Thursday, December 29, 2011

Change

How do you like the new look?

I changed the name of this blog in November and wrote about (A Time Of Transition) being in a transitional period that would ultimately bring more blogging changes. And so it has. I thought about waiting until January to implement this but in all honesty; I couldn't wait. I'm ready for change!

My goal and desire is to simplify the look of The Ragamuffin Saint, i.e. the layout, color, content. I want to make it easier to read and to access. And I can tell you that this is really a reflection of the changes taking place within me and my life. So I'll say again; expect more changes down the road.

I suppose one of the perks of having your own blog is that you can make it exactly what you want it to be. And I do think a personal blog should be a reflection of the one writing it. So it only makes sense that this blog would be in a perpetual state of motion; just as my life is. And change is definitely apart of that.

Honestly, change used to be rather unwelcome by me. It always seemed like more of an negative intrusion than a positive turn. And clearly, some changes aren't so good and are intrusive. But after being thrust into such radical change over these past many years, I've truly come to welcome and embrace it in a much better way. I now actually desire it on many levels. And I often take time to pray about, reflect on and contemplate what changes I might need to consider making. In fact; I think it's essential.

As we prepare to enter this new year, what changes might you be contemplating?

Friday, December 23, 2011

For You My Friends

This Christmas Season, I pray and wish for you...





and...






and...






in your...






And may you...






and..






that...






...in this coming new year.






for reading my...






Always remember...






and...






I think....






and...






Each of you have beautifully and uniquely enriched my life. 






Bless you, dear friends....





And a Happy, Healthy New Year to you!




All Photos ~ Favim.com

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Confessions Of A Ragamuffin

I haven't been blogging much lately. The words just seem so elusive, so unavailable. Sometimes I don't even like what I write. And if I'm being really honest; I don't even like my blog all that much right now.

Sometimes I write too safe. Safe like I better be a good girl safe. Safe like really nice safe. Like I need to write in way to keep things moderate and balanced. Know what I mean? And while there's nothing necessarily wrong with safe it doesn't get my writing capacity to that place where people are stirred and challenged in a good way; even if they disagree with me. And it doesn't allow me to be fully authentic, which is something I desire to be in my blogging.

And while I'm on a confession roll, I'll also tell you I sometimes write things no one ever sees. Ever. I know all writers and bloggers do that. And maybe I shouldn't say that no one ever sees it. Sometimes its merely a matter of waiting for the right time to tweak it and then post it. But other times, it is because I'm unsure. There's good thought in it and perhaps even great content but it's raw; really raw. And its personal. So it sits there and occupies space in my draft list. Sometimes it gets deleted.

Furthermore, would it surprise you to know that I'm struggling during this time of year? Many of us do but rarely acknowledge that to anyone. I mean after all IT'S CHRISTMAS - the blessed time we celebrate the birth of our Savior. So I suppose it's a little taboo to confess such a thing as a Christian. But I just did.

I love Christmas; it's my favorite holiday. I love spending time with my family. I love decorating. I love Christmas shopping and buying gifts for people I love. I love baking. I love caroling. I love going to Christmas plays. I love candlelit church services. However, chronic illness can make the holidays really tough. It changes things. It's the most wonderful time of the year but there's never enough energy; there's never enough stamina; there's never enough feel good. After seventeen Christmases interlaced with the affects of Lyme Disease, it's still difficult. I'm still limited. I even hate to say that. And truthfully I feel as if I'm fighting to get the joy of Christmas. Yet I know that joy is present everyday; not only in December. Still it's how I feel.

I feel like I'm really reaching this year; reaching to take in and grasp this beautiful, holy season. And it pains me that's its a struggle. It pains me that Jesus, the first Noel, is not getting my all in this celebration of His birth. But He knows the truth of my heart.

Maybe it's that "feeling" I'm missing; that wonderful, cozy, special, excited feeling that comes with Christmas. That feeling of childhood that seems to elude us later in adulthood; that feeling which can actually be a poor substitute for Him on some level. Please don't misunderstand. I'm not saying that feeling is wrong; I'm saying allowing it to take His place is. And perhaps that's what I've done. Perhaps we all have to a degree.

Do you know what it feels like to me?

It feels like we're all waiting for this big crescendo that starts the day after Thanksgiving and peaks on Christmas Day. That we're just waiting for it to invade our daily lives and fill some unspeakable void; that we're waiting for it to spark our hearts ablaze with something grandly supernatural and otherworldly. And in essence, that is what Christmas can do. However, once the crescendo crescendos; that's it. It starts to decline. It isn't lasting.

I side with Charlie Brown on this in many ways; if you will. I see that even we, as followers of Jesus, tend to get caught in the wild rush and demand of this whole thing. That we often end up grasping for the temporary fillers instead of the eternal ones.

If I had to sum up the truth of Christmas it would be this: Emmanuel, God with us.

And perhaps that's it. Perhaps, as Stuart Briscoe alluded to, it is not the spirit of Christmas we need or long for; but the Spirit of Christ.
"The spirit of Christmas needs to be superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world." - Stuart Briscoe

I find this resonates with me very much. I want the Spirit of Christ to supersede the spirit of Christmas. I want the Spirit of Christ to supersede everything in my life that needs overhauling. Seriously. I do. And I want the Spirit of Christ to be evident in me.

But as much as I want Jesus to pervade every part of my life; I know I need Him even more.

