Thursday, January 06, 2005

Numbering our Days

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
~ Psalm 90:12 (NKJV)

“If you knew you only had one more day to live, who would you call, what would you say and what are you waiting for?” ~ Anonymous

He said, I was in my early forties, with a lot of life before me,
when a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays.
Talkin’ ‘bout the options and talkin’ about sweet time.
I asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end,
How’s it hit ya’, when you get that kind of news?
Man what did ya do?

And he said: I went skydiving, I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull name Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper, And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denyin’
And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’.

He said, I was finally the husband, that most the time I wasn’t.
And I became a friend a friend would like to have.
All of a sudden goin’ fishin, wasn't such an imposition,
and I went three times that year I lost my dad.
Well, I finally read the Good Book, and took a good long hard look
at what I would do if I could do it all again.
And then….

I went skydiving, I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull name Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper, And I spoke sweeter
And I watched an eagle as it was flyin’

And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’.

Live like you were dying ~ recorded by Tim McGraw

“As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.”

~ Psalm 103:15-18 (NKJV)

The dawn of a new year always brings much introspection. We often look back with a mixture of satisfaction and regret and we look to the future with promise. We vow to eat better, exercise more and live life to the fullest. We hope… we pray…we dream.

The Dream
By Eileen Umbehr

The love, the joy, the laughter
Time has robbed us of these things
The endless pursuit of profit has filled every open space
What is left for all that is important?
Why must life be so backwards?
In my dreams, all is set aright.
Work becomes a bit player - just enough to survive.
Time to love - God, our children, each other.
Time to laugh…… Time to live…. Time to dream…..

I wrote that poem nearly ten years ago. Shortly after it was published in the poetry section of the Topeka Capital-Journal, I received the following note from my friend and long-time Alma columnist, Ada Sage Laverty. (From the Old Stone House)

My dear Eileen,
I have just read your sad little verse in the Topeka paper. You indeed have reasons to be sad, but the important things in life remain for you: a devoted husband and children, your green acres and your active youth - these are not just dreams. I, at 88, have lost all of these things, and I, too, am melancholy, so I do understand, but assure you that time and your dearest treasures, which remain, will bring brighter days for you.

Mrs. Ada Sage Laverty

Mrs. Laverty was right. I still have those things – and people – that matter most. And since none of us knows how long we have on this earth, it’s important that we cherish the time we have with those we love and be grateful for their presence in our lives.


Over the Christmas holidays, Keen, Kirk and I decided to drive 700 miles to Conroe, Texas to surprise Keen’s parents, Jim & Jean Umbehr. Keen’s sister Kihm was there from North Carolina and his brother Kevin and family live nearby, so we had an unscheduled Umbehr family reunion. We haven’t all been together since Josh & Lisa’s wedding a year and a half ago and it’s been even longer since we were all together at Christmas, so it was a very special time. Keen’s mom kept saying that having all three of her kids home for Christmas was the best gift she could have ever received.

On the day after Christmas, we decided to commemorate the Umbehr family gathering by having a professional picture taken at J.C. Penny’s studio. The traffic was crazy and the crowds at the mall were insane, but we were determined! It’s nothing short of a miracle that we were all color coordinated and actually looked like we were happy to be there!

Keen & His Parents, Jim & Jean, Brother Kevin, & sister Kihm

During our visit, I came across an old book titled Heart Throbs – The Old Scrap Book, which was published in 1905. It belonged to Keen’s maternal grandmother, Mae Bartlett, and is a collection of stories and poems compiled by Joe Mitchell Chapple of the National Magazine, Boston, Massachusetts. Mr. Chapple ran an ad in The National Magazine asking the readers to send him “ . . .heart throbs – those things that make us all kin; those things that endure – the classics of our own lives.” He wrote: “Send me a clipping, a story, an anecdote, or a selection that has touched your heart . . .Wholesome good cheer, humor, comfort, hope – those things that make dark days endurable and sunny days enduring . . . Heart throbs – yes, heart throbs of happiness, heart throbs of courage, heart throbs that make us feel better . . .”

The following poem from Heart Throbs seemed to fit with this week’s theme.

How did you die?
By Edmund Vance Cooke

Did you tackle the trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?

O, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it,
And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts,
But only, how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what’s that?
Come up with a smiling face.
It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there – that’s disgrace.

The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce;
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts;
It’s how did you fight – and why?

And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could,
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.

Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce.
And whether he’s slow or spry,
It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts,
But only, how did you die?

“The abundance of our lives is not determined by how long we live, but by how well we live.” ~ Anonymous

Author Unknown

A university professor tells of being invited to speak at a military base one December and meeting an unforgettable soldier named Ralph.

Ralph had been sent to meet him at the airport. After they had introduced themselves, they headed toward the baggage claim. As they walked down the concourse, Ralph kept disappearing. Once to help an older woman whose suitcase had fallen open; once to lift two toddlers up to where they could see Santa Claus; again to give directions to someone who was lost. Each time he came back with a smile on his face.

"Where did you learn to be like that?" the professor asked. "Oh," Ralph said, "during the war, I guess."

He then told the professor about his tour of duty in Vietnam, how it was his
job to clear mine fields and how he watched his friends die right before his eyes,
one after another. "I learned to live between steps," he said. "I never knew whether the next one would be my last, so I learned to get everything I could out of the moment between when I picked up my foot and when I put it down again. Every step I took was a whole new world, and I guess I've been that way ever since."


I’d like to close with the following excerpt from an article written by a fellow writer and new friend of mine, Tom Parker from Blue Rapids, Kansas. Tom is a gifted writer whose weekly column, “The Way Home” is published in the Washington County News. Thanks to Tom for giving me permission to share it with you.

“. . . I’ve reached that age where I understand life is finite, that it can be taken away in the next breath, and the realization is less disturbing than it is enriching. That we cannot see far down our trail is our good fortune, for the journey itself is the important thing. We can examine our lives and look back over our past and try to peer into the future but it’s the step by step by step that gets us nearer to our destination, the placing one foot before the other and the locomotion thereof.

We stand in the gateway, cast one last look behind, shoulder our packs and pass through. The old behind us, the new ahead, and us unapprised of what tidings it brings. The trail goes on.”
~ Tom Parker

“Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” ~ James 4:14