Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

“Mighty Yard Lady” April 27, 2010

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 5:06 pm

          Every now and again I get bit by the “can do” spirit bug.  This affliction allows me to take on tasks normally well beyond my skill set or interests.  For example, earlier this month I decided I could take care of our yard’s mulch needs all on my own.  Yep, I morphed into “mighty yard lady” and attacked this endeavor with adrenalin filled enthusiasm.

          I drove to Lowes and strode into the lawn area like I knew what I was doing.  I surveyed the various mulch choices, who knew there were so many?  I lugged 8 large bags onto a cart and out to my car.  I put the top of my little convertible VW bug in the down position and loaded the back and front seats, the trunk would hold 1 to 2 bags.  Once home, I began to fill the mulch beds and soon realized I would need more, a lot more.  The day would eventually result in 3 total trips to the store, a max capacity of 12 bags stuffed in my VW bug at a time, and numerous hours of pushing, raking and spreading the mulch. As the sun began to set I barely noticed the ache in my muscles.   I was so invigorated with my achievement; I was determined to repeat this day’s effort the following day.  But, as is often the case, my “can do” spirit did not last as long as the project.

            Early the next day I surveyed my handiwork with a reduced sense of pride and an increased sense of hopelessness.  The strong nightly wind had scattered tons of plant debris over my yard.  The once clean, dark mulch looked as if someone had tossed buckets of popcorn all over it.  In the brighter light of the morning I looked closer at the remaining area to be filled with mulch.  It will require AT LEAST the same 3 trips to Lowes and maybe twice as many bags.  Sigh…I could feel my enthusiasm slipping.  The impending rain shower was enough to wash any remaining “mighty yard Lady” resolve away.   

         So…for the last week and a half my yard has taunted me with its unfinished mulch beds.  As I walked to the mailbox today I couldn’t help but notice the tiny weeds already trying to win back the mulched areas. 

          I wish I could say my recent yard work effort was the only example I had of times when my “can do” spirit did not last as long as a project, but that would not be true.  In so many ways and areas of my life I tackle goals or relationships with a  relatively short lived “can do” spirit.  I may be quick to throw my energy, emotions, and effort into a project or relationship, but eventually I become less enthusiastic or inattentive. 

        I must admit my unfinished landscape has me thinking about other things in my life I have left undone.  House and yard projects abound and I am without excuse for not giving them attention.  More importantly, I have a long list of phone calls to be made.  There are family members I meant to keep in touch with, new people I’ve met but have not spent time getting to know, reconnecting with friends, hurting hearts I meant to encourage, apologies I have put off and opportunities to serve I need to accept.

       I know I can never accomplish anything set before me if I rely on my own, fleeting, “can do” spirit, but I have a God, who through the Holy Spirit, can sustain my efforts.  When I am weak and lacking ability, it will be His strength that accomplishes all and brings glory to Him!

“…My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me…for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (II Cor. 12:9-10)

This is my prayer, that God will grant me the wisdom to know which tasks He has set before me, and the “can do” spirit needed to accomplish them.

 

A Grumpy Goose Encounter April 20, 2010

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,humor,life — tlmiller82 @ 3:39 pm

          So, let me begin by confessing a slightly embarrassing endeavor…I have decided to learn how to run.  For those who do not know me personally you may ask yourself, “Learn how to run? What’s there to learn?”  For those of you who know me you are probably thinking, “Is she crazy?”  Even I wonder what I am thinking.  I am out of shape, weight challenged, and have never been able to jog for longer than a minute at a time.

         Inspired by the efforts of some of my much younger friends, I set about alternating walking with jogging.  Let’s just say that it has been a very long, unattractive process.  Imagine the panting, wheezing, plodding and whining that accompanied my jogs.  I have finally managed to jog one mile without stopping, although it takes me much longer to do so than if I WALKED one mile.

All that just to give context to my most recent adventure.

         I have found a great way to run in my neighborhood AND avoid running up hill…not an easy feat given where we live.  I walk up hill to a small church at the end of our street.  The church parking area is an oval loop, five times around it equals one mile, and it is a fairly level running area!  When I’m done I walk back down the hill toward home as I cool down. 

