Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Journey December 9, 2020

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 3:51 pm
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Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause to remember the birth of our Savior.  In some households a candle is lit for each of the advent themes. These days we live aboard a boat, so instead we will “turn on” a flameless candle as we consider the second theme of advent, JOY.

A white square with black typeface print.  I can see it in my mind as clear as if I was still standing in my old kitchen staring at the prominent fridge magnet…its words, a reflection of an effort to course correct:  Life is Journey, Not a Destination  This would become our mantra, a rallying cry, a reminder of our intent to enjoy the journey.  How did this magnet find its way to our fridge?  Well, you see, years ago one member of our household struggled with “journeys”.  Traversing shopping malls, careers, hiking trails or highways, they had a “get to the other place” mindset.  This was not always a bad thing.  This is a focus that often propelled them/us to important places, life events and milestones in a timely and helpful fashion.  But it also created a sense of stress, rush and frustration.  Then one day, they proclaimed they were going to be ALL about the JOURNEY in life.  It was a powerful shift, not easy or natural.  I marveled at the intentional effort, the impact was unmistakable in our lives.   

These days remembering to enjoy the journey is a challenge we both continually face.  Perhaps it is time to buy another magnet for the boat fridge?  This week the journey is weighing on my heart.  As I prepared to write this post about JOY, the image of that old black and white magnet danced in my head like the “sugar plumb fairy” from that famous poem.  I often find my focus is on getting through, arriving on the other side of difficult days, enduring, seeking a completion, a resting place. I am destination minded.   I have been busy white knuckling the reins of my life(and that of my adult kids if I’m being honest), reins I grabbed from the very capable hands of my Heavenly Father, and trying to “journey” my way faster, easier, in and around all the days I deemed to be difficult, painful, hard and unsettling.

Our pastor once said, regarding the life/national/world events of this year, “Perhaps it is not about what God is doing to us, but rather what He is doing for us?”   I’m glad our service was a virtual one, I would not have been proud of the face I made,(an emoji eye roll comes to mind).  But the more I considered his words, the more I felt lead to spend less time wringing my hands and more time looking for the hands of God.  I had been so intent on being saved from the journey, that I almost missed the gifting of it all.  God’s handiwork was easy to see when I stopped and looked. Still the struggle to find joy in the journey continued. And then this….as I checked in with a friend who has been battling cancer. His reply to my “How are your doing?” :

“Every day the Lord gives me is a gift and an excellent reason to give it my best.”  

I was shook at that truth as it applies to us all.  These days of our journey…easy, wonderful, full, precious, painful, worrisome, hard, trying…are gifts, and excellent reasons to give it our all.  Let us seek God in our journey, giving the days our all, knowing  the JOY of Him, ever mindful that He redeems us, He is for us, He is with us.  This is truly news of great JOY to ALL people…..

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child and bear a son, a they shall call His name Immanuel”( which means, God with us.) Matthew 1:23

He came to us, for us and will one day come again!

P.S. I think I do need a new fridge magnet, I want to be reminded to treasure the journey…but I would amend it to read:  Life is a journey, with a destination!


Great Expectations December 4, 2020

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 11:41 am
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Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause to remember the birth of our Savior.  In some households a candle is lit for each of the advent themes. These days we live aboard a boat, so instead we will “turn on” a flameless candle as we consider the first advent theme, HOPE.

I errantly thought my family was normal growing up.  The first hint that perhaps, just perhaps, we were not normal took place my first Christmas with the hubby and his family.  You see, in my family, gift giving came hand in hand with an intense build of expectation.  Great care and effort went into camouflaging each gift below our tree.  My sister and I would shake and examine each box with our name for days leading up to the grand opening.   My sister was particularly good at guessing what hid beneath mom’s elaborate ribbons and bows.  My mom took pride in being able to fool us.  A box that rattled when shook could be a toy, but it could also be a sweater with a bag of dried beans.  A large box could contain a much smaller gift and a small box could hold a note telling us to look in the garage for a bigger item.  We loved this guessing game.  Having expectations and laughing at our surprise with each opened gift was part of Christmas.

