My ‘Thank You, Lord’ List Grows-part 1

Thank you, Lord

Thankyoulord1Three words that fit together perfectly throughout your life. I bet most of you can instantly think of a situation that stands out, your smile intertwining within those words, right?  Now, think of the toughest time you’ve ever gone through. I bet there wasn’t much smiling from ear to ear while thanking God when that story was taking place. My unplanned pregnancy is a perfect example of that. (1*)

Back then, nineteen years old and pregnant, a smile on my face was hard to find. Was I, in the midst of it all, thanking God? Far from it. My pillow got drenched with tears more often than I’d like to remember those first few months pregnant. Peace was growing, however, inch by inch, after the toughest load of uncertainty got lifted off my back. A new me began the day my almost-husband moved back to California. (2*)

It’s hard to describe the peace that was beginning to form inside: me, my baby, and God—a perfect threesome of what I needed to focus my energy on. Accepting that fact was helping this new reality of becoming a mother not so hard to face. Not peachy-keen, mind you, because there I was, not even twenty, pregnant, and believing my hope of going to college was history. I was living with my parents, drowning in an overflow of questions on how to even be a mom, far from thanking God for all I was going through. But at least all that had been uncertain now had a bit more peace surrounding it. I wasn’t saying “Thank you, God, that I’m pregnant,” mind you, but ‘being with child’ wasn’t bringing me down nearly as much.

I was feeling more positive, thanks to conversations with those from church, along with solid preaching and constant love and support shown by my family.

Verses like Ephesians 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. – began sinking in.

‘All things work together for good’… Did that mean I was going to have a picture-perfect pregnancy and delivery, have the cutest baby who, once home, would sleep seven hours every night, and after being discovered, become a Gerber’s model, thus make millions of dollars? Of course not.

Paul wrote ‘for good’ to mean that the Lord intends all our circumstances, both good and bad, to be tools to help us get closer to God and grow more and more into the likeness of Christ. I may not have grasped all that right then and there, but I did sense, like I said, more peace was beginning to form as time went by. I was realizing that God allows all things that happen to those who seek after Him. The circumstances sure did not seem best for me at the time, but God designed and used the circumstances to be for my good. A hard fact to accept sometimes, but still true.

And sure enough, I could sense God by my side more and more in my pregnancy, which caused my faith to grow. Faith-it-does-not-make-things-easy-it-makes-them-possible.-LukeI began clinging to His promises more, by faith, which led me to sense more of His help, which then caused more faith, had me see MORE of His help, then MORE faith, then, well… one of those snowball effects, in a way.

I’ll share in my next writing what practical blessings stood out as months passed. This list has stuck with me now for years, still amazed at all He obviously did for me during that pregnancy, and why my pillow began to hear me think ‘Thank you, Lord’ more often.

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Romans 8:39 basically tells us that nothing big or small… “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

To be continued.

Unplanned Pregnancies – Then vs. Now

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What was a typical day like for your average nineteen-year-old thirty years ago? When you woke up, you were glad there was nothing electronic close at hand to open up the world to you. You, alone, away from it all…perfect. Once awake, you’d turn on your favorite radio station or you’d rewind your cassette to hear your favorite Billy Joel, Whitney Houston, or Lionel Richie song again.

You were thrilled your parents got that extra-long phone cord so you could, at last, leave the kitchen and walk into the bathroom to talk to your friends.

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“Well, then call me as soon as you get back home. I have to tell you something,” or “If no one answers, I’ll call later. Just make sure you are by a phone when home,” were statements often said.

 It was hard to decide which one of those six stations to watch on that big, boxy TV.

You loved grabbing the delivered daily newspaper your parents had on the kitchen counter to check movie times.

Later on, it was time to put eighty-nine-cents-per-gallon gas in your stick shift before picking up a few friends, grabbing ninety-nine-cent double cheeseburgers at McD’s before watching the movie called Star Trek lV, or The Voyage Home, that cost a whopping $2.75 to see. That’s what life was like for me when I was nineteen.

