Monday, January 26, 2009

Famous Last Words

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

It’s with some trepidation that I write this week’s column. There’s just no easy way to say this: After five and a half years, I’ve decided to discontinue my Reflections column. I may still submit a poem now and then or a periodic story about someone else’s interesting life, but in my heart I feel it’s time for a change.

I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing my thoughts, poems, and faith, along with the lessons learned from all the ups and downs of our lives, with all of you. As you know, I love to write, so writing will always be a big part of my life. I simply desire to free up some time and space in my brain to branch out into new and different areas of self expression.

My friend Kat includes the following inspirational quote with every email she sends:

"If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes."
~ Andrew Carnegie

I have many more thoughts, ideas, and stories to share – more dreams and goals to achieve – and with God’s help, I will have the opportunity to do just that.

I will always be grateful to Joann Kahnt for taking a chance on this housewife and mom. I know she probably lost a few subscriptions as a result of giving me space in The Prairie Post, but hopefully she picked up a few, too. Thank you, Joann, for allowing me to share my fears, dreams and memories from days long past and recent. Thank you for helping me work through unexpected setbacks, illnesses and deaths of loved ones. Thank you for allowing me to share the joys of new daughters-in-law and grandbabies. You have helped me process the journey of life. Through this column, I have found the courage to take chances and risk public ridicule. I have learned that I have a right to my own thoughts and opinions – regardless of whether anyone else agrees with me. In the process, I have found my way to the real me – not the person I wanted everyone to think I was, but my true self, with all my faults and imperfections. I have become comfortable in my own skin. I’ve been vulnerable and real in hopes that others would know that they are not alone. If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that none of us has arrived; we are all a work in progress.

Thank you also to everyone who has read my column over the years, and especially to those who have offered positive feedback and encouragement. I will miss you. And please remember that God loves you and Jesus died for you. He will forgive anything you have ever done if you will only ask. Then you can look forward to an eternity in Heaven where there will be no more sorrow or pain or tears.

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” ~ John 14:1-3 (NKJV)

He Who Believes

By Eileen Umbehr

I have a friend
Who lost her son
In a tragic way
At age twenty-one
"Do you believe in Heaven?"
I asked her one day
She shook her head no
Then turned away.
"What do you believe happens
When we die?”
"I think that's the end,"
Was her reply.
I said, "When I lost my mother
Seven years ago this May
It brought me great comfort
To know I'd see her one day."
"If you believe that is true
You surprise me," she said.
"It just makes people feel better
To think that in their head."
“Well, I know the Bible says
That he who believes
Jesus is the Son of God
Will live eternally.”
So my friend and I
Will agree to disagree
But I'll keep on praying,
That one day, she'll believe.
Then maybe someday,
We’ll meet again in the sky
Where we'll continue our visits
In the sweet by and by.

“Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” ~ John 11:25,26

In closing, I’d like to share a poem I wrote in 2004, shortly after I began writing my Reflections:

Unknown Reader

By Eileen Umbehr

Unknown reader

Who are you?

You who read my deepest contemplations

All my joys and sorrows

You know me, but I don’t know you.

No matter.

I don’t have to meet you to know

You laugh.

You cry.

You bleed.

Just like me.

Unknown reader.

You are my friend.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”
~ Numbers 6:24-26

Monday, January 19, 2009

Good News, Bad News

“There is none who does good. . .” ~Psalm 53:1b (AMP)

Over and over we read how not a man or woman amongst us is good – no not one. In the book of Isaiah it says that, like sheep, we have all gone astray, and even our righteousness – the best part of ourselves – is as filthy rags.

That’s the bad news. But here’s the Good News:

“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” ~ Titus 3:5 (NLT)

Yes, Jesus took our sins upon Himself when He died on the cross, so that we would be made the righteousness of God in Christ. This truly IS Good News!

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”

~Romans 5:1,2 (NLT)

When I was a little girl, I used to lie awake in bed and fret about the concept of eternity and how it went on and on and on, and never ended. (How does that saying go? Life is short, but eternity is forever.) Then I worried about whether I was good enough to get into Heaven because I definitely knew I didn’t want to spend all eternity in hell. I was so relieved to learn that not only did I not have to be “good enough” to get into Heaven, but that I could never be good enough to get into Heaven – no matter how hard I tried to do everything right.

