Thursday, April 29, 2004

Our Soldier

“It is right that I should feel as I do … for you have a very special place in my heart… God knows how much I love you….” ~ Philippians 1:7,8 (NLT)

And I will always do my duty,
no matter what the price,
I've counted up the cost,
I know the sacrifice.

Oh, and I don't want to die for you,
but if dyin’s asked of me,
I'll bear that cross with honor
‘cause freedom don't come free.

I'm an American soldier, an American
Beside my brothers and my sisters, I will proudly take a stand,
When liberty's in jeopardy, I will always do what's right,
I'm out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight.
I'm an American Soldier…an American.

“American Soldier” performed by Toby Keith

On May 10th, our firstborn son, Jared Joseph, will turn twenty-five years old. Jared has always been the light of our life, and now he is the light of his wife’s life (Erin) – and their two sons (Asher and Gabriel).

Jared graduated from Wabaunsee High School in 1997 and attended Kansas State University for about a year and a half. After concluding that he hated school, and school hated him, his Grandpa Van Kirk suggested that he might want to consider going into the military. Jared was adamantly opposed to the idea, as evidenced by his declaration that he would rather pull his fingernails out one by one than join the armed forces.

But then September 11th happened and everything changed. With Erin’s support, Jared decided to enlist in the United States Navy.

No one was more surprised than we were by Jared’s announcement. I asked him what when through his mind when he made the decision to enlist, and he replied, “When I saw those planes hit the towers and realized our country under attack, I just felt like every generation has their war to fight and this is our generation’s turn.” We were never prouder of our son than we were at that moment.

This is a poem I wrote after Jared had been in the Navy for about a year.

Where’s Daddy, Grandma?
By Eileen Umbehr

The other day I was talking
on the phone
with our three-year-old grandson,
who lives in Ohio

He was telling me about the snow,
and his little brother, Gabe
and about the paper airplane,
his other grandma made

When all of a sudden,
out of the blue
he asked me a question,
so innocent and true

“Where’s Daddy, Grandma?”
he asked me point blank
tears filled my eyes,
and my heart just sank

How do I explain,
that his daddy went away
to fight for our country –
that’s why he couldn’t stay

He’s too young to understand,
that when Daddy saw the towers burn
He said, “Every generation has their war to fight,
and this is our generation’s turn.”

So I just tried to keep it simple,
but his little voice sounded so sad
“He had to go back to the Navy?
I’m gonna miss my Dad.”

Yes, those who serve our country,
aren’t the only ones who sacrifice;
it’s their spouses and their children,
who also pay a heavy price

But we are proud of our son,
and his wife and children, too
Because the price they pay for freedom,
they pay for me and you.


Jared is an E-5 in Special Forces; specifically, he is a Special Warfare Combatant Craft Crewman (SWCCC). Their duties involve the insertion and extraction of Navy Seals. At his graduation ceremony in Coronado, California last June, Jared was selected as “honor man” and received special recognition for his academic and physical achievement, positive attitude and determination during the rigorous training.

Jared’s task unit is officially deployable now, having just completed the final phase of their training. For obvious reasons, we are hoping that he doesn’t see active combat; however, he is hoping that he does. He said it might be hard for us to understand, but after spending three years of his life training, he wants the opportunity to put what he learned to use. “I didn’t join the Navy to sit behind a desk,” he said. “I really didn’t.” So we have to put Jared in God’s hands and pray that he and all the other American soldiers will be protected from harm.

The journals I kept when Jared was a young boy repeatedly make reference to what a tenderhearted child he was. I remember when Josh came along everyone warned us that Jared might become jealous. But that was never the case. Even though Jared was only 2 years old, he was always very nurturing with Josh. He would hold him in the rocking chair and say, “Ahhhh, baby Josh.” One time I was carrying Josh while he was crying and Jared tried to cheer him up by dancing around and acting silly. “Is he happy now, Mom?” he asked.

One night when he was three years old Keen and I were sitting and talking and Jared just looked over at us and said, “I want to give you a kiss and a hug, kids.” When we told him he was special he said, “You’re special, too, mommy and daddy.” He used to love wrestling with his Dad. He’d say, “Hey Dad – you wanna razzle dazzle me?”

