Monthly Archives: September 2010

Paula and Company

A few of my favorite items around my house currently . . . so fun to have all our stuff out of storage and be enjoying the creative outlet of making a rental house a home.

IMG_0412#1 Impala inside black frame. My kids refer to the Impala as “Paula,” as in “Night, night, Paula.”

IMG_0411#2 A birdcage I purchased at a thrift store for $10. I especially love the tiny casters it rolls around on. The three miniature candle holders just seemed to be the right addition.

IMG_0410#3 (Perhaps this should be #1 because I adore it so much!) This is an old metal cabinet I bought right out of a woman’s garage for something like $70. I was immediately woo-ed by the greens, aquas, and browns (signature palate) with just the right amount of rust. I keep kids’ books, shoes, and toys inside. Love.

IMG_0404#4 My favorite pillow. The pinky raspberry is perfection.

IMG_0403#5 A bouquet from last Friday’s farmers market. Does anyone know what this is? The colors are too fab.

What are some of your favorite, unexpected finds?


Monday’s Soul Contents

A few highlights to report . . .


I attended the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Conference on Saturday and I was inspired as I always am when I take time out to interact with those who are established in both the craft and the industry.

I especially loved Barbara Nicolosi’s challenge to write toward what the human soul is yearning for and not simply what the market is yearning for. As she said, “What my soul knows is what’s commercial.” So good. I also really resonated with her concept of writing as pastoral.

And, of course it was exciting to hear Lynn Vincent talk about Same Kind of Different As Me and Going Rogue (though she really couldn’t say much at all about Palin due to the non-disclosure she signed). She and her agent, Lee Hough, were up on stage with Carol LeBeau asking the questions. Completely engrossing.


On Friday night, I spoke at a local church and facilitated an art component as part of my talk. This is something I absolutely love doing. I shared for 30 minutes about “foreign places,” including some excerpts from Found Art, and then we did found art clotheslines made from manila tags the woman collaged. Heaven. I hope the evening was as meaningful for them as it was for me.

I love seeing women create. Healing. Empowering. Connecting. Soul-stirring. Awakening.


I have received so much incredible feedback from the guest post I did on Jason Boyett’s blog ( I just wanted to say thanks, and it seemed like the whole concept struck a chord.


Lastly, this morning I put my mom on a plane for the East Coast. She is no longer a San Diegan. Strange. I know it will be some time before all these changes fully hit me. I feel relieved that all the logistics involved in getting her gone are now complete. And I also feel like there’s an emptiness that I can’t fully name yet.

On Friday morning, I attended a Change of Command ceremony for Steve’s outgoing and incoming COs. Such a cool Navy tradition, with no counterpart (I learned), in the Army or Air Force. I was reminded of the beyond beautiful Navy farewell . . . and so, though I’m deeply disappointed to be losing my best (read: most caustic) source of material, I wish you fair winds and following seas, Mom. May these be your best years yet.


Mission Hills

We now live in a region of San Diego called Mission Hills. I presume the neighborhood got its name from its location in the hills above a mission. Seems fairly straightforward.

The mission was established in 1769 by a Spanish Franciscan missionary, Father Junipero Serra. The mission (and presidio) was California’s first, and it is now memorialized with a rambling park full of mature trees and a truly inspiring, Spanish Revival, museum. I love this architecture. Triple love. The white archways and tile roof  and courtyards peek through the trees, and I swear it’s as if you are driving down your very own little stretch of 17 Mile Drive.

I often duck through Presidio Park on my way to the freeway—even though it’s indirect—so I can coast down the road, cut right through the park, and take in the scene. If I’m driving that route in the morning or afternoon, chances are the marine layer is rolling in or out, and the haze blurs the outlines of the trees (like it does in Carmel or Monterey), and you just want to die the effect is so amazing.

I’ve made it a habit to disavow “efficiency” as one of my top life values, demonstrated by my willingness to drive West in order to get on the 8 East. I honestly don’t care. Totally worth it. And, also, I’ve fallen madly in love with a house on a huge corner lot right near the park that has the most perfectly chosen black and white striped awnings above every window. The charm is so effortless you almost can’t help yourself from stopping the car altogether just to sit and stare. And possibly cry.

Efficiency can be a great enemy of the creative spirit. Don’t you agree?

