Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

A Christmas Tree Angel, A Reminder of Grace December 24, 2017

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 1:32 pm

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!

 

 

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Puppy Love December 20, 2017

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 12:18 pm

This is the fourth week of Advent.  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  the Advent themes. This week we light the candle of  Love.

 

“How can it already be the fourth week of advent?”, I asked myself as I stared at my blank computer screen.  Normally, I totally enjoy writing each advent post.  I treasure the time reading my Bible, praying for guidance, contemplating my God, thinking of my family and friends who may read it, and pushing away all other distractions to focus on each theme.  But this week found myself struggling.  Which is absolutely CRAZY, since the advent theme of LOVE is usually one of the easiest to find in life everyday.

 

I know of God’s love.  I have seen His handiwork in my life time and time again.  I have known His forgiveness when I could not forgive myself.  I have seen His love and provision for me when I did nothing to deserve it.  I have witnessed His unconditional love through those He placed in my life.  I may not know a lot of things, but I know God loves me!  SO why is this post so hard?

 

I spent the last two weekends surrounded by love’s evidence.

 

We traveled to Florida to celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday.  My mom has always been a reflection of God’s love to everyone she knows.  She was surrounded by family and friends who love her dearly.  Meals were made, decor was set in place, laughter and conversations all gave evidence of love.

 

Scott and I joined our son and his wife as they celebrated the revelation of the gender of our next grand baby.  Our daughter and her fiancé were able to be in town also.  We had a “family Christmas” time together in the short visit of one night.  It was such a blessing and my heart was overwhelmed with love.

 

Why then, was I sitting before a blank screen, my hands paused over the keys, my heart running through all of life’s most recent lessons.  Nothing.

 

The scene was set for inspiration: Soft Christmas music, check. Bible open to Luke chapter 2, check. Coffee cup in hand, check. Pen and notebook at the ready, check. Prayer for words/wisdom/inspiration, check.  Sigh, still NOTHING.

 

Of all the advent themes, LOVE, feels like it is perhaps the most important.  The birth of Jesus Christ was great love.  HIs arrival was the fulfillment of God’s love for us.  His birth, His life, His ministry on earth, His death on the cross, and His resurrection were all because of God’s love for His creation.  Because of all this, you and I can ask for forgiveness, be forgiven, know grace and be reconciled with God.

 

For what felt like the hundredth time in three days, I bowed my head and prayed…”Lord, what do I say, where do I look, what can I write…how can I move what is in my heart onto this post?  It seems so insignificant, a blog post, but Lord I am here, I am at this computer…what now? Amen”

 

The “amen” in my head had no sooner closed my prayer, than a big fluffy head pushed itself onto my lap.  Charlie, our floppy, furry Portuguese Water dog, is usually content to curl up beside me when I am at my computer.  Today it seems he is was in need of a bit closer look at what I was doing.  He pushed himself onto my lap, with no regard for the laptop that resided there at the time.  I carefully closed it down and slid it from beneath him.  I then gave him what he wanted, my attention.  AND there it was…Attention.

 

I rubbed his wobbly noggin and silently thanked my God.  The gift of God’s Son, our savior Christ Jesus, was a gift of absolute and underserved LOVE.  This love demands attention, not just this advent week, but everyday, all year round.  It is so easy to let something so powerful, impactful and precious become trite or taken for granted.

 

“God, thank you for loving us and sending Your son as redemption for our sins.  Thank You for a love we cannot completely comprehend.  Lord, help us to be attentive at all times, in every season, to the depth of Your love.  Help us to reflect Your love to the world that all may give attention to this great gift. Amen”

Time for me to wrap this post up,  my “reminder of God’s love” needs to go for a walk.

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“This is how much God loved the world: He gave His son, His one and only son. And this is why: So that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life..”

John 3:16 MSG

 

Peace Like a River December 13, 2017

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 5:32 pm

This is the third week of Advent.  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  the Advent themes. This week we light the candle of  Peace.

