Monday, February 29, 2016

Remembering

"To laugh yourself is to love yourself." Mickey Mouse

This past week has been a week full of planning, remembering, tears, and laughter.  As as family, we attempted to put together the pieces of Aunt Donna's life and place it into a box...a box that would fit into a square six feet under the soil that God created...in the same place of her beloved husband of twenty-five years.  Fifty-four years and a week. That is how long the Lord gave us Donna Bisbee in the flesh.  Thirty-five years is how long I was able to have her.  As I attempt to pull together a few memories of my life with this incredible person, I hope that you get a glimpse of just what she meant to me.

I am not sure I can actually recall being two years old, but I was told so many times about being Aunt Donna and Uncle Harris' first child that I feel like I can remember the actual events.  They apparently took me to Wet 'N' Wild (now Hurricane Harbor) and Six Flags, and the zoo more times than anyone can count.  Then, in September of 1983, another little human was born....her name was Tonya and she rocked my world!  I was no longer the "only child."  The stories are told that I was extremely jealous.  I kinda believe it.  :)  One of my favorite stories was that Tonya was learning to crawl and as she was on the sofa bed, crawling, I was at the other end urging her to come to me.  As she as giggling and crawling toward me, I moved, allowing her to tumble to the floor!  Yeah, sorry about that, my cousin and friend!! :)  

Donna was always there for me.  She was a "constant" in my life.  I moved a lot as a child and had a lot of instability.  I recall one particular Easter when she came and picked me up from a hotel room where my parents were...not in the best condition (I'll spare details for your benefit and their embarrassment) and took me to Target.  She bought me an entire outfit so that I would have something nice to wear on Easter.  If I remember correctly, I was about 8-10 years old and I remember EXACTLY what I wore that day....even what my hair looked like.  I remember very specific things like that...from a very early age.  It's strange.  That day will forever be etched in my memory.  She made me feel loved and...just special.  I believe that after that "incident" I went to actually live with her for awhile...that wasn't the only time.  

When I was in the 5th grade, I wanted so badly to tryout for cheerleader.  When it was time to tryout, Aunt Donna fixed my hair like she had done so many times before.  She was a licensed hairdresser and my hair was insanely long!  She french braided my hair and told me, "Just think about the turd down the back of your head and smile."  Funny thing is, I made the cheerleading squad!! :)  

Speaking of, Aunt Donna was always my biggest cheerleader!  She was always so proud of me.  I was a very good student in school and she would tell me how important that was. I loved to write when I was younger and she always told me that I was talented in that.  It is something I have always wanted to do....write stories.  For now, blogs will have to do.  ;)  She would always tell me, "Just write from your heart...you have a story to tell."  As I have gotten older, I know how much that means now.  

When I was a month shy of 14, my world was turned upside down when my mom and I moved to Arkansas from Grand Prairie.  Aunt Donna was there at the bus station to tell me bye and it was heart-wrenching.  Over time the pain lessened and eventually I graduated high school, college, grad school and got married.  When Brice and I moved back, it was one of the happiest moments of my life.  I had no doubt in my mind, when given the choice, where I wanted to move back to.  

Aunt Donna loved my kids just like she loved me...unconditionally and deeply.  She was quick to help when they were sick, and was always available whenever I needed her...until she became sick.  I watching her for years taking care of my Uncle Harris who was sick from debilitating strokes, CHF, and seizures.  She quit a job she loved at the Dallas County Tax office to take care of him.  Papa died of cancer in February of 2007, Uncle Harris in January of 2008, and Granny - her mom, in January of 2009.  That was the start of her decline.  Granny died in Donna's arms and she was never the same.  

Aunt Donna loved yellow tulips.  She simply just loved the color yellow.  She loved her grandchildren and she loved my girls.  She loved telling me how much she loved me and how proud of me she was.  She was incredibly funny!!!!  She was just always making people laugh.  I will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS cherish the time she spent at my house last April after she got out of the hospital.  I will keep the words that she wrote to me on my birthday in December:

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I love you so much and truly do feel like you are my first born. I am immensly proud of what you have accomplished with your career. You are a wonderful Christian woman, wife and mother. You are a good and loyal friend. You constantly try to live in His word and for Him. I cannot believe you are thirty five. I was thirty two when you and your mom left for Arkansas. I missed you as though my child had left. I was so happy you came back."

I am thankful for the time on Earth that I had with Aunt Donna. I am thankful that she did not suffer in her death.  I am thankful that, as she was dying, she knew that God had her in the palm of His hand.  I am thankful that she is happy, healthy, and whole again.  I am thankful that I will see her again.  This sorrow will not last a lifetime.  Joy comes in the morning.  God is good all the time.

Donna Lee Kyle Bisbee 
February 17, 1962 - February 24, 2016



Friday, February 19, 2016

He Changes Our Name

I love when I am reading a story and I feel this special connection to the characters in the story.  I love even more when I read my Bible and the Lord speaks so clearly to me.  No, it isn't audible speech from the Lord, but it is definitely a Word from Him and the closer I get to Him, the more I am privileged to enjoy this.  

