Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I am switching input on this site to my Northern Reflections blog so that I can keep updating more frequently and have everything under one “roof”. Just GOOGLE “Margaret L. Been Northern Reflections”. Today’s entry features info concerning the film UNPLANNED.

Thank you! Margaret L. Been, 4/1/19

Advertisements

Living TODAY!

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  Matthew 6:34  NKJV  

What ultimate and perfect wisdom.  One could plumb the above verse forever, I believe, and never run out of fresh insights to apply.  For starters, here are a few: If I worry about tomorrow, I can foolishly ignore or fluff over the real concerns of the moment which need my attention.

If I worry about tomorrow, I can miss out on the beauty and intrinsic joy of the present moment.

If I worry about tomorrow, I can be so preoccupied as to fail the most essential purpose of today—to love and serve the people whom God has given me to love and serve.

Tomorrow may never come, for me; the Lord may take me home to Himself at any moment.  To waste the present moment with anything less than my most wholehearted and enthusiastic dedication of mind and heart, would be rank disobedience.  

God has given us TODAY for living and loving, to pray for solutions for any potential problems if they be within our capacity to solve, and to celebrate each moment of TODAY with awareness and gratitude for the joy within and without.  

Even my favorite secular philosopher, Yankee naturalist Henry David Thoreau, got it right when he wrote:  “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest art.”

And further into the New Testament, we read:  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”  Philippians 4:6 NKJV

God’s Word is perfect—today, tomorrow, and forever!

Margaret L. Been  — November 19th, 2018

“For our light affliction which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  2nd Corinthians 4:17-18

It is Scripturally correct that God allows trials for our good, and specifically for His eternal glory.  We may go for long periods of time when nothing considerable ruffles our tent flaps, and then WHAMMO!  Test upon test upon test!

The only way I know of, to survive and rise above the testing is to look on those things which are not seen:  the eternal promises of our faithful Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in His Word.  Everything else on earth as we know it today is temporary.

My “trial” of the moment is not tragic, neither is it tortuous in any way.  In fact, those who have known me long and well might find today’s predicament rather humorous.

By way of introduction. I have sailed through three major surgeries in the past year.  People always gasp and ask about PAIN, as it were something unique to me and my situation.  “How is the PAIN?”

I don’t even want to talk about PAIN.  Pain is a given, and this sorry world is full of it.  Any pain I may have endured has been graciously amended not by the lilies of the field, but the poppies.  God gave us poppies, as an act of mercy–and even in this strange time when help is sometimes denied those with chronic pain because hoodlums are selling stuff in the street, God has provided relief for my post surgical pain.

Not the predictable and universally shared pain, no!  Pain is not my test.  Rather my humorous trial involves “the things which are seen”:  the antiques and artifacts in my lovely home, which is steadily becoming unhinged and disordered due to the fact that for a few more weeks I shall have only have one leg on which to stand and after that I may lack the energy to put everything back together for a long time.

As a back-up history, I have always created order and a pleasant environment around me and mine.  Growing up, I was the odd kid with the compulsively tidy room.  Through the years of mothering a large family, I kept order.  Through many moves, much illness, and countless change, I have maintained ORDER!  The things which are seen, the appurtenances of living have always, almost automatically and artlessly stayed in place creating an aura of harmony regardless of maelstroms of circumstances.

ORDER!  My stock in trade, my necessity, ever telling me that no matter what, reason and a steady direction prevail.  HAH!  How our precious Lord has a knack of removing whatever we instinctively feel we cannot live without.

For my convalescence, I have a small and comfy sofa, surrounded by the details of a pleasant day—books, music, soft pillows, coffee, ice water, a few art supplies, knitting, and this laptop.  Yes, a bit of order to hand, and for this I am tremendously grateful!  Yet beyond my few feet of continuity, I see the other rooms in my home over which I have absolutely no control.

Even I can see the humor.  I have to look over and beyond the messes, to those glorious eternal things–the promises of Scripture.  This present trial is really a bit of fluff compared to troubles that could and may someday assail us.

May I be strong and faithful;, and never forget that only the Lord Jesus is my North Star.  All else is temporary!

