Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Still Abigail… April 2, 2021

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 3:42 pm

I know, many have read this before…but It will forever be a part of my heart and I can’t help but share it each year. The world may be confusing in so many ways, but His Word is clear, God so loved the world… He calls us worthy of such a price…this is love.  Let us love one another, as He has loved us!

Abigail:

I’ve lost track of how many years ago it was, yet each Spring I can’t help but recall my introduction to Abigail.  I was a high school science/Bible teacher for a small Christian school at the time. One of my students was a football sized young man named Nick.  He worked for a local farmer who had offered him a young lamb to take home.  Nick’s mom, apparently destined for sainthood, not only allowed him to bring the lamb home, but he got to keep it in his room!  Early that Spring Nick brought photos to share.  To my amazement, there, wedged beside his bed and amid typical teenage squalor, was a carefully built pen, complete with wood rails, chicken wire and hay.  Abigail the lamb had found a perfect home.  Over the next few weeks Nick would have numerous stories to tell of Abigail’s antics.  I couldn’t wait to see her for myself, so I invited Nick to bring her to school one morning.

I ushered my entire class outside and we waited like giddy preschoolers for Abigail’s arrival.  I am certain I will never be able to adequately describe what I saw that day.  I will do my best.  We watched as Nick emerged from his vehicle with Abigail cradled in his big burly arms.  We stood transfixed by the sight of what can only be inadequately referred to as precious”.  Her pure, white coat seemed almost translucent, radiating light under the bright blue, cloudless sky.   Her tiny nose was a perfect, pink velvet triangle perched just above her little pink mouth.    As I placed my hand on her sweet little head she looked at me.  I found myself staring into the depths of clear, brilliant blue eyes.  I realized I had been holding my breath in awe.  We were expecting to see a cute lamb, somewhat off white in color.  I had not considered that, unlike the lambs at the local petting zoo, Abigail had been living in a clean, loving, environment.  After everyone had made Abigail’s acquaintance, Nick left to return her home and we settled back into Bible class.

We soon realized the relevance of Abigail’s visit as we continued our study of Passover.  The original Passover took place when Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt.  God instructed them to mark their door post with the blood of a male lamb.  This was to protect them from the final plague which was the death of all first born in any home not so protected. (Exodus 11&12)  The yearly commemoration of this event required the father to select the best, blemish free lamb and set it apart for the Passover…four days prior to the celebration.  My students and I began to consider something quite startling.  There was a good chance that the lamb would have been brought into the house or yard during that time.  This perfect little lamb, probably as precious and sweet as our Abigail, may have clamored under their feet while they did chores, fed out of their hands and shared a living area.  After four days, this lamb, which by now had become even more precious to the family, was to be sacrificed.   Suddenly one can imagine the cries of the children, the quite sob of their mother, the sorrow in the eyes of the father who knows a blood sacrifice is required.   For the first time, since meeting Abigail, we could truly envision the “sacrificial lamb” of the Scriptures.

The continued observance of Passover was a powerful object lesson for generations of Israelites.  Every family member would be reminded not only of God’s protection and provision when He freed them from slavery, but also of the cost…the blood of their most precious lamb.  This Easter we consider the final sacrifice.  Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, perfect and precious beyond description, was sacrificed for our sin.  Many movies and videos have stirred the heart of man as they depict the brutal crucifixion of our Christ, yet none can compare to the vision of Abigail.  As we celebrate our freedom from sin and death through the resurrection of our Lord, let’s never forget the cost.  Praise God His love and grace make us worthy of such a sacrifice!

1 Peter 1:18-19 

“knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold…but with precious blood, as a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”

 

December 24, 2020

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 10:59 am

A Christmas Tree Angel….reposting this story has become a tradition. This year, for everyone, Christmas looks a little different. My beloved life weary angel no longer presided over an evergreen tree. This year her perch is atop a tree fashioned for crab pot wire on our boat. NO longer safely stored in our home, she has had better starts to her year ( as have we all). She lost her head in the transition from house to boat, but we are happy to report she has been restored. I love her all the more each year. Now, in the lopsided tilt of her head, in the small “scar” of glue we used to reset her head, I am reminded not just of grace, but of the hope of restoration. This season we celebrate the Savior Who came to give us a path to forgiveness. In Him our brokenness is restored. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and new beginnings!

