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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.

Encephalitis Awareness – Sign Petition

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I have shared bit’s and pieces about my brain injury call Encephalitis I endured years ago and will, Lord willing, have it all in book form is some near future. But right now, I want to encourage you to sign a petition that will raise encephalitis awareness. This petition has been put together from the organization called Encephalitis Global. This organization I shared in a past post and how it was the best source for me ! (1*) I was no longer by myself being I finally found people who understood what I was going through along with reading much needed advice and information.

The president from Encephalitis Global describes it this way  (parts from website)

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“Once home from the hospital, encephalitis survivors and caregivers search for information and support.  When they search the website of their local Brain Injury alliance, association, network or society they usually come up empty-handed!

Encephalitis can be an invisible disability as a survivor appears healthy but is struggling with serious neurological issues.   Often, encephalitis survivors do not realize that many of the issues they struggle with following their acquired brain injury are parallel (if not identical in many cases) to the issues dealt with by survivors of all types of brain injury.  If encephalitis could be recognized by every Brain Injury alliance, association, network and society in North America, survivors and their families would have an excellent local information resource.

Encephalitis is a genuine and serious brain injury. We ask that a link to Encephalitis Global be offered at the website of every Brain Injury alliance, association, network and society in North America. In this way, encephalitis survivors and caregivers would swiftly find information and support.

Please take a moment to sign our Petition to raise encephalitis awareness… Click here for Petition Information and please share it with others!!

In this way, encephalitis survivors and caregivers would swiftly find information and support. 

On behalf of the people we help every day, we salute you and we thank you. 

Encephalitis Global is an excellent starting point for people seeking further information resources on specific types of encephalitis.”

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So please, if you have a few minutes, sign this petition. I know if this was available when I was hit with ‘E’ my husband and I could have gone down a much smoother road with valuable information, much needed support and . . .

Woman Suffering From Cold Sitting On Bed With Tissue

… I wouldn’t have felt so alone.

Here again is that information.

Thank you. 

A Glimpse Into My Memoir

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Time I share a piece from my memoir called God and My Pillow.  Why? I’m excited, that’s why! I’m in my next phase of getting my memoir into the hands of people I want to encourage as they go through their own unplanned pregnancy. My other reason is to give my fellow readers a small taste of what took place when I was nineteen years old, a new follower of Christ, thinking I was ready for the world before I discovered I was pregnant. I want to get your curiosity to grow more and more to the point that you think, “I HAVE to have her book in my own hands when it’s out.”

Note – this takes place close to one year after God graciously saved me, having attended a Baptist church that year.

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As months went on, church was still great, and I was getting closer to the people there. But besides that, nothing kept me from taking the offer Debbie, an older friend of mine in California, made. 

“Oh, Debbie, I really don’t feel like wasting time with such useless classes. Plus, home here with Mom and Dad sure isn’t full of fun,” Plus, here in town, my sister Janis’s five-year-old daughter, Brenda, was very ill and it was questionable how long she had to live. Perhaps only a few months.

“Well, you could come stay with me for a while and see what happens,” Debbie said. “I’d love to help. It would be cool, us sharing my apartment.”

 The phone cord kept me from bouncing on my bed.  “Hey, I love that idea! Why not?” We discussed how to make it work and how, after finding a job, I’d then help pay the rent. Perfect plan! I knew, of course, how I’d need to find a church, knowing I needed God in California just as much as I needed Him in Normandy Park, Washington.

      I felt mature enough (as I bet most nineteen year olds do) to leave home, and got all excited thinking about the possibilities. The timing was perfect, as I was finishing my second quarter and the beautiful spring-like feel was at hand. My parents were not so gung-ho, but being that I was nineteen, they couldn’t stop me and, thankfully, they trusted me. They felt I wouldn’t be stupid enough to do something foolish. My brother Bud, living close to where I’d be, helped my parents feel more comfortable with the plan.

Finally…

I can’t believe it. My last night at home. I’m sure it’ll all go fine. It has to go fine. It’ll be interesting living with Debbie, but she’s so sweet. I bet she’ll help me find a job since she knows what’s around there. Weird leaving Seattle, but I can’t wait to see what it’s like living in California. Hope I find some cool place to work. Maybe cuter guys are there, too. Wonder how nervous I might get being on my own to find a church. Glad I’m all packed so I can start driving first thing in the morning. Pretty sure I have that big map in the car already. (Yep, no cell phone Google Map back then.) 

God, please help me know what I’m doing.

I was ready to take off in my own little car the next morning.

God, gas, and a bag of chips: check. Map, clothes, toothbrush, Bible, oh, and, of course, my pillow: check. Goodbye, house, goodbye, Mom and Dad. Goodbye, you little town of Normandy Park. Hello, new world!

 

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A taste of what took place when I was nineteen years old. Oh, I’m sorry. I mean nineteen years young, when I began a trip that changed my life.

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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The Word ‘Thankful’ All Folded Up – part 2

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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.

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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

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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.

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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