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

Fear and gophers – a tale of empowerment

gopherIt’s true. I have gophers in my backyard.

My backyard wall, (walls are common around houses in Arizona), backs up to a shallow ravine, commonly called a “wash” in neighborhoods like mine. I love the privacy the wash provides between my home and the neighbors’ homes. My neighbors can’t see me on my patio in my pajamas!

However, the downfall of living by a wash can be an invasion by what I call my “creatures from the black lagoon” – gophers.

Gophers live most of their lives in underground burrow systems they have dug. They will occasionally venture above ground to feed on plants close to the burrow entrance. They are certainly not as charming and lovable as my rabbits and song birds.

When I first discovered their holes and dirt mounds near the wall, I was so fearful of their invasion into my manageable, well-kept little backyard, with my lovely geraniums and faux green grass. I know it’s silly, but I was afraid to encounter a gopher face to face. Fear of even going near their territory soon became an obstacle to enjoying my backyard.

Finally, I woke up one morning and decided enough of these mind gamesI was not going to let fear of the unknown rule me. I was determined to overcome these creatures who, I thought, were perched in the bushes ready to jump out and scare me at any time.

I put on my brave self, my cowgirl boots for protection, my oversized work gloves, and with a long-handle shovel, marched into the backyard saying in a loud voice over and over, “Lord, you and I can do this together. Help me overcome my fear!” I poked the holes and the mounds, just daring a gopher to show his furry face. I flattened the mounds and covered the holes with dirt. I faced my fear head on and felt empowered.

Yes, I still have gophers, but my fear of them has been conquered.

My gopher story may sound silly, but it was a very real picture of the many times I’ve called on God to help me face my fear. Especially since Bill died. I have faced:

Fear of the unknown.
Fear of loneliness.
Fear of stepping out of my comfort zone.
Fear of “what if” for the future.
Fear of a major life change.
Fear of more personal loss to come. 

Many times in the middle of the night or when I wake up in the morning I can be gripped with fear over some real or imagined hurdle that feels overwhelming. Can you relate?

Fear might clutch your heart and flood your mind and emotions as you face:

Fear of losing your home.
Fear of losing a job.
Fear of moving.
Fear of a serious illness.
Fear of addiction.
Fear of a severed marriage.
Fear of a broken relationship.

You and I can control our fear or let our fear control us. It’s as simple as that, but it’s not always easy. Many a day I have to release my fear and give it over to God through prayer, perseverance, and sheer determination to not let it consume me. I have to lay fear down at His feet, then stand up and move forward by His power and strength.

The enemy will use every opportunity to rob us of trusting God. He will use the fear in our lives to discredit the power of God to handle our situations. If we let the enemy have a foothold in our day, fear can be all consuming and play havoc with our emotions.

fear notBut I have learned that fear is not of God. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear….” (2 Timothy 1:7) All through the Bible, two little words “fear not,” encourage us and reassure us that we can trust God, regardless of our situation.

There are five reasons in Isaiah 41:10 to remind us why we should not give in to fear and discouragement. “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.…”

  1. I am with you, comforts us with the assurance that we are not alone. God’s presence is with us.
  2. I am your God, reminds us that He is our personal God. He cares about every detail of our lives.
  3. I will strengthen you, assures us that when we feel overcome with fear, God is our strength to overcome.
  4. I will help you, reminds us that God will not fail us or abandon us. He will walk with us through our fear.
  5. I will uphold you, assures us that God will lift us out of the pit of fear. He will support us and keep us from sinking into despair.

And by the way, if you happen to find a gopher in your backyard, do not fear. Just give me a call. I’ll come over and we’ll conquer the critters together.

 

From My Heart,
susan millerSusan Miller

5 Things to Remember When You Don’t Know What To Do Next

There have been seasons in my life when I absolutely did not know what to do next. I let fear of the unknown and confusion of the moment consume my thoughts.