 I was traveling with my then fiancé to have Christmas with his mom and sister.  I had gotten my betrothed a sports jacket, complete with stylish elbow patches.(this was the 80’s after all)  I assumed he would try valiantly to guess what I’d gotten him…so I rolled it up tightly, placed in an extra-long and narrow box and added a brick in the bottom of the box to really throw him off.  I was significantly pleased with myself.  When it came time to load up the car he unceremoniously heaved it into the vehicle with the rest of our things.  We toted that heavy, awkward box from Florida to Virginia and he never tried to guess its contents, not once!   

No doubt he, and my future in-laws, were perplexed when at last he opened the gift.  Oh, he loved the jacket, but he could not PHATHOM why I used an outsized box and included a brick.  They were kind, not judgmental, but it was hard to miss the head tilt that accompanies confusion…and that friends was the first of many times we would discover our differences over 36yrs of marriage.

As a child, my Christmases were filled with expectations culminating in the “big reveal” on Christmas day.  I was never disappointed.  I may have been surprised by the contents, but I was always delighted with the gifts.  This year as I look forward to the celebration of the birth of Christ, I am thinking of expectations.

God’s people were waiting for help.  Prophecy had told of the arrival of one who would save them all.  They had expectations.  They waited for a Messiah to save them from their enemies, yet ultimately man’s greatest enemy is sin.   While many looked for a worldly savior, God sent His son to be the savior of the world. How confusing it must have been when their hope for salvation did not arrive wrapped in triumphant pageantry, political powers or leading a mighty army.  Instead, this gift came wrapped in cloth, lying in a manger, devoid of so much as a bow.  The packaging may have been unexpected, but the gift exceeded the expectations of man.

We may be tempted to set our expectation and hope in the pretty packaging of things/people, but salvation does not come from the world.  Salvation came TO the world in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God.  He is our HOPE, our expectation, assurance of forgiveness, peace in chaos, comfort amidst stiving and joy even as sorrow flows.  This week as we look forward to celebrating the birth of Christ…

“May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13


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.


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)




“It Is What It Is” December 16, 2014

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 7:23 pm
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This is the third week of Advent.  Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior.  In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of the Advent themes.  This week we light the candle of PEACE.

“It is what it is”. I am not sure exactly when I heard this phrase for the first time. I do not recall what it was in reference to, but it made me feel uncomfortable. Since then, I have heard these words uttered countless times and each time it made my heart ache. I had only heard “It is what it is” in negative contexts I suppose. It was often spoken with a breathy sigh, a resignation of a plight, or a settling/acceptance of a bad thing.

I get it. I know there are times in life when there is just nothing anyone can do, and as one of my friends once said, “Sometimes you just have to put your big kid pants on and deal with it.” Still, it just does not feel right to proclaim a situation as beyond change, even if it is true.

I was not a fan of “it is what it is”, which is why I found it odd, that when considering the topic of “PEACE” for our advent devotion, I could not get this phrase out of my head. I had written it down as a passing thought in my notes last week. It was even scribbled in the margin of a shopping list I made a few days ago. The words kept bouncing around in my head like that ping pong ball in the old Atari games.  At first, I thought of it as a good example of resignation/hopelessness. I thought it would be a good intro into the topic of “HOPE”, but that advent theme has already passed. I had been asking God for something to share about “PEACE”.   I was sort of hoping for a scripture to roll into my life and present itself, not a negative tinged “It is what it is.”  What could THAT have to do with PEACE, God’s PEACE?

