Thursday, December 30, 2004

Looking Back

“And the Lord said to Abram . . ."Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are--northward, southward, eastward, and westward. . .”
~ Genesis 13:14

It’s that time of year once again
Time to reflect on family and friends
Time to remember, in prayer and thought
Time to thank God for the blessings He’s wrought.

2004 has been eventful indeed
Although it’s flown by with amazing speed
Keen will soon complete his time at Washburn Law,
The thought of nearing his goal, gives him a feeling of awe.

Graduation is set for May 2005
We’ll be counting the days until it arrives
Then it’s time to prepare for the bar exam in July
He plans to study non-stop, so nothing goes awry.

Eileen has completed a goal of her own
Her book on the Supreme Court is finally done
Now it’s in the hands of an editor so dear
In hopes of finding a publisher by this time next year.

Jared’s still in the military for two more years,
Then he’ll decide whether to make the Navy a career.
Erin’s almost done with her nursing schooling,
Trying to study with two kids has been quite grueling.

Speaking of the boys, ages five and two,
Asher’s in pre-school and Gabe likes Blue’s Clues.
In December the airlines ran a special deal,
So Gramma flew to Ohio, so kisses she could steal!

Josh & Lisa are the newlyweds, still very much in love
Their busy, busy schedules require help from up Above.
Josh is doing well in his second year of med school,
And Lisa is in nursing, while still working like a mule.

Keen II, our adventurer, started a new job this year
He works on computers for the State and gets along well with his peers.
A Yamaha motorcycle was a dream come true
He’s been wanting one of those since he was in grade two!

I'm just too cool

Kirk Van, my little namesake and the youngest of our four
Is growing up so much, he’s not a baby any more
He likes hanging out with his brothers and going to the mall
But the two loves of his life are his girlfriend and basketball.

As I finish up this poem, let me leave you with this prayer
That God will watch over you and keep you in His care.

With all our love,

Keen, Eileen & Family

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. ~ Numbers 6:24-26

Umbehr Christmas 2004

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Teach the Children

"You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.”
~ Luke 1:31-33

This Christmas story came from the following web page:

Teach the Children
Author Unknown

This is how it happened...I just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed, when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out.

"What are you doing?" I started to ask. The words choked up in my throat, and I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know.

He then answered me with a simple statement: "TEACH THE CHILDREN!"

I was puzzled; what did he mean? He anticipated my question, and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood bewildered, Santa said, "Teach the children! Teach them the old meaning of Christmas. The meaning that now-a-days Christmas has forgotten."

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it before the mantle.

"Teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind, all the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward heaven."

He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant STAR.

"Teach the children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise."

He then reached into his bag and pulled out a CANDLE.

"Teach the children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness."

Once again he reached into his bag and removed a WREATH and placed it on the tree.

"Teach the children that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection."

He then pulled from his bag an ORNAMENT of himself.

"Teach the children that I, Santa Clause symbolize the generosity and good will we feel during the month of December."

He then brought out a HOLLY LEAF.

"Teach the children that the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly represents the blood shed by Him."

Next he pulled from his bag a GIFT and said,

"Teach the children that God so loved the world that He gave His begotten SON... Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. Teach the children that the wise men bowed before the Holy Babe and presented Him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. We should always give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men."

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE and hung it on the tree.

"Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherds' crook. The crook on the staff helps to bring back strayed sheep to the flock. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keeper."

He reached in again and pulled out an ANGEL.

"Teach the children that it was the angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels sang 'Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men."

Suddenly I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a BELL.

"Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should bring mankind to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return."

Santa looked at me and I saw that the twinkle was back in his eyes. He said, "Remember, teach the children the true meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center, for I am but a humble servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship Him, our LORD, our GOD."

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
~ Luke 2:9-11 (KJV)

I'd like to wish each and every one of you a very, Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

~ Eileen

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Joy to the World

"Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining . . . that you may show yourselves to be blameless . . .children of God . . . “
~ Philippians 2:14-15a (Amp)

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel.
Mr. Grinch . . .

You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch.
You're a nasty, wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk.
Mr. Grinch . . .
Excerpts from “Mr. Grinch” by Dr. Suess

The Bible teaches us that the joy of the Lord is our strength, so when we get grouchy and start complaining about the circumstances of our life, it can send us spiraling downward into a sea of self-pity, which in turn robs us of the strength we need to face our struggles.

When Keen was hauling trash, he proved this principle to be true time and time again. If he started griping and complaining about large piles of trash in the morning, then he would drop like a lead balloon and be just miserable the rest of the day. But on those days where he made a determined effort to hold his tongue and do the work without complaining, he seemed to rise above the frustration of it all. There were still large piles and trash that dogs tore into, but it just didn't seem to get him down like it usually did.

