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Archive for the ‘Learning from History’ Category

Thanksgiving 1

Two years ago on Christmas Day, Sanmi arrived from Nigeria after a long red-tape wait for his visa.  On December 30th, 2011, Sanmi and our youngest daughter, Martina, were married right here in our condo clubhouse with a Salvation Army Major officiating.  And now their family has grown to include our littlest treasure, Tuks, who enjoyed her first Thanksgiving and the wonder of eating most everything but the turkey.

T 2

It was Martina’s first Thanksgiving of waiting to eat until after her food cooled to room temperature, but as you can see she didn’t mind at all.  Martina is the happiest Mom imaginable!

Our earthly blessings abound in family and friends.  And there is more, so much more:  our freedom, which is rapidly becoming increasingly fragile and endangered.  Indeed, God is judging our nation for its rampant and arrogant disobedience as exemplified by our President who simply cannot tell the truth—a “leader” who is great at delivering speeches, yet either incapable or unwilling to do anything else but talk and by-pass the vital role of Congress.  President Obama is a self-proclaimed Caesar, a potential dictator of the most frightening and mind-boggling ilk!

As if a president who lies through his charming smile were not enough, that president is represented by a Secretary of State reminiscent of a certain long ago Prime Minister.  In the words of Los Angeles journalist, Eric Golub on November 24, 2013:  “Only days after President Obama gave Iran the green light to obliterate Israel, he took time for a victory lap to celebrate his most epic failure to date.  America and other world powers have just agreed to ease sanctions on Iran in exchange for an empty promise. Iran will pretend to stop its quest for nuclear weapons as the West celebrates the greatest meaningless paper agreement since Neville Chamberlain declared “peace in our time” with Hitler.”

In countless ways the USA has sinned and fallen far from its original design and intent.  Seduced by materialism and pride of accomplishment, we have failed to give glory to the God who made it all possible.  Countless churches have abandoned God’s literal Word for fun, games, and other ludicrous ploys to get bodies in the pews.

In 30 plus years of evil legislation millions of children have been slaughtered, sacrificed in the Baal worship of “Choice”.  Moral values have plummeted to the depths of disgusting degradation.  And God’s nation of Israel has been compromised to a level which is sickening and revolting.

God’s Word proclaims His chosen people, the Jews to be “the apple of His eye”.  Regarding Israel and the Jews, God has promised:  “I will bless those that bless you, and I will curse him that curses you; and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  Genesis 12:3, NKJV

Unlike President Obama who cannot keep a promise, our Lord has never broken a single promise.  He will not fail to punish our sinful, murderous nation and our leaders who have betrayed His chosen people.  We are long overdue for severe judgment, and unless God provides miraculous intervention it will come soon!  It’s only a matter of time.

Meanwhile I pray that in the process of receiving our deserved judgment, this country will be blessed by the cleansing wind of revival.  I pray that many individuals in our country will return to faith in the Lord of history, the Lord who controls the destiny of all nations and rulers.  May we be broken and remorseful as a nation, as we beg our Lord for forgiveness and restoration to His righteousness.  Although The United States of America may suffer greatly while on earth, we have a merciful, forgiving God and we we can trust Him for eternity.

Thankful?  Yes!  I’m thankful for family, friends, and for my Lord Jesus Christ—the Righteous Ruler who will always keep His Word!

Margaret L.Been, 2013

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Country Garden with Headboard

I haven’t updated this page for over a month, and I think that’s the longest absence I’ve had since beginning Northern Reflections in Autumn of 2008.  Even after surgery and during hospital sojourns I’ve managed to plug in and let readers know that Joe and I are still on the planet.  Why the truancy?  Perhaps for the only time since I began writing at age 9, I simply could not decide what to write.  No, it wasn’t writers’ block.  I couldn’t decide what to write because for weeks I’ve been caught in a wedge between euphoria over this wonderful season, and my ongoing sorrow over the incredibly horrible daily news.

How could I blither on about herbs and perennials when confronted with images of a couple of brothers who blew up the Boston Marathon?  How could I keep posting photos of knitted shawls and hats when we have a president who refuses to admit he was wrong in trying to conceal the fact that the Benghazi disaster was indeed an act of international terrorism rather than a reaction to some stupid video—or for the fact that available aid was withheld from the embassy in Libya?  How can I wax euphoric over balmy days, when the IRS has reportedly targeted special interest groups including those containing the name “Israel”?  (If that isn’t a red flag, then what is?)  How can I write glowing paragraphs about how blessed my husband and I have been in nearly 60 years of marriage and family, when 3 young women in Ohio have suffered approximately 10 years of what amounts to as horrific an experience as many WW II concentration camp stories I’ve read about?