I looked the phrase up on line, seeking to find its intended meaning. Of course there were many ways it can be utilized, but for the most part, it has come to mean the following concerning situations:

Inevitable, unchangeable, unstoppable, out of one’s control, and my favorite, “C’ est la vie” (such is life)

Suddenly the phrase that was at once zinging around in my head in negative connotation, came to a complete stop and stood glaring out at me as if in neon lettering. “It is what it is.” is not always about settling for less of a thing, or accepting a negative situation… it is a confidence that when something is not in your control, you will still be okay. It is a knowing that while something is unchangeable, you are capable of moving forward.   We may not control our circumstances, but we control how we respond in our hearts.

At Christmas we are especially mindful of the year round truth that is this:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

This is God’s PEACE…in Him we do not strive for perfection, nor do we sit condemned from our sin. In Him we find grace, unearned favor, forgiveness and life. God’s PEACE is being settled in the midst of unsettling times. We face unchangeable things, unstoppable events and we may not have control, but our God is UNCHANGEABLE, UNSTOPPABLE and always in CONTROL.

“It is what it is” once caused me to envision someone throwing their hands up in defeat…now, when I think of this phrase, instead I envision someone dropping their burden, tossing their hands in the air and falling back into His capable arms.

“For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah9:16)


Oh Baby! December 9, 2014

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 8:01 am
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V__3400 This is the second week of Advent. Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of the Advent themes. This week we light the candle of JOY.


My daughter, Ashley, was home from New York for Thanksgiving. We took advantage of her being in town for her to visit family friends, Pete and Kristin.  Kristin, and her older sister Kari, are like sisters to Ashley. They are the daughters of one of my best friends.  We have known them since Ashley was a preteen. Over the years they were always there with encouraging words, ready to listen and including her in their lives.  I know she misses seeing them both and she was glad to at least be able to see Kristin.  It was especially nice since Ashley had yet to meet Kristin and Pete’s newest addition, sweet baby Nixon.


The evening we arrived, Kristin’s home was already filled with family.  Pete’s mom and dad, brother, sister-in-law and their baby girl were all visiting for Thanksgiving.  I was engaging Pete’s dad in conversation when I noticed a concerned look on his face.  He looked at me and nodded toward Ashley.  “Is she okay?” he sweetly asked.   That’s when I saw it…I was so caught up in greeting people I almost missed it.


Kristin was standing beside Ashley after just placing baby Nixon in her arms.   Ashley, holding and seeing Nixon for the first time, was moved to tears.  She tried to turn away so no one would see her cry.  She knew we’d probably tease her.  I am pretty sure her tears surprised even her.  I was not surprised though.  I had seen her do this one other time, when she met Noah, Kari’s son, for the first time.


Pete’s compassionate dad continued to be concerned for her tears.  “Why is she crying?” he quietly asked me.   I assured him she was okay, but struggled with explaining “why”.  Teary eyed now myself, all I could bring myself to say was , “Its because she loves Kristin”.    He smiled, obviously relieved.


You see, Ashley does not cry every time she holds just any baby.  But that night, and when she held Kari’s son for the first time, she could not help but be overwhelmed.  She held and looked into the sweet face of a baby born to someone she loves dearly, someone who has loved her unconditionally.  They were tears of JOY.


I have thought of Ashley’s precious tears a lot this week.  In the Christmas season we are surrounded by images of baby Jesus.  What would it have been like if Mary had placed baby Jesus in my arms?  I feel certain I too would find myself moved to tears.  I know, because even as I write this, I am fighting back tears at just the thought.  I imagine holding the son of THE ONE I love completely.  Cradling Him in my arms and looking into the eyes of the son of the God who loves me unconditionally.  There would be tears, tears of JOY.


We may not be able to hold Him in our arms, but we can hold Him in our hearts.  May this week we consider the treasure of knowing the Son of God and forever mindful of the Joy of it all.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great JOY, that will be for all people.” Luke 2:10


NASCAR December 2, 2014

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 5:27 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 light the candle of HOPE.

       I was simply driving around town running a few errands when I received the first message. It came in the form of a faded bumper sticker on the car in front of me. “God is My Copilot”, it proclaimed. I looked at the empty passenger seat beside me and considered the importance those words. I would not want to go anywhere in life without God near me. He is my copilot too. I decided I needed to be more aware of God’s presence in my life.


