Images

The Word ‘Thankful’ All Folded Up – part 2

back pocket

In my last post, (1*) I wrote about the word ‘thankful’ and how that word didn’t fit too well inside my heart as I underwent my two extremely tough afflictions. (2* & 3*) No one found me relaxed on a recliner, smiling ear to ear while thinking, “I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m so thankful God is having me go through this incredibly tough time.” Nope. Thankfulness was tightly folded up and hiding in the back pocket of my jeans.

After each ordeal took place, however, my mind knew God was in charge. I began realizing more and more that as things were getting better, I was actually thinking of pulling that Thankful sign out of my jeans and putting it on the table, but of course still folded up. As more positive things began to appear through each ordeal, I actually unfolded that paper. Sensing God’s help via family, friends, doctors, and the like, I finally decided to unfold the paper and read it each time I walked by. More thankful thoughts were growing in size and frequency. I finally got a magnet and —drumroll, please— stuck that Thankful sign up on my refrigerator!

I wasn’t becoming thankful I was pregnant, or for my month-long stay at a hospital. Not yet anyway. Thankfulness was there for feeling Christ was supporting me, caring for me, and letting me know He wasn’t just King, but my Father.

I was growing in the understanding that God is the One who puts us through what comes our way, good or bad. I was on the road that was planned by Him, whether smooth and serene, or unpaved, or one filled with countless sinkholes. I still felt a bit shattered and broken, not able to do what I had planned in life, but finally understanding that God’s plans are perfect, and that He was going to use me somehow, some way sure helped. 

Peace was growing inside as each year went by, and a few verses began to stand out.

bible

Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. 

Attached is a song – The Very Next Thing – by Casting Crowns, which shares how I had began to slowly feel as time went by, using words such as…

– With my very next step – be on the road that was planned by you

– Lord, wherever you’re leading me – that’s where I want to be

Even though I did not know which direction that path was going, thankfulness, tied with peace, permanently got pinned to my heart and I was eager to see how He might use what He put me through to serve Him.

Finally, doors were opening and I began to see what His plans were. 

– to be continued.

The Word ‘Thankful’ All folded Up -Part 1

bubbles

Think of an extra-tough time you’ve gone through. Okay, maybe not the most joy-filled request.

Now, look at the definition of thankful: 

1. Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful – grateful and appreciative

2. of, relating to, or expressing thanks – a thankful feeling – thankful words

Curious why I’m asking you to think of an extra-tough time, as well as defining what thankful means? It’s to help you understand what got me—as years went by—to be closer to actually being thankful for these two, somewhat life-changing hardships I’d gone through.   (1*) (2*)  

Thankfulness. Do I want you to think that from day one I was filled with thankfulness when my teenage pregnancy soap opera started? Or, do I want you to think I was overflowing with thanks shortly after my brain-damaging encephalitis hit, that had me unable to even understand who God was TO thank? Am I saying that that one question, ‘Why, God?’ was nowhere to be found during both of those times? Of course not. As a matter of fact, if it could have been visible, “Why, God?” would have been bubbled over my head more hours of the day than not. I bet all of you reading this have had that bubble at least once, and that it seemed, at the time, impossible to pop.

God, having saved me when I was eighteen years old, was who I gave so many thanks to, as most things went by pretty smoothly that first year before these two time periods began. This verse fit perfectly:

Ephesians 5:2 – Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

But bang, things changed. I was so young in my Christian walk when I was hit with the first of these two trials. There had only been one year of God’s word and guidance before that larger-than-life trial occurred, followed by the next one only a few years later.

Being thankful for trials, along with understanding what God’s providence even meant, were both still hard to fully understand. It was hard to even find a little drip-drip-drip of thankfulness for either. Yes, I did sense God’s Fatherly care in both, but thankfulness that He decided to have me need that care sure wasn’t standing out. The word ‘thankful’ was folded up as many times as possible, put in the back pocket of those jeans I never wore.

back pocket

I knew God was holding me, but the fact that He had reasons for it all was hard to find as those early years went by.

Hearing those common words, ‘God has reasons,’ caused me to think ‘But what ARE they?’ That question was glued in my thoughts as every day, week, and month I was pregnant went by, and especially after every day, week, and month after my illness went by.

