Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Beyond the Bulb April 26, 2011

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 6:39 pm

          Two years ago I gave my friends Amaryllis bulb kits for Christmas.  I even blogged about the experience and called it the Amaryllis Project.  It was amazing any of the plants  lived, let alone bloomed, given the difficult start I gave them.  It was so much fun hearing from my friends as they encountered various degrees of success with the plants, some even sending picture updates to my phone.   I decided to do it again this year.  Just as the year before, some grew and flowered, some poked through the soil but never bloomed, and some never made it out of bulb stage(or out of the packaging).  I had not thought of those plants since Christmas, that is until I got a call from one of my friends yesterday.

          She called to share the amazing sight found in her garage.  There on a shelf, where she had set both dormant bulbs and their containers, where small growing plants.  Yep, both where beginning to grow once more.  Neither of them had been in the light or given water for months.  One of the bulbs was from the year before and had not been tended to for over a year!  Yet there they were, pushing through dry soil and displaying unexpected life. 

          I can’t help but think of all the times I have been unsuccessful in keeping plants or flowers alive, yet here were two plants doing their best to exist without anyone’s care.  My friend pointed out what a great reminder they are that it does not matter what man does, ultimately life is in God’s control.

         I think if I had been my friend I would have just tossed the plants as soon as they looked dead and dried up. Sometimes we are quick to give up on ourselves in much the same way, but God sees deeper.  He sees the redeemable “bulb” of life He placed in each of us.

           These bulbs may have been forgotten and left unattended, but God restored and redeemed them.  I too have found myself in need of this same redemption.  At times I neglect my walk with my God, fail to nourish my heart with His Word, bury my sin and fade into the crowd around me.   Sometimes we feel like we are far away from Him, forgotten and lost under the weight of our life choices, but we have a God who seeks to redeem us.  God desires to bring us back from the depths of our sin just as he has unearthed these Amaryllis plants, and just as Christ rose beyond death so that we can be redeemed.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed appearing of the glory of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us that He might REDEEM us…”                    Titus 3: 13 & 14

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23

 

Dinner with Friends April 21, 2011

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 8:51 am

          Okay, so it wasn’t quite the reenactment of the last super, but something about dinner last night just has me thinking about it.  Throughout the year my friends and I get together to celebrate birthdays.  We’ve done for it for years and now it is made even more special as we are often joined by some of our now adult daughters.  This night we were a table for 11 and as I surveyed the scene before me began to wonder about the final meal Jesus shared with His disciples. 

          As we piled into cars like school kids in route to a field trip, I wondered which of His disciples kept track of where everyone was and made sure they all reached their destination.   In our small group there are always some who are early, some who are just in time, and some who are late.  I wonder which of the disciples stood waiting for the others and which scurried to meet up with the group after a busy day at work?

          Each dinner someone takes on the responsibility to organize us.  She will coordinate our schedules, make reservations, and in general herd us like cats until we finally have a date, time and place to meet.  As I looked down the table at my dear friend who had gathered us together this night and had not only made arrangements for us, but also provided snacks for our drive into the city, I wondered which of the disciples took care of such details for Jesus.  He instructed His disciples where to go to begin preparations for their Passover meal, but which of them took the lead in making preparations.  Surely, one of the disciples had a gift of organization and planning, there is at least one in every group of friends.

          There we were, 11 ladies sitting around the dinner table,excited to have this time together.  Within minutes of settling into our seats and receiving our glasses of water, one was knocked over.  This is a common occurrence at our dinners for some reason, I was glad it was not me this time. I overheard the daughters mentioning how eating out with us moms is maybe good preparation for dealing with kids at mealtime.  I wondered what mishaps the disciples encountered that fateful night at their table.   As we scrambled to stop the flow of ice water with napkins too fancy to effectively absorb anything, I can’t help but picture Peter knocking over his cup as he gestured wildly while recounting the story of the time he walked on water with Jesus.  Maybe Matthew flew into action to sop up the spilt beverage with the edge of his robe, perhaps the others scrambled to their feet to avoid getting wet.  I know there is no Biblical account of such an event, but for those of us who frequently eat in small groups with friends it seems likely there was at least one mishap.

            We were so excited to be together in one place and time that the conversations quickly began to flow.   Sitting around a long table makes it necessary for numerous conversations to be going on simultaneously which  can best be described as conversation chaos.   One end of the table was intently gathering their heads together to better hear one another as they discussed Bible studies, family, and anything else that was affecting their days.  The other end of the table, comprised mainly of the young adult daughters, told stories of recent trips, reminisced about growing up as youth together, and the changes and challenges they each faced as young married ladies.  Those seated in the middle section of the table would alternately lean to either end of the table to hear what was being shared, as well as carrying on their own conversation with those across from them.  I wonder if the disciples had similar conversation dynamics.   Did those at one end of the table wonder what the others at the far end of table were laughing about?  Did those in the center strain to hear what was being shared at each end of the table? 

