Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

No Bones About It! December 21, 2013

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 2:14 pm

This is our fourth advent post prior to Christmas.  Each week leading up to Christmas, we take the time to focus on the real reason for our merriment.  While we mark the days for the coming of Christmas, we also recall the coming of our Savior. Today, we consider LOVE.

           I had just given our dog a very nice bone from a roast.  This is a rare treat so I had forgotten how painfully pititful it would become.  You see, my porky little Yorkie, Hughie, has a funny way of dealing with new bones.  When we give him a new bone, especially if it is a big one, he frets.  Yes, I think that is the best word to describe it…”fret”.  It is decidedly sad and indescribably pitiful.

          The first time it occurred, I felt awful.  I had gleefully placed an extra fine bone, wrapped in chicken jerky even, at his feet.  I thought he’d scamper off in delight, hunker down on a nearby rug, and enjoy chewing it.  That is what NORMAL dogs do, right?  Well, my “not so normal” Yorky, instead took the oversized bone in his mouth and proceeded to pace around the room emitting a heartbreaking, crying sound.  It was a combination of whining and whimpering.  No amount of consoling tones seemed to help.  He insisted on carrying it around from room to room as if he was in agony.   Eventually, after numerous attempts to bury and unbury it in rugs or blankets, and after easily 10 minutes of pacing around the house, he would settle down and timidly begin to enjoy it.

          I gave him something extra special and he acted as if I had placed undue burden on him.  He whined, whimpered and wagged his nub of a tail as if he were being hurt or neglected.  Instead of feeling like a benevolent dog owner, I felt like I was being cruel.   It truly is a most absurd, pitiful sight to behold.

          I followed him around the house, listening to his cries, trying to lift him up onto the sofa so he could “bury” the bone.  It was not until later, much later, that I found him nibbling on it peacefully.  Sigh, it is a shame when a gift seems more like a burden.

           Hughie’s sad response to his bone immediately came to mind as I read the verse for today’s advent post.   

“ By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  In this is LOVE, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (cancelation) for our sin.”  (1John 4:9-10)

God’s love for us is not to be a burden, it is a gift.  How often do we let ourselves be concerned with the notion that we need to earn God’s love, or that acceptance of His love means we have to work at being worthy.  I “fret” about being loved and feel guilty for my lack of worth.  God’s love to us is full of grace, an undeserved gift.  When we allow ourselves to accept His gift of Love, let it fill our hearts and life, THEN we will know His HOPE, feel His PEACE, and share His JOY…. I do not have to be perfect for I am perfected in His love.

This week, no more “fretting”, it is time to settle down and fully take in God’s love.  Grab this truth, hunker down, chew on it, and enjoy it…the great Christmas Gift….GOD loves you!

 * Please look for the reposting of “The Christmas Tree Angel”  this Christmas Eve….I hope it continues to be an encouragement and reminder of His love for you, as it is for me each year.  May God Bless you all with sweet times with loved ones and days filled with laughter and rest.

 

 

Planes,Paper,Plastic,Panic, Peace December 17, 2013

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 6:15 pm

This is the third week of our advent celebration.  Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we take time to focus on the real reason for our merriment.  While we mark the days for the coming of Christmas, we also recall the coming of our savior.  This week we consider PEACE.

       I was sitting in a small airport in Florida awaiting my return flight home to Virginia.  It seemed to happen in slow motion, a sort of quiet wave of cause and effect.  First, a fellow traveler sitting beside me received an alert on his phone.  A tiny “ping” prompted him to look at the updated information about his/our flight…there was a delay.  As I noticed his activity, I looked at the board above the gate as it rolled over a new notice for passengers…”flight delayed”.    There were only about 20 of us in the waiting area, but eventually everyone had out lap tops or cell phones.  You could hear the other conversations, some to family members alerting them to the glitch in the plans, most were to booking agents seeking assurances that connections could be made.   Then the real trouble began!

        I heard it before I saw it, a heavy sigh, an exasperated gasp, I looked at the board above the gate now radiating that dreaded word, “canceled”.   No one rushed the counter, which was good since there was not an attendant there at the time.  Everyone used calm hushed tones while making calls to airlines, travel agents, and those who would be impacted by the cancellation.  If it were not for the jarring word “canceled” above my flight number, I would have considered the scene serene.

