Thursday, October 28, 2004

That's Politics

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan.”
~ Proverbs 29:2

By Eileen Umbehr

Politics is a messy business. It is not for the weak at
heart. The public is a fickle friend. One must prepare to
be alternately stabbed in the back and patted on it. It is
not a reflection on you as a person. Americans have always
had a love-hate relationship with their elected officials.
One minute you can do no wrong and the next minute, the
opposite is true.

A politician cannot depend on a select group of loyal
followers, for that group, like the tide, is constantly
changing. One must not be affected by the ups and downs of
public opinion. Prepare yourself to be gently drawn in and
treated like royalty one moment, and cast off like an old
shoe the next.

That's politics.


Since I’m short on time this week, I’d just like to share a few political quotes I’ve collected over the years.

May the best candidates win!


”Why pay money to have your family tree traced? Get into politics and your opponents will surely do it for you.” ~ Author unknown

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
- Galileo Galilei

"Politics is the skilled use of blunt objects." ~ Lester B. Pearson (1897-1972 ) Prime Minister of Canada"Those in power need checks and restraints lest they come to identify thecommon good for their own tastes and desires, and their continuation inoffice as essential to the preservation of the nation." ~ William O. Douglas, (1898-1980), U. S. Supreme Court Justice

"That government is best which governs least." ~ Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

"I once said cynically of a politician, ‘He'll doublecross that bridge when he comes to it.'" ~ Oscar Levant (1906-1972)"The more you read and observe about this Politics thing,you got to admit that each party is worse than the other…”~ Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist

"Being in politics is like being a football coach.You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important." ~ Eugene McCarthy US Congressman & U.S. Senator (D-Minnesota)

In an article published in the April 26, 2004 edition of The Topeka Capital-Journal, staff writer Ric Anderson reported that Rev. Fred Hollomon (Kansas State Chaplain for the past 23 years) has presented more than 1,100 invocations since 1979.

I’d like to close with this sample prayer from Rev. Hollomon.

“Lord, help us to know who’s telling the truth. One side says one thing and the other says just the opposite. If both sides are telling the truth or neither side is telling the truth, we’d like to know that. And if each side is telling half the truth, give us the wisdom to put the right halves together.”


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Out of Control

“And now…I commit you to God – that is, I deposit you in His charge, entrusting you to His protection and care…” ~ Acts 30:32

She sat alone on a bus out of Beaumont
The courage of just eighteen years
A penny and quarter were taped to a letter
And momma's goodbye in her ears
When you get lonely, call me Anytime at all

I'll be there with you, always
Anywhere at all
There's nothing I've got that I wouldn't give you
And money is never enough
Here's a penny for your thoughts
A quarter for the call
And all of your momma's love

26 Cents ~ recorded by The Wilkinson

Is there any job more difficult than being a parent? I’d like to know. Because either parenting is one of the greatest challenges you’ll ever face, or I’m just really bad at it.

I’m calling this column “Out of Control” in reference to the struggle I’m having with letting go of my youngest son, Kirk Van. Many tears were shed at my house this week, as Kirk found the courage to express his feelings on the subject. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him to say and I know it wasn’t easy for me to hear. One of the things Kirk revealed during our conversation was that he felt like I was the driver in his car. Ouch.

You’d think by the time I got to son # 4 this would be old hat for me, but maybe that’s exactly why I’m having a more difficult time – because he’s my baby. But I have to realize that it’s not healthy for me to maintain a death grip on him in an attempt to control every aspect of his life. But somehow I have this notion that I’m not being a good mother if I don’t. I know in my head that it’s natural for kids (especially boys) to grow up and away from their mothers, but it feels very un-natural to my heart!

I was browsing through some of my old journals recently and I think I discovered the root of the problem. When my kids were little, it was my job to watch every move they made and to orchestrate every moment of their day from brushing their teeth and cleaning their rooms to telling them when it was time to do their homework or go to bed. It was a good thing back then, but those days are over now, and the transition can prove to be a difficult one. Case in point: I recall one of the boys tearfully explaining that he felt like he was old enough to pick out his own clothes. “It would be different if I was a baby like Kirk,” he said. “But I’m not a baby!”