Something quite interesting struck me as I was studying about Jacob in my Bible study a couple of weeks ago.  The very fact that God promised Jacob all of these blessings when his name means "deceiver" was the first thing that I found a little fascinating.  Even more than that, as I was reading and studying I kept thinking, surely at some point, we will see how God is going to punish or rebuke Jacob...but we don't...at least not that I recall.

Let's talk about this for a minute.  Jacob marries Leah thinking she was Rachel because Rachel was his favorite.  Then, because it wasn't Rachel, he works for 7 more years in order to marry Rachel {I don't know about you but I am feeling pretty sorry for Leah and her feelings at this point}.  He gets their two maidservants pregnant.  He was a manipulator from the beginning...he even sent is wives and children ahead of him when he thought Esau was going to rip his head off so that he wouldn't have to face him first!

Then....Jacob encounters the stranger.  He wrestled with God and God changes him.  He not only changes him but he changes his name - to Israel.  I love what Angie says in description of what God says to Jacob:

"You are no longer that person you were.  There is no need for you to trick and grab and twist everything you can't make sense of.  You are Mine, and you will have a legacy as powerful as any.  Say goodbye to what you were, because it's gone." pg. 51, Seamless

Where my mind kept going was this:  how in the world can God continue to bless this man???  He has done some rotten things in his life and did not seem repentant at all!  Why in the world did God not punish him for any of those things that he did?  I mean we just came away from seeing what the consequence of Adam and Eve's sin was (it was kinda major, ya know), what God said after he created man, and what He did about how He felt about all that (think rain...lots and lots of rain).  Then, there's the whole language confusion thing.  Then, there is Jacob.

Then, it hit me...sort of like a ton of bricks.  None of those things I was thinking about Jacob mattered.  First of all, just because we don't read about it in the Bible, does not mean that God did not discipline Jacob.  I think that sometimes people get all caught up in the "it doesn't say not to do it in the Bible so it must be okay." The part that most people miss out on is that the Bible is not a book of morality, it is a book of redemption.  The Bible is a story that describes our need for a Savior - THE Savior.  But even more than this revelation for me was that God loved Jacob and had a plan for his life.  Jacob wrestled with God and he won.  God changed his name.  He took the old Jacob and made him new - Israel - to fulfill the covenant that He had with Abraham.  

God does the same for you and me.  It does not matter what kind of yucky mess that we get ourselves into.  He has an amazing plan for our lives and His love for us is so incredible!  He makes broken into beautiful.  When I feel like I have messed everything up, He is right there to remind me, yet again, just how much He loves me.  God's grace was sufficient for Jacob and it is sufficient for you and me. He is merciful.  He is faithful.  He is wonderful.

He changes our names.

"Your name will no longer by Jacob, "the man told him. "From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won." Genesis 32:28


Saturday, February 6, 2016

He Doesn't Have to Love Us

I love doing Bible studies.  I love sitting around the table with women of all ages and just "doing life" with them.  I love the wisdom that comes from knowing that others have been there.  Most of all, I love learning that there are things that God wants me to know in the quietness of the room filled with only Him and me.


The ladies of our church just started a new study called Seamless by Angie Smith, whom I have grown to love over the years by way of her blog.  I can already tell this study is going to change my life.  In short, this study is designed to take you on a 6-week journey through the Bible as seamless story.  I am on the first week and I have already learned so much that I did not know.  I don't consider myself a beginner, necessarily, but I am certainly not a Bible expert.  I have just fallen in love with this study in a very short period of time, and my prayer is that it will allow me to fall deeper in love with Jesus.  

This morning, Saturday morning, I woke up at 6:00 am.  Not by choice, mind you.  This seems to be a recurring theme on my blog posts.  Anyway, I put some clothes in the wash and came to the office for my Bible reading.  Jesus met me here.  I want to share with you what He taught me this morning because, somehow I have a feeling, someone else needs this truth this morning too.

"The greatest freedom and joy you will ever know are wrapped up in God's work, offered as a gift from the King of all kings." ~Angie Smith, Seamless

About five years ago, when I decided to stop running from God and surrender my life to Christ {fully}, I felt that I needed to speak to certain people regarding my abortion experience before speaking publicly about it.  I had already confessed everything to God but there were a handful of people in my life that I knew thought would be heartbroken if they found out at the same time everyone else did.  Many of them were very understanding and to my surprise, everyone I shared my story with still loved me and embraced me with kindness and friendship.  There was one person that I was very nervous about talking to.  She was like a mother to me.  When I met with her, although devastated, she embraced me, loved me, and our relationship has only gotten better.  The situation was very intense and at one point, through sobbing, I remember looking at her and saying, "I was afraid to tell you because you don't have to love me."  Her response was, "Yes, I do.  I want to."  I don't think that I will ever ever forget that moment.  

This morning, Day 4, in my Bible study, written on the page of my book, Angie writes, 

God doesn't have to love you, but He does.