We are currently living on our boat for the winter. (more on this if you’re interested at http://www.mvmillertime.wordpress.com).  We are nestled in a slip at a marina that sits on the edge of the Cooper River Near Charleston SC.  It is a lovely location.  The views from our boat are spectacular.  From our bow we can see the historical Ft. Sumter and  Charleston Harbor.  We can see the retired aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, which is part of a maritime museum, from our stern.  It is perhaps one of the most scenic marinas at which we have stayed…it is NOT the most calm.

This week as I think about the advent theme of peace, I kept hearing the song, “I’ve got peace like a River” rolling around my head.  I wonder what river the writer of those lyrics was referring to?  It was certainly not the Cooper River.

The Cooper River endures a huge tide variation.  High tide can be as much as much as 5ft above low tide.  This is impactful for many reasons, one of which is this results in VERY strong currents flowing through the marina.

This is also a tremendous amount of boat traffic.  Fishing boats and recreation boats hurry past the marina with little care for the “no wake” zone.  This creates numerous waves which make the boats in slips weave and bob as they strain against their lines.  Monstrous cargo ships and cruise ships pass through this part of the river.  Though these larger vessels do not pass at great speed, they push a tremendous amount of water.  Small tsunami like waves roll into the marina and cause quite a disturbance regularly.

We have found that this marina is almost as rock and rolly as if we were at anchor.  We are thankful for tight and secure lines.

There are times when it is peaceful I suppose.  When the tides are about to turn, slack tide, the water stills as if it is holding its breathe before releasing the outgoing or incoming surge.  There have even been quiet nights when the water traffic stilled and only the slosh of rushing currents disturbed the boat.  But, it is not usually a calm, peaceful river.

Maybe I am not looking at peace the right way.  I do equate “peaceful” with calm.  I tend to think of “peacefulness” as something that happens in stillness and quiet.  Perhaps peace, God’s peace is a bit more like the chaos of the Cooper River.

Life is not always still, quiet or calm.  Sometimes life’s changes are as extreme as the tides here. We are impacted by such changes in ways that can be overwhelming.  Sometimes, others move about us with little care for their impact on our lives, intentional or unintentional.  We may find ourselves bobbing and weaving in response to the hecticness of things and people around us.  We may even struggle to keep ourselves level when big events roll into our lives and demand a response.

God’s peace didn’t promise us “still, calm and quiet”.  His peace is like the lines that hold us securely to the dock in the midst of all the chaos.  This season we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the advent of the gift of PEACE.  In Him we find true peace, comfort when things are chaotic, security when we feel uncertain and courage when we face fear.  The “babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger” would proclaim peace in our hearts.

“My peace I leave you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” John 14:27

 

 

 

The Joy Ride December 5, 2017

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 8:38 pm

This is the second week of Advent.  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  the Advent themes. This week we light the candle of  JOY.

 

This week, we had the delight of witnessing the City of Charleston’s Christmas Parade.  It was awesome and totally met our expectations.  The parade route was filled with high school bands screeching out Christmas tunes, pickup trucks pulling decorated boats, brigades of Basset hounds and Dachshunds and the obligatory Christmas mermaids.

 

 

 

Numerous floats carried young teens representing various organizations as their “royal court”, complete with crowns and sashes.  It became apparent that we were positioned toward the end of the parade route as these floats passed.  Exhaustion was evident on their non-smiling faces as they robotically waved their regal hands.  Float after float rolled past with sullen participants doing their best to hold their positions.  Marching corps drug their feet while dancers did their best to rally their energy, but it was with obvious effort.

 

I get it, I don’t blame them, it was a long parade.

 

But then this happened…

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As a particularly pitiful float with non-smiling royalty passed us by, we noticed they had acquired a stow away.

 

Jauntily perched on the back of the float was what appeared to be a homeless man we had seen in town earlier in the week.   His smile was huge, his wave energetic, and he was radiating JOY.  The crowd cheered, laughed and applauded him!

