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Archive for November, 2018

 


Hopping around on one leg is teaching me so much.  Actually it is the LORD Who is teaching me, opening up for me the huge world of people who have overcome physical (and mental) challenges and have lived amazingly creative lives.

I am streaming the world’s greatest music, nearly 24/7, from my I-phone or I-pad through a beautiful pair of speakers—one of which is right beside my ear on the little sofa where I spend all of my nights and much of the days.  Last night I added some fine Christmas music to my library of albums via this wonderful technology—and played the Christmas albums already on my devices.

Among the existing albums is a Christmas one by Andrea Bocelli, the Italian tenor.  (Bocelli’s rendition of THE LORD’S PRAYER on this album defies description.  You need to hear it for yourself.)  While “shopping” for additional albums, my fingers stumbled on many more by Andrea Bocelli—some of them opera.

Because I love Italian opera, I added some of these to “My Music” via Amazon, and I am astounded!  He is not Pavarotti, but Bocelli is perfect in his own right.  Curiosity prevailed, and I GOOGLED “Andrea Bocelli” to learn more about this man.  What I found on Wikipedia leveled me to tears, and will continue to inspire me forever.

Bocelli was born to a family in Italy.  His parents had been advised by doctors to abort the pregnancy as it was apparent there would be something amiss with this child.  His parents refused abortion, and Andrea was born in 1958.  Almost immediately problems with vision were recognized, and a diagnosis of congenital glaucoma followed.

Music was a great passion and comfort to Bocelli, from early on.  At age 6, he began playing musical instruments.  Wikipedia states that “By age 7 he was able to recognize the famous voices of the time and tried to emulate the great singers.”

At age 12, Andrea Bocelli became totally blind.  He was playing goalkeeper during a football* match, and was hit in an eye, resulting in a brain hemorrhage.  Yet Bocelli persisted in the study of music, performing, entering contests etc.  He studied law at the University of Pisa where he performed at piano bars in the evening to earn money.  After finishing law school, Bocelli spent a year as a court appointed lawyer—but soon after, his music career took over.  He was encouraged and promoted by the great Luciano Pavarotti.

His opera training gave Andrea Bocelli a depth and resonance which adds dimension to his pop genre music.  In addition to singing, Bocelli composes.  For fun I checked his website which lists the tenor’s pending engagements; they are in many countries—and he is beloved around the world.

All because an Italian couple refused to abort their child.  All because that child was born with the God-given GIFT OF MUSIC—and because that child had the will, perseverance, and self-discipline to develop his GIFT, for the immeasurable blessing of music lovers everywhere.

I have been tremendously blessed by learning more about Andrea Bocelli, and adding more of his albums to my APPLE devices.  There is so much to learn, if we only take the time.

Margaret L. Been  —  November 25th, 2018

*I ran this information through my husband, Joe, who is extremely knowledgeable in an area about which I know hardly anything:  SPORTS.  Joe commented that in Italy “football” probably means soccer. 

 

 

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There are definite benefits when being physically “on hold” while a broken femur heals.  Time to immerse oneself in hours of Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Paganini, Chopin, Mozart, and the contemporary poetic piano renderings of George Winston.

Time to savor every beautiful moment, and the people who fill my days.  Time to refresh my soul, and hopefully never forget the message continually being programmed into mind and heart:  SLOW DOWN!

My mother was a treasure trove of wise sayings, many of which you undoubtedly know:  “Haste makes waste”; Look before you leap”, etc. 

And one of our young grandsons, inspired by fables that were read to him, went around pontificating “Slow and ‘teddy’ wins the race”—“teddy” being his version of “steady”.  (This grandson is now CEO of a restaurant chain,  “Slow and ‘teddy’ ” evidently served him well!)

