4 Reasons We Need Our Pillow

          – 4 Reasons We Need Our Pillow – 


pillow bedding bed sleeping
1- Pillows help keep your head, neck, and spine in a normal position during sleep.
2- Pillows keep you from waking up with neck pain.
3- Pillows allow you to breathe easier and have improved circulation.
4 – Pillows are a necessity to hold all your thoughts.

Number four I hold to the most.
While I was growing up, there was no staring at your phone or laptop before you decided to turn your brain off and fall asleep. And, having a TV in your bedroom wasn’t as common as it is now. There wasn’t as much stuff around that kept you from thinking like we have today. For me, when my head hit my pillow meant I was going to think, think, and think some more. And what soaked up all those thoughts? My pillow.

As years went by, my pillow began to know more about me than anyone else. After all, it wasn’t worth telling my parents, siblings, or friends my many thoughts that had built up during each day. My pillow sure knew them all, though. Happy and sad thoughts it held. My pillow knew more than anyone else what toys I wish my mom would let me get when younger, to who I had crushes on as I got older, or if my sister would let me wear that one shirt of hers.  I know it felt all my joy-filled thoughts when I got my first real job. And I bet my pillow wished it could have told me to zip my thoughts shut after that day I got my driver’s license. And yes, my pillow sure knew how I dreaded getting out of bed for school every morning year after year.

I’m sure it jumped for joy when I began putting many of my thoughts into my new best friend: my journal I kept next to my bed. Here’s an example of what my pillow was spared from.

March 8, 1980 (12 years old)
Today was boring. All I did was clean up around the house. Mom was at work and Dad and David were out of town. It was a pretty day, but totally blah. I didn’t do much of anything that seemed important. A day not to remember. Plus, my skin is extra irritating today. Why me? Why do I have to have eczema on my arms? I mean, out of all the people in my family, why do I have to be the one to have it?

So why am I talking about my pillow? We all have pillows, so what’s the big deal? And why did I put the word pillow in the title of my book?

The day I found out I was pregnant was the day all my thoughts took a drastic turn. (1*) That pillow began its toughest job: hearing all my thoughts that were consumed with guilt, embarrassment, worry, shame, regret, and more questions than I’d ever had. b517537b7375822db752c6dd7c03ce4aEvery night, lights off, I was in my own world, free to load all my thoughts and tears onto my pillow. Family and friends knew some of what I was thinking, but still, not nearly as much as my pillow did. As each new day began, it would hear me think,

“I wish this was all just a dream?”

 

 

 

Then, as I got deeper into writing, including more of how God showed His Fatherly hands carrying me from beginning to end, I began to think differently.
Wait! How dare I not include who else knew all my thoughts: God! After all, He knew far more than anyone or anything about what I was dealing with. God and My Pillow. Perfect!

I felt much peace inside when I decided to give my book the name, using both who knew all my thoughts from beginning to end—God and Your Pillow.

Psalm 139:2-4  describes it perfectly. —  You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
1* – click here to read when I found out I was pregnant.

 

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, marimemoirs.com.

What If Many Tell You To Do Something

– What If Many Tell You To Do Something –

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 Has anyone ever said to you, “You should make one” or “You really should do it”? Come on, be honest. Most likely you have heard those words.  And I bet “No. I’m not one to do that” was your answer.  Off-and-on for years I kept hearing, “You should write a book about what happened.”  Each time my response was sweet and simple. “No, I can’t write a book,” and left it at that. As years went by, I then used the excuse, “No. I can’t write. Plus, it happened so long ago.”
But something happened that changed my way of thinking. It started after I found that Encephalitis website sixteen years ago. (1*)  About nine years later I got connected with a certain woman from that website who said she had noticed from my writing that I am a Christian, thus felt comfortable telling me her illness is what God used to show her need for Him. Well, of course I couldn’t help but want to chat regularly with her, telling her more about how God carried me though my illness. We then swapped e-mails and gabbed back and forth a few times each day.
“Hey, Michelle, I have an idea,” I typed after a few weeks went by.  “I can’t really share in one writing how I met my husband, so instead I’ll share a little bit each day.” But that meant I needed to tell her about my unplanned pregnancy first, and so I began.
Imagine writing something short and sweet once a day. Not much detail but just enough to share a point or two of what happened. Then a bit more of your story the next day, then the next. That’s what I was doing. Each day I shared the next very simplified detail of what I went through that I couldn’t leave out. I found myself enjoying typing out what God did for me just as much as when I’d face to face tell my story.
Here, read my journal from September 2008
…We’ve been e-mailing back and forth at least once a day. I’m now putting together a story to show her how God carried me from when I got pregnant and what followed. I love doing this.
After receiving each one, she would e-mail me back saying she loved what I was sharing. Now, keep in mind, they were short and simple. I think liking my writing classes in high school is why I enjoyed putting together a couple new paragraphs every day.
About six or seven days into it, she replied back with, “Marianne, would you mind if I copied those you’ve done so far and give them to a few friends of mine?  They could really use your story.”

