Saturday, March 27, 2010


I am "me." I have a design, a pattern, which was instilled in me by my Creator, God.
But the pattern goes askew sometimes. Or it isn't very "coherent". It could be said
to have lots of random "rings" (which may even be perceived as "holes" or lacks.)

The Bible tells me to put off the old man (my own ideas and the old self-directed ways)
and put on the new man (live with a Christly heart and mind.)

Actually, it's impossible for me to remake myself. I can only entrust my life to Him,
and admit that I am incapable of becoming what and who is best for me. I can ask
Him to do an "extreme makeover" in me. So I become less self-driven, and more

Hurray! God is still working in me. He never gives up on me (even when I think mine
may be a hopeless case)! He's creating lovely patterns and newness of life in me. (I've
given him permission to draw me closer to Himself. And he has taken me up on my
offer. Yes, even when I don't seem to see anything happening to "grow" my life and
make me more mature in Him.)

That change he's effecting in me, is called RENEWAL. Restoration. New Life.

I see myself as not having a very pretty design. I fail a lot. Cry a lot. Am disappointed
in myself, and sometimes, in all of life. Yet though I forget the fact, he has promised
that he won't see me warty, holy, full of random rings. He has promised to look at me
through the lens of Jesus Christ. So when he looks at me, and sees Christ, he can
pronounce me "clean" and "whole" and "entire". Oh, the relief!

He sees all the intricate, close up details that I might miss entirely. And lo!, I'm beautiful
in his sight. Paul writes, "Oh, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me [from
ego, self-interest]? Thanks be to God for his unexpressible gift in Christ Jesus."

I'm renewed! I'm fresh! I'm putting on the new person, as I am heavily immersed
in the Spirit of Christ. A butterfly that can flit purposely through this life. I'm still
"me," he's still taken the basic patterns of my human design. But my great hope
is that (though I may not be able to see it happening), he is ever at work in me.
And he will continue to put Christ on/in me. RENEWAL. HOPE. HIS LOVE. REST!
His WAY. (blissful sigh of relief.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


please do not copy photos without permission, thanks.


Laurel Hedge

Lovely laurel hedge-boughs scramble,
Waving, braving, out-thrust just across my street;
Lively greeny shiny leaves enthuse me.
Hedge sequesters pleasant yard,
Brackets a cozy house,
Overruns mossy sidewalk lane,
Fences off my neighbor ‘cross the street.

(The bottom half, neatly clipped to accommodate walkers on the sidewalk)

Lovely laurel bright-leaves ramble,
Engraving shady shadows just across my street;
Lively sprawl, a wall of leaves to bemuse me.
Veins etch-a-sketch the scene,
Arrest of my eyes, green bands;
Sharp clean hopeful stiffish leaves
Dispense serenity across my street.

Laurel growth is rank. Planted too near sidewalks or buildings, it encroaches, gets out of hand.
Has to be pruned back with discipline. But, only old laurel, uncut for a number of years, will bloom!

(The top half, verdant and rampant, offering a woodsy effect)

Lovely laurel hedge-wands with no brambles,
Radiating glade-y crowns of bloom, across my street;
Lively white corollas seem to choose me!
Hedge a’blossom froths and spills;
Beauty wreath ‘round a picket fence
Overturns my heart as fronting yard
Dances with God-breath -- across my street.

(Prayer to the God who uses beauty to draw us to Himself in work and worship, play and prayer.)
Lovely God, you draw my spirit to amble,
Craving More of You. Please cross my inner street!
Lively Creator, your beauty suffuses me.
Enhance Your Spirit’s cris-cross of my inner street.

(c) 2010 by Marilee Miller

Please Please create a link on your site to this post.
(but please no copying of poem directly)

Friday, March 12, 2010

We Carry Around So Much Emotional Baggage

A lot of us carry around too much emotional baggage. Unhappy encounters or memories, past and present. Disapointments with the way life treats us. Sorrow over lost health, lost loved ones, lost opportunities, too much pain, a seemingly-faulty mind. The burdens we carry are so heavy that some of us can't function as smoothly as God designed us to. He is the "Great Burden Bearer." How can we learn to let go of our hurts? How can we open ourselves to let him heal us?

I've never met Alessa [not her real name] in person. I met her through an internet group, and then we began writing by e-mail. Now and then I check up on her by telephone.

Alessa has had such a troubled life! So many bad things have happened to her! She has a very low opinion of herself. She expects there to be more trouble. But she also yearns for a more "normal" life, and to meet and fellowship with "normal" people, to have a "normal" future.

She wasn't raised in a Christian home. She has almost no background in the faith. She also has difficulty concentrating, or reading very long -- so one can't just hand her books or articles about Christian living and expect her to learn how to walk with Christ.

A while back, she took it on herself to find a church. And to be baptized. Her family didn't encourage her at all in this, but she did it anyway. She accepted the pastor's instruction. And the experience made her feel "clean" again. She hoped, or anticipated, being baptized would wash away the guilt and shame and bad feelings. But she couldn't seem to stop doing the bad things, thinking the unhappy thoughts, that she'd felt before her baptism.

Recently, she asked me if she could have received the wrong baptism. If it was possible for "baptism not to take."

After her baptism, the pastor gave her the cloth with which he wiped her face. (I guess as a remembrance of her baptism ceremony, though she also received a signed paper baptismal certificate.) But the next week, he asked for it back, trading her another one.

“I baptized you with the wrong cloth,” was his comment. (At least, that’s the way she remembers it.)

As Alessa has seen her life fall apart with many troubles, she’s become terrified that she was baptized with the wrong cloth. So maybe her baptism was nullified. And she can’t seem to stop sinning, even though she knows she’s not supposed to do certain things. How could God accept her into heaven someday, when she’s such a sinner? Maybe she’s going to hell?

That pastor is no longer at the church. She can’t ask him questions. And for very different other reasons, she has stopped going to that church – and hasn’t found another church she could get to with her limited transportation and a high discomfort level.

I suggested that the church may have had certain cloths to give to baptismal candidates, and that the pastor simply meant, “oops, I was supposed to give you this item instead of that one.” I couldn’t see why he would have any thought that he “baptized her wrongly”. I assured her that baptism in water is an outward sign to herself and others of an inward act, of accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That nothing about the water, the ceremony, the preacher – or the cloth – had any bearing on whether she was “saved”, accepted by Jesus Christ.

I asked her if she still wanted Jesus to be her Lord and Savior. And she said YES! So I could say to her that I believe when she asked to belong to Christ, he accepted her. And he won’t go back on his promise to be her Lord. And when she does things she doesn’t like afterwards, but is truly sorry and asks forgiveness, once Jesus accepted her she would always belong to him. And he would never let go of her hand.

I wept to think she has carried this burden inside for months, maybe a year or more. It (along with many other unthinking or uncaring statements from others) has affected her opinion of herself to the point where she is afraid she’s totally useless and “bad” before God. What a bogeyman we make God out to be! Not the loving caring Heavenly Father, but the Righteous Judge just waiting to crack the whip and condemn us. I do that myself, all too often. How can we learn to lean on the Truth of his promise?

“Long ago before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own, through what Christ has done for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes – without a single fault – we who stand before him covered with his love.” (Eph. 1: 4 TLB)

He sees us covered with Christ. Oh, may he give us the grace and mercy and strength and wisdom to think of ourselves that way!