Ten Thoughts on Encouraging Others

encourage-others

Here 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.

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.

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.

4. Be there for them. 

Sometimes the “ministry of your presence” is all they need.  Just being there for them is encouraging.

5. Say “Thank You.”

Saying than you is common courtesy.  It is good manners.  People like a little reward for hard work. I have done it for years. A simple thank you will make others aware that you know what they have done worthwhile and find it meaningful to you.

6. Return the favor.

If someone does something nice for you, an excellent 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 … love them from where they are to where they need to be!  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.

What are some ways you encourage others? Please share your suggestions in the comments.

We Never Lived In the Now

I wrote the below poem several years ago. I wrote it after listening to my parents and their friends discussing their dreams, what they hoped to do “someday.” All the men and women were in their late 70s to early 90s in age as they discussed their bucket lists and the future.

If you have dreams, go for them. Don’t delay. You never know when the time will run out.

We Never Lived In the Now

Your face shows your age,
though your countenance is still glowing,
Your age says grown-up,
but you’ve never decided where you’re going.

You’ve grown older.
Yes, I’m older too.
The remainder of our lives is before us,
oh, what’ll we do?

What were the dreams
you had so long ago?
What was your vision?
Where did it go?

You traveled your way.
I went mine.
A history so different,
Lives intertwined.

The gray now shows in our locks,
showing how much we cared.
Your grin still lights my life,
my smile brightens yours when shared.

You lived for then.
I lived for when.
We never lived in the moment.
No, we never lived in the now.

Copyright © 2008 by Jimmie A. Kepler

Originally published in WORDS..RHYMES..POETRY & PROSE!

The poem is included in the book “Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection” available on Kindle from Amazon.

The Joy of Attending New Schools

Luke Air Force Base
Luke Air Force Base

Attending new schools was one of the great things about growing up as a military brat. I attended the first half of the first grade at Glendale Elementary in Glendale, Arizona. Early in the second semester I transfer to Luke Air Force Base Elementary School on Luke AFB, Glendale, Arizona. I also attend grades two, three and four at Luke Elementary School. I don’t remember my first grade teacher ‘s name.

In grade two my teacher was Mrs. Davis. I remember two things about the second grade. First, my teacher humiliated me. She made me try again pronouncing library until I got it correct. I would pronounce it as “lie-berry”. It drove her crazy and drove me to tears. The second memory was making an O on my report card, not a zero, but the letter O. My mother got excited thinking it was a zero. When I came home with the first report card, we went right out the door and back to school ASAP. The teacher explained it was O for outstanding. She said I made a perfect grade on everything without any mistakes, except not being able to pronounce library. She was a young, first-year teacher.

I had the same teacher in grades three and four. Her name was Mrs. Jensen. She was a grandmotherly woman. In the third grade, we memorized the Star Spangled Banner. We learned how the song was written. In the fourth grade, Mrs. Jensen showed her wisdom. Our physical education coach was involved in driving while intoxicated accident where a person died. His name was Mr. McCrayley. He went to prison. We were all sad. She explained people made mistakes. Mistakes have consequences.

My father went to South Vietnam in 1963 when I started grade five. My teacher was Mrs. Englebrock. I attended Jefferson Avenue Elementary School in Seguin. In November of my fifth grade year, President Kennedy was assassinated. In February, The Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show. My teacher was like a guardian angel. She taught me to do book reports. She entered a story I wrote for a school competition. I wrote of how a family deals with a dad deployed to a combat zone. She said It reminded her of when her dad was gone to World War II. My best friend was the girl who sat behind me. Her dad owned the local Goodyear Tire Store.

We moved again for grade six. I was in El Paso, Texas at Ben Milam School. It was at Biggs Air Force Base. Senior Romero was my teacher. It was neat having a man teacher. I got the best citizen award for the school that year. The Kiwanis Club gave the award. Ben Milam Scool is where my love of researching started. That year I did a long, twenty-plus page hand written research paper about the People’s Republic of China. Mary Williams, Shirley Huntzinger, and Robbie Moats (a girl) were my best friends at school. They were in my class. In the neighborhood, John Harris and Raymond Davis were my best friends. I was there for the first semester of the seventh grade.

I moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for the seventh and eighth grade. My dad retired from the United States Air Force while we were there. I learned to shovel snow, go to science camp at M.I.T. and to a writer’s course for gifted kids at Harvard while I was in junior high school.

Yes, attending new schools was one of the great things about growing up as a military brat.

Sun Tea

Sun Tea

Making Sun Tea was a fun way for this military brat to enjoy the hot summers of the Phoenix, Arizona. I lived at Luke Air Force Base, in the Valley of the Sun from 1958 to 1963. We also made Sun Tea in Seguin, Texas during 1963 – 1964 and El Paso, Texas 1964 – 1966.

