Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Toilet Paper Roll Santa and other symbols of Joy December 5, 2016

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 6:16 pm

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

 

It’s early in the morning, the darkness of my predawn living room is broken only by the lights from our Christmas tree. As I sip coffee from my favorite Christmas mug, I look over each ornament and am filled with Joy.

 

Pretty, blown glass balls of silver and blue are recent additions to our ornament collection. I love how they reflect and amplify the lights on the tree. Several of the ornaments are funny, gifted to us over the years, most of them themed in someway; beach, crabs, golf, boats, each conjuring memories of the crazy friends/family who gave them. But my all-time FAVORITE ornaments are those made by my mother-in-law and mom.

 

For many years, when the kids were little, my mother-in-law(Grammie) would make them ornaments. Tiny creations made from scraps of felt were perfect for little ones to place on the tree without supervision. They always got to hang their own. She lovingly turned plain ball ornaments into funny clown faces and even cute reindeers complete with antlers! Time, and my poor repacking skills, have lead to the demise of a few of these, but several have lasted and continue to hold a place on our tree. This morning my eyes rested on my favorite one and I smiled. There tucked sort of toward the back of the tree(sorry Grammie) was our one eyed reindeer. One of the reindeer’s googly eyes went missing many years ago, but he continues to be a valued part of our Christmas décor and memories.

 

My mom(Maw Maw) was always surprising me with unique creations for our tree. Small V8 cans were crushed, painted and transformed into angels. A bundle of small sticks, spray painted gold, became a lovey place for a small ornate birds nest with ribbon. A broken egg shell held a thimble full of moss, a small bird perched atop, and hung by a small red ribbon. But perhaps the best were her toilet paper creations. Toilet paper was somehow soaked, pressed into molds and came out as works resembling plaster angel faces. Even the empty toilet paper roll itself gave her inspiration…to someone else it was just trash, in my mom’s hands it became a painted, bearded Santa Claus.

 

I ran my hand over the rough beard of the toilet paper roll Santa Claus and laughed to myself at the uniqueness of her gifts….and then I considered Joy.

 

Maybe this season finds you changed by the years, perhaps it feels like something is missing, like our one-eyed reindeer…but know this my friend, you are a valued creation because of the God Who created you, not because you are perfect, but in every imperfection as well.

 

Maybe this season you are feeling empty, used up, cracked or a bit broken…we have a God who REDEEMS the lost, RESTORES the broken hearted and RECONCILES us to Himself even in our sin and imperfection.   In the hands of God, what is empty, used up, cracked and broken is made beautiful.

THIS is the GOOD NEWS OF A GREAT JOY of which the angels proclaimed….and it is STILL Good News to us all today, every day, to All PEOPLE.

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

 

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Deck the Halls with Fluorescent Orange… November 29, 2016

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 2:15 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.

 

I think ORANGE is my new favorite Christmas color, FLUORESCENT ORANGE to be specific. I may have a hard time finding orange wrapping paper, but if it can be found, that’s what will be around my gifts this year! Here is why:

 

I signed up to run the Christmas Town Dash with a friend this next weekend. It seemed like a good idea at the time…8K through beautiful Busch Gardens Williamsburg, holiday décor, cool t-shirt, free park passes and fun with my friend…then I remembered all the HILLS in the park.   In a panic I decided I needed to find a good running path with hills for practice. The Noland Trail is a gorgeous, wooded trail and perfect for running hills…or if you are like me, for lumbering up and down hills.

 

It was a breathtaking day. The trees, and the forest floor, were filled with the colors of fall. Various shades of red, yellow and brown scattered around my feet as I ran the worn path. There was also an additional color at my feet…a bright, “see me now” orange paint coated every exposed root along the path! There were A LOT of exposed roots. We have had a ton of rain which caused an amazing array of tree roots to emerge throughout the trail. I soon discovered I was running with my head down more than up, careful to notice each painted root.

