18 Ways to Reach out to a Military Family Who Has Moved to Your Community

military familyThis is PCS season in the lives of many military families. The orders come, the new duty stations are assigned, and families are gearing up for yet another move. The news of who’s moving where splatters my Facebook pages this time of year. Our connection through social media keeps me in the loop of their lives with their pictures, stories, and prayer requests. They live with a resilient spirit of hope, perseverance, and optimism that defines the life that comes with being a military wife and mom.

Through Just Moved Ministry, God has given me the privilege to be in the lives of military women all over the world. I am in my sweet spot of ministry when I can teach, mentor, encourage, listen to, pray for, and be with these women. From year to year, I see many of them again in different parts of the world and at different military installations. They become a part of my life, my heart, my prayers, and my memories.

They have become my friends and I have become their cheerleader.

You can do the same thing. Be a friend and a cheerleader to the military wife. Show tangible ways of love and care, pray for her, and encourage her. When a military family moves in your neighborhood or community, make every effort to meet them.

The following suggestions, in their own words, come straight from military women who shared with me how you can reach out to them when they move.

  1. While a greeting and a smile is always appreciated, don’t let it stop there. Be bold. Keep calling, encouraging, and inviting us to lunch, shopping, etc.
  2. Provide us with a list of local services: a handyman, mechanic, hairstylist, babysitters, churches, restaurants, etc.
  3. Offer to be our emergency contact for schools. That’s the first question the schools ask, and the one we never have an answer for.
  4. Offer to drive us to functions. We don’t know our way around, and that would encourage us to go.
  5. Invite us to church, or even lunch or dinner on Sunday. That’s a lonely day for us.
  6. Express your support. We appreciate hearing and reading your encouragement.
  7. Let us know you are praying for our soldier and for our family. Ask about our specific prayer needs. Don’t assume you know.
  8. Please don’t wait for us to ask or come to you. Knock on our door, talk to us at the mailbox, invite us over when we are out in the yard.
  9. We spend so much time making sure our children are settled in, but we don’t take care of ourselves during these transition times. I need to be included in Bible study, a girls’ night out, a lunch group.
  10. Accept new military families as if they are moving in for a lifetime–not just passing through. Please invest time in us.
  11. Include us in neighborhood parties. Wear name tags to help us learn names.
  12. People have picked up our check at a restaurant, or even paid for a cup of coffee. It brings tears to my eyes every time. Our family is so grateful.
  13. Churches can be a great help in our transitions. Welcome us and include us along with other newcomers at functions and events.
  14. Invite our children over for a play date.
  15. On special occasions or holidays at school or church, honor the dads or moms who are deployed. This means so much to our children.
  16. When my husband was deployed, a family in our church “adopted” our family. They helped us with house and yard maintenance, celebrated Birthdays, and included us for holidays. We will never forget them or what that meant to us.
  17. Be understanding and be listeners. Sometimes our needs go beyond a plate of cookies.
  18. Risk a broken heart. Love and support a military family even though we will eventually move and leave you. Allow your children to love ours as well, even though they may be sad when we leave.

So bring out your pom-poms and be their cheerleaders.

It’s time to get off the bleachers and move from the sidelines to run with military families to the finish line!

 

 

SusanSusan Miller

From Susan’s updated and expanded new edition of After the Boxes are Unpacked. A Focus on the Family and Tyndale book available from Just Moved Ministry.

 

A Move in the Right Direction

When I was a young girl, Mama and I went on a trip to South Carolina to visit my grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Daddy was stationed in Korea at the time, so we decided the best place to be was surrounded by the comfort and warmth of family. Off the beaten path of interstate highways, we traveled along on the typical two-lane roads that led us to our small town destination. Captivated by the beauty of farm land with perfectly planted rows of crops ready for harvesting–we took a wrong turn, and got lost.

