Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Packing up Christmas, remembering grace December 29, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 9:11 pm

          This is the last Tuesday with Teri for 2009.  Is it me or was that a particularly fast year?  I had hoped for some profound “farewell to the year” kind of message to share with you, but I suppose for now profound thought escapes me. 

         I spent today starting to de-Christmatize our home.  Yep, time to untrim the tree and pack up all  the “boughs of holly”.   I do a poor job each year packing away fragile ornaments.  I don’t actually do this intentionally, I just am not a very detail oriented, patient packer I guess.  The down side of course is an early demise of our more fragile ornaments.  The upside is it makes for a suspense filled unpacking each Christmas as I anxiously peer through the boxes to see what lucky ornaments have lived  to see another season.   It is sort of like a survival of the fittest for Christmas décor. 

          There is one Christmas item that will never fall victim to my careless end of season storage, our precious Christmas tree angel.  As I gently restored her to her place of honor in a curio cabinet, I was reminded one last time of her message.  I have included a copy below of a Christmas devotion about her.

         As the New Year approaches we tend to do a lot of self evaluation.  It seems this is satan’s preferred time to attack my self esteem and heap discouragement on my plate.  The “yearend review”  of my life is seldom packed with positive thoughts.  But my Christmas angel reminds me…my God loves me in ALL my imperfection and His grace is more than enough.  

May each of you have a wonderful new year of seeking to see Him more and resting in the peace of His love and grace. 

 A Christmas Tree Angel, a Reminder of Grace

          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.  These days she resides in a curio cabinet until we bring her out each Christmas.

        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 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 reattaching her long held candle to her now misshaped 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 for 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

 

“Joy” is More than a Puppy December 22, 2009

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 5:00 pm

This is week four of our advent celebration.  This week we light the candle of joy.

          This week I’ve been blessed to witness a lot of intense happiness.  I attended the wedding of one of my nieces in northern Florida.  Her happiness was radiantly obvious as she walked down the aisle.  My sister–in-law was incredibly happy to see the end result of her love filled efforts to provide the perfect wedding day for her daughter.   We spent time with loved ones, enjoyed special holiday treats and exchanged some gifts.   It was truly a happy time.  

          Upon our return home Sunday we stopped and picked up a special Christmas surprise we had pre-arranged for our son, an adorable puppy.  Our son was so happy!  So was the puppy as she quickly snuggled against her new owner’s neck.  There were so many reasons to be happy I could not begin to list them all!   

          Happiness can be fleeting.  The newlywed couple will no doubt always love each other, but they may not always be happy.  My sister-in-law may find her happiness fall away as she sorts through the aftermath of the wedding events.   And the puppy…well, let’s just say it is inevitable that we will not be happy with her from time to time.  She is adorable, but has already decided our Christmas tree skirt is a good blanket and pine needles are fun to chew on.  I was definitely not happy to find her dragging one of my shoes around the house.

It is easy to confuse happiness with joy.  Unlike happiness, JOY is not fleeting

          Joy is the result of God’s gifts of hope, peace and love.   We have hope for eternity in heaven because God sent His son.  We have peace on earth because through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are reconciled with God through forgiveness of our sin.  We know true love because it is God’s love for us, full of grace and mercy, which provides a way for forgiveness through His son Jesus Christ.    Because of all this we can experience JOY. 

          Joy is not rooted in circumstance; therefore circumstances cannot take it away.  It is the praise on the lips of a woman whose marriage is in crisis.  Joy is the smile of an exhausted single mother ushering her daughters into adulthood.  Joy is the song of one who is hurting.  Joy is kindness bestowed on those who do not deserve it.  Joy is the sound of laughter among a family filled with diversity and walking through adversity.  

 Joy is not determined by how things are in our life.  It is determined by Who we have in our hearts.

 

This week allow yourself to experience the JOY of the Lord, His gift to us wrapped in the tapestry of hope, love and peace found lying in a manger.

“…behold, I bring you good news of a great JOY, which shall be for all the 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

 

Worth The trip! December 15, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 9:19 am

         This is week three of our advent celebration.  Each week, four prior to Christmas Eve, we gather to light a candle and consider the coming of our savior.    This week we light the candle of love.

          Our niece is getting married this weekend!  We are excited for her and our family.  We are busy preparing to join them for celebration in Pensacola Florida.  Yep, Florida…a whopping 16 hour drive.  Don’t get me wrong, we are glad to have such a wonderful reason to make such a trip, but it has some complexity to it. 

          My husband has a business trip this week.  He will need to fly to Canada then straight to Florida and meet us there by Thursday.   This requires him to pack for two different trips simultaneously.  The kids are taking final exams this week.  Since we need to leave by Thursday morning, they had to arrange to take a few of them early.  All of our Christmas shopping needs to be done.  Presents for the Florida families will be wrapped and packed into the car with us. 

          In addition to getting everything done for Christmas prior to our trip, we are also busy getting our daughter, and her car, ready to go off to college a week after we return.  After taking hubby to the airport, my day will be full of auto mechanic appointments, wrapping gifts, doing laundry and packing.  Our poor porkie little yorkie, Hughie, has seen the suitcases and has started his fretting, which includes pitiful whining, pacing, crawling into any open suitcase and sticking so close to me you’d think he was attached by Velcro. 

          At  O’dark hundred Thursday morning our son will drag himself home from his 12 hour night shift and slide into the car, which will already be packed and running.   We intend to drive straight through so we can maximize our time with our family.  Although the kids are grown up now, and less inclined to bicker endlessly while underway, I can still see a few tense moments in our journey.   When three adults with very diverse personalities spend 16 hours in a packed vehicle…well, let’s just say the group dynamics may require a bit of adjustment.   