So I’ve had to learn the hard way that if I continue to “mother hen” my child beyond the appropriate time, it will only create resentment and stunt his personal growth. As much as I like to be in control, the price is just too high. As a matter of fact, an alternate title for this week’s column was “Confessions of a Control Freak.” Just read the following memo I wrote to Josh when he was young and you’ll see what I mean.

Dear Josh,

This morning I found many items out of place in your room after you left for school. So many, in fact, that I was afraid I would forget them all if I didn't write them down. Here is the list of things that were out of order:

1. All drawers in your bureau were left open.
2. All drawers in your desk were left open.
3. Your wet towel was left on the floor.
4. Your pajama bottoms were left on your chair.
5. Your light was left on.
6. Your radio was left on.

I am happy to report that your bed was made. However, in the future, please see that you complete more than one out of seven morning duties before you leave for school. Okay? Okay!

I love you,


Now here’s an excerpt from a family newsletter I sent out in 1992 talking about a different approach:

“Recently I’ve incorporated a new system to encourage responsibility and discourage irresponsibility. I have a chart on the frig for responsibility credits. Jared, Josh and Keen are the only participating members right now. When they do something like dishes or vacuuming without being asked, then they earn some points. When they do something like put raw eggs in the bottom of their brother's new roller skates (true story), then they lose some points. I can't get over how effective it is! They count their points often and are literally fighting over who gets to put the laundry away. They gladly welcome any new chore since it’s an opportunity to earn more points. "Who wants to mow the lawn?" "I do! I do! Hey, I said it first!" The other day Keener said, "Now every day is like a clean up day." I can't keep them busy enough. Eventually, we'll tally up the scores and it will translate into “x” amount of dollars.”


Being a mother is all I every wanted to be. In fact, when my brother Bill was born just 16 months after me, my mom said I acted like I was his mother! She said I never gave him a moment’s peace – I just followed him around everywhere he went. Even then I thought it was my job to be the mother hen!

As my children got older, I’d say the hardest part about letting go was allowing them to make their own choices, even if I didn’t agree with them. I had to keep reminding myself that God didn’t put a barbed wire fence around the tree in the Garden of Eden. He just told Adam and Eve what they could and couldn’t eat and left the choice up to them. So if God relinquished His right to control His children and gave them a free will, then I guess I should follow His example by doing the same with mine.

Roots and Wings
By Eileen Umbehr

Some people say,
there are only two things,
that you can give your children,
one is roots; the other, wings.

They'll have their share of ups and downs,
at times the skies will be bleak,
but we must allow them to spread their wings,
even if they bump their beaks!

It's hard to know when to let them go,
some are ready sooner than others,
but no matter when that time comes,
it's always hard on their mothers!

But deep down in our heart of hearts,
we have always known,
we can't keep them with us forever,
one day they will be on their own.

And we really wouldn't want it,
any other way,
we have to allow them to fly and be free,
even though we wish they could stay.

So we'll raise our children
with faith, hope and love,
and a prayer that God will watch over them
From Heaven up above.

Then when the time arrives,
for them to leave the nest,
we'll wave good-bye with a tear in our eye,
knowing that we've been blessed.

I’d like to close with an analogy about letting go that my uncle, Tom Lynch shared with me many years ago. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The analogy of the kite to child rearing is apropos. You receive a lovely kite. A kite’s destiny is fulfilled only when it flies. You must try to get it to fly.
You fashion a tail, to guide it, from your own experiences and the advice of more experienced kite flyers. The tail must be well done, not too inconsequential, not too burdensome – enough to keep it pointing in the right direction and to aid its flight. You may have to modify the tail a few times to get it right.
To control the pretty kite, you attach a string. You, as parents, hold onto the string and the kite, by turns. Alternately, you run with it to get it airborne and to keep it aloof. It begins to fly, albeit jerkily at first. You let out more string or take some in – thoughtfully, carefully. You judge the winds and urge your winsome kite to rise higher. It crashes a few times, hopefully not doing too much harm.

