After the Boxes Are Unpacked: Moving On After Moving In

After the Boxes Are Unpacked: Moving On After Moving In

After the Boxes Are Unpacked: Moving On After Moving In

After the Boxes Are Unpacked: Moving On After Moving In


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An essential relocation guide refreshed and updated for today’s movers.
More than 34 million Americans move each year, and studies show it can be one of the heaviest strains on a marriage. For women especially, relocating can be a traumatic event. With true stories, ingenious insights, and helpful hints, this great book makes transitioning smoother so women can get on with their lives. Those who are moving will find this valuable book as important as packing tape. Divided into three sections, After the Boxes are Unpacked helps recent movers focus on letting go of their past, starting over, and moving ahead. Topics include the following:
  • How to manage the emotional stress of leaving family and friends
  • How to support your spouse through a relocation
  • How to build new relationships in a new city
  • How to help children adjust to new surroundings and make friends
  • How to find a new church home
  • How to navigate financial challenges related to moving
  • How to discover God’s will for you and your family in a new city
This evergreen book has been a staple for movers for 20 years and has been extensively refreshed with additional content for today’s movers.

“Susan is doing a tremendous job of helping women deal with the trauma of transition. This resource will help anyone who wants to move ahead in a healthy way after they’ve experienced a move. I highly recommend this book.” —John Trent, PhD, President of

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781589978492
Publisher: Focus on the Family
Publication date: 04/01/2016
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 537,309
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

"Susan Miller developed a compassionate heart for women uprooted by a move after relocating 14 times herself. To encourage them, she started Just Moved Ministry ( and developed a study based on After the Boxes Are Unpacked. This study is being offered around the globe in churches, homes, community centers and military chapels--wherever women are trying to put down roots in a new community. Susan was married for 45 years to her beloved husband, Bill, until his death. She is blessed with two adult children, their spouses, and six grandchildren. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona."

Read an Excerpt

After the Boxes are Unpacked

Moving on After Moving in

By Susan Miller

Tyndale House Publishers

Copyright © 2016 Susan Miller
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-58997-849-2



For though I am far away from you my heart is with you.


Then ... It was four o'clock in the morning and just beginning to sprinkle rain as we walked down the driveway to our van. Bill and I, and our two children, were facing another journey into the unknown. In order to leave our house empty and clean for the new owners, dear friends let us spend the night with them. We fought back tears as we realized our lives would never again be so daily connected. As we exchanged hugs and said our good-byes at the end of the driveway, the pain of loss and separation became real. The rain began pouring down as we rushed into the van, not lingering to form the words that stuck in our throats. Silently we asked ourselves the question, When will we see each other again?

Once in the van, I rolled down the window to my friend Nancy. Our faces almost touching, our eyes brimming with tears, I whispered, "I just don't know if I can do this one more time!"

Nancy answered encouragingly, "Yes, you can, and you will — with God's help. Now go!" I quickly rolled up the window, and as we pulled away, I held back tears of sorrow. I reassured Bill and the children that I was going to be okay. I knew in my heart that somehow I had to find it in myself, once again, to let go of all that was near and dear, and to start over, moving ahead with a new life.

As we began our long journey westward, I reflected on all of our previous moves. Some had been good — a chance for a new beginning, a fresh start. Some had been a part of Bill's climb up the ladder of success. Some had been easy and others hard — especially as our children got older.

Moving is more than loading and unloading boxes. It is leaving behind everything familiar to face the unfamiliar.

When we moved, countless questions filled my thoughts: How am I going to find new doctors? Where are the best grocery stores? When is garbage pickup day? Who will I call if I need a plumber or an electrician? Which radio station will have the best country music? How will I begin to find trusted babysitters?

Finding answers to a list of simple questions was always a concern and worry to me. The big questions were overwhelming to even think about: Did we make the right decision about where to live? Where do we find a new church home? Will we have good neighbors? Will the schools be good? What about making new friends? Oh, the effort and energy it will take!