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

That reminds me of an experiment Keen and I tried one time when we made a conscious decision not to complain about a single thing for one entire week. We somehow managed to bite our tongues and resist every temptation to grumble or complain that whole week. The results were simply amazing. As I recall, we had several unexpected stressful situations arise that week, but instead of sinking under the weight of the pressure, we were able to soar like eagles above the storms. It really was remarkable. Unfortunately, repeating the success of that experiment was easier said than done. But I know from experience that it works!

“For let him who wants to enjoy life and see good days (good whether apparent or not), keep his tongue free from evil, and his lips from guile . . . Let him turn away from wickedness and shun it; and let him do right.”
~ I Peter 3:10

I hate to admit it, but I’m really preaching to myself this week, as last week I acted like a real grinch (as opposed to some other, less-flattering description of my behavior). It seems like once I start complaining, I get on a roll of negativity and nothing seems right.

”These are inveterate murmurers (grumblers), that complain of their lot in life . . .”
~ Jude 16

My poor husband. God sure knew what He was doing when He matched us up, because I'd probably be divorced three times over if I hadn't married such a patient man. I'm serious! But with all my imperfections, he still loves me. That's why I write poems about him all the time, because I’m so grateful for his love and for the way he always knows how to help pull me out of my funk.

The other day my niece Mimi sent me the following email which offered one possible explanation for my “grinchiness.”


1. Everyone around you has an attitude problem.
2. You're adding chocolate chips to your cheese omelet
3. The dryer has shrunk every last pair of your jeans.
4. Your husband is suddenly agreeing to everything you say.
5. You're using your cellular phone to dial up every bumper sticker that says: "How's my Driving? Call 1- 800-"
6. Everyone's head looks like an invitation to batting practice.
7. Everyone seems to have just landed here from "outer space."
9. You're sure that everyone is scheming to drive you crazy.
10. The ibuprofen bottle is empty and you bought it yesterday.

But the truth of the matter is: male or female, young or old, we all have "issues" and we all have ample opportunities to complain every day.

I’ve noticed that many of our standard complaints seem to center around two major areas of life: kids and cars. Kids spill their milk, wet their pants, hit their brother, get in trouble at school and unroll the toilet paper, as in this picture of my guilty grandson, Gabriel, with his exasperated mother, Erin.

As for the motor vehicles we can’t live with and we can’t live without: they either won’t start, or get a flat tire, or we lock our keys in them. Sometimes the steering goes out all together causing a minor accident and both air bags to deploy, as in the case of our son Keen’s car this past weekend. (Thankfully, Keen and our other son, Kirk, were both uninjured.) Then there are those “miscellaneous complaints” such as long lines in the grocery store, traffic jams, grouchy store clerks, or being overcharged for something you purchased and not discovering it until after you get back home. You know – things like that.

But the only way we can overcome the tidal wave of frustrations that wash over us on a daily basis is to button our mouths! As Proverbs 10:19 says: “In a multitude of words transgression is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is prudent.”

One of my favorite books (and one I’d highly recommend for any grinches or worry warts on your Christmas list), is “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff …and It’s All Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson, Ph.D. It contains so many practical insights that help remind us of how some of life’s most trivial issues can cause so much needless aggravation. A few of the chapter titles are: Make Peace with Imperfection; Be Aware of the Snowball Effect of Your Thinking; Remind Yourself that When You Die, Your “In Basket” Won’t Be Empty; Ask Yourself the Question, “Will This Matter a Year from Now?”; and Set Aside Quiet Time Every Day. Those are just a few examples from the 100 wisdom-packed chapters included in the book.

So instead of grumbling and complaining during this hectic holiday season, let’s try to be thankful for the many blessings we do have and use our words to bring joy to ourselves and all those around us.

“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
~ Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

Joy to the World!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

For Keeps

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
~ Philippians 4:11-13

The inspiration for this week’s column came from the following story which was sent to me by my step-mother, Barbara Brady. It’s called “Keepers,”

Author Unknown

I grew up in the Fifties with a practical parent -- my mother, God love her, who ironed Christmas wrapping paper and washed aluminum foil so she could reuse it. My mother even ironed Christmas ribbons - they were made of rayon back then. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it. It was the time for fixing things – the screen door, a curtain rod, the kitchen radio, the hem in a dress. Things we keep. It was a way of life and sometimes it made me crazy…all that re-fixing, re-eating, renewing. I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more.