Until, that is, I found out I was pregnant. (1*) Life was so different back then, and I felt so alone. I’m certain many women feel like that even today, but because of the way we now have such easy access to helpful information, I think it’s safe to say, thankfully, that not quite so many feel as alone as I did.

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There were no cell phones back in 1986, so, when sitting in my car, away from the world,  I couldn’t secretly look up information on where to get a pregnancy test.

 No laptops, I-pads, or cell phones to tweet #unplannedpregnancies. No opening up your laptop to type in www.crisispregnancy.com, either. No putting in ‘first trimester’ to get a long list of websites covering the subject. I would have loved to have found a Facebook group for Christians going through an unplanned pregnancy, or Twitter to find encouraging verses and quotes. But no. I felt like I was in my own little world, not able to connect with any Christians who had been, or were, going through what I was experiencing. I now know that if I did not have my church family during that time, I would have gone bonkers. But still, there was no one to Skype with who could look at me, face-to-face, and say, “Let’s talk. Believe me, I know what it’s like and how you’re feeling.”

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Unplanned pregnancies can be dealt with quite a bit differently now than thirty years ago. Now, you can get info about anything from anywhere. Heck, you can even get your best help or support from total strangers all around the world! I’m sure I would have been getting information and insight from my I-phone, I-pad, or I-mac. (Yes, you can call me an I-fan!) There are also more organizations that have opened their doors for needed tests, information, and support.

For years, I put off writing my story being as so much had changed since I was pregnant. Then it hit me. Unplanned pregnancies are still that: un…planned…pregnancies. They were the same back then as they are now: an unexpected shock to women, followed by overwhelming emotions and stress for all involved. Once realizing this, I then decided—with encouragement from others—to write my book, showing what I went through. (2*) Yes, the means of getting helpful information about this type of pregnancy may now be different, and the number of people you are able to connect with who are going through the same thing can sure help one feel less alone, but overall, we’re still the same. Back then and now, our hearts and minds are where our feelings and thoughts are stored.

And God’s the same, as well! That’s the best fact. He has not changed how He carries those who follow Him. He sure carried me then and He sure carries His children now.

Hebrews 13:8: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Sure, He might now use that perfect website to guide you in what help or information to get.  I just know I’d never change what He used to guide me to what was best.

The good old yellow pages. (3*)

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1* – Click here to read what it was like when I took the pregnancy test.

2* – Click here to read what got me to write my book

3* Click here to find out how the yellow pages fit into my story

The Hardest Phone Call to Make – part 2

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One last re-showing of a few past blogs to get all up to par of where I’m at with my story. This piece shares writing directly from my book about my unplanned pregnancy which I dealt with when I was nineteen years old. The title is God and My Pillow because those are the only two who really knew all of my heart, soul, and mind during this difficult time. My last post shared what got me to finally make the hardest thing I’ve ever had to make: a phone call.   Click here  to read that post.

Ring, ring. Ring, ring. Ring, ri…

“Hello.”

It was him. It hit me hard.  It’s him.

“Hello.”  Does he recognize my voice?  “Is this Greg?”

“Yes, it is. Is this… Marianne?” I could tell from his tone of voice that he was surprised.

“Yes, it is.”

“Oh. Well, hello.”

Should I talk about the weather for a spell? No.

“If you’re wondering why I’m calling, I’m… I’m  calling to let you know… I’m pregnant and that the… the baby is yours.”

Silence.

“You’re–pregnant?” A little space between those words.

“Yes.”

Silence. I knew I needed to allow him a little time to breathe and come out of shock, but finally I had to say something. I said, a bit slower than normal, “So, what are you thinking?”

His answer showed that he didn’t know what in the world to think. I was rather bold, and told him right up front that an abortion was not an option. I could tell he was disappointed, but thankfully he didn’t make a big deal about that decision.  A sudden trap, I’m sure he felt.

