God and My Pillow

The Word ‘Thankful’ All Folded Up – part 3

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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. 

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Before I Faced Reality

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In my last post, I shared what took place when I found out I was pregnant.   (*1)

To this day, thirty years later, this one conversation I had stood out. No, not with how I told my parents (*2)  or the baby’s father (*3), but one unexpected conversation I had before getting home after that—literally—life-saving conversation at Crisis Pregnancy Center.

Before I drove home, I had to be by myself. The eight-minute drive home wasn’t enough. I needed more time by myself and knew just fotolia_113575568where to go before facing what was to be my new normal at home. Off to the nearby waterfront I grew up going to: the Cove. Just staring out over the water while sitting in my car was a must. I had done this many times before that day, but this time was far different. I was no longer by myself; I had a baby inside me now. But, I needed one more: God.

For the first time, I prayed for God, my ever-so-needed Father, to hold me.

Having been saved a year before this date, most of my prayers had been filled with thanks and seeking His guidance for my new look upon the world around me. But now, needless to say, my look on life ahead had changed. (Tears are forming right now as I’m sharing this, since I will never forget how I felt that day at the Cove. Yes, I felt great peace inside when I left the Crisis Pregnancy Center, but that didn’t mean I was happy-go-lucky from then on.) At the Cove was where me, myself, and I got used to the reality that I was pregnant. Me, pregnant. Me, pondering what people would think, how I’d be feeling. Me, a mom? But the question “Why, God?” umbrellaed over all my thoughts. Much discomfort inside, and no, it wasn’t because of any morning sickness.

After forty-five minutes or so, after deeper-than-normal prayer, after wiping a few tears I hoped no one noticed, I saw a guy about my age walking over. The closer he got, I realized I knew him.

Oh, no. Not now. No. Of all the times for this to happen. Please don’t come here.

A guy I graduated with the year before was on his way over. He noticed me and couldn’t help but come over to my car. I rolled my window down.

“Hi, Marianne!” He said grinning from ear to ear. “How are you? Haven’t seen you since graduation.”

What in the world was I to say?  Thankfully, he didn’t even give me a chance to answer. He began gabbing about all he had been up to. I heard about his great job, his girlfriend, and a few other things that had me thinking he had it made. I made sure I threw in the “Really?, That’s cool,” and “Oh, wow!” but at the same time thinking, He has it made; I’m pathetic compared to all that; and When will this talk end? When he finished telling me about his world, he apologized for talking all about himself.

fotolia_102843217“So, Marianne, what’s up with you?” he asked.

What in the world do I say? Like I’m really gonna say, “Hi, I just found out I’m pregnant after spending a few stupid months in California where I lost my virginity and now I have to decide what to do.”

“Well, since school ended, I…” I began, delaying as much as possible in order to figure out what to say. But God helped big time, sparing me from this discomfort.  Right then and there, the friend he was with walked up to interrupt, saying they had to go. Talk about major relief! I’ll never forget how happy I felt saying “Oh, you take off. I’ll tell you more another time when we run into each other. Bye.”  In that instant, the word ‘bye’ became my most favorite word ever, and I could now drive home, feeling a bit more at peace.

* 1 Click here on how I found out I was pregnant.

*2 Click here on how I told my parents.

*3 Click here on how I told the Father.

The Door and the New Me – part 2

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In my last writing I talked about that front door of the house I grew up in, and how it, my last few years there, symbolized new beginnings. I stepped through that door as one Marianne Houstoun and came back a different Marianne Houstoun. The second time opening that door wasn’t as joy-filled as the first time. (read my last blog HERE) This time I walked inside in such a way I never thought I would.

From kindergarten through high school I had lived in that house with my parents, siblings, and even a dog for most of those years. Thankfully, career dreams began forming my junior year of high school, and when I graduated I was determined to make that dream come true. To top that off, with the new me described in my last blog, I was ready for the world. “A career, with God by my side… LOOK OUT, WORLD!”

That is, until the following summer. I wanted to get to where I was going one morning in the blink of an eye, just to get it over with. But I also wanted it to take forever to avoid the what-ifs. The place I went to that I never thought I’d have to go. Reality hit me hard during the hour I was there, because that’s where I discovered I could no longer pursue my dream. As I drove home in a daze, I felt part of me was gone. Once home, I experienced the longest time it’s ever taken me to open that door. Me, myself, and I had left that house, but me, a rough road ahead, and my unplanned pregnancy is what slowly opened that door.

I was flooded with disbelief. “How could I have messed up like this? I’m pregnant. Why me? God, You heard me cry many times for Your forgiveness for giving in and losing my virginity. But… but why this now?” 

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Opening that door meant It was time for me to start telling the world—or at least my parents.

