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Archive for the ‘Hope in Sorrow’ Category

Image result for royalty free images of Pearl Harbor
     I was eight years old in 1941.  Sundays in our home were normally fun—roast chicken or a beef pot roast after church and, during the cold months, an indoor afternoon of jig-saw puzzles and/or Chinese Checkers followed by THE SHADOW at (I think it was) 5:00 p.m. when I would sit with my head (almost literally) in our cabinet-style radio/phonograph, happily lost in the cliff-hanging adventures of Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane.
     But that Sunday was unforgettably different.  The “SHADOW” that day was the massive gloom which spread over our home and extended to all of America along with the entire world.  Some things seem like they happened yesterday, even 75 years later!
     How many people on earth point to a single day in their life when everything changed—when they realized a kind of growing-up epiphany?  The attack on Pearl Harbor, albeit far away and not an immediate threat to my life at the time, symbolized my realization that much in the world is not good—in fact downright horrendous—although sweetness had been my only experience since birth.
     Geographically distant events were revealed to us over a crackly radio and, in the years that followed, in newspapers and the 6:00 p.m. broadcast by Gabriel Heatter (“There’s bad news tonight”, or occasionally “Good news tonight” when the Allied Forces scored a victory.)
     Today the world scene is omnipresent.  Every time we turn on our cell phones or TVs we are updated and bombarded.  The news is old and predictable, but the horror washes over me anew with every viewing—the realization which began at age 8, that much in the world is downright horrendous!  The means of communication have changed; humans have not!
     There is only One Person in the entire universe Who can (and will!) bring “Peace on earth, good will toward men.”  He came once, to show us the way and then to die for our salvation—to pay the sin debt we humans could never pay, and to rise victorious over sin and death.  He is coming again, to reign in Jerusalem and establish His justice and righteousness!
      Meanwhile, although we are not to (and certainly do not wish to) nurture ill will toward enemy nations of the past, may we Americans never forget the unforgettable Sunday!  We humans are fallen!  Every person on earth needs to be redeemed by the One who will ultimately bring peace on earth!
Margaret L. Been — December 7th, 2016

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Frog daysDahlia

I don’t want to let go.  Our summer has been so ineffably sweet, I will hang on to it forever. 

Beautiful weather.  No need to run the AC—except that we occasionally put it on for Baby Dylan when we have to leave him for a few hours in the closed-up home.  Okay there were a couple of times when at home, that we broke the humidity by turning on the AC for very short spells, but always with the doors and windows wide open to the out-of-doors.  And due to the ubiquitous AC in most every indoor place, our favorite summer restaurant has become a local pub with outdoor seating. 

Leisurely early morning strolls around our park.  Visits with friends.  Plenty of summer knitting, which always brings woolly recollections of being 8 years old and learning to knit on the porch of our family cottage at Lake Winnebago.  Bookish naps on our shady afternoon patio.  And best of all, mellow days with the three generations which have resulted from our marriage of 61 years!

Too too sweet

More pool

Leo again again again again again

Mia Mia 2

musician

Recently Joe and I had the (probably once in a lifetime) experience of having our portraits painted by a friend, Janet Roberts, who is a professional artist.  We didn’t have to sit it out, as Janet works from photographs.  You can check out our portraits (“Joe in Winter Hat” and “Margaret in Summer Hat”) on Janet’s website.  Just GOOGLE “Janet Roberts, Brookfield Wisconsin Artist” and click on “Gallery” from the home page menu,  Voilà!

Our portraits have inspired a lot of mulling and musing.  With all the wonderful photos I have today—hundreds in albums and hundreds more in my computer files—a painted portrait is something unique.  I reflect on how for centuries paintings and sculptures were the only way a person’s image could be captured and preserved.  I think of the court painters such as Holbein, sent out by Henry VIII so he could visualize a future wife.  (I’d sure hate to have been one of those!)  And commodious stairwells lined with ancestors in great houses down through history.  Photography is an amazingly wonderful art, yet there is something ALIVE about paint in the hands of an accomplished artist such as our friend, Janet.

Mellow days, and a summer to remember.  A summer of quiet contentment and simply joys.  A summer of plenty in a world that grows more crazy, more sin ridden and tragically brutal every single day.  A summer in which I feel compelled to share at every possible opportunity, the one and only LIVING HOPE—that hope which is more real than this keyboard on which I type. 

