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

Questions

As I reflect on another year of life, I find that I often have many more questions than answers. Tomorrow I reach the “double-nickle” mark, at least as far as years go, and I pray that my pursuit of God honors Him and in some way helps others.

Since I’m getting old now,
I should be in bed.
But questions abound,
at least in my head.
Will my life matter,
when I come to the end?
When Jesus looks at me,
will He call me His friend?

Did my life today,
measure up to His will?
Did I listen intently,
taking time to be still?
Was there ever a moment,
that I helped someone up?
And poured into their life,
what was placed in my cup?

Do I lift other’s spirits,
or bring them down low?
Is my life lived with substance,
or is it all show?
Is there a way,
to walk home with God?
With my mind fixed on heaven,
and my feet on this sod?

The questions are many,
the answers seem few.
So I’ll trust God with the unknown,
and share this with you! 
© 2108 by Tom Lemler

 
In prayer,
Tom
A Restful Day

A Restful Day

For one reason or another, or more likely a combination of many different reasons, my mind and body have been yelling at me lately about the need for rest.  So, while the day held the potential for many different things that would have been good and enjoyable, I listened to the warnings and enjoyed a restful day.  As I sat on the porch and enjoyed the refreshing breeze and the beauty of my surroundings; I was reminded that rest is not just a good idea, it is God’s idea!  The concept of a day of rest each week, a sabbath, was designed by the one who designed me.  I believe it wasn’t by accident that God commanded a day of rest, it was because He knew we needed it even while He knew we wouldn’t always listen to that need.

As I sat on the porch watching the hummingbirds show up to the feeders, an aching toe from an old injury brought a short poem into my mind.

There was a day,
Some time ago.
I played a game
And broke my toe!
Now when the weather
Changes so.
That broken toe
Does let me know!

The ache in my toe stuck with me most of the day but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the restful time with God that I needed.  The view from the porch was great and with a long-reach lens I was able to capture some of the beauty with my camera.

After grilling bacon cheeseburgers for lunch, it was back to the porch for a while to enjoy more of the sights and sounds of nature.  As I continued my time with God, another short poem came into my mind.  Considering most of my poems have been rather lengthy, these short snippets were an unusual thing to find in my mind but I’m confident God can use what He gives regardless of length.

There’s often much
I’d like to say.
Until I take
The time to pray.
And when I talk
To God each day.
I find there’s less
I “have to” say!

Eventually I took the idea of rest to the next level and headed inside for an afternoon nap.  The nap eventually led to more porch time as the day of rest continued.  As the day winds down, I am thankful for a day of rest and look forward to the day of worship I will give God tomorrow.

Breaking News!

Today I read some breaking news.
And didn’t know that I could choose.
To keep my thoughts off printed page.
Instead of typing all my rage.
I really don’t know every fact.
But why should that change how I act.
I’ll write with such authority.
That minds will change, just wait and see.

And so I post my thoughts today.
And can’t believe what others say!
It seems they have opinions too.
Though obviously they can’t be true.
For I alone have got it right.
And what I share is great insight.
How dare anyone disagree.
I know it all, why can’t you see?

But what is this I hear You say?
There really is another way?
To hear some breaking news report.
And not reply, no bold retort?
To listen more and speak much less.
And not add to the ugly mess.
To sit alone and quietly pray.
Would be a wiser choice today!

© 2018 by Tom Lemler

It seems like anything and everything has become fuel for the divisiveness that plagues our nation.  It seems like nearly every news story posted on social media brings out people who have to “set the record straight”.  The temptation to comment or reply to someone else’s comment is strong and many times it even “feels” like the right thing to do.  I know, because I read things that cause every fiber of my being to want to jump right into the fray and “tell it like it is”.  Fortunately, it is obvious to me that doing so rarely, if ever, changes anyone’s mind and just adds fuel to an already volatile situation.  Yet when those emotions are stirred within me, I do have a choice.  And my choice is to seek God and pray.  I pray for whatever the news event is.  I pray for those who are responding to the event out of their own hurt, anger, pride, or other emotion.  I pray for the courage to be still when needed and to act when needed.  I pray that God would refine my choices and my words so they are helpful and not hurtful.  I pray that I would be mindful of the enemy’s attempts to engage me in a battle that is not mine to fight.  I pray for wisdom to always make choices that would honor Christ.

 

In prayer,
Tom

Kind  Words

Kind Words

Just think what could happen
in this crazy old world.
If hatred and insults
were no longer hurled.
If patience and listening
were themes for the day.
With kindness and love
in the words we do say.

Instead of just typing
that hurtful reply.
Ask God for His wisdom;
self-control to apply.
And when you start thinking,

“O, Lord, how much more?”
Be thankful in your life,
God’s not keeping score.

Healing for hurt
and kind words for hate.
Start it today
before it’s too late.
You don’t have to stoop
to the level of earth.
For you live much higher,
reborn through new birth.

