Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

You are My Sunshine! December 11, 2018

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 5:44 pm

This is the third week of Advent.  Each week four prior to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior.  In some households a candle is lit in recognition of each of the Advent themes.  This week, we light the candle of PEACE.

 

At the birth of John the Baptist, in Luke 1:76-80, it was told of the message he would share with the world.

“And you child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go before The Lord to prepare His ways; To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.  Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

As I read this, I could not help but hear the song “You are My Sunshine” playing in my head.  Never really thought of it as a Christmas carol, but maybe it should be?  The birth of Jesus WAS God sending His SONshine to light our way to peace.  Peace with man, peace with God.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ because His peace is all about finding light in the darkness, the reconciling our sin filled heart with our Holy God.

This time of year, I find myself mindful that God’s peace does not mean the world is without troubles.  It does not promise us a lack of darkness.  God’s peace is the light to navigate the darkness and redemption from the eternal consequences of a dark/sin filled life.

Next time you get a chance to sing some Christmas songs, be sure to include a boisterous rendition of “You are My Sunshine”!

 

St. Augustine and the Dance Lesson December 4, 2018

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 7:13 pm

This is the second week of Advent.  Each week, four prior to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior.  In some households a candle will be lit for each of the advent themes.  This week we consider JOY.

 

I know “joy” is something in our souls that fills us even when our circumstances are challenging.   I have felt joy overflowing when life was favorable, but I have also known joy when things just were not going as I had planned or desired.  I think of Joy as being able to expect good things even in bad times.

Joy is that thing that buoys you up when something drags you down.  When things are hard, I take joy in knowing God will bring me through.  When I don’t understand why someone is hurting, I take joy in the knowledge that God is able to comfort when I can’t and He will be glorified.  When deep loss darkens my life, I rest in a quiet joy that God is still in control and He can and will ease the hurt.

I have also known what its like to misplace my joy.  I have felt heartache so deep I could not imagine joy.  I have battled anger with God, frustrated with His ways not aligning with my way.  I have allowed myself to dwell on the hard stuff and stubbornly ignore the things God was trying to show me.

If I am being honest, and I will be, I know exactly how I misplace my joy.   Sometimes I tuck God away and fail to spend time seeking Him.  It is all too easy to get distracted and miss out on all the evidence of Him in His creation.  When I stop reading His Word, my soul looses its thirst for Him. I depend on God for my joy.  It is not something I can make myself be, it is something God places in me. 

We are currently visiting the historic city of St. Augustine Fl.   While reading about the man for whom the city is named, I found a very interesting quotes from St. Augustine, a Christian Bishop and theologian.

He said, Indeed, man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible”.

When I read it, for some reason my mind replaced “happy” with “joy” and in the first person

“Indeed, I wish to know joy, even when I live my life as to make joy impossible”   

I laughed out loud.  I had spent the day praying and thinking about this blog post, and there in a random snippet of local lore, I found myself humbled and challenged.  Am I making it possible to know joy?  I want to always have the joy of the Lord in my heart, the same joy the angels proclaimed when they announced the birth of Jesus.  Jesus is good news of great joy because even in our sin, God was providing a way for us to be free and forgiven. This is the joy that fills us even when life is hard.

On a different note…I think this is a good time to consider another one of St. Augustine’ quotes:

“Learn to dance, so when you get to heaven the angels will know what to do with you!”

Yep, time to untuck my God, chase after His Word and learn how to DANCE with His Joy in my heart.

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Up on the Rooftop…it’s not a reindeer November 27, 2018

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 9:20 pm

This is the first week of Advent.  Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior.  In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of Advent themes.  This week we light the candle of HOPE.

I remember playing with the little plastic figurines of our family’s nativity as I set them in position.  I especially liked the sheep and the baby.  At first I did not understand what the scene was to represent, and just liked to play with them…but as I grew older, I took joy and pride in being very careful with setting it up. 

When I got married and had children of my own, it made me so happy to pass on the setting up of the nativity to my daughter Ashley.   Over the years I watched as she too played with the small images.  My heart was full when I saw her idea of what that night may have looked like grow as she did.  One year, after learning in Sunday School that the wise men actually arrived much later after the birth, we found the figurines depicting the wise men set across the living room.  She said they were still “a far”.  