Blessings.

Michelle

Copyright © 2011 Michelle Holderman

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holy Whispers

Through all of the decorating and planning, through the holiday busyness and rush, through the Christmas parties and family gatherings... a voice whispers ever so gently, "See Me." 

Amid the carolers and the shoppers, among the gifts and greenery, in the glow of candles and sparkling lights... a voice whispers ever so softly, "I'm here."

During the regular, ordinary days, during the difficult, painful days, during Christmas Day... a voice whispers ever so perfectly, "I love you."

While the memories pervade, as the loneliness sets in, while the uncertainties linger... a voice whispers ever so sweetly, "I'm your peace."

In the shadows of yesterday, in the dance of today, in the hope of tomorrow... a voice simply whispers, "Follow Me."

On that night when a newborn baby laid sleeping in a simple manger, on that night when angels and shepherds rejoiced, the Father declared to people of all races and all generations, "All is well. Emmanuel has come. He will save you. Receive Him." 


Holy whispers pursue us.  

Holy whispers draw us.

Holy whispers beckon us.

Holy whispers still echo through the realm of time.

"Today in the city of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord." 
(Luke 2:11)

This is Christ the King.

This is Jesus the Savior.

This is Yeshua the Messiah.

Holy whispers.

Can you hear them?

"See Me. I'm here. I love you. I'm your peace. Follow Me."

 Michelle Holderman
Copyright © 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nothing Is Wasted by Jason Gray


One of my favorite albums right now is A Way To See In The Dark by Jason Gray. Honest, beautiful, insightful songs about brokenness, hardship, weakness, love, beauty, redemption, and the faithfulness of Jesus. Really speaks to me. It's what's hot on my iPod right now.

Some of my favorites are "Remind Me Who I Am" and "Without Running Away." 
But the one song I'm really tuned into now is "Nothing Is Wasted." I think no matter what you might be going through, or perhaps what you've already been through, this song can speak to all of us in some way. I've posted he lyrics below. I hope they can help encourage you in your journey.

Love and Blessings, 

~ Michelle

Nothing Is Wasted

The hurt that broke your heart 

And left you trembling in the dark 
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie 
But what if every tear you cry 
Will seed the ground where joy will grow

And nothing is wasted

Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

It's from the deepest wounds

That beauty finds a place to bloom
And you will see before the end 
That every broken piece is 
Gathered in the heart of Jesus 
And what's lost will be found again

And nothing is wasted

Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

And nothing is wasted

Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted 

From the ruins
From the ashes 

Beauty will rise 

From the wreckage 
From the darkness 

Glory will shine

By 

Jason Gray

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Struggling With Lyme, Pursuing Acceptance, and Trusting God With The Rest

The struggles of living with Lyme Disease are myriad, absurd and often unexpected; just as they are with many chronic debilitating illnesses. This past week, I was reminded of this fact yet again.

Out in a store with my Mom when suddenly; I feel the familiar sensation of vestibular dysfunction arising. Subtle at first. Slightly woozy, dizzy. I'm sitting down in my wheelchair, mind you. I feel it in my eyes. There's pressure in and behind my ears and at the base of my head. I feel my neck begin to ache and tighten up. I can't believe this is happening. Rolling around in and out of isles, maneuvering people and small spaces, only makes it worse. So does too much input. Fatigue begins to wash over me. Mom takes one look at me and knows. It's familiar to her too because she's seen it so often. We're both rather surprised and disappointed.

We leave as soon as we can.

I'm thinking a lot of things.

Vestibular stuff. I haven't felt this in awhile. Why is it happening now?

Ginger. I have no ginger with me. Shoot.

Whole Foods is just across the street. We'll go over there and get some.

By the time we get to the car I'm running a fever, and feeling more tired and woozy. A little nauseous. I'm feeling drained. I have no stamina.

What's happened? I used to be able to tolerate a couple of stops before anything like this. And I haven't had vertigo in quite some time. I feel like I've taken two steps backwards.

And then it hits me.

I remember just how bad I have felt this year. How since spring, I have not been out except to go to doctor's appointments and many times; I've had to drag myself to those. How the Lyme treatment has been so taxing; how CMV and EBV levels got really high again this past summer and we had to direct our focus on that too; how my spleen and liver have been so congested and dysfunctional; how tender and swollen they've been; how I've been having visceral adjustments; how the last adjustment wiped me out for two weeks.


I think I know why this happened. It happened because I've been more debilitated this year (no wonder I have such low stamina). It happened because I've been physically unable to hardly get out. It happened because I have had some better days at home since breaking from the Lyme treatment this fall but mistakenly thought that could translate into a better day out shopping in a store.

After many years of living with chronic illness, I know better. Having better days at home and better days out are two totally different things. I know that. I've lived that. But for some strange reason it didn't dawn on me that I couldn't handle a store or two like usual; even though this was only my second time being out in one since early spring. And there it is. I was expecting usual. But these are not usual times. And I have had an unusual year of feeling unusually bad.

As difficult as the past 17 years have been, this year has been uniquely difficult and challenging. I began on a full Lyme treatment protocol in September 2010. Since then, between treating Chronic Lyme and multiple co-infections (Ehrlichia, Babesia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Mycoplasma, Epstein-Barr and Cytomeglovirus) it's been a rough ride, to say the least. There are no words to fully articulate the depth of it all. If you've not been here; you can't possibly know. That's all I can say. It's as simple as that.