 I’m not sure where she came from. (update: at my last post someone recognized her and informed me she is a Nuremberg angel!) I’m not even certain of her age. (update: As a Nuremberg angel, we probably acquired her when my family lived in Germany when dad was in the Air Force…this would make her well over 50 yrs!)

She sat atop the Christmas tree for many of my growing up years, quietly presiding over each holiday season.  I acquired her from my mother many years ago.

Her gold foil, cardboard wings, once ended in perfect points extending her stature to seven inches.  Now her wing span is slightly reduced, as the tips went from being slightly bent, to folded, until they eventually tore off.  Her dark red velvet dress, trimmed with gold brick brack, fits snuggly to her waist before flowing over her cardboard form.  Her once silky, radiant white hair, now hangs in brittle coils around her shoulders.  A little gold foil halo covers a place on her head where some of her hair has given way to the passage of time.

Her head and hands are made of wax, as is the candle she holds in one hand.  I remember her as a beautiful lady, her face perfect and delicate.  Those qualities are now faded.  Her head, once held high and straight, has melted somewhat.  It now bows lovingly downward and a bit to the right.  Two years ago a significant amount of time and effort was put into re-attaching her long held candle to her now miss shaped hand.  Yep, she’s a bit of mess you might say.  I like that about her.

She doesn’t light up or sparkle, and quite often she is too small for the tree, making her look even more out of place.  But I look forward to her presence in my living room each Christmas.  Late at night, when the tree is lit and others have gone on to bed, I find myself thinking of her and all we have in common.

I too, know what it’s like to have my wings bent and torn.  I know what it feels like when your body gives itself over to the challenges of time.  My hair is no longer silky or radiant, and I only wish had a halo to hide the places where it has become thin.  I understand the sagging of her shoulders and the bowing of her head.  I have felt the weight every mother bears for her family.  I know the need to bow my head in constant prayer.   I love her imperfection.  She’s a holiday reminder that God loves us in our imperfection.

A love full of grace, a savior born to take on the sin of the world, a reason to celebrate, reflected in the melted features and unraveled edges of our Christmas tree Angel.

God’s love was revealed among us in this way. God sent His son into the world so we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

The Missing “But” December 22, 2020

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 12:51 pm

Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause to remember the advent of Jesus. In some households a candle is lit for each of the advent themes…this week we consider Love.

Love.  It should be the easiest to write about of all the advent themes, and yet for the last few years it has been one of the more challenging.  I actually have been writing this post off and on for days.  For those of you who know me, it will not surprise you to learn I had amassed over 800 words about love.  I rose early to finish the tome and wrap it up in some sort of neat phrase or top it with a scripture, like a bow on a gift….instead, I erased it all.   As I sat with coffee in hand, my mind had wandered to a casual conversation I’d had recently.  It was the sort of conversation that begins with a type of apology/affirmation before it rolls out some sort of negative comment or judgment.  It went a little like this,  “ You know I love you, but, (insert the behavior I wished changed).”   It occurred to me that this is a phrase I will never hear from God.  Suddenly all my previous words seemed inadequate when I thought about the importance of that missing “but”.

I know He loves me.  I know that I celebrate Christmas because of the evidence of His love in sending His Son.  Christ came to take on my sin, to redeem me, a salvation that is brimming with abundant grace. This is love. 

Oh how easily He could say, “I love you, but you need too….”, “I love you, but this needs to happen…”, “I love you, but not like you are…”, yet He does not.  Instead God offers us a love that says, “I love you even though…” 

“…God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”(Romans 5:8)

This is LOVE.  It is grace, undeserved forgiveness and favor.  Yes, He wants us to love others, yes He calls us to follow His commandments, yes He desires us to live in a way that is pleasing to Him, for this is also for our benefit…yet His love does not depend on those things. 

 Today, I am thinking about the missing “but“.  No doubt my continued struggles with the flesh must disappoint, sadden and exasperate Him…How relieved I am at the  certainty that He is not shaking His head in the heavens and sighing  “I love you, but…”  Instead He is shouting “I love you”.   It is a “no buts about it” kind of love…in every breath, in the beauty of His creation,  in the canopy of stars, in the roar of the wind and waves, in chaos and in stillness He is shouting “I love you”. May we welcome His proclamation of love and  accept the gift of His forgiveness through Jesus Christ His son.