When Jared was about six years old he said, “It’ll be kind of sad when I grow up and become a father and you’ll have to let me go. But you’ll still have Josh cuz he has a ways to go yet before he grows up.”

Here’s an excerpt from when Jared was 8 years old. He had just spent his own money to buy me a “gold” quartz watch ring for my 29th birthday. I was so touched, I just cried and cried.

“I wasn’t sure if you’d like it or not, Mom. But you really like it a lot, I can see. I thought about getting this necklace with colored beads but then I didn’t think that would be too neat. Then I was gonna buy you this thing you put in your hair that looks like a knife is going through your head. I thought that would be kind of unusual. But then I decided you’d like the ring best. You know, it looked like something a woman would like to wear – so delicate – and when another woman saw it she’d wish she had one.”

August 11, 1989 (age 10)

Today Jared came up to me and said, “Wait. I want to see how tall I am up to you. Look, I’m up to your neck.” When I told him that he was going to pass me up pretty soon, he said, “Yeah. Then you’ll have to look up to me and see how I felt when I was a little kid.”

I’ve always looked up to you, Jared…
and I always will.

P.S. This is something I wrote for Jared & Josh in 1997

To Jared & Josh on their 18th & 16th Birthdays

In this picture, you were one and three
Two peas in a pod, so full of glee.

Now you're young men and fully grown
Where have the years gone? My, how they've flown.

Your father and I love you, more than words can say
And we wish you all life's best, on your special birthdays.


Mom & Dad

Jared Joseph Umbehr
Born May 10, 1979

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Our Entrepreneur

“And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward…..” ~ Colossians 3:23,24

“Doing your own thing is a generous act. Being gifted creates obligations, which means you owe the world your best effort at the work you love. You too are a natural resource.”

~ Barbara Sher (1795 - 1881) Scottish essayist, historian

Ever since our son Josh was a little boy, he’s been talking about what he wanted to be when he grew up – everything from jumping out of airplanes to being in the circus. “I’ll have a buddy who will tie me up and see if I can get out,” he’d say.

One day when he was about four or five years old, he decided he wanted to try to earn money as a bed maker. “If you want to, you have to sign up with me and pay me,” he explained. I guess he figured that would be a service everyone could use. He even knocked on a few doors around our neighborhood, but when he didn’t have any takers, he was so dejected he laid his head on his daddy’s chest for the longest time. When his older brother Jared walked in the room and proceeded to tell his dad what happened, Josh blurted out, “I know Jared! Don’t make me thadder!”

Another time he told me he was going to have a stand that sold things for Halloween. Then when Halloween was over, he would sell Christmas things, and in the summer he would change it into a fruit stand.

One day Josh asked whether you get paid money for being a dad. I said, “No, you become a dad when you have children and you work at a job to earn money.” Then I asked him if he was going to have kids when he grew up (despite the fact that he wouldn’t get paid for it).

“Yep,” he answered. “Two. Cindy and Lucy. Cindy will be the girl and Lucy will be a boy.”

Here are a few other examples from a journal I kept when Josh was growing up.

“I can’t wait until I’m in high school so I can take daddy’s place in the trash truck. But he’ll have to teach me how to drive it and tell me what all the parts are so when one breaks apart I’ll know which one to buy to fix it. He’ll have to teach me how to use everything in the shop, too. But I don’t have to go to college to learn how to be a trash man – Dad can just teach me how.”


“Mom, you know what I’m gonna be when I grow up? A showfolk.”


“I might go to the Air Force with Jared or whatever job he goes to I might go with him. I’d move into a huge house right next to him so we’d be neighbors. I’d move when he moves. I’ll know when he’s moving when I see a For Sale sign in the yard.”


“I want to be an artist and be rich and I’ll give you guys some money. Maybe one or two bucks, if I make that much. I’ll ride around on my motorcycle selling my pictures. But I won’t just sell pictures; I’ll sell crayons, markers, paints, paint brushes and paper.”


“There are so many jobs I just don’t know which one to choose.” I told him he just had to be a kid now and he won’t have to decide for a long time.

