Memories

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

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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.

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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.

 

A Clue to a Time I’ll Never Forget

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I bet most of you have a certain time in your life that you will never forget. I want to share the most important thing that happened to me. Why now? It took place in August of 1985, thirty-two years ago. Why share? Because of one not so simple fact: It changed my life.

To show how important it is, I must first have you read one of my older posts. I want to refresh your memory with what it was like for me with my brain affecting illness called encephalitis that took place a few years after this special occasion took place.

Three reasons why I want you to read this first.

1) I have quite a few more followers now who perhaps do not know what I went through. 

2) To show how important this certain time was because, well…I REMEMBER IT ! It’s only those extra special happening before my brain injury hit I can still ponder on. Heck, I can even still picture it! So much that took place years ago I can not recall. Sure, people say “I don’t remember stuff either that happened years ago.” I know that, but for me it’s much tougher.  I can’t find in my events-from-the-past safety box as easily as most others can. In many cases, it’s impossible for me to even find that key to unlock.

3) This last reason? Just for fun. See how good you are with clues.

So, before I share that extra special event next week, click to read this past post called…  How Sadness Showed Me God’s Presence.

Okay, I’ll give you a clue within a clue: WHERE to find that clue: Pay extra attention toward the end. (Aren’t YOU curious)

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Feel free to jot down / reply what you think my next week’s post will reveal.

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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That Unforgettable Drive

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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!

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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.

The Best Christmas Poem Ever

 

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Roses are red
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet
And so are you.

I bet we all can recall this poem, knowing people have fun making changes to it.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
My love for you
Will always be true.
or
What I feel in my heart
Is true love for you.

Oh, how adorable. Then, of course, people have fun making it silly.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Sunflowers are yellow.
I bet you thought
this was a romantic poem.
These are just gardening facts.

Being it’s the Christmas season, I’ll share part of one I bet we’ve all heard:

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a mouse.

Wonder why I’m bringing up poems during this holiday season? Because I thought it was the perfect time to share a poem I made as a gift for my husband one year. On Christmas Eve twenty-three years ago, my husband, myself, and our two adorable young daughters, Cassie and Trina, were spending time at my husband’s parents’ home. Time to exchange gifts. Of course, our daughters had to open up theirs first. It’s always fun seeing the excited looks on little kids faces as they begin unwrapping. You should have seen the look of anticipation on my face when It was my husband’s turn to unwrap his gift from me.

“Here, honey,” I said, while handing him a simple, small envelope, “your turn.”
I’ve always been one to do things a bit differently whenever I give a gift, and this one to him was a perfect example.

“What’s…what’s this? A card?” he asked as he opened the envelope, pulling out this Marianne-made card. No computer back then to whip one up as people can do today. Nope. After opening up this envelope, he pulled out the simple folded piece of paper with words I had written on the front.

“Just make sure you read it out loud,” I said. He then began.

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He read it again, with a more serious look on his face. Then he looked up and saw me smiling from ear to ear. Looking on the inside of the card he saw the picture I put together that helped explain the poem.

 

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Slowly, he began smiling.
“You mean…are you…are you pregnant?”

The atmosphere in that room ignited with words such as “Really?” “Wow!” and “When’s it due?” And then explaining this wonderful news to our daughters came next by using the well-known saying, “There’s a baby in my tummy.”

Telling my husband I was expecting was a gift he sure wasn’t expecting!
That simple card with that simple poem turned out to be the best gift that year, and not just for him, but for us all.

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)

 

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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.

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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

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Thanksgiving week is here and there are many things that have taken place this last year that have filled my heart, mind, and soul with much, yes, thankfulness. One of those is having this year gone through all my journals. First time in years that I read page after page from when I was twelve years old, in 1979, to now. Rolling my eyes with “That was ME?” thoughts occurred every few pages. So I’ve decided this Thanksgiving week to share what I wrote one year ago because it fits perfectly: Why keep a journal?

September 2015 

Many ask ‘Why keep a journal?’ My answer – Why NOT keep a journal. After all, our mind is crowded with a million thoughts every day, often times not able to sort through them. So why not take out a pen, and jot down a few of those thoughts? So often I’d feel better after throwing my thoughts down, making room for those other thoughts still wrestling around in my head. I started mine in 1979, when I was only twelve years old. Looking back at the joys, trials, frustrations and excitements I went through has been funny, sad, encouraging, and even a bit embarrassing.

Now sure, there are many reasons to keep a journal, or as I also call mine, a diary. Make an event forever remembered. List ideas for possible future needs. Jot down goals. Storing that list of joy filled happenings to encourage when things aren’t so joy filled. Perhaps it’s geared toward improvement in a certain area of your life.
Tons of reasons. But for me, I’ve kept my journal for two.
1) To never forget what I never want to forget. (a sweet and simple reason don’t you think?)
2) To see what and how God nudged, pushed or carried me through the different stages in my life.
Number two wasn’t my reason when I started it at that tender age, that’s for sure. But now? You bet it is. Seeing what God had done for or to me, throughout all these years, could easily be the best reason I’ve kept it.

Are you curious what my forever favorite part from all of my journals have been? The last time I wrote before God opened up my heart, making me one of His, to the first time writing after He saved me. That time in-between those two writings was the most important part of my life. All the writings before and after are like night-and day. The old me and the new me

 (Those two journal entries are shared  HERE )
Now don’t think all my writings after wards have been all peachy-keen, happy with a capital ‘H’, full of joy, peace, over flowing about God’s blessings on every page. Far from it. Yes, there was that throughout, but right along with trials, sorrows, frustrations, and that occasional feeling of giving up. Yes, a few tears I also remember shedding as I wrote at different times. But thankfully, just a page or two later, my diary showed how God brought something or some happening my way, causing me again to count my blessings. It’s noticeable how trusting Him grew as years went by.

So let me encourage you to keep a journal for this one reason. To forever remember the small, medium, and large blessings God has brought your way and how He held you in those tougher times. Now sure, those huge blessing aren’t so hard to remember but those small ones? Write them down.

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I guess I just want to share, with those of you here, how good it can be to have, on paper, how God intertwines in your thoughts. Remembering how He held you through tough times, as He also grinned ear-to-ear with you during those joyous times, can be a great page turner. What’s also valuable is noticing how you felt about Him years ago vs. how you feel about Him now, noticing how that love has grown.

So if you have a journal going already, keep it going. So glad I’ve kept mine going now for 36 years. And if you haven’t? Well, it’s never too late.