 

Hallmark Christmas Peace December 16, 2020

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 5:33 pm

Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause to remember the birth of Jesus. In some households a candle is lit for each of the advent themes. These days we live aboard a boat, so instead we will “turn on” a flameless candle as we consider this third advent theme of PEACE.

It is a Christmas miracle!  Well, not quite, but still an amazing turn of events in our home.  You see, I love Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas movies.  Usually, around this time of year, you can find me tucked up on the sofa in the late evening hours, eyes glazed over, and enjoying a collection of holiday shows.  My beloved is NORMALLY on travel for work for many of those nights, that is not the case this year.  This year, I must share my TV time.  Thanks to Covid, all his work travel is suspended and I was concerned the hubby would put a bit of a damper on my late-night holiday viewing habits.  Oh, there was initial resistance, and binge watching is out of the question, BUT eventually he submitted to watching one per night, most nights.

At first, I thought he just succumbed to my whines for upbeat, holiday themed entertainment, but I believe he discovered a way to enjoy them himself.     He seemed to take pleasure in making a game of guessing the plot, location, and ending of each one.  Him: “Okay, they live in Seattle/Chicago/New York, travel to hometown/small town/big city, endure awkward reunion/meeting/enemy which grows into love as they save the local community center/church/house/farm/business.”  He is not wrong.  Hallmark/Lifetime holiday fare is full of predictable fluff and seldom Oscar worthy performances, but that matters not to me.

I know why I am still drawn to these Christmastime tropes.  First, the scenery.  Who doesn’t love to see city lights, country/small-town/farm Christmas décor, snow covered landscapes and starry nights?  Secondly, I am entertained by the acting.  Yes, I said it, THE ACTING.  I like seeing familiar faces of actors who I recognized from older shows and ‘back in the day’. Its kind of comforting to see actors, perhaps past their prime, resurfacing as a kindly grandfather/wise grandmother or sage townsperson. I also like seeing the young/unknowns whose performances are only slightly above that of a community theatre production.  While sometimes laughable, there is something charming, vulnerable about watching imperfect performers work at their craft to tell a story.  But the biggest reason for my holiday movie habit is the predictability that there WILL be a happy ending.  At some point the characters, separated by time, hurts, distance, values, misunderstandings, or wrongs, will inevitably find forgiveness, healing, meaning, hope and happiness.  People, towns folk, family members, lost loves will be reconciled with one another.  There is ALWAYS a reconciliation, a peace that is restored.  To me, reconciliation is one of the most important aspects of why we celebrate Christmas.

God is our creator, but our relationship with Him needs reconciliation.  Sin (mine and yours) separates man from God. But that is not how God desired it to be, He loves us. God sent Jesus, His son, to earth to take on the ultimate consequence for our sin, and in this He gave us a way for such reconciliation.  There is NO way I could ever be perfect, without sin.  I cannot, even if I tried with all my being, earn God’s forgiveness.  When Jesus died, and rose again, He provided a path for forgiveness.  Through my faith in Him I can ask God to forgive me, and He does.  He reconciles us to Him; He restores our relationship with Him.  This is PEACE.  Peace between God and man.  Accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior brings us peace…the peace prophesied about in the Old Testament….

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace……But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. ” (Isaiah 9:6, 53:5)

The birth of Jesus is worthy of celebration, because His arrival would bring reconciliation between God and man.  That message shepherds heard that night, the announcement of a prophecy of peace fulfilled, was truly good news for ALL people.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with who He is pleased.”

 (Luke 2:14)

As yet another holiday movie character finds their lives/hearts reconciled and their peace restored, I will remember to treasure the sweetest peace of all. Peace on earth, peace among men, peace between nations, communities, or households, will only be found when we first find peace with God. 

The Rev. Billy Graham would share this with those who sought peace with God….

“Lord, I know I am a sinner, and I ask Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.”

 

Journey December 9, 2020

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 3:51 pm
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Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause to remember the birth of our Savior.  In some households a candle is lit for each of the advent themes. These days we live aboard a boat, so instead we will “turn on” a flameless candle as we consider the second theme of advent, JOY.