In the midst of a world where an American journalist is decapitated against the background of an American president deeply engrossed in golfing and fund-raising, Our Lord Jesus Christ will return!  As He came to earth 2000 plus years ago to die for our sin and rise victorious over evil, He will return—to gather His own to Himself, and finally to reign for 1000 years in Jerusalem:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

Margaret L. Been, September 2014 

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One of the many advantages of living outside of cities is the ever-present panorama of sky.  At our northern home, we had sky over water.  Now, in Southern Wisconsin, we view the sky over a park and nature preserve.

This has been an odd summer around here, in that the really warm (sometimes HOT!) weather did not set in until July.  Everything is different from last summer.  Perennials which were mushrooming and spreading in May, 2010 never even made themselves known this summer until mid June.  

Consequently, the obvious harbingers of autumn are late in appearing.  Our neighorhood wild prairie has yet to flash in the sun with goldenrod; coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and Queen Anne’s lace still flourish there.  The sumac along the park path barely hints at the glory it will soon display, whereas in most years the turning sumac leaves provide an early sign of change.

The cardinals still “cheer-cheer”, cheering my heart in the process.  Mourning doves still mourn their poignant “oooo-oooo-oooooo”, reminding me of catapulting years of mourning doves—since I was a small child, first thrilling to their threnody.  Every evening at dusk, a flock of sparrows roosts in the tree outside our bedroom window.  They chirp and rustle in the leaves and branches until dark.  Then all is still, until the first ray of dawn when the birds resume their chirping, and take off for another day of foraging. 

Flocking birds are a sign of seasonal change.  I treasure the busy little creatures who hang out in the tree beside our window, because at this point I do not want summer to end.  But end, it will! 

Meanwhile, the clouds clearly forecaste change—those famous clouds of August.  Due to changing air currents, temperatures, and moisture, August clouds are distinctive.  After a suddenly cooler night, the clouds are seen as mist rising off the ground in our park.  Up north the clouds rose off our lake in August and September, reminding us of the picturesque lochs we saw years ago when we traveled the back roads of the Scottish highlands.

Clouds of change!  We who live with four seasons (one of which seems a lot longer than the other three in Wisconsin!) are accustomed to change and ready for it.  Already I’ve done some shifting around of clothes in my closet, so that when the first brisk day arrives I’ll have something warmer at hand.   I’ve laundered the summer blankets and taken a wool blanket out of its cleaner bag. 

I’m preparing my heart for that blast of sheer beauty which Autumn brings—followed by the silent, white months.  But we can never be totally prepared for the metaphorical clouds of change in our personal lives.  Last year, as August whispered sweet promises around us, little did we know that we were about to enter a ten-month period of severe medical issues—with one emergency compounding another. 

We can never accurately predict our seasons of circumstances.  All we can do is remember that emergencies are Holy Ground.  God gets our attention and speaks to us through times of crisis.  All we can do is take off our metaphorical shoes and say “Yes, Lord, whatever You will shall be done.”

Actually, for the Christian all of life is Holy Ground.  To recognize that fact is to experience the peace of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit every day, regardless of whatever the clouds of change may bring!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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. . . waking in the morning to the sound of much-needed rain,

sharing a breakfast at our local “good old boy” restaurant,

stopping at the library and leaving with 2 heavy sacks of books,

celebrating the progression of summertime in our gardens,

sitting in “our row” in church with 10 great grandchildren—ages 6 and under,

gently stepping back in time at the antique barn up the road,

eating ice cream on the patio, 

sleeping, waking, breathing in and out!

Sweet savor offerings of praise are going up each day!  For five weeks Joe and I have been at home.  This is a record.  Since September, 2010 when I had spinal fusion surgery right up until mid-June, 2011 when Joe had a heart emergency we have not been out of a hospital for more than a month.  The one-month break happened only once.  For the rest of that period we averaged a hospital stay every two to three weeks—with each stay lasting from 2 to 10 days.