Margaret L. Been — 11/09/18

Hope end of the day 4

Jesus’ last words, recorded by the beloved Disciple, John, should fill us with wonder, awe, and gratitude beyond words to express!  “It is finished!”

Our Lord’s proclamation is the affirmation of our salvation.  His sacrificial death in which He took all the sin of the world, from beginning to end, liberates me—has exonerated me, and all who believe in Jesus’ finished work, from all the condemnation that we deserve.

Then, after dying to pay the unspeakably enormous price of our sin, Jesus rose—alive and triumphant—defeating the power of death.  Those who have trusted Christ for their salvation share in His Resurrection Life.  He has given us His Holy Spirit, and we are a new creation in Him!

Back in January of 1971, when the Lord Jesus catapulted me into His kingdom, I literally felt like I had been shot out of a cannon—like the lady in the Shrine Circus which our family enjoyed every year when it came to Milwaukee.  But the talented and skilled circus performer was simply shot out into the arena for the purpose of entertaining an audience.  I was catapulted into the Kingdom of God and Eternal life.

“Catapulted” is the perfect word for my salvation.  One moment I was a skeptic steeped in humanism, and suddenly in the next moment I was a child of God.  Today, nearly five decades later, I still savor that joy, and sense of sudden freedom, as I contemplate Jesus’ finished work on Calvary, and His Resurrection.

Many people do not recall the moment they were saved.  Our youngest son, Karl. was seven years old when I became a believer.  I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and our entire family was privy to the GOOD NEWS.  Shortly after that great day Karl said, “I don’t know when Jesus came into my heart.  I guess He just walked in.”

Obviously Karl had a sweet, open soul and he didn’t need to be catapulted in the fashion of his stubborn, thirty-seven year old mother.  God works differently in every life—uniquely customizing the miracle of salvation to each one of us.   

It is finished!  Those powerful words resonate with me.  How often do we fret and obsess over some unfinished task looming over our heads—be it a report or assignment in our workplace, or muddy windows or a closet heaped with disorganized odds and ends at home?  The completion of these jobs is sometimes interrupted by immediate concerns which alter our schedule and consume time and energy:  the computer freezes, a toothache suddenly has to be fixed, our car dies of old age, or a child throws up.

Life is wonderful, life is GOOD.  But we have a fallen planet, someday to be restored when our LORD returns—and at the moment we are living in the “meantime”.  And the meantime can be a piece of work!

Finally, at the age of 84, I am learning that my “work” will never be finished in my lifetime.  There are always more projects lined up on the runway than I have months or years for completion.  The daily tasks can be all-consuming, because I love to do everything well.  But my hyper-perfectionism died on the Cross with our LORD.  It was wood, hay, and stubble compared to simply relaxing in Jesus love, focusing on Him, doing my best, and choosing to glorify Christ in whatever I do—knowing that my life is a process and my work will never be completed while I am still on this fallen earth. 

Yes, I stumble, and Yes I am lifted up by His redeeming love.  Musicians, the monk, John Michael Talbot, and his brother, Terry Talbot have a beautiful song (among all of their incredibly wonderful compositions) referring to that redemptive love in their album NO LONGER STRANGERS—a song called “We Will Rise”, with these words: “. . . in Him all our failures shall not be defeats, and when we are weak He renews our strength.

How comforting to realize, to understand with all our heart and mind, that the only finished work on earth is that which Jesus did for us on Calvary.  Jesus paid it all!  He is risen.  He is alive.  And it is finished!

Margaret L. Been — March 31st, 2018

High Country

Have you ever had the experience of realizing that there is a toxic personality within a close circle of friends?  A devastating discovery, and one that you have avoided acknowledging—while blaming yourself and assuming that you are to blame when a relationship is skewed!

What we need to acknowledge here, is the fact of a double minded person—one who seems beyond reproach, yet habitually will backbite or display (what young people call) “attitude”.  If you are a deeply sensitive and naturally self-effacing individual, this attitude will cause you profound agony and even erroneous self-incrimination—if you have been close to this individual for a long time.