Just for fun I GOOGLED “Wise sayings about slowing down” and came up with a treasure trove of my own.  Here are a few:

“I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.”  Abraham Lincoln

“For fast action relief, try slowing down.”  Lily Tomlin

“Wisely and slow.  They stumble that walk fast.”  Shakespeare, ROMEO AND JULIET

“Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much.”  John Wayne

Scripture contains the most and the best of wisdom concerning lifestyle, summed up in Ephesians 5:15:  “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise . . . .”

Much as I like to think I’m the relaxed, meditative type, my family tells me I am also a “doer”—and it seems they are right.  I love to work, and I love order.  When a job needs doing, the thought of procrastinating is anathema. 

This is all very lovely, until the day when “doing” is not an option.  Then the relaxed, meditative aspect has to kick in as a matter of survival.  To maintain balance—even when “normal”, I have a wise saying that never fails to promote perspective:  “The only finished work on earth is what Jesus did.”  

Meanwhile, “Slow and ‘teddy’ wins the race.”

Margaret L. Been — November 23, 2018

Note:  The above turtle is a long-ago grade school art project rendered by our son Karl, when he was seven years old.  The “pinched turtle” is surrounded by other mementoes, spanning decades of the children in my life.

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aguilars

If a picture is worth 1000 words, you have just read 13,000.  There would be a lot more if I could find pics of everyone in our tribe—Joe and Margaret plus 6 children, 14 grandchildren, and 19 great grandchildren. 

We have framed pictures of everyone—the entire Tribe of Been—planted around our home, but not so many in my computer files.

We progenitors are pictured above, at a formal ball—UW-Madison, Wisconsin—in 1953, just a few months before our marriage.

Family is our greatest earthly blessing, and need not be bonded by blood and DNA.  Family can be any and all of those around us—the people God has given us to love. 

And don’t forget all the other “creatures great and small”—be they canine, feline, equine, or most anyone else!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Margaret L. Been — November 20, 2018

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“For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.’ “ Zechariah 2:8

The above words to Israel and God’s chosen people, the Jews, provide imminent warning.  Those of us who remember the 1930s and 40s are absolutely sickened by signs of the times, around the world—and now in the USA.  At least I hope we are sickened.

As if it were yesterday, I recall the 1945 LIFE MAGAZINE photos of what Allied troops found at Dachau and Auschwitz.  I pray my generation has not forgotten.  God has not forgotten.  Woe unto any nation who harms the “apple of God’s eye”.

Meanwhile, our LORD’S patience with our “one nation under God” defies comprehension.  For nearly 50 years, babies have “legally” been slaughtered in the womb—the most dangerous place on earth for American children.  Rank immorality prevails along with a mockery of God’s institution of marriage between one man and one woman.  In an ever-widening circle, gender confusion is not only tolerated but welcomed in areas where a child’s gender may be “changed”, regardless of the body parts which have differentiated boys and girls since the beginning of time.  Or, a newborn can be classified as an “it” until the day when “it” decides whether to be “he” or “she”.

We are way overdue for judgment—even obliteration.  Perhaps the countless number of God fearing, God loving individuals remaining in our country has kept us here, still in a relative degree of safety and comfort.  But ever mounting indications of trouble for God’s chosen race, the Jews, are poised to tip the balance AT ANY MOMENT!  Indeed there are areas where liberal, anti-God views flourish, and judgment may be in blatant process as I keyboard these very words.

Most of our Universities are no longer sites of higher learning, where opposing views are freely entertained and examined—especially in the studies of Humanities, Political Science, History, Psychology, Sociology, etc.  To disagree with the powers that be in these areas of matriculation is to court verbal abuse, alienation and ostracism, and even a deflated grade average.  Our once venerable institutions have been infiltrated, and students are getting their brains scoured and remade into GROUPTHINK.

In many instances, the GROUPTHINK extends to throw a blanket of condemnation over the Jewish race, the very people whom God chose to showcase His life and His values to the entire world.  The very people through whom our Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ came to save the world from condemnation.

