Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Don’t Rock the Boat March 31, 2009

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 12:14 pm

        Okay, I’ve started reading a highly recommended book by John Ortberg, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.  Actually, all I’ve done so far is carry it around intending to read it.  I’m not sure what’s causing the delay of delving into it’s pages.  Perhaps it’s the title.   Why would anyone get out of a perfectly good boat?   You see, my husband and I are boaters.  It has been my experience that it is usually much better to be in the boat.   Also, let’s not take the boat exiting process for granted.  Depending on the size of your boat, your method of getting out of it while on water may be less than graceful.  Maneuvers such as having to hurl oneself backward off a small dingy, jumping from a slippery ledge, leaping out over a bow or sliding off a swim platform may be needed.  All of these techniques lend themselves to numerous possibilities for mishaps and swimsuit displacement.  If there is not a swim ladder involved, I don’t think I will like getting “out of the boat”.

        Before I venture into the challenge of Ortberg’s book I feel I need to revisit the Scriptural account of Peter’s water walking experience.  Hard to believe a man like Peter, who as a fisherman must have been an avid boater, would find it necessary to get out of a perfectly good boat so far from shore. 

Matthew 14:25-33 is a fairly short telling of what must have been a very long night.  The events went a bit like this:

  • disciples set out in a boat
  • Jesus to join them later
  • waves make boat trip unpleasant
  • disciples see figure walking toward them sans boat
  •  they fear
  • He calms,
  • Peter questions
  • He calls (this is where it gets interesting)
  •  Peter gets out of boat! 

What was he thinking?!   Much is said about how Peter eventually required saving when he looked not at Jesus, but at the circumstances around him.  Jesus even called him “of little faith”.  (Ouch!)   Now that I think about it, Peter’s water walking adventure may be more than just a lesson of faith once we’re on the water.  What if Peter never left the boat?   What personal lesson for life would he have missed out on?  No one else experienced the moment as Peter did.  Did Peter Jump over the boat’s railing or lower himself cautiously, swinging one leg then another to the other side of the boat?  Peter may have been a man of little faith, but he did have faith.  I wish I could boast of such faith.  I don’t think I would have even considered the possibility of joining my Jesus on the water.  Even when the waves are crashing all about me, I still like to stay in my boat.   

         I suppose I should get started reading this book.  Apparently I need to be reminded that God has called us beyond the confines of our boat.  Before I can experience  following Jesus and keeping my eyes fixed on Him,  I will need to have the faith to step over the railing of my boat….I just hope it’s not too slippery, high up, or windy.  Man Overboard!

 

On the Road Again March 23, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 10:29 pm

          My daughter, Ashley, and I will be starting a road trip this week.  An unexpected block of 5 days not committed to work, coupled with the lure of seeing family, was too good to pass up. (Such spur of the moment trips necessitate car travel for lack of better planning and cheap airfares.)  I am surprised she is willing to even consider such an excursion.  Our last road trip together was a less than smooth ride.

          Many years ago I enthusiastically sold my daughter on the idea of us hitting the road together in my little VW convertible Beetle.  Our destination was Mississippi for a friend’s wedding, then down to Florida to see family.  Half way into our first day of travel, my beloved bug broke down.  Stranded on a road between two barely populated towns, in sweltering heat, with no air or restrooms and a teenage daughter, makes waiting several hours for a tow truck seem like eternity.  Eventually a grizzly old mechanic in faded, torn overalls would pronounce my obviously overheated engine, “Froze solid”.   I have come to learn this phrase is not as refreshing as it sounds on a hot day.  Numerous hours and dollars later we waved good bye to my pitiful bug and continued our trip in a rental car.  We would retrieve the repaired vehicle upon our return.   We enjoyed the wedding and seeing family, but soon we were on the road once more headed home.  In an effort to make up for our driving disaster, I promised Ashley we would splurge and stay at a nice hotel on the return trip.  Did you know that North Carolina has a hockey team?  Not only do they have a team, but their team won the Stanley cup that year!  Yep, you guessed it, celebrants flooded all local lodging.  Exit after exit, town after town, we heard “no room in the inn” .   Who could blame her for never wanting to go on a road trip with me again?  A pre-trip car tune up, well planned routes and hotel reservations may reduce, but can not eliminate, the uncertainty of the open road.  Ultimately, the opportunity to be close to those we love is worth the uncertainty of the journey.

