Lemonade (A Heart of Compassion)

When life gives you lemons
and you make lemonade.
Will anyone join you
as you sit in the shade?
Will they share in the sorrow
from which this drink came?
Or turn a blind eye
with feelings of shame?

A heart of compassion
will pull up a chair.
And drink from your offering
of the pain you do share.
As you drink it together,
I pray you will know.
God’s compassion is with you
wherever you go.

So, what will you do
when the drink has been made?
Will you sit with the one
who feels alone in the shade?
Will you share in the suffering
and walk hand in hand?
For that’s the compassion
that God Himself planned!

Your walking together
will lighten the load.
As the suffering is lifted
from a single abode.
And soon you will find
that the drink can be good.
When compassion does sweeten
the way that it should.

© 2017 by Tom Lemler

As I spent time praying this past weekend, a number of partial poems filled my mind but none of them seemed suitable for sharing until today. People are suffering and each of us need to ask ourselves if we are showing true compassion (suffering with them) or are we showing a form of contempt as we don’t want to see the many forms of suffering taking place.  I share this poem and pray that it would be used by God to accomplish His purposes.

In prayer,
Tom

 

The Preacher’s View

I have a secret,
between me and you.
Sometimes the preacher
has the very best view.
The day was a beauty
but so was the bride.
As she stood in the doorway
with the groom by my side.
The planning was finished,
the work would now start.
As she walked down the aisle
to give her whole heart.

With each step moving closer,
I could see in her eye.
Some seeds of the tears
that she didn’t want to cry.
On this happy occasion,
as she walked toward her groom.
There was a good presence
that entered the room.
The bride and her father
were walking toward me.
And with them the presence
of her sister, Bre.

I stood for a moment
with a lump in my throat.
As I retrieved my glasses
from out of my coat.
I must continue,
so I drew a deep breath.
And heard a sweet voice,
not silenced by death.
“I can do all things
as He strengthens me.”
Was the opening whisper
that I heard from Bre.

And so I continued,
with a witness unseen.
And a beautiful couple
in this wedding scene.
There was another
who looked on from above.
For God is the author
of this thing we call love.
His presence was with me,
and I pray it’s with you.
As you glance for a moment
at this preacher’s view.

© 2017 by Tom Lemler

As I was resting Sunday afternoon following the Saturday evening wedding and Sunday morning preaching that I was privileged to do, this poem began filling my mind.  It was a great honor for me to officiate the wedding for my niece, but I knew the day would have its hard times as each family member would miss the physical presence of Bre — my niece, and the bride’s sister, who died in an auto accident almost a year ago.  As an uncle, I know that my loss doesn’t compare to that of Bre’s parents and siblings, but I wasn’t sure how acute that feeling of loss would be as I stood there watching the bride come down the aisle with my brother — her dad.  The lump in my throat was real as I looked into her eyes and wondered if I could finish what I hadn’t even started.  It was at that point the presence of God, and I believe the presence of Bre as one of the “great cloud of witnesses, reminded me of one of her favorite verse; “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Anyhow, as this poem about the experience came out of my mind, I shared it with my niece late Sunday as I felt she needed to see this first.  I share it more publicly now with the hope and prayer that God uses it as a means of comfort and encouragement to others who not only grieve, but who need the assurance of God’s presence and of the presence of the great cloud of witnesses that have gone on before us.

In prayer,

Tom

 

Raindrops (Cry Out to God)

They say that into every life
a little rain must fall.
Without its big, wet, frequent drops
you wouldn’t grow at all.
While I would guess that this is true,
what can a person do?
When all those drops cause you to drown
within a sea of blue.
Well, I suppose you have a choice
when all those raindrops fall.
Do nothing as you sink and drown,
or turn to God and call.

There is a story of a man
who walked upon a wave.
When he began to sink and drown,
he asked the Lord to save.
And Jesus reached right down to him,
and pulled him from the sea.
And set him in a steady boat
where he would be quite free.

So when you are about to drown,
and sinking in despair.
Cry out to God to lift you up,
and save you by His care.
Then He will come and rescue you,
to lift you from your sea.
And take you to the boat with Him
saying, “Child, sit with Me.”