Thus the delay in refreshing Northern Reflections.  But today in church, I received a nudge.  When I get a nudge—this one was more like a hearty thump on the head—while sitting with my open Bible on my lap and listening to a straight arrow message from my straight arrow pastor, I can be reasonably sure that the thump is coming from the Indwelling Holy Spirit of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  Time to blog.

YES, life is beautiful.  My own personal life is amazingly beautiful, in every way!  (So what do orthopedic issues matter anyway, at age 79?  If I didn’t have them, I’d wonder if I were really alive!)  The Lord has poured His amazing grace upon our family.  The joy and contentment in my home defy description!  Each day I wake up excited to be alive while praying and deciding which of many creative options to pursue that day, if the Lord unravels the time for my creative options.  I always know that He may have other plans for me, and His will is always PERFECT. 

YES, the days are evil.  Human history is rampant with evil.  Only one sinless person has ever walked this earth, the Person of our Lord Jesus.  Yet in America the evil grows more blatant as time passes.  A cloud of widespread evil has shadowed our land in recent years, accelerating it seems since the Autumn 2012 election.  As we reap the bitter fruit of a godless culture, a nation in which God and the truths of Scripture have been discarded as “irrelevant”, we need more than ever to affirm the good, the beautiful, the blessed—while firmly proclaiming that the days are evil. 

Only PRAYER, PRAYER, PRAYER, can reverse America’s collision course.  While savoring the abundance God has provided for us and rejoicing in those freedoms we still have, we need to remember that the days are evil and we could lose all of our freedoms in a matter of weeks or even days.  I take seriously the Scriptural mandate to pray for our leaders.  Yet today in church, with the blog nudge I also received a nudge to ratchet up my prayers for our nation’s president.  

President Obama is AT BEST clueless and incompetent—or AT WORST downright evil!  Did he really find out about the IRS scandal at the same time the rest of us did, or is he lying?  God knows the answer; at this point we do not—at least I do not!  Yet like each one of us, President Obama is a person for whom Christ died to save. 

And if our president is either incompetent or evil (or both!), will “the other” major TV news networks have the honesty and courage to come forth with the unaltered facts?  So far, only one station is telling it like it is—while the others appear to be in a state of denial.  While the truth-telling network addresses the issues of Benghazi and the IRS as wrongs to be dealt with accordingly, the other stations simply cry “GOP Politicizing!”—as if confronting evil were a matter of politics rather than our God-given responsibility!

The evil in our land reflects the sad demise of salt and light in our nation’s churches, once known as “Christian”.  The objective fact of man’s sin and need for a Savior is (most thankfully) addressed in my church—but in countless assemblies that kind of straight arrow preaching has been deemed “political” (or objectionable, or unappealing, or whatever!) and therefore abandoned.  Yet we are still here.  We can pray that the Spirit of revival will sweep our land, bring us to our knees, and bring our churches back to God’s Word.

Here is the nudge, or thump, I received today:  Continue to PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!  Keep informed, keep talking, keep living the Christian life I’ve been given!  These are not optional—they are essential.  Meanwhile, keep blogging.  Keep broadcasting the fact that my life is good.  There is time and space on Northern Reflections for the urgent issues which confront us—and also for herbs, perennials, knitted garments, and my beautiful family!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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Every year at this time, since I began blogging, I’ve commemorated Pearl Harbor with a photo of the disaster.  This year, I can’t bring myself to feature the photo.  Recently, whenever I think of Japan I think of the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Necessary from a military standpoint?  Yes!  Unthinkably tragic from a human standpoint?  YES! 

We need to remember history, mainly because we could benefit from learning.  History could provide foresight and wisdom.  But it’s been shown again and again that people do not learn from history.  We may remember history, but we simply play it again.

As Christians, we are commanded to forgive.  Forgiveness is the very core of our faith, and the reason why we are standing here rather than decimated and plowed under by God’s wrath.  Yet there are historical characters whom I cannot forgive in my fallen humanity:  especially Hitler, for his atrocities to God’s people the Jews.  And Stalin. 

And, going way back—Oliver Cromwell.  I read a lot of documentaries on Irish history.  I’m currently experiencing a formidable challenge knowing that I have to forgive the British Empire, not only for its mindless brutality in Ireland but for centuries of power lust and domination in India and Africa.  My husband, always the wit, suggests that I gather up all my English tea and dump it in the harbor a mile from our home.

