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


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 a while. 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 backward.

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 Cytomegalovirus) 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 the 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 often 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 us as only He can. 

Perhaps it's a sincere willingness to serve or a desire to love unconditionally. Maybe it's a deep yearning to help those who are hurting or an unusual longing to make a real difference in the world. Whatever it is; He sees the gifts and excellent potential within us. And He wants to take it all and use it to impact people, places, and circumstances with His goodness operating 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 believe they do. I think we all come from some kind of imperfect or messy background; I just don't think we're all open or transparent about it.

However, 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 not only speaks of what Jesus did in His death and resurrection but what He continues to do as we grow in our relationship with Him.

And what He does is bring us out from those dark wounded places and lovingly walks us into His perfect and marvelous light; over and over and over. He comes in and adorns us with a brand new set of beautiful, perfectly tailored clothes in exchange for our old grimy, raggedy hand-me-downs.

Jesus comes in truth and grace. He reveals the deep, abiding love of the Father to us. He expresses the longing of His heart - and many are the ragamuffins the Father longs for.

He wants the wild, neglected, abused, jaded, rejected, and marginalized. He yearns for the broken, the downcast, the outcast, the abandoned, and the hopeless. He desires those who are crushed in spirit, forlorn, and worn out; those who long 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.


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 ones into the kindred because the Father truly longs for them to have a place at 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)