Monday, January 26, 2009

Famous Last Words

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

It’s with some trepidation that I write this week’s column. There’s just no easy way to say this: After five and a half years, I’ve decided to discontinue my Reflections column. I may still submit a poem now and then or a periodic story about someone else’s interesting life, but in my heart I feel it’s time for a change.

I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing my thoughts, poems, and faith, along with the lessons learned from all the ups and downs of our lives, with all of you. As you know, I love to write, so writing will always be a big part of my life. I simply desire to free up some time and space in my brain to branch out into new and different areas of self expression.

My friend Kat includes the following inspirational quote with every email she sends:

"If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes."
~ Andrew Carnegie

I have many more thoughts, ideas, and stories to share – more dreams and goals to achieve – and with God’s help, I will have the opportunity to do just that.

I will always be grateful to Joann Kahnt for taking a chance on this housewife and mom. I know she probably lost a few subscriptions as a result of giving me space in The Prairie Post, but hopefully she picked up a few, too. Thank you, Joann, for allowing me to share my fears, dreams and memories from days long past and recent. Thank you for helping me work through unexpected setbacks, illnesses and deaths of loved ones. Thank you for allowing me to share the joys of new daughters-in-law and grandbabies. You have helped me process the journey of life. Through this column, I have found the courage to take chances and risk public ridicule. I have learned that I have a right to my own thoughts and opinions – regardless of whether anyone else agrees with me. In the process, I have found my way to the real me – not the person I wanted everyone to think I was, but my true self, with all my faults and imperfections. I have become comfortable in my own skin. I’ve been vulnerable and real in hopes that others would know that they are not alone. If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that none of us has arrived; we are all a work in progress.

Thank you also to everyone who has read my column over the years, and especially to those who have offered positive feedback and encouragement. I will miss you. And please remember that God loves you and Jesus died for you. He will forgive anything you have ever done if you will only ask. Then you can look forward to an eternity in Heaven where there will be no more sorrow or pain or tears.

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” ~ John 14:1-3 (NKJV)

He Who Believes

By Eileen Umbehr

I have a friend
Who lost her son
In a tragic way
At age twenty-one
"Do you believe in Heaven?"
I asked her one day
She shook her head no
Then turned away.
"What do you believe happens
When we die?”
"I think that's the end,"
Was her reply.
I said, "When I lost my mother
Seven years ago this May
It brought me great comfort
To know I'd see her one day."
"If you believe that is true
You surprise me," she said.
"It just makes people feel better
To think that in their head."
“Well, I know the Bible says
That he who believes
Jesus is the Son of God
Will live eternally.”
So my friend and I
Will agree to disagree
But I'll keep on praying,
That one day, she'll believe.
Then maybe someday,
We’ll meet again in the sky
Where we'll continue our visits
In the sweet by and by.

“Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” ~ John 11:25,26

In closing, I’d like to share a poem I wrote in 2004, shortly after I began writing my Reflections:

Unknown Reader

By Eileen Umbehr

Unknown reader

Who are you?

You who read my deepest contemplations

All my joys and sorrows

You know me, but I don’t know you.

No matter.

I don’t have to meet you to know

You laugh.

You cry.

You bleed.

Just like me.

Unknown reader.

You are my friend.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”
~ Numbers 6:24-26

Monday, January 19, 2009

Good News, Bad News

“There is none who does good. . .” ~Psalm 53:1b (AMP)

Over and over we read how not a man or woman amongst us is good – no not one. In the book of Isaiah it says that, like sheep, we have all gone astray, and even our righteousness – the best part of ourselves – is as filthy rags.

That’s the bad news. But here’s the Good News:

“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” ~ Titus 3:5 (NLT)

Yes, Jesus took our sins upon Himself when He died on the cross, so that we would be made the righteousness of God in Christ. This truly IS Good News!

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”

~Romans 5:1,2 (NLT)

When I was a little girl, I used to lie awake in bed and fret about the concept of eternity and how it went on and on and on, and never ended. (How does that saying go? Life is short, but eternity is forever.) Then I worried about whether I was good enough to get into Heaven because I definitely knew I didn’t want to spend all eternity in hell. I was so relieved to learn that not only did I not have to be “good enough” to get into Heaven, but that I could never be good enough to get into Heaven – no matter how hard I tried to do everything right.

In Galatians chapter 2 we read:

“Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. For if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

So that was one gift I was happy to receive. And receive it we must. In Revelations it says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock, whoever hears my voice I will come in and eat with him and he with me.” But we do have to answer the door – and we do that with two simple words: I believe.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

~ Romans 10:9 (NIV)

It’s like this quote I read from a man named Paul C. Brownlow

“In the most lopsided deal of all time, Jesus took our filthy rags of sin and gave us His robe of righteousness. Our righteousness is not our own, it is from Him. Dare we brag of our goodness now?”

