How to Encourage Others

encourage-othersHere are ten thoughts I use to encourage others:

1. Show real interest in the person. Listen to what they are saying. Be interested in what is happening in their life. Let them know you care. Be more interested in them than yourself.

2. Concede what’s important to them.  When you acknowledge what’s important to others, you offer a form of verification and support about who they are and what they’re doing. Your showing genuine interest in them instead of telling them what your are interested in encourages them. Make it about them, not you.

3. Say “congratulations”.  These magical Words of Encouragement at the right time can make all the difference between “keep going” and “give up”. Congratulate them on a job or task well done. Do not trivialize their achievements.

4. Be there for them.  Sometimes the “ministry of your presence” is all they need.  Just being there for them is encouraging. Keep the focus on them, not yourself.

5. Say “Thank You”.  This is common courtesy.  It is good manners.  People like a little reward after hard work. I have done it for years. A simple thank you lets others know what they have done is worthwhile and meaningful to you.

6. Return the favor. If someone does something nice for you, a great way to show your appreciation is simply to return the favor. It will both shock and encourage them.  Note: don’t ever do something expecting someone to return the favor for you.

7. Answer with something unexpected.  I have a phrase I have used for years … nice them to death!  Even when others let me down or they know I know they “dropped the ball” I don’t tell them so, I usually pick the ball up for them.  It is amazing the long-term results this can have in encouraging someone.

8. Be a “good finder”.  A good finder is a person who looks for the good, not the bad in a person or a situation.  An example would be if a person is always late to meetings, but makes in on time to your meeting instead of saying “About time you attended a meeting on time” say “I really appreciate the extra effort you made to get here on time” without any reference to their normal tardiness.

9. Smile.  Have you ever experienced the magic of a simple smile?  Have you ever noticed how when you smile at someone they smile back?  Share an encouraging smile.

10. Offer to lend a hand.  You can offer to lend a hand.  Sometimes a person feels like the weight of the world is on their shoulders and no one cares.  Show them you really care. You can be there for them.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffeehouse, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Proverbs 21 and God’s Sovereignty

In my Bible reading this morning I read Proverbs 21. Proverbs 21 verse 1 immediately caught my attention. I meditated and reflected on the implications of Proverbs 21:1.  I read the verse in several different translations. It often helps me secure the meaning of the verse. Proverbs 21:1 deals directly with the attribute of God’s sovereignty.

Proverbs 21:1 (King James Version) – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

Proverbs 21:1 (English Standard Version) – The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.

Proverbs 21:1 (New American Standard Bible) – The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.

Proverbs 21:1 (New International Version) – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

Proverbs 21:1 (New Living Translation) – The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.

The verse is a reminder, no, a wake-up call that God is in charge. He is in control. I recalled a couple of Bible verses that point this out, God being in control. Romans 8:28 is the first verse that came to mind.

Romans 8:28 King James Version says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”.

Next I remembered Ephesians 1:11.

Ephesians 1:11 King James Version says, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:”

The phrase “all things” means everything.  It tells us that God is over everything. So, if we go to the Bible and look for concrete examples of the “all things” that God is sovereign over we can find a never-ending list.

Here are ten examples of God’s Sovereignty found in the Bible (italics mine):

  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE DECISIONS OF KINGS – Proverbs 21:1 – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. — That was the verse I read this morning.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE LOSS OF OR THE GAINING OF WEALTH – Deut. 8:18 – But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth…”
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE LOSS OF FAMILY, WEALTH AND HEALTH – Job 1:21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL DECISIONS – Proverbs 16:33 – The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE BIRDS – Matthew 10:29 – Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them(the sparrows or birds) will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL KINGS AND NATIONS – Daniel 4:35; All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven      And among the inhabitants of earth;    And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER TRAVEL PLANS –  James 4:13-15 – Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”; yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER SUFFERING IN THE LIVES OF CHRISTIANS – 1 Peter 4:19 – Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right,
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE REPENTANCE OF A PERSON – 2 Timothy 2:25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE SPIRITUAL MATURITY OF THE BELIEVER – Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.

What I was reminded of this morning was God is sovereign. He is in control. His plans ultimately are accomplished.

 This original devotional written by Jimmie Aaron Kepler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License by Jimmie Kepler.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffeehouse, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

The Gathering Storm by Sir Winston Churchill

The Gathering Storm by Sir Winston Churchill is the first volume of Churchill’s Noble Prize winning six-part chronicle of World War II. This six book series is Churchill’s personal memoirs.

The Gathering Storm depicts the rise of Hitler and the indifference of the leaders of the European democracies to the clouds of the gathering storm. Churchill incorporates contemporary documentation and his reminiscence in this opening memoir. Churchill’s mastery of English is reason enough to read this book.

I like what was said in a review on Amazon.com, “Winston Churchill was not only a statesman and leader of historic proportions, he also possessed substantial literary talents. These two factors combine to make The Gathering Storm a unique work.”