This new way of speaking
changes more than you know.
As seeds of God’s grace
are what you now sow.
While it may not change
what others will do.
Truth said in love,
will surely change you!

©2018 by Tom Lemler

In the prayer guides I write each week, today’s focus was on encouraging one another.  As I was praying through that focus, I thought about how powerful are words are — whether spoken or written.  In the midst of these thoughts I had a nephew post about the ever-increasing tendency for people to demean and ridicule anyone who might have a differing opinion about anything.  It made me think about how different things could be if everyone would actually take the time to listen to one another and only speak words of truth in ways that would build up those who listen.  . . . And out of that, this poem fell out of my head. 🙂

 
In prayer,
Tom
Good Grief!

Good Grief!

“Good Grief” seems like such an odd phrase when you stop and consider it in the midst of real grief.  So odd in fact, that I took the time to look up its origin in an attempt to understand just what was so good about grief.  What I discovered is that it is most likely the result of people substituting the word grief in the phrase they wanted to say in order to not take the “Lord’s name in vain” by saying, “Good God!”.  Since God observes the heart and motives, I’m not sure how effective such a strategy is — but that’s a matter for a different post. 🙂  While the research helped me understand the origin, it did nothing to answer my internal question of what good could be found in grief.

Anyhow, this is an article I have been working on for two years now and while I’m still short on answers, I do realize that the grieving process is natural and necessary . . . and often very different for each person.  And while the phrase was never meant to have anything to do with grief or goodness, I’ve begun to think that good grief is only possible when we allow God to change and transform us even through our losses.  But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s turn the clock back a couple years and pick up on this journey to discover good grief where it began . . . or at least where it came to the surface in the most unavoidable way.

Two years have passed but I remember the day as if it was just yesterday.  They say my phone lit up with the initial incoming call while I was leading the closing prayer time at church, but it wasn’t until we were at Subway for lunch that I noticed I had a missed call and voicemail from my brother.  The message was pretty basic — call me as soon as you can.  The urgency in his voice took me outside the restaurant to return his call with great concern in my heart for my mom and dad.  The concern increased as he wanted to make sure I was sitting down, and then the news broke . . . it wasn’t mom or dad, it was one of his kids — Bre was gone.

I don’t know that I grieve in the way most people do, and I’m not sure that I’m even capable of expressing grief in the ways most people would recognize, but that day began a journey that changed not only me, but in some way it changed everyone who knew my niece.  While I can’t speak accurately of the changes it brought to the lives of others, I can write about how it has changed me so far.  While the day of the accident and the news of it is etched in my mind, the rest of the week is mostly a blur.  I readily and humbly agreed to “officiate” the funeral service and the week was filled with long days and nights as I prepared a funeral message while taking care of a major floor refinishing project at work.  The volunteers who were going to be doing the floors had been “reassigned” to a different project and I was left alone with my work and with God to begin examining what I would share with the family and friends who would gather at the end of the week, and to begin considering what good God could do in my life out of all of this.

The first thing to change was a renewed awareness of the brevity of life.  We’ve generally come to expect that “old” people will die and while we grieve their passing, it usually doesn’t hit us as abruptly as the loss of a young person.  While Bre packed more into her twenty-one years of life than most people do with many more years, it seemed there was so much more that should have and could have been done.  Yet this moment is all any of us have and what we do with it is what builds our legacy we leave behind.  If God puts it in your heart and mind to do something and you don’t take the first step toward that today, it is always possible that the step will never take place.  Loss brings us face to face with grief and grief is designed to bring us face to face with God.  What people do when they face God in their times of grief varies greatly, but God’s desire is that they would find comfort in Him.

The second thing to change, related closely to the first, was a renewed focus on spending time more wisely when it comes to making family time a priority.  The process of grieving caused me to reevaluate many things about how I used my time.  The “good” out of this grief, so far, has led me to be much more deliberate in spending time with my wife and daughter in special ways whenever we get the chance.  Things that consumed my time with no apparent benefit to me or others went by the wayside as I would head out to nearby parks with my family, and camera, to just spend time together in God’s presence.  Vacations and even spur of the moment overnight getaways have become more meaningful as we build memories together.  While this change began gradually after the funeral, it really solidified a year ago as I concluded that memories are what we hold onto when we are no longer able to hold onto the ones we love — so make good ones!

While I suppose there are many other lessons that I have been learning which are making good come from the grief, these two seem to be primary at this time.  While loss brings much pain, when our time of grieving is spent with God, He can bring good changes to us even through the grief.  Good grief?  Well, yes . . . and no.  The cause of the grief is rarely good, but God can make the result of the grief into something good in our life and through our life into the lives of others.

And so, for now, I close this writing with a photo that includes the poem God gave me to write two years ago as this process of “good grief” began.

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