Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Packing up Christmas, remembering grace December 29, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 9:11 pm

          This is the last Tuesday with Teri for 2009.  Is it me or was that a particularly fast year?  I had hoped for some profound “farewell to the year” kind of message to share with you, but I suppose for now profound thought escapes me. 

         I spent today starting to de-Christmatize our home.  Yep, time to untrim the tree and pack up all  the “boughs of holly”.   I do a poor job each year packing away fragile ornaments.  I don’t actually do this intentionally, I just am not a very detail oriented, patient packer I guess.  The down side of course is an early demise of our more fragile ornaments.  The upside is it makes for a suspense filled unpacking each Christmas as I anxiously peer through the boxes to see what lucky ornaments have lived  to see another season.   It is sort of like a survival of the fittest for Christmas décor. 

          There is one Christmas item that will never fall victim to my careless end of season storage, our precious Christmas tree angel.  As I gently restored her to her place of honor in a curio cabinet, I was reminded one last time of her message.  I have included a copy below of a Christmas devotion about her.

         As the New Year approaches we tend to do a lot of self evaluation.  It seems this is satan’s preferred time to attack my self esteem and heap discouragement on my plate.  The “yearend review”  of my life is seldom packed with positive thoughts.  But my Christmas angel reminds me…my God loves me in ALL my imperfection and His grace is more than enough.  

May each of you have a wonderful new year of seeking to see Him more and resting in the peace of His love and grace. 

 A Christmas Tree Angel, a Reminder of Grace

          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.  These days she resides in a curio cabinet until we bring her out each Christmas.

        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 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 reattaching her long held candle to her now misshaped 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 for 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

 

The Amazing Race October 20, 2009

Filed under: devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 4:59 pm

          Last Sunday my husband and I were running late for church.  Okay…I was running late, he was uncharacteristically patiently waiting for me to get out to the car.  I’m not even sure how I managed to get so behind in my getting out the door routine.  It’s not like I had little ones to get ready or anything.  Nope, just me, myself and I, yet one of those three must have been lollygagging because I knew by the time we got to the church I would need to do the “high heel  hurry up”.  The “high heel hurry up” is that walk where you try  to look like you’re not hurrying, but actually you’re attempting to set a land speed record for walking in high heels, up a slanted church sidewalk. 

          My husband and I are fans of the T.V. show The Amazing Race.  For those of you not familiar with it let me explain:  several “teams” of two (sometimes married couples, relatives, best friends or just dating couples) race against each other throughout several days and countries.  They follow clues and guidelines trying to be the first to arrive at each day’s “pit stop”.  Players arriving last each day get eliminated and sent home.  Eventually there will be only two teams left to race toward the final day’s “pit stop” and win the race.  Along the way they must carry out different tasks and overcome challenges. 

 On our way to church that day I  imagined what it would be like if our Sunday mornings had a similar format:

           I can almost hear the announcer/host he narrates the morning and gives  instructions:  “Prepare yourselves for Sunday school & worship.  To do this you must collect all your clothing and be sure it is presentable before putting it on.  Personal hygiene may not be neglected in this leg of the race so be careful to include them in your schedule.  You may run into a roadblock along the way.  The last person to arrive at the final pit stop WILL be eliminated. ”

           The race starts with great team work.  Scott takes out the dog while I fix our coffee.  We settle into our morning preparations for Sunday school class and come to our first road block: we need to print out fliers for the class.  We chose Scott to complete this task.  Fliers in hand and lesson prepared we head upstairs for the next leg of the race.  Once again working in tandem to conquer our hygiene objectives…sinks are shared for teeth brushing and hair fixing.  Again the Voiceover/announcer begins to narrate…  “Each team member must then find acceptable attire and don it before returning downstairs.  Scott gets dressed in record time but Teri has faltered a bit.  Her indecision has cost her team valuable seconds.”  I rush downstairs to Scott, who is patiently waiting at his computer with his second cup of coffee.  The stress of the race is starting to prick my nerve endings.   I am surprised at my own tone as I squeal out, “Get the Bibles! Get the Sunday school bag, don’t just sit there, you could have had the car loaded up by now!” (good for television, bad for marriage).  Finally we’re in the car….wait did we get the phones?  Did you get the gift we’re supposed to bring?  What time is it? Do you have lotion in the car?….tension builds as the car clock moves close to the start of Sunday school.  Again the announcer/voiceover can be heard: “team Miller has is currently in danger of elimination, will they be able to pull it together and arrive in time?” dramatic pause ….

