memoirs

Me, Myself and I, Before, During and After – Part 7

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 8.48.00 AM

About a month ago I started posting what I thought would take two weeks to cover. I sure was wrong. (1*) Instead, it took eight weeks. But what else can you expect when the subject has been by far my most important?

After that first posting of this group, the title became Me, Myself and I, Before, During and After.

In other words, Me, Myself and I, (Miss Marianne Eighteen-Year-Old Houstoun), Before (when my heart was empty), During (when questions were forming), and After (the outcome from Christ tapping on my shoulder, answering those questions).

God interrupted that emptiness and darkness of my life, giving me a new beginning. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26) made sense! Why? Because that’s what took place.

I hope I haven’t come across as some young, weak, young teen who would take on anything that brought peace. Nope. Almost the opposite. I had goals, was one who went that extra mile, daring to do whatever. Looking back, I see I was a bit too proud in who I was. I was just empty of how to have peace along with all I could do.

But that week, biblical truths were opened up to me for the first time. I understood the true meaning of sin, of repentance, and I got to feel a true sense of being loved. (2*) Yes, it was thirty-two years ago, but it still feels like yesterday. I never get tired of pondering all that took place.

grace

Of course, sin was still hiding inside, but, with prayer, a new heart was there to drown the sin with grace and forgiveness. Even when my ignorance and weakness were apparent, God guided me. Reading His word and learning much from the church I began attending did wonders.

My eyes still get a bit damp remembering how God held me even when I allowed sin to take over, causing my unplanned pregnancy, (3*) or when my brain-damaging illness occurred a few years later. (4*) The many ways He continually showed me ‘I love you’ were still strongly felt.

This is my first time in these thirty-two years that I’m sharing this for others to read. Why? To help people understand what it means to be ‘born again’ or, better wording, ‘born from above.’

Every Christian’s walk with God starts in different ways, at different times in life, but all show one thing: God planned it. He also plans what takes place afterwords for you as well. A few dramatic events have caused me to learn much about how He is there at all times, giving me faith for tough times I’m assuming will still occur.  

AAEAAQAAAAAAAASiAAAAJGJmNTlkZjI3LTk3NmItNGEzOC05MWM0LTk1MzRmZjRjZWRmZg

God has put me here, in this place and time, with my life experiences, in order to tell others about what He has done and is doing in my life. My memoir will be out, Lord willing, early next year in hopes He uses my story to help others, showing them God is there for His children though thick or thin. 

 Psalm 62:8 – Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 – He has made everything beautiful in its time.      

As some of you know, I’m one who listens to Christian music, and I like to think it’s because He began unlocking my heart as I was listening to one. (5*)

This song means more lately being I feel it fits with—as the song title shares—“My Story.” I guess you can say am one of those people at the end. 

 

 

1* – First of these eight postings

2* – My last posting where AFTER showed up.

3* – Unplanned pregnancy story can be found.

4* – Brain affected illness

5* – Read about that special timing of a special song

Advertisements

Me, Myself and I, Before, During and After – part 6

 

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 8.48.00 AM

Question – Why do you take pictures? Most of us are just popping out our phones, taking a picture of a memory we never want to lose, and can then instantly see that picture. That was only a dream when I was eighteen, thirty-two years ago. Nope, back then you had to wait a few days to get that picture in your hand. Also, people didn’t have the option to use a camera or phone that could easily fit in their pocket. Dream on.

In my last post (1*) I shared how one day back then, my camera was a must to take a photo of a certain person singing. But this photo wasn’t about the singer or the song she was singing, but so I’d never forget what took place while she was singing.

How could I not want a picture of when what I consider the most important time in my life took place: the time God graciously showed me I was one of His chosen. The time Christ opened my heart to see what my sin really was, along with my true need for His forgiveness and love.

holding camera

 

WHERE’S MY CAMERA? How dare I not take a picture? I have to. I know this is one extra-special thing that just happened, even though I’m not too sure what it is. – I had to take a picture of this person singing because I knew what just happened must never be forgotten, being that it felt a little life-changing.

 

CLICK

THE song

After that last gathering of all those people, you should have seen the look on Willma’s face when I said, “I can’t explain it, but it felt like Jesus was sort of talking to me. I think I’m—if I understand right—saved!” Willma and me, sisters in the Lord; what could be better?

After telling her what took place, exploding with happiness herself, I couldn’t wait to tell some of those who had asked me before if I was saved. 

“Forget what I said before. Now I am!”

I joyfully accepted the fact of how ignorant I was and felt a sudden hunger to learn. I hadn’t felt such peace inside since, well, forever!

As soon as I woke up that next morning, it took me only a second to recall something special took place the evening before.

What happened last night? Was it all real or did I let my emotions take over?

Those thoughts were quickly shoved aside as I felt a newness about myself instantly waking up as well. I could tell that what took place that evening before was real and how that morning was the first day of the rest of my new life.

A few hours later, as all of us campers were getting in the bus to head back home, I realized something. On my bus ride a week before, going to camp, I was filled with unclarity about religion. I had no real understanding about life, feeling rather empty inside. Real love? what’s that? But in that same bus leaving camp, I knew I was different. I wasn’t who I use to be. I was thrilled to be enlightened with what being ‘saved’ and ‘born again’ really meant. I was filled with peace, joy, contentment, and I was excited that I did find love: the love of Christ.

As we started driving away, I looked back at the campground.

So long, old self. So long, old heart. Farewell and good riddance. I’ve been set free, no longer who I use to be, and starting this new road ahead as a true child of God.

Ezekiel 36:26   I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.

One song that explains it well – You Love Me Anyway

1* Click here to last weeks story

End of my story next week.