I looked in my rear view mirror and began to focus on everything I left behind. How could I start over when I hadn't even begun to let go of everyone and everything I loved? I felt the loneliness of being so far away from family and friends creep in. I felt the guilt of leaving behind Mama, who had been very ill. I felt anger and resentment as I asked, Why do we have to move again? Why do we have to move so far away from all that I am and all that I identify with? I fought back the familiar depression and the dread of the unknown that clouded my mind.

My thoughts switched back to the present. The bags really were packed and the van really was loaded down with valuables that couldn't be shipped ahead. The rest of life was in brown boxes in a moving van headed for a destination two thousand miles away. Once again I was pulling up stakes. Once again I was saying good-bye to friends. At this moment, I didn't belong anywhere — not in Atlanta, our old city, and certainly not in Phoenix, our new home, which seemed a million miles away. The emptiness overwhelmed me.

This was our thirteenth move in eighteen years of marriage. Bill was climbing the corporate ladder in hotel and restaurant management, and moving came with the profession. It also became a recurring part of our life together.

I smiled for the children's sake, to give them a sense of security that everything was going to be all right. I engaged in some meaningful conversation with Bill, to assure him I was indeed standing by his side in this corporate transfer and was united with him in this move.

Hours drifted by. I woke up from a nap that had been induced by the emotions of good-byes and leaving Atlanta. The sun was beginning to shine and the rain had stopped. The air was fresh and the day felt new in the early morning dawn. With the breaking of day came hope for tomorrow and renewed optimism to overcome new challenges. A smile came, not only to my face, but to my heart, and I felt a sense of God's peace. The Lord had been my Rock for thirteen moves, and together we could do this again.

He was the Friend who would go with me. He would ease my hurt and bring me contentment. God would never leave me. I knew He was already at my destination, waiting with open arms.

Little did I know at the time that this move would have a profound impact on my life and become the catalyst for this book.

A reassuring Scripture verse came to mind: "Don't be afraid, for the Lord will go before you and will be with you; he will not fail nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:8, TLB). I leaned over, kissed Bill on the cheek, and broke the silence by saying, "This is a beautiful day to begin a new journey together." I took a deep breath, and in the quietness of my heart, said to myself, Yes, Lord, I am going to make it one more time!

Westward Ho!

On our journey to Phoenix, we looked like the notorious Griswold family from the National Lampoon film series with our loaded van, two children, one dog, six pieces of luggage strapped on the top, and a U-Haul trailer in tow carrying all my plants. (We always try to hold on to everything and take it all with us, don't we?) Of course, I didn't realize that after three days in the U-Haul with the summer heat and no air, all my plants would be dead when we arrived.

We arrived in August, the hottest month of the year. I cried the entire month. I couldn't get used to seeing all those rocks in yards, some of which were even painted green to look like grass! And where was everybody? How was I to know they had all left Phoenix to get out of the 120-degree heat?

Bill and I had come to Phoenix previously, in July, for a weekend house-hunting trip. Those three-day decision-making trips never allow enough time to know the area where you want to live. There's never enough time to find the best schools and a house you can afford that will hold all your furniture. Needless to say, we didn't find anything on that trip; so when Bill went on ahead of us to start work, he bought a house I had never seen before arriving in Phoenix. We lived in a hotel for two weeks, waiting for the house to close. Of course, you know what that's like — the glamour wears off quickly!

All the things I had to do raced through my mind. I knew I needed to get everything squared away by myself because Bill would be preoccupied with his new job.

The first thing I did was to make our children's transition as smooth as possible. I knew it was crucial that they get settled in quickly, so I registered them not only in school, but on soccer teams, since they both had played in Atlanta. They started practice before we even moved into our house.

Bill was preoccupied with his new job and started traveling immediately. I spent the days trying to learn which streets would take me where I wanted to go and how to get back to the place from where I started. I used the time while we were still in the hotel to make all the necessary arrangements and appointments to get the house up and running.

With Bill and the children settled into a routine, it was time to tackle the house itself. The empty rooms chilled me, despite the 120-degree heat. The big moving van containing the bulk of our furnishings arrived, and the movers dumped furniture and boxes carelessly in each room. I was left to take each pile of stuff and, once again, make this house a home for us. Slowly, as I unpacked each box, hung the pictures, added a few new plants, and placed accessories and cherished mementos in each room, I began to feel comforted by all that was familiar.

