Journal

Me, Myself and I Before, During, and After.

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In case you missed last weeks blog, here it is. It was an intro to this week’s, giving a clue to what today’s was going to be about. Notice I said it was going to be about.

I’ve decided to add a bit more before that story is given. Why? I just realized how I’d like to explain a bit more what lead up to that day, or better yet, moment. I want to share a few things to help you understand how I came to be the person that I am today, in hopes my story shows a bit more why it was one unforgettable time for me.

For starters, I had some of those normal ups and downs most have gone through: It’s officially called Growing Up. I was the youngest of seven but my two oldest siblings were already out of the house when I was about six. By that time I was living in a great neighborhood south of Seattle, Washington called Normandy Park. My parents, three brothers, one sister and, of course, Sam, our terrier dog, never complained about our decent-sized home with a beautiful yard that even had a creek down a little hill. To top it off, it was on one of those perfect dead-end streets with friendly neighbors all around. Mom stayed home while Dad worked for Boeing, a very secure, well-paying job. My mom, however, was one who loved thrift stores and  devoured those Seattle Times Sunday-morning grocery-store ads.

It seemed to me that my four siblings still at home, the oldest being thirteen years older, to the youngest only two years older, got to do so much more than I did.

“It’s not fair!” I often yelled to whomever could hear. “I never get to sit in the front seat! I’m tired of being the youngest. Mom, why can’t you take just ME to school today?”

Here is a taste of a well- known conversation:

“It’s your turn!” one of us would bark when told to feed our dog Sammy.

“No, I did it last time,” the other would reply.

“BOTH of you do it,” was our mom’s common reply.

As I write this, I can’t help but picture how David, the one closest to my age, and I often went into the laundry room, and one of us would get up on the washer to reach way up high to the shelf to grab the bag of dog treats. One time, for sure, I’ll never forget.

“Dare you to eat it.”

“You eat it first..”

“No, you.”

Back and forth, back and forth. Finally we agreed that we both try it.

“It’s not so bad!” and happily took turns giving  Sam a few of the goodies along with his normal food. I also remember being surprised when David said, “Here, I’ll get him some fresh water,” Yep. He offered without being told. Shocked I sure was.

We grew up going to a Catholic church every Sunday. I had it mastered when we would stand up, sit down, get down on our knees, stand up again, and, of course, cross ourselves. I felt almost grown up when I was old enough to take communion. Of course I felt extra special when, a few years later, I became one to help serve it. I learned from church how to be a good person and, having been baptized as a baby, that I would go to heaven. Catholicism was really the only religion I knew anything about all through grade school.

That church had a private school, which I attended from first through eighth grade. My only concern going there was why we couldn’t be like the public schools and wear whatever we wanted. The first three years I had to wear the same red-and-white striped skirt, a white button-up dress shirt and a red button-up sweater. More often than not, I made sure I wore shorts under my uniform skirt. After all, I was proud that I could jump off the swing when way up high during recess. I was not going to let my skirt keep me from showing off my skills. Such a relief in fourth grade when we were allowed to wear black pants. But still, every day? I sure wished we had more free-dress days.

Here’s one journal writing from way back then. I chose this being it doesn’t embarrass me too much.

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Jan 1980 (12 years old – 8th grade)

Diary – Today was pretty lazy. Me, Mom and David went shopping for food. After that I went to the twins and played Ping-Pong. It was fun. I forgot to say I rearranged my room yesterday. It looks really awesome now. I’m also getting all set to begin taking my saxophone lessons. I hope it all works out. I have to say, too, that I hope Chuck starts liking me because I sure now like him. I keep putting off my twenty-five page report. I had better start. By until tomorrow.

I shared this now just to give a taste of the normal-ness I had before my pre-teen years.

Next time you get to read how things were going as my, gulp, teen years began.

 

June 12th- One Special Day

heartsToday, Monday, the day I put up my new posts. But that’s not all. It’s also the perfect day to bring up what took place on June 12th, twenty-nine years ago. What am I talking about? Find out by reading my journal  from 1988. 

 

 

 

January 2, 1988 — Why begin, how to begin, why now to begin? What am I beginning anyway? Being almost a month into my marriage engagement to THE most wonderful man alive,  I’ve realized that being engaged is something very special. Our courting/dating is over, but our marriage is not yet underway. Praying that this will be the only time I will be in the engaged part of my life, I want to cherish this time and enjoy every part of it. I guess the reasons for starting a new journal, that only covers the remaining five months, will be to look back on my feelings about all the planning and emotions involved. But the most important reason is to see how God is bringing Chris and me closer together, and closer to Him.

