and struggle to overcome the challenges you face each day.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help or accept help when it’s offered. Don’t be too stubborn, self-sufficient, or proud like I was. Most people want to feel needed, they want to help, and they want to serve.

And, you know what? You might even be that someone who will offer help and who wants to serve a friend in need … whatever that need might be. You just might be God’s provision in someone else’s life. Think about that.

From my heart to yours,

Susan Miller

Kindness in a Cup

It was one of those unexpected encounters on an ordinary, uneventful morning.

I took my oldest granddaughter to a southern landmark restaurant for breakfast when I was in Atlanta visiting family and friends. It was a no-frills, down-home, country-cooking, everything-is-better-with-bacon-biscuits-and-butter kind of place. The blackened, aged grill was sizzling with eggs, bacon, ham, and sausage, and was in full view as we walked in the door. It was as if we’d walked right into the midst of all the kitchen action. We couldn’t wait to have what was cooking. The coffee pots were constantly being filled up and poured out. Everything was humming to the tune of being well organized by experienced people who knew the daily routine.

All the customers seemed to fit in together―from overalls to suits, country to city, young to old―as they sat up at the counter or in one of the booths that lined the windows. In the small restaurant, space was limited, but friendliness and southern hospitality overflowed from the waitresses to the cooks. (And, by the way, all the regular customers knew them by name.) “Come on in and have a seat,” someone said from behind the counter.

name tag

Within a matter of seconds, a server appeared at our booth with a brimming pot of coffee in hand. I quickly glanced at her name tag, then took a second look. “Amazing Crystal” stood out in big, bold print. The clip-on gold stars that designate years of service covered the name tag around her name. I loved her boldness and confidence in describing herself, and immediately liked this woman.

I looked at her and smiled as I repeated her name. “Amazing Crystal?”

“Yes, I try to be amazing every day,” she said proudly. Her big welcoming smile embraced us, but, behind the makeup and mascara, her eyes looked tired and her face reflected years of stress.

Crystal went on to say how she believes in treating her customers with kindness, takes time to listen and interact, and gives them her best service no matter how busy she becomes.

“People need positive, caring people in their life. There’s plenty of negative people who can pull you down,” she said. I sensed she had experienced her share of negative people and was determined not to be one of them.

My granddaughter and I savored each bite of our delicious hot breakfast as Crystal checked in on us and anticipated our every need―always with a kind word and a smile. I watched her go to each table interacting with those she knew and making new friends of strangers. People who came in without smiling, perhaps because of a heaviness of heart, would leave with a smile and a wave. “Do come back to see us,” she would say.

Like Crystal, I want to try to be amazing every day.

She was a gentle reminder to me of how little it takes and how simple it is to be amazing. It’s not always about doing big things and it’s certainly not complicated. It’s about being nice, being kind, taking time to listen, smile, and be positive―even when you don’t always feel like it. And, being amazing can be contagious. It’s a lot like spreading joy and being a light in someone’s darkness who just might desperately need to feel the love of Jesus through amazing you.

I will go back to that restaurant again when I’m in Atlanta, and I’m sure Crystal will greet me warmly and treat me like we are old friends. I can hardly wait.

Let every detail in your liveswords, actions, whateverbe done in the name of Jesus.… (Colossians 3:17, The Message)

Susan Miller

From My Heart,
Susan

Lessons Learned From an Old Bench

Susan Miller's dad
Ed Burgess

One of the sweet memories I have of my daddy was sitting beside him many years ago on a hand-made, hand-painted bench in our back yard. He made it out of scraps of wood from his wood pile and it has remained strong and steady for over 40 years. He built it with the skill of a fine carpenter, although he only referred to himself as a handyman around the house.

The weathered green bench sat in mom and dad’s back yard for many years. Anytime I came home to visit, I would watch from the kitchen window when daddy was raking the backyard and wait for him to take a bench break, then I’d head for my spot next to him.

We would sit together and talk about anything—from the birds and the squirrels scampering around in our wooded back yard, to the rising cost of living, to how hot the weather was, to stories of the years he served in the military, to what the Bible says about how to live life. My daddy was a quiet, gentle, soft-spoken man of few words. The bench seemed to spark magic conversation between us.

