I always keep pom-poms in my car

pom poms
I always keep pom-poms in my car. You just never know when you might need to cheer someone on, or who might need a wave of encouragement. I’ve shown up with pom-poms at the airport, the hospital, birthday parties, sports events — anywhere I can add a touch of sunshine to someone’s day. I especially love showing up at soccer and basketball games to cheer for my grandchildren and their teams. My family used to give me that look that says, “Oh no, she’s going to do THAT again!” But after all these years, they are used to it, and even expect the pom-poms to appear.

When my son, Bill, told me he was coming to Phoenix to run the P.F. Chang Half Marathon, you can imagine my excitement. He had been training for the thirteen mile run for months, and wanted to break his previous running time. A few years ago, Bill and his sister  ran the race together, and I have a picture on my refrigerator with them crossing the finish line. Of course I was there, along with all six grandchildren, all of us waving pom-poms for their mom and dad. (I have a picture of them too!) So for the race this year, I was ready to cheer him on to victory at the finish line. I was so proud  when he accomplished his goal and beat his own record!

Someone said they couldn’t believe I would get up before daylight to get Bill down town for the race, fight the traffic, find a parking place, and join the crowds of spectators, when he could have done it on his own. But that’s what we do for our children, isn’t it? No matter how young or old they are, we are their cheerleaders through life. Whether it’s with pom-poms, words of praise, an expression of encouragement, or simply by being there for them — the things we do and say have a powerful positive influence on their lives. They don’t ever outgrow the need to be loved, affirmed, valued, and encouraged.

And, by the way, I’ve passed the pom-pom tradition on to the next generation in my family. They are equipped to cheer one another on to run the race of life and become the best they can be.

Susan

The sign caught my eye. . .

. . .as I was walking down my street. It hung under the all too familiar “For Sale” sign in front of a neighbor’s house.

for sale sign

It simply read, “I’m gorgeous inside!” It was a great way to entice people to want to take a look inside the house and see what made it different from all the rest of the houses for sale.

I’ve thought about those words a lot since then. They resonated with me on a much deeper level.

What do the rooms of my heart say about who I am inside? What would entice people walking by my life to take a closer look, and see what makes me different?

There are days that I don’t look very pretty inside, much less gorgeous.

A critical spirit, a root of bitterness, negative or judgmental thoughts, angry feelings—can easily occupy the rooms of my heart at any given time.

Unless—

—I bar the door to the ugliness that creeps in, “and take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5)  that does not reflect the beauty of my Jesus.

I’m a sign in progress, Lord. Hang in there with me.

Susan Miller signature

Going, Not Knowing

Susan MillerOur office was buzzing with excitement! This was the first time Just Moved Ministry was invited to participate in the Pastors’ Wives Expo at the Southern Baptist Conference, held in New Orleans. Our Moving On After Moving In study that brings hope to uprooted women, are in many Southern Baptist Churches, but this was a platform of visibility to all the churches represented at the conference.

The preparation that goes into an event of this magnitude takes weeks of effort and planning. JoAnn Smith, our National Coordinator, accompanies me, and plays a key role in all conference events. We step out in faith, not knowing how many people we will encounter, or how many lives we will touch for Christ. (Yes, even pastors’ wives need hope and encouragement when they move!) Early on, JoAnn and I let go of any expectations. We prayed that God would bring to us just who He wanted us to share our ministry with, soothe with words of encouragement, be a listening ear, and be the arms of Jesus to those who needed hugs of understanding.

And then, the flood gates of women (and men) poured in to our table! There was the young, former Marine, whose tenderness and care for his wife and four small children was written all over his face. He was desperately seeking ways to help his wife, who, along with him, had accepted a call to the mission field. He was so worried and concerned for her. “So many changes, so much loss in our lives,” he said. “My wife recently had a miscarriage, we lost our home in foreclosure, and we are moving to another country.”

Countless women gathered around us, softly speaking the words, “this ministry is for me, not just my church.” One woman said, “I’ve moved so many times as a pastor’s wife. Our congregation expected me to jump right into ministry, when I hadn’t even had time to recover from the move, and the friends I left behind.”

We were overcome with so many people moving– to plant churches, to pastor a different church, to go on the foreign mission field, to go to seminary–leaving behind all that was familiar to face the unfamiliar. God sent us so many people that we ran out of all our handouts! We were scribbling names and prayer requests on scraps of paper, rejoicing with those who shared a happy story, and crying with those who were fearful and anxious about what lies ahead.

We returned tired from long hours of standing on our feet, worn out from air travel and connecting flights, yet filled with joy and awe at seeing and experiencing the great things God is doing through Just Moved Ministry.

Susan Miller

A Roadway in the Wilderness

Isaiah 43:19roadway in the wilderness
Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.

Many of you, like me, have had a “wilderness experience” in your life. It’s when uncontrollable circumstances, or a life-changing crisis rocks your world. When you feel like you are aimlessly trying to find your way through a maze of darkness, and just survive–one step at a time. You feel empty, confused, overwhelmed, and desolate.

I know some of your stories, your struggles, your heartaches, and your pain. Your wilderness experience could be with a physical illness, with emotional anguish, with financial hardship, or with a broken relationship. It could be in your marriage or in being single, in your aloneness, or in coping with a loss.

My wilderness experience began on a Sunday morning when the surgeon gave us the news that Bill had an aggressive and rare form of colon cancer that had spread to his liver–and there was nothing they could do. Then, just four months later on a Sunday morning Bill went home to be with the Lord. That was almost three years ago, and there are still days when I struggle to get through the emotions of my loss. I choose daily to put one foot in front of the other and press on.

God made a roadway to survival in my wilderness. In the midst of my sadness, God made a roadway to finding joy. In the midst of my loss, God made a roadway to finding contentment. In the midst of my longing for Bill, God made a roadway to finding peace.

God will provide a roadway in your wilderness, my sisters! Listen to His voice when you feel confused. Learn His word when you need comfort and reassurance. Lean on him when you don’t have all the answers. Rest in Him when you are weary and worn-out. Trust Him when your circumstances overwhelm you.

It’s not always easy, in fact, it’s downright hard some days. There will be times when you feel like you can’t do anything but breathe. But remember this: When God provides a roadway IN the wilderness—He provides a way OUT of the wilderness. He did it for me, He will do it for you.

It is Jesus who will meet you at your point of need. It is Jesus who will soothe your soul, and comfort your heart. It is Jesus who will give you hope to face tomorrow.

Susan Miller

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