In Galatians chapter 2 we read:

“Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. For if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

So that was one gift I was happy to receive. And receive it we must. In Revelations it says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock, whoever hears my voice I will come in and eat with him and he with me.” But we do have to answer the door – and we do that with two simple words: I believe.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

~ Romans 10:9 (NIV)

It’s like this quote I read from a man named Paul C. Brownlow

“In the most lopsided deal of all time, Jesus took our filthy rags of sin and gave us His robe of righteousness. Our righteousness is not our own, it is from Him. Dare we brag of our goodness now?”

No, we shouldn’t boast of anything in our lives, unless we’re boasting in the Lord and in His goodness. For “every good and perfect gift is from above.” (James 1:17a)

“And beware lest you say in your [mind and] heart, My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth. But you shall [earnestly] remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives you power to get wealth. . . “ ~ Deuteronomy 8:17,18A

Recently Charlie McClelland, the pastor of Mill Creek Baptist Church in McFarland, had an interesting article about this subject. He titled it, “No Good People.” With his permission, I would like to share his thoughts:

“We tend to divide the world into good guys and bad guys. The good guys are members of our group – our friends, our school, our church, our family, our nation – and everyone else are the bad guys. Unfortunately the Bible clearly states there are no good guys, there are only bad guys. While Jesus admitted we would have enemies, when He told us to love our enemies, He did not imply that we were the good guys. When we accept the fact that we are saved not because we are now, nor ever will be good, our attitude becomes one of gratitude toward God and humility toward other people. Instead of dividing the world into good guys and bad guys, we divide the world into those who have experienced God's grace and those who have yet to experience it. Realizing that our enemy today may in fact be our Christian brother tomorrow, fundamentally shifts our behavior. It is difficult to look down our nose at someone who is on the same level as we are. My mom always told me that there was so much bad in the best of us, and so much good in the worst of us, it behooves none of us, to talk about the rest of us. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we are simply sinners saved by grace. Because God has extended grace to us, we need to extend grace to those around us.”

Well said.

In closing, I'd like to share a poem I recently wrote:

Who Am I?
By Eileen Umbehr

You have forgiven
Me so much
Who am I
To hold a grudge?

I should not look
At others’ sin,
Before looking first
At what lies within

As Jesus said
Don’t cast a stone
Lest the spotlight on
Your life be shone

For picking the speck
Is hard to do
When there’s a plank
Obstructing your view

We’d all do well
To walk in love
Following the example
Of our Father above

For He has forgiven
Us so much
Who are we
To hold a grudge?

“For if you forgive people their trespasses – that is, their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go and giving up resentment – your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses – their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go and giving up resentment – neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.”

~ Matthew 6: 14,15 (Amplified)


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On Attitude and Optimism

"All the days of the desponding afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and foreboding], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances]." ~ Proverbs 15:15 (Amplified)

My friend Larry Welch is one of the most positive people I know. Larry writes an electronic newsletter, On the Run, and authored a book titled, Mary Virginia, A Father’s Story. Larry’s most recent published work is a book titled, “Quotations for Positive People” (And Those Who Would Like to Be). One hundred per cent of the profits from the book, which is available on, will be donated to the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation. ( Their worthwhile mission is to provide for the needs of the homeless and impoverished children of Hanoi.

Larry’s recent book is a great source for quotations that uplift and encourage. As I was putting together this week’s column on positive attitudes, I found the following quote from motivational speaker Jim Rohn:

“Attitude determines how much of the future we are allowed to see. It decides the size of our dreams and influences our determination when we are faced with new challenges. No other person on earth has dominion over our attitude. People can affect our attitude by teaching us poor thinking habits or unintentionally misinforming us or providing us with negative sources of influence, but no one can control our attitude unless we voluntarily surrender that control.”

