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Posts Tagged ‘Spring Joy!’

“For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen. being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse . . . .” Romans 1:20

Every year in early March a wonderful transformation occurs in the living area of our home; the sunrise returns after rising to the southeast of our view for six months—around the corner of our building.  We do have winter sunshine in our south view bedroom and den windows, but it is the glorious sunrise that we miss from October to March.

When sunrise and morning light flood our living room, dining area, and kitchen, my heart overflows with praise.  Of course I praise Him year round, whether or not the sun is evident.  My heart affirms “Great is Thy Faithfulness” in that the seasonal changes go on—and on schedule—year after year!

But when sunrise invades our home, I am overwhelmed and I thank God for it constantly.  Please understand, I am not a sun worshipper—much as I love just lying in the sun all spring, summer, and autumn, absorbing as much color and vitamin D as possible.

I worship the Creator of all of nature, manifesting His power and glory in the things He has made—including that symbol of warmth, light, healing, and life:  His physical sun.

As the sunshine streams back into our living area after weeks of darkness, I anticipate over and over the return of His SON, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Margaret L. Been — March 21st, 2019

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Always Time for Tea

“Always Time for Tea” is the title of the above rendering.  Tea Time in March is charged with anticipation, excited about change, and zesty with the invigoration of fiercely raging wind and ever-stretching sunlit hours.

Today’s wind is not kind; it’s raw and bitter to the taste, like afternoon Earl Grey Tea when it’s been allowed to over-steep.  Today’s sun is glorious—redolent of fragrant places where ripe and mellow leaves were harvested for an “Irish Breakfast” most anywhere in the world.

Along with the joy of anticipation, my St. Patrick’s Day Irish Breakfast musings (in Nashotah, Wisconsin, USA) are shadowed by things that are lost:  a Malaysian jet carrying over 200 passengers, and perhaps millions of people in our culture who haven’t even the faintest comprehension of the importance of solitude—or whose once-valued serenity has gone missing.

How many of us are there left in this crazy culture, who still understand (and prioritize!) the serenity of spending time alone/alone/alone.  I don’t mean always being physically alone/alone/alone.  I speak of mentally/spiritually/emotionally investing time alone and nurturing that soul solitude and serenity which can only come from a depth of completion—the integral completion which we can receive from God’s Grace through the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in one’s life as revealed in Scripture.

How many individuals still treasure time alone:  perhaps really alone for a few hours or minutes—strolling in a sheltered woods, basking in a sunny window, lounging on the patio in the summer—with the ubiquitous iced tea (Earl Grey or Irish Breakfast) in hand?  Alone in one’s mind, unfettered by the worries and potential issues that surround anyone who is breathing and thinking?

Alone.  Apart. Soothed by the realization that the heartbreaking issues of the day are a bleep in Eternity.  Solitude, serenity, ALONENESS!  Busy schedules have been common to much of mankind since the beginning of time.  But today life can become even more complex, if we so allow.  In an age of electronic communications and the proliferation of Facebook friends, how many remember the concept of being alone?  And how many even care, or have the foggiest idea of what they are missing?

I love my laptop for shopping, acquiring information, and blogging.  These are refreshing pastimes.  How wonderful to shop without driving to a store where you may or may not find exactly what you want—be it a special garment (most of my clothing is purchased online), a sable paint brush, a new-to-you line of watercolors or gouche in exciting colors, or the base and fragrance oils for your soap-making avocation.  How rewarding to be able to access an endless library of answers in your ongoing quest for learning.  And how fulfilling to communicate via a blog with people from literally every corner of the earth.

But certain other aspects of the electronic world would quickly threaten to undermine my serenity, if I would fail to preserve a balance—and those specific aspects are email and Facebook.  Email has become a kind of necessity in the minds of many, and for business purposes and the sharing of prayer requests it is indeed valuable.  Facebook serves one and only one purpose for me:  that of viewing and sometimes downloading charming photos of the people in my life.  But balance and frequent avoidance of both of these computer areas are necessary to my discipline of preserving serenity and an atmosphere of solitude in the midst of an overflowing life filled with precious people and their needs.  Thus I will often go for at least a week without checking either Facebook or my email.  Anyone who really needs me will find me via telephone or snail mail—or best of all, with a knock on my door.