As time did go by, however, I—how shall I say it—started wearing those jeans I seldom wore, sensing something going on in that back pocket. Something was unfolding.

James 1:12 slowly began making sense.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

To be continued.

1* First trial –  Unplanned pregnancy

2* Second trial   – Brain Injury 

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.

 

Thank you, Lord – 4

Thankyoulord1

My next ‘Thank you, Lord’ is a bit different this week. (1* for last weeks) It’s not about Gods fatherly care during my unplanned pregnancy. It’s about my brain damaging illness called encephalitis I endured in 1990. I thank God, through all these years, how He planned a particular day to occur. A very tough day, yes, but God knows how thankful I am for the way He started this life changing ordeal in the most caring way.

I’ll now show most of the first post I shared that, Lord willing, will be in that first chapter of my next Memoir. At the end you will understand more why I ‘Thank you, Lord’ fits right in.

– God’s Timing is Perfect –

My very first journal from years past will begin to explain.
Note – This writing was done years ago after only two of our four children were born.

August 14, 1991
This one day of writing could take up to ninety-nine-million pages but I will try to shorten it. Cassie is now four, and Trina is almost fourteen months old. Hubby is twenty-seven and I am twenty-four. Lord, thank You that we are all still together. This year – oh, this year. The main dealing this last year has been about my physical and mental problem. Herpes Simplex Encephalitis Meningitis, an acute inflammation of the brain. Five or six weeks, total, in two hospitals. About three weeks in each. I thank God how He had me where I needed to be when I had my seizure…

Now let me explain. There was so much snow where our apartment was on that winter day in 1990. I had to take my baby in for her six-month check-up the next day, but being that it was a fifteen- to twenty-minute drive away, I felt it best that my kids and I just spend that night at my parents’ house, since they were only a few minutes from the doctor’s office. A much shorter and safer drive indeed. I don’t recall spending the night there even once after getting married a few years before this day, but that one night was a must.
The following morning, I enjoyed chatting with my mom, as she so easily showed how much she loved being a grandma. My older sister, whom I rarely ever saw, stopped in for a few minutes to get something. it was great gabbing a few minutes with her as well.
“I’ll just change Trina’s diaper right now before the girls and I leave,” I told my sister and mom as I was on my knees, leaning over Trina, putting a new diaper on her.

But something happened. Totally unexpected, out of the blue, I was suddenly hit with a seizure. I was told later that I had began shaking, and collapsed on the floor while biting my tongue. I threw up a bit as well, so I was told. My life-changing event hit me right then and there that snowy afternoon. My mom took over the girls while Janis came over to see what was happening to me. She knew I was having a seizure and that calling 911 was a must. I have no recollection of any of that. The next thing I do remember, though, is feeling totally confused when I woke up.

“What’s going on?” I’m sure I tried to ask while thinking a mile a minute.

Why are these two strange men lifting me up and putting me on this—this board thing? Who are those ladies looking at me? And what about those really little people? Why are these big guys taking me out of this house? Whose house is it anyway? And why are they putting me, lying down, into this big weird car?

I had absolutely no idea what was going on. What I did know was how odd it all felt. To this day I can still picture it all and feel it as if it was last week.
I, again, must have fallen asleep, for the next thing I remember was waking up, lying on my back, with more strangers looking at me but now inside this totally odd building. You’re right, a hospital.

Even more strangers looking at me. What are all these things sticking into me? What in the world is going on?
This particular blog post won’t get into what it is that happened to me; I’ll continue that as weeks go by.  I just want to share what that difficult time in this, literally, mind-changing ordeal, showed me.
– God’s timing is perfect.
I mean think about it. Being a stay-at-home mom, a majority of the time I did just that; stayed at home. What if there was no doctor’s appointment? Chances are the three of us would have been in the apartment alone.
What if the snow wasn’t there? Most likely we still would have been at home. Or worse yet, in the car driving, or perhaps in a store with strangers all around.
But God had plans, and the timing of His plans couldn’t have been better. He had reasons for me scheduling my baby’s check-up appointment for that snowy day, causing me to then be at my parent’s house.

