Monday, November 26, 2007

It Takes Two

“Two are better than one. . . If one falls down, his friend can help him up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

Anyone who has read my column knows that I am not someone who believes that you should stay in a marriage at all costs, because sometimes the price is just too high. For instance, if your spouse has been unfaithful, or is abusing you or your children emotionally, mentally, verbally or physically, then you need to protect yourself and your family. That’s not to say that people can’t change, because I know they can, by the grace of God. But research shows that oftentimes the abuser will simply say whatever they have to say to get their partner to take them back. Then once they do, the cycle of abuse starts all over again.

Denise Jackson, the wife of country singer Alan Jackson, recently wrote a book titled, “It’s All About Him.” Denise was recently interviewed on a morning news show, and she explained that Alan had an extramarital affair several years ago. Devastated and alone, Denise cried out to God. Through this experience, she came to the realization that no single human being can possibly meet every one of your needs. We must rely on God, our Heavenly Father, for He will never disappoint. Any time you make a person your god, then you will definitely come up short. Denise and Alan’s story had a happy ending, but she states in the book that not every marriage can be saved. But the bottom line is this: whether you are blessed with a loving spouse, or you are single, widowed or divorced, God must be your Source. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. He has also promised to meet all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. If your faith, confidence or security is derived from any source other than Him, it is misplaced.

"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation,
My stronghold and my refuge;
My Savior, You save me from violence.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.

~ II Samuel 22:2b-4 (NKJV)

Having said all that, this week I would like to share two very sad poems that I have written over the past year for a very dear friend of mine whose husband is divorcing her after twenty-four years of marriage. This is one of those cases where there is no legitimate reason for the divorce. No adultery; no abuse. Just a marriage that lacked the communication needed to work through their problems – and every marriage has problems to resolve. The solution to dissatisfaction in a marriage is to bring those grievances to the table openly and honestly so that you can work toward a resolution. When you keep your differences inside for too long, eventually a wall is built between you, making communication and compromise almost impossible to achieve.

“And this you do with double guilt; you cover the alter of the Lord with tears [shed by your unoffending wives, divorced by you that you might take heathen wives]….Therefore take heed to yourselves, and let no one deal treacherously and be faithless to the wife of his youth.”

~ Malachi 2:13, 15b (Amp)

Love's Last Hope
By Eileen Umbehr

He dropped a bomb -
Right in the middle of your life
The life you began with him
Twenty-four years ago

The promises you made
You meant
The promises he made
Were just words

They've been broken now
Along with your heart
Can there be any greater sorrow
Than to lose the one you love
Not to death
But to someone or something

Your heart cries out for answers
But receives only silence
After twenty-four years, you wonder –
Don't I at least deserve that much?

No words. No eye contact.
Just emptiness.
Grief like none other.

You cry out to God,
And in the stillness of your broken heart
You hear Him say
"I am still here. I will always be here."

By faith, you take that first step.
Then another.

Only God could part these waters of grief.
Only by His strength will you escape
And cross safely to the other side.

“Even to your old age I am He, and even to hair white with age will I carry you. I have made, and I will bear; yes, I will carry and will save you.” ~ Isaiah 46:4

“Blessed be the Lord who bears our burdens and carries us day by day.” ~ Psalm 68:19

And so, although I do believe in divorce, I believe even more in the sanctity of marriage and the value of keeping a family together. When there is something good worth saving, then simple differences should not destroy a marriage. But as the title of this next poem suggests, reconciliation can only happen when there are two people willing to do the work.

“How can two walk together except they be agreed?”
~ Amos 3:3

It Takes Two

By Eileen Umbehr

The day is fast approaching
And with it many tears
The end of a marriage that lasted
Nearly twenty-five years

What became of the vows recited
Before their friends and God
What about the promises they made
Was that all just one big facade?

What about all of the memories
The two of them have shared
What about the deaths in the family
When they needed each other they were there

What about their three precious children
Will they all continue to thrive
Now that their security is shaken
Because their parents’ love didn’t survive

But the fact of the matter is simple
There are some things that we can’t control
For even though one person wants to try
It takes two halves to make a whole

Yes, it takes two to make a marriage
And try as one person might
If the other is determined to seek a divorce
Then that wrong just can’t be made right

At that point you have no choice
But to grant your spouse’s request
Then trust in the good Lord to lead you
By still waters to true happiness

Because it takes two to walk in harmony
It takes two to help wounds mend
It takes two to make a marriage work
But only one to make it end.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

~ Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More Precious Than Words

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth.” ~ Psalm 127:3,4 (NKJV)

As most of you know, our family has been blessed with a new addition: Paige Ashley Umbehr was born at the Wesley Birth Care Center to Josh and Lisa Umbehr on October 23rd at 11:59 p.m. She weighed 8 lbs. 9 oz. and was 19 ½ inches long.