Well, a long time has passed and Josh isn’t a kid any more – on April 15, he’ll celebrate his 23rd birthday. After weighing all the possibilities, Josh finally settled on becoming a doctor. Here’s an excerpt from a letter he wrote describing his first few weeks at medical school:

In the morning, a faculty person and an M2 (second year medical student) both talked about the reason why we are here. Not the grades or the glory, but for the patients – the patients at the KU hospital now and the patients we will see ourselves in the future. They said that although the grades are important, the real reason we are here is to know, understand, and be able to remember and use the information we learn to provide the best treatment that we can— and that the patients are the greatest teachers that we have. Our professors can teach us about the science of medicine, but only the patients can really teach us the ‘art’ of medicine.
They really seem to have a lot of respect for the patients and the whole healthcare team. They talked a lot about being respectful of the entire healthcare staff like nurses and physical therapists, and pharmacists and CNA's. One student said: “Respect those nurses because they WILL know stuff that you won’t because they have different training than you do, and rely on them because they are well-trained professionals.” I was really glad to hear that they focus so much on respecting nurses, especially since Lisa will be a nurse soon. I know she was happy to hear this when I told her about my day.

It was great having you, dad, and Kirk over the other night – Lisa and I loved it. Maybe we can do it again and take you guys out around KC.



Before I conclude this birthday tribute to Josh, I have to write about what a loving son he has always been. One night when he was almost five years old, I attended a Christmas Cantata at a church in Alma. When I came home, all the boys were asleep with the exception of Josh. He said, “Me and Jared missed you, Mom.” Then he started whispering, “Jared, Jared.” When I asked him what he was doing he said, “I want to tell Jared you’re home.” Keen said I had only been gone a few minutes when they were both asking, “Where’s Mommy? When will Mommy be home?”

Some of his other memorable remarks were:
“Mom, you know how much I love you? One hundred per cent!”
“Mom, you’re the best mom I ever had”
“I love you with all my love.”

One day he was heading off to kindergarten and as he walked out the door he turned around to blow me a kiss. So I kissed him and said, “Josh, you are the sweetest, kindest, most loveable boy in the whole world.” He replied, “I’m just filled with love!”

I’d like to close with a poem Josh wrote for Keen and me when he was a 17-year-old high school senior, living on his own in Manhattan.

I can't pay you for the things you do
All the milk and cleaning too

When I'm at my worst
You're always there to hug me tight
Then share with me your wisdom
And lead me back to your light

I know it wasn't easy for you to let me go
My how God blessed us so
He's given us the courage to try something new
And through it all, HIS strength has shown through

To be loved by you is such a wonderful thing
You'll never know, how much joy, to me, it brings
I wish DAD the best of luck in Law School
And pray MOM'S book will be a best seller

But no matter what you'll always be the best parents in the whole wide world.

The end



On your birthday, Josh, we thank God for blessing us with the wonder of you. It’s been our privilege to watch you grow from a young boy into such a fine man and loving husband. We know that those whose lives you touch will be equally blessed by your special gifts.

“Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling …that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

~ II Thessalonians 1:11, 12 (NKJV)

With all our love,

Mom & Dad

P.S. This is something I wrote last year for Josh’s 22nd birthday

Just Yesterday

Our second-born son just turned twenty-two
Could that be possible? Could that be true?

Didn’t he just learn how to walk?
Didn’t he just learn how to talk?
Wasn’t he just in his pre-school play?

Wasn’t that just yesterday?

Didn’t he just lose his front tooth?
Didn’t he just make friends with Travis Guth?
Didn’t he just celebrate his 8th birthday?

Wasn’t that just yesterday?

Didn’t he just learn how to ride a bike?
Didn’t his dad and brothers just build their own kite?
Didn’t he just get his license last May?

Wasn’t that just yesterday?

Now he’s graduating from college and off to med school
And in July he’ll marry his precious jewel

Didn’t we just bring him home from the hospital that day?

Wasn’t that just yesterday?