The second message came as I continued on my way to grocery store. I was bobbing my head to country tunes when Carrie Underwood blared from my speakers. I was immediately caught up in the emotion of her song and soon found myself crooning along with her… “Jesus Take The Wheel…..” I sang it with passion, although not even close to being in tune. The words stirred my heart. I realized I did not want God to just be my copilot, I want Him to be my PILOT! I want Him to have the “wheel” of my life.


My errands were completed, and I was on my way home, when a third message came to me from a very unusual source. I am not a NASCAR fan, but I think God may be. I was pushing the radio buttons absentmindedly, just trying to find something interesting to listen to, when I stopped briefly on a station discussing NASCAR. I did not hear all of the discussion, but my mind stuck on something they mentioned in passing. In reference to a recent race they commented, “His SPOTTER could have done a better job for him there.”   A “spotter”, what is that?


As if the guys on the radio heard my question, they proceeded to explain that a spotter is an actual position on a NASCAR driver’s team. It is the person who sits in an observation section high above the raceway.   Apparently the drivers have limited ability to view their surroundings as they hurtle around the oval track. They cannot move their heads around very easily and therefore rely on spotters to give them the bigger picture. From their vantage point the spotters can radio to the drivers and alert them to accidents, proximity of other racers as well as giving them tips for maneuvering based on the location of the other cars.   I changed my mind. I don’t want God to just be my copilot or pilot…I want God to be my SPOTTER!


Yep, God used a bumper sticker, Carrie Underwood and NASCAR to “drive” the lesson home. (Great pun right?) As I finally pulled into my driveway after running my errands, I bowed my head and prayed.


“God, my hope and trust is in You alone. You are more than qualified to be my copilot, pilot and spotter in this journey of life. I want to fully and faithfully follow You.”

        As we enter into this Christmas season and celebrate the birth of Christ, I find myself especially mindful of who God is in my life. His birth, life, death and resurrection are the reason for my every HOPE. Through Him I know forgiveness and grace. In Him I find direction. Without Him I would be hopelessly lost in every way.

That little baby we sing about in a manger….yep, He is my copilot, pilot and spotter….He is my Hope.

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


Beyond the Sponge Cake December 20, 2012

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 10:48 am
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          I miss Twinkies. My current age and diet tend to make them a seldom enjoyed teat these days.  The mere sight of one brings back sweet memories of lunch boxes and sticky fingers.   I am sure there are some strange people who enjoy eating Twinkies one bite at a time, but REAL aficionados recognize the best part is in the middle.  As a kid, I would stick my finger in and scoop the yummy cream filling out before consuming the rest of the cake.  Perhaps this is a good life lesson…sometimes it is best to dig in and focus on what is in the middle.  I think PEACE is like that.  We often mistakenly think it is best found in circumstances around us, much like the spongy cake of a Twinkie, when in reality PEACE is found deep in the middle and that is the BEST part of all.

          I used to equate peace with quiet and stillness.  I mean, still and quiet kids certainly can be a peaceful thing right?  Nothing quite says “peaceful” like a sleeping child curled up under warm covers or snuggled next to a favorite toy.  I think we all can agree that there is a definite amount of “parental peace” when the kids sit quiet and still in a church service or at a time of reverence. 

          I used to equate peace with “happily ever after”.  I figured if everything was okay, then there was peace.  I would try to have a “peace” about the fate of a loved one struggling with illness or loss by trying to explain or understand it.  I would struggle to make sense of situations. I worked hard to ensure everyone was happy.   I thought peace was the result of everything being okay and everyone being happy. 

          I used to equate peace with a lack of conflict.  When countries stopped fighting we called it peace.  I have seen countless videos of wars pausing, soldiers laying down their weapons, strangers holding hands, sharing a meal or a Coca-Cola… all to the tune of the song “Peace on Earth.”  Peace was wherever conflict was not.