I sense that some of you readers may be eye-rolling, those of you who have no interest in, or grasp of, even recent history,  Well it is happening.  It happened in Nazi Germany and it is happening here.  Beginning with universities, where minds are trained for leadership, and yes—running our government.

And we all know that throughout history the Satanic monster of anti-Semitism has weaseled its way into allegedly Christian Churches.  Anyone who knows and understands Scripture literally from Genesis to Revelation, understands that nearly 1/3rd of Scripture predicts Christ’s Kingdom on earth, where He will literally and bodily reign for 1000 years in Jerusalem in the midst of God’s nation of Israel—to be restored to its former glory.

A church where traditions and leaders speak louder than the pages of the Bible and literal prophecy is not a church to be trusted.  The horrible history of discrimination and persecution of Jews via “the Church” has not been perpetrated by the literal Biblical Church, but rather by institutions of religion where traditions and powerful “leaders” have trumped a literal Scripture.

Here is a contemporary case in point—a rerun of the travesty enacted some 12-14 years ago:  On June 27th, 2018, the U. S. Presbyterian Church voted unanimously to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction of Israel, until Israel ends its occupation of Palestine.

But there is still light in America.  An October 11, 2018 article in the Jerusalem Post states that the American Presbyterian Church is braced to lose some 400,000 members in the next 5 years—precisely over the policy of BDS. Praise God for that!

Light notwithstanding, America is on the edge.  Anti-Semitism was around in some areas in the past—i.e. the disgusting example of Henry Ford, and traitorous nuances of Charles Lindbergh.  But fresh concern arises when the ugly voice of prejudice is raised in the centers of our government, as is the case today.

Just GOOGLE documentation of anti-Semitic candidates who have won Congressional seats in recent elections.  GOOGLE Keith Ellison and Ilhan Omar.  GOOGLE Anti-Semitism, USA.

However one may feel about our current president, Donald Trump, with his name-calling and mouthy tweets, his championship of Israel is wonderful—an encouraging sign among the growing clouds of gloom.  But how long will his pro-Israel stance, indeed how long will he and his beautiful Jewish family members be significant in US policy?  Godlessness pervades our nation, and even some Jewish leaders have forsaken Israel.

Scripture remains unchanging, eternal, and literally true.  Therein lies our joy, our peace, and our future bright promise.  Meanwhile, LOOK OUT, AMERICA!

Margaret L. Been — November 17th, 2018

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“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ . . . . I Peter 1:6-7

 

California is being literally tested to the max—by fire.  I cannot begin to fathom such terror, not primarily due to loss of possessions but because of the very real threat of tortuous death.  Yet around the world, there are trials far more severe and devastating.  At the present time, Planet Earth can be a very treacherous piece of real estate!

Realizing all of that, and given the words of the Apostle Peter, my little inconvenience of recovering from surgery and being physically unable to control the mounting chaos and confusion that once was our well-ordered home—these “trials” are not really trials at all.  Here I am, well fed and clothed, clean, loved, warm and dry.  The physical pain is being managed, and I am surrounded by people who care.  No, in view of California, I am not experiencing a trial.

Yet there is frustration, and sometimes the enemy of our soul tempts me to grouse about the mess at hand.  Then I metaphorically hurl myself on God’s Grace, feeling ashamed of having lapsed into moments of consternation!

Two words in the above passage of Scripture stand out to provide tremendous comfort and consolation:  “various” and “grieved”.  Peter’s exhortation spans the centuries—popping right off the pages of my Thompson Chain Reference NKJV, right into my head and heart.

There are VARIOUS TRIALS, no matter where and when one is on this earth.  Some issues are catastrophic, like the California fires or, much worse, the “fires” of tyranny and injustice around the world.  Other trials, like my physical limits, are lightweight to the point of being almost silly.

And Peter wrote to individuals who GRIEVED.  Like you and I, believers in the Apostle Peter’s day were real.  Vulnerable to temptation—yes, even to grouse.  Challenged by their emotions.

