Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Sunshine and Shade February 24, 2011

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 1:13 pm

          Last weekend I joined friends for a special birthday adventure.  Phyllis had accomplished turning 60 and we decided a trip commemorating this event was in order!   Our excursion involved  a night at a Bed & Breakfast, tour of a Virginia winery and a tour of Monticello(historic home of Thomas Jefferson). 

          The fun began even before we left the parking lot at the start of our trip.  As we piled our overnight bags and then ourselves into our friend’s 8 passenger SUV there was an air of excitement.  It felt just like being a teenager heading off to an overnight camp of sorts…except we were clutching our coffee cups instead of soda cans and less than nibble in climbing to the back seat. 

         It did not take long before the story telling began as we recalled the hilarious antics of our kids in their youth.   It seemed like only yesterday when the boys emptied our pantries and hair dye and cake mix boxes were found in the trash following a girl’s sleep over.  Over the miles and well into the evening, we had precious time to get caught up with each other, hear about families and learn what was new in each other’s lives.

          While we were joyfully creating sweet new memories while on this adventure…it also reminded me of why I love these women.

          These are the women who shared more than just stories of funny, happy times in their lives.  These women were quick to share their struggles as well.  When I was in a valley these were the women who boldly admitted they had been there too and helped me see my way out of it.  When I faltered as a parent and bent under the weight of despair, these were the women who encouraged me.  They shared their own battles so that I could see the hand of God in their lives and hold faithfully to His promises. 

Following our tour of Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, I discovered this quote by him,

 “…friendship is precious not only in shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.”

          What a privilege it is to share one’s life with others….our falling down AND our getting up, our sorrows AND our comforts,  our despair AND our hope…that in all of life, both shade and sunshine, we may see the hand of God and glorify Him in our friendships.

“…and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our suffering, so also are you sharers of our comfort.”

2 Corinthians 1:7

 

 

13.1 February 15, 2011

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 5:45 pm

          The bright yellow t-shirt on the guy in front of me read, “This seemed like a good idea 2 months ago….”.   For me, it was a “good” idea about 5 months ago.  Spring of 2010 I began learning how to run following a program titled Couch to 5K.  By August I was able to run/trudge through my first 5k thanks greatly to the encouragement of my friend Ann.  That fall Ann invited several of us to consider a half marathon (13.1miles) in Feb. 2011.   To this day I am not sure what possessed me to sign up.  It may have been the fun I was having hanging out with this group of young lady runners from our church.  It may have been my desire to stay motivated to get in shape, or MAYBE it was the photo of powdered sugar coated beignets, which Ann included in her email about the race.  A beignet is a New Orleans treat that is best described as what would happen if you merged the world’s fluffiest doughnut with a crispy fried funnel cake, YUM!  Next thing I knew, I was joining Ann, Desi and two of Ann’s former college buddies, Tina and Erin for the Rock and Roll half Marathon in New Orleans to benefit the American Cancer Society.  

           The training for running 13.1 miles when you are a non-runner is not as much intense as it is consistent.  Each week we would run about every other day, gradually increasing our distance and stamina.  I was happily surprised when I found myself able to indeed run farther each week.  I was far from fast, and my running technique may have been less than perfect, but I was working hard and completing my goals.  By January, I began to feel the panic.  Things like “What was I thinking?!” , “This is totally unrealistic” and “maybe I could just walk the entire 13.1 miles” where never far from my lips, that and “I’m going kill Ann for getting me into this”.  By February, I was secretly hoping the return of Christ, and subsequent rapture, would occur and relieve me of having to run this race.  Eventually I found myself nestled among a throng of runners, a numbered bib pinned to my shirt, and my heart pounding.

         While waiting to start, I thought of something said at dinner the night before.  Erin shared how she did not run with any headset or music and that she was challenging herself to interact with others in the race.  That idea was totally opposite of my game plan.  I had my music loaded, my ball cap on and was ready to block out everything I could and focus on getting done.   I decided to change my game plan a bit, my new goals included:

1.) run at my own pace 2.)  listen to the bands and encouragers along the route 3. talk to at least one person along the way if even for a minute and 4.) do not stop.

          It was a gorgeous Sunday morning, chilly, but sunny with a bright blue sky.  Dear friends had written encouraging notes and were praying for us that morning.  I felt incredibly lifted up and energized by the time I finished the first mile.  The end of the second mile is always the hardest for me for some reason.  The discomfort felt in my lungs and heart usually disappears after mile three, but at the time, it makes me feel as if I am incapable of running any great length and the mental battle can be hard.  Just as I was feeling as if I had bitten off more than I could chew, I noticed a portion of scripture on the back of a t-shirt of another runner.  It was from Isaiah 40:31

“Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength….they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not grow weary.”