I had planned to post something quite different today; a post I worked on a few days ago describing the mild, quiet, beautiful days I'd been having at home the week before last. What an interesting irony. I will still post that but what happened this past week is ever a reminder to me that there are just some things we absolutely cannot do for ourselves. Only God can change certain things.

Mom did run into Whole Foods and grab me a bottle of ginger. It always helps and that day was no different. About 30 minutes after taking 1,000 mg of  ginger root; I started feeling some better. Better enough to briefly stop at a store I love and then have lunch at a place I love (you learn to go on and enjoy some part of your day if you can). By then though, I was totally spent.

One of the ongoing challenges in all this is acceptance; acceptance of what my body can and cannot do at any given moment, on any given day. On the ride home, I felt like I'd had a setback. I have felt this way many times before over the years and it still doesn't feel good. However, I've also learned it's not productive nor healthy to feel frustrated with my body for what it truly cannot do.


Instead, I must practice the love, self-care, and acceptance my body needs. I know my body is working hard to try an heal and repair; to restore and balance. I know I help aid this process through good whole nutrition, proper rest, treatment and therapies, prayer, etc. Being critical or harsh with my body accomplishes nothing. I remind myself to be as gentle and caring with me as I am with my Lyme and other chronically ill friends.

So I went to bed when I got home that day. I needed rest. I needed quiet. I needed hot tea. And I needed total acceptance of where I was; of where I am. Doesn't mean it will always be this way. It means I accept what I cannot change at this moment and trust God with the rest.

~ Michelle

Michelle Holderman
Copyright © 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Revealing Of Our Buck Naked Faith

Stripped down, bare to the bone, buck naked faith; this is what's coming. The Lord will reveal to us, His Body, the current condition of our faith so He can show us where we really stand. He will strip away every false thing about it; every false security, every false doctrine, every false crutch, every false motive and intention, every false bit of knowledge that has tried to exalt itself against the true knowledge of the Living God.

Why would He do such a thing?

He must do this in order to show us what we have allowed to take His rightful place. When we give our lives to Jesus, He has every right to expect first place. The pedestal doesn't belong to anyone or anything but Him. And so there comes a time when He will no longer tolerate any substitutes or surrogates that are in our lives.

God is very long-suffering with us, perhaps even more than we realize. However, He loves us far too much to let this go on. We are now in this time.

He is removing the veil of falseness in His people. He is shining His light into the dark places of our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9-10). He is revealing truth.

In an effort to save face, many of us have been hiding behind our own works and accomplishments, i.e. what we've done for the Kingdom or what we've done for God. But this won't stand. We cannot stand before the Father and use this as a bargaining tool for commendation  any longer. Have we, the Church, forgotten that He sees and knows all? I think to a degree we have.


God's grace is incredibly outrageous. I mean it truly is over the top and we believers, as recipients of His precious grace, know it. We've lived under it. We've walked in it. However, many of us have also abused it; either knowingly or unknowingly. But the grace of Christ is not a cheap ride. We've fallen back too many times on the merits of His grace, and His grace functioning through other believers, for things He has been pursuing us to get right with Him; things that are out of serious alignment in our lives.

Yet we've done nothing about it. We've not gotten real with Him. We've not gotten our stuff straight with Him. Instead, we've ran from Him; we've hidden from Him; we've immersed ourselves in a hundred other things. And we're suffering spiritually as a result of it.

We are in serious times and God wants to ready us for what lies ahead. But when we are out of alignment with Him and His order, we can't flow or function fully in that which He has called us to do. You can believe this or not. Either way, it doesn't make it any less true. We need a reality check and that's exactly what the Father is about to do. Because He loves us.

The Holy Spirit wants to give so much to God's people, but in order for that to happen, God the Father must remove the facade that is pervading His Church. All who are held together by anything other than the Blood of Jesus and His righteousness are being held together by the false curtains of mankind and/or Satan. We must put ourselves back into right alignment with Him. It doesn't work the other way around. 

So He pursues us; even when we don't want Him to. He wants to be the filler of our every need. Him. Not some form of spirituality. Not sex. Not food. Not alcohol. Not drugs. Not video games. Not social media. Not church activities.

The hunger our souls are truly longing for is none other than Jesus, Yeshua, Himself. It is Him; His very Presence. This is why He pursues His Beloved Church; His Bride. He is jealous after us. And love is at the root of His pursuit. Love is at the root of His baring the true condition of our faith. Love is at the root of His stripping away every false thing that weighs us down. And it does weigh us down. Love is at the root of His correction. In fact, His correction proves His love for us. Hebrews 12 tells us this emphatically.
I don't think most of us know what we've been missing. But He knows. We've been feeding ourselves with so many other imitations that we've lost our true taste for Him; for His holiness, His goodness and His love. And as He reveals to each of us where we really are with Him, what our faith really looks like, we'll begin to see the truth of what we would could not see before. We'll be able to see where we've wandered off course.

Ever since the time of Adam and Eve, ever since the Fall in the Garden, we've always tried to hide our nakedness from God. We've been ashamed. We've been prideful. And we've been stubborn. And perhaps we've not even been all that sure if we can trust Him or not. But I tell you we can. He is trustworthy.

