Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Falling vs. Sliding June 30, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 8:26 am

          I do not like to fall.  For numerous, and obvious, reasons whenever there is a situation that exhibits a potential threat of falling I tend to avoid it.  You will never see me parachuting out of a plane for recreation.  I see no need to bungee jump or ride the amusement park rides designed to give you the feeling of being dropped from great heights.  I do not consider feeling like you’re falling to be “fun”.           

          Fear of falling is one of the two fears we are actually born with, the other is loud noises.   From our earliest attempts at walking we learn to keep our head over our feet.  We wear protective gear when partaking in activities which may lead to falling.  We hold hand rails on stairs, brace ourselves if we feel unstable and instinctively flail our arms and contort our torsos in attempt to regain our balance if we think we are about to fall.  A lot of time and effort is put into the avoidance of falling and its affects.

         Sliding, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.  I am sure I am not the only one who does NOT fear sliding.  Sliding is easy and fun!  We are taught this at playgrounds as children.  Water parks and snow covered hills are packed with sliders each season.  It is an efficient way to get from one point to another.  Sliding is gentle, smooth, fast and easy to do. 

         I attended a beautiful wedding the other day.  The reception facility was a lovely country club.  A huge curving staircase rose up on both sides of the foyer leading to the dining area.  Oddly enough as I began to exit the building I felt an intense desire to slide down the wide oak railing which ended in tight curl at the base, perfect for making a graceful stop at the end of my slide.    Ultimately, after contimplating the logistics, I chose to exit the facility like a grown up and walked as lady like as possible down the elegant stairway.  Only two things prevented me from giving into my sliding nature.   One, I was wearing a dress and two; the rail was adorned with pretty white netting and flowers.  I suspect the later was done not just for décor, but to dissuade others like myself from giving into the temptation to slide.  I must admit that as I passed the last foot of railing I envisioned hoisting my hip up on it for just a short slide, but I resisted. 

          I believe it is a part of the nature of man to slide.  I am not the only one who thinks this is true.  Here in Washington D.C. the metro system designers recognize man’s temptation to slide.  One particular metro stop is located far below street level.  This requires a rather long steep escalator to transport riders up and down.   A three foot section of metal separates the two opposing escalators.  While I am sure no one would consider shinnying “up” the steep slope, no doubt the slide down would be much faster and more exciting than the crowded, trudging escalator.  In answer to man’s unspoken temptation to slide, metro strategically placed rather inhospitable looking “bumps” along its tempting expanse.  Yes, when it comes to sliding we rely on others to place impediment in our way.  If left unto ourselves we would be more inclined to slide, than to not slide.  This is something we should keep in mind when considering our spiritual journey.

           We often carefully guard against falling away from God, but do little to protect ourselves from the temptation to slide.  Unlike the metro or country club staircase, we do not have anything in our path to prevent the quick, smooth seemingly effortless slide away from Truth and God.   Neglecting Bible study, relegating prayer to meal time only and avoiding fellowship with other believers  are just a few of the ways we slowly create a buffer between ourselves and the God who desires to be close to us.  If the city of D.C. can anticipate man’s nature to slide, I should too. 

          Psalm 105:1-4 gives us several “bumps” we can install in our daily walk to discourage  sliding away.  “Oh give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples.  Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wondersGlory in His Holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.  Seek the Lord and all His strength; Seek His face continually.” 

 

My Room is Full June 23, 2009

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 6:10 pm

           I have got to quit talking to strangers.   Once again my need to engage others in random conversation landed me in an awkward social situation. (Perhaps this is why my husband cringes when he sees me make eye contact with folks in an elevator.)   It started out simple and to be honest it was not just me, the UPS truck driver is to blame as well….let me explain. 

           Last month I went to the UPS store to mail my Mother’s Day gifts.  I was actually there early enough in the week to avoid the overnight charges my procrastination habit usually dictates I pay.  (Sometimes I even impress myself).   When I scampered into the store I noticed the UPS truck parked out front.   Its driver, seated on a folding chair, was engaged in a conversation with the UPS clerk behind the counter.  As I filled the required forms I jokingly asked if the driver was waiting on me, to which he replied, “of course”.    Those of you who know me, know this two word response is my “go ahead” to further interact with strangers.  With my forms filled and my packages in order I proceeded to the counter.  As the gentleman processed my offerings I inquired about the date of delivery…I think I just wanted to hear confirmation out loud that I had indeed managed to get these gifts out on time.    At this point the UPS clerk asked, “So, when is Mother’s Day?  Saturday?”   Yep, he said “Saturday.”   To which the UPS truck driver and I both gasped.  “Dude, you’d better get on it!” said the driver…”yeah, you don’t want to be late” I added, to which the clerk replied, “oh, my mother has passed…(awkward pause)…so, well…(shorter awkward pause).  “”uh, man, sorry dude” said the truck driver….I stutter out my attempt at recovery, “Oh, I am so sorry.”   Then for some reason, maybe to deflect from our error, I say something to the effect of, “well maybe there are others in your life who you send stuff to?”.  “yeah, dude, what about your sisters” the UPS driver added, joining me in my effort to undo damage.   Quickly moving  to polite niceties, the UPS truck driver and I both scurried out the door.    