Please understand me.  I am not saying that Christi is God but in the very intimate moment of me telling her something that, what I believed, could have destroyed our relationship, she could have turned away and said, "This is too much."  But she didn't.  She loved me and she did not have to.  God loves us and He does not have to, He WANTS to.  That is such a powerful thing to me. When I read that, all of those emotions came back to me.  The good news is that God is never going to stop loving us no matter what we have done!  Angie goes on to say,

You can't do anything to earn it, because you're flawed in ways that make your best efforts completely useless.

I am going to say this more for me than anyone but STOP TRYING SO HARD!!!  I am a perfectionist.  I am.  I admit it.  God does not need anything from us.  We are enough.  He loves us.  
We are enough because He is enough.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Alarm to Say "I Love You"

For the past two mornings, something has made me wake up at the amazing hour of 4:00 am.  I had a small procedure last week and cannot workout right now, so it was not for getting up to workout, my alarm was not set, and frankly, I did not want to get up at 4:00 am.  Yesterday, I got up, did some laundry, did my Bible study, made lunches, picked up the living room...you know, normal "mommy things."  This morning, it was different.  I woke up to what I thought was the house alarm beeping.  Not like it was alarming, necessarily but what I thought I heard was it beeping about 4 times.  Anytime one of our doors opens, the alarms beeps.  I know that all of our doors were locked (and re-locked 5 times because I have an OCD husband), but I also know that I have a 9-year old daughter who sleep walks.  Long story short, everyone was still sleeping, no doors had been opened, and there was no one {that was not supposed to be} in our home.  I went back to bed and picked up my phone for a few minutes and laid it back down on my nightstand.  Then I said, "God, what are you telling me?  What do you want me to know?"  I have heard people before say that they hear God speak audibly.  I do not.  Or at least, I never have before, but I felt the urge to go ahead and get up and go downstairs to the office and read my daily Bible reading.  

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying, "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."  Jeremiah 31:3

That was my Bible verse for today.  That is the message that God wanted me to know this morning... and for about the past week, honestly. If I am truly honest with myself, He has been speaking this particular truth into my life for several years.  HE LOVES ME!  HE LOVES ME!  HE LOVES ME!  I don't have to be perfect.  I don't have to perform better or more.  I don't have to do more.  I don't have to less.  Nothing I can do can make Him love me more.  Nothing I can do can make Him love me less.  I don't have to go back and UNDO the horrible things that I have done in my past.  BUT...because He loves me and I love Him, I desire to have a relationship with Him and I desire to be more like Him.  This truth causes me to grow IN HIM and that helps me to be more like Him each and every day!  

Let me back up a little...yesterday was a yuck day for me.  Not wanting a pity party...AT ALL...just trying to be vulnerable a little bit.  Sometimes I TRULY think that there is something clinically wrong with me (it's my field of work, I think).  I have the WORST insecurities in the entire universe sometimes and they spiral out of control faster than anything you could imagine!  While I want my friends to know these kinds of things about me, I also don't want to scare them off (who wants needy, insecure friends??) so I usually just deal with it inwardly, cry a lot and hope the next day is better...if it isn't, usually the day after that is.  Anyway, I was having an insecure kind of day yesterday.  By the end of the night, I was convinced that my friends did not like me, that one of my friends was mad at me, that I had said something that offended someone, and pretty much that I was a complete failure.  I had communicated this with NO ONE.  I just felt crummy, isolated myself, and went to bed.  Then God woke me up this morning to this verse which piggy-backs on several other messages of the same from the past few days.  

Here is what I know....

1.  I have wonderful friends.  We are all needy at some point and our friends are there to encourage and pick us up as we are them.  If that is not true, we need to re-evaluate who our friends are.  

2.  Sometimes I say things that offend people.  I would say 95% of the time, it is not intentional.  What I say is something I can control.  How people react to it is something I cannot control.  I need to be asking God to help me control my tongue.  This I will continue to do.  In this particular situation, I am not sure if I did because my reality last night was pretty distorted, but that is irrelevant at this point.

3.  I am NOT a complete failure.  I was created in God's image.  He created me for a purpose.  Yes, sometimes I do fail but that does not make me a failure.  It makes me stronger and it helps me grow.  If I did not learn from my mistakes and failures, that would be the biggest failure.  God is still working on me.

4.  Most importantly, GOD LOVES ME with an everlasting love.  Even if....even if all of my friends were mad at me and I alienated all of them {I have anxiety even thinking about that}, God would STILL love me.  He does not want anything from me but me.  

I write all of this to say that I know that I am not the only one that struggles with this.  I know that I am not the only one that has insecurities.  I know that I am not the only one that has a messed up perception of what love is meant to be.  I did not know what real true love was in human form until I met my husband. The best kind of earthly love that you can imagine....God's love is THAT MUCH BETTER!!!!

How deep the Father's love for us

How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory


Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers


It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished


I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection


Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom







Reason to Rejoice
 
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