How Moving to Another Country Redefines Surrender

by | Jul 24, 2014 | Encouragement


Carrot sticks. It turns out that’s what I’ll eat when I don’t have to cook for other people.

Or maybe I eat them because the refrigerator is mostly empty or because they tend to be my snack of choice when I’m writing the book.  I spent the last four days home by myself. Can you tell? I’m blogging about carrots.

For four blessed days, I’m the captain of my own life. Watching movies that make me cry until my eyes are red rimmed and puffy because I can, and why not. I read books, write thousands of words, pack boxes, sit on the beach, walk in the rain and don’t wear makeup. I go to the grocery store once in two weeks.

While I’m relishing the glorious pace I’ve found in solitude, suddenly my world tilts. Everything lopsided, hollow, one hyphenated sigh that doesn’t satisfy the curious, unnamed spot in my soul that longs to be satiated, no matter how much I feed it.

Me. It’s the first two letters in the word meaningful.

But too much of me leads to a meaningless existence.


If you are a regular reader here on the blog, you know I’m in a season of packing twenty-five years of memorabilia in preparation for a move to England. But I was blindsided, as one usually is, about God’s intention beyond cardboard, tape and stuff. This has become a new level of surrender.

It turns out surrendering possessions is the easy part.

There is a soul stripping that coincides with giving your possessions away and saying an emphatic yes to Jesus. Oh, we can sing “I surrender all” until our throats hurt but when we actually follow through, it’s surprisingly, well, insightful. As if you’ve been looking at life through a divine looking glass with sudden magnification. Acutely aware of your assumptions, harsh judgments, self-protection and mediocrity; you feel exposed, vulnerable and desperately repentant for the selfishness.

This isn’t self-deprecating surrender, the kind heaped in guilt for the ways you haven’t measured up to some ethereal, unreachable spiritual mountaintop. No, not that. God knows we don’t need more Christians feeling like failures in discipleship.

It is a Psalmist’s surrender. A turning of the head from the ways in which you’ve created spiritual scaffolding that has nothing to do with laying down your life but instead keeps you comfortably guarded. An epiphany of sorts about God’s love for you, how He has been loving you all along, even when you weren’t paying attention. Most of all, when you don’t deserve it.

Redemption looks beautiful on everyone, it’s my tag line for email followers. I didn’t fully understand the full meaning until recently.


I cooked dinner for the first time in two weeks last night, munching on carrot sticks and checking Facebook while rice simmered in the pot. Fielding all the typical questions of how long until dinner? And what are we having? And waited patiently for the last person to saunter slowly to the dinner table, salivating as steam curls from Chicken Marbella canopied our plates.

We bowed our heads, gave thanks and then engaged in a heated discussion bordering on anger.  And that empty, uncomfortable place seemed satisfied, full of meaning somehow.

The first two letters in meaningful, they aren’t pointing fingers to our chest. Me, it’s the answer from a loving Father to our questions and doubts.

As we sort, pack, consign, discard and entertain potential buyers for our cars and house, I’ll be posting less frequently here this month. However, I will continue communicating through my weekly epistle to the Sabbath Society community, which has turned into a beautiful conversation, a co-mingling of faith, life and resting in His goodness. Sign up here if you are interested, you are always welcome.

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  1. Megan Willome

    So happy for you, Shelly.

    I’m learning that deep surrender, too, in the face of judgment and lies and my own worry. And a grace I can’t explain.

    • Shelly Miller

      I know you get this Megan. Glad to be walking this out with you. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Mary Gemmill

    Your beautiful heart is shining through these insightful words and I find myself breaking out in heart-felt prayer for you that your creator who promises goodness and mercy shall follow you every day of your life, will be very present with you as your transition…..Oh how He loves you… he loves you so…

    • Shelly Miller

      It may be that my heart isn’t always very pretty Mary but I’m glad you can see the redemption shining through. Thank you for believing in me. You are a gift.

  3. Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk

    We packed our house in stages when we moved, sending truckloads to a variety of friend’s houses as the time to move drew closer. I was surprised how exposed I felt with all of that stuff stripped away. There a real freedom in it though, which I believe is what you’re getting at here with surrender.

    • Shelly Miller

      I agree Kelly, there is a collision of vulnerability and freedom that comes with the process of moving.

  4. Kris Camealy

    There’s so much here, Shelly. And this deep surrendering season, with all of it’s straining challenge is so beautiful in all the hard ways. You know I’m praying. I appreciate you sharing the journey with us–we’re all learning to lay down before Jesus. This helps. You’re not alone. Xo

    • Shelly Miller

      It’s always a comfort to know that we aren’t alone in our struggles. You are a good companion.

  5. Pam

    Praying for you in this wondrous (though I’m sure bittersweet in some ways) move, Shelly… as you tie up what was and look ahead to what is on your horizon. I know He has such beauty waiting for you there.! (I reflected a little on that today in my five minute friday post, referencing yours here and prayers for you :)…
    Pam, apples of gold

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Pam, humbled by your prayers and look forward to reading.

  6. Nancy Ruegg

    I can visualize you in your new, English home. It will be cozy and wreathed in flowers, right? I can also visualize you in your new surrendered place, where your spirit will soar a bit more freely, where Jesus will seem a bit closer to your side, and where the questions that poked and prodded at your soul suddenly won’t matter anymore. You’re going to like this new place very much! And though the journey may be uncomfortable at times, it will be more than worth it.

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh my, I hope this is prophetic Nancy. Feels that way. Thank you.

  7. Pamela

    There’s an excitement about moving and grasping a new life. But there’s also surrender, pain and exhaustion before it comes. Some days you just want to get it over with. Praying this newness will be all you imagined. You may find some missing household goods in your new country, but Jesus will be right there! ~Pamela

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