           The loss of a loved one  is a difficult season in our lives.  My own father passed away in may of 1999.   This father’s day, I was reminded that it is not always these special days that are the hardest when we have lost a loved one.  As we celebrated my husband for being a great dad, I realized I did not miss my own father.  I thought of him this day and recalled so many things about him that made him a wonderful dad.  But this day and all it represents is not one which brings a tear to my eye or fills my heart with sadness.  Those moments come at much odder times.

          I miss my dad dearly and often.  I miss him when I sit on my porch in the middle of a summer rain storm, listening to the thunder and smelling the rain falling fresh on the hot pavement of our driveway.   My dad liked to watch storms too, he would have enjoyed sitting with me on my porch.  I miss him when I drink a good glass of ice cold sweet tea, the kind where the sugar was added to the fresh hot brew before ice was added.   My dad loved sweet tea.  Sometimes I miss my dad the most when my husband holds my hand.  When we ride in the car, or are sitting in church, he will place his hand on mine.   Strong, tan, a little wrinkled, veins visibly pulsing just below the surface, his fingers wrap around my hand effortlessly.   I see my father’s hands.  

          My careless words to the UPS clerk  renewed my awareness of  the seasons in life that bring personal loss or pain.  God may fill my life and heart with many blessings, yet when He calls one of those blessings away I cry out like a kid sitting in a room full of toys who protests when one is taken away.  It is difficult to focus on all that remains in the room.   God is sovereign, He loves us, and our “rooms” are full!

 

Pieces of Glass June 16, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 10:28 pm

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           I love colored glass.  I’m not picky about the color or form.  Wine bottles, stained glass, vases, ornaments, candle holders, drinking glasses, glass beads….if the glass is colored and light passes through it I am attracted to it.  I’m not sure why I find such joy in looking at pretty colored glass.  Maybe it is because it always catches the light, and therefore my eye?  Maybe it’s because it changes things when you look through it and yet leaves what it changes unchanged?  

          For Mother’s Day this year my daughter gave me stained glass lessons!  She took me to a local studio and signed me up for 5 lessons working with a stained glass artist.  I was more excited than you can imagine.  First, because I would learn how to work with colored glass, and second, because it was such a thought filled gift from the young woman who has taken over my daughter’s body in the last year. 

          I have had the pleasure of three out of five of my classes so far.  I am not disappointed.  I am having a great time and the instructor is more than patient with my efforts.  I have always admired glass from a distance, but now I am learning more and more about its wonderful properties and possibilities.

          The first lesson was learning how to break the glass.  I soon discovered that one does not “break” glass, we “separate” it from itself.  With skilled hands the instructor scored the glass first.  This causes all the molecules that are lined up and locked into position to become disordered and weakened.  This weakness along the line’s edges allows the two sections to be easily separated from each other.  A little tapping helps to encourage separation.

          Soon it was time to pick the glass colors and design I would work on for my first project.  I chose a pattern which required only about 10 pieces and 3 colors.  Patiently the instructor showed me sheet after sheet of glass tiles.  I could have spent all day looking at the color variations and textures.  I finally chose three colors.  Over the last few classes I have “separated” many sections into distinct shapes, learned to grind and prep the edges and am in the final stage of learning how to cover the edges with copper foil prior to soldering.  So much attention to detail and so much fun! 

          I am looking forward to seeing the final product.    For now I simply have a bag of glass.  Shards, once part of a larger pane, are now separated, ground, and lined with copper.   I proudly carry my bag of glass home to show my family my work in progress.  I like the tinkling sound the pieces make as they slide against each other in the bag.  I like how already I can place them like parts of a puzzle and see the pattern taking shape.  I like knowing that collectively the beauty of the glass pieces will be better than the jagged parts they once were.  I like that even though the glass is fragile, my efforts will result in a stained glass panel that could last for generations beyond my own. 

