Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

The Amaryllis Project January 26, 2010

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 5:38 pm

          This Christmas I gave several friends amaryllis flower kits.  These “kits” were composed of a pot, a hockey puck sized disc of compressed peat moss/soil which was wrapped in cellophane, and one large bulb.  The pot and its contents were encased in a cardboard package.

           I found them at the end of November and was pleased with my discovery.  Most of my friends have green thumbs, or at least seem to enjoy gardens and such, so I thought they would be perfect gifts.  I purchased several of them in anticipation of the gift giving season.  I stashed the boxed kits in an unused, darkened, guest room.

          I was eager to share the flower kits with my friends.  It was finally time to prep them as gifts.  I pictured being able to simply place them in gift bags, affix tags and drop them off, but there was something I had not planned on….to my amazement several of the bulbs had begun to sprout!  Seriously, if I had been TRYING to grow them I’m certain this would not have happened.  There in the dark neglected confines of the room, these bulbs decided they would begin to grow.  No water, no light, no soil…just the will to grow. 

          Some of the boxes had pale green leaves pushing out of the seams, one actually had a squished flower trying to bloom in the crevice between the pot and the box…these were not the “perfect” gift I had so hoped to give.  Instead of nice tidy flower kits, I now had malformed monstrosities.  I decided to gift them anyway…I did not have a backup plan.  I placed the kits, some normal and some not so normal looking, in gift bags with tags.  I felt sort of bad giving a gift and an apology at the same time… “Here’s your gift, sorry about trying my best to kill it before you received it.”   I made a mental note never to give “living” gifts again.

          The other day I received a phone call from one of my amaryllis recipients.  She was laughing over the phone as she described how her plant had suddenly sprung up over night.  Her family awoke to an 11 inch stalk protruding from the pot.  She sent me a photo.  Over the next week she updated me on the status of her flower, which seemed to be made from the same stuff as “Jacks’ magic beans” because it grew to over 2ft. before finally bursting forth with beautiful trumpet shaped flowers.  I never would have imagined it had that potential given such a difficult start.

          I received another photo form one of the amaryllis recipients.  This time the plant grew almost horizontal, but still managed to produce gorgeous red flowers.  I have since had other calls with updates on the status of my friends’ flowers. It has been a lot of fun to hear how these seemingly “damaged” plants have been enjoyed.

 I think I will refer to this particular Christmas gift endeavor as the “The Amaryllis Project”, from which I have learned a few lessons.  

 Lesson one:  Like these flowers, we do not need perfect conditions to grow.  What matters most is the determination to grow.  Sometimes I wait for things to be a certain way before stepping out and growing my faith.

Lesson two:  Just because something, or someone, does not look like it will meet our expectations, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the capacity to meet and exceed our expectations. 

Lesson three:  God knows His creation and He knows the hidden capacity each of us has, which He has placed in us, to achieve full bloom.

Each of those bulbs endured difficult days, yet eventually….given attention and care, they have become what God had intended them to be…tall, short, crooked, bent, pale, bright,…each beautiful in their own way.

 

Picked for a Team January 19, 2010

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 9:05 pm

           Perhaps the most feared words ever heard in P.E. class are, “Okay, everyone line up!  It’s time to choose teams.”   Each of stands waiting for the favored, usually more physically gifted, “captains” to pick us for their team.  No one liked to be the last one chosen as it was an indicator, real or perceived, of your own ability as a teammate.  I know this because I was often the recipient of just such an honor.   I was never surprised to be picked last.  I was sometimes a bit relieved, thinking if others did not expect much from me I would not disappoint them.  I did not enjoy or excel in many sports, but there was one game for which I was always, remarkably, chosen first for a team.

          I recall the great sense of pride and surprise as I heard my name called out to join a certain team for our regular game of Red Rover.   For those of you who may have somehow escaped grade school without ever playing this game let me explain the rules.   Teams line up on opposite ends of a field and hold hands.   Each team gets a chance to call out the name of someone on the opposing team by shouting, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send (insert name here) right over!”   In response, this person leaves his team line and run full force toward the opposing teams line of linked hands.  The goal is to break through the opposition’s line.  The “runner” must choose where to impact the lineup often looking for a weak link.  It was my insane ability to break through each time my name was called which no doubt made me a popular choice for team captains.  Later a friend would confess to me the reason for my Red Rover glory days.

