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)

 

 

 

Seat 15D December 1, 2015

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 4:52 pm
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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 the Advent themes.   This week we consider the hope we have in Jesus.

 

It had been a rough month, followed by a horrible week and I was really struggling. Which is how I came to download a Beth Moore book onto my Kindle. The book was perfectly titled for this season of my life, “Get Out of That Pit: Straight Talk About God’s Deliverance”. I could not wait to start reading this book on a recent flight to Florida. I thought it was a good way to start getting myself out of my pit…but God did not wait for me to get myself out. He, of course, met me where I was…flight 1650, seat 15D.

 

I was not more than a page into the book when I read this line, I’m writing to tell you I believe God has scheduled your flight out of a pit.” Just then our pilot came over the intercom, “we will be turning the fasten seatbelt signs back on due to impending turbulence”.   I continued to read… “you can really move out of your pit…I’d like to be your flight attendant for a while. I’ve taken this trip before. It’s a bit bumpy, but the destination is worth it…”  It was as if Beth Moore knew I’d be reading her book on a plane!   Well, she may not have known, but God sure put that book in my life in His perfect time!

 

I was thankful for the dimly lit cabin as my eyes filled with tears.   A “DING” sounded and the “fasten seatbelt” sign went off.   I kept reading. The next page held this Scripture…. “I waited patiently for the Lord, He turned to me and heard my cry.”(Psalm 40:1) I turned off my Kindle, laid back my head, closed my eyes and listened to the soft rumble of the plane’s engines.

 

      In the confines of seat 15D, God reminded me He knows my struggle, sees my tears, hears my cry and meets me in my pit. And just like that, His forgiveness and grace replace guilt and condemnation. Hope lifted my weariness and discouragement. As I stepped off the plane that night, I looked up from my pit and thanked God for joining me on my journey.

 If you too are looking up from a pit,

may this season bring you HOPE restored!

Because of the birth of Christ, His life and sacrifice for our sins, we have the HOPE of forgiveness for our sins, a relationship with our heavenly Father and eternal life.  This week may we celebrate the fulfillment of our HOPE in the birth of Christ and in the continued HOPE He brings to all generations.

          The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them….For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  (Isaiah 9:2& 6)

 

 

 

 

 

Peace, Love and Chopped Liver August 3, 2012

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 12:48 pm

          Yep, 28 years ago on 8/4/84 family and friends joined us as we committed to one another for the rest of our lives.  Sheesh, WHAT were we thinking?!!!  We were young (19yrs old, we would both turn 20 the following month) and we were in love.   There was no way we could have fathomed all the nooks and crannies of life’s journey.  I suppose it was enough that we determined to walk it together no matter what came along, no matter the circumstances.

          As one should with anniversaries, I have been thinking a lot about this special date in my life and the man with whom God, in His amazing grace to me, placed in my life.  It is not enough to say I have been blessed. 

          I suppose good scripture reference for this day would be  1Corinthians 13:4-8….Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous, love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly, it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account wrong suffered….love bars all things, believes all things, endures all things, love never fails…  These words are a perfect template for living out a love for someone else, but I cannot help thinking of a different scripture reference.

         Scott and I have a scripture we have shared over these years.  It was one my mom instilled in me and continues to be a source of encouragement as well as an ongoing battle in my heart.   It is Philippians 4:6&7  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

          These words remind me that peace is NOT circumstantial.  The peace of God, the kind that is difficult to comprehend, the kind that protects your heart and mind, DOES NOT require life to be perfect.  God’s peace is something that He places within us even when things around us are less than peaceful.  My peace does not rely on my circumstances.

          Happiness is based on circumstances.  When things are good, we are happy.  When things are bad, we are unhappy.   I think the world sells us the lie that LOVE is also rooted in circumstance.  We “love” someone because of things such as personality, looks, compatibility, family, life style, and beliefs.  These are all important to our relationships, but they are simply circumstances in life.  If our love is based on them, what happens when they change?   

          Let’s say you cooked dinner for me every night for a year, and each meal was one of my favorites.  I would enthusiastically tell you, and everyone else, I LOVED your cooking and I would be telling the truth.  I would mean it with all my heart.  Eventually, and possibly inevitably, you would prepare a meal containing chopped liver.  No offense to liver loving people around the world, but that would be disastrous for me.  Your intensions for our dining experience would not matter.  This would change everything.  My choices would be to pretend I liked it and suffer through, chew it in your presence but spit it into a napkin when you were not looking, or walk away from the table angry, hurt or disappointed you served such a thing to me.  I would no longer love your cooking.  My relationship with your cooking was simply circumstantial.