          I am learning the uncertainty of my journey is worth the opportunity it gives me to be closer to God.  In Sunday school the other day we were challenged to consider the uncertainty the disciples faced when they chose to follow Christ.  Jesus even said,”The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  Matt.8:20   When they left family and businesses behind , it was not for the promise of  easy travel and good times.  Those who followed Christ risked living a life of filled with unknowns.  The result of their choice to join this  journey was a uniquely intimate relationship with Christ, a front row seat to the advent of salvation.   Maybe uncertainty is not so bad.  I must admit I seek Him, and His will , more often in uncertain times.  Uncertain circumstances in life can become an opportunity to be closer to God.  As I continue on  life’s road trip, with all its unknowns, I will bring along the things of which I am certain.  I am certain He is sovereign.  I am certain of salvation and the forgiveness of our sins through Christ.  I am certain He holds my future.  Time to pack and hit the road!

 

Fishing for Joy March 17, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,humor,life — tlmiller82 @ 3:48 pm

         

p3090137Remember the opening scene for the Andy Griffith Show?  The father and son stroll down a path to go fishing as a catchy tune is whistled into your memory bank.  Well, I must admit that when my daughter agreed to go fishing with me the other day that is exactly what I envisioned.  Yep, my 19yr. old daughter was willing to go fishing with me!  Ashley quickly, eagerly even, agreed to go fishing with me on the first day of her spring break!  That is as amazing as it sounds.  No begging, guilt laying or shopping promises were used to achieve this response.  She seemed genuinely excited about spending the day on this mini adventure with me and I was thrilled.  My expectation meter began to rise.   As I prepared my tackle box (translation: located it) and collected our bait (translation:got pepperoni from fridge) my expectation meter elevated to soaring.  Soon my car was loaded up with our minimal fishing gear, a big blanket, snacks and our dog Hughie(a reluctant participant).  My mood was almost jubilant as we headed to our local dock .  The sun was shining, the sky a bright blue and the air was brisk.

          Apparently “brisk” air at the house means “blustery” at the water’s edge.  We battled significant gusts of wind determined to carry out our intended adventure.  After tethering our terrified Yorkie to the dock we settled onto a blanket to prepare the lines.  We set our hooks with the pepperoni slices and began to wait for the expected encounter with Mobycat, the large catfish known to be prowling the water near our dock.  I eventually heard the words I desired most on this day, “Mom! I think I’ve got something!”  I scrambled to pull my camera from my bag to document the victory.  She struggled and worked the reel as her rod bent almost 90 degrees toward the water.  Expectations were high.  The excitement in that moment for us both can not be put into words.  Neither can the disappointment we felt when we realized her “catch” was a case of her hook embedded in a large unmovable (non-fish) object.  Let me see if I can summarize the events which followed to reduce your reading time…Our large blanket took flight and is now resting on the river’s bottom.  The dog spent the entire time entangling himself around everything in an effort to eat our bait.  We learned that while Hughie did not mind “turkey” pepperoni, apparently the catfish have more discerning taste.  We finished off our endeavour by donating 3 hooks and some fishing line to the log collection at the bottom of the river near our dock.    Needless to say the day did not meet my lofty expectations.

         Usually when a day starts with such extreme expectations and then falls short  the result is disappointment.  But this day was decidedly NOT disappointing.  I felt tremendous joy as we left the dock .  I had spent the afternoon with my daughter and she had promised to go with me again someday soon!    My joy was not impacted by the circumstances or expectations of the day.   Too often I let my expectations determine my Joy.

         John 15 contains the words of Christ as He  tries to help His disciples understand just such a thing.  He knew they would experience disappointment in this world.  In verse 10 and 11 He tells them, and us, to focus on Him and we will know joy…”if you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; …these things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be  made full.”    I want that kind of joy, His joy.  Joy that fills us even when the world does not meet our expectations.

 

The man behind the curtain March 10, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,humor,life — tlmiller82 @ 2:14 pm

            This week Steven, my 22 year old, started his work as an Emergency Room Technician at a local hospital.  This is an exciting answer to prayer and hard work.  He is happy with the direction his life has taken.  It is obvious this is a perfect fit for him.  He has many unique qualities which will no doubt be helpful as he continues down this path.  I am very proud of him.   He has worked extremely hard to earn the opportunity to assist doctors and nurses as they care for those in need.   That said, I must admit there is a big part of my brain that is screaming out,  “ARE YOU GUYS CRAZY?”.   I mean, this is   “Steven”  we’re talking about.  This is the young man who in high school started an organization called  “The Canned Meat Society”,  which espoused the fine qualities of Spam and its many uses.  The young man they’ve hired is the same young man who thought bringing home a caged squirrel would be a good pet idea,  tried to nurse a wounded bird  to health resulting in said bird being miraculously healed and flying around our house for about an hour, collected fast food uniforms and paraphernalia and could often be found behind the counter of such establishments even though he’s never actually worked at one.  Believe me, these are just a few of the many oddities and adventures Steven has brought into our lives just in the last decade…there is not enough room in this blog to recount all his exploits.  And yet, as difficult as it is to grasp, there is no doubt he is good at what he does and will be  a blessing to those whose lives he will have an impact on.  I know that all he is and is becoming is the result of God’s working in his life.  “My Steven”  could not possibly help save a life or help someone feel better, but  “God’s Steven”  can do all that and more. 

