memoirs

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.

3 Things I Learned from My 30-Year High School Reunion.

Recently I have been thinking of the number one thing I’ve been thankful for, thus causing me to show an older blog. It is so helpful to remember how your heart felt inside when you were lost, and then found.                                                                                             (note- I shared this peace during the summer of 2015)

 

1985

Graduation Memories

Yep. The big 3-0 was this last weekend. Now stop right now. I’ll save you trouble and do the math for you. I’m 48. Great time recognizing most of the faces. Just don’t ask me if I could instantly pop their names out. As I looked at each face, I couldn’t grin enough. Before I wrote in my journal today about that reunion, I couldn’t help but look into my older journal that holds all of my high school thoughts. Reading my last writing that school year I must share.

 

May 14, 1985

“Well, it’s the annual look at the diary and it looks like it’s been a while since I last wrote.  A quick update. I graduate from Highline High school in twenty-nine days. I’m Eighteen years old and no, life is not easier at eighteen. I have my own car, a Capri. Attend O.S.C. (Occupational Skills Center) for the Visual Communication class. Work for Doug Fox Travel driving people to and from the airport while also being a ball girl for the Seattle Mariners. I will be going next year to Highline Community College and…..”
– Here. Let me stop. All sounds pretty great don’t ya think? Well… the next sentences alters that sound just a hair.
“…But I am more confused about the love life. …….I have spent the last weekend visiting my best friend and her college dorm life. Now listen, love is confusing. As the song goes ‘I’m Hooked on a Feeling’ after that one weekend and the guy I met there. But I do come to see that I’m to the point where who ever shows any liking for me will win. UG! …I’m on my journey to understanding Christianity and what Jesus can do for me. With my two best friends being religious now, it’s all just kinda weird but I’m learning. . . . . Is living with love important? Do I depend on finding love too much. God will reward me but when? I guess love does not come with a $145 prom dress or dreaming with a slow song. What’s the Answer? I shall write again. Maybe when my questions are answered.”

My next writing was 1 1/2 years later and boy, my questions were sure answered.

January 2, 1987
“How to even begin explaining the past year and a half. The best way to explain is that I got the answer to my last journal writing questions. I am a new creature and will be rocking for Jesus for all eternity! My two best friends aren’t so ‘religious’.  We are all Sisters-In-Christ now! Being Nineteen years old, I now can grab a hold of God and leave the world and my hunt for love behind”

Yep – My hunt for love had ended because God showed me that the most important love I could ever find would be from Him. And even then, I didn’t have to hunt for that; He gave it to me. He chose me. He had me first feel what sin truly was. My heart, soul, and mind felt heavy all of a sudden, realizing my sin that had built up those eighteen years. I pleaded for forgiveness. He then had me feel that feeling of forgiveness. The weight felt lifted off. Hard to describe but man, did that feel good! I didn’t then just feel, I knew I was then one of His adopted children. AMEN.

Looking back in my journal, I realized three things.
1- How thankful I am to have those precious memories on paper.
2- Thirty years go by so fast.
3- God gave me the best answers to those questions I had at the end of my senior year.

I wrote a lot more in that day’s writing but this peace you just read is by far the most important. The part that followed, however, is very important as well, being it is the topic of my memoir that, Lord willing, will be in print in the near future.

diary

Romans 15:13 –
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Why Keep A Journal

give-thanks-lm-front

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.

cropped-writing1.jpg

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.