        I think love, like peace, is not dependant on our circumstances.  Love is God given.  The love I have for my husband cannot be based on circumstances, ever.   Circumstances change, love cannot.  Oh, we have been happy, BUT we have also known unhappiness.  We have seen tremendous change.   We married young and still had lots of growing up to do.  Neither of us is the same person we were when we married.  There have been physical changes, emotional changes, variations to our beliefs and even changes in our life styles over the years.  If our love depended on all these things working perfectly together, we would not be where we are today.

          Society encourages relationships to wait for perfect circumstances, to fear the impact of changing circumstances, attempt to avoid conflicts and to assume the difficulty of these things means the relationship is not of value or has run its course.  If we have mistaken happiness for love, then this is true…but that is not true love.  True love is not bound by circumstance and like the peace mentioned in Philippians 4:6&7, it comes from God, surpasses our ability to comprehend, and guards our hearts.

         I am thankful to God for Scott.  I am thankful for all he has been to me over these years …he has been my champion, my challenger, my partner, my anchor and my inspiration.   I am thankful for the adventures and even the challenges we have met together.   Today especially, I am mindful and thankful that I have known a love that sees beyond imperfection and remains unchanged in changing times. 

Happy Anniversary Scott! 

Thank you for loving me regardless of circumstances and with a love that is beyond my comprehension.

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

The Exploding Fire Pit April 13, 2010

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 10:21 pm

          We just had a nice stone patio, complete with stone fire pit, added to our home.  The other night our son and a few of his friends were gathering for the maiden voyage of the fire pit. 

         Scott and I were in the house watching television, contently thinking how nice it was to have Steven’s friends over.   What happened next rocked my world, literally.   BoooooooM!  We rushed out to our back deck and looked down to the patio. 

          The patio and surrounding lawn area were covered in what looked like glowing rubies.  Red hot embers littered the ground.   If it were not so terrifying it would have been beautiful.  The fire in the pit was extinguished and a tower of smoke snaked upwards, lit only by the remaining shards of logs as they radiated neon red heat.  Once the vision made it to our brains we scrambled to comprehend what occurred, “What happened!?” and “Is everyone okay?!” 

          We grabbed fire extinguishers and joined the stunned group on the patio.  Quick assessments were made of everyone…astonishingly no one was hurt badly.  A few had small burns or scratches from flying concrete and firewood, no doubt all of them will carry emotional scars from such an unexpected and frightening event. 

          Apparently as they had just settled around the pit, and were close enough to warm their hands by the fire, without warning they felt, saw and experienced a large explosion.  The percussive force blew them back a bit and it is by God’s mercy and grace that none of them were seriously harmed.  Chunks of concrete, which formed the base of the fire pit, flew in every direction.  The once burning logs were propelled upwards and shattered into large embers before settling to the ground around the pit and patio. 

           Though Steven and his friends were considerably shook up, it could have been much, much worse.  We walked among the aftermath thanking God for His protection and looking for clues as to what caused the explosion.  Our amateur sleuthing formed a conclusion which would later be supported by our contractor and various other professionals. 

            Unlike most fire pits, ours had been built with a concrete flooring and drain.  Apparently the heat from the burning logs had cause a buildup of pressure below the concrete layer.  There was no way to tell what actually caused the pressure below the concrete slab, but the most likely culprit was trapped water or moisture.  Normally any expansion of gases or steam would vent through gravel grating.  Our fire pit base had no ventilation points.

          The events of that night continue to play through my mind when I try to sleep.  It is both comforting to realize God’s provision on that night, and yet disturbingly clear how out of my control life can be.

          The fire pit looked great.  It looked solid and strong.  The foundation of the pit gave no hint of hidden danger. It looked like it could handle the heat.  But looks were deceiving. 

          Oh, the pit was strong.  Matter of fact when all was said and done the walls of the pit and patio remained unmoved.  It was the FOUNDATION that mattered, and it mattered a lot!

          We can be like this pit.  We sometimes present a strong outer image.  We look like we can handle the demands of the world or hold fast under pressure.  We diligently try to build our lives with good deeds and works, but neglect our personal relationship with our savior.  But when we are tested, put under fire, it will be our foundation, and not the things we surround ourselves with, that will determine our ability to stand.

          Just as I will diligently check the foundation of the fire pit in the future and always consider if it is able to sustain the heat and flame before EVER trusting it to do so…I will also need to check my spiritual foundation. 

1Cor. 3:10-13  “…I laid a foundation and another is building upon it.  But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.  For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which was laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw, each man’s work will become evident; ….because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.”