The Father is calling for us to come back. He is calling for us to come and stand in total transparency before Him. He yearns for there to be no separations between us and Him. He wants to embrace us fully. Therefore, He's calling us to embrace this stripping. He's calling us to embrace our nakedness so we can really see the truth. And in this, we'll not only see the God who truly loves us; we'll see how devoid our lives truly are without this honest, buck naked faith.

He's calling for us, "Come back. Come back into My embrace and let Me love you as you've longed to be loved." 

~ Michelle

Copyright © 2011 Michelle Holderman

"You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken - that is, created things - so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:24-29

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Time Of Transition

I'm in a process of transition - with everything. It's difficult, ugly, painful, exciting and beautiful; all at the same time. I've left where I once was but have not yet arrived to where I'm destined to be. I'm in the process of getting there. I suppose one could actually say that I've been in transit for awhile now but this is really more distinct. It's an appointed time.

The thing I'm finding out about journeying through this transitional period is that it is requiring me to tie up the loose ends of the past. And it's requiring me to integrate what needs to be integrated in order to move ahead. Loose ends, as short as they may be, can become a serious hindrance down the road if not fully dealt with and secured. And so I am. It's all apart of the process.

And this process is permeating every facet of my life including this blog. If you've not noticed already, I recently changed the name from iWitness to The Ragamuffin Saint. I've been thinking and praying about this for awhile now and then suddenly; I knew it was time. I think this change in itself speaks of the transition period I'm in. You can expect to see more changes to my blog as we go. It's really a reflection of what is taking place in my life. So please bear with me. It might take some time to navigate this.

Transition isn't a bad thing. It isn't a fearless thing either. It can feel really iffy sometimes. It reveals the leaky cracks in our life that we thought were neatly sealed but are really in need of repairing. It can ignite us and frustrate us. And I think it can certainly both test and grow our faith and patience. It can be tiring too so rest periods are vital. It's really a unique combination of holding on and letting go.

While I believe we all go through different times of transition throughout our lives, some big and some small, there are those transitional times that are more significant than others. This is one of those for me. And I think know it's apart of an overall transformation the Lord is orchestrating. Move over Ty Pennington. This is Extreme Makeover: God's Edition.


This isn't easy but it's necessary. This pathway bridging past to future, old to new, is challenging but I welcome it. On one hand, this just seems like another familiar stretch in the road after so many long years of traveling it. On the other hand, this is new territory. I've never been this way before. And I have already experienced some unexpecteds. That's my new word - unexpecteds. Unexpecteds are those people and/or things that you didn't expect or foresee but were sort of snuck in on you for your benefit. It might not feel so beneficial initially but it ultimately is. Nevertheless, this is where trust comes in. And that is something I know how to do. I know how to trust Jesus in difficult, ambiguous times. I know how to lean on Him. I've learned to.

I don't know how long this process will take but as I walk through it, I hope to share some of the changes that will be occurring. I hope to encourage you in your journey. And I hope we can all come to see our places in Christ more clearly.

Copyright © 2011 Michelle Holderman

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Ragamuffin Saints

ragamuffin - [rag-uh-muhf-in] noun 1. a ragged, disreputable person; 2. a poor helpless child in dirty, shabby clothes. 3. a person whose life is messy.

saints - [sant-s] noun 1. in Christianity, a person who has been saved through faith by Christ; 2. the collective body of those who are righteous in God's sight.

The disciples were a ragtag mixture. Unlike the Pharisees and Sadducees, they were not religious theologians. At all. And yet Jesus said to them, "Follow me."

Simon Peter. So rough and tough to the core, he'd cut your ear off at the drop of a hat. But Jesus said it was Peter, The Rock, upon whom he would build his Church. The Lord picked him; the very one who denied him three times.

The woman at the well; five times down the aisle. She wasn't even considered reputable or respectable, so who would have thought Jesus would actually first reveal himself as the Messiah to someone like that? But he did. Jesus told her.

It is a surprising, and perhaps shocking, concept to really understand the kinds of people God chooses to use and work through. They might not look like what we'd expect. They're laced all throughout the Bible. Regular, ordinary, imperfect people like you and me. His super to our natural.

It is true that formal skill, training, and education are often necessary. However, God's choices are usually less proficient for their calling. He tailors the training grounds of those he calls. No detail is overlooked. Truly, he doesn't call the qualified; he qualifies the called.

We have a tendency to look at things in a much different way than he does. And we sometimes have the wrong notions and expectations of how God really works. His ways and his thoughts are not like ours (Isaiah 55:8-9), and He chooses to use things we wouldn't (1 Corinthians 1:27-32).

The way he goes about doing something can often be perplexing and even unexpected to us. Yet what he does always holds eternal value and significance. Always. 

And God always looks at the intention of our hearts. We might still be maturing in our relationship with him but nevertheless; God sees things within our hearts as only he can. Perhaps it's a sincere willingness to serve; a desire to love unconditionally, a deep yearning to help those who are hurting; or an unusual longing to make a lasting difference in the world. Whatever it is, he sees the gifts and the great, excellent potential within us. And he wants to take it all and use it to impact people, places, and circumstances with his goodness in us and through us. 

A ragamuffin knows their very lives are desperately and humbly dependent upon God the Father in every way. A saint knows their very lives are righteously reconciled and liberated through Jesus Christ the Son in every way.

Perhaps ragamuffin saints seem like an oxymoron; like those two words do not go together. But I think they do. I think we all come from some kind of imperfect or messy background; I just don't think we're all transparent about it.

