Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Thanks, I Needed That

“For I have derived great joy and comfort and encouragement from your love. . . .” ~ Philemon 7a (Amp)

Last week I shared some examples of times when we were blindsided in a hurtful way. This week I’d like to share some examples of when we were blindsided in a positive way – by gestures of love.

This first example comes from a special note Keen taped to my computer on Valentine’s Day. If none of the other dreams in my life ever come true, I am more blessed than I deserve to be.

February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine’s Day!

You have been the love of my life since I was fifteen years old. I love you, Eileen! Through good times and bad times, I have always known that you love me more than life itself. Your love for me gives me the strength to face the unknown trials each day brings. Thank you for always being there for me. The love and affection you show me every day is a gift to me. You may think I’m as close to perfect as any man could be – but I know I’m not. I just spend a lot of time in the cleansing river of forgiveness that God provides all of us.

Eileen, you are the flower forever planted in my heart that I cherish each day of my life. Every day that I wake up with you and experience the love, the laughter – is a new Valentine’s Day for me. I feel like my whole life – since I was fifteen years old – has been a special Valentine’s Day, repeated over and over, thousands of times. Please, never doubt that we are one heart, one soul, one spirit.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my sweetheart! My day is blessed because of your love for me.



Another unexpected blessing arrived in the form of an email from our third born son, Keen II, who touched our hearts by sharing the following excerpt from his online journal:

“I have a really awesome dad. The older I get the more I am able to see just how much he did for us when we were kids. He loved us unconditionally, he worked hard for us, he disciplined us, he taught us how to do guy stuff, and always looked out for us. I always say that my dad taught me how to be a man and my mom taught me how to be a gentleman. I just really appreciate my parents and all that they did for their family to ensure their success in life. . .”

Keen and Keen II (who, at the age of nine, informed us that he was going to grow up and have two children; a girl named Christine and a boy named Keen. "So I can keep up the tradition!")

“Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. . . .”
~ Ephesians 5:12

Next, I’d like to share this note that our second son, Joshua, (who will soon become a father himself), wrote to his dad in 1994 when he was thirteen years old. He had taped one of his school pictures to the bottom of the page and left it in the trash truck so Keen would find it when he went to work.

November 2, 1994

Dear Dad,

Lately you have looked really sad and sorta in a daze. I hope you know how good of a dad you are. You are always there to encourage any of us in what ever we do. I can always talk with you about anything and everything but I felt this letter would be better than a talk. This way whenever you feel down you can look at this letter and hopefully it will help you realize how wonderfully great you are. I just want you to know I really pray to God every night to have such a loving, caring dad. You work your butt off every day to make sure your family, us, has everything we could need. I can't express how much I love you and I know that you are truly, without a doubt, the most loving, caring dad in the world. I want you to know how great you are.

LOVE Dearly,
Josh Umbehr

Keen wrote the following response to Josh’s note:

Dear Josh,

Today when I started my trash truck, I read your letter to me. I am so thankful that I have a son who loves me so much. Thank you for expressing your thoughts in writing. You are so grown up and mature for your age. I love you so much. I’m going to keep your letter in my truck, so that when I get down or have a hard day, I can re-read it and that will make me happy again. I love you, Josh.


It was a beautiful moment in time, one that makes you believe you must be doing something right. After school I praised Josh over and over for his caring and sensitivity and I told him how happy his letter made Dad. Then Josh said, “I thank God for both of you, every night. You could replace your name in that letter, Mom. Because I mean it all for you, too.” What a dear heart.

Josh and Keen

". . . If you love somebody, tell them."
~ Rod McKuen

Lastly, I would like to share another poem written by my friend Pat Barrett who has a unique gift of capturing simple truths and expressing them through poetry. Pat is one of the most positive people I have ever met, mainly because she chooses to concentrate on all of her blessings. Thanks for being such an inspiration to your friends and family, Pat, and thank you for allowing me to share your insightful, heartwarming poems with others.

Valentine’s Day Every Day

By Patricia Kohls Barrett

It is the holiday of romance
When lovers show affection
With cards, flowers and sweets
Or some other special selection

It’s not limited to those in love
Anyone can show how they feel
To a special friend or relative
With attention fondness reveal

Why wait for the festival of hearts
To expose your feelings within
Anytime can be a special heart day
To appreciate buddy or kin

Think of someone important to you
See that smile when you show you care
With a compliment or little gift
Or a piece of yourself you share

Make today the holiday of hearts
Find a way to show value and worth
To someone important in your life
Express gratitude for their birth

“ Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God. . . .
~I John 4:7a

Photo taken by Pat Barrett