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." It struck me and made me start thinking about what that statement really means; I wanted to know more.

So I looked up the definition of the word shadow. I found it to be used in several different contexts, but it's the verb and intransitive verb forms that I believe applies here. These are the ones I'm 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 this in terms of sheltering and protecting me, I'm left rather speechless. Standing in its great shadow, I feel so small and undeserving and yet so loved and accepted; all at the same time. It's both stunning and comforting. Does that make sense? Forgive me if it doesn't because words seem to 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 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 doesn't 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 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 the Lord at the coss 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 a 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 His 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, and 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 of Christ is for whosoever 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 it's 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