Larry also shared the following poem which was written by Peter Colwell, the author of Spell SUCCESS in Your Life, and an upcoming book: Invest in Your Attitude: CHANGE Your View and Your View Will Change You

An Attitude of Abundance

by Peter Colwell

Cultivate peace in your heart and your mind
And sooner or later you’re likely to find
That all of your trouble and worry and care
Can be kept in perspective if only you’ll dare
To dream of a life overflowing with laughter
With hope for the future and the joy that you’re after

Choose your response to any circumstance.
Don’t leave a positive outcome to chance.
Hold yourself accountable for your life’s direction.
Choose words of kindness, of love and affection.
Adjust your attitude as often as required.
Don’t let your optimism get worn out or tired.
Navigate through negative emotions with care.
Of people who drain you and strain you beware.
Grow from your experiences each day of your life.
Learn from each setback, each heartache, and strife.
Expect more out of life; you often get what you give.
Now is the time to WAKE UP AND LIVE!

Finally, here are some more inspiring quotes I’d like to share:

“It's not your outlook but your uplook that counts.”

~ John Mason

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

~ Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

"A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships." ~ Helen Keller

"Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens."

~ John Homer Miller

"The attitude of unhappiness is not only painful, it is mean and ugly. What can be more base and unworthy than the pining, pulling, mumping mood, no matter by what outward ills it may have been engendered? What is more injurious to others? What less helpful as a way out of difficulty? It but fastens and perpetuates the trouble which occasioned it, and increases the total evil of the situation. At all costs, then, we ought to reduce the sway of that mood, we ought to scout it in ourselves and others, and never show it tolerance."

~ William James, 19th century American psychiatrist and philosopher

"I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow."

~ Julia Cameron, author, "The Artist's Way"

“Life at any time can become difficult; life at any time can become easy. It all depends upon how one adjusts oneself to life.”

~ Morarji Desai

“If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

~ Mary Engelbreit, artist, humanitarian, and entrepreneur

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” ~ Proverbs 23:7

"A strong, positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug.”

~ Patricia Neal, Academy Award winning actress

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.”

~ Helen Keller

"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered."

~ Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~ Helen Keller

“A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.”

~ Proverbs 17:22

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Do You Hear What I Hear?

The following video was sent to me by a friend. It is from a web site called

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Season of Wonder

"Snow Swing" Photo by Pat Barrett

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” ~ Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

The following poem was written by my friend, Patricia Barrett. What I like about Pat’s poem is that it addresses the reality of the stress that goes along with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but then it gently reminds us how we can combat that stress – by focusing on Jesus, the true “reason for the season” of wonder.

Season of Wonder
By Patricia Kohls Barret

The season of wonder is upon us
As stores start displays earlier each year
How do we value Advent moments,
As observance of His birth draws near?

Are we in awe of that strange phenomenon,
When God confined Himself to a womb?
Because of love for His rebellious creation
He came to save them from eternal doom

Do we listen to the words of the carols?
Do we think of the meaning of each verse,
As we rush to shop and buy presents,
And dig down for money in our purse?

Is there joy in our hearts as we sing,
Familiar words, “The Lord is come”?
Does “Loves Pure Light” glow in our spirits?
Or do “worldly cares” make them numb?

To celebrate “the reason for the season”
Each person must prioritize his mind
Keep God’s Word and message in the forefront
Looking for ways to be loving and kind

The Spirit uses The Word to stir within
He creates peace and love that pours out
To spread and multiply blessings to folks
Creating harmony and joy worth a shout


"Maybe Christmas", he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!"

In Who-ville they say
That the Grinch's small heart
Grew three sizes that day!

~ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957)


The Greatest Gift

By Eileen Umbehr

The greatest gift of all
Isn’t diamonds or gold
The greatest gift of all
Never rusts or gets old

The greatest gift of all
Isn’t being wined or dined
The greatest gift of all
Is the easiest to find

The greatest gift of all
Isn’t the latest craze
The greatest gift of all
Lasts more than three days

The greatest gift of all
Can’t be purchased in a store
It comes straight from the heart
And lasts forevermore

Yes, the greatest gift of all
Doesn’t cost a dime
For the greatest gift of all
Is the gift of time.

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins."

~ Matthew 1:21

"Icy Limb" Photo by Pat Barrett

Perfect Peace (of Mind) Part II

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that . . . But love your enemies, do good to them . . . Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

~ Luke 6:36,37

Last week I wrote about two of the three areas of life that we have no control over: the past and the present. This week I’d like to continue with #3 on the list.