The book tells the story of the events between World War One and World War Two. Churchill shows how key events were ignored or the people simply hoped they would go away without dealing with them. The resulting inaction allowed many of the later events to occur, thus escalating the size and difficulty of the task.

Sir Winston Churchill won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 for this book and the other five books in the series.

They Don’t Understand

Just-because-they-dont-understand-doesnt-mean-youre-on-the-wrong-pathI’m writing a novel.  Oh, I know, everyone is either writing a book, plans to write a novel or has an idea for a story that would make them rich if only the correct person put their ideas into words. I get it.

Sadly, most don’t understand why writers write.

So, with that in mind, I’ll start over. Did I mention I am writing a novel?

Yes, I am. It is book two in a four-book Christian science fiction series. I have previously written two full-length novels as well as a nonfiction book. I have also written and published a short-story collection.

Maybe you are like some in my extended family and circle of friends and acquaintances. Frequently they ask what makes me qualified to write. I usually get that question after they ask me what are you writing.

My answer? I love to read and read a lot. I’ve paid the price academically. I hold a BA in history. It is a wonderful college major. It teaches you how to research, have a contextual world view, how to learn, and how to collect, organize and share information. I minored in English with a focus on creative writing and grammar. I added more formal education with an MA degree and later an Ed.D. degree. All helped me learn to write and express myself.

I have over 750 paid writing credits over the last 35 years. I have sold articles to trade journals, magazines, and wrote a weekly column from 1981 through 1996. An important part of my day job is writing documentation. I know, these aren’t all that sexy, but they show constancy to the craft.

Have you ever noticed the response of family and friends when they learn you are writing a novel?  You know their reactions. You’ve seen them. There’s the rolling of the eyes up toward the sky. There’s the bobbing the head up and down while shaking it in disbelief.

Sometimes they will express condolences to a spouse that you’re using your time in this way.  Other times they will say “That’s nice. Everyone needs a hobby.”

When I get responses like these I want to put my hands on their shoulders, look them direct in the eye and say, “Hello, did you hear me? I said I AM writing a novel.  That’s because I’M A WRITER!”

At this point, they usually repeat, “That’s nice, or I thought you worked with computers.”

I reply “Working with computers pays for my passion for writing.”

It’s sad. They still don’t get it.  Oh, I can send them running out of the room in a hurry if I say, “Would you like to hear a chapter?”  Those words are like saying “FIRE, RUN, FLEE FOR YOUR LIFE!”

I mention all this to say, don’t let anyone steal your dream.  If you’re like me, you have to write.  You can’t help it.  It’s part of who you are.  So write!  And, tell your friends and family that you’re working on a novel.  Let them know the progress you are making.  If they don’t get it, I do. And you can drop me a note from time to time.  I’ll understand.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee-house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

This Works For Me

wireless-shower-systemDo you find balancing the writing life with your day job challenging? I do. Most writers trying to move from the day job to supporting themselves writing do as well.

There is no wrong or right way to work full time and pursue a goal of paying your bills by your writing. Regardless of your approach, you have to write on a regular basic. I don’t know what you do but I do know what I do. I’ll share today as an example.

The day began as many others. I woke up at 4:40 AM. I turned off my alarm before it rang. It had been set to wake me up at 5:00 AM.

I made my way from my bedroom/office to the restroom to do the morning personal hygiene routine. I tried being quiet where I won’t wake up my wife of forty-one years.

After my bathroom time I went to the kitchen where I took my morning prescriptions. I am a sixty-two years old white male with most of the common health issues of a man my age.

I next retired to my room where I refreshed my iPod downloads making sure I downloaded the latest podcasts. With it being Monday morning I knew there should be a new episode of Joanna Penn’s “The Creative Penn” podcast. I download it each Monday morning and listen to it either going to or coming from work.

This week’s was titled, “Successful Book Marketing Using Facebook Ads With Adam Croft.” The podcast summary is if you write a great book, it will not fly off the virtual shelves unless people can actually find it. In this week’s interview, UK crime author Adam Croft describes how he used Facebook Ads to drive his book into the Amazon Top 100 and stay there. I get a great education listening to podcasts.

While it downloaded and synced, I got dressed. I then returned to the restroom to comb my hair which was nearly dry after my shower.

Next, I grabbed my iPod, headed to the kitchen grabbing a breakfast bar and Dr. Pepper. I picked up my backpack with laptop and headed out the door for my car.

As I sat in the car I tuned in the local news radio station. The time was 5:35 AM. About three miles from home I realized I had forgotten my cell phone. I thought about turning around to get it but decided not to. I headed for Starbucks. I have been going to the same one almost every morning for over fifteen years. I arrive there at 6:00 AM as the coffee house opened.