Other things to live for:

  1. The farmers market comes every Friday and we can walk to it. Last Friday I bought (for $3!) a bunch of clover flowering with these eccentric, electric purple buds. “You know that’s a weed, right?” Steve says. I just look at him blankly giving off the, “Shut up” vibe.
  2. Football season. I couldn’t accurately explain the anticipation Steve and I have both been experiencing around the long, dogged wait we have endured between the Super Bowl and September. All I can say is that the whole production arrived just in time. We are saved.
  3. Deliciously good friends. We howled late into the night with Tatum, Eric, Chad, Amie, and Katie last week. We have actually enjoyed unpacking and whipping our house into shape because of Ken and Elaine. And we watched college football and ate kielbasa and drank this primo Cab Franc with Jamie and Katie last night. I feel as though a part of me is reconnecting with “fun.” What a concept.

Something I’m realizing . . . we are all in need of recovery. Every one of us. We are all recovering from something or toward something or in spite of something or because of something. I’m believing Mission Hills is going to be a step in my recovery. Somehow, I just know it.


The Swirling Waters

Jason Boyett, established author and new friend, invited me to guest post on his blog recently. His latest book, O Me of Little Faith, is about doubt and spirituality, and he asked me to talk about doubt in my own terms and my own experience. The piece posted today, so I thought I’d point you to it in case you wanted to take a look:

I feel like this piece captures or represents much of what I’ve been thinking about lately . . . where does God and my believing intersect with the realities — minute and profound — of my every day life. How might I experience God in this day, in this present moment, in this very breath? An invitation to be awake, alive, whole, and terribly honest.

Enjoy . . . and I hope you find yourself in the story somewhere.



Pardon the prolonged silence. I’m emerging (though the emergence is very labored and practically imperceptible) from the haze of moving. I feel very old and slow, like all my joints are made of metal and my eyelids are drooping. Does anyone else agree that moving ages you?

Earlier this summer my mom decided to retire. We threw a huge bash for her and then made plans to put the house on the market. Given the current real estate climate, we prepared ourselves for a long wait, lots of open houses, even more showings, and maybe—six months down the road—an offer.

Within ten days, she had an accepted offer, including a 30-day escrow, and we are quickly closing in on the day the house will change hands for the first time in forty years. Not only has my mom been scrambling to get her things packed and shipped off to her next residence (a granny flat at my brother’s house in South Florida), this quick offer meant Steve and I and the babies had to find a new place to live with about two weeks notice. Did I mention Steve was on a trip while all this was happening? Of course he was.

In a whirlwind of circumstances, we found just the right place for now, signed a lease, and packed up all our belongings from my mom’s. We also made arrangements to have the contents of our storage units (yes, plural) packed up and delivered to our new house. And we have been digging out for the last week. Still digging. Still digging.

Yet, relief sits right under the surface of the fatigue. I think it was Virginia Woolf who wrote, “A placeless person is a silenced person.” Though we were by no means placeless at my mom’s in the physical sense, we were placeless in an emotional sense . . . taking meals on someone else’s dishes, so to speak.

On the heels of my mom’s decision, my dad and stepmom have also decided to move out of state to a beautiful marina in Washington. Soon, too soon, I will be the last Miller in San Diego. My growth group asks me how I feel about all this. I don’t have a clear answer yet. Perhaps I feel uncertain, untethered. Yes, that seems to fit. I am feeling like my roots are about to be severed, which makes a person feel like they are floating and not really connected to anything, cut loose from some of the things that have defined me my entire life.

Redefinition can be a good thing, but it’s never easy. New roots for a new season. I feel excited and fragile.

In Found Art, I wrote about what it’s like to navigate a foreign place, and what the foreign places of life have to offer us. When I was writing that book, I don’t think I fully appreciated how much I would come back to the phrase – “foreign places.” Life has a way of continually inviting us into new waters, deserts, wonderments, wastelands, displacements. We are continually invited up to the top of the rock as the world cries out, “3-2-1 Jump!!”

So here we are, once again, navigating the foreign places of a new home (where in the heck do I get gas!?!), a new familial arrangement (family literally strewn from North West to South East), and a new emotional milieu (who will I be here without my parents?).

I am forced to turn inward, to the deeper recesses, to the soul place. There, I always have a home, though it’s a home that I need to frequent far more often than I do.

And now I will eat the beautiful tomato Fern, my new neighbor, delivered to my door yesterday. What a nourishing offering. And could you love the name “Fern” any more? Considering a third child if only to utilize the name Fern . . .

More musings to come on home, place, and identity. In the meantime, please share about any “placelessness” you’ve experienced lately, or perhaps, any “placing” too. How are you feeling oriented or disoriented today?

Love upon love.