          Our Red Rover games always took place on the same day of each week.  I was also a Brownie, the younger phase of being a girl scout.  On days we had our Brownie Troop meetings we would proudly wear our uniforms to school.  Let me give you a moment to picture this….my slightly pudgy form was squished into a light brown skirt ensemble.  No doubt I was smoking hot with my shirt tucked and neatly bound by my brownie belt, knee-high socks and of course the infamous brown beanie cap atop my blonde head (thanks a lot mom).   So, coincidentally, I was always in said brownie uniform when playing the game.   Recall how I mentioned being a bit pudgy?  Well unbeknownst to me, my tummy tended to cause the little metal part of my belt to stick out.(the piece which inserts into the hole and presumably lays flat).  Apparently, this little needle like protrusion caused members of opposing teams much pain when I impacted their linked hands.  They soon learned to just let go and let me pass through.  Oh well, at least I came to know what it was like to not be picked last.

          There came a time when Jesus needed to pick His “team” from among His many followers.  He would not pick His team of disciples based on the effectiveness of their belt buckles.  He did not even seem to choose based on supreme skill level or even unquestionable character.  He called simple men from Galilee who were not formally educated or sophisticated.  Jesus even included a scandalous tax collector and a political extremist in His lineup.   God had a plan and provision for each of His followers.  Notice His plan in no way relied on the ability of these men, but rather on His ability in them once they answered His call.  He is calling our names into service just them same.  We do not need to be perfect or without complications.  We only need to be willing to follow and serve.  So, as we hear our savior call out our names let us rush forward with our spiritual “belt buckles”,  ready to cross any lines He has called us to break through.

 

Pasta and People January 12, 2010

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 7:59 pm

             Thanks to my mom, Julia Childes and chemistry I know a little something about cooking pasta.  I know at least two very helpful tips….unfortunately, and to the dismay of the aforementioned mentors as well as my family I’m sure, I do not make adequate use of these tips.  That will not prevent me from sharing my insight with you of course.   I have been dwelling on these concepts for a few days now and feel compelled to share them, even though I’m not completely sure where this will go…..

             When it comes to cooking pasta I tend to make two reoccurring mistakes, one being undercooking it and the other being the messy lava like flow that occurs when I allow the pot to boil over.  Since it is the later which makes the bigger mess, I will address it first.

                          Cooking pasta is one of the more basic of culinary skills, second only to boiling an egg I suppose, and yet I seldom find success.   After I submerge my dry pasta into a pot of boiling water on my stove I often turn my attention to other aspects of the meal.  That is when it happens….soon a small swell of whitish, starchy foam oozes over the edges of the pot onto the burner and stove.    I know, I know…place a wooden spoon on the pot’s edge, stir it more frequently, reduce the heat….there are many ways to stop or prevent such a disaster I’m sure.  It’s not that I don’t know how to prevent it; I just never think to do so until it is already bubbling over like some kind of witches brew. 

              I know water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.  I know I need to cook my pasta around this temperature.  I also know, thanks to my chemistry class, that at such temperatures the pasta’s starch will begin to break down.  It is this starchy substance which adheres to the water as it begins to boil and roll, producing the messy overflow.  I could reduce the heat, but then how will my pasta cook????  Well here is the trick, add SALT.  Yep, salt.  Seems this simple little crystalline substance has the ability to increase the temperature of water’s boiling point.    Sooooooo my water can reach 100C, and sufficiently cook my pasta, and never actually boil or bubble over.     Here is the point I need you to keep in mind until the end of this entry:  Adding SALT allows the pasta the best time and conditions to become ready to serve.

             This brings me to the second issue, being sure the pasta is done.  There is nothing enjoyable about sitting down to what looks like a nice spaghetti meal.  You prepare to allow the soft noodles to work the sauce past your taste buds only to be met with the stiff chewiness of under cooked pasta.  I really enjoy the remedy for this mistake!  Recall I mentioned the cooking pasta releasing starches?  Well it seems that “starch” makes the pasta sticky.  Cooks tell us that we can test for doneness of starchy noodles such as spaghetti by flinging a noodle against the wall.  If it sticks, it’s ready

             I think that would make a great bumper sticker, “If It Sticks, It’s Ready”.  It is true.  When our son finally found his life calling and began setting and keeping his goals, it was an indicator he was “ready”.   I shudder to think of the total that would result if we added up all the pounds I have lost and then put back on over the years.   I am only able to “stick” with a healthier life style when I am truly “ready”.   Without a doubt there is a season where we all are trying to reach a place of “ready to stick” in terms of resolutions or life goals.  This is where the other point I mentioned earlier comes in.  