You should have seen my face as I read that.

Really? Wow, that’s kinda neat.  “I guess you can, if you think it’ll help.” After she explained a bit about their ordeals, I wanted to write even more. Hmm. I think I’ll put a little more effort into it now.
A few days later, seeing how I was enjoying explaining my story, thinking of good ways to share what God had been doing with me back then, I sort of looked up and thought, Okay, God, are You trying to tell me something?
Two weeks later I wrote:
I’m still e-mailing my story every day and God’s allowing me to feel very useful, and now I’m actually beginning to think all these chapters could go toward a real book. We’ll see. It makes me now want to read what I wrote in my older journal. Should be interesting.
And it’s there I took off in praying, writing, praying and writing. 

So, time for a toast.

To my dear friend Michelle, who was the inspiration behind my book.       

cheers-1441112168YVl 

           ! CHEERS !        

But, more importantly, I end by thanking God for using Michelle as His final tool in getting me to write God and My Pillow

1*- click here on how I found the best website support group in the world.  

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, marimemoirs.com.

God, a Stranger and Tears (Part 2)

   – God, a Stranger, and Tears (Part 2) –

on phone

I mentioned in my last blog how getting a surprise can mean a lot. Time to share that getting a surprise can also change a bit of your life. I had received a phone call from a total stranger who heard about my illness and wanted to talk. She wanted to hear how it had affected me, as her daughter had also come down with Encephalitis. (1*)

That was the very first conversation I had ever had with anyone who experienced the serious illness I had gone through. Indeed, one priceless conversation. One piece of information she shared stood out.

“Marianne, you should check out this certain website,” she suggested. “It will get you contact with many others with your illness.”

My mouth dropped. “Really? Others who had what I had?”

I eagerly grabbed a pen and quickly scribbled down that website on the closest piece of paper I could find. After passing our thanks to each other for sharing our stories, I didn’t even blink before typing that website on my computer. I found it!  Encephalitis Global. (www.inspire.com)

I saw titles of different letters from different people. Titles like . . .

– My Hardest Encephalitis Problems

– My Family Doesn’t Understand 

– Who Else Is Feeling Alone?

– Five Years Since I got Hit With Encephalitis

The list went on and on. After clicking the first one, I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

This person knows exactly what it’s like!  (I bet I even said that out loud.) Then I checked another person’s title. I can relate to his problems, too!

Time to fit in that saying “died and gone to heaven,” because I felt like I had.                   My computer had just become my new best friend.

Business woman typing on keyboard

Slowly, my eyes were getting damp. I read more. Tears were accumulating.

Tears of joy, yet tears of sorrow. I guess those ten years of loneliness had piled up inside and it was time to pour them all out. Now sure, I did have my dear husband, children, plus family and friends, but my heart still ached inside feeling alone, so having found people who could understand caused me to let loose many tears.

Soon, however, tears of joy took over. People understand! I’M NO ALONE!

“I understand how you feel,” I replied to at least ten different people. I can’t even begin to describe how great it felt sharing parts of my story to people who understood. I felt even better when, only a few minutes later, someone replied back.