 

The success of my run depended on my ability to see each obstacle and make decisions on whether to go around or over each random protrusion. Those bright markings were my savior, I was grateful for every fluorescent orange root I passed!

 

I keep thinking about those orange roots. Someone had gone before me and marked those roots. Someone anticipated my risk of falling and tried prepare a better way for me. Someone who did not even know me, knew my nature, the nature of most of us, to not look down, to trip, to fall.

 

These last few months I have been keenly aware of my tendency to “fall” in life. I have been humbled by my failures. Discouragement and depression have sought, and found, a place in my heart at times. The struggle to choose wisely is real. I am not without sin. In this life, I have been tripped up by all sorts of life events and challenges…but I know Who picks me up after EVERY fall, it’s the God Who also marked a path for me, planned my steps, and in anticipation of my nature to fall prepared a way for forgiveness.

 

         Jesus is sort of like my bright orange paint! Every root once hidden from my view, was brought to light that day with fluorescent orange paint…likewise, every dark place in my life is brought to light by the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

I LOVE that one of the names of Christ is “The Root of Jesse”, in reference to His descent from the line of King David.   That’s MY SAVIOR>>>> a fluorescent ORANGE “Root of Jesse”…the one Who marks my way and brings light to darkened paths, the hope of my salvation!

“And again Isaiah says, ‘There shall come the root of Jesse, and He who arises to rule over the Gentiles, in Him shall the Gentiles HOPE’ Now may the God of HOPE fill you all with joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:12&13

 

 

Unhelpful, Yet Profound May 4, 2016

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 4:32 pm

Last month I was able to enjoy a get away with my hubby and several friends. We chartered a boat, and Scott (aka: hubby) captained it for us in the British Virgin Islands for a week. Which is how I came to be paddling a kayak around a place called Soper’s Hole Wharf and Marina near Tortola.

 

Soper’s Hole has an active marina, but it is also home to a very busy boat yard. As I paddled along the outer edges of the inlet it was clear that this was also a place where old boats go to die. Just below the surface, in the shallow water, several boat carcasses could be seen in various stages of decay. Further up the shoreline, and closer to the actual boat yard, larger boats (mostly old sail boats) listed awkwardly at anchor. They seemed eerily abandoned and definitely lacked upkeep of any kind. Just beyond these were the boats currently being serviced I supposed. A handful of boats sat at anchor near the shore with the tale tell signs of being “mid project” with scattered oil cans, rags, spare parts and open hatches and doors. From the amount of marine growth on their hauls, I think it is safe to assume that no one was hurrying to complete repairs.

 

Once I passed the boat yard area I noticed a small waterway heading off to the left of the marina. I was overwhelmed with curiosity…I thought the inlet ended at the boat yard/marina. I paddled slowly as I rounded a small bend, unsure of what I would find and certain it would be a dead end and I’d need to reverse paddle at any moment. Instead, what I found was a waterway that continued to get progressively narrow….narrow, but still inviting.

 

I was hesitant to continue along the passage. I could see there was a small bridge to pass under ahead, but could not see beyond that. I was concerned I’d get to an area too narrow for me to turn the kayak around if needed.   There was a gentleman working on a small boat nearby. I called out to him and asked if he could tell me what was “down that way” as I pointed toward the tiny bridge. He stood and stretched, then wiped his brow with a greasy hand leaving a black streak. Belatedly he wiped his hands on a rag he took from his tool box as he looked to where I was pointing. Then he said it….he uttered what is perhaps the MOST unhelpful yet Most profound statement I have ever heard. “Well, you go under the bridge, and you will be in a different place.”  

 

Um, Thanks? I shook my head in confusion, but continued to paddle. I had to see this “different place” for myself.

 

I mentioned the bridge (the one I had to paddle under, the one upon which cars and small trucks were passing over regularly) was tiny right? Not only was it narrow and low, but I also noticed upon closer inspection that it was being held up by rocks and numerous, worn and threadbare, bags of sand. But I kept going….after all, the “different place” was just on the other side!

