Friday, January 25, 2008

No More SELF-Discipline!!!

This morning, I was thinking about "discipline."  As I looked online and in my Strong's concordance, it confirmed what I had been thinking…  That the notion of "self-discipline" maybe isn't really Biblical!  There is LOTS in the Bible about discipline and LOTS about self-control, but only in a couple of translations in one verse (2 Tim. 1:7) will you find the term "self-discipline" and even there, the original Greek word is actually usually translated as either "discipline" or "self-control".   
The more I think about it, the more absurd the idea of "self-discipline" becomes.  Teaching and training are really at the heart of "discipline".  God disciplines us to teach us, parents discipline their children, teachers and coaches discipline their students.  "Discipline" also implies that the one being disciplined is (in one way or another) a disciple of the one teaching them.  Now, apply this idea to the concept of "self-discipline" andit means I am teaching myself and/because I am a disciple of myself.  It's ALL ABOUT ME.  YIKES & YUCK!!!!!  (And if I know enough to teach myself anything, why do I need to change in the first place???)

However, if I am a disciple of Jesus and my Loving Heavenly Father is disciplining me, it is HIS discipline I need to submit to AND my focus isn't on self, it's on HIM.  HIS yoke is easy and His burden is light and I am learning from HIM, following HIM, wanting to be like HIM!  (Isn't this SOOO much better?????)  The responsibility shifts from being on ME to teach myself to GOD teaching and transforming me.  What a relief!  What freedom!

OK, so what about "self-control"?  Well, here's the best part!  "Self-control" is a FRUIT of the SPIRIT (Galatians 5:22-23) and it grows in us AS WE ABIDE IN JESUS.  Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. …  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15:5, 7-8 (NIV)  "Self-control" grows in us as we spend time with God, receiving His love, His correction, His instruction, His wisdom, His Spirit and His power!  He is the One who changes us as we focus on Him, as we surrender to Him, as we trust Him and love Him.  I am so excited about this that I can hardly sit still.  It makes me want to dance and praise God for how much He loves me and cares for me and longs for me to be free in Him.
The last thing I thought of today is how my "self" is NEVER satisfied.  My "self" is a berating tyrant.  My "self" can either be starving and begging for sin, or it can be demanding for me to be better and do better and try harder because even my best is never good enough.  If I am seeking to serve and satisfy mySelf, I will never succeed no matter how hard I try.  But PRAISE GOD, when I am trusting God and following and believing Him, I don't ever have to be good enough on my own!!!!!  Like I talked about here, I will always sin and fall short of God's glory, SO God sent Jesus so I could be FREELY justified by HIS GRACE. Hallelujah!
Lord Jesus, Almighty Father, Holy Spirit, fill me with your power today.  Discipline me and teach me to be like You as I walk with You, trusting You and receiving Your love and being transformed and set free by Your truth. Thank You, thank You, thank You for saving and forgiving and transforming and loving me.  Your truth truly is setting me free!
Y, Melissa

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Suitcase & Real Live Missionaries!

We are going on a short trip to Yosemite to play in the snow tomorrow (we're staying overnight). I left a suitcase in Toby's room for him to pack. A little while later he had zipped it up and was rolling it down the hall when I stopped him saying I needed to check it to make sure he hadn't forgotten anything. When I opened it, this is what I found.

He is obviously very prepared, but I still have to finish packing. However...

I first want to share this fun video with you all! My very talented nephew and his dad made it way over in Thailand, (which for so many reasons is a special place to us!) You'll get to see their church (TLC = The Life Center) and the Abundant Life Home orphanage that their church started. (No, it's not where our child will be coming from b/c our agency doesn't work with them-- as far as we know anyway!) So enjoy this little taste of Thailand and I'll see you next weekend!

Y, Melissa

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Just Waiting

Hello All... 
I wanted to give those of you who are wondering a quick update on our adoption progress.  Every 3 months  our agency gets a list of children who have been released to be matched with a family.  They take the children's information and look at the list of waiting families and try to find the best family for each child (so it's not necessarily in order).
Prior to December we were family #8 on the list and now we are #5.  The next group of kids released to be matched will come in March and we're hoping we will be matched at that time, but it could be June at this point.   That would be sort of disappointing, but we know that God's in control of it all and He knows how and when it's all going to happen, so we'll just wait and see what He does!
Once we're matched, the real waiting will start.  After we accept the match, we will still have to wait another 6+ months before we get to go to Thailand and bring our Little One home.
So now you know!  Have a great week!
Y, Melissa

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Unending Love, Amazing Grace