But one day Mother died and as I sat in my kitchen that Sunday afternoon reading her old handmade cookbook in a binder, I was struck with the pain of feeling all alone, learning that sometimes there isn't any “more.” Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away...never to return. So...while we have it, it's best we love it....and care for it.....and fix it when it's broken. And heal it when it's sick.

This is true for old cars.... and children with bad report cards..... and dogs with bad hips..... and best friends who moved away or classmates we grew up with… and aging parents...and grandparents.
We keep them because they are worth it…because we are worth it.


When I was growing up in a family of nine children, we always had everything we needed. We had plenty of food and clothing, a nice place to live, ample sources of recreation and most of all, lots of love.

But I’ll be honest with you, one of the main reasons we had everything we needed was because our mother was so frugal. With that many kids to care for, she had to cut corners and save money wherever she could.

For example, Mom used to save those green stamps from the grocery store and painstakingly paste them into little booklets. I don’t recall what she received when the booklets were full, but it was something of value. Another way she saved money was by buying powdered milk. I can’t speak for all of my siblings, but I know I hated that stuff. There was always a layer of unmixed milk floating on the top. I remember one time I invited a friend over from school and I asked Mom if she would please buy a quart of “real milk” because I was so embarrassed. (Now I’m embarrassed to admit that I was embarrassed!)

Another way Mom saved money was in the area of sweets. Other than ice cream for dessert, she didn’t buy much junk food. When we took our sack lunches to school we usually had a sandwich, chips and a piece of fruit. It seemed sooo boring compared to the other kids’ lunches. I used to drool over the Hostess Twinkie snacks my friends had in their lunches every day. (Maybe that’s why I have such a sweet tooth!)

Lastly, Mom got all kinds of mileage out of the hand-me-downs in our family. With six girls and three boys, there always seemed to be plenty of clothes to hand down! Since we wore uniforms through the eighth grade at the Catholic school, I didn’t get to wear “regular clothes” until I attended ninth grade at Hudson Junior High. Being the youngest of the six girls, I had so many hand-me-downs that I didn’t repeat the same outfit for the first six weeks of school! Let me tell you, I was in seventh heaven!

It’s a good thing I enjoyed it while I had the chance, because the following year we moved to Singapore where it was back to school uniforms once again. In fact, I remember getting into trouble for being out of uniform because I wore bright yellow socks with matching yellow hair ribbons. I would do anything to spruce up my school uniform.

But the art of learning to be content whatever state you’re in is a valuable one. Keen and I have been dirt poor and we have had plenty, but always... always… we have had everything we need.

"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

It’s in the lean times when you learn to focus on what is really important in life – God, good health and the love of your family. When it’s all said and done, nothing else really matters.

Around the Corner
By Henson Towne

Around the corner, I have a friend
In this great city that has no end,
Yet the days go by and weeks rush on,
And before I know it, a year is gone.

And I never see my old friend's face,
For life is a swift and terrible race,
He knows I like him just as well,
As in the days when I rang his bell,
And he rang mine.

Ah, but we were younger then,
And now we are busy, tired men.
Tired of playing a foolish game,
Tired of trying to make a name.
“Tomorrow,” I say, “I will call on Jim.”

“Just to show that I'm thinking of him.”
But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes,
And distance between us grows and grows.
Around the corner! Yet, miles away.
“Here's a telegram, sir.”
“Jim died today.”

And that's what we get and deserve in the end.
Around the corner, a vanished friend.

“May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you...May you be content knowing you are a child of God.... Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of you.”
~ St. Theresa, known as the Saint of Little Ways, who believed in doing little things in life well and with great love.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Battle of the Bulge

"Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you…
And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
~ John 6:27,35 (NKJV)

Have you ever wondered why it takes six months to take off the weight you gained from only overeating one week during the holidays?

That happened to me several years ago when we drove to Minnesota to spend Christmas with my brother Joe and his family. Joe’s wife, Cindy has a yearly tradition of getting together with several of her friends and baking every type of Christmas delicacy you can imagine. Then they divide them up and everyone goes home with a smorgasbord of wonderful treats for their family.

Well, I have a terrible sweet tooth, which I constantly battle, but that year I just couldn’t resist. So, after deciding in advance that my overindulgence would be well worth whatever consequences I might have to suffer, I sampled one or more of nearly every scrumptious variety. Six months later, when I was still trying to lose the extra pounds I’d gained during my gluttonous binge, it didn’t seem like such a good idea.

Once I hit forty, I noticed that I began putting on some extra weight, even though I didn’t think I was eating any more than I normally did. My doctor explained that our metabolism slows down as we age, so if we don’t do something in the way of exercise to counteract that sad fact, then we’ll find ourselves losing the battle of the bulge.