          When we get there it will be great.   It will feel good to hug loved ones we can usually only hear on the phone. We are looking forward to seeing and experiencing the love of our family.  Nieces and nephews are growing too fast and most are young adults now.  We may see them less often in years to come as they go their separate ways, so each visit is more treasured than before.  Stories will be shared and new memories made.  A little chaos, loud laughter, quiet conversations and just “being there” will be the best gifts of all.

Traveling to see loved ones is not always easy, but it is ALWAYS worth the trip!  

          This season we celebrate the amazing trip our savior made for us.   Christ left the comfort of Heaven, the company of angels and the space of eternity.  He experienced life and all its complexity…happiness, sorrow, hunger, friendship and adversity.  He took on the confines of the flesh and journeyed with man, for all mankind.  In death He took on our sin that we could know forgiveness.  

This is LOVE…that He would make such journey because He considers us worth the trip! 

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father…for of His fullness we have all received grace upon grace…grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ”  John 1:14-17

 

The Whole World Sighed December 8, 2009

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 2:52 pm

          This is week two of our advent celebration.  Each week, four prior to Christmas Eve, we gather to light a candle and consider the coming of our savior.  It is a wonderful time to stop in the midst of the season and truly focus on the reason for all the wonderful merriment of Christmas.  This week we light the candle of peace.

          Sometimes I frustrate my husband.  I know, it’s surprising, right?  Okay, so those of you who know us can easily see how I may be a cause of his frustration from time to time.  The other night my husband told me he loved me.  The thing is, it was more like he sighed “I love you” after I had just been the aforementioned object of his frustration.  It was clear he was saying “I love you” more for his own need be reminded than for mine.   A “sigh” is a powerful statement.

        “Sigh”.  You can’t say it without actually doing it.  Go ahead, try it…”Siiiiggghhhh”.  See what I mean?  A “sigh” usually follows the end of something.   We often “sigh” just after realizing there is nothing we can do ourselves in a situation.  Sometimes a “sigh” accompanies the finishing of a long or difficult task. 

          When rambunctious children are sleeping, we sigh.  In the aftermath of holiday gatherings, when folks have gone home and the lights are turned down, we sigh.  When we’re done holding a weight, or burden, we sigh.  When someone tells us we are not going to have to do something we dreaded, we sigh.    A “sigh” is an irrepressible expression of relief.  A “sigh” is an end mark for when we relinquish our personal control.

 A “sigh” is a quiet way of shouting “peace at last, peace at last!”

          I think that on the night our savior, Jesus Christ, was born the whole world sighed!   He was only a baby, but He was our redeemer.  He brought us relief from the burden of sin. Through Him we would be reconciled with our Holy God.   In Him we would find true rest.  Through Him we would discover that God is in control and His grace and love abounds. 

 “…behold new things have come.  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself, through Christ….God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, He has committed to us the Word of reconciliation…” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

Say it with me now…”Sigh…”!

 

 

Tail Wagging Hope December 1, 2009

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 9:46 am

          This week we begin our advent celebration.  Each week, four prior to Christmas Eve, we gather to light a candle and consider the coming of our savior.  It is a wonderful time to stop in the midst of the season and truly focus on the reason for all the wonderful merriment of Christmas.  So…the next four devotion entries will center on the four advent themes of Hope, Joy, Peace and Love. 

 

          I have envisioned what life would be like if we could hear my dog speaking.  Hughie, our porky little Yorkshire terrier, is the embodiment of constant hope.

          Early in the morning he wakes in his pen near our bedroom and soon begins his pitiful whimpering.  What he is really saying as he stands on his hind legs wagging his tail feverishly is, “I hope they open their door soon.  I hope they let me out of here. I hope I get a treat.”

          After letting him out for his morning constitutional he scurries to the pantry door.  His anticipation is obvious as he looks at you then at the pantry door.  “Here it is!  Here is where you get the good stuff for me…look, look in here!” and “I hope she gives me a treat AND breakfast.” 

         After feeding the little guy I begin to make myself a cup of coffee.  I soon feel the laser like stare of his dark little eyes.  He will stay by my feet for the rest of the morning.  There is nothing he seems to like better than to be sitting in my lap.  He loves to snuggle into the crevice created when I sit with folded legs on the couch.   Again he is very clear, “oh, I hope she is going to sit down with her cup of coffee!”  “I hope she lets me snuggle in her lap soon!”  “I wonder when she’s gonna stop folding those clothes and let me sit on her lap?”

          Every day I come home Hughie greets me.  His entire body wags in energetic delight.  He has high hopes.  “I hope she pets me.”,  “I hope she tells me I’m a good boy.”,   “I hope she plays with me!”,  “I hope she rewards me!”, “ I hope she sits down so I can sit in her lap!”

          You don’t have to be able to hear Hughie speak to know he is full of hope.  If you think about it all dogs have hope.   Dogs exude hope in tail wagging enthusiasm.  Their eyes convey a sense of anticipation of what is to come.  This is unique to dogs.  Most cats don’t have hope.  Cats have assumptions.  

          This week we focus on the hope of Christ Jesus.  I’d love to have Hughie’s intensity of hope.  We celebrate the birth of Christ because his coming was the beginning of our hope.  Through Him we have hope for forgiveness of sin.  His life, death and resurrection give us hope for eternal life and a relationship with God.  As we start the seasonal celebration of the advent of Christ let us be mindful of the hope we have in Him.  Because of our savior we can snuggle into the arms of our heavenly Father and look forward to the day we will rest in His lap.

And again Isaiah says, “There shall come The Root of Jesse, and He who arises to rule over the Gentiles, In Him shall the Gentiles have Hope.”  Now may the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:12-13