Today I pray that someone among the 26 participating rescue nations will discover the missing jet.  Every day I pray that I’ll remember to savor as many serenity-inspiring sights and sounds as I can find, with which to greet each day:  and certainly always before accessing email or Facebook.

A pot of tea helps, whether celebrated alone or shared with a kindred soul.  There’s always time for tea!

Margaret L. Been, March 2014

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BB - Precious Bridget and Grandpa

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words!  Here is Grandpa Joe holding our 14th grandchild, Adetokunbo Bridget Josephine Adesokun.  Our wee one was 5 hours old when we first met her on 6/4, and she was sleeping off her jet lag while visitors played Pass the Baby.  But since yesterday at 24 plus hours old, Adetokunbo Bridget has been eating almost non-stop—or as her mom, our daughter Martina, says:  “using me for a pacifier”. 

What a treasure!  For Joe and me, and undoubtedly all who have met our treasure, it has been love at first sight!

Names are tremendously significant in our son-in-law Sanmi’s Ebira Tribe Nigerian culture.  The names are chosen primarily for their meaning, and every person will call a child by which ever of the names he or she prefers.  The child grows up knowing that the different names are an important part of her; they signify facets of her personhood.  Beautiful!

In a couple of weeks, we’ll share in a Naming Ceremony at our condo community clubhouse where family members and friends will gather to add to the list of our baby’s names, and pray over her.  After the ceremony, we’ll gather beside the pool at our daughter Debbie’s home.   

Sanmi’s brothers will join us in celebration, from Toronto and Cleveland.  How I wish their mom could be with us.  She is in Nigeria, and her sons hope to bring her to North America soon.  (Bridget, are you reading?  WE LOVE YOU!!!)

So now I have added words.  But the essence is in the photos:  New Life in Spring!!!  Precious new life!

BB - Bridget is 5 hours old

BB - Mother and Babe

Margaret L. Been, ©2013

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Boreal Twilight

I love “North”.  In fact, I titled the above recent painting “Boreal Twilight”.  But I know that “boreal” really refers to much further North—like areas where they have perhaps 5 hours of daylight in the Winter and a “midnight sun” in Summer.  I’ll settle for Wisconsin’s extremes, thank you! 

Meanwhile, those who have not always lived in Wisconsin, might not be able to track with me these days when I say (exuberantly!) “It’s Spring!”  That’s because they are apt to misconstrue the word “Spring” to mean flowers and rapidly rising temperatures.  They don’t realize that Spring is not a matter of weather, but rather it has to do with lengthening daylight. 

In our latitude, every January we pin our hearts to the rising and setting of the sun.  By the vernal equinox (which was March 20th this year) our hearts are fairly leaping because it’s finally Spring.  The sun knows, and so do we! 

Those who think Spring means “warm” can’t seem to equate a murky, cold wet day in March with the same euphoria I experience on such occasions.  These are the days when there’s an ever-so-slight warming—although one cannot feel it due to that damp Lake Michigan chill which, in our area, penetrates to our very bones.  But we natives know about the slight warming, and so do the returning bird migrations.  The migratory birds look for open water to access near their nesting sights.  Thus the March murk will undoubtedly result in some degree of melting in rivers and at the edges of our inland lakes.

We are surrounded by water in our neighborhood, and the return of birds—including waterfowl—is signature to our Spring rejoicing.  Canada Geese (the large ones which migrate; smaller varieties now stick around all winter, in melted industrial park ponds) may be the first we see in the sky.  Their welcoming chant is absolutely intoxicating.  Many “Vs” in the sky fly with an agenda—that of going further North, to nest in wild places such as we called “home” for years.  Others pause, to party in local ponds along the way.  The Geese feed in fields en route, so their lives do not necessarily depend on open water.