A white square with black typeface print.  I can see it in my mind as clear as if I was still standing in my old kitchen staring at the prominent fridge magnet…its words, a reflection of an effort to course correct:  Life is Journey, Not a Destination  This would become our mantra, a rallying cry, a reminder of our intent to enjoy the journey.  How did this magnet find its way to our fridge?  Well, you see, years ago one member of our household struggled with “journeys”.  Traversing shopping malls, careers, hiking trails or highways, they had a “get to the other place” mindset.  This was not always a bad thing.  This is a focus that often propelled them/us to important places, life events and milestones in a timely and helpful fashion.  But it also created a sense of stress, rush and frustration.  Then one day, they proclaimed they were going to be ALL about the JOURNEY in life.  It was a powerful shift, not easy or natural.  I marveled at the intentional effort, the impact was unmistakable in our lives.   

These days remembering to enjoy the journey is a challenge we both continually face.  Perhaps it is time to buy another magnet for the boat fridge?  This week the journey is weighing on my heart.  As I prepared to write this post about JOY, the image of that old black and white magnet danced in my head like the “sugar plumb fairy” from that famous poem.  I often find my focus is on getting through, arriving on the other side of difficult days, enduring, seeking a completion, a resting place. I am destination minded.   I have been busy white knuckling the reins of my life(and that of my adult kids if I’m being honest), reins I grabbed from the very capable hands of my Heavenly Father, and trying to “journey” my way faster, easier, in and around all the days I deemed to be difficult, painful, hard and unsettling.

Our pastor once said, regarding the life/national/world events of this year, “Perhaps it is not about what God is doing to us, but rather what He is doing for us?”   I’m glad our service was a virtual one, I would not have been proud of the face I made,(an emoji eye roll comes to mind).  But the more I considered his words, the more I felt lead to spend less time wringing my hands and more time looking for the hands of God.  I had been so intent on being saved from the journey, that I almost missed the gifting of it all.  God’s handiwork was easy to see when I stopped and looked. Still the struggle to find joy in the journey continued. And then this….as I checked in with a friend who has been battling cancer. His reply to my “How are your doing?” :

“Every day the Lord gives me is a gift and an excellent reason to give it my best.”  

I was shook at that truth as it applies to us all.  These days of our journey…easy, wonderful, full, precious, painful, worrisome, hard, trying…are gifts, and excellent reasons to give it our all.  Let us seek God in our journey, giving the days our all, knowing  the JOY of Him, ever mindful that He redeems us, He is for us, He is with us.  This is truly news of great JOY to ALL people…..

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child and bear a son, a they shall call His name Immanuel”( which means, God with us.) Matthew 1:23

He came to us, for us and will one day come again!

P.S. I think I do need a new fridge magnet, I want to be reminded to treasure the journey…but I would amend it to read:  Life is a journey, with a destination!

 

Great Expectations December 4, 2020

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 11:41 am
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Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause to remember the birth of our Savior.  In some households a candle is lit for each of the advent themes. These days we live aboard a boat, so instead we will “turn on” a flameless candle as we consider the first advent theme, HOPE.

I errantly thought my family was normal growing up.  The first hint that perhaps, just perhaps, we were not normal took place my first Christmas with the hubby and his family.  You see, in my family, gift giving came hand in hand with an intense build of expectation.  Great care and effort went into camouflaging each gift below our tree.  My sister and I would shake and examine each box with our name for days leading up to the grand opening.   My sister was particularly good at guessing what hid beneath mom’s elaborate ribbons and bows.  My mom took pride in being able to fool us.  A box that rattled when shook could be a toy, but it could also be a sweater with a bag of dried beans.  A large box could contain a much smaller gift and a small box could hold a note telling us to look in the garage for a bigger item.  We loved this guessing game.  Having expectations and laughing at our surprise with each opened gift was part of Christmas.

 I was traveling with my then fiancé to have Christmas with his mom and sister.  I had gotten my betrothed a sports jacket, complete with stylish elbow patches.(this was the 80’s after all)  I assumed he would try valiantly to guess what I’d gotten him…so I rolled it up tightly, placed in an extra-long and narrow box and added a brick in the bottom of the box to really throw him off.  I was significantly pleased with myself.  When it came time to load up the car he unceremoniously heaved it into the vehicle with the rest of our things.  We toted that heavy, awkward box from Florida to Virginia and he never tried to guess its contents, not once!   