OK. I'm having more trouble than ever writing this post. I just asked the Lord WHY and He said it's because I'm trying to describe something more profound and vast than the Grand Canyon… on a blog… in one post. (Well, one post for starters anyway!) Ah. No wonder. So I'm going to simplify by sharing some things I've read lately that have spoken to my heart.
"I will love God because he first loved me. I will obey God because I love God. But if I cannot accept God's love, I cannot love Him in return, and I cannot obey Him. Self-discipline will never make us feel righteous or clean; accepting God's love will. The ability to accept God's unconditional grace and ferocious love is all the fuel we need to obey Him in return." (from Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, p. 86)
(Would you do me a favor and read that again?)
"You may be surprised to learn that this gift of love is not about 'learning to love more' or 'learning to love better.' In God's world, receiving love comes before giving love." (from TrueFaced, p. 84.)
You might remember I talked a while back about leading worship for a Celebrate Recovery group our church was going to be starting. It has started and I am going through the study like everyone else because God has a lot He wants to teach me through it. What we're talking about there ties in amazingly with the other stuff I'm reading. We're talking about being powerless to solve our problems on our own and how we have to rely on God's power and grace to transform us. When I was going through the last week's study, I read Romans 3:21-24. I have heard verse 23 hundreds of times ("For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.) and it has always felt sort of… depressing. BUT! In the context of the verses before and after it, in light of what God's teaching me about relying on His grace to change me instead of my efforts, it seems profoundly different than when it's alone. Look at this:
"But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, AND ARE JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ."
So here's what it boils down to for me. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to do what was right and to love and obey God... to be righteous. But I have been reluctant to really accept God's love and to believe I am really all He says I am, because I've never been good enough. But God says that my efforts will never be enough (I was right!) BUT that I am justified freely by God's grace!
According to John 15, loving God and obeying Him are inseparable… but we love because He first loved us. I will never be able to love Him until I let Him love me. Until I accept His truth and forgiveness and grace. And you know what else I've discovered? Self-control—that pesky discipline thing we're all chasing—is a FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT that grows in me as I REMAIN IN HIS LOVE. God's love for me. Why Jesus died for me. No wonder Paul prayed this:

"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17b-19

"The ability to accept God's unconditional grace and ferocious love is all the fuel we need to obey Him in return." Amazing.

Y, Melissa

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Legoland Recap

Hi Everybody! Well, I've discovered there was a downside to taking a break from blogging. I now have way too many things I wish I could tell you all about... Christmas was wonderful and full. One of the special things we did was surprise our kids with a trip to Legoland. They had no idea we were going until Christmas morning. We left a few hours later to drive to Bakersfield where we spent Christmas afternoon with my dad, stepmom, grandma, siblings and a whole bunch of uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins. (Did I miss anyone?) (It's one of the things I would love to tell you lots more about.) We spent the night there and drove the next day through day-after-Christmas-LA-why-are-we-doing-this-traffic and arrived at Legoland (30 min. north of San Diego) around 4:00pm and stayed there until the fireworks show at 7. We returned for another 7 and a half hours the next day before returning to Bakersfield and then home the next morning. (I tell you all this b/c I know you care about our travel itinerary. And maybe I'm out of practice blogging.) Anyway! We had a lot of fun. If you want to see a lot of pictures, watch the video below and you'll see dinosaurs, giraffes, zebras, the Washington Memorial, other skyscrapers, and a mariachi band all made of LEGO!!! Really amazing!!! What you won't see is me about to go nuts late Thursday morning because we were spending too much time PLAYING and not enough time standing in line. Because I like to pack as much as possible into a day like that because we might not be there again for a very long time and isn't that why we're there??? To do as much as possible??? (You can laugh at me. It's ok. I'm laughing, too.) Oh, and my wonderful hubby? Well, he mostly just shook his head and smiled at me knowing I was churning inside and that there was no reason for it. And he let me go take a walk while he and the kids kept playing. Well, praise the LORD, God helped me realize (just in time) that if I kept feeling stressed and thinking everyone in the park was having more fun than I was (and many were having more fun b/c I was being a little, ummm, let's say uptight) that the kids would eventually pick up on it and stop having such a good time just loving being there. God helped me to let go of my control-freaky-ness and just enjoy the rest of the day. We had a fabulous time and (surprisingly or not) we DID pack an amazing amount into the day. One thing I remember from growing up is that the adventures are great, but many times, what is so precious about them is remembering them together. The trip was a gift from God in many ways. We are really thankful for it and are going to enjoy remembering it together for a very long time. If you watch this 5 minute video, know that if I were with you I would be telling you about everything in the pictures because I like doing that... but then, of course, it would take even longer. : ) Y, Mel

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Well, I believe it's officially 2008 in every part of the world, and my blogging break is officially over as well. I'm planning on resuming my blogging, with a few changes. If you've been here before, you probably already noticed I changed my template. I was just ready for something different. The most significant change will, however, be in the frequency of posting. I'm going to try to limit myself to 2 posts a week (probably just on the weekends). One will be about life in general (the kids, the house, my hubby, my morning commute from the bedroom to the kitchen to the laundryroom... you know. Exciting stuff like that.) The other post will be about whatever I was learning or thinking about that week. Now. I have to say that if my husband were here he would be tempted to tell you about how I am the QUEEN of plans and ideas... and how few of them I follow through on. But I have no problem with that. : ) (He is right, after all!) But this is the direction I'm going for now and I will be perfectly content to tweak it if it doesn't work and I get obsessed with blogging again. : ) So that's all for now. I hope to write some more this weekend and update you (maybe only you if you're the only one reading this, Dad) on what else is going on in life and in my head. Have a great start to a new year! See you soon! Y, Melissa