 

Sometimes my life is like that long parade route.  I start of my day, week, month or year, full of energy, plans and expectations only to find myself weary, discouraged or disappointed.   I try to seek happiness, display happiness and make happiness happen around me, but happiness is not sustainable.  It is dependent of circumstances and things…and sometimes those are not as we had hoped.

 

Joy is different.  It is a gladness in your heart that is not based on the things of the world.  For believers, JOY is a gladness in knowing God.  Joy gives us strength in difficult times, fills our heart when it aches and reminds us that this world is not our end game.

Happiness happens at the start of a parade, but JOY follows the entire parade route!

 

When the angel appeared to the shepherds to declare  the birth of our Savior, he said it was “news of great Joy”.  He did not say there would be a happily ever after.  He did not pronounce that things would get better or be easier.  The birth of Christ, His life, His death and His resurrection, brings us reason for joy.  In Him we know love abundantly, grace without bounds and Hope for eternity with Him.

 

 

There is more to life than enduring the long parade route.  Our Christmas Joy Rider certainly did not have optimal circumstances, but he hopped on board and took in all that was available to him in this moment.  This season may we all take into our hearts the JOY that is available to us, the Joy of Knowing God through His Son Jesus Christ.

 

 

“And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I  bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all people; for today, in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2: 10&11

 

 

 

 

The Purple Candles November 30, 2017

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 4:01 pm

This is the first week of Advent. (I’m a little late in posting this)  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  the Advent themes. This week we light the candle of HOPE.

The frazzled man shook a fist full of pink and white, long tapered candles at the cashier, “I can’t find the purple advent candles?  Where are the purple ones?”  She looked a bit confused as she replied, “Um, we don’t sell Advent candles, just regular candles.”   He huffed a bit and continued, “But you have these, why not the purple ones?”   “Sir” she replied, “those are just normal candles.”   He dejectedly set his collection of candles on the counter to check out, obviously resigned to having to make another stop at a different store for the precious purple candles.

 

The color of the candles in the advent wreath are typically purple, with one pink for the “love week” and an optional white candle for Christmas Eve.  Of course, you do not HAVE to have those colors and you do not always need to light a candle..the point is in the pausing and contemplation.  The commemoration of looking forward to the celebration of Christ’s birth.  It is a time of expectation and preparation.

 

As I made my way to the next available cashier, I watched him walk away like a man on mission.  I have no doubt he would not be returning to his home without the required purple candles.  While we no longer have an actual advent wreath in our home, with said candles to be lit, I easily recall the years I too went in search of purple candles.

 

Each Christmas season I would unpack our boxes filled with holiday décor to find my advent candles misshaped or broken.  (I was never very careful when storing them.)  One year I just inserted any candles I had in the house.  That was the year our advent wreath sported pretty forest green and burgundy candles.

 

We all have some sort of traditions or expectations when it comes to Christmas in our homes.  When our expectations are not met, it is often hard to reconcile our reality with what we had hoped would take place.

 

I saw a church sign a while back that said, “You Can Not Hope Backward”.  I did not understand it at the time, but now I recognize the treasure of this truth.

I struggle to let go of the past at times, especially if things did not go as I had planned or expected.  I want to wrestle with those events and make sense of them.  I spend too much time with phrases like, “If only”, “I wish that went differently”, “What if”, and “I should have”  rolling around in my head.   I can’t HOPE things HAD been different.

 

Hope is a forward thing.  Hope is what we have when we cling to the promise of what is to come.  Hope is looking to what the new day brings.  Hope is knowing that anything is possible.  Hope is what we find in the birth of Jesus Christ.  He brings hope for forgiveness, hope for eternal life, and the hope of HIs return.

 

Maybe you will have a purple candle to light this year, maybe you will light a bright red candle, or perhaps like myself, you will simply bow your head before a battery operated flickering fake candle…but let us each take the time to stop and thank our God for the Hope we have through the birth of His son, our savior, Christ Jesus.