          The last few days I had struggled to maintain my pace and practice my mile.  I trudged along barely getting through all five laps.  I knew I needed to pick up my pace or make a change to my pattern.  I thought this would be much more difficult to do than it actually turned out to be.  All I needed was a little extra incentive. 

          I was on lap two of my five lap routine, breathing hard and glad no one was around to witness my less than graceful running style, when I was joined by a very grumpy goose.

        He flapped his wings furiously in a braking fashion, lowered his landing gear and skidded to a halt in the middle of the parking lot and my makeshift running track.  I was surprised to see a lone goose far from the local watering hole.  He seemed equally surprised to see me running around his landing area.

          I have learned that I am not good at getting started again if I stop before my mile is done, so I continued plopping my feet on the pavement in spite of the new onlooker.  I had three more laps to go and I was not going to let a goose stop me. 

Lap three, he honked and hissed as I passed him. 

 Lap four; my passing triggered an energetic head bobbing and even louder honks and squawks. 

By lap five I was fully aware of impending danger.  Mr. Grumpy Goose was now honking, squawking, bobbing his head AND following behind me!

          Let me just say, unlike other days when lap five is my slowest and most difficult to complete, I finished my jog in a full run.  Yep, goose inspired adrenalin helped me shave 2 minutes off my time!

           I walked away unscathed and feeling victorious.  I still smile when I picture that goose trying to bully me off the parking lot.  I could have let Mr. Grumpy Goose stop me moving forward.  I could have let the squawking, bobbing bird change my course.   I chose instead to keep moving forward and focused on finishing my run, even if it meant changing how I finished it.  The end result was positive.  The challenge of Mr. Grumpy Goose helped push me the little bit I needed. 

          I know God allows challenges in our lives much like Mr. Grumpy Goose.  Unfortunately I tend to think a challenge is a sign that I should stop or change.  Sometimes a challenge is there to propel us forward, quicken our pace or solidify our determination. 

As we face each grumpy goose God allows along the way, may we be encouraged and not discouraged in our journey.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love and sound judgment.” 1Timothy 1:7

Lord, help us to overcome our challenges so we may finish our race and hear You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

 

The Exploding Fire Pit April 13, 2010

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 10:21 pm

          We just had a nice stone patio, complete with stone fire pit, added to our home.  The other night our son and a few of his friends were gathering for the maiden voyage of the fire pit. 

         Scott and I were in the house watching television, contently thinking how nice it was to have Steven’s friends over.   What happened next rocked my world, literally.   BoooooooM!  We rushed out to our back deck and looked down to the patio. 

          The patio and surrounding lawn area were covered in what looked like glowing rubies.  Red hot embers littered the ground.   If it were not so terrifying it would have been beautiful.  The fire in the pit was extinguished and a tower of smoke snaked upwards, lit only by the remaining shards of logs as they radiated neon red heat.  Once the vision made it to our brains we scrambled to comprehend what occurred, “What happened!?” and “Is everyone okay?!” 

          We grabbed fire extinguishers and joined the stunned group on the patio.  Quick assessments were made of everyone…astonishingly no one was hurt badly.  A few had small burns or scratches from flying concrete and firewood, no doubt all of them will carry emotional scars from such an unexpected and frightening event. 

          Apparently as they had just settled around the pit, and were close enough to warm their hands by the fire, without warning they felt, saw and experienced a large explosion.  The percussive force blew them back a bit and it is by God’s mercy and grace that none of them were seriously harmed.  Chunks of concrete, which formed the base of the fire pit, flew in every direction.  The once burning logs were propelled upwards and shattered into large embers before settling to the ground around the pit and patio. 

           Though Steven and his friends were considerably shook up, it could have been much, much worse.  We walked among the aftermath thanking God for His protection and looking for clues as to what caused the explosion.  Our amateur sleuthing formed a conclusion which would later be supported by our contractor and various other professionals. 

            Unlike most fire pits, ours had been built with a concrete flooring and drain.  Apparently the heat from the burning logs had cause a buildup of pressure below the concrete layer.  There was no way to tell what actually caused the pressure below the concrete slab, but the most likely culprit was trapped water or moisture.  Normally any expansion of gases or steam would vent through gravel grating.  Our fire pit base had no ventilation points.

          The events of that night continue to play through my mind when I try to sleep.  It is both comforting to realize God’s provision on that night, and yet disturbingly clear how out of my control life can be.