old gas stationWe stopped at a little country gas station, known back in the day as a “filling station”, in the middle of nowhere. An old gentleman was sitting in front of the gas station in a chair that was leaning back on two legs against the wall. He wore overalls and a wide-brim straw hat that shaded him from the hot sun. We pulled off the road in a cloud of dust. Mama rolled down the window and said, “Excuse me, sir. Could you tell me how much farther it is?” He got up from the chair and walked over to the car. He scratched his head as he replied, “Well, ma’am, it all depends on where you’re comin’ from and where you’re goin’ to.” Mama realized how funny her question was, and we all laughed together. She then gave him the information he needed to tell us how far we had to go.

wrong waySometimes, when I find myself moving in the wrong direction, the old gentleman’s words come back to mind. I ask myself, Where am I comin’ from and where am I goin’ to? It always keeps me focused on making sure I’m moving in the right direction, especially since it’s so easy to quickly get off track with wrong priorities, or sidelined with distractions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” So I ask you, my friend, Do you know where you’re goin’ to, and are you movin’ in the right direction?  

Who you are, who you become, and the decisions you make, are pretty much affected by where you’re coming from, where you’re going, the life you lead, and the choices you make.

But one thing is for sure: you’re moving in the right direction if you choose to follow Jesus Christ. Plain and simple as that. To know Him is to love Him, and to follow Him is life changing. Jesus beckons us to follow Him. He said, Come, follow me (Matthew 19:21). We are to Follow God’s example in everything (we) do…(Ephesians 5:1). The more you read, study, observe, and know Jesus Christ–and then imitate Him–the more He will flow from within you.

In all you do and say, make it a priority to “live out” Jesus’ direction in your life.

I know how easy it is to let my priorities shift, lose my focus, get distracted with stuff, busyness, and the craziness of life. I can easily take the wrong exit and get off the main road to Jesus. I have to be intentional every day to move in the right direction and not lose sight of where I’m going. Some days it’s harder than others. Some days I totally blow it. But He always nudges my heart to get back on the right road that leads me to Him.

You, my friend, are never too lost, or too aimlessly wandering in the wrong direction. Stop. Don’t be afraid to ask Him for directions. Listen…

Come follow me, Jesus said.

From My Heart to yours,
Susan Miller signature

An excerpt of this story is found in Susan’s updated edition of After the Boxes are Unpacked, a Focus on the Family book, published by Tyndale House and available at JustMovedShop.com.

 

Plum Tuckered Out

weary womanHave you ever heard the expression “plum tuckered out?” It is commonly used among us southerners, and is a term for being exhausted. It originates from the “Deep South” during the Civil War. I first heard my grandmother say it after being in the kitchen all day cooking for a family gathering. Then I heard my mother say it when she came home from work after standing on her feet all day. I grew up hearing that expression, along with many others, and continue to carry on the heritage of my southernese.

The term “burn-out” is more forceful and acceptable in this day and age. But as for me, I’m just simply plum tuckered right now. Anybody been there? Done that? Felt that?

I’m not too proud to say I’m just spent. Done. Flatlined. Empty. Nothing left in me to write or to be creative. Don’t want to sit at this computer and have to formulate my thoughts, be profound, spell-check, rework sentences to make sense, segue paragraphs, or be spiritual as I type.

Coming off of a two-year project of updating and revising my book, After the Boxes are Unpacked, updating our Teacher’s Guide, Workbook, and Facilitator’s Guide, and then updating the twelve teaching sessions for a new Video Series – which I just finished a few weeks ago – has left me plum tuckered. When I finished filming the two, 8-hour days of back-to-back teaching, I stayed in my pajamas the next day and did nothing. I’ve learned that’s not selfish, that’s self-care.

I’ve also learned that God has me right where He wants me – spent, for Him to refresh; done, for Him to restore; flat lined, for His breath of renewal; empty, for Him to fill. And I have found there is still something left in me to write after all, because I write for Him, and for you.

He infuses His strength into my weakness.

His word gives me confidence to overcome my feelings of inadequacy, comparison, and self-doubt.

When I have nothing left to give (or write), I have learned to lean in to Jesus – to rest in Him – and that restores my soul.

If you feel “plum tuckered out,” it might take you just a day to become untuckered. Sometimes, it might take a lot longer.