It is obvious God knew to position me at my parents home at the perfect time. Why do I say this? My sister who I rarely ever saw was – get ready for this – a respiratory therapist at that hospital! And it turns out, my other sister came to the house before I left. And guess what, she too worked at that hospital as a respiratory technician. I have no doubt that my sisters helped ensure that I received quality treatment. My mom, bless her heart, was the perfect one to care for my girls with all this going on as I was taken away. God sure knew what He was doing and who to have where and when.

i-am-always-with-you

God sure knew what He was doing and who to have where and when. God’s timing for it all was down-right perfect. God knew He would put me though one big trial but in the best way possible.

I pray you can see, as obvious as I do, that God, was in charge. God still hears me often think Thank you, Lord, for holding me tight.

1*  – Last weeks Thank you, Lord -3  

Thank you, Lord – 3

Thankyoulord1

Thank you, Lord, that I am going through an unplanned pregnancy. What? That doesn’t sound right, being I was only nineteen, living with my parents, no school, no job, a dramatic soap-opera-like relationship that ended, and to top that off, already a bit overweight. Where does thanking God fit in?

 My older posts explain what took place leading me to where I am now. And with all that’s been covered, how in the world does thanking God fit in?  (1*)

The main reason is because about a year before all this mess took place, God had graciously saved me, causing me to feel the true, deeper guilt for what I allowed to occur. Because of that, I knew I was forgiven. God saw my repentance, and showed me, in noticeable ways, He was my Father. Even though I still felt uncertainty about what was ahead, ‘Thank you, God’ began to grow. I could tell He was the one behind a few things that were happening. The first one I’m most thankful for was shared in my last posting, explaining, thankfully, why an abortion did not take place.

Second on my ‘Thank you, God’ list has to do with what most pregnant women know too well: morning sickness. I know, I know. Not the best subject.monring sickness

I was gaining more knowledge on what to expect the first few months of pregnancy, and so day after day I waited for that nauseous feeling to hit. Happy to say, I didn’t feel very much discomfort. I was so wrapped up in all that was going on, deciding to cut off the relationship that caused this ordeal to occur, I probably didn’t pay much attention to whatever else was, or wasn’t, going on. (2*)

 Day after day, week after week, and month after month, I – drumroll, please – did NOT have morning sickness! You read that right. No throwing up at all. One or two times I had this tiny feeling inside that I might get sick, but nothing ever came of it. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not like when I woke up every day I felt I could tap dance or do somersaults. Far from it.

There was this one time, mid-afternoon, when a little bite of canned peaches, as soon as I swallowed them, showed they just didn’t want to stay down. But to me that didn’t count. You should have seen the look on my doctor’s face when I told her how it had been going. She knew this type news was rare. As weeks went by, I began to feel a bit guilty when, after telling other moms, ‘That’s not fair!’ was their first response.

When what was supposed to be my morning-sickness phase had passed, my ‘Thank you, Lord’ thoughts began to form a bit differently. By this point, God had often heard thanks for making things happen, like showing me love through family and friends. But something changed a bit. Thanks to God had begun for Him making sure things did NOT happen.

I couldn’t help but share this in hopes to encourage all to not just be glad something did or didn’t happen but, instead, think ‘Thank you, Lord ‘ 

1* – click to read how this entire story began

2* – click to read post on when relationship ended. 

Thank you, Lord – part 2

Thankyoulord1

There are a few different ways ‘thank you’ is used.

Thank you – Noun –                                                                                                       A conversational expression of gratitude. Telling someone you are grateful for something that they have said or done.

Who is this someone I’m referring too?

In the midst of my unplanned pregnancy at the tender age of nineteen, I couldn’t help but feel more of a need to cling to God. It was a must. My heart, soul, and mind would have overflowed with guilt if I did not feel His forgiveness of my mess up.

Thankfully, as months went by, peace began to form inside me as I soaked up the fact that God isn’t just my Lord and King, but my Father. It was impossible not to have ‘Thank you, God’ thoughts as I saw His hand here and there while my tummy grew.

Full love and support from many was noticeably expressed, and I never took that for granted. But a few other things were showing up that I gave God credit for. I’ll share a different one on each post for a while, being that they’re worth more than a few sentences to describe.