          Though I am normally busy talking the ear off my friends, this night I stopped often and simply looked around the table.  I love these ladies.  We are all so different and yet we each meet one another’s needs in our relationships.  These are the women who have laughed often and loud with me, cried with me, hurt with me, encouraged me and listened to me.  We have shared a lot of life.  We have seen our children through their teen years together, endured loss of loved ones, career transitions, serving in church together and growing up in general.  Though their time together was short no doubt the disciples lived a lot of life together.  They traveled great distances, learned, and served together.  I imagine there were many nights they sat together around a fire or at a table and shared their personal stories with each other.  I wonder if at some point during that last supper, if some of the men did not also take in their surroundings and consider their love for those around that table. 

          I wondered last night how hard it would be if one of us had stood and spoke of “going away”.   My heart would break even if I could understand the need for the departure.  I would hang onto every word of promise of their return, I would immediately begin to plan how we could stay in touch…there would be a lot of tears.

          Though I cannot completely imagine the emotions of the disciples in that final supper,  I am reminded of the weight of their impending loss.  Sometimes in my hurry to celebrate the resurrection of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I forget to contemplate the emotional and physical pain that had to take place for my redemption.   Today my heart aches at the thought of such loss, it is a time to mourn…but  PRAISE BE TO GOD,  we can face this sorrow knowing the time to celebrate is soon!

 

Abigail April 12, 2011

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 9:44 pm

(I apologize to those who have read this before, but I can’t help but repost this each Easter)

          I’ve lost track of how many years ago it was, yet each Spring I can’t help but recall my introduction to Abigail.  I was a high school science/Bible teacher for a small Christian school at the time. One of my students was a football sized young man named Nick.  He worked for a local farmer who had offered him a young lamb to take home.  Nick’s mom, apparently destined for sainthood, not only allowed him to bring the lamb home, but he got to keep it in his room!  Early that Spring Nick brought photos to share.  To my amazement, there, wedged beside his bed and amid typical teenage squalor, was a carefully built pen, complete with wood rails, chicken wire and hay.  Abigail the lamb had found a perfect home.  Over the next few weeks Nick would have numerous stories to tell of Abigail’s antics.  I couldn’t wait to see her for myself, so I invited Nick to bring her to school one morning.

          I ushered my entire class outside and we waited like giddy preschoolers for Abigail’s arrival.  I am certain I will never be able to adequately describe what I saw that day.  I will do my best.  We watched as Nick emerged from his vehicle with Abigail cradled in his big burly arms.  We stood transfixed by the sight of what can only be inadequately referred to as precious”.  Her pure, white coat seemed almost translucent, radiating light under the bright blue, cloudless sky.   Her tiny nose was a perfect, pink velvet triangle perched just above her little pink mouth.    As I placed my hand on her sweet little head she looked at me.  I found myself staring into the depths of clear, brilliant blue eyes.  I realized I had been holding my breath in awe.  We were expecting to see a cute lamb, somewhat off white in color.  I had not considered that, unlike the lambs at the local petting zoo, Abigail had been living in a clean, loving, environment.  After everyone had made Abigail’s acquaintance, Nick left to return her home.  The students talked excitedly about how perfect she was as we settled back into Bible class.

          We soon realized the relevance of Abigail’s visit as we continued our study of Passover.  The original Passover took place when Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt.  God instructed them to mark their door post with the blood of a male lamb.  This was to protect them from the final plague which was the death of all first born in any home not so protected. (Exodus 11&12)  The yearly commemoration of this event required the father to select the best, blemish free lamb and set it apart for the Passover…many days prior to the celebration

          My students and I began to consider something quite startling.  There was a good chance that the lamb would have been brought into the house or yard during that time.  This perfect little lamb, probably as pure white, precious and sweet as our Abigail, may have clamored under their feet while they did chores, fed out of their hands and shared a living area.  After four days, this lamb, which by now had become even more precious to the family, was to be sacrificed.  

          Suddenly one can imagine the cries of the children, the quite sob of their mother and the sorrow in the eyes of the father who knows a blood sacrifice is required.   For the first time, since meeting Abigail, we could truly envision the “sacrificial lamb” of the Scriptures.