I’ve actually covered this subject in some recent columns. In my column titled What’s Wrong With Being Right, I included the following excerpts from Dr. John Townsend’s book, Who’s Pushing Your Buttons:

“It makes sense [that] you care about the button-pusher and want things to go well between the two of you. Yet that person is free to choose his behavior toward you, his attitudes, and whether he even wants to be in a relationship with you. . . .

God understands
this dilemma. He knows it conceptually, and He knows it in experience. God lives in it every day, caring about us and just wanting a relationship with us that is for our best; yet He gives us the freedom to say no to Him, which we often do. . . .

God desires the connection profoundly, yet He does not violate the free will that He also created within us. He allows Himself to experience that sort of tension, not because it is good or pleasant for Him, but because freedom is the only way that we will ever have a relationship that comes from within – from the heart – and is not forced or controlled. That is the only sort of relationship He is interested in.”

When a friend of mine was going through a divorce, she wondered why God didn’t fix her situation and save her marriage. But when the answer to your prayer involves another person and their choices, God is limited in what He can do. He can’t interfere with or violate that person’s free will. It’s just like salvation – God offers it freely to everyone, but He won’t force anyone to love Him, serve Him, or believe in Him. And even though God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell, the choice is up to each individual based on whether they choose to accept – by believing – or reject God’s gift of forgiveness.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
~ Romans 5:6-8

In the November 2008 edition of “Our Daily Bread,” published by RBC Ministries, they explain it this way: “Not even God, with all His power, will force a human being to love Him.”

As for dealing with other people, the only person you actually have any control over is yourself. (And for me, that’s a full time job!) Oh, but how often do we try to control those around us: our co-workers, friends, parents, siblings, children, spouses and partners? But instead of trying to change people or control them, we should just focus on loving them and praying for them.

“You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven . . . If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?”

~ Matthew 5:43-47

I’d like to close with this poem I wrote recently:

Live and Let Live

By Eileen Umbehr

The world is your oyster,
And my world is mine.
If we’ll just respect each other,
We should get along fine.

Although you don’t like how I sing
Or enjoy my song
If that’s how you feel,
Then just don’t sing along

But please don’t tell me that my pitch
Is too high or too low
For it’s my song to sing
And it’s all that I know

Just because we are different
Doesn’t mean that we’re wrong
Like the colors of the rainbow
We all still belong

You see life is like a game
Of tic, tac, toe
Some of us are x’s
And others are o’s

So don’t compare me to others
Nor them to me
Because we’re all different fish
In the same great big sea

And rather than get angry
At the things that I do
Why don’t I focus on me
And you focus on you?

Because no one likes to feel
Like they’re under attack
And if you growl at me
I might have to growl back!

So let’s live and let live
As the saying goes
Then maybe we’ll avoid stepping
On each other’s toes

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

~ Philippians 4:6,7 (NIV)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Perfect Peace (of Mind) - Part I

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” ~ Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)

The message of this week’s column is simple:

Don’t camp on what you can’t control!

There are three major areas of life that you can’t control: the past, the future, and other people. Let’s examine each of these a little further:


The past, represented by hurts inflicted by others and regrets over our own mistakes and misdeeds, has already passed! There’s nothing we can do about events that have already happened, so there’s no sense wasting our time and energy dwelling on them. Rehashing the past is like driving down a road and stopping every five miles to turn back around and revisit places you’ve already been. It’s hard to make any real progress that way. The same is true in life. Since we can’t change the past, the next best thing to do is to utilize the lessons learned to avoid the same situation and make better decisions in the future.

“Not that I have now attained [this ideal] or am already made perfect….but one thing I do – it is my one aspiration; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.”

~ Philippians 3:12-14


The future is represented by events that may or may not occur at some point in the future. Obviously we have no control over something that hasn’t even happened yet. Since many of the things we worry about never happen anyway, it behooves us to focus on living one day at a time.

“Worrying happens today but it’s always about yesterday or tomorrow.”

~ Joyce Meyer

In his book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie encourages his readers to live in “Day-tight Compartments.” That advice originated in the Bible, as found in Matthew chapter 6, verses 25, 26 and 33, 34:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Dale Carnegie further suggests that we focus on the 90 per cent of our life that is good instead of the 10 per cent that is bad. Another tip Carnegie shares for reducing worry is to busy yourself with making other people happy.