Sun Tea is a technique of brewing tea slowly. It uses the heat of the sun to pull out the flavors from dry tea leaves.

I recall my mother placing a gallon size glass jar full of water and tea bags out on the cinder block fence. It was placed up high where the kids and the critters couldn’t get to it.

The sun shined down upon the liquid reminding me an offering to the sun god placed upon an altar. My mother used the hot sun to brew her tea.

Mother would fill the gallon glass jar with war and tea bags. Next we would go with her as she placed it on the cinder block fence just before lunch. We would retire to the kitchen for the noon meal. Following lunch, she would send us to our afternoon naps. We would rest for a couple of hours. Mom would let us get up from our rest in time to watch American Bandstand. It was still a daily show way back then. When Dick Clark signed off it was time to go get the jar of tea.

The clear water in the jar was now a medium to dark brown color. I got the glasses from the cabinet and the ice trays from the freezer. I filled the glasses with ice cubes. Mother poured the warm brew over the frozen water. At least half of the ice always melted. We enjoyed the liquid treat with our supper.

In researching Sun Tea online I was surprised to learn there has been some recent debate about Sun Tea being unsafe. It has been identified that bacteria can grow because the water doesn’t reach a temperature of 190 degrees or more.

The Snopes article I read says the bacteria found in sun tea comes from the water used to make it, not the tea itself. That would mean that the water is the real issue.

Information for Sun Tea Brewers (from: http://www.mommyskitchen.net/2010/07/sun-tea-my-favorite-summer-drink.html )

  1. Always us a clean glass jar and not a plastic jar. Make sure you choose a container that has a metal lid. Do not use a plastic one. Always place your sun tea jar in direct sunlight.
  2. Scrub your Sun Tea container with hot soapy water after every use I always clean mine by hand and run it through the dishwasher after each use.
  3. If you want, you can use distilled water instead of tap water if that is a significant issue. Don’t leave the Sun Tea to brew for more than 4 hours.
  4. The key is not allowing Sun Tea to sit out and come to room temperature. Refrigerate and drink as soon as possible. Don’t prepare more than you can drink in a day or two. Throw out the leftovers after day two.
  5. Also, throw away tea that has turned thick and syrupy or that has ropey strands, which are bacteria. I mean who would drink that? Use common sense here.

Sources with recipes:

http://www.mommyskitchen.net/2010/07/sun-tea-my-favorite-summer-drink.html)

http://www.foodnetwork.com/how-to/photos/how-to-make-sun-tea-a-step-by-step-guide.html

 

 

Lessons Learned From a Cat

I love cats. Every time it is stormy or rains my cat becomes a scared cat. She could hear the rain hitting the roof and windows this morning. She came running to my arms.

About a year ago I had a call from my nearly ninety years old dad. He’s a cat lover and owner of two cats. One’s name is Smokey and the other Sugar. The cats are sixteen years twenty days old according to the vet’s records; dad had recently taken Smokey to the vet today. The animal doctor performed blood tests and gave her a couple of shots.

Smokey the cat had done poorly for a few days. Dad was concerned for Smokey’s health. She was his late wife’s (my mother’s) cat. About 7:00 PM dad called me. He was crying. Smokey had died.

It made me think back to that day twenty-six years ago when I cried when my kitty died. Here is my cat Hallie’s story as I wrote it for the newspaper column I wrote back in September 1990.

Great big crocodile tears were streaming down my face. The tears wouldn’t stop coming. My sobbing was so loud my sons, Kristopher and Jason, wondered if I would be all right. My wife Miss Benita’s comforting arms had never seen me this way before. She assumed one or both of my parents had been killed from the magnitude of my grief. I was glad my daughter Sara was spending the night at her best friend Amelia’s house.

What had brought about this emotional upheaval in me? What would have me grieving with more intensity than when my grandparents or wife’s brother died?

A car squashed my cat. The kitty’s name was Hallie. Specifically, an SUV crushed her skull. Sadly, my two sons had witnessed the tragedy. They ran crying to get me to make it all better. I couldn’t make it better. While her little body was still warm, my kitty was dead. Her head was flat as a pancake.

Hallie was a beautiful, small Calico Cat. She had been born on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17th. She died less than six months later on my wife’s birthday, September 14th.

Why make all the fuss about a cat?

I loved my kitty. She loved me. It was a love that demanded nothing from me. A love that would rub up against my pants legs even after I accidentally stepped on her tail. A love that would sit nervously in my lap as we rode to the vet’s to get shots, “get fixed”, and the very day she died, to get stitches out from the above-mentioned surgery.

She had a love for me that would wait for me to finish mowing the yard to get petted or have her tummy scratched. Hallie was one of the few that demanded nothing from me. She gave me her love and affection in return for hearing her name, a bowl of dry cat food, or an occasional saucer of milk. If you have ever had a kitty or dog die, you understand.