God’s Word never leaves us helpless or hopeless.  We are not victims of our trials, nor do we need to be dominated by our emotions—as valid and understandable as they may be. 

We are deliberately being tested, so that the genuineness of our faith may rise above the circumstances of the moment—to the eternal praise and honor of our Lord Jesus Christ who has allowed the trials—to conform us to His image that we may glorify Him.

Yes, knowing “WHY” makes all the difference!

Margaret L. Been — November 14th, 2018

 

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Faith and Works

Birches II

(I have reprinted this entry from another of my four operative blogs, GOD’S WORD IS TRUE, published last March, for two reasons:  1) Readers may not know the other blog or blogs exist and 2) I feel the message is so crucial.  We are saved by Grace alone!)

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

When a seed has been planted in good soil, life will spring up and grow! Thus it is with God’s life. When we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and renewed by His resurrection, the seed of redemption/resurrection will burst forth in some way that is somehow discernible.

In the above passage, the Greek word for “workmanship” is “poiema”, meaning “a thing that is made”. (Having written poems nearly all my life, since I could wield a pencil or pen, it touches me deeply to realize that our word “poem” comes from “poiema”—perhaps implying that we are God’s poems.)

Since the Ephesian passage (along with countless other Scriptures) categorically states that God made us, and He created us to do “works” which He designated specifically and personally for each of us—ordained in Eternity Past—it metaphorically blows me away when I hear arguments about and confusion concerning the book of James, which stresses the fact that where there is genuine faith there will be works.

I have a good and very precious friend who loves to challenge me by claiming that the book of James states we are saved by works. This friend is a new believer who has never sat under disciplined, exegetical teaching. He plays Bible Leap Frog, jumping here and there without connecting the Scriptural dots, without putting individual verses into the Bible framework from Genesis to Revelation.

So I examine all of James, who has written in 1:17—“Every good gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” I find it so obvious, that any good works we Christians may do are included in those “good gifts from above”.

That understanding fits perfectly into Ephesians 2:8-10. All of my life has been known by God from Eternity Past. He not only ordained my works, He ordained me to do these works. When I fail, I very clearly have lost my focus on the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in His complete Word.

It cannot be stressed enough that when the Holy Spirit works in us, that Spirit will flow from us in a way that defies any human machination. We love God “because He first loved us” (I John 4:19). From that love, “works” will flow—as we keep Christ in the center of our lives, acknowledging that He is our Life! In Colossians 1;10, Paul prays, “That you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

Throughout the Bible, faith and works are inseparable partners. When we walk by faith, His works will follow. Works apart from faith and trust in God, His Sovereignty, and His Lordship of our lives are “wood, hay, and stubble”. But works that flow from God’s life in us, from our focus on Him, are pre-ordained.

Very clearly, we cannot be saved by human works: i.e. Isaiah 57:12, Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:16 for starters, And II Timothy 1:9 should clarify any confusion for all time: “(God) has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began . . . .”

In the book of James, who was one of the “pillars” of the church in Jerusalem, the context of “works” specifically refers to James’s “brethren” (James 1:2). James is exhorting fellow believers to pray in faith, for wisdom that reflects pure and undefiled religion before God (James 1:27) —from which His works will flow for the welfare and edification of others. The works are the evidence, not the cause of salvation.

Perhaps some confusion exists over what constitutes “works”. Throughout the New Testament, the Greek word for our English word, “works” is “ergon”, meaning a deed, doing, toil, labor, etc. Works may be obvious public service, but the attitude in which one serves is also part of the deed. Works begin with a redeemed, renewed heart affecting the way we think, the way we speak, the way we work, the way we relate, and the way we live and breath each moment on earth. Spirit filled “work” is a worship in myriad forms from building a shelter for the homeless to writing a poem which honors our Savior by affirming life.

