Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Phase Three May 26, 2009

Filed under: devotionals,humor,life — tlmiller82 @ 12:45 pm

          Sometimes God ushers us into new life phases with quiet, seamless transitions.  Sometimes He welcomes us into a new life phase with a loud, clanging gong and plate of humble pie.   I must admit I could have used a set of earplugs and a scoop of ice cream a few weeks ago.

          It started with an innocent, even understandable, mistake.  I was visiting a friend in the hospital.  Her one month old baby had experienced a high fever and they had to stay there for tests and observation.   I was sitting in a rocking chair, holding the little patient, when the nurse entered the room.  Following the routine questions for the mother and assessing any needs, he turned to me and said, “This must be grandma!”  My friend politely corrected him and he scurried out of the room, apparently oblivious to the potential emotional damage he may have caused.  My sweet friend attempted to sooth my feelings by reminding me that she was young enough to be my daughter, not that I was old enough to be her mother.   I was not entirely offended at his remark.  She was indeed a very young mother who looked much younger than her years even.    My mom was a grandmother before she was fifty, and my son not much younger than my friend, so it was not an unthinkable possibility.  We laughed it off, but my self perception had started to shift.

          Only three days later my concept of where I was in life would be forever changed.  It began as a quick trip to the grocery store.  I was simply purchasing two gift bags for an upcoming baby shower.  The kind, elderly, cashier commented,  “someone’s going to a baby shower.”   “Yes” I replied.  “When is the baby due?” she asked.  To which I replied, “She’s already born.”  “oh”, she said, “you must be grandma!”   Yep, there it was again…this time with nothing more than two gift bags and my face as evidence a stranger concluded I was a grandmother!  Welcome to my new phase in life! 

          Seems like only yesterday, I was often mistaken for being younger than my age.  My genetically inherited cherub cheeks afforded me a youthful appearance that defied my actual years.  Oddly enough I often tried to look older during this first phase in life.  I barely noticed my transition to the second phase in life.  Somewhere between my mid to late thirties I went from hearing, “Seriously, you can’t be that old!” to “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you’re that young!” in response to the revelation of my age.  I convinced myself this change of perception was due to the fact that my kids were older.   Today I find myself humbled by the realization that I am getting older.  I mean, it’s not like I didn’t already know this, but the recent comments are a jarring introduction to this new phase in life.   

          In phase three I find things continuing to change.  Some of which I can control, most of which I will only experience.    The possibilities ahead of me are as large and unfathomable as they were in my youth, but they are decidedly different.    There is a new appreciation for the idea of life as a journey.  There may be different speeds of travel, various travel companions, numerous stops along the way, but we tend to forget there will be a destination.  This, I have found, makes a difference.   My wrinkles, age spots, sags, bags, aches, and constantly morphing body shape are just a blurr through the window of my journey in life.  Though I currently live here and work hard to make the most of my visit,  my “citizenship is in heaven” and  someday Christ will “transform the body of my humble state into conformity with the body of His glory..” Phil 3:20&21.   

             I must admit I like this new phase of life…now that I am no longer in denial.  I like being the older person who has experienced life and yet still has more experiences to enjoy.  I like living my life with a clearer understanding of the futility of the flesh and the hope of Christ.

….Of course, I will also be purchasing some of that “age defying” cream and buying better make up!

 

Out of the Box May 19, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 1:19 pm

          What’s more fun than watching kids rambunctiously jumping inside an inflatable bounce house?…watching 5 men attempting to deflate and pack it away. The other day I had just such a privilege. One of the men from Scott’s Bible study class was hosting an end of class cookout. Since wives and families were invited, they set up their amazing bounce house in the yard. It was about the size of a large walk in closet and perfect for keeping the kids entertained. As the evening came to a close the men offered to help put the bounce house away. I watched as they disconnected the motorized air compressor and the once large castle shaped structure withered to the ground. The men stood pondering the bounce house, which by now resembled a puffy pile of pancakes. One by one they began to offer suggestions for getting the rest of the air out and various folding techniques. Eventually a method was decided upon. They took turns plopping onto the deflated object and rolling from side to side, squeezing the remaining air out just as one might expel toothpaste from its tube.