By the time the house was settled, school had started. Bill was entrenched in his work, and I set out to find my niche in Scottsdale, the area near Phoenix where we had settled.

I soon learned Scottsdale was referred to as "La La Land," the home of the rich and the famous. I certainly didn't feel like a "La La Lady"! It seemed everyone played tennis and golf, or jogged in cute little outfits with cute little figures to match. I was already emotionally fragile from the move, overly sensitive to the spider veins in my legs, painfully conscious of my "thunder thighs," and totally aware of the extra pounds I was always trying to lose. My self-image was pretty low. I didn't seem to measure up.

I remembered how moving always created a loss of identity and affected my self-esteem.

Once again I thought, If I don't get involved, it wont matter, and it will just be easier when we leave the next time.

All our previous moves had been within the Southern states. Born in South Carolina, I had never been so far away from my deep Southern roots. What I knew of the West was only that I'd be eating guacamole instead of grits. I struggled with living in a world where my Southern heritage and Southern accent didn't fit. I was terribly homesick and missed the close relationships of family and friends.

Part of me anticipated the opportunities a new place would offer, and part of me was sad to leave behind our family, our church, established friendships, and our Southern roots. Still another part of me was just plain weary. I wanted to be like the tiny doodlebug that hides by burying itself in the sand. The thought of moving to a new place and starting all over again was both challenging and depressing.

Sometimes it's hard to see God in the midst of our circumstances. When we ventured west, I went through a whole lot of "Why, God?" and "Where are You in all of this?" And yet, I knew He had always been with us, whether or not we saw Him in the midst of our chaos, or even if we didn't have all the answers to "why."

I knew that coming to Scottsdale was part of God's plan for our family. Yet I also knew there were plenty of changes that needed to take place in me before I could even begin to call this place home. In my twenties, I had rededicated my life to Christ. In my thirties, we were baptized together as a family, and in my forties it was as if God said, Go west and grow! "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11, TLB).

When our family moves, finding a church is one of the first things we do to begin to put down roots. We visited many churches before we settled at Scottsdale Bible Church. There our life as a couple and as a family was enriched and we began to grow in our relationships with Jesus Christ. It was there Christ became the center of our lives, not just a sidebar to our lives.

As my security in Christ deepened, my self-image began to change. I only wanted to measure up to God's principles, not the principles of those around me. Gradually, my feelings of inadequacy were replaced with an adequacy found in Christ and through His Word.

By moving me to the desert, God was quenching a thirst in my heart that only He could fill.

Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
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.

ISAIAH 43:18-19

And indeed He did.

Now ... so much remains the same, and so much has changed since moving to Arizona.

I still live in Scottsdale but have moved twice since we bought our first home.

I still go to Scottsdale Bible Church, where I have taught the Moving On After Moving In class for twenty-five years to hundreds of women new to the area.

I still don't play tennis or golf, but I am great at kickboxing and Zumba.

My spider veins and thunder thighs have gotten a little worse with age, but on a hot day you'll find me in shorts. As far as losing a few pounds, well, they come and they go.

My circle of friends extends all over the world with Just Moved Ministry, but I still cherish my circle of dear friends from Atlanta.

My Southern roots will always be a part of who I am, but my Western roots are a part of who I have become.

I still love to plant flowers and have a yard full of geraniums.

I also love to plant seeds of encouragement and hope in Jesus Christ as I speak all over the world.

I still love grits, but guacamole is definitely a favorite.

I still miss oak trees, but there's nothing like a cactus in full bloom.

I might have rocks in my front yard, but I have compromised with green grass in my backyard.

I still stumble through speaking Spanish but know enough words to be gracious to another culture.

Our two children are grown and married. Bill Jr. and his family live in Atlanta, and Ginger and her family live in Gilbert, about thirty minutes from me.

I have six amazing grandchildren who fill my life with joy and memories.

I founded Just Moved Ministry in 1995, and it's become a global outreach to uprooted women, touching the lives of thousands of women and families for Christ.

After forty-five years of marriage, I still love Bill, even though he's gone home to be with the Lord.

And I still love Jesus. More now than I did then!