© 2017 by Tom Lemler

Sometimes life feels like a roller coaster with its ups and downs, twists and turns, and being tossed back and forth throughout the ride.  I don’t think I’m alone when it comes to experiencing times of discouragement — even to the point of feeling like I’m going to drown in the waves of life.  I was at an event last night and was asked if I had quit writing poems.  I think my first thought was that I had never started writing poems, I just typed out rhyming lines that would fill my mind.  While those rhyming lines have not gathered in my mind lately in a way that consisted of anything I felt needed shared, this morning this poem showed up so I share it to be used by God to accomplish His purposes.

In prayer,
Tom

Follow the Leader

Follow the leader
is what we’ve been taught.
Get into line
and march like you ought.
While that could work well
if the leader is wise.
Following the wrong person
could be your demise.

So how do you know,
do you stay in this line?
Or look for another
that is better than mine?
Perhaps the best answer
is to look who’s in front.
Are they following God,
or doing what they want?

You see, following the leader
is not a bad plan.
When we’re following God
and not just some man.
So, ask God a question
before you just do.
Will following this leader
take me closer to You?

If the answer is no,
you better think twice.
The path you are on
will not end up nice.
But if it is yes,
then each girl and boy.
Should follow the Leader
that gives us great joy!

© 2017 by Tom Lemler

As I scroll through my social media news feed, I find a lot of postings that seem to simply be following someone that is viewed as a leader.  We seem to allow ourselves to get riled up by a person who carefully crafts a story using only the facts that fit their narrative.  Without seeking the full story, we let the designed emotional tug pull us into choosing sides that are often in conflict with God’s desire for His children.  Many times the leader we choose to follow isn’t taking us immediately into the opposite direction, but they continually draw us to the left or right of the center of God’s will until we can no longer even identify what the center looks like.  This poem came to mind as I thought about the childhood game of follow the leader.  Every now and then the chosen leader would be mean and try to lead in a way that could be harmful or embarrassing.  But if the leader was following the directions and guidance of the teacher, the game always ended with everyone having fun.  As Christians, we need to follow God and look for leaders who live the words of Paul who said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”  I pray that you and I are not only following the right leaders, but we are leading others in the proper way as well.

In prayer,
Tom

I Know (Audio of poem read by author)

 

This is the audio of the poem, “I Know”, written by Tom Lemler and read at the close of the 2017 New Year’s Day worship gathering of the Deer Run Church of Christ.  It was also shared by the author during the 2016 Christmas Day worship gathering of the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

2016: Page 361

Page 361 was a Monday and the “official” Christmas holiday day, so I took the day off — sort of. 🙂  The Lemler family Christmas with my parents and my siblings and their families has traditionally been the day after Christmas for a lot of years, so today was the day we gathered together as a family to celebrate Christmas.  My morning began by checking email and social media messages as I caught up on Christmas greetings and news from friends both far and near.  I also gathered up all the parts of my ice cream freezer and pulled out the recipe to see what I had and what I still needed to get so we could enjoy home made ice cream as part of our family gathering.  I’ve thought at various times over the past week about the supplies I would need to pick up to make ice cream today and each time I would picture my niece at various ages coming out to see if the ice cream was ready yet.  As with many of my nieces and nephews, she shared the Lemler love for ice cream and was very persistent in making sure she didn’t miss out.  As I gathered the supplies together this morning, a short poem showed up in my mind that was worded as a letter to her in heaven.  

Merry Christmas up in heaven,
I pray that you can see.
How much you’re missed and dearly loved,
by friends and family.
And while you’re gone, we carry on
as best as we know how.
Some days are good, some days so-so,
some days the tears flow now.
So as we gather here today,
it won’t be quite the same.
We’ll love and laugh and share a tear,
and I’ll eat ice cream in your name!
So, Merry Christmas dearest Bre,
please help us find our way.
To live for Christ and make you smile,
‘til we join with you someday!