We should discern a kink* when a person periodically comes to us with rancorous criticism of someone else.  But we can be so blinded by our mindset of loving acceptance that we believe the individual incapable of the rancor we should have identified.  Perhaps we have consistently prayed for this person, thinking only of her circumstances and need of inner peace—without understanding the harsh reality:  that what we have here is a perverse and wayward attitude, and—at this point— an apparently arrogant spirit.

Meanwhile, “It is what it is”!  And it is awful!  Discord in any personal community may be unthinkable, but it happens.

Among countless other Scriptures, Proverbs 2:10-13 addresses the issue of dealing with toxicity:  “When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you, understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things, from those who leave the path of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness . . . .”  NKJV

Wisdom is knowing the Lord Jesus Christ and living in His light—always guided by His Word, always realizing that apart from Him we are helpless and hopeless sinners.  Wisdom is walking in love, humbly realizing that only God can remedy the kinks in another person’s attitude or style of relating.

Wisdom is absolutely CLINGING to our LORD, and trusting Him to preserve us from devastation when we hurt.  Wisdom is responding with loving truth and a gracious refusal to be a part of the backbiting, while realizing that we are sinners saved by Grace and Grace alone.

According to the above Scripture, wisdom and knowledge of the LORD results in the discretion which preserves us.  I ran the word “discretion” through my STRONG’S CONCORDANCE and found something astoundingly practical concerning the issue at hand.  The Hebrew word for “discretion” means in many cases an ungodly shrewdness and calculated plotting or coping.  But according to the CONCORDANCE, the word sometimes infers mental acuity in a good sense—an enlightened awareness which leads to a righteous response.

Immediately, I thought of the Lord Jesus’s command to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”  The Matthew 10:16 command follows our Savior’s mission statement of sending His disciples as sheep in the midst of wolves.  If our Savior sent His disciples out into the wolves, doesn’t it follow that we will encounter wolves as well?  Indeed, we are His sheep!

Wise as serpents!  Sagacity and insightfulness.  We are not to be clueless or sentimentally and subjectively unaware of darkness and waywardness.  But we are to respond in love rather than retaliation.  We are to defend those being maligned, without reacting with the rancor of the backbiter.

When we are the target of backbiting, we must respond in a gracious spirit of desiring to grow in Christ while acknowledging that yes we are, like every other human, flawed.  We need to prayerfully, diligently, and consistently avoid the temptation of retaliation and/or self-defense.

But we must never forget that we are sons and daughters of the KING!  We are to walk in His love and His strength!  We can brand Romans 8:1 deeply into heart and mind:  “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

As we walk in the Spirit of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, there is no place for false guilt or self-focused self-condemnation.  We are never alone, and we are never devastated as we walk with Discretion and Understanding!  MLB

*The word “kink” makes me think of a kink in my garden hose, something which frequently annoys me as I love to water my gardens.  I can straighten out the garden hose kink, but only God can fix the kinks in a human soul!

Remaining Days 2.jpg

Friends!

Karl-JohnAug68

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly . . . .” Proverbs 18:24a NKJV

Back in 1966, we built a new home miles away from where we’d lived for several years.  Our youngest son, four-year-old Karl (pictured above on left), missed his friends from the old neighborhood.

Rather than sitting around and brooding, Karl “seized the day”; he went from house to house in our new subdivision, ringing doorbells or knocking.  That was an era when many family-based women were at home to answer the door, and Karl charmed the moms by asking, “Do you have any little boys here?”

Karl’s search yielded John, the fellow on the right in the above photo.  They were together constantly, and as they grew up John was like family.  I’ll never forget those two:  quietly playing a serious game of checkers, like two little old men; cartwheeling all over our yard; and joining me in chomping down popcorn and watching the silly/scary Saturday night horror films where people were turned into flies, vampires, werewolves, or whatever.

Today, despite the geological separation of 2200 miles, Karl and John are still good friends.  Both of the guys are now in their 50s, and Karl says he likes this photo because it proves he once had hair.  (Karl is now a very handsome and distinguished Yul Brynner type.)

Eight years ago, Joe and I did something we’d always said we would never do; we bought and moved into a condo—and what a fantastic home it is.  When we moved here, I thought of Karl’s method of finding new friends.  Should I ring doorbells and say, “Do you have any old geezers here?”

