Archive for July, 2012

These two little guys are:  1) our son Karl, the one with the bare top, and 2) his boyhood friend, John.  The photo was taken in 1968.  I have an overflow of memories from those years, many fun (and some touching!) stories of all of our children.  One recollection that has surfaced frequently in recent years involves Karl when he was just a bit younger than depicted above.

He and another friend were busy in the neighbor’s back yard, piling up some rocks left over from a building project—when a rock slipped and sliced into Karl’s right hand.  The wound bled profusely, and required a dash to our local medical clinic.  Our daughter Debbie, then eight years old, was home recuperating from a flu bug, and she held Karl on her lap in the back seat.  (Obviously this was before children’s car seats were mandated.  Our children simply floated around in the back seats of vehicles, with their guardian angels on duty!)

I can still picture the scene I viewed in the rear view mirror as I drove:  Debbie in her pink and white quilted bathrobe, calmly holding Karl with his towel-wrapped hand pointing bolt upright in the air upon my request—in hopes of stopping the flow of blood.  Karl was just as calm as his sister.  We had kind of an unwritten policy when raising our children:  Don’t panic, don’t get into a flap!  Just do what needs to be done, as quietly and efficiently as possible!

Throughout the cleaning, stitching up, and dressing of the wound at the clinic, Karl never cried—in fact he scarcely changed the bland expression on his face.  Finally, when the job was done, the doctor said, “Okay, Karl.  You can go home now, but stay away from the rocks!”

At that, Karl suddenly burst into a deluge of tears and protested, “But I have to build things!” 

Today, at nearly fifty years old, Karl is still “building things”—writing computer programs for his life’s work, and singing in a chorus for a leisure-time hobby.

Karl’s rock story resonates with me, as I have always been a person who “has to (ardently wants to!) build things”—a home and family for my life’s work, and more leisure-time hobbies over the years than I have time to list at the moment.  Now that my body is aging and “glitching”, as many bodies do after decades of use, building something (a knitted garment, a hymn on the piano, a blog, a painting or collage, a bit of garden, a batch of soap, etc.) is more important and vital to my well being than every before. 

I’m realizing that creative interests are far more than entertainment, or a way to invest our leisure.  For me the creative occupations are a lifeline, a reason to keep on—a welcome and necessary diversion from whatever may be hurting physically or circumstantially!

Recently a friend, who has been blessedly healthy and pain free all of her life, discovered that she does indeed have a health issue which will need to be treated with surgery.  She asked me for input—knowing that I have “been there, done that”. 

In trying to encourage my friend, I mentioned the excellence of her medical resources and the fact that she would be kept as relaxed and comfortable as humanly possible during her hospital experience.  I stressed the benefits of her being able to rest and recuperate at home, while her diligent family cares for her—along with her involvement in post-op therapy.  

Finally I told caught myself telling my friend, “But for me the best therapy of all is making something.”  

I realize that my lifestyle of “making” is not for everyone, and I pray that I didn’t come off sounding preachy to my friend!  But that’s the chance we take, those of us who “have to build things“!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

Read Full Post »

 US Drought Monitor, July 10, 2012


 “Each one of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Philippians 2:4 NIV

What began as one of the loveliest springs I can remember is fast becoming a nightmare of a summer for farmers, and potentially for all of us in the USA, from coast to coast.

At first I viewed the brutal heat and drought through the tunnel vision of my own sweet little garden.  Then we noticed that the local fields of corn were green, yet the plants lacked any sign of developing ears.  My vision expanded to include the farms in Southeastern Wisconsin.  Every day, sometimes twice a day, I watered our yard area and whatever the hose could reach of our neighbors’ gardens—expecting that any night I’d awake to booming thunder, flashing lightning, and torrents of rain.  It always rains in Wisconsin, at least it almost always did. 

As I watered, I began to realize that maybe we were into this weather for the long haul.  It dawned on me that our wells could dry up.  Now I’m watering the garden far less often—supplementing by using plastic buckets for indoor hand washing of dishes and garments, and then emptying that water onto the outdoor plants which seem the most thirsty.

This week my tunnel vision has exploded to realize that our entire nation is about to be affected in some degree by a severe drought. Crisis!  Calamity!  I can’t help but think that the drought may be judgment on our nation, for having strayed so far from our God! 

No longer can my main concern be my sweet little garden, much as I love it.  I must be concerned with the interests of others, as well as myself!  As I was processing these thoughts, the Lord reminded me of something I read about the Scottish, Olympic Gold Medalist runner Eric Liddell—who served as a missionary in China before and during World War II.

In 1943 Liddell (so beautifully commemorated in the award winning film, CHARIOTS OF FIRE) was interned in a Japanese camp—in a part of China under Japanese control at the time.  Although constantly becoming more ill during his imprisonment, Liddell filled all of his time with tending to the interests of others.  He organized games, taught science lessons to youngsters, insisted that food and other necessities be shared with all, and helped elderly inmates in many ways each day. 

In 1945 Liddell died in the Japanese camp, of an inoperable brain tumor.  His loss was greatly mourned.  Eric Liddell was remembered for his cheerful spirit and his eagerness to be of service to others.

During the time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chinese authorities revealed that before Liddell died, he had refused to leave the Japanese camp in a prisoner exchange arranged by Winston Churchill and the Japanese government.  Rather than seizing the opportunity to join his wife and daughters who had taken refuge in Canada, Eric Liddell gave his release to a pregnant woman.

Eric Liddell has provided a magnificent example of the sacrificial life—ultimately modeled for us by our Lord Jesus Christ!  Wherever this drought may take us, I pray that I will keep my focus on the interests of those around me—even those beyond my sweet little garden. 

And most of all, with the spector of a severe drought hovering over us, we must pray for the rain of revival—for our nation to return to God and His Word!  Unlike my garden hose, prayer has no limits.  God’s Living Water is eternal!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

Read Full Post »

Today is probably the last day we will ever use a traditional mailbox.  Funny how little things like a change of mailboxes can rattle our world a bit. 

Nearly forever, we have had the rural type mail service—where the box is away from the house either down a long driveway or, as in the case of our present condo lifestyle, in a group of mailboxes on a public lane.  There’s something friendly about a mailbox, just as there is something wonderful about our small town Post Office located in what used to be a bungalow house.

Now, because there have been some package and letter thefts in our neighborhood, our community has gone to locked mailbox units.  We have keys, and tomorrow we will begin to unlock our mail.

It’s a very odd world, and I am glad that I’m nearly 79 years old—having grown up in an era where no one I knew ever thought about locking mailboxes, or doors on houses when we were at home for that matter.  I have never locked a door in the daytime, unless leaving our house—and even then I have often forgotten. 

Naive?  Perhaps!  But that’s the way I’d prefer to live in this remote, almost rural section of our county.  Maybe I’ll have to rethink our lifestyle, at this eleventh hour.  It’s an odd world out there.

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

Read Full Post »