 

Well, the World’s Most Unhelpful man was right, I had indeed found myself in a different place! It was a large cove on the back side of the island. It was expansive and impressive. It was devoid of any boats, and waves rolled up into the cove and broke in white peaks beyond the shoreline. Homes were nestled up in the surrounding hills and more mangroves filled the water’s edges. It was shockingly different from the busy, boat filled area I had just left.

 

As I paddled back toward our boat I could not keep from thinking about those unhelpful words… “Well, you go under the bridge, and you will be in a different place.”  

 

I think that is a good way to consider any life journey….When you go, you will end up in a different place. We may not know where we are going, but it will not be the same as where we are now. We will not be the same. Going, doing, moving, and living life will always bring us to a different place. I may not always welcome the difference. But I love knowing that my God journeys with me as I enter every new and different place and phase of life.

 

The God Who went before the Israelites as they wondered in the desert, the God Who parted waters and the God Who brought them to a promised land, is THE SAME GOD who created me, the same God Who set my journey in motion and the SAME GOD Who guides me to “a different place” every day!

“And the Lord is the one Who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Duet.31:8)

 

 

Unmerited Favor March 26, 2016

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 6:02 pm

For some reason I have always had a vivid memory of a single line form a kids play from years ago.  My kids participated in many musicals/plays/skits in church, while growing up, so I find it odd that THIS particular line is always rolling around in my head after all these years.  I have no recall of the title, not even the context…but I seem to think it had something to do with a little girl explaining the meaning of her name, “Grace”.   She boldly proclaims, “Grace, it means God’s unmerited favor!”   At the time I thought that the term “unmerited” seemed too complicated for the young audience it was intended to reach.  But I think that was because I was  still trying to grasp that word myself…”unmerited”: unearned, not deserved, bestowed without reason.  God’s ability to love and forgive me no matter what my life looks like is hard to grasp. To this day I can hear that sweet little voice shouting , “GRACE, God’s unmerited favor!”  and as it echoes in my memory I feel goose bumps knowing that I know exactly what GRACE is in my life.  I have known God’s unmerited favor .  Everyday I am thankful for this great gift of grace and forgiveness.  I pray this Easter season, if you do not know how much God loves you, that you will come to know grace, UNMERITED!

Here is a story I share every Easter…I hope you enjoy the story of sweet Abigail!

 

I’ve lost track of how many years ago it was, yet each Spring I can’t help but recall my introduction to Abigail.  I was a high school science/Bible teacher for a small Christian school at the time. One of my students was a football sized young man named Nick.  He worked for a local farmer who had offered him a young lamb to take home.  Nick’s mom, apparently destined for sainthood, not only allowed him to bring the lamb home, but he got to keep it in his room!  Early that Spring Nick brought photos to share.  To my amazement, there, wedged beside his bed and amid typical teenage squalor, was a carefully built pen, complete with wood rails, chicken wire and hay.  Abigail the lamb had found a perfect home.  Over the next few weeks Nick would have numerous stories to tell of Abigail’s antics.  I couldn’t wait to see her for myself, so I invited Nick to bring her to school one morning.

I ushered my entire class outside and we waited like giddy preschoolers for Abigail’s arrival.  I am certain I will never be able to adequately describe what I saw that day.  I will do my best.  We watched as Nick emerged from his vehicle with Abigail cradled in his big burly arms.  We stood transfixed by the sight of what can only be inadequately referred to as precious”.  Her pure, white coat seemed almost translucent, radiating light under the bright blue, cloudless sky.   Her tiny nose was a perfect, pink velvet triangle perched just above her little pink mouth.    As I placed my hand on her sweet little head she looked at me.  I found myself staring into the depths of clear, brilliant blue eyes.  I realized I had been holding my breath in awe.  We were expecting to see a cute lamb, somewhat off white in color.  I had not considered that, unlike the lambs at the local petting zoo, Abigail had been living in a clean, loving, environment.  After everyone had made Abigail’s acquaintance, Nick left to return her home and we settled back into Bible class.