We can learn from a cat. We too should love with no strings attached.

NOTE: At the time my kitty was run over on September 14, 1990, I served as Associate Pastor and Day School Headmaster at First Baptist Church, Jasper, Texas. My sons were 13 years old, 10 years old and my daughter was two months shy of her sixth birthday.  At the time, I wrote a local newspaper column. The above was my article that week. I received hundreds of sympathy cards with stories of others loosing their pets.

The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-63: Leadership Lessons by Kevin Dougherty

Five stars plus! I loved reading this amazing book by Kevin Dougherty. “The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-63: Leadership Lessons” is too good for a book to be relegated to just another history of Vicksburg. Bookstores should not limit the book to an assignment in the military history section. It deserves a prominent place in the business section with the books on leadership and management as well as the military history section. As I read the book, I was reminded of a book I read in the early 1990s, “Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun.” The book is that good!

Kevin Dougherty does an excellent job of providing leadership lessons from the key military and political leaders of the time.  He helps us understand Vicksburg. He does this by sharing the challenges, characteristics, and styles associated with leadership during the Civil War. He follows with an overview of the entire Vicksburg Campaign.

Next, he provides thirty case studies or leadership vignettes. He starts with General Winfield Scott’s Anaconda Plan. He carries us systematically through the campaign. We meet and learn about the key leaders and engagements. Each of the thirty vignettes begins with the summary. It follows with a concise history of the event (e.g. Chickasaw Bayou: William Sherman and Knowing When to Quit). Sharing the resulting leadership lessons learned from the event follow. The chapters (vignettes) conclude with a sidebar of “Takeaways” which provide a succinct summary of the lessons learned.

As you are enjoying reading the book, you learn valuable lessons about the difference between management and leadership. You gain an understanding of servant leadership. You see the value of clear communication from leaders to their subordinates. You comprehend the worth of personal presence of the leader in an organization.

The author ends the book with conclusions about leadership during the Vicksburg campaign. The areas covered are strategy, confidence, unity of effort, frame of reference, situational awareness, risk taking, problem-solving, personal bravery, and technical skill. The inclusion of the Vicksburg Campaign Order of Battle as an appendix is appreciated and helps to understand of the size of the leadership task faced by General U.S. Grant.

“The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-63: Leadership Lessons” is a valuable addition to the study of leadership and Vicksburg.  It would be an excellent study for business leaders as well as the professional officer and soldier. I recommend its addition to the personal library of all students of military science. My hope is it would be included in the reading lists of the officer basic or advanced courses. As in “Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun”, the lessons presented in “The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-63: Leadership Lessons” are timeless.

Well done, Lt. Col. Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., US Army (retired) Adjunct Professor, Tactical Officer at The Citadel. I enjoyed your book. Well done, indeed!


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.

Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese

Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese
Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese

From 1958 to 1963 I called the Phoenix, Arizona area home. Well, I lived in Glendale from 1958 to 1960 and on Luke Air Force Base from 1960 to 1963. The Phoenix area hosted Major League Baseball’s Cactus League every spring. Named for the cactus that were everywhere in the Arizona desert, in 1963 the league hosted Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Houston Colt .45s, and the California Angels

I’ve said a few times being military brat had many benefits. One advantage was the USO sponsored events with ball players. The big leaguers weren’t too big to come to my elementary school on their off days and work with us on fielding and hitting, the fundamentals of baseball.

In the spring of 1963, we had a big thrill as Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese came a calling. Dizzy Dean had pitched for the St Louis Cardinals. He won over thirty ball games back in the 1930s. Pee Wee Reese was the famous Brooklyn Dodger shortstop and Jackie Robinson’s roommate. They made up the famous announcing team for the Game of the Week. Broadcast each Saturday afternoon, three out of every four televisions in the USA were tuned into the game.

I played Little League Baseball like most boys. I was the third baseman for the Luke Lions that year. I was one of the few nine years old boys to make the Little League Roster. We played a game when old Dizz and Pee Wee were on the air base. What a thrill if was for the players and most of the airman and their families when the announcer pair showed up at our dusty field. The USAF special services people and USO liaison people were there as well.

That night the special services airmen set up special speakers and a public address system. Dizzy and Pee Wee took a seat in front of the microphone and introduced the teams, the players, and I almost fainted when one of them called my name. The same men that called the names of Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays called my name. They didn’t stop there. They did a play by play of the game over the PA system. It was just like they did announcing the game of the week every Saturday.

Meeting the ballplayers and getting coached by them was great. But having Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese announce my Little League game was a lifetime memory.

Did you have any similar memories from your childhood? Please leave a remembrance in the comments if you do.