Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Black Dog March 29, 2017

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,humor,life,running,worry — tlmiller82 @ 5:01 pm

 

While running, I try to stay aware of my surroundings. Even though I run with earbuds in, I keep the sound down and continually scan the area around me and up ahead. This practice helps me avoid collisions with traffic, bicycles, other runners and stray dogs. You can never be too careful.

 

Even with these efforts, I was once accosted by a five-pound fur-ball named Skip. His owner was a contractor working on a house along my route. Skip escaped out the front door, and gave a short chase before attempting to latch onto my foot. I was saved by a lucky combination of his tiny mouth/teeth and my thick shoe. It was far more funny than fear inducing! But, this episode did fuel my slight paranoia about dogs when I run.

 

There are several yards along my route which are lined with chain-link fencing and contain one or two large dogs. Every time, before I pass, I survey them, looking for any damage or opening through which the dogs might escape. I also try not to provoke the dogs…hard to do since my mere presence is reason to charge the fence…but I never get eye contact and always hurry past. No big deal, just a matter of being cautious.

 

SOOooooo, this is why, when I came upon a guy washing his car in his driveway I slowed my approach. He was accompanied by two large black Labs off leash. They did not look aggressive, but out of courtesy that my jogging by might cause them to want to chase me, I took out my earbud and shouted, “Are your dogs okay with me jogging past?” He looked a bit confused at first, but then he called one his dogs over to his side and waved at me to pass.

 

As I passed him, I kept my eye on his other dog on the other side of a large bush beside his driveway…and it was a good thing I did!

The “other” dog I had seen was actually a large concrete statue of a big black dog! No wonder the guy looked so confused.

You will be happy to know, I had NO problem out running the scary black dog statue and I made it home safe and sound.

 

This harrowing event took place almost a month ago, but it has been on my mind a lot lately. I let a decidedly “unreal” dog cause me to worry. I felt silly afterward.

 

I think there is a difference between being situationally aware of things that may impact your life and taking them on as a worrisome burden. I am certain I am not alone in my struggle with this very thing.

Sometimes my mind races, usually late at night, with all the “what ifs” that are on my horizon. I spend a lot of emotional effort working through how I will deal with something. I look ahead and allow myself to get overwhelmed about the future. And like my concrete dog, what is beyond my natural vision can easily be distorted.

 

As I think of my concrete dog, I am amazed at how easily I am fooled into a fearful heart. How often do I live my life as if my God NEVER does anything! That is NOT the case at all. I have a God Who feeds the birds of the air, clothes the lilies in the fields, and knows my EVERY need. (Matthew 6:26-32)

 

I am not meant to ignore what needs tending to in my life, but I need to remember what God has called me to be about. There is much greater clarity and focus when I seek Him each day and take on only what He has for me and when.

I think this is a good time to stop running from concrete dogs.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”. (Matthew 6:33&34)

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Bucket Dropping January 12, 2016

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,humor,life — tlmiller82 @ 3:05 pm
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“Drop YOUR bucket.”  I’m not sure how to describe it, but I heard God utter those words. It was not a shout, or even a command, it was more like a whisper that bounced around my head, my heart, and my soul.

 

I found myself reading the account in scriptures of a woman from Samaria.  John, chapter 4, recounts the event.  Jesus stops by a well to rest.  His disciples have gone into the city to buy food.  As He is resting a woman comes to the well with her bucket.  A lot happens in these verses, so here is a far less than definitive overview of events:

  • Jesus asks for water(since she has a bucket and all), she expresses her shock that He, a JEW, would ask that of her, a Samaritan.(seems Jews did not think much of the Samaritans).

 

  • Jesus goes on to engage her in conversation concerning everything from her scandalous marriage record (5 exes and currently cohabitating, yet unmarried, to another man) to where one should worship and whom.

 

  • Jesus lets her know He is fully aware of her life choices (and still considers her worthy of His time and effort), He also declares to her that He is the Messiah she and her people have been waiting for, “I who speak to you am He..” vs26.

 

  • The next thing you know, she drops her bucket and heads back into town.

“So the woman left her water pot and went into the city…”  She told  the men in the city, “Come, see a man who told me all the things I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?”

 

I can’t shake the image of her water bucket, carelessly left behind.  It is no small thing.  She had a plan for her day.  Her visit to the well was intentional.  She planned to collect water to meet her needs…but Jesus had other plans…better plans.  His plans did not require her bucket.  Instead the bucket, evidence of what she once thought was of most importance, probably laid on its side, collecting windblown sand.