“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more…Who is like You? Though You have made me see troubles…You will again bring me up…I will sing praise to You, I whom You have redeemed.”  Psalm 71:14-25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wait May 13, 2017

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 3:35 pm

Today’s lesson is all about the WAIT. It is not a fun lesson to learn. But I suppose God thought it was one I desperately needed. For those who do not follow my life through my other blog (www.mvmillertime.wordpress.com) let me start with a brief explanation.   The Hubby and I recently, Feb. 2017, purchased a 2002 58’ Kadey Krogen trawler. This is a great boat for traveling up and down the coast, but also for much longer voyages and we are excited about our future adventures with her. But FIRST, we must wait.

 

For the last few months she has been in South Florida getting painted and having some other work done. We were to have her back in the water and ready to bring to our home on the Chesapeake by early April…then the wait began. There were delays, glitches, issues…all common occurrences in the boat yard world…but after a loooong wait, we finally had her back in the water and were headed for home.   We stopped again along the Intracoastal Water Way (ICW). This was a planned visit to Stuart Fl, at a marina where additional work would get done. We figured it’d be about a week…NOPE, we are now close to 2 weeks of waiting for completion of a final project.

 

Obviously I am NOT to be pitied…I am, after all, sitting on a nice boat, in a beautiful marina, in sunny Florida. I am not waiting on a lifesaving organ donation, the birth a child or the results of a life impacting test…I am just waiting to go home, on our boat. To consider this a “life lesson” seemed a bit shallow, even for me…but then I remembered…my God is always revealing Himself. He does not play hide and seek….His handiwork is all around me, as are the ways he nudges me towards becoming the person He desires me to be. So, I decided to pay attention.

 

For us to resume our travels homeward we are reliant on a few details….we need all the important parts to the boat to arrive and be installed, we need the forecasted weather to NOT include “squalls and high winds”, and we need to be able to move her prior to Scott leaving for a week of work in Seattle. By Tuesday of this week, it became clear that our departure dates were not certain. The fellas working on our fuel injectors said they were waiting on parts.

 

This next phase of waiting was made a bit more painful by a span of PERFECT travel weather. We continued to wait at the dock while several of our fellow boaters were able to take advantage of low winds, clear skies and an enviable full moon for running through the night.

 

We DID have a wonderful distraction from the waiting when friends came to visit and I was able to go visit my niece, her husband and my new great nephew.

 

 

Scott and I have had several talks about our plans; plan A, plan B, plan C and even plan D. While we have a goal to get home, hopefully by end of May, it is most important to at least be past the Florida/Georgia line prior to June 1st for insurance reasons.

We have adjusted our plans and expectations every day.   It is surprising how hard it’s been to settle down and accept the waiting.

 

In my quiet time this morning, as I was praying for God to make everything work out so we could move this boat, the lesson hit home with a thud. I was praying for the people working on our boat, for safe weather, for the boat to be ready, for Scott’s schedule to work out and I realized….Those are ALL things not in my control, but totally in God’s. Hmmm, why would God not have already organized those things my way? Maybe, just maybe, HIS plans for us and our boat are not the same as mine? I know His plans and His timing are best. I know He is always working in our favor, even if we do not see it clearly.   At this thought I could feel myself relax. I breathe in, I breathe out and I say to my God “Okay, whatever You plan, whenever You desire, however is best, I am ready to adjust. It does not have to be my plan…I will wait for You.”

“Rest in the Lord. wait patiently for Him to act…don’t fret and worry….

it only leads to harm” Psalm 37:7-8 LB

(update: In the middle of posting this, Scott informed me our work will not get done until Monday. Which means I will stay here with our dog Charlie and wait for his return from Seattle. Then MAYBE we will get to leave. My heart is at ease, my patience restored and I feel ready to face whatever needs to be done while he is away.  I am up for the WAIT.)

 

 

Again…Abigail April 16, 2017

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 4:16 pm

    I love sharing this post each Easter and remembering the lesson God brought to us that year.  This lesson will be with me forever.  God’s grace is truly amazing,  I cannot earn His forgiveness, I do not need to, He offers it to us all because He loves us….I never want to forget at what cost this gift was given.  I pray this Easter you too accept His precious gift of forgiveness and know you are loved by a grace giving God!

“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.”