Go easy on yourself.

Give yourself permission to pull back and rest your mind and your body.

Listen to worship music or enjoy complete silence.

Take a long walk or sit in the sunshine.

Start, or even finish, a good book.

Do something totally frivolous.

Get some exercise or just sit outdoors.

Let your mind wander or focus on your blessings.

Don’t lose heart and don’t give up.

Just give in to Jesus.

 

SusanCome to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

 

Susan Miller signature

Share my joy!


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First, you might need a little back story…

Not only was 2015 the twentieth anniversary of Just Moved Ministry, it was also the twentieth anniversary of my book that launched the ministry, After the Boxes are Unpacked. Wow! Just thinking about the lives touched for Christ through this ministry and this book – for twenty years – brings me to my knees in total acknowledgement and awe that God, and only God, gets the credit, the praise, the kudos, the pat on the back, the applause, and the standing ovation for what only He could accomplish.

I founded Just Moved Ministry in 1995, after 14 moves with Bill’s career in the hotel business. I lived, felt, and experienced what women go through when their lives are uprooted by moving.  I get how moving can rock your world, and shake your foundation to the core – whether you are married or single, have children or not, young or old, working or retired. Helping women get through the emotional rollercoaster and chaos of a move became my purpose. Introducing them to Jesus Christ and His words of hope and encouragement became my passion.

Soon after the inception of Just Moved, I wrote After the Boxes are Unpacked, published by Focus on the Family. FOTF has partnered with me for twenty years on this book and a later book, But Mom, I Don’t Want to Move! It is a privilege to be associated with them in ministry, both professionally and personally.

Updated After the Boxes are Unpacked coming soon!They refer to After the Boxes… as an “evergreen” book with a timeless message for uprooted women. I guess they were right, it has sold over 100,000 copies and continues to help women going through a major life change.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that FOTF would ever consider After the Boxes… worthy of updating and revising after twenty years. I had visions of it eventually fading into the sunset, and becoming a faint memory as the years passed. But God had other plans beyond what I could have dreamed or imagined.

The revision process began with emails and phone calls back and forth, resulting in a new book proposal that had to be approved. FOTF caught the vision, saw the endless need, and wanted to “move” forward by having me update and revise the book to produce a new edition that will reach the next generation! It meant a new cover, new material, revised terminology, expanded chapters – while, at the same time, keeping the core message and three-step process which is, indeed, tried and true to all generations of movers. It took months of writing, revising, updating, editing, and prayer.

What will happen in 2016

The new book, with a new cover and same title, will be released April 2016! Woo hoo!! I will give you a sneak-peek into some of the new stuff between now and then.

On the heels of finishing the book, I started updating and revising the Teacher’s Study Guide, the Newcomer’s Workbook, and the DVD Facilitator’s Guide to accompany the book. If you are a teacher or facilitator, start smiling now!

And it’s not over yet! January 25-27, I will be filming a new Video Series – a process that will take three days! I am scared silly. Please pray for me!

By April 1st, Lord be willing and the creek don’t rise, we should be ready to release everything at the same time! Hoo-ray!!

April 2nd, I will sleep for a week, eat cheesecake, drink afternoon lattes, read a novel, catch up on Downton Abbey, go to lots of movies and consume the large bag of popcorn!

And, I say with all my heart, and mind, and soul…

To God be the glory, great things He has, and is, doing!!
Susan Miller signature

 

Come on in, the water’s fine

You never forget an experience like that. The memory has stayed with me. My eyes filled with tears as I listened to incredible testimonies of restoration from broken relationships, healing from physical and emotional pain, and a renewed hope for the future.

Men, women, children, teens, and even families, walked out on the stage and took the next step in publicly declaring their faith as Christ-followers as they were baptized one by one, in front of a full worship center.

Over the course of the weekend, over 100 were baptized! If you somehow missed seeing the joy on their faces, you couldn’t miss seeing the tee-shirts they wore for this life-changing moment that simply stated, “I have decided.”  It was like a continuously flowing banner that conveyed the message: Jesus is mine. I am His.