I’m not clueless enough to believe this blessed hiatus will last forever.  We live one day at a time, and when a crisis comes we find peace and joy in the midst of whatever God allows in our lives.  But at this moment we are enjoying peace and joy at home, doing “normal” things!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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For I have known them all already, known them all:

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T. S. Eliot

Like the famous Prufrock, I’m measuring out my life—only not in coffee spoons, but rather in those pink plastic containers every patient gets upon admittance to our hospital.  The “pinkies” hold toilet items:  toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, soap, lotion, etc.  The hospital disposes of them after each patient, but I always take ours home because they are infinitely useful for holding plants, collecting garden weeds, containing water and Murphy’s Oil Soap® for scrubbing floors, corraling puzzle pieces, etc.

Like Prufrock, I’m measuring out my life—not with T. S.Eliot’s existentialist despair*, but rather with the divine assurance that “all things work together for good, for those who are in Christ Jesus and are called according to His purpose.”  The pink containers which I’ve brought home from hospital stays (both Joe’s and mine) also serve as a scoreboard.  We have accumulated 16 pinkies since October, 2010.

Our latest pink container has settled into my storeroom.  Last Thursday, Joe had a heart attack while sitting in his reclaimer at home.  We were taken to Emergency in a shrieking ambulance, and Joe was admitted to the hospital.  A defibrillator/pacemaker was inserted to prevent future arrythmias.  His arteries are severely clogged, he has had 6 by-passes, and he’s “stented out”; his vessels cannot accept more angioplasties or stents.  Joe also has diabetes and high blood pressure.

I’m measuring life—while treasuring each day and letting the pinkies keep score.  J. Alfred Prufrock was a kind of walking Ecclesiastes, but without a knowledge of the Lord; Prufrock’s life was weary and meaningless.  How thankful I am, to know and believe God’s Word and realize that we are pilgrims on earth—destined for eternal glory with Him!  Because of our Lord, we never cease to hope.  Because of Him, every moment is pregnant with meaning!  Even our most abject sorrow has a purpose!

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12

*Poet T. S. Eliot’s life did not end in the despair expressed in his fictional character, J. Alfred Prufrock.  In 1927, Eliot became a Christian, and left wasteland of existentialism.  Eliot’s last years reflected his newly discovered faith.

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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Easter was special this year!  Just as Joe and I spent last Thanksgiving and Christmas at Aurora Summit Hospital, we spent our Easter there as well.  We have nick-named our hospital, “Holiday Inn”. 

Joe’s leg pain augmented to a point where it was impossible for him to be at home with only 110 pound me to help him get around.  Last Tuesday Joe was admitted to the hospital Inpatient Rehab Unit for medical care and the assistance he needed.

The leg pain was baffling.  Joe’s 4th degree burn from the October accident had healed beautifully.  His post-op rotator cuff healing was progressing well—and the pain was in a leg, not in the shoulder.  Why the severe pain?  Joe’s physiatrist (pain management doctor) puzzled over the enigma, ordered an ultra-sound, and discovered a large Baker’s cyst.  Once the cyst was dealt with the leg improved daily, and now—although with great effort—Joe can walk with considerably diminished pain.

Joe was hospitalized in the rehab unit for 7 nights.  I stayed there with him for 6 of those nights.  As before when I have “vacationed” with Joe at our Holiday Inn, I cannot thank God enough for the care and comfort received in this hospital.

I’ve learned so much over the last 6 months, it would take a large book to even begin to tell it all!  I’ve grown to love many of the individuals who have tended Joe’s needs (and mine, when I was a surgery patient there over Christmas).  We are amazed at the personal care and compassion of our doctors, and many of the nurses and aides.

Often, when going through a crisis, we are tempted to ask, “Why, Lord?”  That question has been answered for me, again and again, before I even bother to ask!  I’m certain that more answers will be unveiled as time passes. 

Over the 3 holidays, as well as during our 9 other hospital sessions in the last 6 months, I’ve had many opportunities to share God’s grace.  God fills us with His joy and peace, as we focus on Him.  We were thankful on Thanksgiving.  Christmas was still very much Christmas, our surgeries notwithstanding.  

And Easter was Easter!  Christ is risen!  The joy of the resurrection superceded any inconvenience or potential regrets we might have had over being away from our home and the “normal” holiday routine.

