Book · Illness - Encephalitis

The Word ‘Thankful’ All Folded UP (Part 1)

         – The Word ‘Thankful’ All Folded Up (Part 1) –

back pocket

Time to do something: think. 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 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 a few years later when 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 most of my thanks to, as most things went by pretty smoothly that first year. 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 about a year later . .   download   . . things changed.

I was so young when I was hit with the first of these two trials. Young in age, at nineteen, yes, but I’m mainly talking about young in my Christian life. There had only been one year of God’s word and guidance before that larger-than-life trial unplanned pregnancy occurred, followed by the brain illness only a few years later.

Thankfulness was difficult to detect. It was hard to even find a little drip-drip-drip of thankfulness. Yes, I did sense God’s Fatherly care, but thankfulness as to why I needed that care sure wasn’t standing out. That word ‘thankful’ was folded up at least ten times, put in the back pocket of my jeans in that closet I never wore.

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 months, even years, after my illness went by.

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

James 1:12 slowly began making sense.


To be continued.

1* First trial

2* Second trial

Marianne Petersen’s book God and Your Pillow is now available. (Amazon) – You can follow Marianne on Twitter at @marimemoirs and read more on her blog,


Thank You Lord For . . .

                  – Thank You Lord For . . .  –


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. But thankfully, 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 an older post, explaining, thankfully, why an abortion did not take place. (2*)

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. 


Marianne Petersen’s book God and Your Pillow is now available. (Amazon) – You can follow Marianne on Twitter at @marimemoirs and read more on her blog,


A Glimpse Into My Memoir

             – 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 main reason for this post 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 the road I planned to take in life was not God’s plan. 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, showing me my need to follow Him, and lead me to a Baptist church I attended that year.


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.


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!




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.


Marianne Petersen’s book God and Your Pillow is now available. (Amazon) – You can follow Marianne on Twitter at @marimemoirs and read more on her blog,


1 Reason Why Melted Ice Cream Reminds Me of God

  1 Reason Why Melted Ice Cream Reminds Me of God


Occasionally, something happens that I just can’t hold back from sharing. In each story, there’s usually a part that shows God’s timing is perfect.

One day four years ago, back when our budget was a bit too tight, I tried to get back into house cleaning as I had done years earlier.

“Oh, great,”  I willingly but not so energetically thought, “Once again I’ll somehow get my name out to find new customers.” Not. Fun. 

While I was doing all I could to connect to possible customers, God was hearing me often ask for His guidance in how to connect with who.

About one week after I started giving it my all, one fall windy evening something took place. As I was pushing my grocery cart with four filled-to-the-brim bags to my car, I saw something a bit odd: a tow truck behind someone’s car parked in the disable spot. The tow truck driver was talking to an elderly lady. I slowly walked by, hoping to hear what was going on.

“I can’t get your car to start,” said the tow truck driver, “Where would you like me to tow it?”

“Oh, my! I don’t know what to do,” was one sad elderly ladies answer, “Just tow it to my place and tomorrow I’ll have to try to figure out what I’ll do next.”

‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, one of my favorite verses, came to mind. I began pondering.

One thought came to mind while trying to ignore the fact that the ice cream in one of my bags was melting.

“Um . . . excuse me but I couldn’t help but hear what the problem is. I have a suggestion.”

“Please, tell us!”  they both replied.

“Right across the street,” I said while pointing, “is the auto repair place I take my car. I know them well. They are closed now but how about you tow the car there, we both leave a note, and in the morning talk to them about your car. I’ll also offer to take you and your food to where you were headed, assuming it’s close by.”

Both mouths dropped.

“And if you have no way to get it after it’s fixed, maybe I can take you back to pick your car up.”

“Wow, You mean that? You’ll really help me. You’re an angel!” the elderly lady said. “Oh, thank you so much!”

“That sure sounds good to me,” said the truck driver. And off we went.








After dropping the car off, getting her and her food in my car, we both chit chatted a mile a minute as I took her only a few miles to her place.

“Can’t wait to see her face when she sees my plans,” God must have been thinking, because it turned out this dear lady lived at a retirement apartment complex. No way was I going to let her carry all her stuff up to the 4th level.  As I walked into that building, seeing a few elderly people walking around, one even needing a walker, a thought began to form.

Hmmm – I bet people here could sure use someone to clean their places. I just might look into this.

I asked the lady her thoughts about that while in the elevator.

“There sure are people who would love for you to do that. I know you’ll get quite a few.” 

That next day, when picking her up to go get her car, I had a poster all ready to pin up in the main office’s wall, informing those living there about my cleaning service. That evening I got my first of many calls!

God must have been grinning each time I answered the phone those first few days. Why?  Because I kept thinking that God’s timing of me coming out of that store was perfect, and that helping that dear older lady was far more important than keeping some ice cream from melting.

To this day, each time I see ice cream melting, guess what I think about. I’d love to hear of a certain person, place, or thing that, when ever you see it, it makes you think of a certain time. Come on. I bet we all have one. Tell me!  Tell me !



God Sure Can Surprise Us

          – God Sure Can Surprise Us –


A few posts back, I shared how I was surprised at myself. (1*) This one is being surprised at what others did. Here, let me explain. I give God full credit for guiding me to a certain website that would show an interest in my book. My mouth dropped when I read they requested that I send them part of my story.  Yes, you shall assume that this happening made it into my journal with a few exclamation points used here-and-there.