Susan and JamieAnother reason I’ll never forget that experience is because of my friend, Jamie Vukelich. Jamie was in my 2007 Moving On after Moving In study. It was through the impact of hearing God’s word every week in class, that Jamie began to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Her bubbly personality is as infectious as her love for Christ. Jamie has volunteered in our Just Moved office for years now. She has gone on many mission trips through our church. She loves to pour out to others what Jesus has poured in to her.

Several months ago, she gleefully bounced into my office – like she always does – and said, “I’m going to be baptized! Will you go with me in the baptismal pool?”  Oh. Wow. Oh. My. Goodness. Yes.

So last Saturday night, I had the privilege and honor of standing by Jamie’s side, in the water, assisting our pastor in baptizing my delightful friend. I’ll never, ever, forget her sparkling eyes and the big smile on her face as she came up from the water and embraced me with pure joy. I still get emotional, just thinking about what I call, “A Jesus moment.”

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, it might just be the right time for you to take the next step – walk into the arms of Jesus. To know Him, is to love Him. To follow Him is life changing.

And it just doesn’t get much better than that….

Susan Miller signature

Don’t just give me a fish sandwich, teach me how to fish

fish sandwichI was married to a man who cherished me as his wife and demonstrated his love for me in countless ways.

He was also a great “fixer” around the house.  Bill took care of most of our home repairs—from putting things back together that I had broken to repairing a leaky toilet.  He could assemble anything that came in small packages or large boxes – from toys to kitchen chairs.  When I wanted a room repainted, I taped the baseboards, he painted. He trimmed, cut, and maintained our yard while I planted the flowers.

Together we were a team.  I was the keeper of our home. He made sure everything was in working order.

For the most part, Bill enjoyed home maintenance. He loved seeing my smile of appreciation, hearing me say, “I love it!”, and especially when I put my arms around him and gave him a kiss to express my gratitude.

Over the years, our teamwork became not only a shared responsibility for our home, but a shared memory of our life together in our home.

When cancer knocked at our door and quickly took Bill’s life, my world was shattered. I had lost my best friend, soul-mate, and keeper of my heart. The personal loss was devastating. Trying to keep from drowning in a sea of emotions was about all I could do.

In the midst of my grief, I also felt the walls of our home collapsing around me. The responsibility of maintenance and upkeep was overwhelming. The things Bill naturally took care of, or what we shared doing together, I now faced doing alone. For the longest time, the simplest task was left undone. I felt inept and ill-equipped at doing anything. These feelings only intensified my grief and my aloneness….
But not for long. As I became emotionally stronger, so did my determination to rise above feeling helpless.  I wanted to learn how to do everything I could physically do on my own. I wanted to feel confident in being able to take care of my home and feel empowered by being able to do what I could by myself. I prayed for God’s confidence to fill me and His power to strengthen me.  Then, I…

teach me to fish…went to sprinkler school on a Saturday morning at a home and garden store. I can now fix, replace, or splice my sprinkler tubing, and know what sprinkler heads work best for my yard. I taught myself how to work the sprinkler system control box (which was a real challenge!).

…went to an auto shop and had them show me how to replace the bulb in my turn signal and to change the oil.  The tires are next…

…felt like I was driving a computer, so I went to a class at the auto dealership to learn how my car works.

…bought a tall light-weight ladder that I could easily carry. Now, most recessed ceiling light bulbs are not too high for me to change. The rain gutters around my patio are also accessible to clean out with my handy ladder.

…learned by asking. My friends shared their tips and methods for repainting a room and the best way to paint wicker patio furniture. You should see the finished room and furniture now. A friend also taught me how to remove wallpaper.

…learned how to replace my air conditioning filters and any other filters in the house.

…googled how to remove dirt dauber and wasp nests from outside my house. I learned and conquered. (In fact, I google any question I have about how to do anything.)

My list could go on and on. There are so many little and big things I have learned out of necessity, perseverance, and determination.