But the profound beauty of the Gospel is this - it shines the redeeming and restoring truth, love, and light of Christ into our battered and scruffy souls; into those places, nobody else knows about.

And as we believe and invite him in, we're literally transformed into a new creation. We're reconciled to the Father through the Son (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). And we are ever being changed into the likeness of Jesus so that we can truly l-i-v-e.


I think the term ragamuffin saints speak of who we were and where we came from. I think it speaks of an ongoing transformative process that ever reveals our true identity and home. And I think it speaks of what Jesus did for us; of what only he could do.

And what he does is bring us out from those dark, lonely places, and he lovingly walks us into his perfect and marvelous light. He comes in and adorns us with a brand new set of beautiful clothes in exchange for our old, dirty, shaggy hand-me-downs.

Jesus comes in truth and grace. He reveals the deep, abiding love of the Father to us. And many are the ragamuffins the Father chooses.

He wants the wild, ragged, abused, rejected, jaded, wounded, and marginalized. He longs for the broken, the downcast, the outcast, the abandoned, and the hopeless. He desires those who are crushed in spirit, forlorn, and dejected; those who yearn for true connection and purpose.

He loves us up and lifts us up.

He places His Spirit within us.

He adopts us and calls us His own - sons and daughters.

Family.

And he sends us out in search of other precious ragamuffins who've lost their way or have not yet awakened to who they really are. And just as Jesus revealed truth, grace, and love to us; so we do the same in turn. We're sent out to help bring these into the kindred because the Father truly longs for them to have a place at the His table too.

I feel the time is coming when He will raise up his beautiful band of ragamuffin saints - these unusual ministers of his magnificent gospel - for the glory and advancement of His Kingdom.

And it will be unlike anything we've ever seen.

~ Michelle

Michelle Holderman
Copyright © 2011 

Photo Source: Carlos Castilla  (iStock/Getty Images)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Blessings Of Autumn

I'm taking in the quiet sights and sounds of this beautiful autumn day. It's peaceful and refreshing. Everything else fades into the background.

I hear crickets out my window; a familiar and comforting sound. I see fields of gold stretching off into the distance and leaves that are beginning to transform into their glowing fall attire. The sky is a shade of blue that's only seen this time of year and seems to perfectly offset the changing colors taking place in the earth.


I'm captivated. There is such profound beauty in this season. Nature is at its best. Does God know how to put on a brilliant show or what?

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the cool, crisp mornings and evenings and the warm, sunny afternoons. I love the sight of pumpkins, mums, corn stalks, and big round bales of hay sitting out in the fields. I love the rich, vibrant colors that drip off the trees; the reds, yellows, and oranges.


I love small town festivals, weenie roasts, and hay rides. I love the sound of leaves rustling. I love intricate spider webs that look like professional art designs. I love old barns and scarecrows. I love orange and purple hued sunsets. I love hot apple cider and cinnamon hot chocolate around the campfire or fire pit.


I love homemade caramel apples and pumpkin pie. I love watching It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on TV. I love snuggling under a blanket on chilly nights. I love the sound of a fire crackling in the fireplace. I love the smell of wood burning.


I love October, November, and December. It's a special time of year for me. My birthday falls in this season. And it's also the time of harvest and Thanksgiving, which leads us into winter, Christmas, and a new year. This season is filled with such divine beauty and abundance. I relish the time it brings. And my heart feels nourished by it.

Thank you, Lord. I am deeply grateful for the blessings of autumn.

~ Michelle

Copyright © 2011 Michelle Holderman

(Photo Sources: Photobucket and Favim)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Handle With Great Loving Care

When God sends someone our way who is hurting, struggling, or brokenhearted, what's the best we can do for them? What's the best we can give to them?

Well for starters, I don't think quoting a few Scripts and a two minute prayer will get it.

When God entrusts us with a precious hurting soul, we best understand how He feels about them. His perspective is vital. He takes it very seriously and so should we.

He doesn't direct another to us because we have all the answers or because we're so perfect. He doesn't turn them our way to make us feel good about ourselves. He sends them because He wants to minister to [tend, care, love or regard] them through us. Usually its because we either share a similar life experience or because He's equipped us to work in that particular area. Perhaps its both.

Think of your most broken, vulnerable, wounded or hurting places.

Now, how would you want them to be handled by someone else?

The Father's Heart on the matter is this: HANDLE WITH GREAT LOVING CARE.



That's exactly how we would want our hearts to be held. And that's exactly how He wants us to hold the hearts of others.

When He sends someone our way, how about giving them the best of ourselves.

We might need the best they've got one day.

How about receiving them like we would want to be received.

We may find ourselves in need of humbly receiving from them sometime.

And how about loving them like Jesus.

He might just decide to love on us through them in our hardship or brokenness. 

~ Michelle

Copyright © 2011 Michelle Holderman

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Psalm 91 NIV

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Standing In The Shadow Of The Cross

I heard a song awhile back with the phrase, "...Standing in the shadow of the Cross." That struck me and made me begin thinking about what that statement really means. I wanted to know more.

So I started by looking up the official definition of the word shadow. I found it to be used in several different contexts, but it is the verb and intransitive verb forms of the word that I believe apply to that statement. These are the ones I am addressing in this blog.

shad·ow (verb) - to shelter or protect; (intra. verb) to change by gradual degrees.

Standing in the shelter, protection and change of the Cross. I see. What a beautiful and truthful statement!

