Thursday, September 25, 2003

Thank You, Mom

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights….” ~ James 1:17 (NKJV)

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Women of Faith conference I attended in Iowa and you might recall that I shared that poem titled “Dust if you Must” along with one of my own poems entitled Kids. It was about how my life with kids is not clean or quiet. Well, today I received a nice surprise in the mail from a small magazine called Happiness. They publish all the weekly television listings along with pictures and poems from their readers. I had submitted my Kids poem for publication and they decided to publish it on Page 7 of the October 4-10 edition. They sent me two copies along with $25.00. That’s a first for me!

This Saturday, September 27th, my stepmother, Barbara Brady, will be celebrating her birthday. I’ve never really liked the term “stepmother.” But then I was thinking about how Barbara helped us carry on after our mother’s death, and that gave new meaning to the word “step.”

Barbara came into our life after we lost our mother to cancer over fourteen years ago. From day one she has filled our lives with love and laughter and she continues to be one of God’s greatest gifts to our family. I was reading one of my journals from about ten years ago and our son Josh summed up our feelings like this: “Grandma gave Grandma to us. Your mom gave Grandma Barb to us, to watch over us."

About ten years ago I was at a loss for words as to how to adequately express my gratitude to Barbara. I thought I would explode if I didn’t get my feelings on paper. Finally one night as I was getting ready for bed, a phrase popped into my head, so I wrote it down. "How do you thank someone? Please tell me how ….."

Please Tell Me How

How do you thank someone for caring and sharing, for
loving and giving from their heart and soul?
Please tell me how.

How do you thank someone for filling your life with fun
and surprises, love and laughter?
Please tell me how.

How do you thank someone for taking you into their heart
and their home, just when you needed them most?
Please tell me how.

How do you thank someone for a mother's love, a mother's
warmth, a mother's hug?

Please tell me how, and I'll do it.


But alas, the dilemma continues. This is my latest attempt to convey my love and appreciation to my stepmother, Barbara.

September, 2003

Thank you, Mom

Mom, thank you for having such a big heart. When you married our dad you treated all nine of us as if you’d given birth to each and everyone of us. We all felt blessed – overwhelmed, really – by all the love you showed us right from the start. God broke the mold when He made you, Mom.

They say no one can ever replace a loved one lost – and that’s true I suppose, because no two people are alike. But I believe that God handpicked you for all of us, because He didn’t want us to be left without the love of a mother. He knew that you had enough love in your heart (even though it had been wounded many times in the past) for our very large family. We felt a void when our mother died, but you came along and you filled it. You’re so good at everything a mother does – loving without condition or question, giving advice when asked but letting us make our own decisions, supporting us no matter what direction our life may take and encouraging us every step along the way.

You’ll never know – you couldn’t possibly know – how much all your love has meant to me over the years. So this is my feeble attempt to help you understand how much I appreciate your love for me and how much love I have in my heart for you.

Thank you, Mom. You are such a gift from God.

Thursday, September 18, 2003


“Children's children are the crown of old men….”
~ Proverbs 17:6 (NKJV)

Keen and I have two grandsons who are both celebrating their birthdays this week. Our youngest grandson, Gabriel Michael, had his first birthday on September 17th and his big brother, Asher William, will celebrate his 4th birthday on September 21st. They already had their joint birthday party last Sunday. When my daughter-in-law Erin asked Asher what his favorite gift was, he thought for a minute and said, “The birthday hats!” We should all be so easy to please!

I’d like to share this poem that I wrote when Asher was about six months old.

A New Kind of Wonder
By Eileen Umbehr

When Asher was born on September 21st,
I was so excited, I thought I would burst.

My daughter-in-law invited me to be in the room,
when their bundle of love decided to bloom.

Then I watched my firstborn son cut the cord asunder,
while I peered into the face of this New Kind of Wonder.

I saw his cute dimples; I heard his first cry.
Yes, I witnessed a miracle, right before my eyes.

He’s not mine, but then he is, because he’s a part of me –
this newest little branch on our family tree.

You just cannot imagine, the joy that he brings –
that is, unless you have your own grand-offspring!

Whenever I haven’t seen him in a while,
he puts his little hands on my cheeks and gives me a big smile.

Asher’s name means blessed, lucky and happy,
And that’s just what he’s made his grandma and grandpappy.

So whenever I’m feeling a little bit under,
I just look into the face of this New Kind of Wonder.


Jared, Erin and Asher lived in Manhattan until Asher was two years old, so we really enjoyed having them so close by. Then, after September 11th, Jared decided to join the Navy, and they moved to Ohio so Erin could live with her parents and enroll in nursing school. We sure do miss them.

Here’s another poem I wrote shortly after they moved to Ohio two years ago.