 

Her encounter with Christ compelled her to abandon her bucket.  If this truly was the Messiah, as she was inclined to believe, then she had more important things to do.  She left her bucket and went to tell others about this man.  They followed her back to the well.

 

“And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified…”vs39

 

“Drop Your bucket” There, again…creeping into my thoughts.  “I have a bucket?” I asked myself. (and yes, I actually asked myself this out loud and am thankful no one else was around)

 

I do have a bucket.  I have a plan.  I have expectations for my life and the lives of those around me.  I am intentionally trying to meet my needs and the needs of others.  My hands hold on, white knuckled even, to ideas, hopes and dreams… “Drop your bucket” 

 

His plans for me do not require fulfillment of my ideas, hopes and dreams.  His plan requires me to drop them aside, like the discarded bucket at the well.

 

So, 2016…this is me, dropping my bucket and looking to God for His direction, provision and purpose.

If you have not met my Jesus yet, I want to invite you to come “back to the well” with me.  I have some stuff to share with you about Him!

 

Worth It December 7, 2015

Filed under: advent,Christianity,Christmas,devotionals,humor,life — tlmiller82 @ 9:56 am
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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 the Advent themes.  This week we consider PEACE.

“Whose idea was this?”  I thought to myself as I turned off my alarm and rolled out of my very toasty, snuggly, comfy bed.  A month ago this plan seemed brilliant.  My dear hubby decided to offer to fly up to New York, pick up my daughter Ashley, and her new puppy, and rent a car to drive her home for Thanksgiving.  Of course this grand plan meant that I would drive her back the following Sunday and then fly home.  That is how I came to be rolling out of bed long before sunrise.

 

I squinted at the clock (because my eyes had not entirely gotten the message it was time to wake up), 4:15.  Our goal was to be on the road by 5am and we were well on our way to meeting that goal…then the hubby woke up.  Apparently he thought we’d be out the door long before 5!  Soon he was urging us onward and fussing that we were not moving with the appropriate “urgency”.  We picked up our pace and tried to relieve his concern…but soon found ourselves ushered out to the car, WITHOUT COFFEE!  “You don’t have time.” he pronounced as he waved goodbye.  Who in their right mind would send two women out on the road, in the predawn hours, without coffee?   That was just crazy.

 

The first thing we did was stop at a McDonalds near the interstate to get two coffees.  Here is an abbreviated version of the day…

  • Kindly attendant handed us 2 piping hot coffee cups, no protective cup sleeves(they were out)
  • once on interstate discovered cups too full to add creamer and there were no stirrers or napkins
  • daughter concedes to allow me to listen to Christmas music the entire trip, as long as I promised to NOT sing along.
  • stopped again to “fix” coffees…coffee spills inside and outside of car somehow (refer to previous mention of no napkins)
  • discovered rental car’s GPS is programmed to avoid interstates and is constantly trying to reroute us…
  • dog happily sleeps the entire time (mostly) thank goodness.
  • finally able to sip cooler, bitter coffee and relished the last bit as it contained most of the sweetener (refer to previous mention of no stirrers)
  •  approx. 3hrs into drive, found a Starbucks!(thanking God for New Jersey turnpike rest areas!)
  • enjoyed a fairly stress free drive, until we actually got to NY
  • managed to survive negotiating through NY traffic, avoiding the worst areas thanks to Ashley’s navigation skills and NO thanks to the two GPS devices we were depending on.
  • Arrived safely at La Guardia airport in time to drop off rental car, hug Ashley good bye as she and her dog got an Uber ride home, and I caught my return flight back to Virginia.

WHEW!

It was quite a journey, but it was worth it.  She was worth it.

 

Once I was back home,  I marveled that I been to NY and back in a single day.  Before heading to bed I stopped to finish setting up the nativity set we had placed on an entry table.  I thought of how each figurine represented someone who had also been on a journey.

 

I imagined Joseph’s burdened heart as he  escorted his pregnant fiancé across difficult terrain and uncertain future.  Young Mary’s advance stage of pregnancy surely made her journey uncomfortable and anxiety filled.  The shepherds left the familiarity of their fields.  Each step taking them to Bethlehem moved them far from their comfort zone amongst their sheep.  The wise men understood their journey was to not be taken lightly.  A lot of thought went into the gifts they would carry with them for the long trip.  Each of these travelers knew their journey was worth it.

