Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Bucket Dropping January 12, 2016

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Worth It December 7, 2015

Filed under: advent,Christianity,Christmas,devotionals,humor,life — tlmiller82 @ 9:56 am
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This is the second week of Advent.  Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior.  In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of the Advent themes.  This week we consider PEACE.

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

 

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

 

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

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

WHEW!

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

(John 1:14)

 

 

 

“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)

 

Shades of Grace September 2, 2014

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 3:33 pm
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          I knew I should have skipped that second cup of coffee.  Instead of hitting the road in the comfort of an early hour, I found myself heading out for my “morning” jog just as the sun was starting to heat the land. Less than one mile into my jogging effort, I was dripping with perspiration and dragging my feet.

 

          I had intended to jog several miles this day and really wanted to meet my goal. As I trudged along, I contemplated my options. Option one: turn back, run home and call it a day Option two: stop jogging and simply walk the remainder of the course Option three: find incentive to keep going at the current pace and goal   Before I could even tackle the guilt that would no doubt burden me if I chose options one or two, option three presented itself.

 

          The street, which stretched out before me, was lined with variations of townhouses and condos. These small homes had the prerequisite small yards, each carefully landscaped with one medium sized tree. This resulted in a sidewalk literally dotted with SHADE! Every few yards the sun baked sidewalk turned a very welcome grey. The sun was sure to drain me while I ran, but I knew I could find sweet relief as I passed each shaded area.

 

          Soon, I was jogging from shade spot to shade spot. When I felt the sun beat down on my head, I simply looked toward the next tree shaped savior. I was surprised to find myself propelled forward at a good pace. It was easy to focus on the upcoming shade and disregard the sun’s assault. When the yards were further apart, and the shade not quite as near, I found myself pushing past the discomfort. I knew eventually I would run past another shade tree.

 

          Eventually my course lead me away from the tree lined street. I missed the shade spots, but I spent the rest of my jog thanking Him for the shade I’d received and being grateful for His provision.  God provided it, I ran to it.

 

          I think God’s grace is like the shade. He provides it, all we need to do is accept it, run to it. His amazing grace relieves us from the burden of our sin. When we feel discouraged, defeated or unworthy, we can find courage, victory and worth in Him. His unearned favor and forgiveness, GRACE, is offered to us.

Life can be draining and the journey a struggle, but look up and look ahead….there will be shade,

shades of grace.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”  (1Peter 5:10)

 

A Very Big But August 21, 2014

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 10:05 am
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In my life the word “but” is usually a dreaded addition to any sentence. It is often found in phrases that seem to set me up, then knock me down.

“You get a lollipop, BUT the shot will hurt a little”

“Sure you can skip brushing your teeth, BUT eventually you will lose them all”

“Go ahead and do what you want, BUT don’t say I did not warn you”

“Enjoy that second ice cream scoop, BUT plan on having to work it off later.”

“I will loan you my car, BUT you will need to put gas in it.”

“We appreciate your enthusiasm, BUT you really can’t sing”

“I’d like to help you, BUT (insert any activity you can think of to avoid helping)”

 

This list could go on, BUT I am certain you get the idea. It is rare that the word “but” in a phrase could bring me peace. Last Sunday our pastor referenced a scripture in which the word “but” not only overwhelmed me with peace, but it has brought me to my knees in prayer since then. This very BIG, very important “BUT” reminded me that no matter what I feel is pressing on me, discouraging me, tempting me or frightening me, my God has conquered it all.

 

” These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, BUT take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  

I have a plaque hanging in my kitchen…it reminds me each day to “Don’t tell God how big your storm is, tell the storm how big your God is”  It sits beside our coffee maker, I see it every morning (several times even), yet I still manage to forget we are not victims, but victorious in Christ Jesus. Too often I let the storms/tribulations in life, or in the lives of those I love, overwhelm me.

 

Each day, online news feeds and television programs assault us with the truth of worldwide tribulations. People are struggling, hurting, fighting and dying. It is hard to not feel an overwhelming sense of fear for the future……BUT, consider Who holds our future and take courage!