            I used to think something very similar to this about myself.  I have worked as a science and math instructor for high school students for many years.  My formal education did not include any instruction as a science or math teacher. I often thought of my employers, “ARE YOU GUYS CRAZY?”.  I mean, if they only knew how unqualified I was to do what I was doing they would have to let me go.  Although my employers all knew my educational background, I couldn’t help thinking the day would come when someone finally said, “Hey, what is she doing teaching?’.  I pictured the moment like the scene in “The Wizard of Oz” where they drew back the curtain to see the “great OZ” and discovered a very small man falsely creating a very large persona.  “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” he proclaimed to them as they stared in disbelief.  My unworthiness and imperfections were so obvious to me, yet others did not seem to notice.

            Over the years I came to realize that it was through my imperfections and unworthiness that God worked the most effectively.  I eventually came to LOVE the opportunity to share with others how impossible it was that I was doing what I was doing with any amount of success.  It was God’s grace to me that He blessed my efforts, enabled me to understand and communicate to my students.  How often have you looked back at events in your own life and realized you had done something beyond your own ability?  Isn’t it when we are the least able, most weak or in our greatest struggles that we truly rely on God?  All of us, as we move through this journey of life in the flesh, are like the rather small man in OZ.   As we navigate through trials and triumphs with the grace  of our God we can all proclaim, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…instead pay attention to our God who enables us to do all things through Him.”    I Peter 1:7-11 reminds us this “…do so with the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified…” I Love how Jude describes our God in verse 24, “…Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy…”.    The God who can take away our sin so we can stand blameless before His glory in heaven, will enable us to do all He has put before us!

 

The Bird Hunter March 3, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,humor,life — tlmiller82 @ 10:11 am

p3020123Adjusting my position for the perfect shot, I exhibited my talent for sloth like movements.  The slight rotation of my torso, to achieve a better angle , is imperceptible…my target is unaware of my presence.  My trusted four legged companion sits reverently at my side as I steady my hand…things come into focus….the light, the colors, the trees and most of all…the bird.  My aim is sure, I take the shot…applying quick pressure to the button on the top of my camera.  The “capture” of my long awaited prey is evidenced in an image frozen for all of time on my computer screen.

          Okay,okay…so I’m exaggerating the scenario just a tad.  But it did feel a lot like that to me.  I had just refilled my bird feeder the other day.  I was anticipating an increase in avian visitors with visions of springtime dancing in my head.  March decided to enter our area like a lion.  We received a plopping of about 6 inches of snow.  As I passed by our window I saw several birds enjoying a meal from the newly restocked feeder.  I’d run to get my camera following several such sightings only to find them gone when I got back .  Then it happened…one of the female cardinals we believe resides in a nearby tree was gracefully perched on the feeder’s seed tray.  In my eagerness to get the shot, I bumped the glass and she flew away.   Now it was on!  The challenge to out wit and out wait the cardinals consumed me.  Ignoring the long list of better things to do with my time on a snowy day, I took my post at the window.  I propped my hand up on the window’s ledge and aimed my tiny camera at the desolate bird feeder.  I’m sure it was less than an hour, but it felt like I stood there for days.  Even Hughie, my Yorkie who follows me everywhere around the house in hope of getting in my lap when I sit down, gave up and sat on my foot as I stood like a statue.  Waiting, waiting…certain it would produce the photo I desired.  I was bored.  I knew there were more productive things to do, but I waited.  Then he came.  A bright red cardinal.  He allowed me only two photos before he swooped out of my camera’s range.  It was worth the wait.  Few things say good-bye winter, hello spring like the bright contrast of white snow and the brilliant red cardinal.  Winter will end.  The snow will melt.  The cardinal’s bright feathers will attract a mate and the newness of spring will begin.

          The perfect photo, a new season in life, both require waiting.  My life reflects my tendency to avoid waiting.  My microwave is more worn and used than my oven.  I replace my coffee maker with a new model each time a manufacturer claims to produce a faster cup of coffee.  My dishwasher is set on speed dry.  Even my nail polish is “quick dry”.   But I know, just as I stood at that window, that God often asks us to wait.  Trusting God to fulfill His promises, looking for what he intends for our future and knowing He is sovereign is a discipline to be practiced.  “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning.” Psalm 130:5-6