Negotiating With Transition

by | Mar 23, 2015 | Trust


Chili. I decide to make chili for dinner earlier in the week when I was grocery shopping but I didn’t plan on waking up with the flu. Chili is an old standby for us like pizza on Friday or grilling on a warm weekend. It seemed like a straight forward decision about using up hamburger but I’m numb to my reality. I’m living in England now and chili, it turns out, is more complicated than it used to be.

When that little packet of seasoning can’t be found on the shelves at Tesco, I decide to make my own concoction. Until I realize the measuring spoons I thought I packed from my kitchen last week were not in any of the six suitcases we brought with us.

H is a little less sick than I am so he bravely retrieves a scale from the kitchen cabinet, attempting to measure chili powder, cumin, garlic, and a host of other spices the British way, by weighing them.  I’m on the computer with a flu hangover googling conversion charts and calling out amounts.

Onion powder, it turns out, isn’t common in London grocery stores so we make do without it.

In the end, he eyeballs the amounts. And then I remember we don’t have a can opener for the kidney beans. What I assumed to be a simple dinner turns into a heavy sigh.


Our new washing machine is located in the bathroom closet; the dryer is in the kitchen next to the sink. Two sets of stairs are between them. We don’t own a laundry basket yet. One small load of clothes requires two hours to finish a complete cycle. I took those side-by-side front loaders in my old house for granted. This is a fact.

My daughter is on spring break, staying with a family instead of her parents for the first time ever. She Voxes to tell me she’s been sitting in our empty house daily, waiting for the reality to hit her, but it hasn’t yet. I tell her it hasn’t hit me either.

On Thursday, in the middle of a meeting with church planters in East London we receive the official email that our house is no longer ours and now belongs to strangers.

The same day Murielle Voxes to say she stopped by our storage space on her way out of town for a weekend with her bestie. That space holds the only things left of us there for her. Now she can no longer sit in the empty house holding dust of her teenage years.


When she was two, we sat down to eat dinner together one evening and an overwhelming feeling gripped me. Someone was missing at the table.

The empty chair at the table haunted me every day thereafter. God was telling me we were going to have another baby. Harrison came shortly thereafter.

This past week, as we sit in brown plastic chairs around a borrowed table, daffodils fade from a vase in the center and the empty place setting haunts me. Nothing is familiar.


Last night, as I lay in bed with fever praying for my children, Murielle has a tire blow out on the highway, on her way back to college. She Voxes H but his phone is on mute. When he wakes up and listens, she is frantic; alone on the side of the road for three hours.

When change sweeps you up in a whirlwind, you will go through the motions, making rational decisions until your feelings and the truth finally catch up with the consequences. A release from transition and into the thing God has for you costs you something, don’t fool yourself with idealism.

God’s grace in timing doesn’t mean everything is or will be perfect, just different like cooking chili in London and Voxing with your daughter instead of dialing her number .

Sometimes measuring the costs of your yes to Jesus isn’t as straight forward as initially expected. And then again, surrender and risk for the Kingdom, it’s never a cake walk, is it?



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  1. Kris Camealy

    Oh Shelly. This: ” God’s grace in timing doesn’t mean everything is or will be perfect, just different” yes. This is so true.

    Praying over your family, and the transition as it continues to unfold. Xo

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks for your prayers Kris. Sending mine your way too. xoxo

  2. Devi Duerrmeier

    I nodded a lot to so many things you wrote here. All of our transitions came with those moments when everything takes longer and is more complicated. I also found that I was physically fatigued in a deep way in the first six months after a move – I think just the physical impact of the emotional weariness of being “on” all the time from having to figure out the new life. So much grace to you as you walk it out.

    • Shelly Miller

      I’ve thought about what you said here about being “on” since you wrote it. Your words brought some clarity to what I hadn’t really considered. It is true, how you find yourself having to be alert to everything because you are constantly learning how to do everything all over again. Nothing is familiar. Thanks for the empathetic shoulder Devi, I appreciate it..