          I jogged up beside her and commented on her shirt.  I’m not sure exactly what I said, but I know it was a reference to the probability that being “weary” was inevitable today.   I did not realize it then, but it would later be infinitely clear that this was the precise moment God was answering the prayers of my friends back home.  Her name was Angie (hmmmm, pretty close to angel don’t you think?).  She was a fellow Christian who was there with a Christian runners group from Alabama, Sole to Soul Sisters.   We would talk, but not at great length since we were both busy breathing and often working hard, but it was just enough. 

           The race got brighter it seemed.  I took off my head set and listened to the bands as we passed, enjoyed the antics of the encouraging spectators, and enjoyed the new scenery along the route.  At each passing milestone, we shared astonishment that we were still going.  When we tired, we slowed down, but kept going.  When I thought about stopping, I reconsidered it because she was with me.  When it got painful, it was good to have someone there to hear me complain, someone to share my pain.  She kept things in perspective by reminding me as we passed markers what our running time was, I did not even have the energy to look down at my own tracker on my wrist. 

           In our final miles, when normally I would have been pushing myself and struggling with weariness, I was excited and proud of us.  My heart felt strong even though my legs were aching and burning.  When we crossed the finish line, we hugged and shared the joy of the accomplishment.   Now I know what Isaiah ment…I beleive one of the ways God enables us to “run and not get tired, walk and not grow weary” in this life is by surrounding us with others who journey along with us, share our struggles, encourage our steps and push us to complete our race.

 

Cow Tipping February 9, 2011

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 12:18 am

          Stories were being shared of growing up “back in the day” in small southern towns.  I suppose the open admission of cow tipping was inevitable, but I was still caught off guard.  Seriously?  I had heard of cow tipping, but I must admit this was my first time meeting a couple of bonifide cow tippers.  I was beyond curious.  “Is it like rocking a small car?” I asked picturing the time I saw several large football players attempt to roll a Volkswagon on it’s side.   “You just get a couple of big fellas, shoulders down and hit it hard,” came the reply.  The other cow tipper made it sound even easier, “If you think about it,” he said “cows are not meant to move laterally.  Cows rarely move backward, almost always move forward, and seldom have reason to move laterally…they are very unstable from the side.”  I was a bit stunned by this application of physics to cow tipping. 

          I pictured the poor cow standing in a sleep-induced stupor alone on a hilly terrain.  How startled the cow must have been to find his body pushed a direction it was not planning to go.  Unprepared to compensate for the new sensation of being moved sideways it could not adjust in time and soon found itself on its side on the ground. 

           I wondered how cows might prepare for such an affront.   Maybe they could purchase stabilizing bars like the ones found on test vehicles to prevent rollovers during extreme turns.  Maybe they could stand with their legs further apart giving them a wider more stable base.  On the other hand,…maybe they could stand close to one another while asleep.  Seems to me that if unplanned lateral movement was their weakness then having other cows around would help keep them upright…yes, that would do I think.

          The day I heard this story I felt a lot like those cows.   My cousin, Gary Cato, had passed unexpectedly.   We had gathered at his home following his funeral.  There in his kitchen, family and friends shared stories of growing up with him and the privilege of knowing him.   The stories of his life, and the impact he had on those around him, helped ease some of the ache felt by those who understood what an amazing husband, father, and son he was.

          When I heard of his death, I felt like a cow that had just been tipped.  I was NOT ready for the impact of those words.  I found it difficult to adjust to what had occurred.    I only had plans to move forward.  There was the phone call I intended to make, the e-mail I composed in my head but never sent, the opportunity to know him better that was never taken…I did not expect this emotional hit that would cause imbalance and change the direction of things.  But life does indeed sometimes hit us from the side.

         How often do we look forward, brace for known challenges, only to find ourselves spinning from the chaos of life.  I know I am not the only tipped cow.  Maybe you’ve experienced unexpected loss, hurt or challenges.  Maybe you know what it’s like to find yourself asking what happened, how did we get here, how are we going to get back up.  Here is what I know….the cow may be surprised by it’s tipping, but God has His eyes on the cow.  God is not surprised by our loss, hurts or challenges.  He is with us in it all.  He surrounds us with loved ones, family and friends, who stand with us, press against us and help keep us upright.

Life may not always meet my expectations, but my God never fails me.

“The Lord is near the broken hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Lord, I pray you bring comfort and peace beyond all comprehension to those whose hearts are broken, whose spirits are crushed, restore thier joy that they may once again find their feet under them and strength to stand firm against the world. Amen