Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Sweat Suit Costume Memories October 27, 2011

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 12:30 pm

           A  Raggedy Ann doll,  a three-armed thing,  a giant foot(bloody stump of an ankle included), and of course the less than figure flattering stuffed pumpkin, these are just a few of the creative Halloween costumes my mom managed to make for me when I was growing up.  In fact, I do not recall ever going to the store to buy a manufactured costume.  I suppose that is why, when my own kids began to require Halloween costumes, I felt compelled to MAKE their costumes.

          I am sure my kids would have been THRILLED to have the normal costumes they saw in the stores, but that did not keep me from insisting on a good old homemade costume.  Unfortunately, I did not inherit my mom’s skills.  Following a pattern and sewing were out of the question.   I was pretty pleased with myself when I figured out I could transform my youngest into a mouse using a grey sweat suit, headband, felt, glue gun, safety pins and face paint.  My son morphed into a tiger with nothing more than an orange sweat suit painted with stripes, elaborate face paint and a safety pinned tail. 

         I had not planned it, but eventually most of my kid’s Halloween costumes were some variation of a sweat suit and fabric paint. 

Dalmatian puppy– white sweat suit painted with spots

 Wolf-black hooded sweat suit with ears pinned to hood and fancy face paint

Kitty Cat-black sweat suit, felt tail, headband with ears

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle– green sweat suit, felt, painted cardboard

You get the idea…

          Looking back, I am impressed with what good sports my kids were about it.  They stood beside their friends to pose for photos and never once asked me why the other costumes looked better than theirs did.  “Well, you see…Mathew and Kristin’s mommy knows how to sew and she used REAL fabric and REAL patterns and she spent A LOT more time on the costumes…someday your mommy may learn to sew too.”  I had my reply practiced, but knew it would not be truthful, I knew I was not likely to learn to sew.  I was glad they never asked. 

           I did it out of love.  Handmade costumes represented time and effort, which I knew to be valuable.  I wanted to give my kids time and effort, but I am not certain my costume making was entirely from a pure heart.  A closer look at past Halloweens reveals a secondary reason for my undertakings.  I wanted OTHER moms to see that I cared enough to MAKE my kids costumes.  I do not recall actually thinking that at the time, but if I am honest with myself, I can see it was an incentive.  Even when my kids wanted nothing more than a plastic mask held in place by a thin strip of elastic, I insisted on one of our sweat suit creations. 

          At some point, it stopped being about what made them happy and more about not looking like a mom who did not invest time and effort.  Yep, in trying to make costumes so my kids could pretend they were something they are not for Halloween, I was pretending to be something I was not.

          I heard a friend of mine give a devotion recently in which she talked about masks.  Her words struck my heart as she spoke of how often we place on a mask.  I was convicted about how often I pretend to be something I am not.  I have used masks many times.  Saying we are okay when someone asks, when in reality we are not and smiling when we do not really feel happy are just two examples of masks we tend to wear.  Sometimes we put on a mask and cape and secretly hope no one notices that below the “super mommy/daddy” or “super husband/wife” costume is a worn, discouraged, thirsty soul.   If we do not learn to put our masks aside, how will others know our need, and how, when God brings us through a trial, will others be able to see His good works and glorify Him?

          The memory of all those sweat suit costumes makes me smile, but it also reminds me how important it is to let others see us, not as we wish they would, but as we know we are…for it is in this way our God can best be seen and glorified.

          Paul could have put on a mask so others did not know he was physically weak, but instead he shared God’s response to his struggle.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore, I am well contented with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 

(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

 

 

Slaughtering Pigs October 18, 2011

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 8:27 pm

          There I was, innocently watching a silly sitcom on television, when all of the sudden one of the characters spouts a  line that not only causes a lilt of laughter, but also sets the path for God to remind me of something He is forever teaching me.

          One of the characters was anxiously trying not to take sides when two of his friends were in a disagreement.. He was trying to avoid conflict. His character worked hard to keep both friends happy and unaware he was seeing them both.  While this did  lead to lots of comedic moments, the poor guy was overwhelmed with anxiety.   He finally admitted to one he was spending time with the other friend.   The response he received was both a relief and a surprise. It did not matter to him if he spent time with the other friend.  That is when he said it, the thing that stuck in my head long after the show’s laugh track subsided…. “Well, looks like we slaughtered a pig and no one wanted bacon!” at which point he simply turned and walked away as if all was well.

          “Looks like we slaughtered a pig and no one wanted bacon!”  

 I love this phrase.  This is a great visual for the wastefulness of our effort sometimes.   We can create a mess of things when it is not necessary.  I can easily recall spending time and energy fretting over things I had little control over, only to later realize my anxiety was in vain.  I cannot count the times I attempted to resolve a personal problem on my own and later regretted not letting God lead me.  I would love to have back the hours I wasted on worry.  I have done a lot of “pig slaughtering” only to find there was no need, no one wanted “bacon”. 

          The next day, as I sat in church, this same phrase swept through my mind as I found myself reading  Matthew 6:34Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”     Is my anxiety little more than slaughtering pigs when no bacon is needed?  It did not take long for the words of my mom to echo in my heart as well…for as long as I can remember she has quoted Phil 4:6&7 to me, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.”    Today I am reassessing my slaughterhouse.   May we all be challenged once more to lay down the burden and fruitlessness of anxiety, and resisit the urge to “slaughter a pig when no one wants bacon”!