Joshua Jim Umbehr
Born April 15, 1981

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Miraculous Provision

"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?"
~ Matthew 6:25-27

The other night I was watching “It’s a Miracle” on PAX TV – a half hour program hosted by Roma Downey – and they shared the story about a woman who had been recently divorced and was struggling to make ends meet. One Thanksgiving morning she awoke feeling desperate and afraid because she only had two hot dogs left to feed herself and her two little boys. But she wanted to try to make the day as special as possible, so they all went to the park and had a cookout. On their way home, the boys were complaining that they were still hungry. Then, just as they were climbing the stairs to their apartment, a kind little old lady emerged from the apartment below. “Sweetie,” the woman said, “I’ve prepared a Thanksgiving meal and I’d like to invite you and your boys to join me.” The young family was overjoyed by the invitation. Once they entered the apartment, they couldn’t believe their eyes. The table was beautifully set with a complete Thanksgiving feast. They enjoyed the turkey with all the trimmings, and the woman even sent them home with enough leftovers to last for a week.

The true magnitude of the miracle wasn’t realized until a few days later when the young mother went to the woman’s apartment to return her leftover dishes. When nobody answered the door, she peeked in the window and was astonished to see that the apartment was completely empty. She went straight to the landlord’s apartment to inquire about the woman in the downstairs apartment. The landlord seemed bewildered as he explained that the apartment had been vacant for over two months.

“In all my 57 years,” the woman explained, “that hour and a half of unconditional love changed my life more than any other single event.”
As a result of her experience, the woman decided to devote her life to working with the homeless and went on to win a presidential award for her work.


There is a similar story of miraculous provision in one of my favorite books, Where Angels Walk by Joan Wester Anderson. In September of 1944, Kenneth Ware and his wife Suzie were living in Switzerland with their son when they found themselves penniless. So Suzie decided to pray very specifically. She told God that she needed “…five pounds of potatoes, two pounds of pastry flour, apples, pears, a cauliflower, carrots, veal cutlets for Saturday, and beef for Sunday.”

Just a few hours later Suzie heard a knock on their door. When she answered it, she saw a man standing in the doorway carrying a basket of groceries. He was between thirty and forty years old, “…over six feet tall and strong looking, with blue eyes, white-blond hair, and a long blue apron over his work clothes.” He seemed radiant and glowing.

“Mrs. Ware,” the gentleman announced, “I’m bringing you what you asked for.”

“There must be some mistake,” Suzie replied. “I have not ordered anything.” She thought perhaps he had come to the wrong apartment.

The man ignored her question and repeated his former statement. “I am bringing what you asked for.” Then he walked back to the kitchen and emptied the basket. There on the table were the exact items Suzie had requested from God that very morning. She was in utter shock.

“I turned to apologize, to explain that I hadn’t a coin to give him, but his look of reproach sealed my lips.”


Throughout our lifetime, Keen and I have seen God miraculously provide for our needs time and time again. Back in 1979, when Keen was working for the Wabaunsee County Weed Department and his take home pay was only $688.00/month, it wasn’t easy to make the money stretch. Just a few days before I was due to deliver our firstborn child, I was crying at the kitchen table, wondering how we were going to make it. It was only the 7th day of the month and after paying all of our bills, we were already out of money. So Keen told me to repeat this one Bible verse over and over. “My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory.” (Philippians 4:19) It wasn’t easy, but I did it.

This time God chose my mother to be His angel on earth. When Mom arrived to help care for Jared, she noticed the bare cupboards and graciously filled them.
Here’s a poem I wrote to thank Mom for everything she did for us that week.

The day you left, Keen and I prayed,
and asked the Lord to show us a way
That we could show you how we appreciate
All you did for us during your stay.

You gave me security in my newfound role,
You built my confidence day by day.
Just knowing you were in the next room, Mom
Made all my fears go away.

You cooked all our meals and washed all our clothes,
You did dishes from morning till night;
You showed me how to give Jared a bath,
So now I’m doing it right.

You bought us many groceries, which we surely did need,
And with them you kept us well fed;
And on those mornings when I needed my rest,
You even brought me breakfast in bed!

You helped me burp Jared, when my arms grew so weary,
And you cleaned him up when he messed;
You stayed up with me for those late night feedings,
Mom, you were just the best!
You bought us all those things at K-Mart that day,
And you even cleaned our house.
I couldn’t have done it without you, Mom
For I was as weak as a mouse.