I’m talking to someone who knows what it’s like! They understand me, I understand them, and we can chat back and forth!  That website became my new companion, and I checked it out a few times every day. It felt like God was telling me, “Marianne, I know what I’ve planned for you can be tough, but I’m still with you. I love giving you surprises.”

Now, years later, I’m still connected to that website and can’t even begin to explain what a treasure it’s been reading and relating with many, even having few of those now as dear friends. 

Let me share one simple fact I learned as time went by after that call. God wants us to pray for and, when possible, comfort those in need. 

II Corinthians 1:3b-4 says – God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 

At the beginning, the website helped and encouraged me immensely, talking with others who have gone through what I had gone through. Well, with years behind me, I now use it as my opportunity to encourage others. I’ve even Skyped and talked over the phone with a few, watching or listening to some shedding a few tears while giving them my ear.  I savored their thank-you e-mail letters they later sent.

About six years ago, an opportunity arrived for a few of us to begin an annual lunch gathering for those in the Northwest. Worth the drive each year, indeed.

E GROUP

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this summer, a yearly encephalitis conference will be in my Seattle area for the first time. I am ever-so thankful I can help put it together.

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I’ll end here saying how I’m not in my own little world anymore, and God still hears my many thanks.

Question – Should you ask yourself if you can reach out to any who may be going through something you’ve experienced?  Believe me, it feels great if you do. Just keep in mind what Christ says in Luke 6:31 – Do to others as you would have them do to you.

I’d love it if you could pass me a note if you’ve used your rough road you’ve been on to help others. 

God, a Stranger, and Tears (Part 1)

         – God, a Stranger, and Tears (Part 1) –

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Fast forward twelve years from the snowy day in December when I had that life-changing seizure. (1*) Yes, I can share much of what went on during those years, but I can’t. I mean, I can, but before I do, I’d rather show how, about twelve years later, God used a total stranger to help me.

But first I need you to do something. Imagine you went through a huge life-changing ordeal that came out of the blue, hit you hard, and altered your normal way of thinking. Now, imagine what it would be like if, for years, no one could fully understand how hard it was for you in remembering names of very common things, places, and people. What if, day in and day out, week after week, month after month, and yes, year after year, you often had to think twice as much before you said things that, for most others, were easy to remember and say? And what if that illness was rare enough that finding others with that ailment was impossible? Well, readers, that was me. 

loneliness

 

I felt alone.

 

 

 

For years I had not talked to one person who had the same illness, who could fully understand what I was going through. A few years after my illness hit I did meet one man who sort of had a memory problem from an accident, but still, not the same.

“I have a taste of what it’s like forgetting names,” people often said (and still say).

No, you really don’t, soon became the first thought that followed (and still does).

As years went by I got used to it, thankfully, as God used family and friends to show me love, support and patience when I couldn’t just pop so-and-so’s name out or say what the movie was called I had seen the night before, along with using simple words in explaining things.  However, it still was hard not knowing even one like-minded (literally) individual who could truly understand what it was like.

God knew it was finally time to do something on one particular day. An unforgettable phone call came from a dear friend.

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“Marianne, I told a friend yesterday about you having had Encephalitis twelve years ago. She wants to talk to you because her teenage daughter had it.”

My eyes got bigger. “Really?”

“Yes. She was wondering if she could call you. Can I give her your number?”

“REALLY? Oh, my word! You sure can!”

Later that afternoon. Ring, ri… (yes, I was patiently waiting with my phone close at hand and grabbed it as soon at I heard any ring.)

“Hello.”

“Hi. I was wondering if I can talk to Marianne Petersen.”

To be continued.

1* – Click here to read about that life changing seizure.

The Door And The New Me (Part 2)

    – The Door And The New Me (Part 2) –

open-doorway-with-lightIn my last writing I talked about that front door of the house I grew up in, and how it, my last few years there, symbolized new beginnings. I stepped through that door as one Marianne Houstoun and came back a different Marianne Houstoun. The second time opening that door wasn’t as joy-filled as the first time. (read my last blog HERE) This time I walked inside in such a way I never thought I would.