Merry Christmas with much love,
(and no, the ice cream isn’t ready yet 🙂 )
Uncle Tom

After the family gathering, I came home and worked on my normal Monday morning project — next week’s prayer guide.  That also meant that I did some more work on the sermon for New Year’s Day as I’ve chosen to use the prayer guide as follow-up to the sermon.  So, while it was mostly a day off, I didn’t avoid “work” completely 🙂

Today’s photo is one I took a few days ago and it seemed fitting considering all of the feasting that has been taking place over the past few days.  On the day I took this photo, the brush was filled with birds feasting on the red berries.  I caught this robin with a beak full about to enjoy its next bite.  I thought about how food often brings people together to share whatever life experiences are current.  Whether it is grieving together at a funeral dinner, celebrating at a wedding reception, or rejoicing over a Christmas feast, sharing a meal has a way of helping us to share life.  As that thought ran through my mind, I considered how Jesus shared a meal with His disciples many times but as His task on earth was coming to an end, He eagerly desired to eat a final Passover meal with them.  The night Jesus was betrayed and taken off to face the authorities who would crucify Him, He gathered around a table with His disciples for a  meal together.  It was during this meal, this Last Supper, that He laid the groundwork for our remembrance of Him whenever we eat of the elements of a communion service — sharing in His body and blood.  It is through the sharing in His death that we are also able to share in His resurrection and have the confidence of life eternal with Him in heaven.

I pray that you and I would pay attention to a God that longs to be in communication and communion with us.  I pray that we would not only share in the feast of the Lord’s Supper, but that we would know the fellowship that can be had with one another during a meal.  I pray that we would live in a way that makes our loved ones in heaven smile.  I pray that we would share in the death of Christ in a way that prepares us to share in His resurrection.

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I Know

‘Twas the week before Christmas
and all through my mind.
A deep sense of sorrow
is what I did find.
I thought of so many
who would face Christmas Eve.
With tears in their eyes
and their heart on their sleeve.

So as I lived life
and went about my day.
I did what I knew,
and that was to pray.
God gave me no answers,
or tried to explain.
But quietly whispered,
“I do know your pain.”

A long time ago,
God lived with His Son.
The two were so close,
they were known as One.
And in their existence
they set forth a plan.
They created the world
and placed on it “man”.

Then God walked with man,
and man walked with God.
So what happened next
should really seem odd.
Mankind was tempted
to believe a lie.
They disobeyed God,
which caused them to die.

While it wasn’t sudden,
in a physical way.
God lost those He loved,
on that dark, dreadful day.
The closeness they had
when they walked side by side.
Was gone in a moment
as man tried to hide.

And while we talk often
of what mankind lost.
Do we give much thought
to Who else it cost?
For on that same day
that man was deceived.
God lost a friendship,
and His heart was grieved.

And down through the centuries
when we disobeyed.
God knew the price
that would have to be paid.
So a long time ago,
when the time was just right.
God sent His Son
into the dark night.

So heaven was emptied,
of God’s only Son.
The price needed paid,
and He was the One.
So on that first Christmas,
that makes us rejoice.
Heaven was missing
part of God’s voice.

And through the next decades,
as Christ walked the earth.
God Himself knew,
the reason for the birth.
His heart must have been heavy
as each long day passed.
But He knew for certain,
the loss would not last.

There would be a day,
after a long, hard night.
He would see a reunion
of His glorious light.
And while that was true,
of God and His Son.
It was not just for them,
it is for everyone!

So we can take comfort,
in the midst of our pain.
Knowing God will bring sunshine,
after the rain.
And when we have sorrow,
and the tears freely flow.
God’s love will be with us
as He says, “I know.”

© 2016 by Tom Lemler

With the death of my niece this past year and her spending her 22nd birthday in heaven a couple days ago, my  heart and mind have been more attuned this Christmas season to those who will face the holidays missing someone they love.  As I was praying this morning, I was filled with a sadness that is hard to explain.  Sad for myself, sad for family members, sad for friends, and even sad for strangers who long for another day with the ones they miss most.  As I prayed, this poem began to form in my mind and I could sense God’s presence with me saying, “I know.”  I pray that you would experience a peace and comfort beyond explanation as you trust in a God who knows.

In prayer,
Tom