          When we pull into the church parking lot,  I can envision us flinging open our car doors, just as the contestants do in the show, and running to the finish.   I am slower in my heels and I motion Scott to move ahead… “Don’t wait for me, keep going I’ll catch up!”…of course he waits, the good teammates always do.  Running hand in hand we would rush to the finish mat, only in my head instead of the show’s host there to greet us, our Pastor will stand with his Bible in his hand and announce, “Teri and Scott, you’re the last team to arrive…I’m sorry to say, you have been eliminated.”  

          How wonderful it is to remember that THIS is not the race of life.    The race we are called to run is one that is a marathon.  Keeping moving forward is more important than when you finish and finishing is the final prize. 

I like knowing that God is not standing on a big mat waiting for me to get to Him so he can tell me I’m too late….instead God waits for me to come to Him and rejoices with me when I arrive at His feet.

 

Snake Issues Again! September 1, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 10:05 pm

P8290421          Okay, I live near a bunch of woods.  Since we live in such close proximity to the woods I have come to accept certain inevitable house guests.  I have made my peace with the spiders that seem to inhabit every corner of my house even after I have cleaned. (They eat unwanted insects) 

           I have even stopped freaking out when the occasional mouse finds its way into the house. (They are not welcome guest mind you, it’s just that I am no longer surprised or appalled they show up from time to time.)  Over the years we have seen everything from snakes, lizards, frogs, deer, fox, and of course there was the one year we had a bear in the yard.  I think I have handled most of these encounters with good natured appreciation for each species. (Well, except for the bear…but hey, who expects a  bear on their door step?)  Of all the critters that call my yard home there is only one which seems to test my patience…THE SNAKE. 

          As I mentioned earlier, I know we have mice somewhere in the walls, foundation or garage at some time during each year.  This is why snakes are not necessarily a bad thing.  We have seen black snakes in vicinity in past years.  I fight the urge to chop them with a hoe knowing they play an important role in my yard’s ecosystem.  In the spring a young snake made its way into our home (see previous Spring post for details).  Until few weeks ago, when another small snake found its way inside the house, I did not think we had a problem.  We have since found a nest and two holes we think are snake portals into our dry wall.  What prompted an appointment with a wildlife specialist was the finding of a skin recently shed by one of our garage dwelling reptile buddies.  When we laid the skin out on the driveway we were shocked by the length….note photo of 5’ 7’’ daughter beside snake skin.   That is just too big; I don’t care how helpful it is controlling mice! 

        The enormity of our snake issue has me rethinking my former bravado when it comes to such creepy crawly things.  I have a new appreciation for what Moses endured when he challenged God’s choice to send him to the Pharaoh.  In Exodus 3 & 4 God reveals Himself to Moses and tells him of His plan for Moses to go before the Pharaoh and arrange the freedom of the Israelites.  Moses’ response was pretty much, “Seriously God?  You’re telling me you can’t’ find someone better for this task?”, and “What if they don’t believe me?”.    Due to his reluctance to trust God’s choice of sending him, God told Moses to toss down his staff.  So far, no big deal…easy to follow that request I’m sure.  He tossed it down and it turned into a snake.  Now this is where the account of this interaction sits different with me than it did in past readings. 

          You see, in the past I envisioned a snake about 3 ft’ long…startling, but not terrifying.  As I reread these passages today I realized the snake Moses saw before him had to have been 6ft. easily.  The staff he threw down was not a waist high cane.  It was a walking stick, weapon and tool which would have towered slightly above his height.  Let’s assume Moses was taller than my daughter, or at least as tall, are you getting the picture here?  That was probably a BIG snake!  Exodus 4:3 says “…and Moses fled from it.”!  I would have too!   But here is the kicker…Exodus 4:4 God tells poor Moses, “stretch out your hand and grab it by the tail”.  !!!!  I cannot see myself grabbing the tail of the snake that is currently living somewhere below my garage.  I think I would have looked at God and said, “You’re God, You pick it up!”  Yet we read that Moses obeyed God’s direction.   I don’t see the mention of Moses hesitating to pick up this monster sized snake!   Here we see in Moses what God had seen since He formed him in his mother’s womb, and why He probably chose him for such a difficult task.  Moses had a strong reliance on God.  He had a deep faith and obedient heart that overcame the shallow insecure outer shell that once hid this strength.  When he heard God’s simple, yet crazy, command to pick up the snake, he did it.   What God asked of Moses,  obedience not based on understanding or logic, He also asks of us. 