What about you? Have circumstances or a situation paralyzed your thinking, your discernment, your decisions, or your choices?

When your life is overwhelming, hopes and dreams are shattered, promises are broken, love is lost, and plans are forgotten—what will you do? When your journey is long, the road is rough, and you’ve made too many wrong turns along the way, where will you go?

Over the years, I’ve learned to take my direction from Psalm 37.

Psalm 37

 

Trust in the Lord

Do you have a problem with trusting because your trust has been broken in the past? Listen up friends – you can believe what God says in the reality of His Word. He is totally and completely trustworthy. 

God is not a trust-breaker, He’s a trust-builder.

You can trust Him with your whole heart. He will not let go of your hand during the good times or the bad times. He’ll walk with you through the valleys and climb with you to the mountain top. He will not fail you or forget you. And believe me, I know this for a fact.

The emphasis to trust is repeated in verses 4 and 5. I get the message, don’t you? Let’s repeat over and over again, “I will trust in the Lord. I will trust in the Lord.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Hebrews 3:5

Delight in the Lord

How do you delight in the Lord’s presence when you don’t feel it? I discovered delight in the Lord by intentionally getting to know Him on a deeper, more intimate level. As I began to understand and know God and grasp His unconditional love for me, delight and joy began to fill my heart.

People, possessions, and circumstances will bring you temporary joy, pleasure, and delight.

People will disappoint you, possessions will come and go, circumstances will change—only Jesus will satisfy the longing and emptiness in your heart.

Your words are what sustain me. They bring me great joy and are my heart’s delight… Jeremiah 15:16

Commit your way to the Lord

To commit to the Lord means entrusting everything–our lives, families, jobs, possessions–to Him, knowing He will work out what is best for us.

Sometimes it’s just hard for me to let go and commit everything to God. I want to commit everything to my way, with my plan, the way I think it should be.

But God’s plan is so much better than mine and I trust Him more than I do myself. God guides me with His word, directs me with His promises, and leads me with His instructions. He’s a lot better at caring for us than we are.

Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth. Psalm 31:5

Rest in the Lord

Are you overwhelmed, weary, and worn-out? I can easily hit two out of three of those feelings on any given day.

On those days, I’ve learned to run to the arms of Jesus. He always provides the comfort and care that I need. Lean in to Him. Lean on Him.

Pull away from all that consumes you. Let your mind dwell on Him and in His word. Be still and quietly reflect on God’s goodness and your gratitude. Rest and abide in Him.

To abide is to “live with” or to remain in one place with someone. Jesus is available anywhere, or anytime, to be with us. I’ll meet you there with Him and we’ll rest together.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

*Wait on the Lord

Are you waiting on life to change, or an answer to come? It’s hard, isn’t it?

We don’t always understand why we have to wait so long for all the pieces of life to come together again. It’s during the waiting, during the space between now and then, that much is learned. When I am in God’s waiting room, He teaches me about trust, patience, and prayer. I always tried to figure everything out myself, but I would only become anxious and worried.

While you are waiting, replace worry with worship. Listen to praise music and let it soothe your soul. Replace anxious thoughts with abiding. Take a deep breath and abide in God–trusting Him in all things–being patient for His timing and praying faithfully.

I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm…. Psalm 40:1-3

When you don’t know what to do next, consider this: You might be looking for the answers in all the wrong places and God has been there right beside you all along, just waiting for you to come to Him.

Susan Miller

Susan Miller

 

*Read more about waiting in the latest issue of Bloom from Just Moved Ministry.

A window into your husband’s emotions

This was written by me and my husband Bill in 2008 for a Valentine’s Day message one year before his death. I had asked him to share his thoughts on our years of moving, with the hope that it would give women insight and perspective into their husband’s often hidden feelings and emotions about moving. The message is timeless for marriages that are “on the move,” or even a gentle reminder for loving and understanding your man.

