Christian

The Word ‘Thankful’ All Folded Up – part 2

back pocket

In my last post, (1*) I wrote about the word ‘thankful’ and how that word didn’t fit too well inside my heart as I underwent my two extremely tough afflictions. (2* & 3*) No one found me relaxed on a recliner, smiling ear to ear while thinking, “I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m so thankful God is having me go through this incredibly tough time.” Nope. Thankfulness was tightly folded up and hiding in the back pocket of my jeans.

After each ordeal took place, however, my mind knew God was in charge. I began realizing more and more that as things were getting better, I was actually thinking of pulling that Thankful sign out of my jeans and putting it on the table, but of course still folded up. As more positive things began to appear through each ordeal, I actually unfolded that paper. Sensing God’s help via family, friends, doctors, and the like, I finally decided to unfold the paper and read it each time I walked by. More thankful thoughts were growing in size and frequency. I finally got a magnet and —drumroll, please— stuck that Thankful sign up on my refrigerator!

I wasn’t becoming thankful I was pregnant, or for my month-long stay at a hospital. Not yet anyway. Thankfulness was there for feeling Christ was supporting me, caring for me, and letting me know He wasn’t just King, but my Father.

I was growing in the understanding that God is the One who puts us through what comes our way, good or bad. I was on the road that was planned by Him, whether smooth and serene, or unpaved, or one filled with countless sinkholes. I still felt a bit shattered and broken, not able to do what I had planned in life, but finally understanding that God’s plans are perfect, and that He was going to use me somehow, some way sure helped. 

Peace was growing inside as each year went by, and a few verses began to stand out.

bible

Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. 

Attached is a song – The Very Next Thing – by Casting Crowns, which shares how I had began to slowly feel as time went by, using words such as…

– With my very next step – be on the road that was planned by you

– Lord, wherever you’re leading me – that’s where I want to be

Even though I did not know which direction that path was going, thankfulness, tied with peace, permanently got pinned to my heart and I was eager to see how He might use what He put me through to serve Him.

Finally, doors were opening and I began to see what His plans were. 

– to be continued.

The Word ‘Thankful’ All folded Up -Part 1

bubbles

Think of an extra-tough time you’ve gone through. Okay, maybe not the most joy-filled request.

Now, look at the definition of thankful: 

1. Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful – grateful and appreciative

2. of, relating to, or expressing thanks – a thankful feeling – thankful words

Curious why I’m asking you to think of an extra-tough time, as well as defining what thankful means? It’s to help you understand what got me—as years went by—to be closer to actually being thankful for these two, somewhat life-changing hardships I’d gone through.   (1*) (2*)  

Thankfulness. Do I want you to think that from day one I was filled with thankfulness when my teenage pregnancy soap opera started? Or, do I want you to think I was overflowing with thanks shortly after my brain-damaging encephalitis hit, that had me unable to even understand who God was TO thank? Am I saying that that one question, ‘Why, God?’ was nowhere to be found during both of those times? Of course not. As a matter of fact, if it could have been visible, “Why, God?” would have been bubbled over my head more hours of the day than not. I bet all of you reading this have had that bubble at least once, and that it seemed, at the time, impossible to pop.

God, having saved me when I was eighteen years old, was who I gave so many thanks to, as most things went by pretty smoothly that first year before these two time periods began. This verse fit perfectly:

Ephesians 5:2 – Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

But bang, things changed. I was so young in my Christian walk when I was hit with the first of these two trials. There had only been one year of God’s word and guidance before that larger-than-life trial occurred, followed by the next one only a few years later.

Being thankful for trials, along with understanding what God’s providence even meant, were both still hard to fully understand. It was hard to even find a little drip-drip-drip of thankfulness for either. Yes, I did sense God’s Fatherly care in both, but thankfulness that He decided to have me need that care sure wasn’t standing out. The word ‘thankful’ was folded up as many times as possible, put in the back pocket of those jeans I never wore.

back pocket

I knew God was holding me, but the fact that He had reasons for it all was hard to find as those early years went by.

Hearing those common words, ‘God has reasons,’ caused me to think ‘But what ARE they?’ That question was glued in my thoughts as every day, week, and month I was pregnant went by, and especially after every day, week, and month after my illness went by.

As time did go by, however, I—how shall I say it—started wearing those jeans I seldom wore, sensing something going on in that back pocket. Something was unfolding.

James 1:12 slowly began making sense.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

To be continued.

1* First trial –  Unplanned pregnancy

2* Second trial   – Brain Injury 

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.

Scan 18

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.

anniversary

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.

 

Thank you, Lord – part 2

Thankyoulord1

There are a few different ways ‘thank you’ is used.

Thank you – Noun –                                                                                                       A conversational expression of gratitude. Telling someone you are grateful for something that they have said or done.

Who is this someone I’m referring too?

In the midst of my unplanned pregnancy at the tender age of nineteen, I couldn’t help but feel more of a need to cling to God. It was a must. My heart, soul, and mind would have overflowed with guilt if I did not feel His forgiveness of my mess up.

Thankfully, as months went by, peace began to form inside me as I soaked up the fact that God isn’t just my Lord and King, but my Father. It was impossible not to have ‘Thank you, God’ thoughts as I saw His hand here and there while my tummy grew.

Full love and support from many was noticeably expressed, and I never took that for granted. But a few other things were showing up that I gave God credit for. I’ll share a different one on each post for a while, being that they’re worth more than a few sentences to describe.

I’ve already shared in one of my first posts what the first one was, but at the time, it was far from being listed in any ‘Thank you, God’ category.   The following excerpt is from my book. See if you can guess why I’m thankful to God for what took place. 

_______________

During all the page flipping, it felt like I was a spy who was taking forever to find an important number.  I can’t believe I’m doing this. I can’t believe I’m doing this. I guess I’ll look under ‘Pregnancy Test.’ Okay, let’s see. Oh, there’s one. Planned Parenthood. This sure wasn’t ‘planned,’ but I guess I have to ‘plan’ something if I am.

That was the first one I noticed. After all, that’s what the bold wording is supposed to do, right? Make you notice. Well, it worked. I was so nervous pressing those numbers.

phone

Ring, ring. Ring, ring. Ring, ring. Ring, ring.

 

Hmmm. No answer. Darn it. They must be closed. I’ll try another one. I’ll flip back a bit and do it more in alphabetical order. Let’s see, Crisis Pregnancy Center. This sure is a crisis for me if I’m pregnant. I have to try this one.

Ring, ring. Ring, ring.

Oh, please. Oh, please be open! PLEASE be op…

“Hello. Crisis Pregnancy Center. How can I help you?”

Please tell me I’m not pregnant.  Just seeing if you are open today. Really? Right now? Thank you.” Click.

_______________________

I still thank God, thirty years later, for having that first place I called be closed. Why? Click here to find out. I encourage you to, for It explains why having an abortion wasn’t far from my thoughts. By reading it, you will discover why I thank God, to this day, for not allowing anyone to answer that first phone call. If someone did, well…I don’t even want to think about it.

A Mans Heart

More ‘Thank you God’s to follow.