The Detox Diaries

IMG_20140507_194405

(Trying to get cozy in bed while strapped to a heat-pad).

Gentle Reader,

I’ve just completed the second video session of Beth Moore’s new study, Children of the Day, on the books of 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Without giving too much away because I think you should do this study yourself, the teaching in this session focused quite a lot on authenticity. Ultimately each person must make a decision about Christ for herself, but we believers are naive to think that we don’t have to live this thing out. That we don’t have to prove ourselves faithful (not perfect or rigid) in the eyes of the world.

There was a powerful word in this lesson for me, and it came when Moore quoted her pastor, son-in-law Curtis Jones:

Whatever you go through, leverage it for the Kingdom.

Use it. Let God use it. For Him. For you. For others.

And so we start on a new journey together.

It’s only the second day. 48 hours. And yet I feel the withdrawal symptoms setting in. The “brain zaps,” which feel like someone reaches in a smashes my brain against my skull. Exhaustion propelled me to bed early last night, but I what sleep I got was restless and filled with odd dreams. The dry heaves began this morning. I’m ever-so-slightly confused, like when you just know you’re forgetting something.

It’ll get worse before it gets better, this process of coming off Cymbalta and estrogen supplementation.

My motivation in sharing The Detox Diaries with you has nothing to do with garnering sympathy and everything to do with the knowledge that there is someone else out there struggling along with me, someone who may wonder if Christ is worth trusting through the pain. Or someone who doesn’t even have the hope of Christ to hold on to. That struggle may not involve medical issues. Maybe it’s finances. Broken relationships. Job loss. When I have been faced with such mountains in the past, I have usually given in to defeat before ever attempting the climb. Maybe you have, too.

Not this time.

You can trust Jesus. I can trust Jesus.

Join me.

Grace and peace along the way.

For all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

P.S. – Let’s listen to music together! Check out my Spotify playlist: Joy.

The Real Deal

{ source }

Gentle Reader,

There’s nothing like Easter.

After the horrible betrayal. After the mocking trials. After the bruises, the wounds, the spitting, the torture. After the crown of thorns. After the agony of the Cross. After it was finished. After the dreadful silence of the tomb.

Easter.

PAR-TAY!

I say that with all seriousness. If there is ever a day when Christians should celebrate with abandon, Easter is it. Jesus is alive! The Evil One is defeated! Death couldn’t claim Him! The grave couldn’t hold Him! He is wrapped not in moldy, decaying funeral rags, but in a glorified, perfect body. And yet a body that still bears the marks. Our names carved upon His hands.

God became flesh and made His dwelling among us.

I love seeing the little girls in their frilly dresses and the boys in their bright shirts. I love seeing extended family come together for church and a good meal. I love seeing the budding trees and new flowers. The sense of hope and promise hangs thick in the air.

A new season.

A new life.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t understand how people live without Jesus. Looking at the state of the world, from wars to human trafficking to poverty to hunger, makes me cling to Him all the more. I am desperate for what only God can provide. On my own, I say and do stupid, stupid things. Selfish things. Mean things.

I am a sinner.

I need grace.

I need a miracle.

Jesus’ resurrection is that miracle. He takes all that ugliness, all that sin, and washes it in His blood. He sends His Spirit to live in me and make me into the person I was meant to be. No amount of self-help or positive thinking can do what He does. He pokes and prods at all the deep, secret, dark places. He brings things to the surface, things I want to keep buried, and teaches me how to look at them in His light. He teaches me how to walk the right path. He teaches me how to worship Him as the True and Forever Lord.

He teaches me how to be real.

And God? He’s the complete real deal. He is totally honest, totally Himself. He doesn’t have a messed-up side. He doesn’t try to manipulate or guilt-trip anyone. He just lays out the facts. He says, “This is Who I Am and this is how it is.” Then He lets us decide. Empty or whole. Heaven or Hell. New or old. Together or alone.

When Jesus left the tomb that glorious morning, the way was made clear for each of us. The great enemies of sin and death were slain by the only One Who could do it. We don’t have to live in the pit. We can cry out, “Jesus, save me!” And He will. He’ll reach in and pull us out. And we see the Great King with eyes that blaze with the fire of holiness. We are bathed in the beauty of His love and the fantastic mystery of mercy. Draped in the robes of His righteousness, we realize how small and shriveled we are, and how glowing and healthy we can become in Him. Because of Him.

We approach the Throne of the Holy One, welcomed as His beloved children.

Because of Jesus.

Because of Easter.

Grace and peace along the way.

Memorial

Gentle Reader,

This afternoon I attended a memorial service for one of the former occupants of the shelter where I volunteer. While admittedly not having been to very many of these types of gatherings, the ones I have been to in the past have been rather somber affairs, full of tears. Though I cried today with the sense of loss that comes from all partings, I came away feeling like I’d been to a great party. Totally blessed. Full of joy.

She knew Jesus. She really knew Him. And she got to see Him face to face on Sunday evening.

To listen to an auditorium full of women sing praises to God; to watch as tattooed arms reached out to proclaim His amazing grace; to see faces marked with drug use and abuse shining with the imagining of Heaven…

Blows me away.

These women aren’t kidding around when they praise Him. Their chains really are gone. They really have been set free.

And she was among them.

Grace and peace along the way.