Marianne Petersen

The Word ‘Thankful’ All Folded Up – part 2

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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.

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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.

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

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.

Why Start a Blog?

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Ever ask that question, why people start a blog? Here are a few of the many reasons I found:

1- To market or promote something

2- To establish oneself as an expert

3- To connect with people with similar interests

4- To make a difference

5- To stay active or knowledgeable in a field or topic

6- To make money

I’ll now add the reason that caught my eye: 

7- To help others.

Why did I notice that the most? Because that is the reason I have.

These types of blogs are written to help people going through similar situations as the writer has experienced. Many parenting and marital blogs are written, along with health and financial guidance. Many topics can fit into that ‘help people’ category. Everyone wishes to find blogs that encourage, guide, help, and even bring a smile. Well, that’s my goal.

One verse I strive to follow is from Matthew 7:12, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

Being as I craved encouragement from other Christians during my unplanned pregnancy, those who truly could understand, I want to do unto others who are also looking for that. Thus, my blog.

I needed to read about Christians who felt like giving up but hung on. Thus, my blog for others needing that kind of encouragement. I wanted help finding a possible light at the end of my tunnel. Thus, again, my blog is written to bring that light to others.

Throughout many years, different women were asking for my story to help themselves, a family member, or a friend. Finally, after many requests, my story got underway to become a book. (*1)

I started my blog to help you, the reader, feel a face-to-face connection if you are going through these same type of ordeals. (*2) (*3)Even if it’s not an unplanned pregnancy, or a very tough illness, but something else is causing you to be anxious or worried, I hope my writings can help. 

One piece of hope I want to share in this post comes from a verse that was brought to my attention through a book I’m reading. I remember this often for the two ordeals I went through. Much peace it’s given me.
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Unexpected events can sure pull us out of our comfort zones, dragging us in a way that might hurt for a while. We could be one that feels very little, if any, speck of peace. Just try to remember, God’s plans are perfect. He understands and has reasoning for it all. That fact alone can help us re-animate our lifeless dreams. Clinging to God, who holds His children tight, gives rewards that can be astounding.

An unplanned pregnancy,  a brain damaging illness, or any tough trial is not the end of your life; it just might be the miraculous beginning.

I am going to be bold and ask anyone who’s willing to share this post/blog with your followers. Share it somehow, some way, believing it just might reach someone who needs encouragement or a listening ear.

Thank you.

*1 – Click to read what got my to start my book.

*2- click to read about my unexpected pregnancy.

*3 – Click to read about my getting hit with the illness Encephalitic. 

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.

 

Treadmill + Math = Hope

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I’ve shared a bit these last few weeks of what went on inside that hospital when it was discovered I had brain damage from what’s called encephalitis. Twenty-five years ago is when the hospital had become my new home, since I was not remembering much of anything before the illness hit me. But what about my family and friends?  Something about having their own friend, daughter, sister, mom, or wife in the hospital, with brain damage, put a big dent in their Christmas joy. A few even told me it was the toughest Christmas season they had ever had.

Cassie, our three-year-old daughter, however, was actually having a ball. A few families from church who had children her age graciously let her stay at their homes. That sure helped to keep her mind off of what wasn’t making sense to her: me.  My mother, mother-in-law, and a dear family from church helped immensely with watching our six-month-old baby. All this comfort and support took a load off of Chris, as his heaviest problem was taking in all the information he was obtaining from the doctors. Everything he was finding out about me was shadowing him with fear and tears, since he didn’t know if I would remember what being married even meant.

I, however, had no idea what was going on outside that room. I just stayed in my bed, listening to the doctors as they tried to get my body and brain functioning as close to normal as possible. 

Happy to say, there was noticeable improvement as each day went by, showing them more and more what I could remember. For example, my dearest friend, whom I had a small inclination of who she was, came by to visit one of my last days there with a Diet Coke in her hand. I was excited when I saw that because I recognized it! I gazed up and down while as I read everything on it. Not sure what diet meant, or what pop even was, but man, oh, man, was I glad I remembered something about that can.

Were those days difficult? Yes. Sad? Yes. Worrisome for many? Yes. But thankfully, the doctors could tell that physically I was getting back to normal, so they allowed me to begin jogging on a treadmill a few times each day. I loved it! They then added one thing to that.

“As you’re jogging, look at this screen. Tell us what these things called numbers make you think.”

Up on a screen I saw…r-math-education-large570-570x200

2+2 =

4+3 =

6+4 =

9+3 =

I was a little confused at first, but it was only a few minutes until it clicked.

“4; 7; 10; 12.”

“Good job!” I then did more with longer lists. “Wow! You answer those fast.” I’ll never forget how overjoyed I felt. Giving the correct answers gave them more proof that my brain was holding memory from my past.  There was hope!

This illness could have caused many physical problems. One main factor of what effects would show was where in the brain the illness hit. Thankfully, the area it hit me did not cause any permanent physical damage. To this day, God hears me thank Him for keeping me from most of the physical problems it could have caused.

I can’t help but think how, in the Bible, Paul, himself, had a physical ailment. It shows how he was at the same time “sorrowful” yet still “rejoicing.” And that’s how I am to this day about what hit me. My brain suffered much, yes, but I do find thankfulness wrapped up in it all with the fact I stayed physically intact. But more so because God has used it to confirm I am one of His. Even though it wasn’t understandable to me at the start, I knew there was something special between me and this man named Jesus. 

We all need to recognize, like Paul, that peace can exist during a trial somehow, somewhere. It may take a while to find, but it’s there. We just need to keep our focus on Christ and what’s right in order to have joy in our ‘Why, God?’ trials.

Can you share any story of your own about how a speck of peace was felt during a tough time? We all need to be reminded that peace and trial can go hand-in-hand.