I assume you have a good clue what this post is about. Just incase you still don’t know, here is the last clue from that last page of my special journal.  (Notice the date)

June 12, 1988 — Thirty minutes or so to go until I say ‘I do’. I’m all dressed and have enough time to collect my frame of mind, being I am now the only one in this room. It’s been stressful yet so worth it. It’s nice to know that God is in control of all things – even spark plug problems.   (don’t ask. You’ll just have to read my memoir to learn what that last sentence is all about.)  I’m all ready, and I hope Chris is surprised.


I’m sure I would have written more but, as soon as those last words were written, I saw my father outside the door waving his arm, telling me it was time to walk his youngest child down the isle. That was my last journal writing as Marianne Houstoun.

I’ll assume most of you have figured out by now with these clues, that twenty-nine years ago my husband and I said ‘I do’ and that today is our twenty-ninth anniversary.

These two writings are the first and last of thirty-one times I had put my heart of paper. Some were only a few sentences long while others were a few pages. It’s a gem looking back at how Chris and I decided on what type invitation to order, how him and I found our first apartment, to the joy we had blowing up all these balloons the day before our wedding.

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What was most often shared on those good old pieces of paper wasn’t so much what took place in those five months, but how thankful I was to God for the man He had brought my way.

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It’s always on our anniversary that one of my favorite verses come to mind.

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (like your ‘love at first sight’, and man of your dreams) shall be added to you.

 

God’s Timing Is Perfect-2

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Now for my next example of how God, my heavenly Father, has shown He helps me in the most perfect ways at the perfect time. It’s not only those big, noticeable events God molds perfectly for us to go through. It’s not only those that stand out to the world, plans that show a huge sign with the words ‘This is from God’ plastered in neon for all to see. No. I like to say that God’s timings are perfect even in those small, minute ways that take place in our day-to-day affairs. We all need to remember that those daily, little things don’t just happen. (#1)

Example:
A few years ago, I wanted to surprise my husband, Chris, on our twenty-fifth anniversary. I had made a video filled with pictures, videos, and music to help us reminisce on all those years together. Ideally, I wanted to surprise him with the video in our hotel room someone had gifted us to stay at. But how could I surprise him with it? Many thoughts dashed back and forth that morning before the hotel stay while he was at work.
Major pondering began.

I know. I’ll somehow set it up in our hotel room and, at the right time, say something like ‘Let’s see what’s on TV’. but how would I set it up without Chris noticing, and what if there’s not even a DVD player in that hotel room? This has got to work out somehow.

A few hours before Chris would be off work, he called.
“Hi, honey. I’m almost done with this project here at work, but I might be a bit late getting home,” he explained. “I have to get this project 100 percent done before we leave,”

A few hours went by before another call.

“Um. sorry, honey, but it’s taking a lot longer than planned.”
After running through a few ideas, we decided it would be best if he just met me at the hotel.
“Oh, I’ll be fine, honey. Don’t worry,” I replied, doing my best to stay calm and not sound excited that I had to go by myself. “I agree. It’s best at least one of us shows up before it’s 6:00. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.”
I was more than fine. I was floating!
Happy to say, it all worked out perfectly. It sure wasn’t easy, mind you. I had to get the right person there to help bring in a DVD player they had available. Then, on my own, I had to figure out the right channel and whatnots to have the TV work right for it to show. Man, was that hard. Finally, it was ready. A few minutes later, after I had enough time to get that stressed look off my face, thanking God for it all to have been doable, I heard Chris give a little knock on the door before walking in. God must have been grinning, too, as I sure was.

It turned out that next morning, waiting for our breakfast to be brought to our room, I finally got to say “So, honey, why don’t we see what’s on while waiting? Here. I’ll turn it on.”tv-25
You should have seen his face when that video popped up. That surprised look was well worth all the effort.

What was more important was how God made it all work out better than I expected! That one simple event proved to me, again, that God’s timing is perfect, even if it is just to help you throw a little surprise for someone you love.

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

#1 Click here to read my last piece showing a bit more how serious of a time can be when God showed me His timing Is perfect.

God’s Timing Is Perfect -1

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My journal writings often show the same four words: God’s timing is perfect.

He has proven that fact to me in many ways, and I often can’t help but jot down in my journal what took place, causing me to feel that yet again.  The main event which planted that fact in my heart I’ve already shared in my blog called God’s Timing is Perfect which begins my encephalitic story. (*1)

Being that I often see His perfect timing, I’ve decided to share a few of those times here on a routine basis. Why? To keep in your mind that, no matter what, God is there.

We may not always understand why God allows certain things to happen to us, our families, or our friends, but we can be certain of one thing: He’s not making any mistakes.

The one I’m sharing now happened exactly five years ago, in 2012. Here’s what I wrote in my journal.