I knew my life was going to change when I opened that door. The only speck of peace I had when stepping inside was knowing God was still right there next to me, like it was that special door-opening-day the year before. 
But this time His fatherly arm was around me a little tighter

We all know the Lord’s plans can be difficult. However, we have to remember, as hard at it is sometimes, He will turn tough times of trials into possible blessings. Yes, blessings. Facing trials are difficult, and times do come when it feels like we’re drowning. That is, however, an essential part to grow, to mature.

Romans 8:24 is one of many verses that can encourage us.                                                     (Make sure you pay attention to the word ‘all.’)

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

If you haven’t discovered this already, you will learn that as time goes by after tougher times occur, God’s plans are perfect and His fatherly, everlasting love is there to help. When God cradles us in His arms, He might not erase the tears right then and there, but believe me, His reasons are perfect as to why we need to be held. He has many things He wants to offer if we cling to Him through that fearful, tearful time.

God Sure Can Surprise Us

Remember my blog from last week about surprising yourself. This one is being surprised at what others did. Not so much others surprising me but on how God used others to surprise me. He guided me to a certain website that would show an interest in my book, offering me to share a tidbit of it on their website. My mouth dropped when I read that request.  Yes, you shall assume this happening made it into my journal with a few exclamation points used here-and-there.

I can’t help but want to – quote – ‘share it with the world’  that God sure can surprise you if you hold to what Ecclesiastes 9:10 says. – Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.

That website is pregnancyhelpnews.com

Click here to check it out.

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Ever Surprise Yourself?

Funny how we can surprise ourselves. Have you ever done that? Yes, you might surprise others in something you’ve done or said, but have you ever done something that’s just not you, or so you thought, and surprised yourself?

About seven or so years ago I began writing a book about my unplanned pregnancy, which occurred when I was nineteen. No, starting my book isn’t the surprise I’m talking about, even though I was a bit surprised at myself when that first thought to write popped up. What surprises me was something I did shortly after I finished my book. Here, let me explain.

My unforgettable experience taking a pregnancy test, and my discovery of Planned Parenthood, are both shared in the same chapter. Yes, Planned Parenthood is in my story. Having gone through one long, windy detour in life after that pregnancy test, I now find myself more daring, gutsy, and determined. Ready to find out what I did that surprised myself? Here’s a few pictures to give you a clue.

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A beautiful day the first day.  (I’m holding that tallest sign)

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Pouring down rain the second.

Yep, I took part in not just one, but two protests, encouraging people to agree that the government needs to defund Planned Parenthood. I heard about this protest when those videos about Planned Parenthood were, one by one, being revealed, causing the uproar to begin.

One day I read the date of that first protest in October of 2015. Only a few days away.

Do I dare check my calendar? I can’t believe I’m actually thinking of doing this.

I checked.

I’m free as a bird Saturday morning! I then began pondering. Hmm. I wonder if I need to bring my own sign. Am I seriously thinking of doing this? 

I gathered more information about it.

I don’t know if anyone would or could go with me. I doubt it. Would I really do this alone? Chris will probably have to go into work this Saturday. Hmm. Where’s that poster board I saw in the basement the other day?

Don’t worry. I’m not one who hollers in people’s faces or sits down in front of buildings, telling people they have to pick me up and move me if they want me to leave. I knew these types of protests were simple, calm, and right up my alley, since my conviction of closing Planned Parenthood is undoubtedly strong.

Saturday arrived. When I was almost there, I was filled with curiosity.

What’s it going to be like joining tons of total strangers and just stand while holding signs on this busy sidewalk for two hours in front of all those stores? I finally found a place to park. As soon as I got out, seeing others with their signs, my eagerness multiplied. Having the same convictions as I, assuming most, if not all, were followers of Christ, I felt right at home. Instant comfort in that group. We all began getting set in where we would stand. Conversations started with those standing close by, sharing the stories and/or reasons that got us there to participate. But it wasn’t just the people I met that helped me decide to go to the next scheduled protest. It was the waving of all those who drove by with their thumbs up, some honking, showing us they agreed. Heck, I was even proud waving at those who didn’t agree. (I won’t say what hand sign they showed, letting us know they didn’t agree. You can probably guess.)

As I left that protest, I decided I’d want to be part of the next one a few months later. It also encouraged me with my book, as its primary purpose is to encourage those who are going through an unplanned pregnancy.

God has heard my thanks for His timing of opening the door to this event, because it helped show a side of me I didn’t know was there.  I’d encourage you to be a little daring and surprise yourself. It’s kinda fun. And pass me a note if you have participated. We can compare our surprising-ourselves experiences.

My Fourth-of-July Thought That Didn’t Finish

My Fourth-of-July Thought That Didn’t Finish –

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         A fun-filled family-and-friends Fourth of July. Say that ten times fast! This year’s celebration is now over and I’m sure many of us have stories to share. There’s one story I sure have but it’s not this year’s forth. Let’s go back a few. One certain Fourth of July thirty years ago was great, or at least I thought it would be.  But that one night of fireworks was sure different from all the ones before and all the ones after. As people were having a blast, literally, with fireworks, I asked myself this one certain question that certainly changed my life.

