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

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