However when I think England I want to think tea and English country gardens—along with Shakespeare, Jane Austin, Keats, the Brontës, Thomas Hardy, John Galsworthy and other authors too numerous to name.  I want to think our precious English language, and English theatre which (in my opinion) is second to none. 

When I think Russia I want to remember ballet and Tchaikowsky who, tortured as he was in his personal life, left the world a legacy of hauntingly beautiful music.  When I think Germany I want to recall Bach and Beethoven—and the tradition of gemütlichkeit reflected by German Americans in the cultural history of Wisconsin.  When I think Japan I want to focus on centuries of exquisite art traditions:  painting, poetry, gardening.

Every nation on earth has its shame as well as its pride.  Individuals are born sinners.  National shame is sin multiplied.  America is not exempt from national sin.  Just ask the decendants of the Cherokee and other Native Nations who walked the Trail of Tears from the deep South to Oklahoma and points West.  Or ask the descendants of slaves.

There is only One Remedy for sin, and that was accomplished for us at Calvary.  God’s Remedy for sin came to us as a baby, born in a crude and humble manger some 2000 plus years ago.  He is coming again!  “And He shall reign forever and ever!”

Meanwhile I will remember December 7th, 1941.  Remember, but move on!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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As you can see from the above photo, taken a couple of years ago in our up north guest house, our grandsons Joel and Nathaniel are fascinated by my beloved craft of spinning. 

The fact that I knit sweaters, hats, shawls, and scarves from my hand spun yarns (spun from sheep wool, llama hair, mohair from angora goats, dog hair, and/or silk) lends a practical purpose to this ancient but currently popular art.  The easy-to-comprehend mechanics of a spinning wheel add to the marvelous mystique of spinning:  engendered in those of us who were raised on the tales of Hans Christian Andersen and The Brothers Grimm.

The wheel pictured above is one of my 5 spinning wheels.  It’s a replica of the Irish Castle Wheel, and it is the one I use most often as it’s easy to move from room to room—or out to the patio where I sit and spin on warm days.  The wheel’s main location is our living room next to the Saxony wheel which I also use frequently and love.  Both wheels (pictured below along with my yarns and some of the garments) have the same mechanism with exchangeable bobbins.  They are Jensen wheels—made in Lake Delton, Wisconsin—and they are “top of the line” in performance as well as exquisite beauty.

As I keyboard on my laptop, I can honestly say that I love old things best:  old appliances, old tools, old dishes, old artifacts of most any kind.  That may sound oxymoronic as I blog, gather information, and do most of my shopping online (with the exception of groceries).  Sometimes I even write letters on the laptop, although email is my least favorite computer function.  There is nothing, no nothing in the world like a real letter on pretty stationery.  The ever-escalating cost of postage will never dim my fondness for the U. S. Postal Service!

New things can be useful, even delightful—as in the case of favorite kitchen appliances like my BREADMAN, electric percolator, and blender for those refreshing smoothies.  I’m on friendly terms with a refrigerator, and an electric oven and range.  I have no desire to cook on wood, even though I’ve nostalgic recollections of my Grandma Rose doing exactly that.

We have a dishwasher, which we do not use—as dishes are too lovely to stash in a machine, and I get much pleasure out of washing them and seeing them lined up in the drying rack on a kitchen counter.  When we had little children and babies, I thought differently and did use a dishwasher.  Now the dishwasher is one of our resident “museums”.  It houses old kitchen gadgets, cookie cutters, etc. which were once used by departed family members—or culled from garage sales and antique shops.

Flush toilets and running water are luxuries I’ll never take for granted.  I love them and would not want to go back to using an outhouse, and pumping and hauling water.  It’s fun to recall the fact that we had only an outhouse (and slop pails for nighttime use) at our summer cottage in the 1940s—and that we hauled water for drinking, cooking, and washing.  But having “been there, done that”, I certainly don’t wish to return.

No!  Other than periodically eschewing a few things like email, I don’t want to go back.  But I do want to preserve, and whenever possible use and enjoy vestiges of the past through home arts such as spinning on my spinning wheels.

Why is preservation so important?  I believe that an appreciation of the past is a vital dimension of life in the present!  Quite basically, we have roots.  Just as a plant is nourished by its God-given roots, we are nourished by ours.  Roots are part of our down-to-earth quality of life, and they are instrumental in that profound pleasure which we derive from simple, everyday things.  Without an appreciation of our roots, we would be plastic people—sterile, robotic, generic, and boring! 