Visits from family members have been wonderful.  One day I heard the chatter of children down the hall.  I knew they would be some of our great-grandchildren, as Joe was the only patient in the unit during our stay.  Sure enough, a group of our treasures popped into the room bringing their freshness and excitement! 

I always bring arts and crafts with me, to keep my hands and imagination fulfilled during hospital “vacations”.  Nurses and aides often pause to visit, and frequently they are curious about my knitting projects and amateurish forays into sketching and painting.  They are fascinated when I show them my homemade soap, and they enjoy the music from our IPOD.  These women share their interests with me as well, and the social time is rich!

Last Saturday one of the aides asked me (2 times!) if she could bring her boy friend into the room to meet us before they left the hospital for their dinner date that evening.  I was touched and absolutely thrilled (almost to tears!), and of course I said “Yes”! 

What a treat it was to be included for a few moments in a young couple’s life.  I reflected over the many years of welcoming the friends of our 6 children, and sharing our home and dinner table with them.  Sharing our hospital room was a small scale replay of those delightful years! 

Perhaps the highlight (if I can single out only 1) of our most recent hospital stay happened in the “dead of the night”.  The aide who came into the room to check Joe’s blood pressure suddenly noticed my Star of David earrings.  She gasped, and said, “You are wearing Star of David earrings.  Where did you get those?” 

I told her about my favorite Hebrew jewelry website, and then she asked, “Are you Jewish?” 

I gave my favorite reply to anyone who asks about my Jewish jewelry:  “I’m a Christian with a Jewish heart!”* 

The aide was thrilled.  She said, “I am Jewish.  Oh, I love you!”

Then I showed her my ring with 12 glass stones signifying the 12 tribes of Israel, and she was even more thrilled.  My parting words to her flew out spontaneously from my Christian/Jewish heart:  “I think it’s so important that we make a statement today!”*

So you see, I have no problem with the question, “Why, Lord?”  His answers abound before I even ask!

Meanwhile, Joe comes home today.  It’s 2 weeks today since his shoulder surgery.  In 4 weeks the brace can come off.  Then, “God willing and the creeks don’t rise”, we can go fishing!

Yes, I’m thankful for the experiences God has provided during the past challenging months, for His ongoing care, encouragement, and strength.  I’m thankful for the assistance of family members and friends.  I’m thankful for modern medicine, and the caregivers involved.  And I’m thankful for your prayers!

Margaret L. Been, 2011

*Note:  I’ve come to consider jewelry as far more than just adornment.  My lovely Cross with turquois stones and my Hebrew jewelry have been great conversation starters, providing many occasions to share what I believe!

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It’s one of those Greek-owned restaurants with large platters of good food at a reasonable price.  We had not been back there since October 23, 2010 when Joe stepped in front of our empty van which he thought he’d left in “Park”—and the van moved forward pinning Joe to the ground, advancing over his left leg and shoulder, and changing our lives. 

When the subject of going back to the restaurant came up a few weeks ago, Joe shook his head.  Never again.  But yesterday Joe and I shared a desire to return to the SUNSET FAMILY RESTAURANT, for the breakfast we’d never had 5 months and 3 days ago. 

This time we parked in the handicap zone, as Joe has a temporary sticker.  He walks slowly, with a cane.  We crossed the area where he’d left the car to open the restaurant door for me—as in October I was recovering from spinal fusion surgery and I was weak as a baby rabbit.  I noted the exact spot where the ambulance driver had held me in his large, comforting arms. 

Inside, the owner’s wife—who tends the cash register—gasped and broke out in tears when she saw Joe.  She gave him a huge hug and said, “I never heard anything after that day and thought it must have been bad news.”  (Someone had intended to go back to the restaurant after the accident, and report Joe’s progress.  But with all the challenges of these past months, that never happened.)

After we were seated, the owner came to our table and expressed his relief and joy to see us again.  The waitress cried when she came to take our order.  “I couldn’t focus on my job that day,” she said.  “I just kept praying and praying.”

It wasn’t long before Joe and I were crying tears of gratitude and appreciation.  I was overwhelmed, just as I was that day last October, over the amazing kindness of people!  There are plenty of tender hearts out there.

The rest of the day was special for both of us.  We’d experienced the sweetness of closure!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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