Jan 15, 2012

Sure, I could talk about how scared I was when we got into a fender-bender today, a few minutes after we got off the freeway, after snow had been falling for a while. But no. I’d rather talk about God’s gracious planning for us not to be two seconds ahead on that street, because if we had been, I would either be in a hospital or, gulp, perhaps dead. A car that slid down a hill couldn’t stop, and we were driving right toward the bottom of that hill. The car went past right in front of us, and its back end rubbed up against our front left. But if we were one second earlier – BAM! It would have totally run into the passenger side where…I WAS THE PASSENGER! Throughout the entire ordeal, God continued to show us His kindness and His perfect timing. A policeman was right behind us when it happened, so no need to wait for one to show up in that freezing weather. I’m so glad to be here to write about this. Thank You, God.

Whenever I remember that event, I thank God for His perfect timing He often reveals right in front of me.  (And in this story, literally) For meclock 1, it proved once again, God’s timing is perfect. 

Romans 8:28  – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

#1 – Click here to read the start of my illness/encephalitis story.

The Best Christmas Poem Ever

 

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Roses are red
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet
And so are you.

I bet we all can recall this poem, knowing people have fun making changes to it.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
My love for you
Will always be true.
or
What I feel in my heart
Is true love for you.

Oh, how adorable. Then, of course, people have fun making it silly.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Sunflowers are yellow.
I bet you thought
this was a romantic poem.
These are just gardening facts.

Being it’s the Christmas season, I’ll share part of one I bet we’ve all heard:

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a mouse.

Wonder why I’m bringing up poems during this holiday season? Because I thought it was the perfect time to share a poem I made as a gift for my husband one year. On Christmas Eve twenty-three years ago, my husband, myself, and our two adorable young daughters, Cassie and Trina, were spending time at my husband’s parents’ home. Time to exchange gifts. Of course, our daughters had to open up theirs first. It’s always fun seeing the excited looks on little kids faces as they begin unwrapping. You should have seen the look of anticipation on my face when It was my husband’s turn to unwrap his gift from me.

“Here, honey,” I said, while handing him a simple, small envelope, “your turn.”
I’ve always been one to do things a bit differently whenever I give a gift, and this one to him was a perfect example.

“What’s…what’s this? A card?” he asked as he opened the envelope, pulling out this Marianne-made card. No computer back then to whip one up as people can do today. Nope. After opening up this envelope, he pulled out the simple folded piece of paper with words I had written on the front.

“Just make sure you read it out loud,” I said. He then began.

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He read it again, with a more serious look on his face. Then he looked up and saw me smiling from ear to ear. Looking on the inside of the card he saw the picture I put together that helped explain the poem.

 

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Slowly, he began smiling.
“You mean…are you…are you pregnant?”

The atmosphere in that room ignited with words such as “Really?” “Wow!” and “When’s it due?” And then explaining this wonderful news to our daughters came next by using the well-known saying, “There’s a baby in my tummy.”

Telling my husband I was expecting was a gift he sure wasn’t expecting!
That simple card with that simple poem turned out to be the best gift that year, and not just for him, but for us all.

3 Things I Learned from My 30-Year High School Reunion.

Recently I have been thinking of the number one thing I’ve been thankful for, thus causing me to show an older blog. It is so helpful to remember how your heart felt inside when you were lost, and then found.                                                                                             (note- I shared this peace during the summer of 2015)

 

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Graduation Memories

Yep. The big 3-0 was this last weekend. Now stop right now. I’ll save you trouble and do the math for you. I’m 48. Great time recognizing most of the faces. Just don’t ask me if I could instantly pop their names out. As I looked at each face, I couldn’t grin enough. Before I wrote in my journal today about that reunion, I couldn’t help but look into my older journal that holds all of my high school thoughts. Reading my last writing that school year I must share.

 

May 14, 1985

“Well, it’s the annual look at the diary and it looks like it’s been a while since I last wrote.  A quick update. I graduate from Highline High school in twenty-nine days. I’m Eighteen years old and no, life is not easier at eighteen. I have my own car, a Capri. Attend O.S.C. (Occupational Skills Center) for the Visual Communication class. Work for Doug Fox Travel driving people to and from the airport while also being a ball girl for the Seattle Mariners. I will be going next year to Highline Community College and…..”
– Here. Let me stop. All sounds pretty great don’t ya think? Well… the next sentences alters that sound just a hair.
“…But I am more confused about the love life. …….I have spent the last weekend visiting my best friend and her college dorm life. Now listen, love is confusing. As the song goes ‘I’m Hooked on a Feeling’ after that one weekend and the guy I met there. But I do come to see that I’m to the point where who ever shows any liking for me will win. UG! …I’m on my journey to understanding Christianity and what Jesus can do for me. With my two best friends being religious now, it’s all just kinda weird but I’m learning. . . . . Is living with love important? Do I depend on finding love too much. God will reward me but when? I guess love does not come with a $145 prom dress or dreaming with a slow song. What’s the Answer? I shall write again. Maybe when my questions are answered.”