          The fire pit looked great.  It looked solid and strong.  The foundation of the pit gave no hint of hidden danger. It looked like it could handle the heat.  But looks were deceiving. 

          Oh, the pit was strong.  Matter of fact when all was said and done the walls of the pit and patio remained unmoved.  It was the FOUNDATION that mattered, and it mattered a lot!

          We can be like this pit.  We sometimes present a strong outer image.  We look like we can handle the demands of the world or hold fast under pressure.  We diligently try to build our lives with good deeds and works, but neglect our personal relationship with our savior.  But when we are tested, put under fire, it will be our foundation, and not the things we surround ourselves with, that will determine our ability to stand.

          Just as I will diligently check the foundation of the fire pit in the future and always consider if it is able to sustain the heat and flame before EVER trusting it to do so…I will also need to check my spiritual foundation. 

1Cor. 3:10-13  “…I laid a foundation and another is building upon it.  But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.  For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which was laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw, each man’s work will become evident; ….because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.”

 

The Outlet Battle April 6, 2010

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 4:34 pm

          When our son Steven was only a toddler he had a fascination with outlets.   Although we had them covered with safety plugs we still did not want him to touching them.    Since not all the outlets in his life would be protected, we wanted to instill a fear of touching them into him.  I have a very vivid memory of one particular day when Steven would test me and ultimately teach me a life lesson.

         He always looked so innocent, big brown eyes like puddles of mud and bright blonde hair that practically glowed.  I watched him as he crawled over to the outlet in our living room. 

           As his pudgy little fingers rose to touch the forbidden outlet I  pounced upon him with a stern, “no no Steven”.   He looked at me with a kind of bemused smile and slowly raised his hand back to the outlet once more.   Again I uttered the words, “no no Steven!”  this time using as gruff a tone as possible.  He was startled into submission for an entire two seconds before he once agin lifted his fingers toward the outlet.  As if my sweet little baby boy could comprehend my words I proclaimed, “Oh, it’s on little man!”

           I knew I had a few options in this battle over the outlet.

           Option one was not really an option as it involved letting him “learn the hard way” and allowing him to  touch the unprotected outlet.  While some may argue that he would probably only make that mistake once, I would not risk him incurring a permanent negative consequence to his choice to touch it. Option two was probably the most parent friendly of the three and involved simply redirecting his attention to something else and removing him from the source of danger.   Option three involved giving Steven a quick, consistent consequence for choosing to touch the outlet.   If he associated touching the outlet with a negative result, surely he would no longer seek to touch it!

            Option three would require time and patience, but I assumed the resulting lesson learned would be worth my effort so I went with this optionI settled onto the floor beside the outlet and waited for his next attempt.  I did not need to wait long.  As his hand approached the outlet I took it in my own and administered a tiny slap and repeated, “no touch Steven ”.  He looked at his hand, then at me, then at the outlet….there was only a slight bewildered pause before he tried to touch the outlet right then and there again.  Each time he tried to touch the outlet I gave his hand a tiny slap and scolded him.  Each time he looked up at me both hurt and confused just seconds before reaching for the outlet.  I thought for sure I could outlast him in this battle over the outlet, but he was tireless in his determination to touch it. 

          At first I started counting the number of times he would try, and then I lost count.  It amazed me how he could keep doing the same thing even when the result of his effort was negative.  He kept doing the same thing over and over fully expecting a different result.  Eventually I gave up and turned his attention away from the temptation and toward something safer to play.

         Over 20 years later that day is still etched n my mind.  First because it was an accurate indicator of the strong will we would struggle against later in his life, but mostly because the sin nature we all strive with was never more clearly portrayed to me than on that day.

         I think I am not alone in that there are many things I continue to do the same way, truly expecting different results.  Is God in heaven wondering, as I did for Steven, “Is she ever going to figure out that is not good for her?”

         Over and over again I attempt to “handle” situations and temptations on my own.  Over and over again I make the same choices expecting different outcomes. 

         Steven’s victory over the temptation of touching the outlet involved turning him away from the temptation.  The word “repent” is associated with turning away from something bad and turning toward something good.

          Let that be our challenge today, to turn from something not good and toward something pleasing to God…and most of all remember that Jesus said Himself…. “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”