 

Maybe for you today, “tribulation” is nothing more than a coworker who is unkind, an unhealthy relationship, or an overwhelming task.   Maybe you understand “tribulation” to be a loss of a loved one.   “Tribulation” could be a medical crisis, an emotional valley, or uncertain future. Sometimes our “tribulations” are the result of our own choices, consequences God allows to come into our lives. Sometimes they are the natural consequence of the sin nature of our world. Maybe God is allowing a “tribulation” to impact us in order to guide or redirect us…..BUT, take courage…..He has overcome the world!

 

Waiting for Bait June 19, 2013

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 9:41 am
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My dog loves to fish.   Hughie, our porky little Yorkie, is an odd fellow.  Maybe it is the terrier part of his Yorkshire terrier breeding, but for some reason, whenever we get out the fishing poles he gets crazy excited.

As soon as anyone gets their tackle out, he will beeline to the person fishing and stand at their feet focused intently on the end of the fishing rod.  Embarrassingly, this could even be a complete stranger on the dock.   We keep a life vest on him whenever we are on the dock because inevitably he falls into the water in the midst of his excitement.

His contribution to the fishing experience can be annoying.  Whenever the hook is out of the water, he will bark at the person fishing until they cast it back in.  Now, if you are simply bottom fishing, letting the bait lay near the ground and waiting for a nibble, this is not too bad.  If you are casting and reeling alternately, expect Hughie to be barking at you throughout your fishing endeavor.   It is as if he thinks he is helping.

Hughie and I are often the first ones up whenever we are on the boat.  This morning was no different.  After taking him on his morning walk and enjoying the pink sunrise over the still water of the bay, I decided to do a little fishing.

I got out the pole, tackle and bait.  I was intending to use worms left over from fishing the day before.  The good news is that apparently the local Croaker (a type of fish) like them, the bad news is that putting them on your hook is no easy task.  I am inwardly chanting, “simple nervous system, simple nervous system” to myself as I impale the wiggling, slippery, dirt filled worm on my hook.  I pride myself on trying to be a big girl and bait my hook myself, and I manage to suppress squeals of “ewww” and “yuuuck”, but the process is not a quick one, which is a problem when Hughie is around.  Remember how I mentioned Hughie’s contribution to the fishing effort….?

Yep, as I worked feverishly to bait my hook, Hughie began barking.   I managed to successfully bait and cast a few times, but I worried that his barking would wake other people.  Each time I had to reel it back in and re-bait, it seemed his barking got louder and more impatient.  I was struggling more than usual to wrangle the worm into position on one occasion and finally just cast the line with an empty hook.  It was the only way to appease my barking maniac fishing buddy.

As I stood there with an un-baited hook in the water, I looked at Hughie and sighed.  He stood at my feet and eagerly looked from the water to the top of my pole and back again.  He was anticipating something to happen.

“Hughie,” I said(and yes, when your kids are grown and out of the house you DO have full conversations with your dog) “we are NOT going to get any fish like this.  Your help is not helping me!”  He tilted his head as if he were listening, so I continued to give him a fishing lecture.  “Listen buddy, you have to wait for me to get things in place.  All your fussing is not going to make it go faster. You’re disturbing everyone’s peace.  Honestly, I don’t like the implication that you do not think I know what I am doing.  I KNOW I need to put the hook in the water, but you have to wait for the bait.”

I reeled in my baitless, and therefore fishless, hook, and decided to put off fishing until a more acceptable hour for Hughie’s barking.  I poured myself another cup of coffee, allowed Hughie to snuggle into my lap, and thought about the morning’s fishing lesson.   I wondered if God would like to have the same conversation with me, and what it would sound like…. “Listen Teri, I am working to get things in order for you, I have a plan and all your fussing is not helping.  Matter of fact, it is kind of detracting from what I am doing.  Honestly, do you not think I know what I am doing?  I am your God, I created the world, I think I can handle your life…the life I gave you.  You need to WAIT for the bait.”

It is good to remember that God is the MASTER fisherman, and He is always working in our favor…

time to stop fussing and simply trust Him.

 “Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heat take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

 

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….

Peace…

 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