No doubt he, and my future in-laws, were perplexed when at last he opened the gift.  Oh, he loved the jacket, but he could not PHATHOM why I used an outsized box and included a brick.  They were kind, not judgmental, but it was hard to miss the head tilt that accompanies confusion…and that friends was the first of many times we would discover our differences over 36yrs of marriage.

As a child, my Christmases were filled with expectations culminating in the “big reveal” on Christmas day.  I was never disappointed.  I may have been surprised by the contents, but I was always delighted with the gifts.  This year as I look forward to the celebration of the birth of Christ, I am thinking of expectations.

God’s people were waiting for help.  Prophecy had told of the arrival of one who would save them all.  They had expectations.  They waited for a Messiah to save them from their enemies, yet ultimately man’s greatest enemy is sin.   While many looked for a worldly savior, God sent His son to be the savior of the world. How confusing it must have been when their hope for salvation did not arrive wrapped in triumphant pageantry, political powers or leading a mighty army.  Instead, this gift came wrapped in cloth, lying in a manger, devoid of so much as a bow.  The packaging may have been unexpected, but the gift exceeded the expectations of man.

We may be tempted to set our expectation and hope in the pretty packaging of things/people, but salvation does not come from the world.  Salvation came TO the world in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God.  He is our HOPE, our expectation, assurance of forgiveness, peace in chaos, comfort amidst stiving and joy even as sorrow flows.  This week as we look forward to celebrating the birth of Christ…

“May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

 

Abigail April 10, 2020

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 1:43 pm

I know its been months since I’ve posted here, but today, this Easter, this year, it seems as if Abigail continues to sit on my heart.  I will not let the chaos of life, the uncertainty of it all, rob me of those things for which I am certain…I am certain of God’s love, Certain of His provisions, and certain of His grace even when I am not worthy.  He calls us worthy of such a price…this is love.  Let us love one another, as He has loved us!

Abigail:

I’ve lost track of how many years ago it was, yet each Spring I can’t help but recall my introduction to Abigail.  I was a high school science/Bible teacher for a small Christian school at the time. One of my students was a football sized young man named Nick.  He worked for a local farmer who had offered him a young lamb to take home.  Nick’s mom, apparently destined for sainthood, not only allowed him to bring the lamb home, but he got to keep it in his room!  Early that Spring Nick brought photos to share.  To my amazement, there, wedged beside his bed and amid typical teenage squalor, was a carefully built pen, complete with wood rails, chicken wire and hay.  Abigail the lamb had found a perfect home.  Over the next few weeks Nick would have numerous stories to tell of Abigail’s antics.  I couldn’t wait to see her for myself, so I invited Nick to bring her to school one morning.

I ushered my entire class outside and we waited like giddy preschoolers for Abigail’s arrival.  I am certain I will never be able to adequately describe what I saw that day.  I will do my best.  We watched as Nick emerged from his vehicle with Abigail cradled in his big burly arms.  We stood transfixed by the sight of what can only be inadequately referred to as precious”.  Her pure, white coat seemed almost translucent, radiating light under the bright blue, cloudless sky.   Her tiny nose was a perfect, pink velvet triangle perched just above her little pink mouth.    As I placed my hand on her sweet little head she looked at me.  I found myself staring into the depths of clear, brilliant blue eyes.  I realized I had been holding my breath in awe.  We were expecting to see a cute lamb, somewhat off white in color.  I had not considered that, unlike the lambs at the local petting zoo, Abigail had been living in a clean, loving, environment.  After everyone had made Abigail’s acquaintance, Nick left to return her home and we settled back into Bible class.

We soon realized the relevance of Abigail’s visit as we continued our study of Passover.  The original Passover took place when Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt.  God instructed them to mark their door post with the blood of a male lamb.  This was to protect them from the final plague which was the death of all first born in any home not so protected. (Exodus 11&12)  The yearly commemoration of this event required the father to select the best, blemish free lamb and set it apart for the Passover…four days prior to the celebration.  My students and I began to consider something quite startling.  There was a good chance that the lamb would have been brought into the house or yard during that time.  This perfect little lamb, probably as precious and sweet as our Abigail, may have clamored under their feet while they did chores, fed out of their hands and shared a living area.  After four days, this lamb, which by now had become even more precious to the family, was to be sacrificed.   Suddenly one can imagine the cries of the children, the quite sob of their mother, the sorrow in the eyes of the father who knows a blood sacrifice is required.   For the first time, since meeting Abigail, we could truly envision the “sacrificial lamb” of the Scriptures.

