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

 

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.

Looking in all the wrong places

looking in wrong placesWhen I was growing up, mama used to always say,

It’s right under your nose, Susan!”

In our family that always meant that what you are looking for, or what you need to do or say, is so obvious.

The other day I had a “right under my nose” moment. I needed help with moving furniture and painting my guest bedroom. I went through a list of handymen and came to the conclusion I couldn’t afford hiring someone. Then I thought of a friend I hadn’t seen in a while who loved to paint and re-arrange furniture. It was so obvious to ask her, that I almost found myself saying, “Duh!”

I called her and she was delighted to help. I reaped the reward of enjoying the company of an old friend as we worked side by side for the morning, redecorating my guest bedroom.

So, what are some of the things that could be “right under your nose” as you begin a new year?

Maybe it’s an old habit you want to change or a new habit you want to start.

Or as simple as an attitude adjustment about someone or something.

This could be the year to let go of anything that has you stuck in the past and begin to move forward with your life.

You might need to write a note to someone encouraging her through a difficult time, or write an overdue letter asking for forgiveness.

It could be something you’ve always wanted to take the time to do, a dream you want to make a reality, a promise you want to keep, or a phone call you need to make.

Perhaps you’ve been looking in all the wrong places and making all the wrong choices this past year—

new year's prayerto fill a need,

to avoid the obvious,

to cloud your judgment,

to distract you from what’s important,

to keep you from doing the right thing…

when the answer has been right under your nose the whole time.

Susan MillerFrom My Heart to Yours,

Susan