We ended the talk by agreeing to go through this together, but that he would wait to hear from me on what I decided to do. I was a bit sad that there was no bold, mature, adult response like, “No matter what, I’m right by your side and will aim at making this the best thing for us both. I love you and will do anything that’s best for our baby. I’m eager to meet your parents, to show them I will take care of us all.” Instead, he had a more of a “yeah, whatever” attitude. I just told myself that it was better he be that way than have some selfish, mean, I don’t care attitude. He agreed it was his responsibility to do something, even if it meant we would get married and keep the baby.

Me? Getting married? Now? I knew I didn’t want to decide right then over the phone, so I told him I’d get back with him in a few days. I hung up, telling myself the talk went pretty well. But I also found myself needing to find something good out of everything lately.

After hanging up the phone, I felt like hiding from the world for a while. My thoughts of deciding what to do had begun, but they were too hard to share with anyone.hommes-naiment-chez-femmes-fuir

I could give the baby up for adoption and have no connection with Greg; have the baby and not get married; or have the baby and get married. I didn’t want to hear from anyone right then and I didn’t feel like deciding. I just wanted God to tell me.

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Why am I sharing this particular part from God and My Pillow? To make up for not including more here of what followed with Greg. It’s better to wait to read what I like to call the soap-opera part of my book. I feel it’s best for my book to show how God carried me through this entire ordeal, from beginning to end, with this young man.

My story is written to help readers understand how God may decide to put you through your own soap opera, one you’re not sure you can survive. I want to show you He can, and will, get you through it, holding you tightly and never letting go.

 

(1) Click here  to read my blog prior to this one, and/or click here  to see how this entire story began.

 

 

Unplanned Pregnancy – Look Back Before Going Forward

In my next post I’ll continue sharing more of my unplanned pregnancy ordeal that took place when I was nineteen year old. Being it’s been a bit too long since I last touched on this topic, today I’m going  back a few posts to my last writing on this subject. Or, if you have not read any about my story, then why not just click right here to start reading from the very beginning of my soap opera and see how God has intertwined though out it all.

The Hardest Phone Call To Make – part 1

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So one day there I was, Marianne, nineteen years old, recently begun my new walk as a Christian with Christ right by my side as I was full of energy to face the world. The next day, however, I was that same nineteen-year-old who was now faced with an unplanned pregnancy, wanting to hide from the world.

I was relieved after telling my parents the day I found out, with an abundant amount of love from both of them softening my guilt. They showed no signs that they wanted to scratch me with any shame. They probably knew I was already holding enough shame inside.

Telling them I was pregnant still gets the title as the toughest thing I have ever had to tell anyone. Now sure, a few years earlier I had to finally tell the boss where I had been working for about four months that I was six months younger than the legal age to work there, with the result of instantly being fired from my job. That, however, was nothing compared to telling my parents I was pregnant.

Thankfully, the love expressed from my parents—along with my six older siblings—was the start of feeling that God was helping me at the beginning of this tough road I was now on.  I wasn’t encouraged enough to feel total peace in telling the entire world, however. Just my family knowing—along with my pillow, after it had soaked up my many thoughts by this point—was all I could bear for a few days. And then I told my best friend. That talk proved to me even more why she was my best friend.

I knew it best I talk to the pastor at my church, but being a Monday I found out I was pregnant, I decided to wait unit Sunday to talk to him face to face. Wondering how to tell my pastor filled much of my thoughts. But telling someone else filled up even more: the father. I became almost impossible not to think of how and when to tell my ex-boyfriend. Most of me didn’t want to tell him but I knew the smaller part of me was going to win. I had to tell him. Even though our relationship ended a few weeks before the thought of taking a pregnancy test even existed, a phone call was a must.

“Marianne,” my mother mentioned a time or twenty, “just call him and get it over with.”

bad newsI couldn’t use ‘I’m too busy’ being as I had no job or any time-consuming hobby to use as an excuse. And no way was I in the mood to just hang out with friends to fill up time. I tried my darndest to delay calling him as long as possible. Thomas Jefferson’s saying ‘Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today’  got pushed under my rug. Finally, towards the end of that week, I gave in and (gulp) called.

Ring, ring. Ring, ring. Ring, ri…

“Hello.”