I decided, no that wouldn’t be the best idea.  Instead, on pleasant weather days Joe and I sit on our outdoor chairs in the lane which accesses eight garages—four in our building and four in the building just across the lane.  (Joe calls the lane an “alley”, but I prefer the British-sounding noun, “lane”.)

We have a charming garden next to our garage (as well as beside our front patio) and it’s delightful to relax there—with both the American flag (Old Glory) and the Israeli flag with its beautiful blue six-pointed star (Magen David) fluttering in what has become a warm weather outdoor living room.

Since we have enjoyed striking up a conversation with neighbors who frequently stroll by, we were inspired to set out an extra chair or two.  Voila!  Neighbors are now sitting down to chat.  We have made new friends who are becoming special to me.

As always, Scripture is right on!  If we find ourselves alone and bereft of needed companionship, we must prayerfully get out and show ourselves friendly.  There are so many ways to do this (including knocking on doors).  Our local church is an obvious venue for friendship.  Through the years I have also found new friends by simply smiling and saying a few words in places like the community park, yarn shops, antique malls, the post office, and in my own yard.

Every human on earth needs genuine, caring friends.  As our friendships blossom, so do wonderful opportunities to share our love for the greatest “FRIEND” of all—our Lord whom we love because He first loved us, so much that He died for our sins and rose to give us His Eternal Life!

“You are My friends, if you do whatever I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”  John 15:14-15

Margaret L. Been — September 20th, 2017

LEOs 1 and 2

KarlFieldFlyingApr75

California Treasures

Happy Bunch

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name . . . .”  Philippians 2:8-9

Here are a few family photos—some recent and some decades old.  These individuals have one thing in common:  They all have names.  We know and celebrate the fact that above every name is the precious Name of Jesus.  Meanwhile, we love our family members and friends, and when we think of them we think of their names.  Names are eternally significant and infinitely valuable.  It moves me to tears, to think that there may be people on earth who have no name.  None should ever be nameless.

We naturally associate a name with a personality (God-given) as well as with the gifts and talents inherent in that person (also God-given).  Our names, our personhood, and our gifts are whom we are—that unique individual each of us was created to be.  As we are known by our names, we are also known by our fruits—our obedience to God’s design and will for our lives.

Obedience involves choosing to hone our talents while disciplining our time to focus on our calling.  God wills for us to inspire and edify even beyond the walls of our church and our snug Christian communities.  Whether our calling is what is known as “full time Christian service” or (equally vital!) the dedication to and sharing of a skill or creative gift, our diligent fulfillment of God’s plan for us is a part of whom we are—an integral part of our name, as we seek to glorify God through our disciplined focus.

It is Biblical, it is God-willed, that we encourage one another in whatever we do for God’s glory—not only in a church setting but in the dying secular world as well, where people need to hear and see the Gospel lived out creatively and joyously on a daily basis.  We need not, should not shrink from putting our name to our work.

Name affirmation is Scriptural.  Look at the list of books in your Bible.  Are these books authored by “Nameless”?  I don’t think so.  I am eighty-two years old, and I have never heard of “The Gospel According to Anonymous”.  Of course Scripture is God-breathed, inspired, inerrant.  But God wrote through human instruments, each with a personality and unique style of writing.  Each with a name!  God commanded those individuals to write, to witness to His glory.  Throughout Scripture you will find names attached to deeds, works, and the dedication of talents.  The Psalms are poetry and music composed by David, Moses, and other individuals with names.

Although today we are not writing God’s Word, we are to be reflecting His creativity, beauty, and order through our life’s work.  Yes, we are sinners.  But those of us who embrace the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, those of us who embrace the LORD Himself are redeemed.  He has written our names in His Book of Life.  Someday we will be held accountable for how we have used (or misused) the gifts and talents He has given to each of us.  Our stewardship of talents is an integral part of our “reasonable worship”; and that stewardship is inseparable from our name.

Indeed His NAME is above every name.  Yet our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ calls each of us BY NAME, to exalt Him through obedience.  None should be nameless.

Margaret L. Been — January 26, 2016

Karl-JohnAug68

Ladies

more of m and loves

Note:  Even my corgi friends have names!  MLB