The Sandhill Cranes return early, with their muted, rolling “Halloo, Halloo, Halloo” high in the sky.  This week we spotted a Crane in a near-by cornfield.  Cranes can feed on corn gleaned from last autumn’s harvest, and thus they can also afford to return early.

Later the Great Blue Herons will return.  We have many which fly over our park constantly, all Summer.  They must have fish on which to feed, so their rookeries are always located near rivers and lakes.  They are the noisy, squawky aviators—along with many varieties of ducks which return to open water.  Ducks either feed on fish or aquatic plants, depending on what kind of Ducks they are, so we’ll need to wait awhile to see them overhead.

Finally (now my “up-North” memories are kicking in) the Swans return.  We had Tundra Swans in our Northern bay every Spring—11 of them one memorable year.  Smaller swans have traditionally nested in a couple of our Southern Wisconsin county’s lakes.  But I recently heard that the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) put their formidable kabash on swans in one of our small lakes, because some of the songbirds were gone missing.  I appreciate the DNR when they try to recover wildlife from man’s damage—but will they ever learn to leave well enough alone when it comes to natural balance?  They always seem to have to get their sticky little paws into things.  Is this a power issue, or what?

So Spring has to do with the return of the birds, as well as the sun—something that Wisconsin natives understand.  And we know that premature warmth is seldom a good thing!  Last year we had a tragic Spring.  Temperatures warmed up too quickly.  March had nights above freezing, which meant that our maple syrup crop was almost nil.  The rising sap depends on days above 32° F, and nights well below.  Warm nights just won’t do.  So while some were rejoicing over a warm March, we natives knew that conditions did not bode well for maple syrup. 

Likewise, April of 2012 was almost like Summer.  We natives could not get overly excited, because we knew that the unseasonable warmth would spell trouble.  Accordingly, fruit and nut bearing trees blossomed way too soon, and inevitably a frost came along to zap the blossoms.  Result?  A dirth of fruit and nuts. 

I sorrowed over the fact that our park chestnut tree looked wimply all Summer (which was horrendously hot and dry) and did not yield any of those beautiful mahogany nuts which I love to find on the ground in Autumn.  Park authorities tended to sick trees with bags of moisture and tree food, so there is hope for my favorite park tree.  Time alone will tell.

Having said all of the above, I do have a concession to make.  I really am looking forward to warmer sun.  I have a penchant for dark skin, and last Summer with all the dry heat, I (or rather the sun) accomplished the best tan I’ve ever had in 79 years.  Now I admit that an older person who has spent a lifetime indulging in sun on skin will look quite wood grainy, and yes I do

Also an individual—if naturally a paled, Northern European skin type—may be subject to cancers from an overdose of sunbathing, and yes I am.  I’ve had several basil cells plus one malignant melanoma.  But to me, sunbathing is not a negotiable activity.  I will indulge in sunshine until I check out.  What the sun does for my soul far outweighs any damage it can do to my skin.  🙂

So there it is.  Happy Spring—whatever that may mean to you!

P. S.  My “stats” page shows that today I’m getting a lot of visitors on this blog, from Australia!  Today there have been nearly 3 times more visits from Australia than from the USA!  And you are getting ready for winter!

Normally, the visitors add up in this order:  A lot from USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Nigeria (partly due to the English language bond no doubt)—and less, but a substantial amount from nearly every country in the world.  It delights my heart to see Israel, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, South Africa, Estonia, Romania, Czech Republic, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy (Italian readers seem to love the knitting entries), various Caribbean Islands, and many other locales. 

All my life I’ve loved reading about far away places, but I never dreamed I’d someday be communicating with people from other lands.  This thrills me to pieces.  I consider myself a “citizen of the world”!

Back to Down Under.  If there is any place in the world that I’d love to visit before I check out, it would be Australia—plus New Zealand.  I LOVE SHEEP, and raised my own spinner’s flock for nearly 20 years.  I spin a lot of wool, and your Merino is the best!   But also, your history fascinates me.   And two of my favorite films are MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER AND RETURN TO SNOWY RIVER.  The scenery and the horses cause me to view these classics again and again. 