          Once the house was sufficiently flat and air free they took on the task of folding/rolling it into the size needed for its storage box. The endeavor resembled a corporate team building exercise. This vision of good communication and cooperation was jolted a bit askew when I overheard one of the task masters proclaim, “It’ll fit, just step on it!” Indeed they were at last successful in returning the bounce house to its original shape and size. I myself have not always had such success with returning things to their original size or shape. I met my match numerous times as I wrestled with sleeping bags. These wonderfully portable sleeping cocoons seem to double in size once removed from their original packing. My attempts at tightly rolling them seldom resulted in being able to actually tie the attached strings. Eventually I would give up and cram them into old pillow cases or use bungee cords, but they would never be close to the size they were on the store shelf.

          Some things are meant to not return to their original containers. I will never forget the time my daughter, then only about 7yrs old, was trying to help with dinner. Using a can opener she carefully opened a can of Pillsbury dough biscuits. Yep, you guessed it…upon hearing a loud pop I hurried into the kitchen to find a startled young lady holding a can opener which was engulfed in dough protruding out of a partially opened can. There are just some things in life which do not lend themselves to returning to the confines of the well defined walls of a box or container. That does not stop me from trying to squeeze, flatten, roll, fold, or even “step on” things in an effort to get it back in a box. I like containers with defined walls. I like how easy it is to keep things in order, my order. I like how I can predict where I will find them; they will stay in the box. I like knowing I can hide the box. I choose when the box will be opened and what will be shared. If I know it’s in a container I can plan how to use it or store it. I like the control I feel when things can be returned to a defined container or original box.

          Sometimes we struggle to put God back in a box. We want to define His boundaries, keep Him within the limits of our understanding, and squeeze Him into our personal expectations. But like the bounce house, sleeping bag and dough…God is not about staying in the box. My God is not containable! He left the space of the heavens for the confines of a womb, but He would not stay there. He left the comfort of the womb for the limitation of being flesh, but He did not stay there either. He left borders of this hardened world for the walls of a stone carved tomb, but PRAISE GOD He did not stay there either!

 

What Mean ye by these Stones? May 12, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 11:57 pm

          I live in the land of monuments. Here in the Washington D.C. area there are monuments everywhere you look. Monuments and memorials stand out in their urban settings. Their failure to blend in with their surroundings is intentional. The hope is that the tall white pointy structure, numerous statues, name covered wall, and cavernous columned buildings will cause people to stop and ask, “What is that and what does it mean?”   To which all questioning generations will be told the story of our history.
          Monuments are not new to societies. One such monument is mentioned in Joshua. The Israelites needed to cross the Jordon River. When the priests, carrying the Ark of the Covenant, stepped off the river bank, God held back the water so all of Israel could pass. He then instructed a representative from each of the twelve tribes to get one large stone from the river bed. They were to pile them up beside the place they had crossed. (This shall be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, “What mean ye by these stones?” tell them how God cut the waters of the river Jordon….Joshua 4:6) No doubt a pile of large stones, polished smooth form being at the bottom of the river, now sitting randomly on the river’s edge, would solicit curiosity and questions.
          Many years ago, when I was teaching high school students Bible, I had the brilliant idea to use this Scripture as a key decorating tactic. You see, I was a lazy teacher. I especially did not enjoy decorating my class room or bulletin boards. This particular year I had a rather large empty wall waiting to be filled with educational/inspirations wall décor. I thought I was pretty clever when I decided to cut out 12 huge brown paper stones and place them in a pyramid shaped pile on my wall. I then posted the “What mean ye by these stones?” portion of the verse above it. I thought to myself, “the wall is covered and I have a cool teaching tool!” I would not tell my students where the rest of the verse was and challenge them to figure out what it all meant. Some of you may already picture where this went horribly wrong. I’ll pause here and let you look back and consider the description of my chosen wall décor…….Yep, my “stones” apparently looked more like a pile of poop. Needless to say my students, and fellow faculty members, got a good laugh. My pile of stones became a must see for people visiting the school. While that was not quite the effect I was going for, it did still serve its original purposes; fill my blank wall space and get my students to ask about them.
          Oswald Chambers once wrote, “We are not here to prove God answers prayers, we are here to be living monuments of God’s grace.”      Suddenly I desire to be like the pile of paper poop, Joshua’s river stones and the many monuments in our nation’s capital.   I want my life to be different than my surroundings and cause others to ask “what is it, what does it mean?”  To which future generations will be told the story of His glory?   