Most of all
By Eileen Umbehr

I miss seeing your smile
and hearing your laugh
I miss singing you to sleep
and holding you on my lap.

The high chair sits empty,
the toy box is untouched;
And I guess we won’t be needing,
these little forks, spoons and cups.

Here are a few extra diapers,
And a can of Pediasure,
Some tiny little mittens
that won’t fit anyone ‘round here.

Now there’s no one to sing,
the “Asher cheer” to,
Because there’s nobody else
half as special as you.

Everywhere I look
I’m reminded of you,
the legos in the closet
and seeing Blue’s Clues.

I miss your mommy
And your daddy, too
But most of all, Asher,
I miss you.

About that nursing degree…..well, life has a funny way of throwing you curve balls and this little curve ball weighed 6 lbs. 4 oz. and is named Gabriel Michael. But we wouldn’t trade him for anything (although his Daddy says he’s not quite as “adorable” at 2:00 in the morning). So Erin took a year off to nurse and nurture their new little son and now, a year later, she is ready to start back to nursing school. Erin is strong and determined, so I have no doubt that she will achieve all of her goals. (She’s also very intelligent – that always helps!)

I remember the night Gabriel was born. I was on the phone with Jared and he was explaining that there were some complications and the doctors were considering doing a C-section. All of a sudden Jared said, “Mom, I’ve gotta go! Erin’s having the baby!” He called about an hour later to let us know that Erin had another healthy baby boy and she was able to deliver him naturally. Then Jared said, “Do you want to hear him, Mom?” So he put the phone by his newborn son and I heard one of Gabe’s very first cries. Needless to say, that started a chain reaction and soon Grandma was crying, too. But it was the next best thing to being there.

Asher and Gabe have turned out to be the best of buddies. Gabe’s a tough little guy who already likes to romp on the floor with his brother. When Erin moved Gabe into Asher’s room recently Asher was just thrilled. I’m so glad they have each other for a built in playmate.

Before I close, I’d like to share one more poem that a woman named Deb Miller wrote for her grandchildren.

Loving a Grandchild!
By Deb Miller

Loving a grandchild is
like none other.
It's not quite the same as
being a mother.

You love your children,
each one is unique,
But the love of a grandchild,
will sweep you off your feet.

They look up at you,
with their cute little grins,
touching your heart deep within.

They're sweet little angels
sent from up above,
and they warm your heart
with unconditional love.


Asher William Umbehr
Born September 21, 1999

Gabriel Michael Umbehr
Born September 17, 2002

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Gone, But Not Forgotten

“My eye wastes away because of grief; It grows old because of all my enemies. Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication; The Lord will receive my prayer.”
~ Psalms 6:7-9 (NKJV)

This edition of The Prairie Post will come out on the anniversary of one of the most tragic days in American history.

In honor of those who lost their lives on September 11th and in tribute to the families who lost their loved ones, I’d like to share the following poem which I received in an email.

A Dad's Poem
Author unknown

Her hair was up in a pony tail,
her favorite dress tied with a bow.
Today was “Daddy's Day” at school,
and she couldn't wait to go.

But her mommy tried to tell her,
that she should just stay home.
Why the kids might not understand,
if she went to school alone.

But she was not afraid;
she knew just what to say.
What to tell her classmates
of why he wasn't there today.

But still her mother worried,
for her to face this day alone.
And that was why once again,
she tried to keep her daughter home.

But the little girl went to school,
eager to tell them all.
About a dad she never sees
a dad who never calls.

There were daddies along the wall in back,
for everyone to meet.
Children squirming impatiently,
anxious in their seats.

One by one the teacher called,
a student from the class.
To introduce their daddy,
as seconds slowly passed.

At last the teacher called her name,
every child turned to stare.
Each of them was searching,
for a man who wasn't there.

Where's her daddy at?"
she heard a boy call out.
She probably doesn't have one,"
another student dared to shout.

And from somewhere near the back,
she heard a daddy say,
Looks like another deadbeat dad,
too busy to waste his day."

The words did not offend her,
as she smiled up at her Mom.
And looked back at her teacher,
while she stood there all alone.

With hands behind her back,
slowly she began to speak.
And out of the mouth of a child,
came words incredibly unique.

My Daddy couldn't be here,
because he lives so far away.
But I know he wishes he could be,
since this is such a special day.

And though you cannot meet him,
I wanted you to know.
All about my daddy,
and how much he loves me so.

He loved to tell me stories
he taught me to ride my bike.
He surprised me with pink roses,
and taught me to fly a kite.

We used to share fudge sundaes,
and ice cream in a cone.
And though you cannot see him,
I’m not standing here alone.

Because my daddy's always with me,
even though we are apart
I know because he told me,
he'll forever be in my heart.”