When I think about the Cross in terms of sheltering and protecting me, I'm left rather speechless. Standing within its great shadow, I feel so very small and undeserving and yet so very loved and accepted; all at the same time. Its both terrifying and comforting. Does that make sense? Forgive me if it doesn't. Words fail me.

That Jesus died specifically for me, before I was ever born, while still in sin, leaves me awestruck. I'd say that's some crazy, beautiful love right there. That's John 3:16; twenty-first century style.

The Cross is a place where tremendous exchange happened. Jesus, the Son of God, shed His Blood and freely gave His life for all mankind. And it was so that we could have access to God the Father. The Cross represents suffering and death but it also foreshadows new life; eternal life. This speaks about the risen Christ.

The Cross alone does not hold the power. The Cross in conjunction with Jesus shedding His Blood for the remission of all sins is the centrality of the power of the Christian faith. The power is in what Jesus did on the Cross. So for argument's sake, let me clarify that when I speak of the Cross, I am referencing the absolute and finished work of the Cross.

As previously stated, the definition of the word shadow when used as an intransitive verb means something entirely different that is quite interesting but very relevant as well; it is to change by gradual degrees.

That says to me this is not a one time deal and then bam; its done and over with. Rather as I meet Christ at the Cross and give Him my life as He gives me new life (yet another exchange), I will find myself forever standing in the shadow of the Cross and can expect gradual and continual change in varying degrees. I think this speaks of ongoing spiritual growth in my relationship with the Lord. We grow up in the natural over time and it's really no different spiritually. I can expect to be changed by the Cross. I can expect the changes to be ongoing. And I can expect a variety of changes throughout my life.

Do you remember having growing pains while growing up? Well, this applies to spiritual growth as well. I won't lie to you; these changes can be very painful at times but there is something very precious that happens within this. Spiritual growth is a transformational process that always includes times of molding, shaping, stretching, and pruning.

Now if you don't believe in the Cross, this probably makes no sense to you. That's okay. I invite you to consider right now what this could mean for your life.

Without Jesus and the Cross, there is only condemnation and death. There is no mercy.

But in Jesus and in the Cross, there is hope; there is love; there is forgiveness; there is healing; there is life.

The Cross is for everyone. It's for the wounded and the fatherless; the forgotten and the overlooked; the frayed and the weak. It's for the criminal, the doctor, the drug addict, the teacher, the prostitute, the minister, the porn star, the journalist, the murderer, the athlete, the homeless. It's for the plain and the common. It's for the eccentric and the elite. The Cross is not selective. The Cross is for whoever will come.

If you're looking for a second chance, if you're uncertain about tomorrow, if you're in need of something greater, something that you cannot do for yourself, just come. Come as you are. That's what I did.

Come to the Cross. You'll find its been waiting for you all along.

~ Michelle

Copyright © 2011 Michelle Holderman


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Some Things I've Learned Along The Way: Part 2



always give place to faith

the beauty of nature nourishes my soul

never take anything personal

listen to constructive criticism and you just might learn something

be gracious with people even when it seems they don't deserve it because you never know what they're dealing with

take time to play; I learned this from my nephews

character gets shaped and developed best through adversity

believing is actually seeing

no one has the right to steal your hope. don't let them

the struggle is part of the process

sometimes its just a matter of trust

God will ask you to do some things that no one else understands. do them anyway

do not mistake humility for weakness

chocolate really does make some things better

delay is not denial

good health is priceless. never take it for granted

a critical spirit spreads like wildfire

simple joys mean so much

truth is necessary

stop at stop signs. this is important

i am not defined by what happens to me; i am defined by my identity in Christ

sometimes you just have to walk it out

never underestimate the power of prayer

dream bigger

my nephews always make me smile. always

sometimes you just gotta crank up the music really loud

there's nothing quite like the tantalizing aroma of fresh coffee

good friends are truly a gift from God

lending a friendly ear goes a long a way

we all have gifts that someone else can benefit from. share them

without Jesus and the Cross there would be nothing but condemnation

find something to celebrate on a regular basis

perseverance is a key in life 

being right is not important; doing the right thing is

never make assumptions

learning is a gift and nothing can take its place

laughter is like the shock absorber of life; it helps us bear all the bumps and pot holes we encounter along the way

kind words do make a difference

when God shows up everything changes


Some Things I've Learned Along The Way: Part I

Copyright © 2011 Michelle Holderman

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Green Tea, The Muppets And Bohemian Rhapsody

What's the remedy for a rainy day? Simple ~ have a hot cuppa green tea and watch The Muppets. I love The Muppets! I mean who doesn't love Kermit, right? My brother and I watched them growing up. They've always brightened my day. They've always made me laugh. So with that thought in mind, I give you The Muppets on a rainy Wednesday afternoon performing the Queen classic, Bohemian Rhapsody. Why? Because somedays you just need to crank up the music really loud and enjoy! And because laughter is good for your health. And because I love to watch Rowlf the Dog (aka Dr. Bob) play the piano in a tux. And because Animal is hilarious. And because I love the guitar riff during the rock interlude. And because....okay I'll stop. You might even consider having a nice hot cuppa green tea. It's good for your health too.

May you be filled with many endorphins.