We can’t fail to mention all the joy that you brought us,
Just by your company;
One night we watched a Snoopy special,
And the next night we played Monopoly.

You “oohed and ahhed” over Jared all day,
Just like a grandma should do;
You made us so proud of our little son,
That we even chimed in, too.

You took us to dinner for chicken that night,
What a treat for both Keen and me;
It was just such fun having you, Mom,
You were a part of our family.

Although you did many other things,
I think we will close it here,
By saying we love you and thank you, Mom,
To our hearts you will always be dear.

In the Old Testament there is a story about a widow woman who was down to her last little bit of oil and flour. She entreated the prophet Elisha to help her, lest her sons be sold into slavery to satisfy her debts. Elisha instructed the woman to borrow as many vessels as she could from all her neighbors and start filling them with oil. Miraculously, the oil multiplied until all the vases were full.

“Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay your debt, and you and your sons live on the rest.” ~ II Kings 4:1-7

That reminds me of the New Testament story about Jesus multiplying the loaves and the fishes to feed the multitudes. Sometime later, the disciples once again became worried about how they were going to feed the crowds. Jesus said:

“Do you not remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many small hand baskets you gathered? Nor the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many large provision baskets you took up?”
~ Matthew 16:8-10

In closing, I’d like to share a story which talks about the way God supernaturally provided for Moses and the Israelites in the desert.

"I have led you forty years in the wilderness; your clothes have not worn out upon you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet.... that you might recognize and know [your dependence on Him who is saying], I am the Lord your God."
~ Deuteronomy 29:5, 6b

After escaping from slavery in Egypt, Moses and the Israelites journeyed in the desert for forty years. According to the Quartermaster General in the Army, Moses would have needed 1500 tons of food and 11,000,000 gallons of water each day to provide for the needs of 2 -3 million people. God alone provided their needs by sending manna from Heaven and water from the flinty rock. Then they had to cross the Red Sea, which required a pretty major miracle right there. Moses couldn’t possibly have thought all this out before he left Egypt. He simply obeyed God’s command and told Pharaoh to let his people go; then he trusted God with all the details.

If God provided for all their needs forty years in the wilderness, then He is more than able to take care of all of our needs, too.

“…He Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake you nor let you down, relax My hold on you. Assuredly not!”

~ Hebrews 13:5 (Amplified)

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Kirk Van, Our Little Man

“For I was my father’s son, tender and beloved in the sight of my mother.”
~ Proverbs 4:3

We shared the same last name and the same color eyes
But we fought like tigers over that old red bike
I’m battin' first and you can't use my glove
It wouldn't take long 'til push came to shove
But, we looked out for each other with Brotherly Love

“Brotherly Love”
~ Duet performed by Keith Whitley and Earl Thomas Conley

On April 2nd, our fourth and youngest son, Kirk Van, will turn 15 years old. By the time Kirk arrived, we had already honored nearly every male member of the family, so Kirk’s name was derived from my maiden name – Van Kirk. (Since we knew we were going to call him Kirk, we just reversed the order.) When Kirk was born people commented that we almost had enough boys to form a basketball team and Keen said, “We already do, if I play.”

Kirk was an adorable and sweet baby, even though he didn’t sleep through the night until he was 8 months old. We finally learned that he was allergic to milk. After switching him to soy milk, he slept like a baby and so did I.

Kirk has always been a great communicator. When he was little, he could talk your ear off. One day when Kirk was playing with toys in the living room he asked me a question as I was passing through to the kitchen. I was having a bad day and had reached the end of my rope so I just didn’t respond. Then I heard his puzzled little voice say, “Hmmmm….she just yooked at me.”

Another time we were shopping and he asked me where we were going next. Rather than go into a long explanation about all the errands we had to run that day, I tried to take a short cut by simply replying, “We’re going out to the van.” But no such luck –he wasn’t fooled. “No! I mean, where are we going after we go to the van?”

Another one of Kirk’s attributes is that he has always loved to organize things and be in charge. We used to say he would’ve run the whole household if we let him. One day Keen decided to let Kirk ride along in the trash truck while he picked up a small commercial route in Alma. After he asked his dad how many customers he had to pick up, Kirk got a little notebook and numbered the page from 1 to 20. Then every time Keen would empty a dumpster, Kirk would say, “check” and make a big checkmark by that number.