          The continued observance of Passover was a powerful object lesson for generations of Israelites.  Every family member would be reminded not only of God’s protection and provision when He freed them from slavery, but also of the cost…the blood of their most precious lamb.  This Easter we consider the final sacrifice.  Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, perfect and precious beyond description, was sacrificed for our sin.  Many movies and videos have stirred the heart of man as they depict the brutal crucifixion of our Christ, yet none can compare to the vision of Abigail. 

          As we celebrate our freedom from sin and death through the resurrection of our Lord, let’s never forget the cost.  Praise God His love and grace make us worthy of such a sacrifice!

 “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold…

but with precious blood, as a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

 

 

Woman Overboard! April 7, 2011

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 11:09 am

          Last Saturday was a day of learning some very good lessons, the very hard way.  My husband and I had taken our boat to a local marina to meet up with some friends for our annual boat safety inspections.   We spent a wonderful morning hanging out at the dock while awaiting the safety inspector to tour each boat.   It was a chilly day and as the last boat was inspected, we decided to return to our marina.  The sun had given up trying to shine and a cold rain had just dowsed the area as we began to depart.  

          Since my husband pilots our boat, it is my job as first mate to handle the lines and fenders used in docking.  I was on the side of our 48 Silverton ready to catch the lines tossed to me by those on the dock when things went a little crazy.  Those in various vantage points would probably describe what happened next differently, but we all agree it was in slow motion.

(As a bit of a disclaimer, I’d like to re-mention it was very cold and wet that day.  My hands were cold from untying dock lines and all surfaces were slick.  But feel free to judge my lack of gracefulness.)

          Apparently, and I yield to my friends on the dock on this point since I have no recollection of how I managed to do it, I missed one of the steps on the upper edge of the boat’s side.  All I recall was realizing I no longer had my head over my feet and that I was going over the side of the boat.  I tried desperately to grasp the slippery rail and line.  For an instant, I thought I could redeem the moment and save myself, just for an instant.   I don’t recall much about the 4 ft. drop into the 45 degree Potomac River.  My husband did not see it, but from the flybridge heard the splash and saw and heard the gasps of all those on the dock.  All he could do was maneuver the boat safely away from me.   Yep, there I was, upside down underwater and actually thinking, “at least there is no ice.” and of course, “well, this is embarrassing”.

          Meanwhile up on the dock, my friends were readying to help.  Jorge had already discarded cell phone and keys ready to jump in after me, Nanny and Dianna collected towels and Richard was at the ladder.   It was only seconds before I bobbed to the surface, but it felt like a scene from the Titanic.  Immediately before me, I saw the ladder attached to the dock and began to swim.  By the time I got to the ladder it took great effort to get up the first few rungs.  My hands were cold and beside my own weight, I now carried half the Potomac in my jacket pockets.  Thankfully, Jorge and Richard were at the ladder.  I looked up and saw two strong hands stretching toward me and heard them yelling for me to take their hands. I told myself, I can do this, and almost declined their offer, then I thought how nice it would be to be on the dry dock and I grabbed hold.  The next thing I knew, I was standing on the dock, dripping wet and engulfed in numerous towels and in Nanny’s tight bear hug.   What an exciting day!  Okay, it was a bit scary, for all of us.  But the good news is everyone is safe and there were plenty of lessons learned.  These last few days I feel God continues to press some of these lessons even deeper into my heart.

Lesson #1   You cannot save yourself when you get out over the edge.  Yep, maybe if I had been stronger, maybe if it had not been freezing cold and wet, maybe if I had super sticky feet like Spiderman, I could have avoided falling.  However, there does come a time when we must give in to the fall while expecting to get back up.  There is a point in life when our energy is better spent on redemption and recovering instead of defying and denying.

Lesson #2    If you’re going to fall, and especially if you’re going to fall in a spectacular way, it is always best to do so in front of friends!   Often we wish no one could see us fall, but trust me, I was thankful to have dear friends nearby ready to call me to safety, lift me up, surround and hold me till I could stand on my own once more.   Of course, when the shock and fear wear off…this may take a while since it was such a serious event, but it will….no doubt I will endure a bit of laughter over my graceful personal polar plunge, but it will be worth it.  Never be afraid to fall, just be sure to do it when your friends are looking.

Lesson # 3   When someone offers you their hand, take it.  I can’t believe my hesitation, if only for a moment, in grasping my friends’ outstretched hands.  If someone is willing to help you, even if you think you can do it alone, take the help.  God provides hands of friends, family and even strangers to make your journey easier, safer, quicker, better.

I will not forget the lessons learned that day, but even more…I am mindful of how blessed I am to have learned these lessons with minimal cost and am reminded of the blessings that come with having friends with big hearts, quick minds and strong hands.