Eventually, your shining kite begins to go up, up and away, forever pulling as you let out more string. It is buffeted by the winds of fate; it twists and turns high in the sky. You are anxious. Do you let out more string or reel some in? You have many discussions as to what is best. The string is so tenuous the farther away the kite sails.

The kite tugs harder, increasingly. It wants to be on its own. Too soon (only a few years, really) it breaks the string and soars off alone. Your beautiful kite is free! Would you want otherwise? But it is heart wrenching.

As the years go by, you will often question yourselves about the kites you were entrusted with. Did we fly our kites well? Were our guiding principles worthy? Did we exercise enough control or too much?

It is the subject of much retrospection, between the kite flyers, as they grow old together.

I pray You'll be my eyesAnd watch her where she goesAnd help her to be wiseHelp me to let goEvery mother's prayerEvery child knowsLead her to a placeGuide her with Your graceTo a place where she'll be safe

A Mother’s Prayer ~ recorded by Celine Dion

Keen & the boys with homemade kite

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Invisible Scars

“And this you do with double guilt; you cover the altar of the Lord with tears [shed by your unoffending wives, divorced by you that you might take heathen wives]…
Therefore take heed to yourselves, and let no one deal treacherously and be faithless to the wife of his youth.”
~ Malachi 2:13, 15b

Invisible Scars
By Eileen Umbehr

Invisible scars
No one sees
Don’t appear

Invisible scars
Internal pain
Lasting wounds
Love in vain

Invisible scars
Blows to the soul
Knives in the heart
No longer whole

Invisible scars
Though not seen
Invisible scars
Last eternally

Last Tuesday, the Oprah show dealt with the silent shame of emotional abuse. The show was based on an article that appears in a recent edition of O Magazine titled “She’s come undone” which featured Susan Weitzman, author of, Not to People Like Us”; Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages.

Ms. Weitzman stated that one out of three women live in a marriage where they are verbally abused and emotionally tortured. After years of being called unspeakable names and constantly being ridiculed, the victim eventually becomes fragmented. Many women think that if they don’t talk about the problem, then it will just go away.
Ms. Weitzman referred to these women as being “hooked on hope.”

When the woman does try to assert herself by telling her abuser how his verbal attacks make her feel, she is often called a “cry baby” and told that she should “toughen up” or “get a grip.” She may also be told she is too sensitive or even selfish. “It’s all about you, isn’t it?” is a common phrase used by abusive men.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it…?

I, the Lord, search the mind, I try the heart, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”
~ Jeremiah 17:9, 10

As most of you know, my sister Mary endured 25 years in an abusive marriage. Many years ago she opened up to me and described the vile names her ex-husband called her on a regular basis. When she told him that one particular name was especially painful, that was the name he called her even more often. When she made a mistake he would tell her she was an idiot. If something spilled in the refrigerator, he called her a slob. One time she gave him a piece of cheesecake with raspberry topping on it and he complained because he had asked for a “dollop” of topping and apparently Mary hadn’t put the “proper” amount on. “Don’t you know what a dollup is?” he asked, incredulously. Then he got up from his chair and fixed himself another piece of cheesecake. “Now that’s a dollup!” he explained. (Now, if that had been my husband, I think he would’ve been wearing that dollup.)

Another thing he used to do was sit in his easy chair and hold three or fingers in the air, indicating the number of freeze pops he wanted his daughter to bring him. One day she was busy and told him she would get them for him in a minute. He got so angry that he started counting down out loud, dropping one finger at a time until only the middle finger was left in the air.

On New Year’s Eve, 1999, Mary bought some nice steaks and crab legs for a special dinner to celebrate the millennium. Her husband was cooking the crab legs in the kitchen while she went outside to light the grill. Well, the grill didn’t light for one reason or another and Mary didn’t realize it until they sat down to eat and discovered the steaks weren’t done. Her ex-husband berated her for 45 minutes over that one innocent mistake. At first I thought she said he mocked her for “4 to 5 minutes” – which would have been bad enough – but she corrected me and said it was forty-five minutes. “How could you be so stupid? Our meal is ruined now – we might as well throw the crab legs down the drain!” he said. “You are so stupid! Even the kids could have gotten that right!” Mary was in tears. She said it felt like he was poking her repeatedly with ice picks. So don’t tell me that verbal abuse isn’t as bad as physical abuse.