No, we shouldn’t boast of anything in our lives, unless we’re boasting in the Lord and in His goodness. For “every good and perfect gift is from above.” (James 1:17a)

“And beware lest you say in your [mind and] heart, My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth. But you shall [earnestly] remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives you power to get wealth. . . “ ~ Deuteronomy 8:17,18A

Recently Charlie McClelland, the pastor of Mill Creek Baptist Church in McFarland, had an interesting article about this subject. He titled it, “No Good People.” With his permission, I would like to share his thoughts:

“We tend to divide the world into good guys and bad guys. The good guys are members of our group – our friends, our school, our church, our family, our nation – and everyone else are the bad guys. Unfortunately the Bible clearly states there are no good guys, there are only bad guys. While Jesus admitted we would have enemies, when He told us to love our enemies, He did not imply that we were the good guys. When we accept the fact that we are saved not because we are now, nor ever will be good, our attitude becomes one of gratitude toward God and humility toward other people. Instead of dividing the world into good guys and bad guys, we divide the world into those who have experienced God's grace and those who have yet to experience it. Realizing that our enemy today may in fact be our Christian brother tomorrow, fundamentally shifts our behavior. It is difficult to look down our nose at someone who is on the same level as we are. My mom always told me that there was so much bad in the best of us, and so much good in the worst of us, it behooves none of us, to talk about the rest of us. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we are simply sinners saved by grace. Because God has extended grace to us, we need to extend grace to those around us.”

Well said.

In closing, I'd like to share a poem I recently wrote:

Who Am I?
By Eileen Umbehr

You have forgiven
Me so much
Who am I
To hold a grudge?

I should not look
At others’ sin,
Before looking first
At what lies within

As Jesus said
Don’t cast a stone
Lest the spotlight on
Your life be shone

For picking the speck
Is hard to do
When there’s a plank
Obstructing your view

We’d all do well
To walk in love
Following the example
Of our Father above

For He has forgiven
Us so much
Who are we
To hold a grudge?

“For if you forgive people their trespasses – that is, their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go and giving up resentment – your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses – their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go and giving up resentment – neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.”

~ Matthew 6: 14,15 (Amplified)


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On Attitude and Optimism

"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 (Amplified)

My friend Larry Welch is one of the most positive people I know. Larry writes an electronic newsletter, On the Run, and authored a book titled, Mary Virginia, A Father’s Story. Larry’s most recent published work is a book titled, “Quotations for Positive People” (And Those Who Would Like to Be). One hundred per cent of the profits from the book, which is available on, will be donated to the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation. ( Their worthwhile mission is to provide for the needs of the homeless and impoverished children of Hanoi.

Larry’s recent book is a great source for quotations that uplift and encourage. As I was putting together this week’s column on positive attitudes, I found the following quote from motivational speaker Jim Rohn:

“Attitude determines how much of the future we are allowed to see. It decides the size of our dreams and influences our determination when we are faced with new challenges. No other person on earth has dominion over our attitude. People can affect our attitude by teaching us poor thinking habits or unintentionally misinforming us or providing us with negative sources of influence, but no one can control our attitude unless we voluntarily surrender that control.”

Larry also shared the following poem which was written by Peter Colwell, the author of Spell SUCCESS in Your Life, and an upcoming book: Invest in Your Attitude: CHANGE Your View and Your View Will Change You

An Attitude of Abundance

by Peter Colwell

Cultivate peace in your heart and your mind
And sooner or later you’re likely to find
That all of your trouble and worry and care
Can be kept in perspective if only you’ll dare
To dream of a life overflowing with laughter
With hope for the future and the joy that you’re after

Choose your response to any circumstance.
Don’t leave a positive outcome to chance.
Hold yourself accountable for your life’s direction.
Choose words of kindness, of love and affection.
Adjust your attitude as often as required.
Don’t let your optimism get worn out or tired.
Navigate through negative emotions with care.
Of people who drain you and strain you beware.
Grow from your experiences each day of your life.
Learn from each setback, each heartache, and strife.
Expect more out of life; you often get what you give.
Now is the time to WAKE UP AND LIVE!

Finally, here are some more inspiring quotes I’d like to share:

“It's not your outlook but your uplook that counts.”

~ John Mason

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

~ Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

"A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships." ~ Helen Keller

"Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens."

~ John Homer Miller

"The attitude of unhappiness is not only painful, it is mean and ugly. What can be more base and unworthy than the pining, pulling, mumping mood, no matter by what outward ills it may have been engendered? What is more injurious to others? What less helpful as a way out of difficulty? It but fastens and perpetuates the trouble which occasioned it, and increases the total evil of the situation. At all costs, then, we ought to reduce the sway of that mood, we ought to scout it in ourselves and others, and never show it tolerance."

~ William James, 19th century American psychiatrist and philosopher

"I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow."

~ Julia Cameron, author, "The Artist's Way"

“Life at any time can become difficult; life at any time can become easy. It all depends upon how one adjusts oneself to life.”

~ Morarji Desai

“If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

~ Mary Engelbreit, artist, humanitarian, and entrepreneur

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” ~ Proverbs 23:7

"A strong, positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug.”

~ Patricia Neal, Academy Award winning actress

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.”

~ Helen Keller

"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered."

~ Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~ Helen Keller

“A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.”

~ Proverbs 17:22