Lord help me to know Your will and to follow it inspite of my own insecutity, trusting as  Moses eventually did, that You know me best and call me with the fullness of that knowledge.

 

 

Bundles of Joy July 21, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,life — tlmiller82 @ 9:57 pm

          Saturday, Scott and I attended a going away cookout for one of the young families in our Sunday school class.   It was a time of celebration for what the future held for them and for the relationships they had formed here in Virginia.   I watched the young families as they enjoyed the fellowship. 

           Mothers gathered on a quilt in the grass and babies laid side by side.  Crying, cooing, drooling, rolling, scooching(that butt in the air, army kind of pre-crawl), squirming, wiggling and bouncing were the most popular activities.  Toddlers were toddling in that walk/run method, designed to keep their head above their feet, with parents nearby for the inevitable tumble.  Preschoolers discovered sticks, rocks, basketballs and even an unattended water hose, all to a wonderful sound track of giggles and squeals.

          Today we hosted young moms and kids at our pool.  Over the course of the day I saw sweet babies sleeping, more toddlers toddling, and preschoolers splashing.  Youngsters jumped off ledges to open arms of mothers.  Little girls played mermaid and floats became choo choo trains and cargo boats.   I threw myself into the playing.  Trying to keep up with each little one and trying hard to pay attention to every minute of adorable they presented.  The moms asked what I did after they all left our pool each Tuesday.  They theorized I took a nap after such a vigorous playtime with the kids.  They are not too far off on their theory.  I don’t actually take a nap, but I do not plan to accomplish much later in the day.  I relax. 

 I recognize that is something most of these moms do not get to do.  I only need energy for part of a day, they need energy for 24 hours.  I have a good deal going on here.  I have the pleasure of taking in all the fun and delight of their little “bundles of joy”, without having to deal with the hardship each one also represents.

           Why do we call them “bundles of JOY?”   They poop, pee and spit up.  They demand attention and leave parents sleep deprived. They are messy and loud.  They cost money.  They challenge us, change us and then they grow up.  “Bundles of JOY?”   

          The reason babies and children are our “bundles of joy” has nothing to do with whether they are perfect, quiet, happy, clean or always on their best behavior.   These little ones are a “joy” because they fill the heart of their moms and dads.

           After observing the energy and diversity of all these little ones over the last few days it is clear they are pure joy to those who love them.    “Bundles of happiness” would not suffice when describing them.  Happiness is based on circumstances.   Happiness comes and goes, we have ups and downs…but joy is not based on what is around us.  Joy is what is in us.  Joy does not change. 

          Children running, preschoolers playing and babies on blankets are “bundles of Joy” reminding  us that true joy  is a heart that is full, no matter what the circumstances.  According to John 15:11-13, our Lord explains that when we fill our hearts with Him…”abide in Him”,” keep His commandments”,” love one another”  we will know joy and our “joy will be made full.”  

          That is what I seek, to abide in Him and have the joy of the Lord in me.  I don’t need to be happy all the time, but I want to know joy beyond my circumstances.   My Lord, my bundle of joy.

 

Keep Your Head Up July 14, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 11:24 pm

                                                                                                                                                                   P7140378          Hughie, our porky little Yorkie, had a rough day at the vet.   The good news is he did not require surgery.  The bad news is he has to let a few “spots” heal up.  At least he was able to avoid the indignity of having to wear one of those lamp shade protective collars.  Several years ago Duke, our former lab, did not get so lucky.   

          Picture an 85lb lab with a stiff plastic satellite dish around his head trying to maneuver around the house.  The worst part of having the dreaded protective collar was when Duke had to go up the stairs.  One night as I listened to the familiar “scrape, thud, scrape thud” of him ascending the steps, I heard my husband ( who for some reason always talks to the dogs in complete sentences) proclaim, “Well Duke, if you’d walk with your head up you wouldn’t have so much trouble!”    Now that’s a bumper sticker just waiting to be printed….”If you’d walk with your head up, you wouldn’t have so much trouble!”