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

Me-myself-and-I

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?

g-yashika-691814_960_720

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.

 

Me, Myself and I, Before, During and After – part 4

Me-myself-and-I

Time to continue my story of why a certain day in September is glued to my heart. (1*) – At eighteen, I was having a long, boring, fewer-friends summer. That was the main reason I accepted the invite from my friend Willma to go to a Christian camp the first part of September. The second reason was to hopefully start understanding what all this ‘born again’ and ‘saved’ stuff meant.

A full-day bus drive from western Washington to Montana, filled with twenty or so college-aged folks. That bus load was meeting lots of other groups from other places at that campground for about a week. The drive was a bit uncomfortable for me, having never been around so many at one time who said things like ‘God did this’ or ‘God did that.’ I’m so glad Willma can blend right in with them. I’ll just keep smiling and look like I understand what they’re talking about.

I’ll never forget meeting more people once we got to this beautiful retreat campsite. But one question kept popping up each time I met someone new. Most asked me, “When were you saved?” or “How long have you been a Christian?”

I was totally ignorant of what all that meant. Since I was baptized when I was an infant, I was convinced I was going to heaven. Of course, the priest at St. Francis never used the words ‘saved’ or ‘Christian,’ so being around others who shared that vocabulary was all new to me.

“I’ve been Catholic all my life,” was my answer to the first few who asked. That doesn’t sound right. I’d better word it more like others here do.

“I’ve been saved all my life.” (That sure felt weird to say.) Much better. Now I sound like everyone else.

I was enjoying those first few days, meeting nice people and hearing many interesting messages about how God, Jesus, and the Spirit apply to our daily life, many things I had never heard before. And not only had I never heard these types of messages before, but never by a college aged man standing up in front, all kicked-back wearing jeans! I learned that first evening that “normal” people can know the Bible. And to top it off, that you don’t have to wear a robe like a priest to preach. “Learn something new every day” seemed to fit right in that first evening and each day that followed.

As days went by, I liked this camp even more. These people seem rather normal. I’m getting used to all this ‘saved’ stuff, and sort of understanding a few things about it now too.

The last night there, serious yet fun speeches, skits, and songs were performed by a few groups of individual campers, along with the final message. My friend Willma an I were in one group of six, singing a humorous song with a biblical theme. (we’re the 2 on the right)

Campfixed

I’ll never forget watching all the people laugh while watching us.

Our song came to an end; time to sit down.

A little bit later, another lady about my age went up to sing a Christian song. Being I was unaware of any Christian radio stations, I never had heard that song she sang, and nothing outstanding stood out about it. I even thought her voice wasn’t that wonderful, but boy, I’ll still never forget it. God decided that evening, during that song, to unlock someone’s heart: mine.

To be continued.

1* – Press here to read what had taken place before this event.   

Me, Myself and I, Before, During and After – part 3

Me-myself-and-I

This week’s post is a bit odd. It’s being posted on a Sunday, not Monday. Why? The best excuse in the world – I want it to !  (I love being my boss.) No one can stop me from showing this weeks on September 10th, 2017. You see, 32 years go on September 10th, my worst summer ever turned into my best. A few weeks from now will explain more what took place on that date, but today you’re given a good clue to what it’s about as Me, Myself, and I, Before, During and After continues. 

If you haven’t read my last post, you just might want to, seriously, since it explains an eye-opening event that hit me hard (*1). However, a few other eye-opening events had taken place my high school senior year as well, causing my heart, mind, and soul to feel they were all going downhill.

For starters, my parents’ relationship had deteriorated. Nothing dramatically terrible, but enough to have the word ‘separation’ floating in the air. For me, stepping away from friends, as my last post explains, made it extra tough to not have a peace-filled home to come home to.

But one more thing caused many mind-draining thoughts my senior year. My best friend back then was a few years older, so you’d think I could lean on her after that eye-opening graduation night, right? Wrong. A wee bit of discomfort began on my side in telling her about things I was doing. Why?  A few months before that event, something happened to her that seemed too foreign to me. She had become one of those religious, ‘born again’ people who say they are ‘saved,’ which made no sense to me. There were a few others during my senior year where this same thing had happened. But my best friend? Come on.

“That sounds nice,” I said, acting all happy for her while feeling even lonelier inside.

Whenever Willma shared some religious statement, like, “I could tell God helped me plan my college classes for the next quarter,” I just smiled and acted all happy. But I wasn’t letting it just go in one ear and out the other. I never asked her questions about it, but it did get me thinking.

May 1985 (one month before graduation)

I’m on my journey to understanding Christianity and what Jesus can do for me. But now even my best friend has gotten very religious.

However, I was still going to the Catholic church, saying my “In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” while crossing myself, which to me seemed spiritual enough. Plus, this ‘born-again’ issue wasn’t as important as all the graduation business I, of course, had to think about.

So there I was, the summer of 1985, living in a home with a bit too much tension floating around, no one from school to hang out, along with this uncomfortable thinking about my ‘saved’ friend. I felt pretty empty, low, and alone. The only thing I clung to was being a ball girl for the Seattle Mariners that summer. Woohoo!

Screen Shot 2017-09-09 at 10.02.23 PM

But even that was less than once a week. One emotionally draining and twiddling-of-the-thumb summer.

Then something happened at the end of that summer. Feeling lonely and sad about the uncertainty of this life ahead, I decided to accept Willma’s invitation to attend a Christian camp with her when something, as one of my favorite songs (2*) explains, calmed the storm in me and caught me when I was falling.

To be continued – 

 1* – Click here to read my last post

 2* – Click here to hear that song.

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