I also learned a lot from Bill. He taught me well through our years together and shared memories. I often remember the little things – what tools he used for what, the right nails to use for concrete, hanging a picture the right way, how to plug holes in the wall with spackle, how to caulk, fix something broken, or put the parts together. I know he would be so proud of me today.

Yes, there are tasks that I can’t physically do (or don’t want to do). Dear friends will come to my rescue, or I’ll have to call a repairman. But I’ll always say, “Teach me how. If there’s any way I can do it, I want to learn.”

He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Isaiah 40:29

But those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength;

they will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grown weary;

they will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

 

For You are my hope, Lord God, my confidence from my youth. Psalm 71:5

For the Lord will be your confidence… Proverbs 3:26

From my Heart to Yours,

Susan Miller signature

Heroes: Military wives etched on my heart

Many of you followed me through pictures on Facebook as I traveled from Vicenza, Italy to Ansbach, Germany to Wiesbaden, Germany to speak to military wives. A picture speaks a thousand words. Take a good look…

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These women, along with many of their husbands and children that I met, are etched in my heart. We shared Christ together, life together, prayed together, worshiped together, ate meals together, laughed and cried together. We made cherished memories, and took countless pictures. I taught them about our unchangeable God in their ever changing world. They taught me about rising above ever changing circumstances, in unchanging life situations.

I’ve been back home a while now…

and I still see their smiling faces.

I see their stress released through laughter.

I see their eyes, filled with tears they’ve learned to control, begin to spill over uncontrollably.

I hear them pray for each other, as they put a friend’s needs above their own.

I feel their hugs and the reluctance to let go.

I’ll never forget their testimonies of profound faith and trust in God in the midst of hard circumstances.

I’ll never forget their gut-wrenching stories of situations they are much too young to experience.

Many of them face the stress of living on the edge of uncertainty and with fear of the unknown.

Yet, they also live with a resilient spirit of hope, perseverance, and optimism that defines the life that comes with being a military wife and mom.

These women are my heroes. They are the keepers of their home, committed wife to their soldier, and devoted mom to their children.

I hope you’ll take a closer look at the women in the pictures. Choose one, (or two, or even all of them), and take a minute right now to stop and pray for the woman behind the picture, her soldier, and her children.

All those faces will suddenly become etched in your heart too…

Susan Miller signature

Lost your bloom? Take heart!

Susan Miller, America's Moving CoachDon’t you just love this time of year! Spring is in full bloom! Nature is in harmony with colorful flowers, new green growth on tree branches, and birds chirping with joy.

Yet for many of you who are in the emotional upheaval of a move, or face an unknown future with moving, the season of spring has not arrived in your life. There is a lack of harmony with those around you, you don’t feel personal or spiritual growth in this transition, and there is no joy in your heart – yet.

Let me encourage you dear sisters, your spring will come, you will bloom again! This is a season of life you are going through; it has come to pass, it has not come to stay. I know, because I have gone through the same dry and dormant seasons before, during, and after a move. I have felt the same feelings and faced many of the same situations spring flowersin moving that you have, and I too, could not feel the sun shining in my life.

Even when I couldn’t pray for myself during those difficult times, God put other people in my life to pray for me. Now is the time for you to rest in God’s promises, in His word, and in His faithfulness – and to know that I will pray for you.

So, tell me, how are YOU doing? How can we pray for you across the miles as we hold you close in our thoughts and hearts? Please take a minute to email us (prayerrequest@justmoved.org) with your personal prayer requests. You will be prayed for by our faithful prayer team for 30 days.

bouquetIf I could send each of you a spring bouquet of flowers to encourage your heart, I would. Instead, I’m sending you a bouquet of prayers, wrapped with my love and tied with a ribbon of God’s hope.

“In the morning, O Lord, Thou will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch.” – Psalm 5:3

“…Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.” – Psalm 4:1

Susan Miller signature

 

What do you do when you’re in lockdown and have nowhere to run?

Susan Miller, America's Moving Coachby Susan Miller

I was in a lockdown situation not long ago when an armed fugitive, who was a little too close for comfort, was being apprehended by a SWAT team. 