P.S. I'm prescribing this for myself. It's good medicine :) 



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Thoughts Today

Do I dare try an explain where I am right now? After seventeen long years of chronic illness and a full year of being on this Lyme protocol I'm not sure what to say. The ups and downs of this treatment in general have been challenging but it seems this summer has been more difficult than I can articulate. At times my thoughts drift to what my life might be like had I not been misdiagnosed for so long. But it is a futile pursuit that I must yield to my faith.

Some days, I feel like things are going pretty well and I'm making improvements. Other days, I feel like no matter what I do; absolutely nothing changes except perhaps to get a little worse. And still other days, I feel like a yo-yo in a constant state of flux between these two opposites. One can't fully explain that to another and expect them to understand unless they've experienced it for themselves. It's so frustrating and sometimes it's very discouraging. This is like the roller coaster ride that never lets you get off. Oh it might slow down every so often but it never fully stops. It yanks its riders away to unthinkable heights and depths and curves and dips and drops.

Despite all that, I will say this illness has certainly been a teacher to me in many ways. I have learned a great deal. And I'm making many wonderful friends that I would never otherwise get the opportunity to know. Common experience does bond us together.

Yet this is a lonely journey. I feel very misunderstood at times. I feel sad and subdued somedays. I often find myself in the cracks and along the margins. I'm not saying that to be melodramatic; I'm simply telling you what my experience has been. But I've also found these are the places where Jesus is as well. He's there; inviting us all to lay our burdens down.

My faith in Christ is the anchor that has truly kept me all these years. And even though this journey is extremely difficult, my faith is not lacking; it is thriving and helping me survive. I believe true faith is not defined by the absence of questions or doubts but rather it is believing in spite of them.

Through the deepest depths of sickness and debility, through the many frustrations, uncertainties, losses and tears, through the highs and the lows, one thing is for certain; I can only take one day at a time. I can only trust in Jesus. And I can only hold onto faith.

These are my thoughts today.

~ Michelle

Copyright © 2011 Michelle Holderman


Friday, September 2, 2011

The Necessary Pathway



The pathway of life looks different for each of us but we all must walk it. And as we journey along the path the views change. It looks different at different times and in different places. 

Sometimes we travel a scenic route enveloped by the beauty around us. Everything is vibrant and colorful. The view is amazing. God is close. We feel comforted and blessed in this place. It's pleasant and nourishing to be here. We find rest for our souls. It seems as if new life is being breathed into us; the kiss of life, if you will. Passing through this way may even seem like we're experiencing heaven on earth. Time spent here helps us endure other parts of our life's journey. It's necessary.



Other times the view is not so appealing and in fact; it's downright painful and ugly to look at. This area of life is a difficult place to be. But we must travel here as well, for this is the place where we often learn and grow the most. This is where we are usually stretched in every sense of the word. This place, as does each place, looks differently for all of us, and yet we share commonalities. It's uncomfortable here. God seems distant. Nobody understands. We feel broken. Lost. It's discouraging in this place and perhaps disappointing. It might even seem unfair here. But this is the place where hearts get dissected and fears are faced. This is the place where truth is revealed. Where we lay it all down. It's the place where healing begins. This is where tragedy and travesty can be transformed into something triumphant and beautiful. It's necessary.




And many times the path is rather mundane. Nothing spectacular. Nothing major. Nothing extraordinary. This is the regular, everyday place. The common place. This part of the journey is often underrated. We tend to get bored and dissatisfied here after awhile because the view is more simple and plain. And yet this is where our daily routines occur. This is the very place we long for when we're in the difficult, craggy spots. This is the place that helps keep us grounded. It's necessary.




Some places we traverse in life are strictly transitional. Transitional times are like bridges, connecting the place that we are leaving to the place that we are going. The thing about transition is that it's not a destination but rather a migration from the old into the new. Some transitions are short while others take longer. The view here is quite varied depending on the circumstances. It might be a nice, happy transition, or it could be a sad, difficult one. It could be a planned, welcomed passage, or it might be very unexpected and unwanted. Nevertheless, we all experience times of transition and this place is what ultimately links all other places together. It's necessary.




Clearly, life is not defined by these places alone but I have found them to be some of the recurring regions I visit in my own life's journey. And I've come to see the necessity of spending time in such places. I've also discovered God reveals more of Himself to me within them as well.

As we invest the time and energy to be in these places, as we allow ourselves to be there, we'll start to see things more clearly than we ever could before. We'll be more tuned in to our hearts and spirits. We'll become more aware of God's presence and promptings in our lives. We'll begin to move with less reservation and more resolve. We'll trust more. We'll love more. And we'll walk stronger in our faith.

It's necessary.

~ Michelle


Copyright © 2011 Michelle Holderman

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Go. One. More.

My door is open as I write (10:11 AM). It's a rather fallish like day here in my old Kentucky home. Low humidity and a cool gentle breeze blowing. I even had my tea on the deck this morning. Nice way to start a Saturday. It's been such a hot, oppressive summer so this is a very welcome change.

What has not been so nice is how badly I've felt these past three weeks. Bad. Very bad. I'm not feeling all that great even now yet I'm feeling a tad better than I have been. I'm not even sure why I'm writing except to give family and friends an update and perhaps simply to share what I'm going through.