 

I looked at the tiny baby Jesus, nestled in the little plastic manger painted with hay.  This figurine represented the one who had taken the greatest journey of all.  God left the enormity of heaven, came to a broken world, in the confines of flesh, to give us PEACE. 

He brought us His peace, not peace that exists because everything is okay, because often it is not.  This peace is knowing He is with us, He is for us, and He is victorious!

He made the greatest journey because He considers us worth it!

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

(John 1:14)

 

 

 

A Grumpy Goose Encounter April 20, 2010

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,humor,life — tlmiller82 @ 3:39 pm

          So, let me begin by confessing a slightly embarrassing endeavor…I have decided to learn how to run.  For those who do not know me personally you may ask yourself, “Learn how to run? What’s there to learn?”  For those of you who know me you are probably thinking, “Is she crazy?”  Even I wonder what I am thinking.  I am out of shape, weight challenged, and have never been able to jog for longer than a minute at a time.

         Inspired by the efforts of some of my much younger friends, I set about alternating walking with jogging.  Let’s just say that it has been a very long, unattractive process.  Imagine the panting, wheezing, plodding and whining that accompanied my jogs.  I have finally managed to jog one mile without stopping, although it takes me much longer to do so than if I WALKED one mile.

All that just to give context to my most recent adventure.

         I have found a great way to run in my neighborhood AND avoid running up hill…not an easy feat given where we live.  I walk up hill to a small church at the end of our street.  The church parking area is an oval loop, five times around it equals one mile, and it is a fairly level running area!  When I’m done I walk back down the hill toward home as I cool down. 

          The last few days I had struggled to maintain my pace and practice my mile.  I trudged along barely getting through all five laps.  I knew I needed to pick up my pace or make a change to my pattern.  I thought this would be much more difficult to do than it actually turned out to be.  All I needed was a little extra incentive. 

          I was on lap two of my five lap routine, breathing hard and glad no one was around to witness my less than graceful running style, when I was joined by a very grumpy goose.

        He flapped his wings furiously in a braking fashion, lowered his landing gear and skidded to a halt in the middle of the parking lot and my makeshift running track.  I was surprised to see a lone goose far from the local watering hole.  He seemed equally surprised to see me running around his landing area.

          I have learned that I am not good at getting started again if I stop before my mile is done, so I continued plopping my feet on the pavement in spite of the new onlooker.  I had three more laps to go and I was not going to let a goose stop me. 

Lap three, he honked and hissed as I passed him. 

 Lap four; my passing triggered an energetic head bobbing and even louder honks and squawks. 

By lap five I was fully aware of impending danger.  Mr. Grumpy Goose was now honking, squawking, bobbing his head AND following behind me!

          Let me just say, unlike other days when lap five is my slowest and most difficult to complete, I finished my jog in a full run.  Yep, goose inspired adrenalin helped me shave 2 minutes off my time!

           I walked away unscathed and feeling victorious.  I still smile when I picture that goose trying to bully me off the parking lot.  I could have let Mr. Grumpy Goose stop me moving forward.  I could have let the squawking, bobbing bird change my course.   I chose instead to keep moving forward and focused on finishing my run, even if it meant changing how I finished it.  The end result was positive.  The challenge of Mr. Grumpy Goose helped push me the little bit I needed. 

          I know God allows challenges in our lives much like Mr. Grumpy Goose.  Unfortunately I tend to think a challenge is a sign that I should stop or change.  Sometimes a challenge is there to propel us forward, quicken our pace or solidify our determination. 

As we face each grumpy goose God allows along the way, may we be encouraged and not discouraged in our journey.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love and sound judgment.” 1Timothy 1:7

Lord, help us to overcome our challenges so we may finish our race and hear You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

 

Phase Three May 26, 2009

Filed under: devotionals,humor,life — tlmiller82 @ 12:45 pm

          Sometimes God ushers us into new life phases with quiet, seamless transitions.  Sometimes He welcomes us into a new life phase with a loud, clanging gong and plate of humble pie.   I must admit I could have used a set of earplugs and a scoop of ice cream a few weeks ago.