          The world is so much like those collars.  Duke’s collar was part of his reality.  We must live in the world, it is our reality. Like those collars, the world challenges and changes us at times.  We can look down, like Duke did, and find climbing obstacles more challenging and frustrating.  Reality will bump into things, slow us down and discourage us. 

           We can choose to walk with our head up, focused beyond the constraints of the collar/world.  The world/collar may still be a part of our reality, but we’ll see much clearer and be able to steer much more effectively, when we walk with our head up.  This world might cause us trouble, but we can keep our head up and focus on the One who overcomes the world.  My world is big, my God is BIGGER!

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 

Falling vs. Sliding June 30, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 8:26 am

          I do not like to fall.  For numerous, and obvious, reasons whenever there is a situation that exhibits a potential threat of falling I tend to avoid it.  You will never see me parachuting out of a plane for recreation.  I see no need to bungee jump or ride the amusement park rides designed to give you the feeling of being dropped from great heights.  I do not consider feeling like you’re falling to be “fun”.           

          Fear of falling is one of the two fears we are actually born with, the other is loud noises.   From our earliest attempts at walking we learn to keep our head over our feet.  We wear protective gear when partaking in activities which may lead to falling.  We hold hand rails on stairs, brace ourselves if we feel unstable and instinctively flail our arms and contort our torsos in attempt to regain our balance if we think we are about to fall.  A lot of time and effort is put into the avoidance of falling and its affects.

         Sliding, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.  I am sure I am not the only one who does NOT fear sliding.  Sliding is easy and fun!  We are taught this at playgrounds as children.  Water parks and snow covered hills are packed with sliders each season.  It is an efficient way to get from one point to another.  Sliding is gentle, smooth, fast and easy to do. 

         I attended a beautiful wedding the other day.  The reception facility was a lovely country club.  A huge curving staircase rose up on both sides of the foyer leading to the dining area.  Oddly enough as I began to exit the building I felt an intense desire to slide down the wide oak railing which ended in tight curl at the base, perfect for making a graceful stop at the end of my slide.    Ultimately, after contimplating the logistics, I chose to exit the facility like a grown up and walked as lady like as possible down the elegant stairway.  Only two things prevented me from giving into my sliding nature.   One, I was wearing a dress and two; the rail was adorned with pretty white netting and flowers.  I suspect the later was done not just for décor, but to dissuade others like myself from giving into the temptation to slide.  I must admit that as I passed the last foot of railing I envisioned hoisting my hip up on it for just a short slide, but I resisted. 

          I believe it is a part of the nature of man to slide.  I am not the only one who thinks this is true.  Here in Washington D.C. the metro system designers recognize man’s temptation to slide.  One particular metro stop is located far below street level.  This requires a rather long steep escalator to transport riders up and down.   A three foot section of metal separates the two opposing escalators.  While I am sure no one would consider shinnying “up” the steep slope, no doubt the slide down would be much faster and more exciting than the crowded, trudging escalator.  In answer to man’s unspoken temptation to slide, metro strategically placed rather inhospitable looking “bumps” along its tempting expanse.  Yes, when it comes to sliding we rely on others to place impediment in our way.  If left unto ourselves we would be more inclined to slide, than to not slide.  This is something we should keep in mind when considering our spiritual journey.

           We often carefully guard against falling away from God, but do little to protect ourselves from the temptation to slide.  Unlike the metro or country club staircase, we do not have anything in our path to prevent the quick, smooth seemingly effortless slide away from Truth and God.   Neglecting Bible study, relegating prayer to meal time only and avoiding fellowship with other believers  are just a few of the ways we slowly create a buffer between ourselves and the God who desires to be close to us.  If the city of D.C. can anticipate man’s nature to slide, I should too. 

          Psalm 105:1-4 gives us several “bumps” we can install in our daily walk to discourage  sliding away.  “Oh give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples.  Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wondersGlory in His Holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.  Seek the Lord and all His strength; Seek His face continually.” 

 

What happens when I read forwarded e-mails June 9, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 11:50 pm

          Okay, so you know those “forwards” folks send you from time to time in your e-mail?  I don’t really like them.  I don’t usually open them, even the ones that start with, “I don’t usually send these, but…”.    I am seldom curious enough to open anything forwarded to me without my request.  When I do, it is almost always some really cute picture/saying and inevitably I am asked by the sender to   “forward this to at least 10 others to assure I keep up the luck/blessing.”   All that is to preface this….I actually opened one up the other day.