My next writing was 1 1/2 years later and boy, my questions were sure answered.

January 2, 1987
“How to even begin explaining the past year and a half. The best way to explain is that I got the answer to my last journal writing questions. I am a new creature and will be rocking for Jesus for all eternity! My two best friends aren’t so ‘religious’.  We are all Sisters-In-Christ now! Being Nineteen years old, I now can grab a hold of God and leave the world and my hunt for love behind”

Yep – My hunt for love had ended because God showed me that the most important love I could ever find would be from Him. And even then, I didn’t have to hunt for that; He gave it to me. He chose me. He had me first feel what sin truly was. My heart, soul, and mind felt heavy all of a sudden, realizing my sin that had built up those eighteen years. I pleaded for forgiveness. He then had me feel that feeling of forgiveness. The weight felt lifted off. Hard to describe but man, did that feel good! I didn’t then just feel, I knew I was then one of His adopted children. AMEN.

Looking back in my journal, I realized three things.
1- How thankful I am to have those precious memories on paper.
2- Thirty years go by so fast.
3- God gave me the best answers to those questions I had at the end of my senior year.

I wrote a lot more in that day’s writing but this peace you just read is by far the most important. The part that followed, however, is very important as well, being it is the topic of my memoir that, Lord willing, will be in print in the near future.

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Romans 15:13 –
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Why Keep A Journal

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Thanksgiving week is here and there are many things that have taken place this last year that have filled my heart, mind, and soul with much, yes, thankfulness. One of those is having this year gone through all my journals. First time in years that I read page after page from when I was twelve years old, in 1979, to now. Rolling my eyes with “That was ME?” thoughts occurred every few pages. So I’ve decided this Thanksgiving week to share what I wrote one year ago because it fits perfectly: Why keep a journal?

September 2015 

Many ask ‘Why keep a journal?’ My answer – Why NOT keep a journal. After all, our mind is crowded with a million thoughts every day, often times not able to sort through them. So why not take out a pen, and jot down a few of those thoughts? So often I’d feel better after throwing my thoughts down, making room for those other thoughts still wrestling around in my head. I started mine in 1979, when I was only twelve years old. Looking back at the joys, trials, frustrations and excitements I went through has been funny, sad, encouraging, and even a bit embarrassing.

Now sure, there are many reasons to keep a journal, or as I also call mine, a diary. Make an event forever remembered. List ideas for possible future needs. Jot down goals. Storing that list of joy filled happenings to encourage when things aren’t so joy filled. Perhaps it’s geared toward improvement in a certain area of your life.
Tons of reasons. But for me, I’ve kept my journal for two.
1) To never forget what I never want to forget. (a sweet and simple reason don’t you think?)
2) To see what and how God nudged, pushed or carried me through the different stages in my life.
Number two wasn’t my reason when I started it at that tender age, that’s for sure. But now? You bet it is. Seeing what God had done for or to me, throughout all these years, could easily be the best reason I’ve kept it.

Are you curious what my forever favorite part from all of my journals have been? The last time I wrote before God opened up my heart, making me one of His, to the first time writing after He saved me. That time in-between those two writings was the most important part of my life. All the writings before and after are like night-and day. The old me and the new me

 (Those two journal entries are shared  HERE )
Now don’t think all my writings after wards have been all peachy-keen, happy with a capital ‘H’, full of joy, peace, over flowing about God’s blessings on every page. Far from it. Yes, there was that throughout, but right along with trials, sorrows, frustrations, and that occasional feeling of giving up. Yes, a few tears I also remember shedding as I wrote at different times. But thankfully, just a page or two later, my diary showed how God brought something or some happening my way, causing me again to count my blessings. It’s noticeable how trusting Him grew as years went by.

So let me encourage you to keep a journal for this one reason. To forever remember the small, medium, and large blessings God has brought your way and how He held you in those tougher times. Now sure, those huge blessing aren’t so hard to remember but those small ones? Write them down.

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I guess I just want to share, with those of you here, how good it can be to have, on paper, how God intertwines in your thoughts. Remembering how He held you through tough times, as He also grinned ear-to-ear with you during those joyous times, can be a great page turner. What’s also valuable is noticing how you felt about Him years ago vs. how you feel about Him now, noticing how that love has grown.

So if you have a journal going already, keep it going. So glad I’ve kept mine going now for 36 years. And if you haven’t? Well, it’s never too late.