Thursday, November 25, 2004

One More Day

“…do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
~ Ephesians 6:4

I watched him take the two-strike call:
He hadn't tried to swing at all.
I guess he'd had all he could take,
He walked away, for goodness sake.
His father's voice was loud and mean:
"You won't amount to anything."

That little boy quit tryin',
He just walked away.
There were teardrops on his face.

Tell me, how would you feel?
You'd probably give up too,
If nobody believed in you.

”If Nobody Believed in You” ~ recorded by Joe Nichols


“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
~ Proverbs 12:18

Love at Home (Author Unknown)

I ran into a stranger, as he passed by,
"Oh excuse me, please" was my reply.

He said, "Please excuse me, too;
I wasn't watching out for you."
We were very polite, this stranger and I.
We went on our way and said good-bye.

But at home a different story is told,
How we treat our loved ones, young and old.
Later that day, cooking the evening meal,
My son stood beside me very still.
When I turned, I nearly knocked him down.
"Move out of the way," I said with a frown.
He walked away, his little heart broken.

I didn't realize how harshly I'd spoken.
While I lay awake in bed,
God's still small voice came to me and said,
"While dealing with a stranger,
common courtesy you use,
but the children you love,
you seem to abuse.

Go and look on the kitchen floor,
You'll find some flowers by the door.
Those are the flowers he brought for you.
He picked them himself: pink, yellow and blue.
He stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise,
you never saw the tears that filled his little eyes."

By this time, I felt very small,
And now my tears began to fall.
I quietly went and knelt by his bed;
"Wake up, little one, wake up," I said.
"Are these the flowers you picked for me?"
He smiled and said, "I found 'em, out by the tree.
I picked 'em because they're pretty like you.
I knew you'd like 'em, especially the blue."

I said, "Son, I'm very sorry for the way I acted today;
I shouldn't have yelled at you that way."
He said, "Oh, Mom, that's okay.
I still love you anyway."
I said, "Son, I love you too,
and I do like the flowers, especially the blue."

“A gentle tongue [with its healing power] is a tree of life, but willful contrariness in it breaks down the spirit.” ~ Proverbs 15:4


"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up…that it may benefit those who listen.” ~ Ephesians 4:29

Author Unknown

Whatever our hands touch---
We leave fingerprints!
On walls, on furniture,
On doorknobs, dishes, books,
As we touch we leave our identity.

Oh please, wherever I go today,
Help me leave heartprints!
Heartprints of compassion
Of understanding and love.
Heartprints of kindness
and genuine concern.

May my heart touch a lonely neighbor
Or a runaway daughter,
Or an anxious mother,
Or, perhaps, a dear friend!

I shall go out today
To leave heartprints,
And if someone should say
"I felt your touch,"
May that one sense be...YOUR LOVE
Touching them through me.

“Clearly, you are a letter from Christ…written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on stone, but on human hearts.”
~ II Corinthians 3:3


“At your age, I know I was caught up in raising my family – thinking of a million things. I wish now that I had spent just a wee bit more time taking time to stop to smell the roses. But I was more like a runner, grasping for air, in a frenzy to have perfect kids, a perfect house, etc… Oh to go back, even if for only a day!”
~ Letter from my friend, Marian Umscheid ~ April, 1995

Author unknown

Just for this morning, I am going to smile when I see your face
and laugh when I feel like crying.

Just for this morning, I will let you choose what you want to
wear, and smile and say how perfect it is.

Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry, and
pick you up and take you to the park to play.

Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink, and
let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together.
Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the telephone and keep the
computer off, and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles.

Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny
grumble when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck,
and I will buy you one if he comes by.

Just for this afternoon, I won't worry about what you are going
to be when you grow up, or second-guess every decision I have made
where you are concerned.

Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake cookies, and
I won't stand over you trying to fix them.

Just for this afternoon, I will take us to McDonald's and buy us
both a Happy Meal so you can have both toys.

Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a
story about how you were born and how much I love you.

Just for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub and not
get angry.

Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late while we sit
on the porch and count all the stars.

Just for this evening, I will snuggle beside you for hours, and
miss my favorite TV shows.

Just for this evening when I run my fingers through your hair as
you pray, I will simply be grateful that God has given me the
greatest gift ever given.

And I will think about the mothers and fathers who are searching for
their missing children, the mothers and fathers who are visiting
their children's graves instead of their bedrooms, and the mothers and
fathers who are in hospital rooms watching their children suffer endlessly –

screaming inside that they can't handle it anymore.