 Mark 9:50 Christ tells his disciples, “Salt is good; if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again?  Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”   

             Christ’s followers are to be permeated with this preserving power, to influence the world for good.  We are called to help provide an environment which allows for others to get to the place of “ready to serve”.

             So, two things….One: be aware of our ability to be SALT to others who need time, love, encouragement or  grace so that they will be able to find themselves “ready to serve” without boiling over. 

 Two:  If you wonder if you, or someone you know or love, are truly ready to take the next step, go a new direction or make a change,  just “toss it against the wall” step out, step up, give it a try….    If It Sticks, it’s Ready!

 

Adjusting to a Changing Jigsaw Puzzle January 5, 2010

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 4:36 pm

          We are taking Ashley, our 20year old, to school in the morning.  She is transferring to the College of Charleston in South Carolina.  We are proud of her hard work to accomplish this goal.  While we are excited for all the future holds for her, it is still a difficult season in life.  I know she is ready.  I know this is good.  But it is change, and change is never easy. 

           I joined her in her room yesterday as she finished her packing process.  For the first time I noticed how much her room is like a jigsaw puzzle.   Every item was like a piece of her life, a reflection of her personality, mementos of special moments or monuments to trying times.  Intact her room was a complete portrait of the young woman I call my daughter.

          I watched as she emptied her closet and drawers.   Suddenly the puzzle was losing its pieces.  I loved putting her in pretty pink things as a baby.  As a little girl she loved to play dress up and as a pre teen we clashed often regarding her clothing choices.  Later, as a teenager her clothing choices were a direct reflection of her mood and personality, and as a young adult her clothing was a way for her to communicate her need for respect, admiration and her strong sense of self.   The barren closet and drawers no longer hold this image of her.

         She deftly swept up bottles and brushes from atop her dresser and deposited them in a plastic tub.  Another piece of the puzzle disappeared.  It was only yesterday my baby girl entered this world with a head full of soft blonde hair framing her blue eyes.   She transitioned from bows and braids to curling irons and flatirons in no time it seems.   The top of her dresser, which once only had room for a goldfish bowl and a tube of chapstick, transformed into an artist’s pallet by the time she was a teen.  Lipsticks, eye shadow, blush, bronzers, mascara and various application brushes were a testament to her creative style and need to constantly seek beauty.  The space, which once held the tools of her quest for beauty, no longer, shows evidence of such a time. 

          Another piece of the puzzle faded away as photo frames were folded and carefully laid aside to be packed.   Every one of them images of she and her friends, always laughing, always together, always in the midst of adventure.  These photos she now packed away replaced others she has had over the years…although they were of younger years, the images were the same…all of smiling friends, laughter frozen in time, all reminders of important relationships. 

         Books which towered by her bedside table were quietly put away.  A piece of the puzzle falls to the ground.  Books in her bedroom were as necessary as walls and a roof.   She is always reading.   As a little girl she loved to be read to.   I spent countless hours over the years reading everything from Dr. Seuss to most of the Nancy Drew Mystery Series with her.   Now I can actually see the clean white surface of her bedside table, I will miss the teetering clutter of texts that once bore testimony to her love of literature.

          Boxes, bags and suitcases are piled in the hall awaiting tomorrow’s drive.   The items removed have left visual gaps in a room once full of chaos, love and life.  Like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces it stands before me now…but that is okay.  Her room is missing pieces that make it uniquely her, but our lives will never be missing the pieces that remind us of her uniqueness.   Her room may be empty, but her life is not.  Different closets to fill, dressers to cover, bedside tables to clutter and photos to collect are all awaiting her in the next few years, all of which will continue to complete the puzzle/portrait of the young woman I call my daughter.

Though we may be apart for a time, because she is my daughter I will always love her and be working for her best interest.   So is the relationship God desires for each of us,because we are His, He loves us and He will always be working in our best interest. ……. Colossians 1:19-23 reminds us all of this very love.