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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"After the Boxes are Unpacked" (Susan Miller)

TITLE: After the Boxes Are Unpacked
AUTHOR: Susan Miller
PUBLISHER: Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2016, (272 pages).

Moving is very much a part of our lives. Whether we are children of missionaries or working adults, there are many different reasons why we move. People move when they have a new job, a new house, or a new baby. People also move when they need to be closer to their aging parents, or other concerns. Apart from the stress of having to finalize details of our new postings, jobs, or changes in a family situation, there are the logistics to contend with. There is the budget to be careful of. There is the many decisions to be made about what to pack, what to give away, and what to discard. According to the US Census Bureau, over 35.9 million people move each year, among which are 18.3 million women. The author is an experienced "mover," having relocated at least 14 times in her life, and being uprooted from her comfort zones frequently. She was married for 45 years to her husband before his passing in 2009.  Called "America's Moving Coach," Susan Miller has founded an organization called "Just Moved Ministry" to help uprooted women deal with the stresses of moving. First published in 1995, this book is into its 21st printing which speaks of the relevance and help that the book has offered to many people. In this updated edition, Miller includes many of her personal reflections about how life had been after Bill. She has a lot more future-oriented language which sums up her longing to be together with her loved ones for eternity. The three emotional phases for readers on the move are:

  1. Let Go
  2. Start Over
  3. Move Forward 

Through it all, she shares with readers about her personal surrendering to God and to let God help her mature through the rough and tumultuous patches of life. In LETTING GO, we ask God to mend our hearts so that we can let go well. She recognizes the difficult choices and decisions people have to make when letting go of the past. It is during these times that we start seeing the more important things in life. On the old house, we learn about having a home being more important than a physical structure. On spiritual growth, we learn about the initiative being God's, not ours. On people and relationships, we learn about how we need to let go of our control of them, and to allow God to hold them with open hands. Keep our front windshield large and our rearview mirror small is a nice way of putting a future-oriented perspective. She includes lots of biblical reflections with regard to how people exercise their faith and trust as they obey the calling of God. Each chapter comes with a "survival box" for us to consider as we unpack our boxes at our new location. She gives lots of helpful contrasts between what we cherish and what we ought to cling on to. In dealing with stress, we need to rest, to simplify, to be flexible, and to be thankful. In STARTING OVER, we ask God to mold us from the old to the new. We learn about establishing a new home, to bloom where we are, to keep our relationships strong, to deal with loneliness, and to make new friends starting with our neighbours. In the process, we submit to God to ask Him to make us into a new person. In MOVING FORWARD, we ask God to help us mature. We learn about re-focusing and new directions. We start a new life and begin a new reality. We cultivate a fighting spirit that is determined to rise above the challenges.

This book has blessed many people, including missionaries, pastors, military people, and families who are going through the typical routines of moving from one place to another. Often there are heartbreaking goodbyes, loneliness, and difficulty in getting established in new places. Full of practical tips and advice for the weary soul, this book is packed with ideas and precious thoughts on the process of moving. With relocating so common in a typical busy family lifestyle, this book may prove to be a life-saver in more ways than one. Like a wise guide, Miller also provides godly counsel that can be useful even for non-Christians. With deep empathy and wise understanding, Miller shares about her own struggles both physically and emotionally. Although targeted at women, men can also benefit as the principles in the book are applicable to all. One does not need to wait until there is a need to move before reading this book. In fact, after reading this book, one need not be fearful about considering moving at all. After all, when God calls, God can do so anytime, anywhere, and any how. This book is destined to remain a classic read for many more years to come.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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