I was in Topeka when Lisa called to say that she was in labor, so I rushed home to pick up my suitcase and headed for Wichita as fast as I could. On my way there, I called Keen’s mom to share the good news. When I asked how late was too late to call, she replied that it was okay to call up until midnight, but after that she would wait until morning. So I guess little Paige wanted her great-grandma to get the news right away, because she was born exactly one minute before Grandma’s bedtime!

As any grandma would be, I was extremely excited about meeting our new grandchild. But my first tears were actually shed in the car as I neared my exit in Wichita and I heard Gary Allen come across the radio singing: “When tough little boys, grow up to be dads, they turn into big babies again.” It just brought back memories of our tough little boy who looked like a football player from birth, and who was now about to become a proud father once again.

Lisa’s mom Linda arrived earlier than I did and was able to provide some tender loving care to Lisa while she was in labor. I joined them around 10:30 when things were really starting to heat up. A while later Linda and I left the room because Lisa wanted to be alone with Josh during the final stages of labor and through the delivery. After visiting in the lobby for about 40 minutes, Linda and I decided we’d better check on Lisa’s progress. As we approached her room, we saw nurses from all four corners of the facility making their way down the hall. “What’s happening?” we asked. “I heard she’s ready to deliver,” a nurse explained excitedly.

Linda and I were like two little kids waiting for Santa Claus as we anxiously waited in the hall. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, our daughter-in-law is a strong woman and a champion child-bearer! She had Katelyn all natural, and now she was doing it again. I had my children naturally, too, but the difference between me and Lisa is that you could have heard me screaming 3 blocks away. I remember during one of the deliveries digging my fingernails into Keen’s forearm and saying: “This – is - not - sur-vivable!”

“If nature had arranged that husbands and wives should have children alternatively, there would never be more than three in a family.”

~Lawrence Housman

But not Lisa; she barely made a peep throughout the entire process. On the other hand, we could hear Josh loud and clear joking with the doctor and nurses about how when Katelyn was born he told Lisa he was going to shout, “It’s a boy!” no matter what. At this point we received the only clue that there was a woman on the other side of the door laboring to bring forth a child when we heard Lisa very distinctly and firmly say: “Shut up!” Linda and I just smiled. Soon we began hearing comments like, “You’re almost there! One more good push!” We just held hands and listened intently until we finally heard, “It’s a girl!” followed by the beautiful sound of our new granddaughter’s first cry.

“Every child born into the world is a new thought of God, an ever-fresh and radiant possibility.”

~ Kate Douglas Wiggin

Ever the jokester, Josh came out into the hall and announced to the waiting grandmas, “It’s twins!” I quickly called Grandma Umbehr to give her the good news just in the nick of time. Josh also noted that Lisa was born on the 8th of the month and he was born on the 15th of the month and when you combine those two numbers you get Paige’s birth day, the 23rd of October.

After we got our chance to hug the parents and hold precious Paige, Linda and I drove back to Josh and Lisa’s house where Grandpa Gary was babysitting Katelyn. When we arrived, Katelyn was awake. I think she sensed all the excitement. So Gary and Linda left for the hospital while I tried to feed Katelyn a bottle and rock her back to sleep. But she wasn’t having any of that, so I decided to load up the car seat and take Katelyn to meet her new little sister. When we walked in the room, Lisa’s eyes filled with tears as she held both of her little angels in her arms for the first time. Katelyn was so happy to see Mom and Dad, and she seemed curious about this little bundle Mommy was holding. At one point she patted Paige’s little cheek ever so softly. (Josh and Lisa have been working on teaching her to be “gentle” for quite some time.) Then Katelyn made the hugging motion by wrapping her own two arms around herself.

Katelyn meets Paige

Josh commented that Katelyn was probably thinking, “Don’t forget me, Mom. New things are nice, but I’ve been around a lot longer than her. I’m an oldie but a goodie!”

Then he jokingly added that he’d have to explain to Katelyn that Mommy could only love her half as much now that there were two children in the family. Without skipping a beat, Lisa replied: “That’s not true, is it Katelyn. Mommy’s heart grew last night.”

All of our hearts grew that night.

Welcome to the family, Paige Ashley. We love you!