The Five of Us, Spring 2014

The Five of Us, Spring 2014

Something Old, Something New

This morning's sermon hit the nail on the head. It was profoundly impacting, thought-provoking, and may just be life-changing.* It seems that God is putting something together for me, building it piece by piece. This morning's sermon brought both a clarity of taking a step forward, seeing things fall into place that much more, and then a rush of other questions about the rest of the pieces! The other questions are easily dealt with, at the risk of sounding like a broken record: God will reveal the answers when I need to know them. But, I do want to dwell a moment on the present step forward.

Since Dec 1, when God led me to the 43rd chapter of Isaiah, it has been rattling around in my soul and popping up occasionally around me. This morning's sermon began in Isaiah 43:18-19, which says, "Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?" (NKJV) God, through the prophet Isaiah was telling the chosen nation of Israel that He was about to do something new and greater for them than they had ever seen. In fact, just before this verse, He's recalling to their memories how easy it was for Him to make a way out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, for them. No small deal in our minds, no big deal to Him. But, in order for them to be able to receive the new thing He had cooking for them, they had to forget the past. If they were going to grasp what He was about to do, they couldn't be considering what He'd done before --He wasn't going to do that again! He was going to do something entirely new for them!

I just have to wonder how often we have missed God's best, His new thing, because we couldn't see beyond our past. Even if it was a glorious past, or more likely a past with glorious moments, like walking through the sea on dry land and seeing your enemies swallowed by the resurging waters. Soon after I read this passage on that difficult night that God brought it to light, I felt tempted to make a list of all the things I'm good at, the things I like to do. The temptation was that looking at that list might provide direction toward the "new thing" He was promising to do in my life. I call it a temptation because at the same time I felt drawn to do it, I felt strongly in my spirit that it was useless. I didn't realize why it was useless until this morning. God is going to do a NEW thing!!! He's not just improving on what He's already done! He's doing something NEW!

Our pastor warned us against defining ourselves by our pasts in ways that God has not defined us. That's exactly what that list would have done. Definitions can be helpful, but they can also become boundaries we refuse to cross. They can hold us back from being and doing all God has for us. I don't want to be trapped in my old ways so that I miss out on the new thing God is doing.

Jesus brings up this same idea, and true to His style, He gives stunning illustrations of the point. Check out Luke 5: 33-39. Some religious guys come to Jesus complaining that His disciples feast and don't fast. "'John the Baptist's disciples always fast and pray,' they declared, 'and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why are yours always feasting?'" You can hear the spite in their whining. They're upset because Jesus and his gang are always going to people's houses and feasting and enjoying each other's presence while they suffer hunger and inconvenience and gas and bad breath. Jesus responds by saying, "'Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom?'" Essentially, He's saying, "You've missed the new thing because you're so caught up in religiously observing the old ways. Why would you seek God's presence (by fasting) when I'm right here?"

Then he tells the parables which illumine His point. They are familiar parables, but I never understood their full meaning before this morning. "'No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be torn, and the patch wouldn't even match the old." Picture this: you have two little black dresses. The first you've worn for the last 15 years on every possible occasion. It has been a favorite; you've made memories in it. It's comfortable. But, it's a little pilly and quite faded. It's out of style and it has a hole. You can keep the hole covered if you pin your arm to your side, but it's hard to shake hands that way. Now, having noticed the sad shape of your old little black dress, the love of your life presented you with a perfectly fitting, absolutely flattering, gorgeous NEW little black dress this Christmas. And, He's invited you out for a date this Friday night! You decide, of course, that you will wear the old dress and are thrilled that you can tear a piece off the new dress to patch the hole on the side! No, no, no! That would never happen! Not only would you ruin the new dress from your husby, but your old dress would look all the more ridiculous with a dark patch under your arm!

But, Jesus says, there are plenty of us doing just that with our spiritual lives. The Father wants to hand us a new garment, but we settle for the old, maybe snatching a corner from the new to hide the worst faults of the old. This is what our pastor called "A little dab'll do ya." I don't know about you, but that's not what I want for my spirit.

Jesus goes on to say, "'And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. The new wine would burst the old skins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the fresh and the new. "The old is better," they say.'" Uuuuuugh! How sad is that! Oh, I never want to say, "The old is better" ever again! Wineskins were made from goatskin. When it was newly formed to a winebag, it was soft and flexible; it could even expand as the wine fermented. But, over time, it would harden and stiffen and retain a certain shape. If one were foolish enough to pour in new wine, the old wineskin would crack under the pressure and both the fresh wine and the old wineskin would be ruined and good for nothing. God simply won't do that. He just won't waste His new thing on a vessel that can't hold it. He'll choose a soft, moldable, expandable skin that has room to grow and change. The thing is, in order to have a new wineskin, a new goatskin, as our pastor pointed out, something has to die.