This year the setting up of our nativity set was even more eventful.  Words cannot describe the sweet joy of watching my precious granddaughter sit with her Aunt Ashley as she showed her the set.  As she discovered each little piece I could not look away.  She was very intent.  Her little 2-year-old mind was fast at work.  She decided she was not a fan of the camel, therefore he was not allowed to be in the stable, or near it.  And apparently the hay loft is a good place for cow to hang out.  But my favorite part of it all was her placement of baby Jesus.  He spent the better part of the day precariously perched on top of the stable.  Eventually we would find him on top of her sippy cup and even in the hay loft.

 

 

 

 

 

I will remember the image of baby Jesus on the roof of the stable for years to come! 

When I look at each tiny figurine, I consider the huge moment they represent.  This was the moment God sent his Son, my hope for forgiveness, my redeemer and grace in the flesh.  If not for the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I would be lost, seeking, unfulfilled and hurting.  In Him, I know forgiveness, joy even when things are difficult, and love I do not deserve.

Tonight, as I sit to create this post, I can’t help but think about Jesus on the roof.  Where would Jesus be found in my life today.  Have I placed Him in the center of my life, easy for me to find?  Have I tucked him away in a quiet out-of-the-way place, like the hay loft?  Is it possible that I have placed Him in a remote part of my life, on a roof?  Tonight I am challenged to rearrange some things.

This week as we consider the Hope that we have because of the birth of our Savior, may each nativity set we see in the season remind us to find Jesus inside our hearts and not up on the roof.

“Rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:13

 

 

 

A Christmas Tree Angel, A Reminder of Grace December 24, 2017

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 1:32 pm

A Christmas Tree Angel….reposting this story has become a tradition. Each year I continue to be reminded of God’s grace as I see her oddly perched atop our tree.  This year my angel is still carefully tucked away in storage, we are on our boat for Christmas, but her image is never far from my thoughts this time of year.  I hope you have enjoyed the advent posts this year as much as I have enjoyed writing them. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and new beginnings!

            I’m not sure where she came from.  I’m not even certain of her age.   I do know that she sat atop the Christmas tree for many of my growing up years, quietly presiding over each holiday season.  I acquired her from my mother many years ago.

Her gold foil, cardboard wings, once ended in perfect points extending her stature to seven inches.  Now her wing span is slightly reduced, as the tips went from being slightly bent, to folded, until they eventually tore off.  Her dark red velvet dress, trimmed with gold brick brack, fits snuggly to her waist before flowing over her cardboard form.  Her once silky, radiant white hair, now hangs in brittle coils around her shoulders.  A little gold foil halo covers a place on her head where some of her hair has given way to the passage of time.

Her head and hands are made of wax, as is the candle she holds in one hand.  I remember her as a beautiful lady, her face perfect and delicate.  Those qualities are now faded.  Her head, once held high and straight, has melted somewhat.  It now bows lovingly downward and a bit to the right.  Two years ago a significant amount of time and effort was put into re-attaching her long held candle to her now miss shaped hand.  Yep, she’s a bit of mess you might say.  I like that about her.

She doesn’t light up or sparkle, and quite often she is too small for the tree, making her look even more out of place.  But I look forward to her presence in my living room each Christmas.  Late at night, when the tree is lit and others have gone on to bed, I find myself thinking of her and all we have in common.

I too, know what it’s like to have my wings bent and torn.  I know what it feels like when your body gives itself over to the challenges of time.  My hair is no longer silky or radiant, and I only wish had a halo to hide the places where it has become thin.  I understand the sagging of her shoulders and the bowing of her head.  I have felt the weight every mother bears for her family.  I know the need to bow my head in constant prayer.   I love her imperfection.  She’s a holiday reminder that God loves us in our imperfection.

A love full of grace, a savior born to take on the sin of the world, a reason to celebrate, reflected in the melted features and unraveled edges of our Christmas tree Angel.

God’s love was revealed among us in this way. God sent His son into the world so we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

 

 

Puppy Love December 20, 2017

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 12:18 pm

This is the fourth week of Advent.  Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of  the Advent themes. This week we light the candle of  Love.

 

“How can it already be the fourth week of advent?”, I asked myself as I stared at my blank computer screen.  Normally, I totally enjoy writing each advent post.  I treasure the time reading my Bible, praying for guidance, contemplating my God, thinking of my family and friends who may read it, and pushing away all other distractions to focus on each theme.  But this week found myself struggling.  Which is absolutely CRAZY, since the advent theme of LOVE is usually one of the easiest to find in life everyday.