Back in 1971, only one week after God had picked me up and plunked me into His Kingdom, my 13 year old daughter said to me: “Mom, you are “different!” In that short week, my duties and labors had not changed on the outside. I was wife, mother of 5, keeper of the home, and tender of 2 dogs and numerous cats. I baked, cleaned, packed school lunches, drove the van hither and thither, did the laundry for the 7 of us, shopped, nurtured whomever happened to be sick at the time, did the bookkeeping and other office jobs for our business, and produced good meals without fail—just as I had been doing all along. But suddenly I was “different”, and an intuitive 13 year old noticed. What had been my works had become God’s work—foreordained for me before the world was formed.

I thank God for drawing me into His Kingdom in 1971. Every single day since then I have had a choice: will I allow Him to work through me, or will I try to blunder and bluster along in my own fallen human effort?

There is joy when I rest in the Lord and say, “Thy will be done”. Christ is the creator of my faith, and the originator of any and all work that honors Him! Where the seed of redemption and resurrection have been planted in receptive soil, His life will spring forth and grow!

Margaret L. Been — November 10th, 2018

Birches.jpg

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Wisconsin natives have no illusions about the weather outside, and we should certainly not be surprised by inner weather changes as well!  The above digitally altered photo of our river in our years ago up north home shows the next thoroughly predictable November weather development–due to land tomorrow, just outside our patio door in Southern Wisconsin.

My inner weather change is due to a complication following last summer’s hip replacement:  a femur in that leg which was silly enough to tear itself away from the prothesis, creating all sorts of unpleasantness.  The subsequent second surgery wasn’t all that much fun, but hey–with 4 weeks left of a 6 weeks no walking sentence (expect for hopping on the good foot, via a walker) I am having FUN.

In our living room we have a roomy sofa, and a compact one.  For this one leg duration, Joe and I are sleeping on the living room sofas–large and small.  Joe has always loved sofa sleeping and often has retreated to it when his restless legs tire of thrashing on our bed.

For me, while recuperating, the small sofa presents a special world.  Next to the sofa are 2 small tables and space beneath, all of which contain my current life:  Bible and notebook, books in progress, art books, mixed media art supplies and papers, letter writing needs, knitting projects, a space for the ubiquitous coffee and diet ginger ale, cosmetics and primping paraphernalia, a mirror–of course I am no longer (never was!) fairest of them all, but only the wicked witch would care about that and I don’t want to be anything like her.

Also sofa-side, my I-phone (source of frequent enjoyment including Amazon Priming) and my I-pad for news, French lessons, and–along with a lot more–the PBS Passport App with its world of science, history, amazing documentaries, and fantastic fiction (where I am currently engrossed in a review of the convoluted plots and subplots at DOWNTON ABBEY).

If that were not enough, I have on my I-pad 2 wonderful British art magazines with monthly additions and the capacity to read several years of back issues.  The artist in me is continually fed by these publications and my art books.

Along with these percs, both I-pad and phone connect me to the greatest music of Western Civilization, streamed through 2 fine speakers in our living room.  At the moment, Van Cliburn’s recordings of Rachmaninoff and Grieg top the list of my very most beloved.  There is something about PIANO, and in my estimation Van Cliburn’s was (and remains) the most passionate and earth shaking of all!

And, as of today, my laptop.  Oddly, I have never thought of this appliance as a portable friend.  But it has dawned on me (DUH!) that the word “laptop” means something.  Now I am putting it to use.  It has taken its place as a part of my sofa home rehab center.

If there is anything of depth to share with you in all these mundane details it is this:  I refuse to feel sorry for myself.  It would be sin to do so,  I am delighted with the people in my life (a family of 53 immediate members counting generations–no cousins, etc.) and the fact that I am as comfortable as possible in our lovely warm home, with plenty of excitement at hand.

And now a typical Wisconsin November weather promise.  Snow tomorrow.  In general, we are a hardy lot here–descended from brave pioneers.  Life is all about different kinds of weather–indoors and out.

Margaret L. Been — November 8th, 2018

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