          Yep, some of my friends send numerous forwards of funny jokes/photos on a regular basis.  While I know their intent is to share a laugh and provide a bit of joy, I seldom open them for the above mentioned reasons.  Apparently I had a momentary lapse of concern for the repercussions of these e-mails because I found myself scrolling through a lengthy listing of meaningful/funny quotes.  One of the quotes, hidden deep below several well known sayings, has been running in my head ever since.  It was…”Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, “Oh crap, she’s up.”

          HMMmmmm.  I know my mother would object to the use of the word “crap”(even by the devil), but what an interesting challenge.  What could I do in my day to bring honor and glory to God AND mess up satan’s plan to keep the hope of forgiveness for our sins and the message of God’s grace from people. 

While scriptures give us many ways to pull this off, here are some ideas found in 1Thes. 5:14-23:

  • Admonish the unruly
  • encourage the fainthearted
  • help the weak
  • Be patient with all men
  • See that no one repays another with evil for evil
  • seek after that which is good for one another and for all men
  •  Rejoice always
  • Pray without ceasing 
  • In everything give thanks 
  • Do not quench the Spirit (be enthusiastic)
  • Hold fast to what is good.
  • Abstain from every form of evil. 

          Not surprisingly each one of these individual endeavors will require the grace of our God and the power of the Holy Spirit as we attempt to be a reflection of Christ to the world. 

           But just as my reflection in the early morning pre-hairbrush moments of the day brings me cause for concern, so must the devil find cause for concern as we enter each day reflecting the love and grace of our Christ Jesus. 

 

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!

 

On the Road Again March 23, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,life — tlmiller82 @ 10:29 pm

          My daughter, Ashley, and I will be starting a road trip this week.  An unexpected block of 5 days not committed to work, coupled with the lure of seeing family, was too good to pass up. (Such spur of the moment trips necessitate car travel for lack of better planning and cheap airfares.)  I am surprised she is willing to even consider such an excursion.  Our last road trip together was a less than smooth ride.

          Many years ago I enthusiastically sold my daughter on the idea of us hitting the road together in my little VW convertible Beetle.  Our destination was Mississippi for a friend’s wedding, then down to Florida to see family.  Half way into our first day of travel, my beloved bug broke down.  Stranded on a road between two barely populated towns, in sweltering heat, with no air or restrooms and a teenage daughter, makes waiting several hours for a tow truck seem like eternity.  Eventually a grizzly old mechanic in faded, torn overalls would pronounce my obviously overheated engine, “Froze solid”.   I have come to learn this phrase is not as refreshing as it sounds on a hot day.  Numerous hours and dollars later we waved good bye to my pitiful bug and continued our trip in a rental car.  We would retrieve the repaired vehicle upon our return.   We enjoyed the wedding and seeing family, but soon we were on the road once more headed home.  In an effort to make up for our driving disaster, I promised Ashley we would splurge and stay at a nice hotel on the return trip.  Did you know that North Carolina has a hockey team?  Not only do they have a team, but their team won the Stanley cup that year!  Yep, you guessed it, celebrants flooded all local lodging.  Exit after exit, town after town, we heard “no room in the inn” .   Who could blame her for never wanting to go on a road trip with me again?  A pre-trip car tune up, well planned routes and hotel reservations may reduce, but can not eliminate, the uncertainty of the open road.  Ultimately, the opportunity to be close to those we love is worth the uncertainty of the journey.

          I am learning the uncertainty of my journey is worth the opportunity it gives me to be closer to God.  In Sunday school the other day we were challenged to consider the uncertainty the disciples faced when they chose to follow Christ.  Jesus even said,”The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  Matt.8:20   When they left family and businesses behind , it was not for the promise of  easy travel and good times.  Those who followed Christ risked living a life of filled with unknowns.  The result of their choice to join this  journey was a uniquely intimate relationship with Christ, a front row seat to the advent of salvation.   Maybe uncertainty is not so bad.  I must admit I seek Him, and His will , more often in uncertain times.  Uncertain circumstances in life can become an opportunity to be closer to God.  As I continue on  life’s road trip, with all its unknowns, I will bring along the things of which I am certain.  I am certain He is sovereign.  I am certain of salvation and the forgiveness of our sins through Christ.  I am certain He holds my future.  Time to pack and hit the road!

 

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.