It could be our perceptions and definitions of ourselves. It could be our notions of how God works. It could be areas of our lives we still haven't given over to Him or actual sin we've never renounced and turned from. It could be our ways of doing things and our habits. It could be our laziness and lack of attention to Him. It could be our pride. It could be our reputation, our standing, our "how will THAT look to the neighbors/my family?!" It could be fear. It could be a combination of things. But, it probably has something to do with our "comfort zones."

The thing is, we generally aren't desperate enough for the new things of God to make us willing to sacrifice these things. We say, "The old is better, I don't want to change." We haven't put ourselves in the place to understand the exchange. We all want a bargain--well here's one: my life for HIS! My inability for His amazing power! My stupidity for His wisdom! My insignificance for His purpose! From this perspective it looks worth it, but most of the time, we don't see it this way. We don't see all the value we get for our little bit of sacrifice. And then, while we make excuses ("Stale wine really tastes better!") instead of killing the things that should die, we allow something else to die--God's work in us, God's new thing.

Well, not me. I just can't let that thing die. He's been so amazing to lead me through to this point. I just can't turn my back and remain in my old shell. I still don't even have the slightest idea what the new thing is, but I know it must be good. Why would He so kindly draw me step by step if it wasn't something really, really good?! I never realized until this morning that there would be a cost for my new thing, but after this morning, I feel like I would do anything not to lose it. I know it won't be easy. I'm actually fairly afraid of how much it's really going to cost me, but I KNOW it's worth it. I don't know yet what it is that I have to sacrifice (that's one of those questions I mentioned in the first paragraph!), but I'm determined to find out. And, by the grace of God that is leading me on this path, I'm going to get over it. I'm feeling a little like a bride-to-be at one of those mad-house gown sales where generally "nice" women elbow, claw, and trample each other to get the perfect dress--no matter what it takes, I'M GETTING MY NEW THING!!!!!! :)

*If you would like to listen to the sermon in it's entirety (which I recommend), you may do so by clicking here and then following the instructions. As of the writing of this post, the sermon was not yet posted, but it will be soon. Just look for the date Jan 25 to be sure you're listening to the right one.


My Man and Me

My Man and Me
married 7/7/2001


ours through biology, born 7/25/2004, home 8/1/2004


ours through adoption from Liberia, West Africa, born 7/15/2005, home 10/25/2007


ours through domestic adoption, born 1/15/2011, home 2/10/2011, final 8/3/2011

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Round Two Timeline

  • 9/24/08 Home study update home visit for Ghana adoption
  • 10/15/08 Dossier sent to AOHG
  • 10/15/08 I600A application sent to USCIS
  • 10/30/08 First heard about possible domestic private adoption
  • 11/18/08 Last spoke with contact about possible domestic adoption; expected to hear back about meeting with birthmother
  • 12/3/08 Withdrew application from AOHG
  • 1/6/09 Found out another family had been chosen for possible domestic adoption
  • 1/21/09 USCIS fingerprinting appointment
  • 1/8/09 Received USCIS fingerprinting appointment notice
  • 4/11/09 Sent Pre-Application to Covenant Care Adoptions for Domestic Infant Adoption program
  • 6/8/09 Social worker visit to update home study from International to Domestic
  • 7/24/09 Received completed home study update
  • 8/25/09 Went "on the list" for birthfamilies to choose from
  • 4/28/10 Found out a birth mom had chosen us
  • 5/8/10 Met the birth mom
  • 5/11/10 Got the call that birth mom changed her mind
  • 5/19/10 Birth mom's scheduled c-section
  • 11/30/10 Visit from DSS sw about foster parenting
  • 11/30/10 Got the call that another birth mom had chosen us
  • 12/21/10 Met with the birth mom
  • 1/15/11 @1:42 PM BB was born!
  • 1/19/11 ICPC (interstate) paperwork sent to GA for approval
  • 1/31/11 ICPC Clearance Approved
  • 2/10/11 Placement Ceremony and Pup comes home!!!!
  • 8/3/11 It's Official! Pup's Adoption Decree was issued