I’ve already shared in one of my first posts what the first one was, but at the time, it was far from being listed in any ‘Thank you, God’ category.   The following excerpt is from my book. See if you can guess why I’m thankful to God for what took place. 

_______________

During all the page flipping, it felt like I was a spy who was taking forever to find an important number.  I can’t believe I’m doing this. I can’t believe I’m doing this. I guess I’ll look under ‘Pregnancy Test.’ Okay, let’s see. Oh, there’s one. Planned Parenthood. This sure wasn’t ‘planned,’ but I guess I have to ‘plan’ something if I am.

That was the first one I noticed. After all, that’s what the bold wording is supposed to do, right? Make you notice. Well, it worked. I was so nervous pressing those numbers.

phone

Ring, ring. Ring, ring. Ring, ring. Ring, ring.

 

Hmmm. No answer. Darn it. They must be closed. I’ll try another one. I’ll flip back a bit and do it more in alphabetical order. Let’s see, Crisis Pregnancy Center. This sure is a crisis for me if I’m pregnant. I have to try this one.

Ring, ring. Ring, ring.

Oh, please. Oh, please be open! PLEASE be op…

“Hello. Crisis Pregnancy Center. How can I help you?”

Please tell me I’m not pregnant.  Just seeing if you are open today. Really? Right now? Thank you.” Click.

_______________________

I still thank God, thirty years later, for having that first place I called be closed. Why? Click here to find out. I encourage you to, for It explains why having an abortion wasn’t far from my thoughts. By reading it, you will discover why I thank God, to this day, for not allowing anyone to answer that first phone call. If someone did, well…I don’t even want to think about it.

A Mans Heart

More ‘Thank you God’s to follow.

Thank you, Lord – part 2

Thankyoulord1

There are a few different ways ‘thank you’ is used. Here’s one.

Thank you – Noun –

A conversational expression of gratitude. Telling someone you are grateful for something that they have said or done

Who is that someone I’m referring to? God.

In the midst of my unplanned pregnancy at the tender age of nineteen, I couldn’t help but feel more of a need to cling to God. It was a must. My heart, soul, and mind would have overflowed with guilt if I did not feel His forgiveness of my mess up. Thankfully, as months were going by, peace began to form inside me as I soaked up the fact that God isn’t just my Lord and King, but my Father. It was impossible not to have ‘Thank you, Lord’ thoughts as I saw His hand here and there while my tummy grew.

Full love and support from many was noticeably expressed, and I never took that for granted. But a few other things were showing up that I gave God credit for. I’ll share a different one on each post for a while, being that they’re worth more than a few sentences to describe.

I’ve already shared in one of my first posts what the first one was, but at the time, it was far from being listed in any ‘Thank you, God’ category.  (1*) The following excerpt is from my book. See if you can guess why I’m thankful to God for what took place. 

_______________

During all the page flipping, it felt like I was a spy who was taking forever to find an important number.  I can’t believe I’m doing this. I can’t believe I’m doing this. I guess I’ll look under ‘Pregnancy Test.’ Okay, let’s see. Oh, there’s one. Planned Parenthood. This sure wasn’t ‘planned,’ but I guess I have to ‘plan’ something if I am.

That was the first one I noticed. After all, that’s what the bold wording is supposed to do, right? Make you notice. Well, it worked. I was so nervous pressing those numbers.phone

Ring, ring. Ring, ring. Ring, ring. Ring, ring.

Hmmm. No answer. Darn it. They must be closed. I’ll try another one. I’ll flip back a bit and do it more in alphabetical order. Let’s see, Crisis Pregnancy Center. This sure is a crisis for me if I’m pregnant. I have to try this one.

Ring, ring. Ring, ring.

Oh, please. Oh, please be open! PLEASE be op…

“Hello. Crisis Pregnancy Center. How can I help you?”

Please tell me I’m not pregnant.  Just seeing if you are open today. Really? Right now? Thank you.” Click.

_______________________

I still thank God, thirty years later, for having that first place I called be closed. Why? Click here to find out. I encourage you to, for It explains why having an abortion wasn’t far from my thoughts. By reading it, you will discover why I thank God, to this day, for not allowing anyone to answer that first phone call. If someone did, well…I don’t even want to think about it.

A Mans Heart

More ‘Thank you God’s to follow.