Marianne Petersen

Blessings Wrapped Around My Unplanned Pregnancy – Part 2

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My soon-to-be published memoir shares my before, during and after unplanned pregnancy experience. Having already shared bit’s and pieces of that life changing soap opera, I now want to explain how God knew I needed to sense He was there with me as time went on. 

My last writing (1*) shows God’s guidance through an unanswered phone call. It was sort of that first little tap on my shoulder from God saying, “Don’t worry Marianne. I got ya covered.” Okay, maybe not in those exact words, but looking at it now, that’s how I see it.

Here’s another one of my past writings to show God’s second way He showed me He was there. It occurred right after taking that pregnancy test. (2*)   I know some have not read it yet so it’s now a must, or if you have, then read it again to know what story I’m talking about. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

(I’ll just go grab some hot cocoa while I wait till you’re done)

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Now that you’re back, I think you will agree why, after all these years, I’ll never forget those few minutes. God made sure I, in a way, felt His own hug, showing me He too was there.

Let me encourage all who now or have gone through any trial. You may not really have noticed right then and there His presence, but if your heart, soul and mind seek after Him, there’s a good chance you’ll be realizing He is or had been holding you all along. And if you’re at all like me, you’ll never forget it. 

1Peter 5:6-7  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Deuteronomy 31:8  And the Lord, He is the One with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.

To be continued –

(1*) – Last weeks story 

(2*) Click here to read the second way God showed He was there. 

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Me, Myself and I, Before, During and After-part 5

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My last sentence from my last post –  God decided that evening, during that song, to unlock someone’s heart: mine  – I will now explain.

We all have our favorite songs. You know, the ones that really get you thinking as it digs deep into your heart. The one that opens your eye to a very important part of yourself and may even cause a tear or two to form. Why do I bring that up? That happened to me thirty-two years ago when I was eighteen at a college age Christian retreat. (1*) But one thing was different. The song wasn’t what changed my thinking. The singers voice, words, or music weren’t digging into my heart, soul, and mind. Jesus was.

Shortly after she started singing, for some strange reason I began picturing in my mind a man’s somewhat generic-looking face behind my shoulder, looking straight at me, quietly saying a few times, “I love you.” 

What in the world? It kind of looks like Jesus is saying that directly to me!

Hard to explain, but it was as if  He was giving me a little tap on the shoulder, getting my attention, letting me know He loved me. I repeat, hard to explain. 

 Man, oh, man, something is totally happening!

Now, just for the record, I’m not at all one to encourage the world to let emotions take over. Our emotions can be so misleading. I wasn’t as aware of this fact back then as I am now, but I still knew enough to know that it wasn’t any overly exploding emotion that caused all this. I just know one thing: something happened.

What’s happening? Nothing’s really great about this lady’s way of singing, and it’s not like the words of this song are really an emotion grabber. So WHAT’S GOING ON?

So many Bible facts I grew up with, plus the things I had been hearing those last few day about Jesus dying for sinners, finally clicked. He died for MY sins. It was as if God put a key in the door that opened my heart, allowing me to see how undeserving I am of that love. Right then I felt like dirt. Right then I felt I needed His forgiveness for how sinful and selfish I had been those eighteen years. 

I then began feeling this full load of sin taken off my back, being replaced with forgiveness and love. I felt broken, but then repaired. Man, what a refreshing feeling. Sure, I had never killed anyone and was, for the most part, a clean-cut girl, but now I knew that wasn’t enough. Finally, the few things I had heard from other believers and some of the messages given that week made sense.

It was as if some light that I was trying to find finally sparked! I was face-to-face, looking at that light. 

I finally began understanding what this ‘new heart’ thing meant! Wow! When that song was almost over I leaned over and whispered, “Willma! Something special just happened! I feel different,” while digging down by my feet thinking, WHERE’S MY CAMERA?

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To be continued.

1* – Click here to read my last post.

Ephesians 3:19 – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

 

A Glimpse Into My Memoir

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Time I share a piece from my memoir called God and My Pillow.  Why? I’m excited, that’s why! I’m in my next phase of getting my memoir into the hands of people I want to encourage as they go through their own unplanned pregnancy. My other reason is to give my fellow readers a small taste of what took place when I was nineteen years old, a new follower of Christ, thinking I was ready for the world before I discovered I was pregnant. I want to get your curiosity to grow more and more to the point that you think, “I HAVE to have her book in my own hands when it’s out.”

Note – this takes place close to one year after God graciously saved me, having attended a Baptist church that year.

——————

As months went on, church was still great, and I was getting closer to the people there. But besides that, nothing kept me from taking the offer Debbie, an older friend of mine in California, made. 

“Oh, Debbie, I really don’t feel like wasting time with such useless classes. Plus, home here with Mom and Dad sure isn’t full of fun,” Plus, here in town, my sister Janis’s five-year-old daughter, Brenda, was very ill and it was questionable how long she had to live. Perhaps only a few months.

“Well, you could come stay with me for a while and see what happens,” Debbie said. “I’d love to help. It would be cool, us sharing my apartment.”

 The phone cord kept me from bouncing on my bed.  “Hey, I love that idea! Why not?” We discussed how to make it work and how, after finding a job, I’d then help pay the rent. Perfect plan! I knew, of course, how I’d need to find a church, knowing I needed God in California just as much as I needed Him in Normandy Park, Washington.

      I felt mature enough (as I bet most nineteen year olds do) to leave home, and got all excited thinking about the possibilities. The timing was perfect, as I was finishing my second quarter and the beautiful spring-like feel was at hand. My parents were not so gung-ho, but being that I was nineteen, they couldn’t stop me and, thankfully, they trusted me. They felt I wouldn’t be stupid enough to do something foolish. My brother Bud, living close to where I’d be, helped my parents feel more comfortable with the plan.

Finally…

I can’t believe it. My last night at home. I’m sure it’ll all go fine. It has to go fine. It’ll be interesting living with Debbie, but she’s so sweet. I bet she’ll help me find a job since she knows what’s around there. Weird leaving Seattle, but I can’t wait to see what it’s like living in California. Hope I find some cool place to work. Maybe cuter guys are there, too. Wonder how nervous I might get being on my own to find a church. Glad I’m all packed so I can start driving first thing in the morning. Pretty sure I have that big map in the car already. (Yep, no cell phone Google Map back then.) 

God, please help me know what I’m doing.

I was ready to take off in my own little car the next morning.

God, gas, and a bag of chips: check. Map, clothes, toothbrush, Bible, oh, and, of course, my pillow: check. Goodbye, house, goodbye, Mom and Dad. Goodbye, you little town of Normandy Park. Hello, new world!

 

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A taste of what took place when I was nineteen years old. Oh, I’m sorry. I mean nineteen years young, when I began a trip that changed my life.

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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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.

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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.