From kindergarten through high school I had lived in that house with my parents, siblings, and even a dog for most of those years. Thankfully, career dreams began forming my junior year of high school, and when I graduated I was determined to make that dream come true. To top that off, with the new me described in my last blog, I was ready for the world. “A career, with God by my side . . . LOOK OUT, WORLD!”

That is, until the following summer. I wanted to get to where I was going one morning in the blink of an eye, just to get it over with. But I also wanted it to take forever to avoid the what-ifs. That place I went to is where I began feeling I could no longer pursue my dream. As I drove home in a daze, I felt part of me was gone. Once home, I experienced the longest time it’s ever taken me to open that door. Me, myself, and I had left that house, but me, a rough road ahead, and my unplanned pregnancy is what slowly opened that door.

I was flooded with disbelief. “How could I have messed up like this? I’m pregnant. Why me? God, You heard me cry many times for Your forgiveness for giving in and losing my virginity. But… but why this now?” 

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Opening that door meant It was time for me to start telling the world—or at least my parents.

I knew my life was going to change when I opened that door. The only speck of peace I had when stepping inside was knowing God was still right there next to me, like it was that special door-opening-day the year before. 
But this time His fatherly arm was around me a little tighter

We all know the Lord’s plans can be difficult. However, we have to remember, as hard at it is sometimes, He will turn tough times of trials into possible blessings. Yes, blessings. Facing trials are difficult, and times do come when it feels like we’re drowning. That is, however, an essential part to grow, to mature.

Romans 8:24 is one of many verses that can encourage us.                                                     (Make sure you pay attention to the word ‘all.’)

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

If you haven’t discovered this already, you will learn that as time goes by after tougher times occur, God’s plans are perfect and His fatherly, everlasting love is there to help. When God cradles us in His arms, He might not erase the tears right then and there, but believe me, His reasons are perfect as to why we need to be held. He has many things He wants to offer if we cling to Him through that fearful, tearful time.

 

Marianne Petersen is a former volunteer at a local pregnancy help organization and is actively involved in her local pro-life community. She is also a member of Northwest Christian Writers Association and author of a forthcoming memoir, God and My Pillow. You can follow Marianne on Twitter at @marimemoirs and read more at her blog, marimemiors.com.

I Live Here? (Part 2)

            – I live here?  (Part 2) –

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As Chris began opening that door, I asked again, but this time just to myself, “I live here?”

 

 

 

That was the last sentence of my last post about the first time visiting my home while staying in the hospital. That illness called encephalitis affected my memory big time, keeping me from remembering anything about that sweet little apartment my husband, myself, and our two young daughters called home. (1*)

As I felt uncertainty about all that was around me, my husband opened the door. There I was, standing in my home that, to me, felt like the first time. Pretend it was your first time visiting your friend’s new place. You go in, begin looking around, curious at what you see. Even though I had lived there a few years, that is exactly how I felt.

Once inside, one of the first things I noticed was my mom, who was standing in the living room with my two daughters. She held our six-month-old, Trina, as our three-year-old, Cassie, was standing there glued to her Grandma’s leg. I did recognize the girls, since they had visited me a few times in the hospital, but not instantly. After all, that was my first time seeing them outside the home I was used to: the hospital. Sad to say, but having a Mommy-type feeling toward them was still hard to find.

“This is where all four of us live,” Chris said, as he and my mom sensed a cloud of questions floating over my head while looking around.  They knew not to overflow me with information about the things I was looking at. Slowly I began asking questions about those things that stood out.

 

KS-Question-Marks

 

“Who gave this to me?” “How long have we had this?” “Do we use this a lot?” “This is a paper towel, right?”

 

 

I’m sure I more than once asked, ‘What is this?’ After all, things like a microwave, rocking chair, or changing table, were things I didn’t recall seeing before.   

“It’s time we now go downstairs,” my husband said, finally sensing I was enjoying looking around.

“Oh, cool! More neat stuff to look at,” and down we all went.

“You mean all these clothes are just mine? This shower is a lot bigger than that one at the hospital. I know what those are,” I said with a grin. “Toothbrushes! Is this one mine? It’s  yellow, right?”