Yes, my child, when I kiss you good night I will hold you a little tighter,
a little longer. It is then that I will thank God for you and ask Him for nothing…
except one more day.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone ~ Eileen Beautiful web page

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Pressing On

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward…”
~ Colossians 3:23,24a (NKJV)

Well, I have to admit that I’ve been dreading writing this column updating everyone about the progress of my book. Let me just say that telling someone (or lots of someone’s) that you’re writing a book is like announcing to the world that you’re going on a diet. I can hear the tap, tap, tap of the feet, feet, feet. “Hmmm. She doesn’t look any thinner to me.” “I thought she went to Nevada to write her book. Now she’s back and still no book.”

“I am as a wonder and surprise to many, but You are my strong refuge.”
~ Psalm 70:7

I know, I probably sound like the girl who cried wolf, but in my defense, it’s a complex process and I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’m learning as I go. But honestly, I’m still plugging away at it.

Just days before I wrapped things up in Nevada and was preparing to go home, I had a near crisis when my brand new computer crashed and could not be repaired. Thank God, I had just backed up my book onto a CD and mailed it to myself back in Alma.

Computers are great, but I don’t trust them any further than I can throw them. Anyway, I only lost a few pages and at that point, I felt that the rough draft was about 90% complete. Now, I’m not so sure.

“Starting a book is like taking a slow trot through the woods. Then it becomes one of the most arduous journeys of your life." ~ Author Jan Karon

After returning to Alma, I spent several weeks getting settled and the next thing I knew, I was back on the housewife track, getting distracted by all kinds of domestic duties – which only confirmed the fact that I cannot write at home.

"Working towards a goal is like taking a journey. Every side trip you take which runs perpendicular to your destination only delays your arrival." ~ Keen

A few weeks ago I attended the Kansas Author’s Club convention in Topeka (it’s for anyone who enjoys writing – not just published authors), and listened to a talk by children’s author, Jane Kurtz. Jane shared about the time her house was completely flooded and her family had to move into a FEMA trailer while their home was being renovated. She pointed out the fact that she had continued to write while living in temporary housing with several small children at home. Immediately, my brain short-circuited, because I can’t seem to focus on writing even when my house has been completely vacated. No matter. All writers have their quirks and this is mine. I need to leave my house to write!

"Consider well the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established and ordered aright. Turn not aside to the right hand or to the left…"
~ Proverbs 4:26,27

So my solution during this phase of the project has been to pack my bags once again – but this time I’m only straying 30 miles from home to the house we own in Manhattan. None of our college-aged children are using it right now, so it has proven to be an ideal writing studio. It’s exciting to be making progress towards my goal once again – even though things are still moving slower than I’d like.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been pouring through boxes and boxes of records and three-ring binders containing every scrap of correspondence from our lawsuit. There are more legal twists and turns in this story than I can keep up with. Just when I think I’ve recorded every detail known to man, I make another archaeological find and unearth an additional piece of the puzzle.

But this week was a tough one for me in the writing department. I keep reminding myself of the pearls of wisdom my sister Joanne gave me several months ago. “Keep breathing; keep moving; keep writing – you’re going to make it!”

Here’s an email I sent to a writer friend from California, Mike Stein, describing my predicament:

“…I'm struggling right now. I remember you told me to go to a movie or go for a walk when I get writer's block, but I feel like I have such a long, long way to go, so I want to stay on it until I get it done. I don't want to waste any time. What's making it hard is that it's emotional for me to continue to relive everything we went through. It was just one battle after another - we fended off attack after attack. I don't like stirring up all those painful memories. But I know I have to tell our story and I've come too far to turn back….”

(Here’s some examples of quotes that brought back those memories.)

"We are in the heat of the battle. We celebrate Christmas by clinking our tin cans together. They're full of water, but we make believe it's wine and go right back to the war. Everyone else celebrates with a turkey, a tree and presents. They are worlds apart from us and the way we live." ~ Keen, June, 1990 "This morning when I woke up I thought this would be the day I wasn't going to make it. As much as you want to get up, you can't. It's not like other times; it's just not there. You're walking on thin air." ~ Keen, July, 1995

Tonight Keen was talking about how he treasures our walks and the times we’ve danced on the patio. Then I said, “But you know what’s sad? There would have been so much more of that if there had only been less of this (the lawsuit).”

Keen replied, “But would it have been as sweet? If we’d never climbed the mountains, would we appreciate the plains?”
~ September, 1996, after the lawsuit was settled

Mike’s response to my e-mail: “…Keep at it. That's only course you can take if you want a finished book. Two suggestions: l. Steel yourself to be dispassionate. Get in a frame of mind where you are writing about somebody else. 2. Relive the ordeal by discussing it with Keen or anybody else involved. This also may help you dredge up facts you may have forgotten…Don't suppress anything. YOU'RE A WRITER! Recently, I read a New Yorker article about Thomas Carlyle, the Englishman, who wrote the massive volume, THE HISTORY OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. After finishing the manuscript after years of labor, he gave it to a literary friend for comment. The friend’s housekeeper, mistaking it for a pile of trash, tossed it into the fireplace, where it was destroyed. This was l835 and no copies could have been made. Carlyle was heartbroken and lapsed into a fit of depression, declaring to himself that he could never rewrite the book. But he did, forcing himself to take pen in hand again. He believed in the book and that it must be published. I know you believe in your book. So take a leaf from Carlyle.”
My response:

“And to think I was going to "un-send" my letter to you. Just hit a low point. But I'm glad I didn't. Thanks for the sound advice. You can be sure I'll be reading it over and over. The comment about being dispassionate was interesting. I feel like that's what I've had to do to write this more historical version of our story. You know me – I like the tear-jerking stuff. I always wanted to write "the personal side of an extended legal battle" based on my journals. But I guess I told you it turned out to be too much to put into one book. So this is more of the documentary version based on court documents/transcripts, letters to and from attorneys and newspaper accounts. I really had to take myself out of it in order to maintain my objectivity. I really appreciated the story about Carlyle. If he could start completely over, then I can finish what I've started.” “For a dream comes with much business and painful effort…”
~ Ecclesiastes 5:3a (Amp)

In my office in Carson City, NV

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Welcome Home

“Then he said unto him, Come home with me…”
~ I Kings 13:15 (KJV)

With great anticipation he waited at the door His only son was due from overseas For months now he'd been waitin' since he'd gone off to war And his eyes were filled with tears of great relief

Welcome home, son His loving arms held open and his heart so full of love Welcome home, son I've been praying and been hoping and I never did give up I knew that you'd return to me The place where you were meant to be Rest now, for you've been gone too long I heard him say as they embraced "I've waited so long for this day My son, my very own...Welcome home"

Welcome Home ~ recorded by Dolly Parton

There was an interesting article by Karen Ann Bland in this month’s edition of Kansas Country Living. Ms. Rand reported on the dedication ceremony of the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery in WaKeeney, Kansas – one of four such cemeteries being built across the state to provide burial grounds for veterans and their families.

U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran spoke to more than 300 people who attended the ceremony and challenged them to ask themselves on Veterans Day, “Are our reasons for living as great as theirs were for dying?” Rep. Moran went on to talk about his trip to France earlier this year for the 60th anniversary of the Normandy invasion and D-Day. “I stood on the sands of the Normandy beaches; saw the waves lapping on the shore, the cliffs ahead. I tried to imagine what it must have been like for those young men, so many years ago, to disembark from their ships and charge out across the sand. For those who saw the dream, today we see the reality.”

I’d like to dedicate this column to all the veterans who sacrificed so much for the cause of freedom in America. I’d also like to pay tribute to the members of my own family who have served in the Armed Forces. My father, Joseph Van Kirk, who fought in World War II, my brother-in-law, Art Reese who fought in Viet Nam (both with the United States Army) and our son, Jared Joseph, who enlisted in the Navy after 9-11. Jared is in Special Forces and is currently serving in Southeast Asia.

This son
(For Jared)

We thought that we would wait
But God had other plans instead
Born eleven months to the day
From the day that we were wed

This son

Pure joy from the start
A bundle of love
Making us laugh
Giving us hugs

This son

Welcoming your brothers
One, two and three
Always the peacemaker
When they’d disagree

This son

Amazed by your wisdom
And your sense of fairness, too
We marveled at the gifts
God had bestowed on you

This son

Thinking of others
Your number one trait
The perfect ingredients
For father and mate

This son

September 11th
Shook the country to its core
You never hesitated a moment
To answer the call to war

This son

How can we describe
How proud we are of you
Of everything you stand for
And everything you do

This son

Now that you’re overseas
This is my constant prayer
“Lord, please keep this son of ours
Ever in Your care.”


Welcome Home
Author Unknown

I sat in my seat of the Boeing 767 waiting for everyone to hurry and stow their carry-ons and grab a seat so we could start what I was sure would be a long, uneventful flight home. With the huge capacity and slow-moving people taking their time to stuff luggage far too big for the overhead and never paying much attention to holding up the growing line behind them, I simply shook my head. This flight was not starting out very well.

I was anxious to get home to see my loved ones so I was focused on "my" issues and just felt like standing up and yelling at these clowns to get their act together. I knew I couldn't say a word so I just thumbed through the "Sky Mall" magazine from the seat pocket in front of me.

With everyone finally seated, we just waited and waited with the cabin door open and no one in any hurry to get us going – even though we were well past the scheduled take off time. No wonder the airline industry is in trouble, I told myself. Just then, the attendant came on the intercom to inform us all that we were being delayed. The entire plane let out a collective groan. She continued speaking. "We are holding the aircraft for some very special people who are on their way to the plane. The delay shouldn't be more than 5 minutes.”