In addition to my Lyme protocol, I've been on a series therapy to treat CMV (Cytomegalovirus) that has reared it's ugly head once again. Think mono. CMV is a cousin to EBV or Epstein-Barr Virus, the most common cause of mononucleosis. CMV and EBV, like Lyme, also get into the nervous system as well other organs. All of this together equals a burdened and overtaxed body that needs a break. Part of the problem is that we've revved up my immune system too much. I'm having an overactive immune response and my muscles, joints and lymph nodes have been paying the price. Clearly, we've had to back off a bit. It's a rather delicate balance. And it's such a complicated and crazy process. Unless you've experienced it up close and personal; you wouldn't believe it all if I told you.

I saw my doctor earlier this week. Correction - I dragged myself to my doctor earlier this week. It was pretty evident I was feeling awful and so we discussed everything that's been happening and made adjustments to my protocol. Yet my body wants to finish out this round of CMV treatment. I'll be done with it in the upcoming week. Still onward ho with the Lyme treatment.

As unwell as I generally feel, there are these times when everything - fatigue, fever, pain, inflammation and all the other stuff - exacerbates or elevates to the worst level. Ask anyone with Lyme Disease or any chronic illness for that matter and they'll say the same.

As my friend Kathy blogs, this illness has altered everything and requires everything to be altered. What's altered for me lately is the drive to keep pressing in. It's really hard to do when you physically feel so bad and have pressed and persevered for so many years. Yet somehow, someway (Godway) I will press on. I always do. Even when I'm crawling.

Note to self: Don't stop now. Go. One. More.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Anyway

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.

It was never between you and them anyway.

~ Mother Teresa

Photo By: Aimeric

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: My Summer Health Update

I think Clint Eastwood would be fond of my title. *Smiling* Or perhaps I should have entitled it, "Go ahead you punk, Lyme; make my day."  *Eyes squinting*

Nevertheless, here's the lowdown. And it is a combination of good, bad and ugly parts so the title is quite fitting. I am into my eleventh month on the Chronic Lyme protocol and things are definitely in motion. Truly, this process is akin to peeling an onion. The more layers we peel back; the more we find to deal with. But so it's been through the years. It can be a greatly discouraging process. However, I've been in this for so long now that I've learned how to cope, adjust and pace myself; and my expectations. That isn't to say I'm not hopeful. I am very much and more so because of my faith. It's walking through the process of healing after being sick and debilitated for so many years that's difficult. Believe me when I say you cannot understand unless you've been here. I sincerely pray you never are.

Right now, viral co-infections are surfacing again. I say again because I've dealt with many of these for years, not knowing that Chronic Lyme Disease was underlying all the while (Lyme actually suppresses immune function and opens the door to other infections). Seems this all came in reverse order for me. Regardless, Borrelia (Lyme bacteria), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr (EBV) and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (A tick bourne bacteria and Lyme co-infection) are the most problematic for me at this point and in that order. I believe the fact that old viral infections are resurfacing is actually a sign that the Lyme treatment is working and very deeply. This physically translates into me not feeling well at all on many days, and some days are just downright bad, but at least it's for the sake of healing. I do feel a deep sense of gratitude to my body for ever working so hard our behalf.

As for the viruses, we're treating them with homeopathy, which is one core part of my treatment protocol. Homeopathic Medicine is potent, safe and very effective. And I've found it's the best way to go for me. I say this after having spent several years on multiple drugs with little to no improvement or change except for a nice dose of side effects. Wait. Was that sarcasm coming out of me? I am clearly detoxing. But it's true.

In no way am I trying to imply this treatment is a breeze or that I don't have down days. Are you kidding me?!? Despite what some might say, healing from Chronic Lyme Disease and the co-infections is not easy and it certainly doesn't happen overnight. There really are no words to convey how sick I've been throughout all these years and how it has impacted every facet of my life. Or how trying the many long days, weeks, months and years have been as well. I have often felt Jobesque.

Yet, God has been doing something during all this time. Something within me. He still is. Training time in the wilderness on the back side of the mountain. Maybe you're there too. And even though this road is very long and difficult, even though I long for better days, even though I don't always understand, I do have many things to be thankful for. It's bittersweet to say that but true nonetheless. I know whose kept me through it all and He's the source of my hope and perseverance.

So I still remain in the throes of healing and recovery but there is some improvement happening overall, albeit slowly but surely. I have had a few better days scattered here and there but none like I did back in the Spring when I had a ten day period that I felt better than I have in a very long time. I'm just now writing about this because in all honesty; I wanted to keep it and savor it for myself. But then I realized I needed to share it to perhaps encourage other Lymies (term of endearment for someone with Lyme Disease) and to say that I believe this speaks of the fact that a transformation of true healing is taking place in my body and better days are to come. Still, this is a much harder place to be than I can tell anyone. It is a fight; a fight to live and reclaim life. A fight to step out of what has tried to destroy me and into that which awaits me; my God-appointed destiny. But isn't this the place where the greatest transformations take place? Where tragedy is turned into triumph? Where heroes emerge?

As I end, let me say that I have learned true healing encompasses body, soul and spirit. We cannot be fully well physically or spiritually if we still have unresolved emotions or grief. Conversely, whatever happens to us physically certainly flows over and affects us emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Therefore, proper physical diagnosis, treatment and care is necessary to help the whole body heal and recover. And when we are not spiritually connected to our Creator, we aren't fully living. I think Acts 17:28 captures it best, "For in Him we live and move and have our being." And we are triad beings - body, soul and spirit - made in the image of our triune God - God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I believe complete health and wellness comes about when we are well on all three of those levels.

Copyright © 2011 Michelle Holderman