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Archive for the ‘Memory albums and archives’ Category

Here's what it's all about sans GB

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for as such is the kingdom of Heaven.’ ” Matthew 19:14 (NKJV)

Today in church we had our annual Thanksgiving worship service where testimonies are shared.  This is always a time of praise and joy, but also a heart-rending time for our congregation—as stories are told of God’s grace at work in seemingly impossible circumstances.  Relationships are healed, in some cases illnesses are miraculously cured, and Jesus’s life is affirmed in many unique ways.

At today’s service, a young couple got up to share on the microphone.  In hand the couple brought a sweet (obviously girl) toddler, dressed in a pretty dark velvet dress with pink trimmings and a matching headband.  The couple gave testimony of how they had decided to raise the large family which they wanted through adoption, only to find out how incredibly costly it is to adopt just one child, let alone many!  (How tragic is that!!!)

So finally, God had steered the husband and wife to the path of foster care—which in some instances can lead to adoption.  Knowing that God was in charge and directing them the couple proceeded, and within a few months this precious little girl had been entrusted to their loving care.

While the husband and wife were sharing in church I experienced a déjà vu of long ago pain as my mind raced back to 1973 when I was forty years old, a fairly new Christian believer, and a contented wife and mother of five.  Our children were growing up fast.  Because I loved and enjoyed being a mother so much, I wanted to go on with the career which had brought me joy and fulfillment since I’d had my first baby at just under 21 years of age.  Thus, quite naturally, Joe and I began to think about doing foster care.

So we signed up with Milwaukee County Welfare Dept. to receive foster children.  In those days the wheels moved fairly quickly, and within a few weeks we were given three beautiful blonde sisters, ages three, six, and eight, to care for.  Like many foster children, these sisters came from an atmosphere of chaotic dysfunction.  What is more, unspeakable things had happened to them that should never happen to anyone—anywhere.

The girls brought their chaos into our home and we had some dicey weeks with them, weeks marked with severe temper tantrums and manifestations of fear.  But the love and the order in our home did wonders.  After a couple of months it seemed like the girls were our girls.  We sincerely hoped we’d be able to keep them forever, and perhaps we would have—BUT, Milwaukee County discovered that the girls’ father and step-mother had paying jobs which could support the children, so the county insisted on returning them to the father’s home.

Never mind that we told the Milwaukee County Welfare Dept. we did not want their money—Joe and I would gladly support and raise these children without any outside help.  No matter that the step-mother had been heavily addicted to controlled substances, and had an iffy background.  No matter that the step-mother had (in the home with the girls’ father) two unruly sons who started fires and thought of other ways to terrify the three sisters (as one of them used to confide in me:  “Them’s naughty boys!!”).

Never mind that Joe and I and our five children loved the girls, and had so woven them into the fabric of our home that we would miss them terribly.  Within a few days, suddenly the three sisters were gone.  A week later, the six year old called on the telephone and said to me, “Maggie I wish I could come to your house!”

We were a bit whacked from these events and thought we would need a long break from foster care, when a couple of weeks later the phone rang and a distraught sounding social worker asked, “Can you take two little boys?”  The following dialogue has its humorous side.  So here it is.

Me:  “How old?”

Social Worker:  “One and two.”

Me:  “When would they come?”

Social Worker:  “NOW!  They are sitting on my desk!”

In retrospect, I really suspected perhaps that social worker had told me a windy about them sitting on her desk.  Those little boys did come to live with us, and to our knowledge they never BOTH SAT ANYWHERE at the same time!  They were always in motion.  (This was long before children were incarcerated in car seats in transit.  You can imagine what a pleasure ride was like in those days!)

Again, we lost our hearts—but this time we were worn to smithereens, physically as well as emotionally, in the process.  Finally, we decided to remove the option of foster care from our family scene.  Meanwhile, many questions have surfaced, in the past as well as today.  What ever became of those children?  Where are they today?  What kind of people (mid-lifers no less!) are they?  Do they know the Lord Jesus?

It goes without saying that I shared our Lord’s love with the foster children every day, in every way I could.  Yes,  I hope to meet these now-adult people again, in Glory!  I believe that, somehow, I will recognize them.