With that, her little hand reached up,
and lay across her chest.
Feeling her own heartbeat,
beneath her favorite dress.

And from somewhere in the crowd of dads,
her mother stood in tears.
Proudly watching her daughter,
who was wise beyond her years.

For she stood up for the love
of a man not in her life.
Doing what was best for her,
doing what was right.

And when she dropped her hand back down,
staring straight into the crowd.
She finished with a voice so soft,
but its message clear and loud.

I love my daddy very much,
he's my shining star.
And if he could, he'd be here,
but Heaven's just too far

You see he was a fireman
who died just this past year
When airplanes hit the towers
and taught Americans to fear.

But sometimes when I close my eyes,
it's like he never went away.”
And then she closed her eyes,
and saw him standing there that day.

And to her mother's amazement,
she witnessed with surprise.
A room full of daddies and children,
all starting to close their eyes.

Who knows what they saw before them,
who knows what they felt inside.
Perhaps for merely a second,
they saw him at her side.

I know you're with me, Daddy,"
to the silence she called out.
And what happened next made believers,
of those once filled with doubt.

No one in that room could explain it,
for each of their eyes had been closed.
But there on the desk beside her,
was one long-stemmed pink rose.

And a child was blessed, if only for a moment,
by the love of her shining bright star.
She was given the gift of believing,
that Heaven is never too far.

God Bless our FireFighters

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Father to Son

“….a wise son makes a father glad.”
~ Proverbs 10:1

(The following is a letter my husband recently wrote to our 19-year-old son, Keen II)

July 23, 2003

Dear Keen,

Lately, there have been several things on my heart that I wanted to share with you. The first is that I am so proud of you. Many times parents don’t tell their kids that often enough. I see the man you have become and I truly marvel. During the reception dance at Josh’s wedding I was struck by how you acted, interacted and reacted to the many different situations you encountered. For example, the speech you gave while toasting the bride and groom was so moving and sincere. Your words flowed with such ease and elegance that I was amazed. Where, I wondered, did you learn to speak with such passion and professionalism? Your words were so polished and precise. As a father, it made me extremely proud that my son could stand up in front of all those people and speak from the heart about his love for his brother. It was as though you had given wedding party toasts all your life. It was my most rewarding moment. I am so proud of you.

Next, from the very first dance, I observed you living your life in the comfort of your element. It was easy to see that you are a leader of men. You are not constrained by what others think or burdened by another’s code or convictions. I witnessed the person you have become; an honorable, self-assured and principled individual. You have truly become your own man. Your mannerisms and ability to relate to the very young as well as the very old is evidence that you possess the wisdom that “people matter.” During and after the reception, I was complimented numerous times on what a great person you are. I am so proud of you.

Finally, I want to share something else that has been on my heart for the last few days. It seems that parents never tell their kids the exact point in time when they officially become the captains of their own ship; architects of their own destiny. For the most part, it’s probably because parents don’t relish the thought of relinquishing control of their children’s life or the right to meddle in their decisions. But after observing you at the wedding and reception, I see that your mother and I have nothing to worry about. We have raised you with the wisdom to seek the guidance of God and to follow your heart even when, to the world, it makes no practical sense. In Micah 6:8 God makes it crystal clear how we are to live our lives: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” I can see in you, Keen, that this is how you live your life. I am so proud of you.

I want to mark this day as the day that your mother and I no longer regard you as a child but as a man; independent and autonomous in all respects. We have confidence that you are being led and protected by the grace of God and believe that you will go into the world and fulfill God’s perfect plan for your life. When we think of you, the words, “splendidly fearless” come to our hearts. We know that you will do extremely well in whatever you put your hand to. We are so proud of you.

In Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”, he challenges the readers to figure out the worst possible thing that could happen in any new pursuit. Once you identify the “worst case scenario” and realize that it’s survivable, then you can forge ahead with confidence. I have a plaque that reads: “You can’t steal second base with your foot on first.” Life is about taking risks. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you don’t. Ahhh, but to have the courage to try is to be “splendidly fearless.” Remember the feeling of stealing second base or the thrill of the fast break in basketball? For those few seconds, life is so real, so captivating, so on the edge of great success or failure. My hope is for you to be able to live your life with this kind of tantalizing enthusiasm.

No matter what decisions you make in your life and how things ultimately turn out, please know that your mother and I will always be ready and willing to rally the troops, circle the wagons and send in the choppers for evacuation if you just give us the word. Over the years, our parents have always been there to support us in good times and bad, through our successes and failures. It’s what families do.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, who strives valiantly; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

In closing, please know that your mother and I will always be here for you. We are just moving to the back seat because God is your co-pilot now. Go forth and conquer the world. We are so proud of you.



Keen II giving the toast at Josh & Lisa's wedding