Family roots are vital but so are cultural, lifestyle roots.  I’m not alone in my passion for roots, as evidenced in the popularity of THE ANTIQUES ROADSHOW and the crowds that throng to living history museums.  Life is richer today when we know something about yesterday! 

Our home is blessed to be a mini living history museum, one in a constant state of production with spinning wheels, baskets of wool (still remaining from 20 years of raising my own sheep), a surplus of knitting needles, and a plethora of hand spun yarn and hand fashioned garments!

NOTE:  The 3 shawls on your left as you face this photo are some of many that I wove on my 24″ Baby Wolf Loom–one of 2 looms which are currently still up north due to lack of room for them in our condo.  Having only 2 hands, I manage to keep my fingers moving fast enough as it is with spinning and knitting. 

The “center stage” colorful striped scarf is one I knit over this past winter from yarns which I recently spun and dyed.  Embellished with funky beads and a crocheted border, the scarf is wide enough to double as a stole.

It always freaks me out, when people look at my spinning wheels and call them “looms”.  More education and advocacy are needed in the area of the fiber arts! 

Occasionally, I spin for public events.  People always cluster around the spinning demos, and ask wonderful questions.  How great to be able to promote an appreciation of this time-honored craft!  :)

Margaret L. Been—All Rights Reserved

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the-sunday-well-never-forget1

“And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you, and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”  Genesis 12:3

“Which covenant He made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac, and confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant.”                        Psalm 105: 9-10 

On September 29, 1938 leaders of Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy met at Munich to decide the fate of the Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia made up mostly of ethnic Germans.  Adolph Hitler had alleged that Czechs in that area were mistreating the Germans, and Hitler wanted to annex the territory for Germany.

Already, the Nazi war machine had grown to ominous proportions and Austria had gone under Hitler’s boot.  Czech president, Edvard Benes appealed to Britain and France for help in protecting his little country against the advance of a tyrant so obviously bent on world conquest.

Hitler, meanwhile, was busy deceiving the world into thinking that this little part of Czechoslovakia was all he wanted.  Those who favored siding with the Czechs against Germany were labeled “war mongers”.   Our president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was not present at the Munich conference–but sent repeated pleas for Germany and Czechoslovakia to “negotiote”.

Need we say, “the rest is history”?  On September 30, 1938, headlines in the New York Times read as follows:  “Four Powers Reach a Peaceable Agreement”, “Germans to Enter Sudetenland Tomorrow and Will Complete Occupation in Ten Days”, “Nazi Demands Met”.

After the Munich Conference, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin returned to London waving the Munich Agreement for all to see, and boasting:  “A British Prime Minister has achieved peace in our time . . . . peace with honor.”

Those ironic words were followed by events we can never forget: 

November 8, 1938–“Krystalnacht” (“night of broken glass”) when Hitler’s anti-Semitic posturing turned into the methodical destruction of businesses owned by German Jews. 

March 15, 1939–The remains of Czechoslovakia caved in under Hitler’s aggression.

September 1, 1939–Hitler launched World War II, by attacking Poland and thereby bringing Britain and her European allies into the conflict.

December 7, 1941–Japanese war planes attacked U. S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.

December 8, 1941–U. S. declared war on Japan.

December 11, 1941–Germany and Italy declared war on U. S.

Why don’t we learn from history?  Again and again, we hear the word “negotiate”.  How many of our presidents have aped Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin by thinking they are achieving “peace in our time, peace with honor”?

Negotiations with dictators who are bent on world power can only spell compromise and ultimate devastation.  Negotiations in 1938 resulted in the closest thing to Armageddon the world has ever experienced. 

Negotiations in 1938 also resulted in the torture and extermination of millions of God’s chosen people, the Jews.

Today Germany and Japan are friendly nations, purposing to never again repeat their past.  But other aggressive, diabolical regimes have risen up in the wake of the World War II tyrants–regimes with leaders who, like Adolph Hitler, are committed to wiping the Jews off the face of the earth forever.

Of course this will not happen.  God is faithful, and He will preserve His people and His nation.  There will be a genuine Armageddon, and our Lord will return to earth to reign. 

When the Lord returns, we will have “peace with honor”!  Meanwhile, any “negotiations” which threaten, harm, or in any way undermine the nation of Israel can only result in disaster!

“For you are a holy people unto the Lord your God:  the Lord your God hath chosen you to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.”  Deuteronomy 7:6

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved 

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