The continued observance of Passover was a powerful object lesson for generations of Israelites.  Every family member would be reminded not only of God’s protection and provision when He freed them from slavery, but also of the cost…the blood of their most precious lamb.  This Easter we consider the final sacrifice.  Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, perfect and precious beyond description, was sacrificed for our sin.  Many movies and videos have stirred the heart of man as they depict the brutal crucifixion of our Christ, yet none can compare to the vision of Abigail.  As we celebrate our freedom from sin and death through the resurrection of our Lord, let’s never forget the cost.  Praise God His love and grace make us worthy of such a sacrifice!

1 Peter 1:18-19 

“knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold…but with precious blood, as a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”

IMG_6658

 

A Christmas Tree Angel, A Reminder of Grace December 25, 2019

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 11:42 am

A Christmas Tree Angel….reposting this story has become a tradition. Each year I continue to be reminded of God’s grace as I see her oddly perched atop our tree.  This year my angel is still carefully tucked away in storage, we are on our boat for Christmas, but her image is never far from my thoughts this time of year. I hope you have enjoyed the advent posts this year as much as I have enjoyed writing them. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and new beginnings!

            I’m not sure where she came from.  I’m not even certain of her age.   I do know that she sat atop the Christmas tree for many of my growing up years, quietly presiding over each holiday season.  I acquired her from my mother many years ago.

Her gold foil, cardboard wings, once ended in perfect points extending her stature to seven inches.  Now her wing span is slightly reduced, as the tips went from being slightly bent, to folded, until they eventually tore off.  Her dark red velvet dress, trimmed with gold brick brack, fits snuggly to her waist before flowing over her cardboard form.  Her once silky, radiant white hair, now hangs in brittle coils around her shoulders.  A little gold foil halo covers a place on her head where some of her hair has given way to the passage of time.

Her head and hands are made of wax, as is the candle she holds in one hand.  I remember her as a beautiful lady, her face perfect and delicate.  Those qualities are now faded.  Her head, once held high and straight, has melted somewhat.  It now bows lovingly downward and a bit to the right.  Two years ago a significant amount of time and effort was put into re-attaching her long held candle to her now miss shaped hand.  Yep, she’s a bit of mess you might say.  I like that about her.

She doesn’t light up or sparkle, and quite often she is too small for the tree, making her look even more out of place.  But I look forward to her presence in my living room each Christmas.  Late at night, when the tree is lit and others have gone on to bed, I find myself thinking of her and all we have in common.

I too, know what it’s like to have my wings bent and torn.  I know what it feels like when your body gives itself over to the challenges of time.  My hair is no longer silky or radiant, and I only wish had a halo to hide the places where it has become thin.  I understand the sagging of her shoulders and the bowing of her head.  I have felt the weight every mother bears for her family.  I know the need to bow my head in constant prayer.   I love her imperfection.  She’s a holiday reminder that God loves us in our imperfection.

A love full of grace, a savior born to take on the sin of the world, a reason to celebrate, reflected in the melted features and unraveled edges of our Christmas tree Angel.

God’s love was revealed among us in this way. God sent His son into the world so we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

 

 

A CiCi Kind of Love December 24, 2019

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 11:01 am

Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of Advent themes. This week we take the time to consider LOVE.

It started as a casual perusal of FB posts. I had just picked up my phone to make a note, but found my thumbs instinctively hitting FB and scrolling along mindlessly…. until THAT post. THAT post was from my Daughter-In-Law, Cori.

There was the picture: a great shot of her holding Aubrey, my oldest granddaughter, both in the middle of laughing.

These were her words: “I can’t even count the number of times I’ve said ‘I know sharing is hard, but we have to do it’ recently to this spunky girl. I wasn’t a very good sharer growing up either. Now, as a stepmom, I’ve relearned the importance of sharing. Without it I wouldn’t have you, Aubs. Forever grateful your mom and dad share you with me.”

