memoirs

Me, Myself and I Before, During, and After.

Me-myself-and-I

In case you missed last weeks blog, here it is. It was an intro to this week’s, giving a clue to what today’s was going to be about. Notice I said it was going to be about.

I’ve decided to add a bit more before that story is given. Why? I just realized how I’d like to explain a bit more what lead up to that day, or better yet, moment. I want to share a few things to help you understand how I came to be the person that I am today, in hopes my story shows a bit more why it was one unforgettable time for me.

For starters, I had some of those normal ups and downs most have gone through: It’s officially called Growing Up. I was the youngest of seven but my two oldest siblings were already out of the house when I was about six. By that time I was living in a great neighborhood south of Seattle, Washington called Normandy Park. My parents, three brothers, one sister and, of course, Sam, our terrier dog, never complained about our decent-sized home with a beautiful yard that even had a creek down a little hill. To top it off, it was on one of those perfect dead-end streets with friendly neighbors all around. Mom stayed home while Dad worked for Boeing, a very secure, well-paying job. My mom, however, was one who loved thrift stores and  devoured those Seattle Times Sunday-morning grocery-store ads.

It seemed to me that my four siblings still at home, the oldest being thirteen years older, to the youngest only two years older, got to do so much more than I did.

“It’s not fair!” I often yelled to whomever could hear. “I never get to sit in the front seat! I’m tired of being the youngest. Mom, why can’t you take just ME to school today?”

Here is a taste of a well- known conversation:

“It’s your turn!” one of us would bark when told to feed our dog Sammy.

“No, I did it last time,” the other would reply.

“BOTH of you do it,” was our mom’s common reply.

As I write this, I can’t help but picture how David, the one closest to my age, and I often went into the laundry room, and one of us would get up on the washer to reach way up high to the shelf to grab the bag of dog treats. One time, for sure, I’ll never forget.

“Dare you to eat it.”

“You eat it first..”

“No, you.”

Back and forth, back and forth. Finally we agreed that we both try it.

“It’s not so bad!” and happily took turns giving  Sam a few of the goodies along with his normal food. I also remember being surprised when David said, “Here, I’ll get him some fresh water,” Yep. He offered without being told. Shocked I sure was.

We grew up going to a Catholic church every Sunday. I had it mastered when we would stand up, sit down, get down on our knees, stand up again, and, of course, cross ourselves. I felt almost grown up when I was old enough to take communion. Of course I felt extra special when, a few years later, I became one to help serve it. I learned from church how to be a good person and, having been baptized as a baby, that I would go to heaven. Catholicism was really the only religion I knew anything about all through grade school.

That church had a private school, which I attended from first through eighth grade. My only concern going there was why we couldn’t be like the public schools and wear whatever we wanted. The first three years I had to wear the same red-and-white striped skirt, a white button-up dress shirt and a red button-up sweater. More often than not, I made sure I wore shorts under my uniform skirt. After all, I was proud that I could jump off the swing when way up high during recess. I was not going to let my skirt keep me from showing off my skills. Such a relief in fourth grade when we were allowed to wear black pants. But still, every day? I sure wished we had more free-dress days.

Here’s one journal writing from way back then. I chose this being it doesn’t embarrass me too much.

journal-writing

 

Jan 1980 (12 years old – 8th grade)

Diary – Today was pretty lazy. Me, Mom and David went shopping for food. After that I went to the twins and played Ping-Pong. It was fun. I forgot to say I rearranged my room yesterday. It looks really awesome now. I’m also getting all set to begin taking my saxophone lessons. I hope it all works out. I have to say, too, that I hope Chuck starts liking me because I sure now like him. I keep putting off my twenty-five page report. I had better start. By until tomorrow.

I shared this now just to give a taste of the normal-ness I had before my pre-teen years.

Next time you get to read how things were going as my, gulp, teen years began.

 

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

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.

 

God’s Timing Is Perfect Even If It Means Ice Cream Might Melt

melt-report-blog-5

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.”

IMG_3133-e1414954999361

“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?

my-blog

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.
imgres

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. 

Before I Faced Reality

dsc00980

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.

That Unforgettable Drive

2017-gold-effect-on-a-black-background_1051-1032

The first week of each new year gets me thinking of what the future holds. And, it also gets me thinking of what’s taken place in the past, specifically during the first week of January in 1991.

The next part of my encephalitis illness story fits perfectly right now.  *1   

Why? Because it was during the first week of January in 1991 that I left my eighteen-day stay at Highline Community Hospital. *2

I was fine physically, but my brain was dealing with remembering a majority of what things were for, or what they were called, and what many words meant. I didn’t have to re-learn so many facts. They were all still in there, but had to be pulled out over and over again in order for me to happily say, “I know that!” Thankfully, though, it would be getting better.

Leaving the hospital on that day, I was nervous, excited, and scared at the same time. Keep in mind how that hospital—because of my illness which caused me to not retain most of what took place in the past—was the only place I could ever recall living in. Leaving that place was starting, for me, one major adventure. My thoughts were filled with questions about everything I saw outside the hospital. I had no idea what life was like on that road ahead.

My husband, Chris, was chaperoning me to our car. As he opened the passenger door, I looked in as if I had never even been in a car.  After looking all around inside, I eventually sat down next to Chris.

“We have this here to keep us safe in the car,” he said. “It’s called a seat belt.”

That was just one of many facts he was warned he’d need to tell me. For Chris, it was all a bit funny, but sad as well, with him wondering if I would be this way from then on.

My head was constantly turning back and forth, looking out the windows while the car was going down that first street. I’ll never forget thinking how all the cars looked so different from one another. It wasn’t long before Chris’s ears were drowning with my repeated three words: What is that? He knew it was best to keep the answers simple, so he tried to explain things in such a way that I could understand. One of the tougher examples was why some streets had weird lights that made you stop, while other streets, called freeways, didn’t make you stop nearly as much.

On one of those freeways I was feeling a bit down, because it started hitting me just how little I knew. That is, however, until I noticed something ahead.  A sign off to the side began getting bigger as we drove closer. A smile on my face began to form. That smile began getting bigger the closer we got to that sign.

“What… what is that up there? It looks… it looks like I know what it is!”  I still can remember how I felt, feeling a sense of hope was found!

“What do you see?” asked Chris. “What looks familiar?”

“The big picture thing over that building. Isn’t that some letter?” I said while pointing, feeling a spark growing inside. “Isn’t that some place where you can get these little, weird, long-shaped things? And then you put this… this liquid stuff on it. It’s a certain color. And isn’t it something people eat?”

My excitement could be heard and seen, as my smile extended from ear to ear.

Chris must have felt like I was some little girl who just thought she saw Santa.

“What are they called, those things with runny stuff on them?” I asked.

“Marianne, that building is a place everyone goes to eat, called McDonald’s. And what you are thinking about is called a french frie, with this red runny stuff you put on it is called ketchup.

My brain was soaking in all he was saying.

“That makes a lot of sense to me now. I sort of remember I loved eating that! Right? Do you think…”

“I’m taking the exit right now to go there.”

Happy as could be, I learned what a drive-through was as we got closer to that big sign which was now right in front of me. And a minute or two later those fries were also right in front of me on my lap. That first bite instantly had me remembered why I remembered that sign. Yum!

2975f38df60b37e9d172ba700c2da448

To this day, whenever I’m at McDonald’s, I feel this little piece of kid still in me, enjoying that weird red runny stuff on those fries.

*1 –Click here to Read how this entire story began.

*2 – click here to read how this entire story began.