 

Almost There? October 11, 2011

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 11:41 am

          I did a lot of reading this last Sunday.   I am referring to the numerous t-shirts and posters found all throughout the course of the Army Ten Miler.  Here are some of my favorites: “If found on ground, please drag across finish line”, “I know I’m slow, deal with it or pass me!”, and “Please God, let there be someone behind me to read this.” (I like to think I was this person’s answer to prayer since indeed I stayed behind them to read it for the rest of the run.)  Without question, the words with the greatest impact on my race were on a poster held up by an encouraging spectator around mile five. “If you made it to the starting line, you can make it to the finish line!”  

         By mile 5 I felt like I was done.  The idea that I was only half way through was more discouraging than encouraging.  The poster’s words reminded me that I had already done the hardest part; I got to the starting line.  Even though I am pretty certain the point could easily be argued, by mile 6 I had already considered numerous viable ways I could not make it to the finish line, I did find myself once again encouraged. 

          For the remainder of the run I was suspicious that someone had moved the finish line.  Shouts of “You’re almost there!”, seemd like either gross miscalculations or taunting on the part of well-intentioned spectators.  I kept thinking of that poster, “If you made it to the starting line, you can make it to the finish line!”    I would never have imagined I’d be at any starting line this time last year, yet here I was, on my way to an elusive finishing line.   I thought about how this same idea could also be helpful in my life beyond this event.

          Satan has quite an arsenal of techniques to discourage or derail our daily endeavors.  We can get so overwhelmed by the goals, tasks or responsibilities placed before us that we do not move forward.   The reality is that God has planned our journey.  Some races are long and trying, full of hills and rough terrain.  Some journeys are like sprints, requiring seasons of focus and energy followed by seasons of quiet and recovery.  Sometimes life moves at an agonizingly slow pace, fueling frustration, and challenging our patience.   Nevertheless, no matter what is before us, God has brought us to the starting line.   We have no reason to doubt that our God will also bring us to the finish line.  It is God after all who has determined the location of the finish line.   He will give us the strength, energy, and stamina to finish what He has set before us.

“…The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable.  He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power….those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings of eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:28-31

 

 

 

 

Caution, Squirrel Crossing October 6, 2011

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 1:12 pm

          The bad news is I ran over a squirrel, the good news is he lived to tell his friends about the encounter.  His survival is due to the fact that I was not driving a car at the time.  Yep, l almost killed a squirrel while jogging.

          Even now I am not sure how Mr. Squirrel got so close to meeting his demise.  It is not as if I snuck up on him, or that I was running so fast he did not see me coming.   I was far from stealth in my approach.  My feet plodded heavy against the paved trail, well into a long run, I was having difficulty even picking my feet up.   I am certain the desperate pull of air into my lungs with each step I took, followed by a laborious exhale, produced a cadence not unlike the noticeable chugging of an oncoming train.   I was sure he would scurry away as I approached.  I did not account for his indecisiveness. 

          I slowed my approach and jogged a bit to the left of his position on the edge of the pavement.  He was busy working a nut of some kind into the muddy soil beside the trail.  I saw the moment he noticed me, I was only about two feet away at this point.  That is when it happened.

          You are probably familiar with that startling, back and forth dance we sometimes see squirrels do in the face of an oncoming vehicle.  Well imagine this same evasive maneuvering taking place under your feet.  As I took a step his direction, he took a four-point stance and stared me down.  He then darted to his left, which would have worked since I was passing to my left, but for some reason he changed his little squirrel mind and redirected himself to his right…in a direct collision course with my Nike running shoe!  At this point things fell into slow motion as I attempted to propel myself up and over his head.  I employed what I am sure was a spectacular hop/skip/jump technique just as he once again changed directions and scampered to safety.

          For the remainder of my run I kept imagining all the possible ways that could have gone differently.  What if I had actually managed to step on him?  There would be no amount of counseling to overcome the memory of picking fur from my Nikes!  What if someone had captured this on video?  I would be a celebrity as there is no doubt such a clip would go viral on You Tube! 

          Today I am wondering what would have happened if the little woodland critter had stayed safely in one place. The answer is easy, I would not find myself sitting here today sharing this little adventure with others,  and I would not be praising God for His amazing way of bringing us back to Him when we struggle.

         I have been struggling.  Lately I have not been able to write.  More honestly, I have not been “willing” to write.  I am not sure entirely why I have not been diligent, but I do know that for me not attempting to write is disobedience since I know that is what He asks me to do.  A writer friend of mine has a favorite quote from Harriett the Spy, “writers, write.”   I know I need to be writing.

          Following my squirrel encounter I could not wait to share this misadventure with those who read my blog, I thought you would enjoy it.  Usually God shows me a life application that flows from such events, but when I sat down at the computer, I realized I had none.   Then, in the quite moment before the keyboard and staring at the blank screen, it came.   God used that squirrel to place me right here, right now.   

          It feels good to be back on my writing bench, at my writing desk with my dog curled up beside me.  God knew I would not be able to resist telling the tale and in so doing, I would be reminded of His direction for my life, thinking of the best way to share and seeking the fingerprints of God in everyday things. 

We are all challenged daily to do the things God has called us to do.  I hope that today you find time to seek or rediscover His calling in your life. 

May God place squirrels in your path that lead you back to Him!

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling…” Ephesians 1:18