To be continued.

What? I’m 50?

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Ready for a few questions? What do you think of when you put the numbers 5 and 0 together? Obviously 50. 50 minutes, 50 cents, $50, 50 pounds, 50 whatever. Why am I asking? Because this last April 1, just a few days ago, I turned the big 5-0. Wish I could say APRIL FOOLS, but I can’t. It’s true. I’m 50 years old.

Now, I could say I’m not 50, but 18 with 32 years’ experience. Or, I’m not 50, but 49.75 plus shipping and handling. But nope. I’m at peace to say I’m now 50. It’s a nice round number that slides off the tongue easier than 49. But the better reason is there’s much of life to look back on—and yet, there’s still so much more ahead. I really don’t mind being 50 because, to me, it just means one day closer being with the Lord.  

I want to share the most valuable thing I’ve learned these last 50 years: growing closer to Christ has been the best part of getting older.  The words to one of my favorite songs explain some of the reasons why, being as I shared in the past how the words of songs can mean so much to me. So heck, why not?  It’s just another perfect time to share another song. (1*)

God of All My Days by Casting Crowns. (Even the title makes it fit perfectly for my birthday.)

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Each time I hear it, I overflow with thankfulness, being reminded I am one of His chosen. That one fact has brought me more peace as each year has gone by. He’s carried me now for many years, as every day, some how, some way, shows me I am one of His.  He’s been, like the song says, the God of all my days. Or, to be exact, 599 months, 2 weeks, 2 days, 13 hours, 13 minutes and 20 seconds…and still counting.

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Pass along one of your favorite songs. I’d love to see which ones stand out to you.

1* Check out this older post that explains my love for music.                                                         

2* Click here and listen to Loving My Jesus by Casting Crowns. Believe me, you’ll see why this song stands out to me.

 

God’s Timing Is Perfect Even If It Means Ice Cream Might Melt

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I’d like to share another time when God showed me His Timing Is Perfect. (1*) (2*) One day three years ago,  back  when our budget was a bit too tight,  I tried to get back into house cleaning as I had done years earlier.

“Oh, great,”  I willingly but not so energetically thought, “Once again I’ll somehow get my name out to find new customers.”

While I was doing all I could to connect to possible customers, God was hearing me often ask for His guidance in how to connect with who.

About one week after I started giving it my all, one fall windy evening something took place. As I was pushing my grocery cart with four filled-to-the-brim bags to my car, I saw something a bit odd: a tow truck behind someone’s car parked in the disable spot with the truck driver talking to an elderly lady. I slowly walked by, hoping to hear what was going on.

“I can’t get your car to start,” said the tow truck driver, “Where would you like me to tow it?”

“Oh, my! I don’t know what to do,” was one sad elderly ladies answer, “Just tow it to my place and tomorrow I’ll have to try to figure out what I’ll do next.”

‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, one of my favorite verses, came to mind. I began pondering.

One thought came to mind while trying to ignore the fact that the ice cream in one of my bags was melting.

“Um…excuse me but I couldn’t help but hear what the problem is. I have a suggestion.”

“Please, tell us!”  they both replied.

“Right across the street,” I said while pointing, “is the auto repair place I take my car. I know them well. They are closed now but how about you tow the car there, we both leave a note, and in the morning talk to them about your car. I’ll also offer to take you and your food to where you were headed, assuming it’s close by?”

Both mouths dropped.

“And if you have no way to get it after it’s fixed, maybe I can take you back to pick your car up.”

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“Wow, You mean that? You’ll really help me. You’re an angel!” the elderly lady said. “Oh, thank you so much!”

“That sure sounds good to me,” said the truck driver.

After dropping the car off, getting her and her food in my car, we both chit chatted a mile a minute. All went great as I took her only a few miles to her place.

“Can’t wait to see her face when she sees my plans,” God must have been thinking, because it turned out this dear lady lived at a retirement apartment complex. No way was I going to let her carry all her stuff up to the 4th level.  As I walked into that building, seeing a few elderly people walking around, one even needing a walker, a thought began to form.