And now the one thing I can perfectly picture me saying. “So this is where I sleep?” feeling all around while sitting on it. “This bed is huge!”

Remember, I was only familiar with twin-sized beds from both hospitals.

I stayed on my bed most of the time in the hospitals, so of course seeing that bigger bed stood out.

The things I saw that, to this day, stand out the most:

“What are those little boxes? They sort of look funny?” I asked while looking under my bed.

hidden gift

Looking under my bed? Yep. By this point I was having fun looking above and below, inside and out of almost everything. 

“I don’t know,” Chris answered. “but they do have a certain look that gives me a clue what they are. Let’s pull them out.”

Chris and my mom must have giggled inside, knowing that was the best time for them to explain what wrapped Christmas gifts were all about.  My face must have had the same look of excitement as a little kid who is about to unwrap Christmas presents.

“I wanna see what I got for people,” I said, grinning from ear to ear.

Of course I forget what they were, but I do know I’ll never forget sitting on my huge bed, my three-year-old-daughter, Cassie, who was now a bit more comfortable standing closer to me, hoping she would get to see a gift that was meant for her. 

Christmastime, ever since, is very special to me when watching little kids open up gifts. And I believe it’s because I got to experience opening up Christmas presents as a twenty-three-year-old little kid.

1* – Click here to read I Live Here? (Part 1)

 

Marianne Petersen is a member of Northwest Christian Writers Association and author of a forthcoming memoir about her experience with encephalitisYou can follow Marianne on Twitter at @marimemoirs and read more at her blog, MariMemiors.com.

The Door and the New Me

               – The Door and the New Me –

 

open-doorway-with-light

There has to be a place or thing in everyone’s life that stands out. I’m not necessarily talking about a place where some major happening occurred, but one that holds a special spot in your heart. Let me explain what I mean.

My front door. Yep. The front door of my home in Normandy Park, Washington, where I grew up, really stood out. In the sixteen years I lived there, I’m sure I opened and closed that door a million times.  However, the last few years living there, about a handful of times I walked out of that house one way, only to come back different. Not that the door was different, but I was different. Once home, opening that door sort of symbolized opening up this new thing about me to my family.

The first time that happened was when I was eighteen. I was being picked up by my best friend, on our way to a Christian camp. I opened that door and left, thinking about many things. Having just graduated from high school, and having just had a tougher than normal summer, I sure was confused with life ahead. What college route to take, when to get a decent job, and how to deal with family problems going on were all heavy on my mind as I shut that front door as I left. But more so was that lack of peace in my own heart, confused about the God I grew up with and the God I had been hearing about the last few months. This Christian camp I was going to with a friend, I hoped, could answer my questions.

When I was dropped off at my home five days later, I walked up to that front door thinking, “First time I’m opening this door understanding what ‘born again’ and ‘being saved’ really means.” To make a long story short, at that camp God opened my eyes to what being a true believer really meant. No more trusting my own beliefs; no more following the traditions of what I grew up believing, or my own attempts at being ‘holy.’ One day at that camp, things finally made sense. Or, should I say, one day at that camp, Christ opened my eyes and my heart, showing me what saving grace and faith really meant. He was my new Father and I was His child. AMEN!

When I walked up to that front door, I knew I was still a sinner, but now a forgiven sinner who hated her sin. Today, thirty-three years later, I still remember feeling God’s love and presence when I opened that door.

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I was entering my house as happy as could be, but also a bit nervous, knowing that once that door opened, I would be the only one in my home claiming this ‘born again’ title. An awkward feeling, indeed.

Thankfully, I had Christ as my constant companion while turning that knob, no matter what I was going to face.

 

Why am I sharing this? Because the next time I write I’ll talk about the opening of that front door a year later to a different new me. That new me has already been introduced in my last few posts which is what my soon-to-be published book, God and My Pillow, is about. (1*) 

I am eager to know if any of you can picture a certain place or thing that stands out. Could it be a door for you, as well? How about a car, or a stuffed animal? If something comes to mind, please share. What or where it is would be good enough, or, better yet, a simple reason as to why it’s special to you. I look forward to reading.

 

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, marimemoirs.com.