Steps to Survive a Move

Maybe you are where I have been: grieving over leaving family and friends, concerned about a broken relationship or the stress on your marriage, worried about your children's adjustment, confused about knowing which doctor to call, wondering where to find the right church, or simply overwhelmed by all the tasks to be done. It can be mind-boggling.

Over thirteen moves I learned biblical principles and practical actions that not only helped me let go and start over, but also moved me closer to Christ. I'll be sharing these valuable insights with you in this book, along with the three-step process I used not only to survive, but to thrive through transition. If it helped me, it can help you as well. Those three steps are:

1. Let go

2. Start over

3. Move forward

Let go. The first step in my journey of surviving a move was to choose to let go. I had to make the choice to cherish, rather than cling, to anything or anyone that would prevent me from starting over and moving forward with my life.

I needed to be prepared to let go of anything but never to let go of His hand.

I had to let God mend any feelings or emotions that kept me from being the whole, happy, and contented woman He wanted me to be. I had to choose to be open to God's love. So many times when we had moved, my spirit had been closed because of the anger, depression, grief, stress, expectations, comparisons, or discontentment (just to name a few) that I felt. Until I learned to understand my feelings and to go through the process of letting go, I couldn't be open to receive God's love and healing. I couldn't really begin the process of starting over. This time, I knew there was plenty of healing that needed to take place in my heart, and I was ready to let God take control.

Start over. I also had to choose to start over. I had to let God mold me through this process. As part of starting over, I needed to work through the feelings of loneliness, loss of identity, and inadequacy that threatened to overcome me at times. On the home front, I had to create a new nest all over again, recognize the effects that moving had on our children, and remember the importance of staying connected in my marriage. Of course, I had to be ready for the challenges and opportunities that new beginnings bring to each of us.


Excerpted from After the Boxes are Unpacked by Susan Miller. Copyright © 2016 Susan Miller. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction xvii

Part I Let Go

Chapter 1 From Grits to Guacamole 3

My story, then and now

Chapter 2 Looking Back 13

Coping with what you left behind

Chapter 3 Cherish or Cling? 23

Remember what was, look forward to what is

Chapter 4 The Stress of Moving 33

Pressures that add to being on overload

Chapter 5 A Ding or a Nick? 45

Recognize how deeply your move affects you

Chapter 6 Have Suitcase, Will Move 57

Understanding the emotional baggage you carry with you

Chapter 7 Remove Your Luggage Tags! 65

Identify your feelings and emotions

Part 2 Start Over

Chapter 8 Create a New Nest 79

Your place, your home

Chapter 9 Bloom Where You Are! 93

Growing through your move

Chapter 10 A Place in Your Heart Called Loneliness 107

Coping with the loneliness you feel

Chapter 11 Nobody Knows My Name 119

Find your lost identity

Chapter 12 Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? 131

Strengthen your marriage after a move

Chapter 13 Roots and Wings 143

Help your children adjust and adapt

Chapter 14 Borrow an Egg 155

Making new fiends

Part 3 Move Forward

Chapter 15 Come Full Circle After a Move 169

Find contentment in your circumstances

Chapter 16 Back in the Saddle Again! 183

Face your future with enthusiasm

Chapter 17 A Move in the Right Direction 193

Be equipped to move forward

Chapter 18 The New Reality 203

Big changes in a mobile world

Chapter 19 A Military PCS Means MOVE 213

Reaching out to military families

Chapter 20 Uprooted by Other Life Changes 223

Apply the three principles

Epilogue: From the Beginning 233

Appendix A Additional Tips from Women Who Have Moved 239

Appendix B The Nitty-Gritty of Getting Settled 243

Notes 251

What People are Saying About This

John Trent

Susan is doing a tremendous job of helping women deal with the trauma of transition. This re-source will help anyone who wants to move ahead in a healthy way after they’ve experi-enced a move or a loss. I highly recommend this book.

Brenda Pace

Susan Miller’s words offer hope and help to the uprooted woman, and confirm the promise that God is ever present in the midst of transition. Filled with practical advice and godly wisdom, this book is not only a how-to guide for moving; it is a heart guide for living!

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