       As I sat there, the scene around me relatively calm, I thought about how very different this would have been if I was at one of the two busier airports we fly out of in Northern Virginia.  I have been there before, at the airport, when flights were getting delayed/canceled….it would never be described as serene

       As soon as there was an indication of a delay, cells phones would burst into action, callers taking demanding tones with whomever they were engaging with.  Long lines would quickly form in front of the gate’s podium.  Overwhelmed airline personnel would attempt to service distraught passengers.  Throughout the gate area you could hear everyone’s stories of despair as they shout into phones or at attendants… “I’ll miss the wedding”, “This meeting is huge, I can’t miss it”, “my boss is not going to believe this”, “where am I going to stay if I can’t get out tonight?”.   Eventually the chaos rolls into a general grumbling that is heard under every breath.   There would be a noticeable rise in the collective blood pressure of everyone involved.

       A canceled flight.  A common crisis.  A dramatically different response. 

       The “plan” changed and passengers could choose how they would respond….peace or panic.   “Peace or panic?”  In my head I hear this phrase in the tone and voice of the cashier at my local Farm Fresh, “paper or plastic?” 

       This week I am thinking of all the things that have not gone as I had planned or hoped.  I KNOW, I KNOW there have been tons of wonderful things that have gone far beyond my expectations.   I do not mean to imply that I take the blessings in my life for granted, but if I am honest, I must admit, there have been moments where I have been shaken, and decidedly a little panicked, when things  did not going according to my plan. 

       My peace. My sense of calm. My feelings. My plans.  These things are always changing.

This week, as we focus on PEACE for advent, I am breathing in the wonder of HIS PEACE. 

 His peace, the peace that settles over me even when things make no sense. 

His peace, the peace that relieves the weight of my guilt.

His peace, the peace that replaces my panic and reminds me that HIS plans are best. 

 His peace, the peace that bundles me up in the knowledge that He will never leave me nor forsake me.  His peace, the peace that “surpasses all understanding”(Phil 4:7)

 

“ ..and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace…” Isaiah 9:6  

Again, I can hear in the voice of a cashier..”Peace or Panic?”…..”Peace, please!”

 

Joyful Noise December 11, 2013

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 8:46 pm

This is the second week of our celebration of the advent of Christ.  Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we take the time to focus on the reason for all the merriment.  While we mark the weeks for the coming of Christmas, we also recall the coming of our savior.    This week we consider JOY.

 

          There it was again…that “joyful noise”.   It started early each day and often could be heard randomly throughout the day, EVEN when we were in public…yep, I am referring to my mom’s singing.  You see, we had the chance to host our mom and mother in law at our home last month.  It was wonderful!  Since we live far away, we considered it a real blessing to have such concentrated time with them.  During their visit I was reminded of my mom’s tendency to hum and sing.  Mom would great each day by entering the living room singing “this is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made!….” 

          Now, I have no room to judge, since CLEARLY I have inherited her singing ability, but mom’s singing definitely falls into the “joyful noise” category.   I remember being woke many mornings during my teenage years by her singing, “rise and shine and give God the glory, glory…”, as she’d uncover my feet and tell me to get up.  It was like having an out of tune alarm clock without the snooze button.  It was also not uncommon for her to sing a short bit of whatever song, usually a hymn, runs through her head.  If you are in the car, or at a mall with her, at some point you will hear humming that could eventually spill over into a few lyrics too.

          I know it sounds like I am complaining, but I am not.  Oh, sure I may roll my eyes and groan when she does it sometimes, and yes I have been known to walk a bit further behind her when she is singing/humming in a store, but this is something I dearly LOVE about my mom.  You see, when I say she is an example of a “Joyful Noise”  I place the emphasis on “Joyful”.  I know she sings because she has true joy in her heart.    

          Mom lives in constant discomfort physically.  She stubbornly deals with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, as well as a host of other of life’s complexities that come with age.   She puts on a smile and determinedly charges through her days, but I know she endures the frustration of that not always being possible.  Her life, like all of our lives, has been full of wonderful blessings as well as great difficulty…but always, always, there is a joy in her heart.  You might say she chooses to be positive and upbeat, she chooses to be joyful….I’m not sure that is the case.