            I think people are like my glass project at times.  Everyone has their own beauty or unique quality.  Like the original glass tiles, each is precious individually.  God allows some “scoring” in our lives, a weakening that causes us to depend on Him.  We endure a season of breaking, “separating”.    This is not always a loud, crashing, cracking crisis.  “Separating” is the small tap or constant pressure at our weakest places and times.  We become smaller in some ways.  At first we are only remnants of what we once thought we were, and then we are reshaped for His purpose.   The friction of challenges we face will grind our sharp edges and prepare us for the next step in His creative process.  God will align us in relationships, with symmetry and carefully choreographed colors and textures.   God takes the part of us He has prepared and fits us to one another.  We are more brilliant, beautiful and enduring because we are a part of His bigger picture and final image.  When all is done, we are His masterpiece, a work that reflects His care to detail. 

But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. (1Cor.12:18)

P6160120I like that.  I may be the oddly shaped piece, the dull color, or a tiny sliver of glass, but I AM PART OF HIS PLAN and have a place in His creation.

 

What happens when I read forwarded e-mails June 9, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 11:50 pm

          Okay, so you know those “forwards” folks send you from time to time in your e-mail?  I don’t really like them.  I don’t usually open them, even the ones that start with, “I don’t usually send these, but…”.    I am seldom curious enough to open anything forwarded to me without my request.  When I do, it is almost always some really cute picture/saying and inevitably I am asked by the sender to   “forward this to at least 10 others to assure I keep up the luck/blessing.”   All that is to preface this….I actually opened one up the other day.

          Yep, some of my friends send numerous forwards of funny jokes/photos on a regular basis.  While I know their intent is to share a laugh and provide a bit of joy, I seldom open them for the above mentioned reasons.  Apparently I had a momentary lapse of concern for the repercussions of these e-mails because I found myself scrolling through a lengthy listing of meaningful/funny quotes.  One of the quotes, hidden deep below several well known sayings, has been running in my head ever since.  It was…”Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, “Oh crap, she’s up.”

          HMMmmmm.  I know my mother would object to the use of the word “crap”(even by the devil), but what an interesting challenge.  What could I do in my day to bring honor and glory to God AND mess up satan’s plan to keep the hope of forgiveness for our sins and the message of God’s grace from people. 

While scriptures give us many ways to pull this off, here are some ideas found in 1Thes. 5:14-23:

  • Admonish the unruly
  • encourage the fainthearted
  • help the weak
  • Be patient with all men
  • See that no one repays another with evil for evil
  • seek after that which is good for one another and for all men
  •  Rejoice always
  • Pray without ceasing 
  • In everything give thanks 
  • Do not quench the Spirit (be enthusiastic)
  • Hold fast to what is good.
  • Abstain from every form of evil. 

          Not surprisingly each one of these individual endeavors will require the grace of our God and the power of the Holy Spirit as we attempt to be a reflection of Christ to the world. 

           But just as my reflection in the early morning pre-hairbrush moments of the day brings me cause for concern, so must the devil find cause for concern as we enter each day reflecting the love and grace of our Christ Jesus. 

 

Splish Splash June 2, 2009

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 6:48 pm

          Today was the first “Tuesday at Teri’s” of summer 2009. (The event from which I derived the title of this blog) Some of you know we open the house and pool up for anyone who’d like to come over for a time of fellowship and fun from 10am-2pm. Last year was the first year to host this and I was looking forward to the coming season. I absolutely enjoyed having more time with these great ladies and getting to know their little ones as well.
          I prepped the pool area, inflated the floats, and located pool toys in anticipation for my visitors. Soon the deck/ pool area was filled with loving mothers and precious children. Toddlers toddling, babies sleeping/watching, splashing, laughing, crying (of course), snacking, shivering (water still a tad cold), playing, sharing, (learning to share), caring and conversation filled what was once a barren back deck only hours before. It was GREAT!
         When the last family headed for home I began the final clean up. Such a deafening quiet filled the air that it felt like I was standing in a vacuum. From utter chaos to ultimate calm, it was as if the decking itself heaved a sigh. I stood transfixed. I can only best describe the feeling as being overwhelmed with a surge of thankfulness.
          I am thankful for the privilege of knowing these women. I am thankful for the delight of seeing them grow. I am thankful for friends willing to come help care for the families. I am thankful for new faces who joined us this year. I am thankful for the chance to play with children and hold babies. I am thankful for health. I am thankful for time. I am thankful for a God who delights in the rambunctious child, the quiet child, the timid child, the strong willed child, the focused child, the social child, the grumpy child and the happy child.

          As I find myself reading Ephesians, I can’t help but think of them all and say this prayer for each of our families. :

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth gets its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)