The good news is that studies show exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous in order to be effective. One time my doctor asked me if I exercised. Since I didn’t work out at a fitness center, I sheepishly answered no. “But my husband and I walk several times a week,” I quickly added. Her response was a pleasant surprise. “What do you mean? Walking is one of the best forms of exercise around.” I guess I should have known that, because I lost twenty pounds when Keen and I walked once or twice a day during the seven months we spent waiting for the Supreme Court to hand down a decision.

Our son Josh is a second year medical student at KU and he has always been a great source of information and encouragement when it comes to health and nutrition. He says it’s a numbers game – like depositing or withdrawing money from the bank. By exercising, we can attempt to “withdraw” more calories than we “deposit.” He reminds me of the importance of keeping active so I’ll stay healthy long enough to enjoy my grandchildren.

One article Josh emailed me stated that we can lose 10 pounds in a year just be eating one tablespoon less fat per day (although some fats like olive oil and those in fish are actually good for you). “It’s not about making sweeping overhauls that are doomed to fail,” said Katherine Tallmadge of the American Dietetic Association in an interview with the Associated Press. The article went on to state that it’s time to “stop stuffin’ it and start huffin’ it.”

Here’s another email Josh sent me awhile back:

Hey Mom,
I needed a quick study break so I thought I’d find out a little moreon that book for you. It’s only $7 on If you type in
"Intuitive eating" you should get a book called "Intuitive Eating:
A Recovery book for the Chronic Dieter: Rediscover the pleasures
of eating and rebuild your body image." Also at that website you
can click the link “search inside the book” and it'll let you read
the first 10 pages or so. Within the first page I was reminded
how much I love this book.

Here's what I mean:

" . . . Dieting had made her more preoccupied with food. Dieting hadmade food the enemy. Dieting had made her feel guilt when she wasn'teating diet-type foods (even when she wasn't officially dieting).Dieting had slowed down her metabolism . . ."" .

. .Each diet teaches the body to adapt better for the nextself-imposed famine (another diet). Metabolism slows as the bodyefficiently utilizes each calorie as if it's the last. The more drastic the diet, the more it pushes the body into the calorie-pinchingsurvival mode. Fueling metabolism is like stoking a fire. Remove thewood and the fire diminishes. Similarly, to fuel our metabolism, wemust eat a sufficient amount of calories, or our bodies willcompensate and slow down . . ."

Alright, the cat's outta the bag, now you know where I get most of myanalogies. But Boy howdy does that say it all or what. And the wholebook is like that!I would be happy to sit down with you anytime. Back to the books,
test tomorrow, pray for me.Josh


In an email column titled “Faith to Faith” from Kenneth Copeland Ministries (, Kenneth shared his past struggles with weight and how he’s lost literally hundreds of pounds over the years, only to gain them right back again. He said he used to pray that God would help him lose weight, until he finally realized that he didn’t have a weight problem, he had a food problem.

“I wanted to lose weight,” he said, “but I didn’t want to permanently change my eating habits. I was like an alcoholic who wants to be able to drink constantly and not be affected by it. I wanted to eat nine times a day and still weigh 166 pounds!”
With the exception of those rare individuals who seem to be able to eat everything in sight and never gain a pound, most of us struggle to varying degrees in this battle for good health and physical well being. After all, it’s not about looking like a runway model, it’s about achieving a weight that we feel good about and that’s healthy for us.

I’d like to close this column on a more humorous note with the following poem by Dwight Burgess, who graciously gave me permission to share it with you.

By Dwight Burgess
Wamego, Kansas

Two gals chanced to meet one day on the street
There in front of the Café Sublime
“Oh Sylvia dear, imagine meeting you here,
Dear, it’s been such a very long time.”

“You’re looking great, you’ve lost so much weight,
why I hardly knew who you were.
It seems it’s more than a year since I saw you, Dear,
we need to catch up on old times, for sure.”

“Why, Dear, bless my soul, let me buy you a roll,
tell me how things are at your house.
Our lives change so much, we seem to lose touch,
are you still married to that louse?”

Then Sylvia said, slowly nodding her head,
“I’m afraid that the answer is yes.
I live with that hog like a whipped puppy dog,
I’m a glutton for punishment I guess.”

“Heaven knows it’s a job putting up with that slob
it’s been even tougher of late.
He smells such a fright I lose my appetite
that’s why I’ve lost so much weight.”

“And you better believe that I’m going to leave,
and heaven knows I’ve sure got grounds.
I won’t let the door hit my backside anymore,
but first I want to lose another 12 pounds.”

“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
~ Romans 14:17 (NKJV)