Looking For a Better Way

I paused today to cast a vote.
And wished I could have left a note.
To every candidate, win or lose.
I pray that wisdom you would choose.

Yet as I prayed, my faith was small.
For I’ve not seen wisdom much at all.
Your TV ads have made me weep.
Thinking each of you is just a creep.

A “preacher” reads from God’s good Book,
then calls his opponent a dirty crook.
Back and forth the name calling goes.
I’m not quite sure what they think it shows.

They dig up dirt on one another,
and fail to see their sister and brother.
And through it all I failed to hear,
anything but a constant smear.

They say that’s how the game is played.
So just accept it, don’t be dismayed.
Yet still I think as I stop and pray,
there has to be a better way!

What if change would sweep this land,
and every candidate took a stand.
To speak the truth in all they say.
And not attack in any way.

To let the voters know their views.
So at the ballot they could choose.
To say nothing bad of the other side,
so on truth we could decide.

And so today I cast a vote.
And wished I could have left a note.
To all who come in after me,
I ask you pray for what you cannot see.

Then trust in God and not in man.
And place your faith in His grand plan!

©2018 by Tom Lemler

I voted this morning with a sour taste in my mouth as the months of negative campaign ads had convinced me none of the candidates were the statesmen that this country needs.  I’m not saying none of the candidates were right for this country, just all of them were so busy telling me what a rotten person their opponent was that they didn’t convince me they were any better.  It is so easy to say “the other side started it” or “my preferred candidate wasn’t as mean as yours”, but the truth is that somehow we have come to accept bullying as appropriate in the political realm even while demanding something be done to stop it everywhere else.  I pray that somehow “we the people” would say, “Enough!!” I pray that we would find ways to voice our beliefs and opinions without being mean to one another.  I pray that we would look to why people feel strongly about the issues they do rather than attacking them for feeling differently than we do.  I pray that God’s love would fill us with His grace to such an extent that we would find attacks against anyone to be completely and utterly unacceptable!

In prayer,
Tom
Finding  Direction

Finding Direction

When life seems uncertain
and each path looks dark.
You should probably quit driving
and put it in park.
As you sit on the roadside,
wondering which way to go.
It’s a very good time
to ask the One who does know.

For darkness can’t stay
in the presence of light.
And finding direction
is easier with sight.
Much time is oft wasted
when we won’t stop to ask.
For help from the One
who created our task.

“Be still and know”,
is what He does say.
But that’s hard to do
when I’m driving my way.
So I shut down the engine
fueled by selfish desire.
And I look for direction
from the One who’s much higher.

And each time I seek Him,
I find he is there.
As He leads me beside Him,
and shows me His care.
It’s not always easy,
but He’s given His Word.
And the voice that speaks from it,
is the sweetest I’ve heard.

And just like a lamb,
to its own master’s voice.
I hear from my Shepherd
and I have to rejoice.
I’m no longer lost,
for I have been found.
As I live in His presence,
where His light does abound!

©2018 by Tom Lemler

As one who has been known to drive in the dark for long periods of time as I’ve looked for a destination, I suppose this poem is for me.  But I also suspect God put it in my mind for someone else also . . . perhaps you.  I think sometimes we have so closely associated movement with progress that we begin to believe that moving in any direction, even the wrong direction, is better than sitting still.  I have literally added hours to my journey at times simply because I didn’t stop in the darkness and find out exactly where I was in relation to where I needed to be.  While that can be a waste of time and fuel when it happens on the physical roads of life, it can be even more costly when it takes place on the spiritual path we are on.  I pray that you and I would learn to “be still and know that [He is] God.”  When life brings indecision and darkness, put it in park for a while and look to the One that is the Light of the World!

In prayer,
Tom
Anniversary Poem

Anniversary Poem

It seems a moment ago,
or perhaps maybe two.
We stood face to face
and we each said, “I do”.
And the journey began
as we stood hand in hand.
With no real idea
of all God had planned.

Through the ups and the downs,
the happy and sad.
We kept moving forward
with all that we had.
Yet, through days that felt slow
and years that seemed fast.
All of a sudden,
thirty-seven years have passed.

So, Happy Anniversary
to my beautiful bride!
Life’s so much better
with you by my side.
And whether walking a trail
or some peaceful shore.
Here’s to the moments
of thirty-seven more!

©2018 by Tom Lemler

While some said we were too young and it wouldn’t last, today my wife and I celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary!  As I reflect on that accomplishment, I have to say it was God who carried us this far together and it is only He who can successfully carry us into the future.  And while I don’t know if either of us have another 37 years of life on this earth, we can always count on our walks continuing on a more beautiful shore once our time here is done!

 
With prayers and much love,
Tom
A Usual Day

A Usual Day

We woke up that morning
in the usual way.
With usual plans
for our usual day.
Our minds were quite filled
with the usual things.
As we were prepared
for what a usual day brings.

For some, change was instant
with life gone in a flash.
Yet others were changed
as toward the rubble they dashed.
Some called their loved ones,
as they would soon die.
Others were gone with
no chance for good-bye.

Some ran away,
but there was no place to hide.
Some ran toward trouble
to help those inside.
Some rushed the men
who intended such harm.
And found their life over
on a Pennsylvania farm.

And through all the horror
on an unusual day.
The nation did mourn
and gathered to pray.
We prayed for each other,
we prayed for those lost.
We prayed for the families
who paid the great cost.

Yet time has a way
of changing our view.
When the heartache and loss
are no longer new.
The prayers that we prayed
on those nights long ago.
Are no longer intense
for those we don’t know.