 

I know of God’s love.  I have seen His handiwork in my life time and time again.  I have known His forgiveness when I could not forgive myself.  I have seen His love and provision for me when I did nothing to deserve it.  I have witnessed His unconditional love through those He placed in my life.  I may not know a lot of things, but I know God loves me!  SO why is this post so hard?

 

I spent the last two weekends surrounded by love’s evidence.

 

We traveled to Florida to celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday.  My mom has always been a reflection of God’s love to everyone she knows.  She was surrounded by family and friends who love her dearly.  Meals were made, decor was set in place, laughter and conversations all gave evidence of love.

 

Scott and I joined our son and his wife as they celebrated the revelation of the gender of our next grand baby.  Our daughter and her fiancé were able to be in town also.  We had a “family Christmas” time together in the short visit of one night.  It was such a blessing and my heart was overwhelmed with love.

 

Why then, was I sitting before a blank screen, my hands paused over the keys, my heart running through all of life’s most recent lessons.  Nothing.

 

The scene was set for inspiration: Soft Christmas music, check. Bible open to Luke chapter 2, check. Coffee cup in hand, check. Pen and notebook at the ready, check. Prayer for words/wisdom/inspiration, check.  Sigh, still NOTHING.

 

Of all the advent themes, LOVE, feels like it is perhaps the most important.  The birth of Jesus Christ was great love.  HIs arrival was the fulfillment of God’s love for us.  His birth, His life, His ministry on earth, His death on the cross, and His resurrection were all because of God’s love for His creation.  Because of all this, you and I can ask for forgiveness, be forgiven, know grace and be reconciled with God.

 

For what felt like the hundredth time in three days, I bowed my head and prayed…”Lord, what do I say, where do I look, what can I write…how can I move what is in my heart onto this post?  It seems so insignificant, a blog post, but Lord I am here, I am at this computer…what now? Amen”

 

The “amen” in my head had no sooner closed my prayer, than a big fluffy head pushed itself onto my lap.  Charlie, our floppy, furry Portuguese Water dog, is usually content to curl up beside me when I am at my computer.  Today it seems he is was in need of a bit closer look at what I was doing.  He pushed himself onto my lap, with no regard for the laptop that resided there at the time.  I carefully closed it down and slid it from beneath him.  I then gave him what he wanted, my attention.  AND there it was…Attention.

 

I rubbed his wobbly noggin and silently thanked my God.  The gift of God’s Son, our savior Christ Jesus, was a gift of absolute and underserved LOVE.  This love demands attention, not just this advent week, but everyday, all year round.  It is so easy to let something so powerful, impactful and precious become trite or taken for granted.

 

“God, thank you for loving us and sending Your son as redemption for our sins.  Thank You for a love we cannot completely comprehend.  Lord, help us to be attentive at all times, in every season, to the depth of Your love.  Help us to reflect Your love to the world that all may give attention to this great gift. Amen”

Time for me to wrap this post up,  my “reminder of God’s love” needs to go for a walk.

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“This is how much God loved the world: He gave His son, His one and only son. And this is why: So that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life..”

John 3:16 MSG

 

Peace Like a River December 13, 2017

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 5:32 pm

This is the third week of Advent.  Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of  the Advent themes. This week we light the candle of  Peace.

We are currently living on our boat for the winter. (more on this if you’re interested at http://www.mvmillertime.wordpress.com).  We are nestled in a slip at a marina that sits on the edge of the Cooper River Near Charleston SC.  It is a lovely location.  The views from our boat are spectacular.  From our bow we can see the historical Ft. Sumter and  Charleston Harbor.  We can see the retired aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, which is part of a maritime museum, from our stern.  It is perhaps one of the most scenic marinas at which we have stayed…it is NOT the most calm.

This week as I think about the advent theme of peace, I kept hearing the song, “I’ve got peace like a River” rolling around my head.  I wonder what river the writer of those lyrics was referring to?  It was certainly not the Cooper River.

The Cooper River endures a huge tide variation.  High tide can be as much as much as 5ft above low tide.  This is impactful for many reasons, one of which is this results in VERY strong currents flowing through the marina.