One of the guests on Oprah’s show (whose husband called her “pathetic” and many other names that had to be bleeped out), said that sometimes she wished her husband would hit her so she’d have a reason to leave. She swore that she would never stay under those circumstances. Many men realize there would be serious consequences if they ever hit their wives, so they use words as their weapons of choice to inflict pain. Yet all too often these situations escalate from verbal abuse to physical violence. Either way, it’s all about control.

After this same man viewed a videotape showing the appalling way he treated his wife, he seemed completely shocked by his own behavior, as if he were watching a video of some total stranger. When Oprah asked him if he loved his wife he answered emphatically, “Yes, I do….very much.”

Well, I don’t care what anybody says – that’s not love.

Have you ever heard the expression, “Silver-tongued devil?” It’s used to describe men like this who could charm the skin off a snake when they’re out in public, but heaven help their wife and kids when they pull in the drive. Then, when the wife finally decides she’s not going to put up with it anymore and files for divorce, everyone is scratching their heads and wondering what’s wrong with her. The only side they’ve ever seen is the side he shows his adoring public. “He wouldn’t hurt a flea,” they say. Well maybe not, but behind closed doors he’ll devastate the one person he vowed to love, cherish and protect until death do them part.

Although these abusive men may fool a lot of people, they’re not fooling God. The Bible says that you can tell a tree by its fruit and “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

“The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things. But I tell you, on the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle…word they speak.” ~ Matthew 12:33-36

In other words: evil fruit – evil root.
Journalist and author Michele Weldon wrote a book titled I Closed My Eyes describing her experience as a battered woman. Unfortunately, many women choose to wear blinders and hang on to a fantasy, rather than dealing with the prospect of being divorced and alone, struggling to make ends meet and having their children come from a broken home.

Although I’ve never walked in their shoes, I have great compassion for women who are suffering from any type of abuse. I yearn to tell them that they deserve better – that they have a right to be treated with dignity and respect. It doesn’t make you a failure to walk away from an abusive situation. And please don’t think you’re doing your children any favors by staying in an abusive marriage. If the only behavior they witness in the home is verbal and physical abuse, then they will regrettably learn two very destructive lessons: 1) that it’s okay to treat other people like that and, 2) that it’s okay for other people to treat them like that.

In my opinion, it’s better for your children to be raised in a loving, peaceful home with a single parent, than to live in constant turmoil and fear – wondering when the next volcano is going to erupt. As Dr. Phil says: Children would rather come from a broken home than live in one.

This is a poem I wrote based on actual comments my sister’s 11-year-old son made about his relationship with his dad.

He calls me son
By Eileen Umbehr

When I get hurt and cry, my dad laughs at me and calls me a woosy (to my face).
My mom says she is so sorry.
I tell her, “Its okay, Mom. You didn’t do it.”
Sometimes I get worried because they say that girls turn out to be like the moms and boys turn out to be like the dads.

Mom tells me I need to remember how it feels so I won’t do the same things to my children.
I don’t ever want to do the same things to my children.
One time my dad told me I could have anything I wanted for my birthday. I said I just wanted him to play one-on-one basketball with me.

That was five years ago.
My friends’ dads play catch with them. For as long as I can remember, I’ve asked my dad to play catch with me. But he always says, “I’m too busy, son. Maybe tomorrow, son.”

Then when tomorrow comes I ask,
“Don’t you wanna play catch with me, Dad?”
And he says, “Not today, son. I’m too tired, son.”
He calls me son…..but he’s not really a dad.


Finally, I’d like to close with this poem I wrote three years ago about my sister’s abusive marriage. I know I’ve shared it before, but I think it bears repeating.

For My Sister’s Sake
By Eileen Umbehr

My sister’s in a marriage –
if you can call it that,
Her husband is so mean to her,
he tells her she’s ugly and fat.