I thought this was a good time to share it again. This is my Valentine’s gift to you…

________________________________________________________________________

Bill and Susan MillerIn 2008 I wrote: “As some of you know, Bill and I have been married for 43 years. We have 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 to share some of his thoughts, fears, and feelings during our difficult years of moving. I hope this will give you insight to understand your husband, and know how to best encourage and love him during a move.

I feel that If I had known what was going on in his head and heart then, I would have worked harder (and prayed more) at bridging the gap between us. I am amazed and humbled to know that anything I said or conveyed through my actions during those years was received as he has described below.

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.”

In 2008 Bill wrote: “Most men don’t talk about their feelings. If we did, we would tell you that they come right from the core of a man; they address his worth, his ability to provide for, and protect his family. Although I did not address those feelings at the time, they were real, and drove my motivation, my emotions, and my behavior.

Looking back at our many moves, I recognize my feelings of impatience with our children, frustration over things not coming together quickly enough, and even anger with Susan for not meeting my selfish needs. Doubt would flood my mind. Fear would creep into my day. I often thought I had made a terrible mistake by making so many corporate moves. I would ask myself questions like, ‘Why did I ever agree to take this job (or promotion) and uproot my family? Will I succeed at my new job (or position)? Will I be a fit? What will happen to our family if the job doesn’t work out and we have to move again?’

I felt the loneliness and emptiness of starting a new job before my family moved. It was hard to spend nights alone in my hotel room, in an unfamiliar city, when everyone else at the company would go home to their family. I would question why our house hadn’t sold before we moved, and how long it would be before we would be together as a family again. I would tell myself that I would have to work harder and longer hours to make the job and relocation a successful move in my career.

Pretty tough stuff, and believe me, I’m not comfortable sharing like this.

Susan and I were disconnected by miles and emotions and I wondered if we would ever reconnect.

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.

Her words of affirmation, encouragement, and the assurance of her unconditional love for me, were her pom-poms cheering me on each day during those difficult years. Her sacrificial love covered me with God’s grace each day while she minimized her hurts while helping mine to heal.

I have learned over the years that the total disruption of a marriage and family who move takes its toll on every member of the family, but not as much as on the relationship between husband and wife.

It’s easy for Satan to drive a husband and wife apart during a difficult, stressful time when they need each other the most. He will use anything–even a move–to destroy a marriage. I would say to couples–be united in Christ, pray against anything, or anyone, that would destroy your marriage. Claim God’s promises of hope. Recognize the stress cracks, and don’t let them divide and break you.

So, grab a pom-pom, and be your husband’s cheerleader! (I know you have a pom-pom if you’ve been around Susan). And, as a matter of fact, the principles in these tips can go both ways in a marriage, although men can skip the pom-pom…

  • Tell him you respect him and know how difficult it must be with a new job.
  • Try to breathe oxygen into his world by giving him lots of grace, reassurance, and understanding.
  • Look for things that he is doing right and then tell him.
  • Make it a habit to spend at least 20 to 30 minutes a day for each of you to debrief.
  • Be pro-active and plan down-time/date-time for just the two of you.
  • Communicate your love in ways that can be seen, heard, and felt.

When a woman encourages her husband, she gives him confidence and hope. When a man listens to his wife, he gives her honor and value. When they mutually communicate and connect with one another they begin the journey of moving closer together in any life change.”

Then Bill added, “That’s about it in a nutshell , Susan. I sure hope what I’ve said and learned will somehow give a couple greater insight for the road ahead in their marriage.”

In 2008, I wrote in my Valentine’s card to Bill:

I cherish you to the depth of my soul.
You are truly God’s greatest gift to me and the love of my life.
I love you with all my heart!
After all these years, I’d still follow you to the ends of the earth!
All My Love,
Your Susan”

In 2018, on this Valentine’s Day, those words are still written in my heart. I would only add: “…And one day, I’ll follow you to our eternal home, and we will be together again.”Susan Miller

Susan Miller

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