This is also a tremendous amount of boat traffic.  Fishing boats and recreation boats hurry past the marina with little care for the “no wake” zone.  This creates numerous waves which make the boats in slips weave and bob as they strain against their lines.  Monstrous cargo ships and cruise ships pass through this part of the river.  Though these larger vessels do not pass at great speed, they push a tremendous amount of water.  Small tsunami like waves roll into the marina and cause quite a disturbance regularly.

We have found that this marina is almost as rock and rolly as if we were at anchor.  We are thankful for tight and secure lines.

There are times when it is peaceful I suppose.  When the tides are about to turn, slack tide, the water stills as if it is holding its breathe before releasing the outgoing or incoming surge.  There have even been quiet nights when the water traffic stilled and only the slosh of rushing currents disturbed the boat.  But, it is not usually a calm, peaceful river.

Maybe I am not looking at peace the right way.  I do equate “peaceful” with calm.  I tend to think of “peacefulness” as something that happens in stillness and quiet.  Perhaps peace, God’s peace is a bit more like the chaos of the Cooper River.

Life is not always still, quiet or calm.  Sometimes life’s changes are as extreme as the tides here. We are impacted by such changes in ways that can be overwhelming.  Sometimes, others move about us with little care for their impact on our lives, intentional or unintentional.  We may find ourselves bobbing and weaving in response to the hecticness of things and people around us.  We may even struggle to keep ourselves level when big events roll into our lives and demand a response.

God’s peace didn’t promise us “still, calm and quiet”.  His peace is like the lines that hold us securely to the dock in the midst of all the chaos.  This season we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the advent of the gift of PEACE.  In Him we find true peace, comfort when things are chaotic, security when we feel uncertain and courage when we face fear.  The “babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger” would proclaim peace in our hearts.

“My peace I leave you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” John 14:27

 

 

 

The Joy Ride December 5, 2017

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 8:38 pm

This is the second week of Advent.  Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of  the Advent themes. This week we light the candle of  JOY.

 

This week, we had the delight of witnessing the City of Charleston’s Christmas Parade.  It was awesome and totally met our expectations.  The parade route was filled with high school bands screeching out Christmas tunes, pickup trucks pulling decorated boats, brigades of Basset hounds and Dachshunds and the obligatory Christmas mermaids.

 

 

 

Numerous floats carried young teens representing various organizations as their “royal court”, complete with crowns and sashes.  It became apparent that we were positioned toward the end of the parade route as these floats passed.  Exhaustion was evident on their non-smiling faces as they robotically waved their regal hands.  Float after float rolled past with sullen participants doing their best to hold their positions.  Marching corps drug their feet while dancers did their best to rally their energy, but it was with obvious effort.

 

I get it, I don’t blame them, it was a long parade.

 

But then this happened…

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As a particularly pitiful float with non-smiling royalty passed us by, we noticed they had acquired a stow away.

 

Jauntily perched on the back of the float was what appeared to be a homeless man we had seen in town earlier in the week.   His smile was huge, his wave energetic, and he was radiating JOY.  The crowd cheered, laughed and applauded him!

 

Sometimes my life is like that long parade route.  I start of my day, week, month or year, full of energy, plans and expectations only to find myself weary, discouraged or disappointed.   I try to seek happiness, display happiness and make happiness happen around me, but happiness is not sustainable.  It is dependent of circumstances and things…and sometimes those are not as we had hoped.

 

Joy is different.  It is a gladness in your heart that is not based on the things of the world.  For believers, JOY is a gladness in knowing God.  Joy gives us strength in difficult times, fills our heart when it aches and reminds us that this world is not our end game.

Happiness happens at the start of a parade, but JOY follows the entire parade route!

 

When the angel appeared to the shepherds to declare  the birth of our Savior, he said it was “news of great Joy”.  He did not say there would be a happily ever after.  He did not pronounce that things would get better or be easier.  The birth of Christ, His life, His death and His resurrection, brings us reason for joy.  In Him we know love abundantly, grace without bounds and Hope for eternity with Him.

 

 

There is more to life than enduring the long parade route.  Our Christmas Joy Rider certainly did not have optimal circumstances, but he hopped on board and took in all that was available to him in this moment.  This season may we all take into our hearts the JOY that is available to us, the Joy of Knowing God through His Son Jesus Christ.

 

 

“And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I  bring you good news of a 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