I never imagined being involved in something like that, especially when speaking to a group of Christian women at a retreat – at a camp conference center—in a beautiful forest setting. Although it ended well for all of us, it was one of those times in my life when I asked myself the hard questions.

What do I do now?

emotional and physical "lockdown"How do I stay calm?

How will I get through this?

What will happen next?

The answers surfaced from within very quickly.

It occurred to me after it was all over, that many of us have been on some kind of lockdown in life, either physically or emotionally.

It could be an emotional lockdown from the pain of loss, a broken relationship, fear of the unknown, or shame brought on by circumstances. For those of you who have been there—you know what it’s like. You shut yourself off from everything and everyone, and simply close down your feelings and emotions. You find safety in the lockdown.

It could be a physical lockdown from an illness, a disease, or abuse that is debilitating – crippling your body, mind, and spirit. You are so helpless to do anything about it. Your physical condition dictates your day and you feel trapped. You can’t run, you can’t escape—you have no control over what’s happening to you. You are powerless in the lockdown.

So, you say, what do you do when you’re in a lockdown situation?

First, go back to what you already know. And, if you don’t know it, learn it now so you’ll know what to do then.

Run to JesusWhen you have nowhere to run to, run with all your might to Him. If you think about it, there is really nowhere we can go that is totally safe anymore. He alone is our refuge, our only safe place. Depend on Jesus to give you the strength to endure the circumstances. Dwell in Him and on Him.

Pray—While you are waiting, pray faithfully, and without ceasing. Pray for protection, inner peace, and a calm spirit. Pray for others who are involved along with you. Pray that God will use you for His glory, and that you might be a light in a dark situation.

Recall His Word—In times such as this, rest in His promises. Recall and repeat scriptures of hope and protection to yourself or out loud. Saturate your mind and fill your heart with the remembrance of His word.

Trust Him—When the outcome of your situation is beyond your control, trust Him with your whole heart to see you through it. Don’t panic, know that He will be with you, His presence will surround you in all circumstances – regardless of what the outcome might be.

Be gratefulNo matter what, there is always something, or someone, to be grateful for. Recount your blessings. Focus on being grateful. It’s hard to be negative when you are thanking God. When it’s all over, don’t forget to thank God first before you do anything else.

And last, but not least, practically speaking…

Do the next thing—Whatever that might be, whatever that looks like – do the right thing and do the next thing.

  • Stay focused on what’s important.
  • No matter how helpless you might feel, let your common sense kick in.
  • Respond to the situation, don’t react to it.
  • Don’t do or say anything you will regret later.
  • Be wise; don’t foolishly put yourself in harm’s way.

In a crisis, remember that Jesus is on center stage—reflected in you, and through you by your actions and your words.

Make Him proud…

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear. Psalm 46:1

Love. Really love

loveSometimes we need a gentle reminder of what we already know, or think we already know, or don’t know at all. 

This much I know…

I was blessed to be married to my Bill for 45 years before He went to be with my Jesus five years ago.

The words “my Bill” and “my Jesus” all in the same sentence. I like that. It makes me smile.

Wow…did I say  five years? Sometimes it seems like just yesterday. That’s not a cliché. That’s what loving someone for 45 years does—survives the test of time.

Loving someone that long covers years of happy and sad, laughter and tears, commitment and recommitment, the best of times and the worst of times, wonderful memories, and not-so-wonderful memories, brokenness and healing.

Loving someone that long stretches, bends, straightens, matures, blesses, teaches, and fills you.

Loving someone that long expands your capacity to love beyond measure—in pain and suffering, through disappointment and disillusionment, with heartache and sorrow.

I am who I am today because of my Jesus, and my Bill. I am eternally grateful that they both live in my heart. Bill’s love for me was a springboard to my being able to move forward after the devastation of losing him. Jesus’ love for me is why I have joy, peace, and contentment today.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

So go on, love someone, really love someone—for a long, long, time….

May the love of Jesus fill your heart this Valentine’s Day.

From my heart to yours,

Susan Miller signature

 

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