Greetings to my Down Under Mates, and Happy Winter to you!  🙂  MLB

Margaret L. Been, ©2013

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March Sun

It wouldn’t be very nice to say “Good Riddance” to the month that brings Groudhog Day and Valentine’s Day, and lots of cozy indoor days for reading, knitting, and painting—but at age 79 we tend to say exactly what we think.  And that’s what I think.  I’ve enjoyed February, but I’m not sobbing over her demise!  And I’m glad it’s not Leap Year or we’d have an extra day of February.

A few nights ago, when the full moon rose in the east over our front yard park it occurred to me that the next full moon would coincide approximately with the vernal equinox.  I don’t have to express what this means to us Northerners, and none of my prose renderings could even begin to do the job.  But perhaps a little poem might work.

March Sun . . .

. . . knows a tricky way of turning corners

slipping into curtained rooms through cracks,

crawling under eaves and glinting dust

on wintered dreams.

© Margaret Longenecker Been

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂  Hello MARCH!

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How to Long for Heaven?

How to long for Heaven

When Earth is moist with Spring

And in the swamp

The peepers’ anthems ring?

What Rapture

Without that rapture of returning geese,

And season on season

Without surcease?

My Lord is here,

Visible in Sun and rain,

Audible in growing wind

Across the plain.

Margaret Longenecker Been, ©1973

POET’S NOTE:  I do long for Heaven, every time I read a newspaper or watch the news on TV—or hear of human suffering around the world.  Many times a week I pray, “Thy Kingdom come” and “Come, Lord Jesus”.

Yet God is His creative mercy and grace gives us glimpses of Heaven on a daily basis.  All we need to do is look at the sky, and we are lifted to another, richer dimension.  And when winter suddenly turns to spring, the message of Resurrection is overwhelmingly clear!  Our Lord is here!  His visible return is simply  a matter of time.  MLB

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Every year at this time, Joe and I have the same discussions:

Margaret — “It’s 8:00, and time for breakfast.”

Joe — “But it’s really only 7:00.”

and

Joe — “It’s 8:00!  Bedtime!”

Margaret —  “But it’s really only 7:00.”

Fortunately the above-pictured clocks don’t have any problem with Daylight Saving.  They are right on time only twice a day—each on its own schedule—throughout the entire year.

Margaret L. Been, 2012

 

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Resurrection hymns

resound on melting lake . . .

The Canadas are back

_________________________________

Heaven is ringing

with songs of northbound geese

breaking up the winter

_________________________________

Heartless euphoria . . .

soon we’ll dash out blithering

Oh, Oh, Spring!

 

Margaret Longenecker Been, ©2006

Published in BRUSH STROKES, Word Paintings by Margaret Longenecker Been, Elk River Books, Phillips, Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

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There are no words for it—that surge of life and excitement when the woods and gardens explode in green.  Each day old friends, my beloved perennials, reappear to thrill my heart.  Things that are only supposed to come back in warmer zones are coming back in our sheltered haven:  lemon thyme, lavender, and sage.  Of course the hardy parsley, mint, and catmint come back every year with a whoop and a shout!

Virginia Creeper (alias Woodbine and Engelman Ivy) is creeping up 2 trellises.  My Concord Grape vine is vining once more, on the garage side of our building.  The intrepid Bleeding Heart (clearly seen above) is fast approaching my height, although that is no trick. 

The Bleeding Heart welcomed us when we moved here.  Last summer I trimmed it back 3 times, and each time it burst into bloom all over again.  My Master Gardener friend said, “They are not supposed to do that.  It must be a mutant Bleeding Heart!”

On the right side of the above photo are 2 hydrangeas which our son, Eric, just planted for me.  They will get large pink blossoms, for drying and cheering our future winters.

It was a long, cold winter but finally my bears have emerged from hibernation.  Here they are, taking tea in the sunshine.  ↑ 

And the bears in the shot below (including Paddington) can’t seem to get enough sun.  ↓

Life surges, here in Nashotah beside the park!

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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