Margaret L. Been, November 2014

Note:  The above-pictured players re-enacting a familiar scene are two of our daughters, Laura and Debra, and one of our sons, Eric, plus an obliging doll—circa 1963.  Excuse the gender confusion of the doll.  We were not really confused.  We simply couldn’t come up with a boy doll at the moment.  🙂

 

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An item in today’s paper highlighted a situation I’ve known about for years:  the United States Postal Service is in dire straits.  According to the article I read, within the next 15 years postal delivery will probably be reduced to 3 days per week out of financial necessity.  The decline of my faithful old “friend”, the U. S. mail, nearly breaks my heart.

Yes, email is convenient.  I love to hear from friends.  Reading my friends on a screen does convey their presence, and I sometimes print out the letters.  Prayer requests can be zapped in a little more than a twinkling of an eye, plans can be made, and timely info can be relayed via email.  Obviously for business purposes the technology of email has become nearly indispensable, because it is cost-free and efficient.

But where is the ambience in email?  Where is the visual satisfaction of notes written on pretty stationery (decades of which I have stored in memory boxes)?  Where is that rambling, stream-of-consciousness sharing which comes so naturally when one sits down with a pot of tea, a gracious tea-cup, and a few moments to devote full attention to the age-old art of real correspondence? 

How can we send a tea bag, a bookmark, or tufts of yarn from a knitting basket via email?  Email letters can include photos, music, and fancy “wallpaper” for “stationery”—but so far we are unable to insert a sprig of lavender cyberwise, or perfume the email.  (Maybe Windows Live Mail or Outlook Express will come up with perfume next!  I’d be thrilled if that would happen!)

And where is that leisurely break in the day, when one pauses to chat with the delivery person at the mailbox—or the worker behind the counter at the local Post Office?  The face-to-face exchange of smiles and pleasantries is a slow-lane treasure in this era of fast-paced communication!

My friends include many (like me) who dearly appreciate their computers, and three “holdouts”—women who dislike computers.  These friends will never go near an email unless some major miracle changes their point of view.  Yet these women correspond regularly via snail mail, sometimes in note form and occasionally in wonderful pages of reading which require extra postage.

Bottom line?  Please keep sending those emails, as I LOVE to hear from you.  But please don’t be offended if I choose to answer via snail mail.  My letters will not redeem the precious, declining U. S. Postal Service.  But every little bit helps!  🙂  Writing a real letter is a ceremony which I thoroughly treasure!  And you, my friends, will always be worth far more than the ever-escalating cost of postage!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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On June 20th, Joe and I will be celebrating our 58th wedding anniversary—God willing.  The above picture was taken at our northern home, at our 50th anniversary gathering.  One granddaughter was missing at the occasion because she was on a mission trip to Mexico.  Since that day, 17 more people have joined our family.  An additional 2 will soon join us—one through birth and one via marriage.

Many Junes, many moons.  The years have catapulted inexorably forward since June 20th, 1953.  Now I look back through albums of photos, documents, and poetry across an immense deja vue—more than one lifetime can hold.  And yet I have held it all and preserved it for posterity. 

I have archived past joys and sorrows in Creative Memory® albums, showing how God’s Grace has prevailed.  As the Psalmist says, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places.” 

Photos embrace individual moments in a long life, ardently lived and loved.  Pages of documents preserve objective history—recording people, places, and events.  But my poems record the deeper things that cannot be put into words that all the world can understand—simply because there are things which all the world will never bother to understand. 

Poetry is the place where the life underlying photos and documents is pared to the essence and fearlessly addressed—in a few concise words.  Poetry speaks only to those who desire to read between the lines, those souls who—having experienced much—are still vulnerable and willing to experience more.

Meanwhile current joys and sorrows are accumulating, soon to be arranged in new albums.  The joys of family and friends, my garden, and my Pembroke Welsh corgi will be preserved.  Also archived will be the heart attack which Joe had 2 days ago, and his newly inserted defibrillator/pacemaker which we pray will give him renewed life and energy.  

Joe is now recuperating at Aurora Summit Hospital with me by his side.  Meanwhile we’ve received word that, due to serious illness, a beloved granddaughter has been admitted to another hospital just a few miles away. 

Archiving life!  Photos and documents can skim the surface of these latest events.  But there are times when, like prayer, only a poem will do!

Margaret L. Been ©2011

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