And slowly, but surely,
I think we’ve arrived.
To a usual day
with our usual drive.
And our usual mindset
that looks far ahead.
With no thought of preparing
for when we are dead.

So, I ask for a moment
on this usual day.
You stop and remember,
and take time to pray.
Pray for the families
of those who were lost.
Pray for the helpers
who still pay the cost.

Pray for your own life
and ask God today.
If you were to meet Him,
just what would He say.
Pray for your neighbor,
wherever they may be.
And live with compassion
so that Jesus they see!

©2018 by Tom Lemler

I think the events of September 11, 2001 are etched in the minds of many of us to such an extent that we couldn’t forget if we wanted to.  Yet, most of us woke up that morning with virtually no thoughts of anything but a “usual” day.  The horrors of 911 should not be the only thing unforgettable.  The heroes and helpers of 911 should be unforgettable.  The national leaders gathering to mourn and pray should be unforgettable.  The gatherings of people seeking God for help and asking for His forgiveness and protection should be unforgettable.  Yet outside of the anniversary date of 911, how many of us go about our “usual” days forgetting how quickly “usual” can turn into “unusual”.  I pray that you and I would not just remember the events of 911, but that we would always remember to turn to God in the midst of everything!

 
In prayer,
Tom
Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Nine

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Nine

Since this summer family adventure was only a week’s vacation with the weekend attached to each end, day nine of our journey was the “heading home” day. 😦  But we weren’t about to let the vacation slip by quietly, so we left Bay City, Michigan and headed for the Lake Huron shoreline to photograph a few lighthouses before finishing out the day driving home.  As we were driving some back roads to the first lighthouse stop, something on top of a telephone pole caught my eye and I said, “Hey, there’s a snowy!”  After turning the truck around when it was safe to do so, we went back and sure enough there was a snowy owl sitting on top of the pole keeping watch on us and on the field.

After enjoying the beauty of the owl, we made our way past a lot of sugar beet fields en route to our first lighthouse stop of the day, Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse.

From there we continued our way down the shoreline with stops at three lighthouses that were quite different from each other.  The first, Harbor Beach Lighthouse, was at the end of a pier and our only view was across the water from the end of a different pier.  The second wasn’t on our list so we weren’t expecting it.  In fact, we drove past it and I had to turn around to see if it really was a lighthouse I had seen.  It turns out that the White Rock Light is a house/lighthouse that an individual built to commemorate the lighthouse history of the area.  The third, Port Sanilac Lighthouse, is now a private dwelling but we were able to manage some decent photos from the areas surrounding the property.

We finished our photo stops for the trip a the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse.  While it was the last photo stop of our adventure, it wasn’t the last stop as we took a slight detour on our way home to stop in Goshen, Indiana for ice cream at The Chief.  All in all, it was a great family adventure and I hope these blog posts have helped you to see at least a glimpse of the incredible beauty God surrounded us with throughout this nine day journey . . . and throughout life!

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Eight

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Eight

Day eight of our summer family adventure was the beginning of the end as we made a quick drive back through the Seney National Wildlife Refuge and a quick stop at the Seul Choix Point Lighthouse before making our way to the Mackinac Bridge to leave the Upper Peninsula for the mainland of Michigan.  The wildlife were still very good at hiding in the refuge but the clouds reflecting on the water was beautiful and the swarms of bugs at the lighthouse kept us moving along rather quickly. 🙂

The next stop on our journey was just across the Mackinac Bridge at the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse where we were able to photograph both the bridge and the lighthouse.  Before we left Mackinaw City to continue our travels, we stopped at an interesting restaurant near the bridge and since their lunch special was a homemade pasty (pronounced with a short a sound), we tried them and had a delicious lunch . . . not sure why they can’t just call it a meat pie, but it was very good!

The rest of the day we worked our way down the shoreline of Lake Huron on our way to  Bay City for the night.  On our way we stopped at the Forty Mile Point Lighthouse, the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse, and the Tawas Point Lighthouse.  We were able to go up the lighthouse tower at Forty Mile Point and photographed the other two lighthouses from the ground.

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Seven

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Seven

Day seven of our summer family adventure took place in the greater Grand Marais, Michigan area.  Our morning began with a trip to the Crisp Point Lighthouse.  There is not an easy way to get to this lighthouse, so the journey there is a great part of the adventure . . . though I am disappointed I somehow missed Rabbit Patch Road this time.

After miles of gravel, dirt, and two-track roads, with an occasional section of pavement, we arrived at Crisp Point Lighthouse where we spent time photographing the beauty of Lake Superior, the lighthouse, and the surroundings.

We eventually left Crisp Point and made our way to Paradise, Michigan hoping to have lunch at the Brown Fisheries Fish House.  When we arrived, any available parking was taken, so we found a place where we could get the truck off the road to see how long of a wait it would be for lunch.  As it turned out, we were seated right away and soon had baskets of wonderful, fresh fried fish setting before us.  🙂  It was all gone before there was any thought to take photos, so our next photo stop was at the Seney National Wildlife Refuge near Seney, Michigan.  On our way there we drove past the entrances to Tahquamenon Falls State Park, but traffic was backed up all the way to the highway waiting to get in so we kept driving. 🙂  It was a beautiful day at the wildlife refuge even though much of the wildlife seemed to be hiding.

From there, we headed to Munising, Michigan for a stop at Munising Falls before heading back into Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for the evening.

After a quick stop at the falls we spent some time at the Miners Castle Overlook and Beach for some good views of the rock cliffs that help make Pictured Rocks famous.

As the sun began to set through the wildfire smoke haze, we made our way to the mouth of the Hurricane River to watch the sunset from the place where the river flows into Lake Superior.