He never shows her any signs
of kindness, love or affection,
Nothing she does ever meets
his standard of perfection.

He yells at my sister day and night
because the house isn’t clean,
Believe it or not, he even complains
about water spots on the washing machine!

When my sister makes an honest mistake
he mocks her and calls her stupid,
I don’t know where this guy came from
but it certainly wasn’t from Cupid!

Even their kids have noticed the fact
that their dad’s not a very nice fella,
They don’t like how he bosses their mother around
as if she were Cinderella.

When times were tough, as they often were
and his insults pierced her heart,
She took a deep breath and told herself
that this was the “for worse” part.

She wanted to keep her family intact
so she fought with all that she had,
She tried to focus on the good
and overlook the bad.

But recently she discovered
that her suspicions about him were true,
It seems there were three people in the marriage
instead of the traditional two.

Now, whether her life as a single mom
will be an improvement, there’s no guarantee,
But for my sister’s sake, I hope she takes that chance
at least then she will finally be free

“You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning. And you will have confidence, because there is hope.”
~ Job 11:16-18 (RSVB)

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Enough is Enough

Thus says… the Lord and your God, who pleads the cause of His people: "See, I have taken out of your hand the cup of trembling…You shall no longer drink it.
But I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you, Who have said to you, 'Lie down, that we may walk over you.' And you have laid your body like the ground, And as the street, for those who walk over."

~ Psalms 51:22,23 (NKJV)

Some day, when she's old enough,
She's gonna start askin' questions about him.
Some kid at school brings his Dad for show and tell,
And gets her little mind a-wonderin'
"Where's my Daddy? Do I have one?
Does he not love me like you do?"
Oh, maybe I'll find someone to love the both of us,
And I'll tell her when she's old enough to know the truth.
Will it break her heart?
Will she understand
that I had to leave?
That's what was best for me and Emily.
The house was never clean enough;
his dinner never warm enough.
Nothing I did was ever good enough
to make him happy.
So I guess he gave me
what he thought I deserved,
But it would kill me
if he ever raised his hand to her.
It's a brand new day,
It's a second chance.
Yesterday is just a memory,
For me and Emily.
Me and Emily ~ recorded by Rachel Proctor

Last week, the Wabaunsee County Commissioners, Ervan Stuewe, Maurice Gleason and Fred Howard, signed the following official Proclamation declaring October, 2004 Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

WHEREAS, the problems and effects of domestic violence span all economic, racial, and social segments of our society; and
WHEREAS, the impact of domestic violence is extensive and acutely affects women and their children and society as a whole; and
WHEREAS, the crime of domestic violence violates an individual’s privacy, dignity, security, and humanity through the use of physical, emotional, sexual, psychological and economic control and/or abuse; and
WHEREAS, men and women must recognize the full scope of this social problem and work together to create a community that refuses to tolerate domestic violence; and
WHEREAS, it has been battered women themselves working in the forefront to bring peace and equality into the home; and
WHEREAS, nearly 50 incidents of domestic violence in Wabaunsee County are reported to law enforcement each year; and
WHEREAS, the YWCA Battered Women Task Force/Sexual Assault Counseling Programs provides immediate crisis intervention, short-term shelter, support groups, individual therapeutic counseling for victims and abusers, community advocacy, community referrals, and outreach and preventive education.


Domestic Violence Awareness Month

and urge all residents to support the work of collaborative agencies in serving the needs of families impacted by domestic violence and work toward the elimination of domestic violence in our community.


Here are some staggering statistics:

Ø In the United States, a woman is beaten by her husband or boyfriend every 15 seconds.
Ø 2-4 million women a year are assaulted by their partners.
Ø 80% of battering incidents start in the home
Ø At least 25 % of domestic violence victims are pregnant when beaten.
Ø Child abuse is 15 times more likely to occur in families where domestic violence is present.
Ø Every day, four women are beaten to death.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the 24-hour Kansas Crisis Hotline
at 1-888- END ABUSE or the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence at (785) 232-9784.

In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and in honor of all the women who have suffered physical, emotional or mental abuse at the hands of another, I would like to share the following poems and verses.