I can’t help but want to – quote – ‘share it with the world’  that God sure can surprise you if you hold to what Ecclesiastes 9:10 says. – Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.

That website is

Click here to see what I wrote.

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This was a little over a year ago but, as of today, they just helped me again. They graciously agreed to put an endorsement, which I received today, on my book. I guess I, again, sort of surprised myself even asking if they would.

More proof to me that being daring and surprising yourself go hand in hand.

Share with me your verse that helps keep you going as Ecclesiastes 9:10 sure does for me. I’m sure many others, along with myself, could use as many to encourage us as possible.

1* – Click to read how I surprised myself. 


Marianne Petersen’s book God and Your Pillow is now available. (Amazon) – You can follow Marianne on Twitter at @marimemoirs and read more on her blog,





Advice To Myself

                     – Advice To Myself –

Do you ever read something from your past that now causes you to roll your eyes while you think, ‘Was I really that way?’ Time to share a bit from my journal, but what?  I know. This one in particular being it causes my eyes to roll each time I read it a bit more than most.


August 22, 1983 (thirty-five years old)       Summer’s almost over and starting my junior year is at hand. I don’t wanna go! Oh, God, why is growing up so confusing? Why do ages matter? Why do I feel if I were eighteen, everything would be easier and better? Why do men play such a ridiculously important part in my life? Why are all my writings about the male persuasion? Why don’t I write about my run to the beach, or how important friendships are, or, better yet, how much I love Spyro Gyra (jazz band) and why I dread the school year? Why? I guess I’m just frustrated because my hair’s too short, my body’s too big, and my bank account is too small.

If you read a few entries before this date, you would surely see what was too important to me during those teen years, causing me to feel this way. I’ll give you some clues with a few other writings.

May 29, 1980 (thirteen years old -7th grade)  – – – Diary, today went so good. Edgar and I had fun. Tracy and I think the guys will love being around us at the class picnic. (I hope so.) I hope it goes good because today Edgar and I were talking, looking in each other’s eyes, jump rope couples and more.

(I’m giggling as I’m reading this.)

July 6, 1980 – – –  Today I told Robert that I wanted Jeff to call me. Then tonight on the phone Sue told Robert I didn’t like Edgar that much anymore.

Those are only two from twenty-million others like that my last few years before high school.  

Then high school – LOOK OUT

October 22, 1981 (fourteen years old – 9th grade. Excuse me. I mean freshman)   Things between Mike and me went okay today . . . sort of.  Marvin told me not to break up with Mike and if I do, don’t go with Greg.  Greg says to break up with Mike. I felt some waves between Greg and me starting right then.

November 18, 1981 – – – I’m so happy. Today I found out from Beth that Tom wishes I would like him. There is no holding me back now.

You get the gist of what I’m talking about. (I can’t help but laugh whenever I read these.) If I was at my current age, fifty, talking to me when I was thirteen, I would certainly say a few things like . . .

Me, now listen to Me. I look at what you are going through and want to pass on a few words of advice. Don’t waste your time! Focus on what really matters. But that means you must first learn what really matters. Focusing on who likes you and who you think you like should not be at the top of your list.

So far, God has sheltered you from so much of what other girls your age are doing with guys. Keep it that way and don’t get so wrapped up putting a relationship with some guy in front of everything else. Actually, I take that back. There is one relationship which does need to come at the top of your list. That relationship with Christ. He should be your focus. If you, Marianne, could cling earlier to Him than when I, the older Me actually did, then you would write about your run to the beach, or how important friendships are, how much you love Spyro Gyra. And I bet if you did that, then you wouldn’t dread your senior year as much.

You are still young, Me. Too young to feel you are ready for a serious relationship. Now I know, Marianne, that we ladies may feel we’re ready for serious relationships early on, but no. Wait. Your mind and body are not ready. Instead, focus on talents you have. Learn now because later on, believe me, I know you’ll wish you did. Work on those weaknesses you sense you have in school. Yep, Me, I know what they are. Study more, and heck, work even harder playing that saxophone before you sell it like I know you’ll do right after you graduate.

And let me tell ya, your mom and dad need to know you are there. Not just physically there, but your heart and soul as well. They need that. Spend more time talking with them about your days. Don’t just answer ‘fine’ when they ask ‘So, how was school?’ and then just wander off thinking about this guy or that guy, or gossiping on the phone with friends. Spend time on what’s valuable and not just wondering if Todd, Greg, or whoever thinks you’re cute.

So, Me, I couldn’t help but pass you a little bit of mental-floss I  wish I was given when I was your age.mentalfloss

Put God first, seek to please Him, and put your efforts into what matters now. Your time to start a relationship isn’t quite here yet, Marianne, but it’s the perfect time to start one with Christ.

And, Me, one more thing I want to say. Remember what I wrote when I was sixteen . . . 

Why do ages matter? Who do I feel if I were eighteen, everything would be easier and better?

Here is a short piece from my very next writing, close to two years later when you thought being eighteen would be much better. 

May 14, 1985 – – – Well, it’s the annual look back at the journal. A quick update. I graduate from Highline High School in twenty-nine  days. I’m eighteen now and no, life is not easier at eighteen.

Since I love songs, I couldn’t help be share this one – Dear Younger Me by Mercy Me.