We soon realized the relevance of Abigail’s visit as we continued our study of Passover.  The original Passover took place when Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt.  God instructed them to mark their door post with the blood of a male lamb.  This was to protect them from the final plague which was the death of all first born in any home not so protected. (Exodus 11&12)  The yearly commemoration of this event required the father to select the best, blemish free lamb and set it apart for the Passover…four days prior to the celebration.  My students and I began to consider something quite startling.  There was a good chance that the lamb would have been brought into the house or yard during that time.  This perfect little lamb, probably as precious and sweet as our Abigail, may have clamored under their feet while they did chores, fed out of their hands and shared a living area.  After four days, this lamb, which by now had become even more precious to the family, was to be sacrificed.   Suddenly one can imagine the cries of the children, the quite sob of their mother, the sorrow in the eyes of the father who knows a blood sacrifice is required.   For the first time, since meeting Abigail, we could truly envision the “sacrificial lamb” of the Scriptures.

The continued observance of Passover was a powerful object lesson for generations of Israelites.  Every family member would be reminded not only of God’s protection and provision when He freed them from slavery, but also of the cost…the blood of their most precious lamb.  This Easter we consider the final sacrifice.  Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, perfect and precious beyond description, was sacrificed for our sin.  Many movies and videos have stirred the heart of man as they depict the brutal crucifixion of our Christ, yet none can compare to the vision of Abigail.  As we celebrate our freedom from sin and death through the resurrection of our Lord, let’s never forget the cost.  Praise God His love and grace make us worthy of such a sacrifice!

1 Peter 1:18-19  “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold…but with precious blood, as a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”

 

 

Floating or Swimming March 8, 2016

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 6:10 pm

20160308_230009203_iOSBuddy is our very blessed Beta fish.   He was a sort of gag gift from our neighbors two Christmases ago. Since Scott had poor luck fishing that year, they decided he deserved at least one fish to take home. We had a good laugh and happily brought Buddy the Beta fish home. I am pretty sure everyone thought Buddy would be a fairly temporary addition to our family. I even envisioned the day Buddy would need a “burial at sea” and totally intended to invite the fore mentioned neighbors. But a funny thing happened on the way to the toilet bowl…I fell in love with my little finned friend.

 

Soon his perfectly adequate vase/bowl was replaced by a much fancier bowl, a unique and beautiful molten glass bowl formed onto a piece of drift wood. My husband still shakes his head at the thought of this $5 fish living in a “slightly” more than $5 bowl! Buddy sits in his home near my kitchen sink and we have a special bond.

 

It is a little shocking that he has survived his second Christmas. I do not know how old Buddy is, nor do I know how long Bets fish live. The fact that he is still alive is only surprising because I know how often his little life was in peril.

 

In the short time we have been together, Buddy has experienced episodes of overfeeding, forgotten feedings and neglected bowl cleanings. Perhaps the most concerning are the times Buddy has had out of water adventures. In my defense, Buddy is less than cooperative when it is time to move him to a holding bowl so I can clean his home. This has resulted in a few flops into the sink. Normally I can scoop him up and quickly redeposit him into the dish…usually. There was this one time when I forgot to put the sink strainer in…it ended okay, but I am sure being wedged between the rubber flaps which cover the entrance to the garbage disposal took a toll on him. That is why I find myself periodically checking on his movement.

 

 

Beta fish actually sleep or rest throughout the day. There are many times I find Buddy listing lifelessly at the bottom of his bowl. The other night Scott mentioned he saw Buddy at the top of his bowl. “Is he floating or swimming?” I asked. I think this a good life question in general, and not just for fish. I tapped on the glass and was relieved when he startled into activity. I doubt he appreciated the disruption, but a response to the “floating or swimming” question needed to be provoked.