Hmmm – I bet people here could sure use someone to clean their places. I just might look into this.

I asked the lady her thoughts about that while in the elevator.

“There sure are people who would love for you to do that. You’ll get quite a few! I promise.”

That next day, when picking her up to go get her car, I had a poster all ready to pin up in the main office’s wall, informing those living there about my cleaning service. That evening I got my first of many calls! God must have been grinning each time I answered the phone those first few days. Why?  Because I kept thinking that Gods timing of me coming out of that store was perfect, and that helping that dear older lady was far more important than keeping some ice cream from melting.

1*  Click here for God’s Timing Is Perfect #1 – Even when you’re scared.

2* Click here for God’s Timing Is Perfect #2 – A little love story.

Unforgettable Forgettable Pictures

There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.

—Marie Antoinette

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Memories. Memories can be tough sometimes. Sure, everyone has things here and there they don’t remember. But for me, I only had things here and there I DID remember when I walked into that new hospital to help me recuperate after being hit with encephalitis. (*1)

My stay at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, Washington, was much different than the first one I had stayed in close to three weeks before. Different types of therapists had well-structured class times in different rooms, covering different subjects, day after day. Much of my time was still spent in my room resting, because the more I had to work so hard to think caused me to get worn out. Believe me, I really appreciated my room.

Here’s a sample of what one of my many classes was like.

“Marianne, for starters, I’m going to hold up little pictures of things that are very common to most people,” my speech therapist said while holding up a photo taken from newspaper ads. “Let’s see if you can tell me what it’s called.” 

Looks easy, right? Wrong.

Of course, I don’t remember that exact first picture I was shown, but I’ll never forget how I felt: dumb.

Here’s one of my common responses. 

“I think I know what it is, but I’m not sure. What’s it called?”

The first time seeing each card was almost impossible. Usually, though, after being told what it was called, along with what it was for, it would finally click! I remembered the name…for a few seconds, anyway. I’d say it a few times over and over. Next, a new card. Once again, she told me the name and explained what it’s for. Then, oh, darn it, that first one again. Great. Back to square one.

“Don’t worry, Marianne,” she said, “This is very normal. Trust me, it will get better.”

Slowly but surely, as minutes went by, I remembered the names of the items. Then she added a third picture. Then a fourth. Not too hard anymore to swiftly see one, say its name, do the next, and then the next. 

I felt so much better at the end of that first class.

Don’t get your hopes up like I did, because the next day I came close to starting from scratch. I remember how sad I felt after seeing that first picture. But thankfully, that day I got them all down a lot faster, even adding more. It put the day before to shame, making me one happy camper.

“Soon you’ll have no problem remembering what it’s called the first time you see it!”

YIPPIE!

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These are actually a few of those original pictures I was given to take home. They probably assumed that years later I’d like to reminisce on how sweet and simple my thinking was. Why the names of each with the photo? Days later, once it had become easy for me to say the name of each, then the hard part – writing down what they were called. Not fun.

But my speech therapist  wasn’t done, and continued. “I do need to warn you that often, as soon as you try to say some words out loud in a sentence, that word may suddenly seem to disappear,” She told me that is an effect because of what happened to my brain. Thankfully, she then taught me how to describe things in such a way that would hide my new problem.

As an example, she showed me a picture of a dog. Now, in 2017, I can say dog without any thought, but back then, dream on. (Just don’t ask me now what KIND of dog.)

“So instead of telling your friend ‘I love your new… oh, sorry, I can’t remember what that type of animal is called,’ say something like ‘I love your adorable new family member.’ Does that make sense?”

“You mean, I can still sound like I know what I’m talking about even though I don’t know the right word?”

I never forgot how relieved I felt. There was hope. That was the best advice I think I got the entire two weeks I was there. Seriously, at least once a day, I still hide the fact I can’t pop that word out I had just thought. I am proud to say, I have mastered that skill. 😉
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I saved this one picture for last being I still have to think about this here batch of cool threads often used for knitting.

1* Click here to read how all this started