But that was all sponge cake….

          Today there are too many homes that will sit still and quiet because their little ones are in the arms of our God.  As a nation we grieve the loss of these precious lives.  I know I am not alone in being reminded of the value and sweetness found in a loud and rambunctious child.  Many hugged their own children tighter and welcomed the chaos of a child filled day.  ….I no longer equate stillness and quiet with peace.

          Today I know that life does not always bring a “happily ever after” kind of happiness.  Cancer does sometimes win.  Pain cannot always be avoided.  Disease still impacts families. Bad things happen. I cannot make everyone happy.  There times when things are not oaky at all.  While I know God gives us answers to things in this life, I also know He cannot always answer me when I ask Him WHY.  He knows I cannot comprehend His ways.  I am sure it breaks His heart to hear me cry out to Him in my confusion, frustration and hurt…”Lord, why did you let this happen?”  I no longer equate peace with “happily ever after.”

          Today I know that conflicts are a part of the nature of man.  I realize others have bravely fought to keep conflict from my door step.  I know that nations fight mightily for what they value.  I know that without conflict there could not be resolution.  As difficult as striving against one another may be, it is often a path to merging many ideas into one space or understanding.  I no longer equate peace with lack of conflict.

Peace is found beyond the sponge cake….


 It is a calmness in our hearts when chaos fills the world. 

It is a restfulness in our soul when others search for answers.

It is knowing deep inside yourself Who holds your future and trusting in Him even when things around you rage in conflict. 

God’s peace is what is inside us, even in un-peaceful times.

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


What is in the Food? December 12, 2012

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 4:51 pm
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Each week, four prior to Christmas, we gather to light a candle and consider the coming of our savior, the birth of Jesus.  It is a good time to focus on the real reason for merriment.  This week we celebrate Joy.

          I was listening to a sermon last Sunday and as soon as the pastor uttered the following line I did not hear another word.  He was talking about the scenario we often envision when we think of the night of Jesus’s birth, you know….shepherds, Mary, Joseph, donkey, baby, hay filled manager…he said imagine the animals’ surprise when they looked in their food trough and saw a baby, surely they wondered “what’s this in our food?” and at those words my mind began to tumble with all sorts of images.  I pictured Jesus as the prize in a box of cracker jacks, or a new “special marshmallow surprise” in Lucky Charms cereal.  I know, I know…this was not what he meant, but I could not help myself. 

          I am thankful that those animals had such a special food additive that night.  I could not help wondering if my life were a manger, what would they have found there?

          I was moved to think of the times I have replaced Jesus with other things…..I suddenly had images of this running in my head.  Picture a hay filled manger…you peer over its edge expecting a sweet baby wrapped in swaddling clothes…and instead there is a television, books and food all piled in there.  Admittedly, these are just a few of the things that have had my attention more than Jesus some days. 

         Perhaps the most disturbing image that filled my head, as the pastor continued the sermon I was no longer listening to, was of this same manger scene, only now nestled in the hay filled trough you’d find ME.  Trust me, it was NOT a pretty image.  Sometimes I replace Jesus with myself.  I know that sounds horrible, and it is, but I do not think I am alone.  It is easy to try and live life under our own power.  We want things to go a certain way, we want situations to make sense to us, we want to please others, or we want to be better…trusting ourselves and not our savior.

          As I shook the unwelcome and mind scaring image from my head, I began to pray, Lord, help me to honor You with my life.  Jesus, forgive me for setting anything above You or replacing You with my worthless efforts.  Lord, it is in You I find grace, and through You I know peace, love and joy.   Lord, I KNOW that it is only because YOU were in that manger, that I do not have to bear the burden of my sin.”


          You see, THAT is what the angels declared that night to the shepherds,

“…for behold, I bring you good news of a GREAT JOY which shall be for all people; ” Luke 2:10… 

The good news is that we do not have to be in the manger…in our place Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and rose again so that we can come before a Holy God seeking forgiveness and finding love and grace.