“. . .[T]hose who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

~ Proverbs 11:25b (NLT)

Not too long ago I came across a box of old books in our barn. One of the titles caught my eye, so I decided to dust it off and read it. The book is titled: "Be the Person You Were Meant to Be” by Dr. Jerry Greenwald. At the beginning of the book, Greenwald refers to a philosopher named Gestalt who addresses the subject of the past and future versus the present. Gestalt believed that a person need not “undo, work through, or otherwise eliminate the toxic effects of past experiences by delving into them. On the contrary, the deliberate attempt to probe into the past for this purpose simply perpetuates the destructive power of these obsolete experiences which belong to the reality of an earlier era of the person's life. They serve largely to distort the reality of his present functioning, his concept of his self, and his ways of relating to the world. . . .”

Dr. Greenwald states that while past relationships and experiences certainly shape an individual’s attitudes and ways of reacting in the present, “the letting go of those attitudes and behavior patterns which are toxic begins the moment one focuses his attention on the present . . . “

He goes on to explain that the goal of Gestalt's philosophy/therapy is to "melt the toxic power of the past by learning to focus on the present. When a person lives wholly in the now, the past with all its destructive effects recedes into the background of his behavior and loses its power."

“We over-exaggerate yesterday, over-estimate tomorrow, and under-estimate today. We compound our fears and frustrations by taking on the cares of yesterday or tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a good day if we do the right things today. So many times we are repairing instead of preparing. Don’t use today to grieve over the mistakes of yesterday or worry about the events of tomorrow. Live one day at a time.”

~ John Maxwell, author of Life Matters

To be continued . . .

Monday, November 24, 2008

Your Place or Mine?

“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge . . . But you - who are you to judge your neighbor?” ~ James 4:12 (NIV)

The ideas and inspiration for my weekly columns come from a variety of sources, and this week’s idea began with an email story my stepmother Barbara sent me. It goes like this:

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside.

"That laundry is not very clean," she said. "She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap"

Her husband looked on, but remained silent.

Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice array of clean wash on the line.

"Look,” she said to her husband. “Our neighbor has finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?"

The husband replied, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows."

And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look.


“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.”

~ Matthew 7:1-5 (NKJV)

When we judge and criticize, we're really saying, "If others don’t act, or think, or live like me, then they’re wrong.”

Here’s a poem I wrote one night last week when I couldn’t sleep.

You and I

By Eileen Umbehr

If you like homemade clothes
And I like store-bought the most
And you make your own bread
But I buy Wonder instead
If you like to can jelly
And I like Welch’s as well-y
If you grow tomatoes in a garden
And I buy mine at the market
If you homeschooled your kids
And that’s not what I did
If you hang clothes on the line
And the dryer dries mine
If your house is picked up
And mine, you can write in the dust
If you’re still a size 10
And I’m not nearly as thin
If you travel and roam
And I prefer to stay home
If you have a degree
And, well, me, I’m just me
If you read Wall Street Journal
And I prefer a good novel
If you go to church weekly
And I simply pray meekly

Does that make you better than me?

No, we’re all unique beings
Shaped by our upbringings
And no one is better than the other
So rather than conform
Or try to fit in the norm
How ‘bout we just accept one another?

Then I’ll love you for you
If you’ll love me for me
Although we both have our faults and shortcomings
And I’ll overlook yours
If you’ll overlook mine
Then we’ll all share a joy-filled homecoming

“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. . .” ~ Luke 6:37

In a way, that poem ties into the theme of Thanksgiving, because while Thanksgiving is a time when families gather to celebrate and enjoy one another’s company, it can also present opportunities for conflict and bickering.

This Thanksgiving and Christmas, be determined to resist the temptation to lash out at your relatives when they rub you the wrong way.

“For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention ceases.” ~ Proverbs 26:20

Remember, you’re only together for a day or two, so just zip your lip and let annoying comments roll off like water from a duck’s back. In other words, don’t be a turkey this Thanksgiving, be a duck!

This next passage comes from Romans 14:1-5 in The Message Bible:

“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.”

In the following verses from I Corinthians chapter 3, Paul addressed the issue of division amongst the church:

“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.”

My prayer for your family – and mine – is that this holiday season will be one of unity and love rather than division and strife. We have so much to be thankful for, so let’s be grateful and remember to “praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.” ~ Exodus 15:2 (NIV)