          I think she can’t help but to be joyful.   My mom remembers year-round, something others tend to forget until Christmas.  Jesus was born.  It’s that simple.  He was born, and in His birth He brought our salvation.  God sent His son, as a baby, to a broken world.  In Him we find redemption we do not deserve.  Through Him we experience grace, the unearned favor of a Holy God.   There should be a gigantic collective, “WHEW”, sighed out by the world. 

          We will face challenges in this life.   Our flesh is temporary and fails us way too often.  We may make mistakes, even big ones.  But, because of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ, we have forgiveness of our sins and a God Who desires to be in a relationship with us every day.    That is truly Joyful news. 

“and the angel said them, “Do not be afraid; for behold I bring you good news of great JOY which shall be for ALL people,  for today in the city of David there has been born for YOU a savior, Who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10,11

May this year find each of us mindful of the Joy He puts in our hearts, no matter our circumstances, and yes….may we even be overcome with the need to make a “Joyful Noise”!

 

 

 

Glad It Wasn’t A Rattle! December 6, 2013

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 11:52 am

This week was the first of our celebration of the advent of the Christ.  Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we take the time to focus on the reason for all the merriment.  While we mark the weeks for the coming of Christmas, we also recall the coming of our savior.    This week we consider HOPE.

       “Uhg, stupid wise men!”  I thought to myself as, once again, I had to place them back on their feet.  Our nativity set has been a part of our family since the kids were babies.  A gift from my mother-in-law, it is a little wooden stable, a few shards of hay, and little plastic replicas of the major players in the nativity scenario.  While I know the actual timeline for events of those days places the wise men arriving to meet Jesus a few years after His birth, we still set up the traditional scene…Mary, Joseph, baby in manger, shepherds, cow, camel and yes, the wise men.  As I positioned, and repositioned, each figure in an effort to produce the perfect display, I kept knocking the wise men over.   I picked one of them up and rolled its tiny figure in my fingers.  I looked into its little painted face.  In his statuesque hands he held a small, gold colored, bottle.  I wondered if this was supposed to be the myrrh.

        Myrrh, a fragrant substance commonly used for embalming at the time of Christ’s birth.  It was, by way of its value, a gift fit only for a king…but an odd choice for a baby gift.  I like to imagine the scene as if they were presenting it at a baby shower. 

        Picture Mary, a glowing new mommy, opening gifts from friends and well wishers.  No doubt she would react with pleasure as she unwraps various offerings of handmade clothes, blankets, toys and trinkets.  Her heart may be relieved when some of the gifts were meant to aid in the family’s financial needs, such as when she unwrapped the gold a wise man brought.  I picture the house filled with laughter and giggling as everyone coos over the little one, while Mary and Joseph open the gifts….then there is a hush.  Mary and Joseph hold a bottle of Myrrh in their hands, the burlap it was wrapped in falls quietly to the floor.  Their faces ashen, they look in one another’s eyes in a way the crowd cannot understand, in a knowing kind of way.  All conversation ceases, no more giggling or cooing.    The awkward silence is broken when someone finally shouts out, “Okay, who’s the wise guy who brought the MYRRH?  Did they run out of blankets and rattles at Bagdad Babies R Us?”

        What would happen if someone brought a gift like that to a baby shower these days?  A wedding gown for a new baby girl?  A pair of size 10 men’s shoes for the baby boy?  The deed to a burial plot?  In this context it seems highly unacceptable as a gift, but as I looked at the painted bottle in my tiny wise man’s hands I found myself thinking of HOPE.

        The gift of myrrh is said to be symbolic of the eventual death of Christ, but it is important to remember that His death was/is our HOPE, because in dying, He set us free from our sins.   At Christmas we do not just celebrate the birth of Christ, if that were so, His birth would be no greater than any other.  This season we celebrate that His birth was God’s gift of HOPE to us.  He would be born, live, die and conquer death.  In Him we have hope for forgiveness of our sins, “for while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.   

        That hastily painted bottle, sculpted against the plastic wise man in my hand, will always remind me that in the birth of His son, by the grace of God, I find forgiveness and hope in all things. 

The Myrrh reminds us, that while some welcomed a new baby,

the world welcomed so much more….the world welcomed HOPE, unshakable, saving HOPE.

“My soul waits in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken.”  Psalm 63:5,6