 

Last year I had what I referred to as a “cage rattling” season, it was(and still is I suppose) a time when the complexity of life overwhelmed me. I was simply floating through life. I had stopped paying attention to so many things. Things such as my faith journey, my relationships, God’s call on my life, goals I had once sought and even my health. Then TAP TAP…sure enough, just as Buddy fluttered into a fin frenzy, I too found myself thrown face down in prayer, heart racing in response to some emotional chaos and suddenly once again VERY aware of my God, His grace and mercy. God had my FULL attention.

 

This morning, as I once again tapped on Buddy’s bowl to determine his “floating vs swimming” status, I was mindful of my own status. Am I busy doing what God has called me to do? Have I stepped forward in my journey? Am I floating through a time in life that cries out for intentionality? Am I praising Him all things?

 

Let’s not get caught floating. It is time to put on the water wings of faith and hope and SWIM!

For Thou art my hope; O Lord God, Thou art my confidence from my youth. But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise Thee yet more and more. Psalm 71:5

 

 

Pick Your Feet Up February 23, 2016

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 2:50 pm

I was at the gym the other day….I like to let that statement settle in for a minute, pretend I said it as if being at the gym was nothing new nor extraordinary for me. Okay, so maybe the more HONEST start to this blog should be, “I finally made it to the gym the other day…”.   We’ve joined our local YMCA and, although it was NOT my first time there, it must have been obvious I was a fairly new member.

 

I had already established a gym routine. I love to run on one of their new treadmills. It is made of wood slats and really gives you a feel as if on a smooth trail. I had just settled into a warm up pace, headphones blaring tunes from Hilsong United, when a staff member from the gym stopped by my treadmill.

 

I slowed my pace (which means I was almost at a full stop since I run so slow ) and took an earbud out to hear what she was saying. I don’t know if checking on folks is a standard procedure for this gym, or if I already looked like I was in crisis, I DO look like a hot mess when I jog. She asked me if I needed any additional information about the equipment and what my running goal was this session. I told her I hoped to run about 4 miles…it was sort of true, I genuinely ALWAYS attempt 4 miles, but alas seldom make it happen. “Good for you.” The kindly attendant said. Then, before leaving me to my effort, she gave me a life changing bit of advice… “Don’t forget to pick your feet up!”

 

As I placed my earpiece back and returned to my jogging pace I thought how silly her comment was. “DUH, of COURSE I will pick my feet up!” I thought. I was even slightly unkind in my thinking… “Hmm, wonder how much training it took to learn to tell folks that bit”. Shame on me, right? But seriously, when you run on a treadmill, picking your feet up is really ALL you have to do. It is not hard to remember. Sure, you can set the “tread” to move faster or slower causing you to pick your feet up faster or slower…but picking up your feet is still “job #1”.

 

Since you may already see where this story is going, let me assure you I did NOT get hurt. I was having a great run. My music was inspiring and upbeat, I was in my favorite running socks and managing my breathing better than usual. I was actually going to accomplish my 4 mile goal, yay! Then about mile 3.5, I managed to not pick up my foot enough. The result was a heart pounding, slow motion, ALMOST fall on your face, miraculous recovery. I may have only ran 4 miles that day, but my heart got a marathon workout.

 

I finished the last half mile thinking of only ONE thing and repeating it over and over to myself…”PICK UP YOUR FEET!”

 

Since that day I have continued to consider this lesson. How often do I walk through life, digging in my heels, trying to propel myself forward? I am running through life thinking it is more complex than it actually is….discouragement, exhaustion, frustration, defeat all hover about waiting to cause me to stumble. But God has not called me to make my own life a certain way, He has called me to follow His plan for my life. He has my road under control…my job is to pick up my feet. When weariness threatens me, I will stop striving and just pick up my feet. When I am uncertain of my destination, I will pick up my feet and trust where He places them next. I will stop grumbling and obediently pick up my feet so He does not have to drag me along, because SOMETIMES God has a different plan.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.   He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay; and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.  And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God….” (Psalm 40:1-2)

 

 

 

 

 

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!