  3. MsLorretty

    It’s all precious in the sight of our Lord… and all those “empties” will soon be a different kind of full. Praying for your “baby bird” as she learns to fly… praying for her Mama as she learns new facets of trust. Thank you for sharing so much of your heart, God is definitely teaching me through you and your honest experience.

    • Shelly Miller

      I know you are right, that the empty places will soon be a faint memory, replaced by the fullness of life where we are. Opportunities are all around us and I’m expectant about what God has for our future. Thanks for being here!

  4. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Shelly, I’m so sorry you have been ill. And concerned about Murielle, though I’m presuming all’s well with her now. Oh that dear girl. That had to be frightening for her. Transitions. We sometimes long for them, but even when they are good, they are not easy. And it’s then that we must go easy on ourselves–to expect that change takes time, even in the same language! 🙂 I’m glad you are not speaking French. Still, the “accent” of life over there is different, and all things you once found familiar may seem strange for awhile. Change takes time. So you are waiting on God again. But this time, you know more than ever, He is right there with you, orchestrating your change and your days and your chili! Rest. Be at peace, and watch the Prince of Peace winnow your path as you win souls for Him.
    Praying, dear one.

    • Shelly Miller

      I woke up feeling so much better today Lynn, more like myself than the past four days. I’m grateful for the prayers of the saints covering me. And Murielle is fine, she is such a strong girl. I know it was traumatic initially but now she is laughing about it. So thankful she didn’t get hurt.

      • Lynn D. Morrissey

        Such wonderful news, Shelly. So glad you are better and that Murielle is fine! She’s getting prepared for driving in London–an experience all its own! Ask Mike! 🙂 Lov e you!

  5. Heather Fignar

    I read your post to my husband and we knowingly chuckled about the chili and the laundry. It’s a strange new normal – living across the pond. Here’s a post I wrote about our new washer/dryer reality while we lived in Nottingham.

    Praying you both feel better and that the great Comforter walks this walk with you in a way that is present and tangible.

    • Shelly Miller

      Heather, I jumped over to read your post and really enjoyed it. Are you still living in the UK? I’m feeling much better today, thank you for praying.

      • Heather Fignar

        We lived in the UK for just 5 months 7 years ago. Feels like yesterday and forever ago. We miss it always.

  6. Nancy Ruegg

    Whew–that’s a lot of stress all at once. Praying here that life settles down THERE and joy breaks through–soon!

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Nancy! I’m much better today and joy is still with us.

      • Nancy Ruegg

        That’s great to hear. It’s hard to experience joy when you’re sick!

  7. Ruth Marriott

    Thank you for sharing this, so beautifully. I know it’s hard – the US way of doing things is different and we’ve definitely got a lot to learn from you guys about washer-dryers. I’m tempted to ask for your chili recipe now, too, once you get it right with UK ingredients. Welcome to Blighty, and sorry it’s been a bumpy landing… it will get better.

    • Shelly Miller

      Only bumpy because of getting sick Ruth, everything else has been wonderful. We’ve been warmly received by a lovely community here and being well taken care of. We are grateful to be here. And once we get that recipe down, I’ll pass it on to you!

  8. Shelly W.

    Oh dear! I am just catching up with your blog this week (I’ve been sick as well) and saw this. I think that maneuvering the emotions and logistics involved in leaving a college girl behind would probably be the hardest thing for me. Still, you obey. Trusting that she is OK and seeing this as a stepping stone toward adulthood.

    As far as a chili recipe goes, may I offer up mine? No packets involved. No difficult spices, but truly the best chili ever! Plus, it takes ale, which I am pretty sure you’ll find plenty of where you’re living! 😉

  9. pastordt

    Oh.My.Goodness. I am so, so sorry, Shelly. And yet, I am not surprised . . . by any of this. Sigh. Moving far away from family exacts a high price all by itself. And moving cross-culturally? Oh, my. I know you’re already moving past this low point. Praying protection over your heart and your daughter’s everything!

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