Suddenly I am not only teary eyed, I am full on quietly sobbing. It has struck my heart so deeply that my every remembrance of it creates a lump in my throat and threatens to bring tears out of nowhere. This is a very special LOVE.

Oh sweet Aubrey, in the years to come I will tell you a great story of your beginning….of a mommy who loved you even when she was unsure of the future, of a daddy who loved you before he held you and fought to find his way to you, and of a CiCi who loved you deeply and instantaneously.  I will tell you about how all your parents worked hard on your behalf to do what was best for you in all things. You, my granddaughter, are crazy loved by three parents. Their love is a courageous kind of love, some may even call it reckless. This is a love that walks, runs, chases down it’s recipient and once acquired, stands firm.

Cori’s words were especially impactful as I thought about this week’s theme of Love.  God’s love for us is reckless and courageous. Jesus, the son of God, the embodiment of a holy God, came to this earth to live a sinless life, lead the lost, and out of love, suffer and die on the cross. His death and resurrection allow us to believe in Him and ask forgiveness for our sins. God’s love for us provides salvation for us. God’s love seeks us out. It runs after us, chases us and once we receive His love and forgiveness, His love stands firm forevermore. This Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the provision for our sins, God’s courageous and reckless love of us all.

That image of Aubrey in the arms of her CiCi keeps running in my mind…this is how I want to be found today, and in the years to come…swept up in the arms of my God who sought me out and loves me recklessly.

If you have not already, stop and allow His love to wrap you in His arms. He is seeking you, providing forgiveness for you, loving you.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Baby Burrito December 22, 2019

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 11:03 am

Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of Advent themes. The third week’s theme of Peace kept bringing me images of swaddled babies.

This time of year the term “swaddled” is found in books and songs about the baby Jesus in a manger. These days many mothers and fathers seek to perfect the art of swaddling…making the perfect “baby burrito” is a grand accomplishment. I recall trying to get my first baby to settle into a sleep. There was striving on both our parts even at that young age. He was obviously so sleepy, yet he flailed his arms about and wiggled as if he were trying to keep himself awake. Eventually we managed to wrap him in such a way that he calmed and gave into the rest he needed. A precious little baby sound asleep is a picture of great peace. The striving has ceased, discord faded away, and a sweet little sigh is uttered as eyes calmly close. The swaddling matters. The carefully placed swaddle surrounds the little one keeping them safe, secure and still. It allows the baby to relax and feel the embrace of a parent without fighting against containment. How often do I strive against my heavenly Father, Who only wishes to surround me, comfort me, or protect me. Oh to be wrapped in His arms, to know His peace and give in to the rest He offers.

I read an article recently that spoke to what the term “swaddling” meant to the shepherds when the angels told them, “You will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  The shepherds in the field that night were “Levitical Shepherds”. They were keeping watch over a flock of sheep that produced the sacrificial lambs used in the temple on the Sabbath. According to laws of that time, these lambs were to be “spotless and without blemish”. These sheep were tended to differently than other livestock. When a ewe was to give birth, she would be taken to a special cave, kept as clean as possible. Following the birth, the lamb would be swaddled in strips of cloth to ensure it was kept spotless, protected and without blemish.

When the angels made their declaration, these unique shepherds knew exactly what to look for and where to look. When they found the babe, He may have been lying in a feeding trough for animals, but He was swaddled with care just as their lambs would have been. I wonder if they could even fathom what they saw and heard that night? The gift of reconciliation between our sinful nature and our holy God was not tied with a bow, but He was wrapped with great care.

The birth of Jesus heralded the hope for forgiveness of our sins. This baby would mature, live, lead, love, suffer, die and rise again, making the need for sacrificial lambs obsolete forever more.  In Christ alone we find forgiveness for our sins, allowing us a relationship with a holy God, love, grace and life everlasting.  In this, we find PEACE. Striving can cease, we can give in to the rest offered in the arms of our heavenly Father. Today, as the final prepping for guests and gatherings takes place, let us be mindful of God’s PEACE. No matter what is going on, in the midst of it all, let us be swaddled in His arms like the BEST baby burrito of all time.

“for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find the a baby wrapped in cloths; and lying in a manger” Luke 2:11-12