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Kenneth Paul “Lefty” Liesman
February 8, 1949- January 3, 2018 January 13, 2018
Lefty Liesman

Lefty Liesman

Psalm 23King James Version (KJV)
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
King James Version (KJV)

John 14:1-7 1″Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “LORD, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Believers Who Have Died
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Revelation 21:1-6 1Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”fn for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4’He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life!
You have gathered today to remember a family member, a friend, that touched your lives. You come to this place, a place that allows one to be comfortable as stories are shared, laughs can be heard, hope offered. You’ve gathered today to remember Lefty, a brother, husband, uncle, friend. Let’s be real. No one likes to be at a place that reminds us that one who is cared for, one who is loved has passed away. We don’t like that word death, yet it is not a word to be feared. But you can’t ignore it either, for death is part of life. God brought you into the world, and God gives us so many days on this earth, and then one day he sends his messenger to invite us to return to him. It is in those days that we grow from a baby, to a child, to a teen, to a grown up, and we make the best of each phase, each day, and each year, because, like Lefty, we never know when the bugle will sound, and the angels will come to bring us all back to where we began, into the presence of God. It happens every day to someone, someplace, sometimes unexpectedly. Yesterday I went to visitation for a mother of one of the members of my church. She was fortunate in many ways for God had given her 95 years on this earth. I don’t know her ups and downs, but I’m sure, like many of you, and me, there are those times. Though we never want to think of it, there are two things in this world we all will face…. Death and taxes. We don’t like either one. But they are both a reality in life. And unless the Lord comes soon, we will all face it. It is how we face it that makes a difference, for sometimes death is better than what one might have to go through, and perhaps you have seen that with someone else other than Lefty.
I was telling Polly that I share something with her family. I share this. On January 3, five years ago, I lost my older brother at the age of 87. He, like your brother, meant a lot to me. He was my role model and close friend even though the only time we would see each other was when we made trips to New England. I looked up to him all my life. I followed in his footsteps the best I could. He was in the Navy during WW II, and as I grew up I wanted to be in the Navy and I was, during the closing years of the Korean War. He played a variety of sports and so did I. He was a catcher in baseball, me too. He played high school hockey and was a goaltender, and yes, I became the goalie for my high school team following in his footsteps. As a kid, my brother and his wife lived upstairs of us and as I grew up I would babysit my niece and nephews. But there was another reason to go upstairs…. That was when I wanted to have a cigarette or two because I could not smoke downstairs. In many ways I miss my brother and his wife, even though we may not have talked much on the phone or saw each other much in those later years. But I have great memories, and pictures of him from my youth until the time of his passing.
I say this to let you know it’s okay to grief. It’s okay to cry. Even big guys can cry, can’t they. It’s a way of healing. You don’t have to be strong. What God asks of us is to be real, and when we’re real, when we lose a loved one, a close family member, we hurt, often deep inside. Holly isn’t the only one here who is hurting. I know Polly is, and perhaps some of you might be holding it in. But I also want to say that we have a loving God who says that we who belief don’t grieve like those who have no hope. We who believe, believe that one day we shall be in a better place where there is no more cancer, no more heart problems, no more sickness, no more flu season, no more tears, no more suffering, no more pain, no more death, no more sadness, no more struggles, no more separation.
Just to let you in on a little secret. That’s what we are here celebrating today. Not just remembering Lefty’s life on this earth, but celebrating that new life that comes from God when we take our last breath on this earth and our first in a place where all that other stuff is no longer there. Lefty is pain free. No more fighting, but is free, is perfectly healed by the God who created him in his mother’s womb on February 8, 1949, in Lincoln Il.
Who was this guy that was your brother, husband and friend? Some have already shared their stories. From what I’ve been told Lefty was a great guy, loved by many, friendly, loving, caring, tough at times, obstinate I’ve heard, but softhearted as well. He was a guy who was more of an outdoorsman, a guy who loved to work with hands, who loved being outside among God’s creatures. From hunting mushrooms to hunting other things, he loved being out in nature. He was someone who loved to capture catfish with his bare hands, and I understand taught some of his nieces and nephews the art. I still marvel at the picture Polly shared with this city boy of Lefty getting ready to enter the mud, as he prepared to check his catfish traps. She shared with me the art of hogging, or catching catfish with your bare hands. Now I had a friend who had a backyard large pond and had lots of catfish, big ones too. When we were invited over there, sometimes I would take my grandkids who were very young, and they would go into the water and try and catch those fish with their hands. Not much success I must admit. But when Polly showed me how you do hogging, I mean waiting until the catfish spawn, then wading into the water, stepping on the boxes with them in it, trying to trap them and then reaching in your hand to grasp them, well that’s not my cup-of-tea. I was also amazed at the size of those catfish he caught. But I’ll stick to golfing.