When mom and dad went home to be with the Lord many years ago, my brother and I sorted through the keepsakes we wanted. I took the bench. It traveled from Florida to Arizona and sat on the front porch of our home, and then finally ended up in our back yard, all the more weathered.

As I walked by the all-but-forgotten-bench a few years ago, I stopped and ran my hands across the rough surface. I sat down thinking that it might not hold me, but it held firm. The memories of sitting on it with my daddy, my late husband, Bill, my children, and my grandchildren, flooded my heart and emotions.

stripping paint from old bench

“It is time to restore this bench,” I said to myself. I became excited about stripping and sanding it, filling the holes with wood filler, nailing down any loose wood, re-painting it a different color, and adding a bright cushion for the finishing touch!

Moved to just the right spot in my home today, the old-but-new bench continues to spark conversation magic.

My grandchildren take turns as they nestle in to sit next to me. We share all kinds of important stuff. Sometimes tears are shed over hurt feelings or a scraped knee, but mostly laughter ripples over a funny story or a joke. And as for me, well, I have the joy of sharing memories and stories as I once did on that very bench with their great-grandfather many years ago.

restored bench

There are five things I’ve learned from that old bench.

  1. Seize the moment to sit awhile with someone you love.
  2. Talk about lots of things—important and not so important.
  3. Share stories and recall memories.
  4. Listen and remember.
  5. Never forget that something old can be a treasure and, sometimes, can be restored to new again.
Susan Miller

From my heart,

Susan

Five Valuable Lessons from My Favorite Squeaky Red Shoes

I was on a shoe mission, determined to find a pair of red flats.

I spotted them down the aisle and picked up my speed to get there quickly. I envisioned everyone else in the shoe store spotting them at the same time and racing to get them before me.

My heart skipped a beat when I stood in front of the red shoe display with no one else coming from either direction. “I’m safe,” I thought. Mission accomplished.

My eyes glanced up and down the shoe boxes for my size. There was only one pair of size 8.5 left! Yay! I quickly opened the box, tried them on to make sure they fit, and admired them on my feet. Perfect! “Thank you Lord!” I whispered. (Yes, I even thank God for silly little things like red shoes that fit.)

squeaky shoes

The next day, I slipped on my jeans, a white shirt, some chunky jewelry, my red shoes, and I was ready to go to the office. My motto is, “Dress yourself, then forget yourself,” and I was ready to do just that.

I took a step…then another step…then another. With each step, I heard a noise. Oh no! Could it be? Yes, it could, and it was ― my shoes were squeaking!

I knew I couldn’t return them for another pair since there weren’t any more in my size. I certainly didn’t want a refund and be without the red shoes I loved. So, I decided to keep them and make the best of a squeaky situation. (I even asked on Facebook how to get rid of the squeak in shoes….)

If you ever have an unexpected squeak in your shoes, or in your life, don’t lose heart my friends. Remember these things to help you take the next step:

A little color goes a long way to make your day. Whether it’s red, orange, or purple, sometimes stepping out in boldness and adding a little color in your life, or shoes, is just what you need to brighten your day and lift your spirit. Go for it!

Overcome the squeak. Life, like shoes, can squeak, hurt, or even fall apart. Don’t give up when the unexpected happens. Persevere to get past the issue. Rise above the obstacle. In the long run, it can be worth it.

Attitude can make the difference. Keep your focus on the positive, not the negative. My red shoes might squeak, but they sure are cute. I always laugh and say, “Well, you always know it’s me coming when I wear these shoes!” It’s amazing how a positive attitude can affect your day and the people around you.

Make the best of your situation. There are times when there is no turning back, no do-overs. The choice has been made and it may not have been the right one, but it was the best one at the time. You just have to make the best of the situation, learn from it, and move forward. I’ve done it, so can you.

Don’t lose the joy. There will always be something or someone who will try to rob the joy or the enthusiasm you feel. Remind yourself that true joy is internal and comes from a deep inner relationship with Jesus. Nothing can rob you of that joy. It’s the external things that bring you happiness—like cute red shoes. Shoes come and go—Jesus comes to stay. Don’t confuse the two.

Just for fun, imagine the two of us on your next shopping trip. Looking for shoes? I’m your girl! I’ll race to the shoe department and help you find just the right size and color. Then we’ll have a cup of coffee afterward and share our “joy” in Jesus ― and in shoes!

Susan Miller

From my heart,
Susan

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

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