          It started with an innocent, even understandable, mistake.  I was visiting a friend in the hospital.  Her one month old baby had experienced a high fever and they had to stay there for tests and observation.   I was sitting in a rocking chair, holding the little patient, when the nurse entered the room.  Following the routine questions for the mother and assessing any needs, he turned to me and said, “This must be grandma!”  My friend politely corrected him and he scurried out of the room, apparently oblivious to the potential emotional damage he may have caused.  My sweet friend attempted to sooth my feelings by reminding me that she was young enough to be my daughter, not that I was old enough to be her mother.   I was not entirely offended at his remark.  She was indeed a very young mother who looked much younger than her years even.    My mom was a grandmother before she was fifty, and my son not much younger than my friend, so it was not an unthinkable possibility.  We laughed it off, but my self perception had started to shift.

          Only three days later my concept of where I was in life would be forever changed.  It began as a quick trip to the grocery store.  I was simply purchasing two gift bags for an upcoming baby shower.  The kind, elderly, cashier commented,  “someone’s going to a baby shower.”   “Yes” I replied.  “When is the baby due?” she asked.  To which I replied, “She’s already born.”  “oh”, she said, “you must be grandma!”   Yep, there it was again…this time with nothing more than two gift bags and my face as evidence a stranger concluded I was a grandmother!  Welcome to my new phase in life! 

          Seems like only yesterday, I was often mistaken for being younger than my age.  My genetically inherited cherub cheeks afforded me a youthful appearance that defied my actual years.  Oddly enough I often tried to look older during this first phase in life.  I barely noticed my transition to the second phase in life.  Somewhere between my mid to late thirties I went from hearing, “Seriously, you can’t be that old!” to “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you’re that young!” in response to the revelation of my age.  I convinced myself this change of perception was due to the fact that my kids were older.   Today I find myself humbled by the realization that I am getting older.  I mean, it’s not like I didn’t already know this, but the recent comments are a jarring introduction to this new phase in life.   

          In phase three I find things continuing to change.  Some of which I can control, most of which I will only experience.    The possibilities ahead of me are as large and unfathomable as they were in my youth, but they are decidedly different.    There is a new appreciation for the idea of life as a journey.  There may be different speeds of travel, various travel companions, numerous stops along the way, but we tend to forget there will be a destination.  This, I have found, makes a difference.   My wrinkles, age spots, sags, bags, aches, and constantly morphing body shape are just a blurr through the window of my journey in life.  Though I currently live here and work hard to make the most of my visit,  my “citizenship is in heaven” and  someday Christ will “transform the body of my humble state into conformity with the body of His glory..” Phil 3:20&21.   

             I must admit I like this new phase of life…now that I am no longer in denial.  I like being the older person who has experienced life and yet still has more experiences to enjoy.  I like living my life with a clearer understanding of the futility of the flesh and the hope of Christ.

….Of course, I will also be purchasing some of that “age defying” cream and buying better make up!

 

Fishing for Joy March 17, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,humor,life — tlmiller82 @ 3:48 pm

         

p3090137Remember the opening scene for the Andy Griffith Show?  The father and son stroll down a path to go fishing as a catchy tune is whistled into your memory bank.  Well, I must admit that when my daughter agreed to go fishing with me the other day that is exactly what I envisioned.  Yep, my 19yr. old daughter was willing to go fishing with me!  Ashley quickly, eagerly even, agreed to go fishing with me on the first day of her spring break!  That is as amazing as it sounds.  No begging, guilt laying or shopping promises were used to achieve this response.  She seemed genuinely excited about spending the day on this mini adventure with me and I was thrilled.  My expectation meter began to rise.   As I prepared my tackle box (translation: located it) and collected our bait (translation:got pepperoni from fridge) my expectation meter elevated to soaring.  Soon my car was loaded up with our minimal fishing gear, a big blanket, snacks and our dog Hughie(a reluctant participant).  My mood was almost jubilant as we headed to our local dock .  The sun was shining, the sky a bright blue and the air was brisk.

          Apparently “brisk” air at the house means “blustery” at the water’s edge.  We battled significant gusts of wind determined to carry out our intended adventure.  After tethering our terrified Yorkie to the dock we settled onto a blanket to prepare the lines.  We set our hooks with the pepperoni slices and began to wait for the expected encounter with Mobycat, the large catfish known to be prowling the water near our dock.  I eventually heard the words I desired most on this day, “Mom! I think I’ve got something!”  I scrambled to pull my camera from my bag to document the victory.  She struggled and worked the reel as her rod bent almost 90 degrees toward the water.  Expectations were high.  The excitement in that moment for us both can not be put into words.  Neither can the disappointment we felt when we realized her “catch” was a case of her hook embedded in a large unmovable (non-fish) object.  Let me see if I can summarize the events which followed to reduce your reading time…Our large blanket took flight and is now resting on the river’s bottom.  The dog spent the entire time entangling himself around everything in an effort to eat our bait.  We learned that while Hughie did not mind “turkey” pepperoni, apparently the catfish have more discerning taste.  We finished off our endeavour by donating 3 hooks and some fishing line to the log collection at the bottom of the river near our dock.    Needless to say the day did not meet my lofty expectations.