One time he went with his dad to deliver a dumpster to the home of a man who was doing some remodeling. Kirk overheard Keen tell the man that he would keep an eye on the dumpster and empty it whenever it was full. A couple weeks later, Keen received an “urgent call” from Kirk on his cell phone. He was calling to tell his dad that the dumpster was full and needed to be emptied. When Keen asked Kirk if the man had called, Kirk replied, “No. I was just driving by on my bike and noticed it was full.”

When Kirk was about 4 or 5 years old, Keen took him down to his shop while he did some work on the trash truck. Bad idea. Kirk walked in some mud and got stuck and then he knocked over a coffee can full of oil. In exasperation, Keen said, “That’s it, Kirk – you’re fired!” Well, Kirk didn’t know what that meant, but he knew he didn’t like the sounds of it one little bit! The poor little guy was utterly devastated. When he came home later, he cried, “Mommy, Mommy! Daddy tell me I’m fired and I don’t wanna be fired!”

Kirk loved playing with his three older brothers and vice-versa. They have always been each other’s best friends. One day, after his oldest brother Jared had moved out of the house, Kirk said, “I’m a Jared-holic. Whenever Jared comes over to the house and stays for a while to play with me, then I don’t want him to leave.”
This is a poem I wrote five years ago for Keener and Kirk.

15 & 10
By Eileen Umbehr

My two precious boys,
ages fifteen and ten,
a five year difference
yet still the best of friends.

Last night they decided
to take a camping trip,
so they got right to work
and came up with a list.

Hot dogs, marshmallows,
graham crackers, too;
fishing poles, worms,
and Dad’s box of tools.

A tent and some sleeping bags,
pillows and matches;
flashlights and bug spray,
and first aid patches.

At last they were ready,
the preparations were done;
it was time to embark
on their evening of fun.

The night air was cool,
but they made a fire,
then talked and ate smores,
until they grew tired.

They slept under the stars
then woke up with the birds,
and the cowboys in the pasture,
calling their herds.
It was a night to remember;
a special memory,
of when they were young;
footloose and fancy-free.

One day they’ll be thirty and twenty-five,
but they’ll always remember when,
they laughed and shared good times, so long ago,
back when they were fifteen and ten.

When Josh and Lisa got married last summer, they each wrote a little paragraph about all the members of the wedding party. Josh wrote about his groomsmen and Lisa wrote about her bridesmaids. Here’s what Josh had to say about Kirk:

“As the youngest of four boys, Kirk has survived purely out of sheer determination. He has had to survive the years of three older brothers taunting, teasing, and rough-housing with him. Through it all he has earned the nickname, “Little Man.” And what a great young man he is becoming, albeit not so little anymore. There is a little bit of each of us in Kirk; Jared’s sense of humor, Keen’s style and charisma, and my work ethic. I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for him in the coming years.”

The picture of me with Kirk below was taken when he was 10 months old. My mom always told me to get a picture of myself with each of the kids when they were babies, and I did. But this picture is special. You see, my mother passed away when Kirk was just five weeks old. The dress I’m wearing in the picture was one of my Mom’s and the outfit Kirk is wearing was the one she bought for him before she died.

Build Me a Son
By General Douglas A. MacArthur

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know Thee – and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here, let him learn to stand up in the storm; here, let him learn compassion for those who fall.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goals will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain.”

“For you are our glory and joy.”
~ I Thessalonians 2:20 (RSV)

Happy 15th birthday, Kirk Van. We love you!

P.S. This is a poem I wrote when Kirk was six months old

For Kirk
You are the youngest of our four sons
Our pride and joy, our precious one

You were sent to us from God above
To fill our hearts and home with love

Although having a girl
Would be a dream come true
That doesn’t mean
We regret having you

Just one look
at your smiling face
And we forget all about
those ruffles and lace

Loving you, holding you
Makes our heart sing
Kirk, we wouldn’t trade you
For anything!

Kirk Van Umbehr
Born April 2, 1989