My usual table was empty. I sat down my backpack, removed my laptop, and booted it up. While it was booting up I went to order my tall blonde roast coffee. Destiny, that’s the barista’s name, had it ready quickly.

I returned to my table, logged on the computer, connected to my day job’s network via VPN. I then ran the morning system checks. This took about 30 minutes.

At 6:30 AM I log off the VPN. I launch the file with my book one on my current series. I look at some of the suggested edits. They won’t be that hard to do. Next I open the file for book two in the series. I have sixty-five pages written.

For the next hour I write. I am a plotter, not a panser. That means I know what I will write. I just follow the outline. When I write I do not edit. I do not reread what I wrote yesterday. I simply pickup at the point I  was last at.

I don’t worry about writing a bad first draft. I’ll fix it in the rewrites and edits. I write at the same place at the same time each day. That way the muse knows where to find me. At 7:30 AM I pack up and head on to the day job where I arrive at 8:00 AM.

I try to give my best part of the day to my writing. This works for me. I allows me to write a book a year. Yes, it takes discipline, but then I want to support myself writing. I have to do the work.

What works for you?


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Why Me?

Snip20160214_1Who would have thought the secret sauce for getting 4,000 unique blog hits in a weekend would be 1) write an article about a polka dot house + 2) wait for the article to sit unfound on your blog for two and one-half years then suddenly in less than two days 4,000 unique visitors and nearly 5,000 total visitors. A side effect of the post was it getting shared 2,000 times on Facebook.

I have been blogging for thirteen years on a very regular basis. The above results prove I don’t have a clue on how to build an audience. Oh, I write about growing up a military brat, trying to make it as a writer, and share a few book reviews and poems. My tastes and writing a very eclectic, Christian, and conservative. I know they aren’t for everyone. Every now and then I would write a poem or piece that would get nearly a thousand views. Numbers like that were the exception, not the rule.

If I wrote or mentioned Bob Dylan or Ray Bradbury, I would see a spike in the number of viewers. There was no doubt that their celebrity attracted readers. These had been my most viewed articles.

This past weekend’s phenomenon of getting over 4,000 views and 2,000 shares was different. My writing had connected with people. It wasn’t that I had written anything with shock value. It was just a simple nonfiction piece about a little house that brought some joy. For others, they wanted to share their knowledge of the polka dot structure. Some simply thought the house cute.

Amazing.

I’m smart enough to not try to replicate the story. I have been through WordPress’s Blogging 101 and Writing 201 course.  I’ll just keep on keeping on. One thing I have learned is people read and share blogs for a variety of reasons. If I’m lucky, I’ll touch someone’s heart strings again someday. Until then I’ll just keep sharing a little about my journey.

I wonder, why do people read blogs? I have a few I read to improve my writing skills. I have some I read to help me better understand the business of writing. I read a few because friends write them and I have an undying loyalty to my friends. If you are my friend, I will support you to a fault.

Why do you read a blog? I would love to know.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Turtleneck and The Dickies

David McCallum
David McCallum

When this military brat moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in January 1966, my wardrobe took a significant change. The t-shirts, blue jeans, and sneakers I wore to school in Texas we not allowed at Portsmouth Junior High School.

Button-down shirts with collars replaced t-shirts. I switched from jeans to men’s dress slack pants. Wingtips exiled my sneakers to gym class only footwear. My cowboys were forbidden by dress code.

I found myself cold in the snowy New England weather. I quickly noticed the cool kids dressed like beatniks (this was before the hippies) with a school mandated exception. The dress code did not allow you to wear turtlenecks as your shirt. A turtle neck required a shirt worn over it.

The character “Illya Kuryakin,” played by David McCallum on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. looked cool wearing turtlenecks. He is who all the guys wanted to be. Later that year Michael Nesmith of The Monkees work a turtleneck in the TV show “The Monkees.” Again, the turtleneck added to the cool factor.

The first month I lived in New Hampshire I started wearing turtleneck dickies and turtlenecks. I wore them everyday to school. I wanted to look cool. I wore them as part of my uniform as a member of the folk rock band “The Younger Generation” where I was a rhythm guitarist. We were cool. We didn’t wear a shirt over our turtleneck shirts. We were rebels.

Did wearing turtlenecks make me a cool kid? No. Did it help me to fit in? Maybe. I think the value was it helped my self-esteem. Plus, my mom liked them and my dad didn’t. I still like to wear a black turtleneck. It still makes me feel cool.

Did you have a favorite dress, jacket or outfit you wore in middle school, junior high or high school that made you feel cool or accepted? Maybe it was a hair style that  helped you fit in or belong. I’d love to hear about it.

Maybe like me you had television shows that influenced you. Shows like The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Laugh-In, The Monkees, and The Johnny Cash Show and  Glen Campbell Good Time Hour were shows that helped me have a fashion sense in the late 1960’s.  What were your programs?


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.