         Usually when a day starts with such extreme expectations and then falls short  the result is disappointment.  But this day was decidedly NOT disappointing.  I felt tremendous joy as we left the dock .  I had spent the afternoon with my daughter and she had promised to go with me again someday soon!    My joy was not impacted by the circumstances or expectations of the day.   Too often I let my expectations determine my Joy.

         John 15 contains the words of Christ as He  tries to help His disciples understand just such a thing.  He knew they would experience disappointment in this world.  In verse 10 and 11 He tells them, and us, to focus on Him and we will know joy…”if you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; …these things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be  made full.”    I want that kind of joy, His joy.  Joy that fills us even when the world does not meet our expectations.

 

The man behind the curtain March 10, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,humor,life — tlmiller82 @ 2:14 pm

            This week Steven, my 22 year old, started his work as an Emergency Room Technician at a local hospital.  This is an exciting answer to prayer and hard work.  He is happy with the direction his life has taken.  It is obvious this is a perfect fit for him.  He has many unique qualities which will no doubt be helpful as he continues down this path.  I am very proud of him.   He has worked extremely hard to earn the opportunity to assist doctors and nurses as they care for those in need.   That said, I must admit there is a big part of my brain that is screaming out,  “ARE YOU GUYS CRAZY?”.   I mean, this is   “Steven”  we’re talking about.  This is the young man who in high school started an organization called  “The Canned Meat Society”,  which espoused the fine qualities of Spam and its many uses.  The young man they’ve hired is the same young man who thought bringing home a caged squirrel would be a good pet idea,  tried to nurse a wounded bird  to health resulting in said bird being miraculously healed and flying around our house for about an hour, collected fast food uniforms and paraphernalia and could often be found behind the counter of such establishments even though he’s never actually worked at one.  Believe me, these are just a few of the many oddities and adventures Steven has brought into our lives just in the last decade…there is not enough room in this blog to recount all his exploits.  And yet, as difficult as it is to grasp, there is no doubt he is good at what he does and will be  a blessing to those whose lives he will have an impact on.  I know that all he is and is becoming is the result of God’s working in his life.  “My Steven”  could not possibly help save a life or help someone feel better, but  “God’s Steven”  can do all that and more. 

            I used to think something very similar to this about myself.  I have worked as a science and math instructor for high school students for many years.  My formal education did not include any instruction as a science or math teacher. I often thought of my employers, “ARE YOU GUYS CRAZY?”.  I mean, if they only knew how unqualified I was to do what I was doing they would have to let me go.  Although my employers all knew my educational background, I couldn’t help thinking the day would come when someone finally said, “Hey, what is she doing teaching?’.  I pictured the moment like the scene in “The Wizard of Oz” where they drew back the curtain to see the “great OZ” and discovered a very small man falsely creating a very large persona.  “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” he proclaimed to them as they stared in disbelief.  My unworthiness and imperfections were so obvious to me, yet others did not seem to notice.

            Over the years I came to realize that it was through my imperfections and unworthiness that God worked the most effectively.  I eventually came to LOVE the opportunity to share with others how impossible it was that I was doing what I was doing with any amount of success.  It was God’s grace to me that He blessed my efforts, enabled me to understand and communicate to my students.  How often have you looked back at events in your own life and realized you had done something beyond your own ability?  Isn’t it when we are the least able, most weak or in our greatest struggles that we truly rely on God?  All of us, as we move through this journey of life in the flesh, are like the rather small man in OZ.   As we navigate through trials and triumphs with the grace  of our God we can all proclaim, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…instead pay attention to our God who enables us to do all things through Him.”    I Peter 1:7-11 reminds us this “…do so with the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified…” I Love how Jude describes our God in verse 24, “…Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy…”.    The God who can take away our sin so we can stand blameless before His glory in heaven, will enable us to do all He has put before us!