In His grace we walk each day

and leave for others along the way

a pattern sure to see them through

just follow God in all you do

when you faulter and fall on your face

just get back up and walk in His grace

 

The Artist May 5, 2009

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 6:29 pm

        I think I have always known my mom to be creating.  Any stray piece of paper, church bulletin, grocery list, napkin or notebook in my mom’s vicinity would be covered in doodles.  When it came to crafts, church projects, props used for playing pranks on their friends or Halloween costumes, mom always had a unique flair.  In the hands of my mother, cinnamon sticks, toilet paper rolls and even the toilet paper itself would be transformed into acceptable, conversation worthy ornaments or gifts. 

        Although evidence of her amazing creativity could  seen throughout my life, it was not until she began painting that I realized she was an artist.  Mom started painting sometime around my middle school years.  She took part in art classes and spent many hours practicing her techniques.  The garage, kitchen or spare room would serve as her “art studio”.  I have memories of mom at her easel, paint splattered over her hands, her tongue gently resting at the edge of her lips in concentration.

       Some artists paint from the recesses of their imaginations; bright colors or brush strokes attempting to communicate an emotion or idea.  My Mom was an observer.  She took in her surroundings and appreciated the scenery God placed before her.  Canvasses of every shape and size were often covered with re-creations of nature.  She paid attention to the details of everything from birds, ducks and horses to old buildings, bridges or landscapes.  One reoccurring source of inspiration came from the shores of  Pensacola, Florida.  Sugar white sand dunes, laced with thin rows of sea oats, leading to  the white tipped waves of the Gulf of Mexico, were beautifully portrayed in her work.  Over the years these, flowing landscapes, usually framed in weathered wood, became treasured wedding gifts for family and friends.

        My mom has never sold her work.  Although some have been donated for various causes,  Mom’s paintings were almost always gifts.  Today, her numerous works of art hang in the homes of family and friends throughout the United States.  Each one is a testament to the artist who created them. 

        Artists reveal a lot about themselves in their creations.  Without ever meeting my mother, a study of her handiwork would tell you much about her.  Her paintings echo her journey as an artist, each successive endeavor showing evidence of increased skill.  They reflect her attention to visual details and her love for the painting’s intended recipient.  Each of her paintings are framed expressions of her love of God and His beautiful creation.

        If shallow layers of colored acrylic painted on tightly drawn canvas can reveal the heart of an artist, imagine all God reveals to us through His multifaceted creation.  God shows Himself in raging storms, quiet dawns, majestic mountains and powerful seas.  His care and provision for His creation is found in everything from the movement of the earth, sun and moon to the cycles of life around us. 

       Sometimes, when things are not going as I expected in my life, I wonder where God is, or if  He is paying attention.   But I am reminded as I look out my window, the tips of tree branches, bright green with the hope of new growth and shiny from the day’s steady rain, my God is shouting at me through His creation, “I am here, I love you, I am God and worthy of praise!”

 

Psalm 19:1 “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” NAS

Lord, help not to miss the glory of you as I go throughout my days.

All that is around me is a stroke of your brush; you’re an artist worthy of praise.

Cast off the distractions that come my way and help me stay alert.

Strengthen my faith as I witness each day the evidence of your handiwork.