Polly said her brother was a funny guy, a fellow who could make all kinds of noises with his mouth. Weird ones, like sounds of birds, frogs, and what have you, even a sound of a squirrel. She also remembers him lifting her up as a child upside down to see what color her shoes happen to be. Then later in life, he did that to one of Polly’s kids as I’m sure that one was scared for a moment. But that was there uncle Lefty. This uncle was kind of crazy, in a good way. He even got the name “Bug Eater” because he pretended to eat bugs in front of a nephew one day.
I bet you all know this stuff about him, right? I bet some of you have other stories as well, some you just might like to keep to yourself. Those stories that you are not at liberty to share because, well… just because.
Polly said her brother could have been a mountain man because of his love of the outdoors. He even grew a big beard, not just a small beard, but a huge one and she was reminded that he looked like the old TV show character, Grizzly Adams, or one of those fellows.
On the front of your bulletin you see three pictures that capture some of Lefty’s life. I mentioned the catfish, I mentioned his outdoorsmanship, and now we turn to what he loved to do most. He loved to build things. He and Larry, his brother-in-law, took some time to build a wonderful place on the lake. It took some time to do that. But he enjoyed it. He and his brother Gail worked together on many projects as union men. Polly said he learned most of those things growing up from their dad, helping to build a home they once lived in.
One story that Polly shared with me was the time that her brother and a few others were in school and decided to try something special, so they climbed the roof of a building on the school grounds, lassoed the flag pole, and with the help of some other kids, they were able to bend that pole to where they could attach a few tires to make it act like a slingshot. When they had everything just right, with a few kids working as hard as they could to keep the flag pole from slipping away, with those tires at the ready, they released the pole and waited…and waited…and waited, but nothing happened, for the pole was nestled against that roof and was not going anywhere. However, that caused a little problem for those kids and they got in a little trouble, from what I understand.
Lefty, in the mind of Polly was a great brother, one who was protective. When she almost got in trouble at a young age, let’s say, 15, he came to her rescue. When she wanted to join the armed forces like he did when he served in Vietnam, he said no way little sister. He was always there for her through those years, and you already have heard her thoughts and memories of her brother that live in her heart. She has many fond memories of him that will keep him close. As Dean Martin once sang, Memories are made for this. For today I would change that to Memories are made for a time like this as folks gather to remember a loved one and share their stories.
There is another part to the life of Lefty. He loved to restore cars and old tractors. He was in the process of restoring a 1960 jeep that he named “Wilbur.” In fact, when the grill was finished, it was shaped almost into a smile. He didn’t get to finish his project, but it was very therapeutic as he was dealing with his illness.
There is lots more in the life that Lefty had on this earth. He married the woman of his dreams. Holly, and they spent marvelous times together. They worked side by side, and they both fought this illness that claimed his life. They did it together making every second, every day count, until he took his final breath on this earth with her right beside him. They had hopes that they would get through it all, but it didn’t happen the way they hoped. What she does have are all those memories they made together. All those times of laughter, all the good times they shared together, or with family and with friends.
Now you know that Lefty was no saint. He had his ups and downs, but he also had some faith as well, a faith, at least during the end, that got him through some tough times. Like restoring that jeep, in these last days I believe God was restoring the faith that Lefty had, even though he may not have been a church goer. But as Polly has said to me, he showed his faith in other ways.
But this is not the end of the story. Lefty and Holly share in a hope that is to come, a hope that one day they will be together for eternity in a much better place than this world. A place where all the bad stuff is gone, and all the good things are there to enjoy. A place prepared by God’s Son, who loves and cares for each and every one of us. A place he designed from the beginning of time, a place that is perfect and ready for those who will believe.
So, yes today is a sad day as we remember Lefty. I hope some of these stories, some of the other things that have been said have made the pain a little more tolerable. Let me repeat, it’s okay to grief, to cry, to be sad. I mean, you may not understand this, but God also was sad, when he allowed His Son to suffer for us as well. He knows your pain. He knows how you feel. God’s pain opened a path to eternal life to those who would grasp it. He did it out of love for the world, and for everyone in it, even we who are gathered here today, no matter who you are.
So, this is not the end of the story. God calls us to believe and to move on. He calls us to be like the Apostle Peter who during a storm wanted to get out of the boat and walk on water to Jesus. Jesus said to Peter, then do it. Keep focused on me. Come, get out of the boat and take my hand, and start the journey of faith. And Peter got out of the boat. In other words, he took the first step to a new life of trust and faith.
Today we have celebrated Lefty’s life in some small way remembering how he touched your lives. Now it’s time to release him just as his ashes have been released today. We don’t say farewell we just say till we meet again. He now has gone to be in the presence of our God who has welcomed him home maybe with words that say, “much had been given you, much you have accomplished. You have finished your race and are ready to receive your crown.”
And who knows, maybe God has something for Lefty to do. After all, his son was a carpenter too. There are lots of rooms that need building for all those who are believers, places that Jesus has already drew the plans for.
Now may the blessings of God be on you. May you find comfort from our God’s words of hope today as you go about your life, as you take a step out of your boat. So, may it be, amen!

Pastor Dick Piscatelli

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