Images

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, My self and I, Before, During and After-part 2

My last writing ended with ‘If I could only use one word to describe my overall high school life, I think I’d use the word…’   but then I didn’t share that word. (1*)
Well, it’s time I tell you what it is.

Lost 

Lost means having gone astray or missed the way; bewildered as to place or direction.
distracted – distraught – desperate – hopeless

This week I’ll describe one of two different ways I began feeling lost at eighteen.
The first occurred on the day I thought was to be the most exciting: GRADUATION !

gradYep, time to graduate from high school. YIPPY ! I felt so ready to take on all that was ahead. The graduation ceremony went great, with a fancy dinner for many of us afterwards. After that, just a few of us girls went to one of my friend’s home to have, what I thought, a cool and simple celebration night.

 

 

 

This should be fun. All us ladies, officially out of high school, gabbing away for hours. Maybe all of us grads will have some beer, too. Hay, I’ve graduated. I can do that.

I couldn’t wait. That is, until the few of us girls got in my friend’s car. As soon as the last door was shut, out popped…
“Wooohooo! Ready to party!” one of them hollered with the others cheering her on.
She must just be talking about us cutting loose a bit more than normal. I’m game! I’m sure I threw in a few “Yay!  Here we go!”
“The guys will be there right around the time we show up,” one of the graduates said, “Hey, Samantha, did your older brother get the drinks he said he could get?”

I began realizing how that evening was turning into something I didn’t expect. What took place was exactly what you see in a movie where the parents go somewhere overnight, trusting their daughter will be fine having a few girlfriends over. But then it turns into a wild party. I began thinking to myself a mile a minute.

Oh, my. What’s going. On? What am I getting into? I thought just us girls were getting together?

“Time to party away,” my so-called friends said as we got out. My ‘let’s party’ face I showed sure was different than my thoughts as I saw many senior boys, plus more girls, showing up.

Speaking of partying away, I was blown away! I never thought some of these people I considered my friends would be doing anything as wild as this. I had never done anything like this my entire high school years.

I felt I was invisible, floating around all these people, watching them eat, drink, and be merry. I wasn’t friends with them all but knew most from school. All were flirting big time while showing off any extra skin they could. I had to hide my shock with a fake smile. After all, I didn’t want to look ‘square’ and seem like I didn’t want to belong. I had to look cool and act totally comfortable with all that was going on. Hour by hour went by.

I can’t wait till this is over. I cant’ wait till this is over.
What I will never forget was seeing different guys pulling different girls behind different doors, knowing it wasn’t just to compare final test scores.

12 o’clock – 2 o’clock –
I wish I drove myself. Come on, clock. Go faster.
The entire time I felt like running away, but couldn’t, so I just acted like I was having a ball, pretending I was drinking, even acting a little buzzed.

clock 1

 

 

 

 

2 o’clock to 4 o’clock
I looked at my watch every five minutes.

Finally! Time for this movie to come to an end. You can probably picture what took place. The parents come home unexpectedly early that next morning. It was the best thing I had seen those last six hours. As all were silently grabbing their personal belonging, after hearing two angry parents hollering as they stood inside the door pointing outside, I was most likely the only person secretly smiling ear to ear. I loved that ride home.

FINALLY ! That pressure was off! The worst night I’ve ever had was over! I left that party having stayed sober, clean, and a virgin. I felt so stupid realizing that most of my friends weren’t really the type friends I thought they were.

How dare they all do that?  Man, I’m so glad to be home! But those thoughts, sad to say, were balanced off with feeling cut off from them all. Should I loosen up a bit? Am I too goodie goodie?  

severing ties and boycott

But I knew from then on I’d be uncomfortable around any of them, wanting to avoid any conversation about that night, and relieved there was no plan to see any of them soon.

I did not write one word about that night in my journal feeling it was a night I did not want to remember. I often now wish I had, wanting to read those thoughts that my pillow soaked up those next few days. But you know what? I really didn’t need a journal at that point. No way will I ever forget that night.

So the word ‘lost’ fits in right here because after that night I felt lost. Those people went off my ‘true-friend’ list. I felt a bit empty. – like the definition said, I was bewildered as to place or direction. Distracted; distraught – desperate – hopeless. What I thought would be my best day, turned out to be my worst – I was lost.

Next – how this time I felt lost lead to the next.

Click here to read last weeks post. 

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

Me-myself-and-I

Deciding what to share when describing what growing up was like has got to be one of the hardest decisions. Last week’s writing I, for the most part, showed how I had a good old normal upbringing, or what I felt was normal anyway. (1*) Sad to say, a diary I started at age twelve showed how my heart put too much importance on finding a boyfriend.

Oct 1981 (Began my freshman year – 14 years old)

Can’t believe it’s been five months since I last wrote. Here’s a quick update. I took summer band for four weeks, met brothers Tom and Jeff. I was sort of with Tom until August, then Jeff and I realized we both wanted to have a relationship-type of thing. (Yep, I’m only fourteen) Went to camp, finding out Scott liked me again. Back to Jeff. He’s a sophomore, cute and sweet. I do admit, he does have his faults…

And about life now. I love high school!  I met so many new people. All those guys!  I love wearing different clothes every day. (Last week I shared how I went 1st through 8th grade wearing a uniform, so of COURSE I loved that change.) 

I’m working at Winchell’s Donuts now. It’s great! I feel guilty, though, every time I eat something there, being I’m on this calorie kick lately.

I’ll now fast forward to bits and pieces from my final writing my senior year.

May 1985 (end of my senior year – 18 years old) 

I graduate in twenty-nine days. I now know life is not easy at eighteen. I have my own car, went out with Jeff for nine months, attend Occupational Skills Center for a TV Communications course, work for Doug Fox Travel, and I love being an official Ball Girl for the Seattle Mariners. Will go to Highline Community College come this fall, and, of course, more confused about the darn love life.

I’m on my journey to understanding Christianity and what Jesus can do for me. Eyde and Willma are very religious now. Thankfully they aren’t too straight, though.

Is living with love important? I believe it is, but with each year passing, I still feel I’m going at it wrong. I think I depend on it too much. God will reward me, but when? I feel I am a great person. Why not now? Love does not come with a $145 prom dress, or when dancing with your prom date during a slow song. What’s the answer?

All through high school, guys were not just occasionally on my mind, but pretty much 24/7. Okay, maybe not a full twenty-four hours every day. A few hours went to studying, practicing my saxophone, or selling donuts when I worked at Winchell’s, but aside from that, deciding what guy to like took the majority of my thoughts my freshman through senior years.

cropped-cropped-diary1.jpeg

Reading all my writings in between these two have their ups and down. Family issues, friendship issues, who-I-like/who-likes-me issues, band, soccer, video/camera projects, and work issues. The list is endless of all I had going on inside my brain that made its way into my journal. But If I could only use one word to describe my overall high school life, I think I’d use…

To be continued.

1* – Click hear to read last weeks blog.