Encephalitic

The Word ‘Thankful’ All Folded Up – part 3

back pocket

Did you ever predict you would learn something but didn’t know what the lesson might be? That was me a few years back. After a few tougher-than-normal trials had taken place, I grasped the fact that I would learn something from them, but just wasn’t sure what. Here, let me explain.

As my last two posts shared, (1*2*) two somewhat life-changing ordeals had my thoughts of thankfulness all folded up and tossed in the back pocket of my jeans. (Pictorially speaking, of course.) But God guided me to understand that He was writing the story and had bigger plans I couldn’t yet see.

As years went by, I took a few verses to heart: Proverbs 16:9 A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

So, I waited…and waited…and yes, waited, as our family of four turned into a family of six. I had shared my unplanned pregnancy and illness story with many by this time. As each year passed, comments of “You should let others know about what God did for you” kept popping up. Slowly but surely, the question of why I’m thankful for these trials was beginning to get answered.

First, my pregnancy. An older post shares how different comments and requests to share my pregnancy were God’s way to get that story in writing; thus my book, God and My Pillow. (3*) Helping others going through that same ordeal is now a must, knowing God’s been encouraging me from the start.

In another older post (4*) I shared about connecting with that encephalitic support website, meeting others who had gone through the same type of illness. Being it was years after I was hit with encephalitis, having experienced for some time how that illness can affect your life, I wound up encouraging others who were recently hit with similar brain damage. Phone calls and skyping I began using.  They needed to hear from one who had experienced what they were, at the time, dealing with. A book is now in the making to cover that, in hopes of encouraging those, showing how God held me and how He can hold them as well.

Hearing others tell me how helpful these efforts have been has caused me, in a way, to be almost thankful for these two events. I appreciate so much more now, knowing that if you never experienced pain, sorrow, and hurt, you would never recognize good health, the simple joys in life, and just how precious having Christ by your side can be.  Most people have had their share of hard times and I’m certain they are far from over. But instead of being sad, frustrated, and/or angry about them, I hope my stories help others pull that little piece of paper with the word ‘thankful’ on it out of their back pockets too. 

1-thessalonians-5-16-18

God, a Stranger, and My Tears – part 1

Fast forward ten
10-years-logoyears from the snowy day in December when I had that seizure. Yes, I can share much of what went on during those years, but I can’t. I mean, I can, but before I do, I’d rather show how, about ten years later, God used a total stranger to help me.

But first I need you to do something. Imagine you went through a huge life-changing ordeal that came out of the blue, hit you hard, and altered your normal way of thinking. Now, imagine what it would be like if, for years, no one could fully understand how hard it was for you in remembering names of very common things, places, and people. What if, day in and day out, week after week, month after month, and yes, year after year, you often had to think twice as much before you said things that, for most others, were easy to remember and say? And what if that illness was rare enough that finding others with that ailment was impossible? Well, readers, that was me. For years I had not talked to one person who had the same illness, who could fully understand what I was going through. A few years after my illness hit I did meet one man who sort of had a memory problem from an accident, but still, not the same.

“I have a taste of what it’s like forgetting names,” people often said (and still say). No, you really don’t, soon became the first thought that followed (and still is).

As years went by I got used to it, thankfully, as God used family and friends to show me love and support. They cared and were patient when I couldn’t just pop so-and-so’s name out or say what the movie was called I had seen the night before, or when I used simple words in explaining things.  However, it still was hard not knowing even one like-minded (literally) individual who could truly understand what it was like.

Speaking of God, He knew it was finally time to do something on one particular day. An unforgettable phone call came from a dear friend out of town.2000px-Map_symbol_telephone_02.svg

“Marianne, I told a friend yesterday about you having had Encephalitis ten years ago. She wants to talk to you because her teenage daughter had it.”

My eyes got bigger. “Really?”

“Yes. She was wondering if she could call you. Can I give her your number?”

“REALLY? Oh, my word! You sure can!”

Later that afternoon. Ring, ri… (yes, I was patiently waiting with my phone close at hand.)

“Hello.”

“Hi. I was wondering if I can talk to Marianne Petersen.”

Now, you might be asking why I titled this God, a Stranger, and My Tears. This post told you about God and only introduced the stranger who called, but I’ll tell you about my tears on my next blog. Right now I just want to share one of the two facts I learned that day: God just might, when He knows it’s best, use a total stranger to lift us up.

Life, as we all know it, can be tough, and for me dealing with remembering things sure was. But God knew I needed a lift, and used a total stranger to do just that. He knows that for you as well. Time is never meaningless for Him. He is not ignoring His children. He’s just waiting for that perfect time, and perhaps that perfect stranger, to show us that He does care. I tell you, that phone call sure showed me that as He often heard me pray for help and encouragement. God, our Father, loves to do that. He loves to sometime surpass anything that His children can ever think could happen.

The apostle Paul said that when we pray, God does that which goes beyond what we ask for or even think about. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Like I said earlier, my next blog will share the second fact I learned. But before I close, let me give you a clue. God has a purpose behind  problems He’s put before you.