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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Happy Birthday Susan!

Happy Birthday Susan!

I look back through time
and wonder where did it go?
The years flew by fast,
though the days oft seemed slow.
On days I feel young,
and feeling quite fine.
It’s hard to remember
that I’m not twenty-nine.

But that can’t be right,
the math doesn’t add up.
For it was that long ago,
the Lord poured into our cup.
A daughter who changed me,
both inside and out.
A gift from the Lord,
of that there’s no doubt!

There’s more to this story,
I suppose I could write.
Of the worry-filled days,
more than one sleepless night.
Of days spent just praying
between life and death.
And wondering if this one,
would be the last breath.

That day hasn’t come yet,
as life moves along.
And this one who has changed me,
fills my life with a song.
Her faith of a child,
helps all who would see.
That a life loving Jesus,
should change you and me!

© 2018 by Tom Lemler

 

Some days I feel old, but it’s not often that I feel old enough to have a 29 year old daughter.  Yet as I write this, I’m a day away from our daughter’s twenty-ninth birthday!  I suppose her perpetual youth helps me stay young (at least that’s what I tell myself 😉 ) but it is her perpetual love of Jesus that does the most for me and those who spend time around her.  So, Happy Birthday Susan and thank you for bringing so much joy and hope into the world!

 

In prayer,                                   

Tom Lemler

VBS 2018 – The students were all getting pictures taken for a craft project and Susan decided she needed her picture taken as well. 🙂

My Mom

The cleaning is done
and I’m ready for the day.
So, as I sit down
I have something to say.
To a godly mother,
no one can compare.
She cares for her family,
their burdens to bear.
 
She does what she can
with the hands of her own.
And prays oft to God
for the seeds which are sown.
Some days she acts tough,
and some days are sweet.
As the needs of her children
she struggles to meet.
 
But meet them she does,
with God’s help and might.
As she calls out to Him,
by day and by night.
He strengthens her hands
for the work to be done.
And fills her with joy
from daughter and from son.
 
You may read these lines
and think, “What does he know?”.
Well, these are the truths
that my mother did show!
Her life of strength,
and tenderness too.
Helps me see Jesus
as God shines right through.
 
And so as you ponder
just what you should do.
I have a message
that might be for you.
Honor your mother,
whether gone or still here.
By being a person
that would bring her great cheer.

© 2018 by Tom Lemler

 
After cleaning the church building to get ready for the Sunday service, I sat down and the opening lines of this poem fell out of my mind. I wasn’t sure where it was headed as I typed the words out, but I offer them in honor of my mom on this Mother’s Day! I’m sure my mom didn’t always understand me (I don’t even always understand myself 🙂 ) but she continues to be a great encourager and example to me.
 
In prayer,
Tom

Words

Words can hurt
and words can heal.
Words can give
and words can steal.
Words divide
and words unite.
Words bring peace
and words can fight.

Words are good
and words are bad.
Words make you happy
and make you sad.
Words are quiet
and words are loud.
Words sound humble
and they sound proud.

And if you still
are not too sure.
Words are dirty
and words are pure.
Words are smooth
and sharp as a knife.
Words restore
and cause much strife.

Words are love
and words are hate.
Words are early
and words are late.
Words are empty
and words are full.
Words will push
and words will pull.

And if you think,
“How can this be?”
Just open your heart
and you will see.
The words themselves
are not to blame.
It’s how they’re used
that causes shame.

I pray this poem
will help you know.
As from your mouth
the words will flow.
Where words are many,
sin will abound.
But it’s through listening,
peace can be found.

And so I pray
the words you use.
Would be words
that Christ would choose.
And as you listen
to the One above.
I pray you speak
His words of love.

© 2018 by Tom Lemler

It has been a tough day and it seems like they have been that way more than not lately.  There is not much that gets me down quicker than hearing words which make me feel like I don’t measure up.  It seems like throughout my life those are the words that stick with me no matter how hard I try to shake free from them.  I began the workday at 6 AM and will likely not be finished until 10 PM or later, so I took a 2 hour lunch break in the middle of the afternoon and sat by the river with God.  As I sat, this poem showed up in my mind and stuck with me until I got back to my office.  I pray that I would be able to focus on the positive words that God would have me to hear and that I would be one who uses the positive words God would have me to share.

In prayer,
Tom

Raise Your Hand

I wonder what would happen,
In a country such as ours.
If the rhetoric was silenced,
And locked away in jars.

If thoughts and words did matter,
And came from our own heart.
If listening to others,
Was where we always start.

If my response was guided,
By what you really said.
Instead of words that others,
Have planted in my head.

To see the hurt and lonely,
And hear their cries of grief.
To embrace an actual person,
Might change our own belief.

So instead of sharing,
That latest made up “fact”.
I pray I stop and question,
Just how would Jesus act.

I think I know the answer,
For I’ve read it in His Word.
He sits with the downtrodden,
To make sure that they’re heard.

He gives them what is needed,
Beyond what they might know.
For He gives Himself quite freely,
His love for them to show.

And so when you are tempted,
To attack “the other side”.
I pray you throw the rhetoric out,
And turn this awful tide!

And if you have no answer,
Know that is still okay.
Often an act of listening,
Means more than what you say!

But if you know the Savior,
Who can heal this broken land.
He is the only answer,
So it’s time to raise your hand!
© 2018 by Tom Lemler

I was praying and thinking this morning about how quick people are to share memes and unsubstantiated “facts” as truth if they fit our personal objectives. As Christians, we know the only lasting answer to the problems we both face and create is Jesus. When I was in school, many years ago, there was an eagerness among students to be the first to “raise your hand” when they knew the answer. Perhaps it is time for Christians to reject the rhetoric of the day and “raise your hand” as you lovingly share the answer of Jesus with those around you.

In prayer,
Tom