      Why is my period a few days late? Hmmm. That couldn’t mean I might be preg. . .

         That question stopped halfway through the last word—pregnant. My heart began to pound a bit faster. My thoughts continued. No, I can’t. Pregnant? Could I? No. Please, no. I have plans. I have goals. I can’t be pregnant.

          I wasn’t only thinking I might be pregnant, but instantly felt that if I was, I’d then be stereotyped as someone who just doesn’t know what she’s doing, and might be looked down upon by many.

          But I’m a Christian. I can’t. 

         Yep, being a Christian made me feel even worse with the possibility. Twenty-million questions were forming as I faked a smile while watching everyone else having fun. 

         “Marianne, you want to light this firework?” I was occasionally asked as I sat on one of the picnic chairs.

         “No, thanks. You guys are better at that. I’ll just sit here and watch,” while wishing I wasn’t thinking about what I was thinking about.

         Even though I was surrounded that Fourth of July night with dear family and friends, those thoughts I was having made me feel totally alone.

         The worry I felt that night placed me in the shoes which, sad to say, many go through. But back then, in 1986, I knew very few who had. That night, however, made me begin to realize how even God-fearing Christians can mess up, being that I was, at age nineteen, one of them. An instant new perspective on life began that Fourth of July.

         So why am I opening up with this story? To share what God did for and to me through this ordeal, in the hope to encourage others, no matter whats going on.  I want my story to help others realize that clinging to Him can help wipe those tears, even while perhaps bringing the best surprises their way.  

         My memoir, Lord willing, will be out sometime in the near future to show how God carried me, His child, in His arms through it all.  No easy walk, mind you, but He held me tight throughout.

Time to Define Diary

Time to Define Diary.
Time to think back. Dec 25, 1979. How long ago was that. (where’s my calculator ? There it is.)  – 36. Yep. As of today’s date, Oct 20th, 2015, that was 36 years ago. Why do I ask? Just to note that it was almost 36 years year ago I wrote my very first page in my very first diary. But first, let’s talk about the word Diary.

dictionary.reference.com defines Diary as…
Diary [di-a-ry] : Noun –
1) A daily record, usually private, especially of the writer’s own experiences, observations, feelings, attitudes, etc.

2) a book for keeping such a record.

My definition is a bit different.

Diary [di-a-ry] : Noun –
1) Something you write down, when ever you feel like it, proving your thoughts of what to write changes as more days, weeks, and years go by.
2) Something you write down showing, when read years later, just how crazy you were.

Now, do I dare share with you what my first writing was to prove my definition.                  Oh, why not.

December 25, 1979. [twelve years old]
Well diary, today was Christmas. I got a lot of neat stuff like clothes, jewelry, a carbine lamp, calendar, makeup, perfume, and a few other things. But also this diary! I’m so happy. Today my family got really close. We told jokes, played games, and brought back memories. Today was great and I hope it continues. By until tomorrow.

Awe – wasn’t that adorable? Okay, maybe not ‘adorable’ but it was the first of many times writing my thoughts down in that special note book. Sure, breaks from writing were found a few years here-and-there but for the most part, I kept it going, even to this day. But time now to show why I gave ‘diary’ the definition I did.

February 14, 1980  [two months later]
Diary – Today Beth told Jeff that I like him. Chris was there, too. Then tonight Jeff, Chris, Paul, Beth, Sue, and I went to Skate King [The roller-skating place in town] Sue was with Jeff but nothing happened. I saw my brother there skating with his girlfriend. Jeff was acting different tonight. I hope he likes me. Sue is the only thing that is between me and him and that causes problems.
That’s about it. I’ll see ya tomorrow.

WHAT ?  I was only twelve ! Only three months it took for my diary to show that other side of me. Why not just a list of cool stuff I had? Why not just things my family did? Why not more profitable thoughts I was feeling at age twelve? Sure, there was still those type writings here-and-there but, if you read page after page, you would notice what had taken over most of my thoughts. And, actually, it didn’t just start changing those three months later. Nope. More like a few weeks!

What my good old diaries do for me now, beside make me laugh, is make me wish I had even a small fraction of my thoughts back then as I do now. Simply stated, part of dating is to get to know other people when you are ready to be serious,  which is hard to do if we don’t even know ourselves. We are not yet physically or emotionally stable while we are in our early teens to begin dating. It is wise to postpone to even think about dating until we have begun to figure ourselves out. Our bodies are going through massive changes. We simply don’t need to get involved romantically before we have, well, grown up!

Of course I didn’t think back then that I wasn’t  ready to get some type of a relationship going. (Sure glad my parents did, though.) Oh, how I wish I just stuck to what my diary had started with. Cool things, family, and hopes. Or, as my diary today often includes, my leaning on Christ in tough times, and thanking Him for the blessings He has  shown.

Advice – if you want a good laugh in years to come, then start a diary now.

Dear Diary....

Dear Diary….