Enough is Enough
By Eileen Umbehr

When do you say, "Enough is enough?"
When do you point to the door?
When do you say, "Never again,
I'm not taking your abuse any more?"

Now it seems you've quit listening to the truth
and started believing his lies;
You turned from the light and shut the door,
because the light was hurting your eyes.

He used to say you were nothing,
now he says he's nothing without you;
He brings you flowers and candy,
and promises to be true.

He's playing with your emotions,
telling you he can't live without you;
Where has he been for the past twenty years?
Did this change just come out of the blue?

I grieve for you because I know,
he's still not being truthful;
He's just telling you what you want to hear,
and that's what makes it even more hurtful.

You say that you're not backing down,
you're just stepping back;
You want to give him one more chance,
to show you the love he has lacked.

Well, I have to respect your decision,
after all, this is your life, not mine;
I just don't want to see you get hurt again,
and I don't believe he'll toe the line.

But for your sake, I hope that I'm wrong,
and that you’ll both live happily ever after;
And I pray that your home will be filled once again,
with love, and peace and laughter.
Written for my sister, Mary
July 21, 2001

“But if the husband or wife who isn’t a Christian is eager to leave, it is permitted. In such cases the Christian husband or wife should not insist that the other stay, for God wants His children to live in peace and harmony. For, after all, there is no assurance to you wives that your husbands will be converted if they stay; and the same may be said to your husbands concerning your wives.”
~ I Corinthians 7:15 (Living Bible)


On his own
By Eileen Umbehr

He tells her he never wanted this
And I guess in a way that is true
But it’s not what you think, let me explain
Maybe then you’ll see why he’s so blue.

He never wanted to cook his own meals
never wanted to mess with the bills
And he certainly never wanted to do his own wash
Or buy groceries to put on the shelves

He never wanted to sit all alone
in a one room apartment so plain
But when he had his wife and children around
All he ever did was complain

“Clean this! Clean that! Look at this place!
What have you been doing all day?
Just look at the dust on those baseboards – my God!
I just can’t keep living this way!”

Well, guess what? He doesn’t have to, now he lives on his own
with no noise, no confusion, no “filth”
So now if there’s something that hasn’t been done
He has no one to blame but himself

I guess he had to learn the hard way
You can’t have your cake and eat it, too
If you really want someone to be a part of your life
Then you better be faithful and true

Yes, you better show them you love them
By being helpful, respectful and kind,
Or one day they may be gone from your life
And you may be left behind

March 11, 2003

“See, this is the man who made not God his strength – his stronghold and high tower; but trusted and confidently relied on the abundance of his riches, seeking refuge and security for himself through his wickedness.”
~ Psalm 52:7


By Kayleen Drebes

She cries in the night
and no one hears
her tears fall silent
just like her fears

She wants to leave
but she’s afraid to go
and her little ones
don’t even know

She hopes for the day
that things will change
she’ll try a little harder
perhaps – she’ll pray –

But it’s hard
to just – begin again –
when hurts lie deep
and love just ends

She feels like a broken
china doll
with no way to protect
the little ones from the fall

Her smile is weary
confusion surrounds her
she’s losing the will
to live – altogether

Her tells her – he loves her
and can’t live without her
She’s the one to blame
for the pain that he’s in

She’s ridden with guilt
for she’s the protector –
of all those hearts
in her care

And he is the conqueror
the master of the game
the one who decides
what is fair

The battle goes on
and she tried to persuade –
and ease the tension
reassure her own faith

But hope of the hopeless
grows weak and tired
the battle gets brutal
the scars no longer hide

Sooner or later
she must find her way
to the crossroad of truth
before it’s too late.

“And I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, and in steadfast love, and in mercies. I will even betroth you to Me in stability and in faithfulness, and you shall know – recognize, be acquainted with, appreciate, give heed to and cherish – the Lord.

And I will sow her for Myself anew in the land, and I will have pity, mercy and love for her who had not obtained pity, mercy and love, and I will say to those who were not My people, You are My people, and they shall say, You are my God!”
~ Hosea 2:19, 20, 23(Amplified)