The word came after we had already waited six times as long to finally be on our way home. Who were these “special people?” Why all the hoopla over these folks? I was expecting some celebrity or sport figure to be the reason for the hold up.....Just get their butts in a seat and let’s hit the gas, I thought.

The attendant came back on the speaker to announce in a loud and excited voice that we were being joined by several U. S. Marines returning home from Iraq. Just as they walked on board, the entire plane erupted into applause. The men were taken by surprise by the 340 people cheering for them as they searched for their seats. Everyone within an arm's distance of them shook their hands or touched them as they passed down the aisle. One elderly woman kissed the hand of one of the Marines as he passed by. The applause, whistles and cheering didn't stop for a long time.

When we were finally airborne, I was not the only civilian checking his conscience about the way I had reacted to the delays in getting “me” home to my family, my easy chair, a cold beverage and the remote control. These men had sacrificed so much for all of us and I had been complaining silently about me and my issues. I took for granted the everyday freedoms I enjoy and the conveniences of the American way of life. I took for granted the price that had been paid by those heroes who were going home to their loved ones.

I attempted to get my selfish outlook back in order. Minutes before we landed I got the attendant’s attention and suggested that she ask everyone to remain in their seats until our heroes were allowed to gather their things and be the first off the plane. The cheers and applause continued until the last Marine stepped off the plane.

I felt proud of them. It was an honor and a privilege to be among the first to welcome them home and to say “Thank you for a job well done.”

I vowed that I will never forget that flight nor the lessons learned. I can't say it enough, THANK YOU to those Veterans and active servicemen and women who may read this.


I hope to hear God sayin’
when it's my time to go Welcome home While the angel band is playin'
and God comes to claim my soul The angels will be singing
and joy bells will be ringing Rejoicing, I'll shout and sing along
When there are no more wars to fight And we're all children of the light When the Father and the Son say "Welcome home!"

Welcome Home ~ recorded by Dolly Parton

Official Veterans Day poster for 2004

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Still the One

“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”
~ Colossians 3:14

Looks like we made it
Look how far we've come my baby
We might of took the long way
we knew we'd get there someday

They said, I bet, they'll never make it
but just look at us holding on
were still together, still going strong

You're still the one I run to
the one that I belong to
you're still the one I want for life
You're still the one that I love
the only one I dream of
You’re still the one I kiss goodnight

You’re still the one ~ Recorded by Shania Twain

Someone sent me the following list in an email.

1. It is important that a man helps you around the house.2. It is important that a man makes you laugh. 3. It is important to find a man you can count on. 4. It is important that a man loves you and spoils you.5. It is important that these four men don't know each other.

Of course this is a joke that implies there is no such man living on Planet Earth. But I’m here to say that I married someone who has all those attributes and more. I’d like to dedicate this column to my one-in-a-million husband who will be turning 46 on November 8. Happy Birthday, Keen!

A Real Find
By Eileen Umbehr
For Keen on our 21st anniversary - June 10, 1999

I was shopping for a gift,
for my husband, dear;
something to commemorate,
our marriage of twenty-one years.

I thought that I would buy him,
a tie tack for the occasion,
and so I headed for the mall,
to fulfill my expectation.

I found so many different styles,
some were fancy, others plain,
and it wasn't very long before,
my patience started to wane.

But finally I narrowed my search,
down to two that looked real nice;
the only difference between them,
was, of course, the price!

In my mind I debated the issue,
back and forth I went,
trying to decide which one to buy,
for this blessed event.

Suddenly, it all became clear,
like a light bulb going off in my head;
so I pointed to the more precious one,
and this is what I said.

My husband is a real gem,
truly, I do not jest;
for he's one in a million,
who deserves the very best.

Thus, the choice is simple,
this fine tie tack is now sold;
for my husband's not a gold-plated guy,
he's 14-karat gold!

Now, here we are, five years later....still in love and still writing love notes. Here’s one I received just last week while I was working on my book at our house in Manhattan.


Its 10:40 p.m. and I have competed the writing project. Now, I am missing you so much. It just came over me all at once and made me so sad. I want you to know that I am what I am because of you. Never a day goes by that I think that I could survive without you. I love you.I can't wait to see you tomorrow.Love,Keen

Twice as much
By Eileen Umbehr

26 years of I love you’s
26 years of I love you, too’s

26 years of feeling blessed
26 years of passing time’s test

So many memories
Shared by us two
I could write a book
About this love so true

Just the other night,
after saying our prayers,
Something he said,
brought me to tears

First I said good night
and “I love you so much”
Then he softly replied,
“I love you twice as much as so much.”

26 years of I love you’s
26 years of I love you, too’s

26 years of feeling blessed
26 years of passing time’s test

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways....
I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life!And, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death. ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning