The Influence of a Writing Mentor

Mentor

One way a writer can become successful is by having a more established writer as a mentor. While writing groups can serve as a mentor, the right personal mentor will help improve your writing by giving you guidance each step of the way. Let me share an example of the influence a mentor.

In 1919 a young veteran returned from World War I. He moved to Chicago moving into a particular neighborhood for the purpose of being close to the author Sherwood Anderson.

Sherwood Anderson

The critical praise for Anderson and his book Winesburg, Ohio impressed a young, beginning writer. This hopeful writer had heard that Sherwood Anderson was willing to help aspiring writers. He worked to meet Anderson. The two men became close friends. They met almost every day to read newspapers, magazines, and novels. They dissected the writings they read.

Ernest Hemingway

The aspiring writer brought his own works for critique having Anderson help him improve his craft. Anderson went as far as introducing the want-to-be writer to his network of publishing contacts. The aspiring writer did okay with his first book The Sun Also Rises. The aspiring writer was Ernest Hemingway.

William Faulkner

Sherwood Anderson didn’t stop there. He moved to New Orléans where he met another aspiring writer. He took the young man through the same steps and paces of the craft. He became roommates with this young man. He even invested $300 in getting this writer’s first book Soldier’s Pay published. This young author was William Faulkner.

John Steinbeck

Anderson would later move to California and repeat the process with John Steinbeck. Thomas Wolfe and Erskine Caldwell were also mentored by Sherwood Anderson.

Ray Bradbury says Winesburg, Ohio was on his mind when he wrote The Martian Chronicles. Bradbury basically wrote Winesburg, Ohio placing it on the planet Mars.

Mark Twain

Arguably, only Mark Twain has had a greater influence in shaping modern American writing than Sherwood Anderson. Anderson didn’t do too badly, did he?

Nobel Prize for Literature and Pulitzer Prizes

William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck each won the Nobel Prize for Literature and there are multiple Pulitzer Prizes between them.

If you are serious about writing I urge you to find a mentor or join a writing group. The people in my writer’s and critique group keeps me encouraged and motivated.

Encourage your writer friends, keep reading and writing.
Jimmie Aaron Kepler


Photo Source: Public Domain

 

Hope for the Caregiver- Chapter Nine

It’s Scary

A typical feeling for one faced with caring for a person with a chronic illness is fear. The unknown and uncertainty of what you will encounter will scare you. It’s scary. If the loved one you are caring for is facing cancer, the very word cancer often has death or at least its possibility confronting us. You wonder how the disease will progress and how your loved one will be impacted. If the one receiving care is recovering from a stroke, you wonder if they will ever be normal again or how you will adjust to caring for them and their new normal. 

My Story

I’ve reflected on one of the last conversations I had with my late wife. Here’s the setting. We had agreed to hospice care. She was mentally back to near normal for a few hours. She and I were alone in the hospital room. She would be transported in a couple of days to inpatient hospice.

Her words that caught me entirely off guard were, “Thank you for caring for me. Thank you for not leaving me when I was diagnosed with cancer and especially as cancer progressed. I was so blessed having God give you to me as my husband. I’ve never doubted your love and never thought you would ever abandon or leave me. Even when you or I messed up over the years of our marriage, you always made the proper adjustments and course corrections, loved me unconditionally keeping the family and me as the priority. I don’t fear death. I know God is with me. I look forward to heaven, Jesus, and seeing family and friends. I love you. Thank you for sharing your life with me. Thank you.”

I then received a hand squeeze from her. I returned the hand squeeze and kissed her forehead.

I told her I had been the one who was lucky and blessed.

The Bible Says

Isaiah 41:10 (KJV), “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

The Meaning Of the Bible Verse

The verse’s meaning is best seen when examined in context with two preceding verses. Isaiah 41:8-10 (KJV), “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham, my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

The whole passage is one of great tenderness. I am with thee (that is, God is with you). I (God) will strengthen thee (now and in the future). I have strengthened thee (in times past). There is a reminder that God has chosen thee). We see a declaration of past favors as well as prophetic words for future favors since God is unchanging.

Today’s Scripture reminds us that God is with us. We do not face today or tomorrow alone.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, we fear not because You are here with us as we care for our loved one. 
  2. We are not heartbroken or dismayed because we know You are our God.
  3. We rejoice and claim Your promises that You will strengthen us.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Are you claiming God’s promises to help you? Have you made od aware of the areas of your needs? Pray and place your cares before God.
  2. Close your eyes and visualize God being in the room with you as you care for your loved one. Thank Him for holding you up with the right hand of His righteousness.
  3. Have you reminded your loved one that God is there with you? Have you prayed with them today acknowledging your trust in God to lead you both through the day? Thank God for being there with you.

Photo Credit: Pixabay


How to Have a Friend

As I write this post, it’s a Tuesday morning. I’m writing at my favorite Starbucks. I love Tuesday’s as this coffeehouse has a little more traffic than usual this morning.

 

The reason for the increased customer traffic is a running club meets here on Tuesday and Friday. They’ve come here for over twenty-five years. A number of them are good acquaintances. A couple of the members attended my wife’s funeral last spring. They always ask how I am doing, what I am writing, how my book sales are doing, and share what they are reading. They ask what I’m reading as well.

 

This morning I asked one how loves history what he’s reading. His face lit up with joy. He shared his excitement on the latest book he is dipping into. He also commented he had found my blog, Kepler’s Book Reviews. 

 

He said I should have told him about it.

 

I replied I simply post reviews of some of the books I have read and liked. I stated I write a short review on what I read and post some of them.

 

What’s my point?

 

Even the Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:24a (KJV), “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:”

 

Not into the Bible? The writer/poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”  The poet Rod McKuen penned, “Strangers are friends just waiting to happen.”

 

The post’s title is “How to Have a Friend.” The answer is to be one!

 

Why not add at least one new friend, even a casual one to your circle? You will both be blessed.

Photo Source: Pixabay

Walk In A Manner Worthy Of Your Call To Write

 

Walk in a Manner Worthy of Your Call to Write

Text: Ephesians 4: 1 – 6
Focus: Ephesians: 4: 1b – 3

Are you a Christian writer that writes inspirational fiction or devotions to encourage Believers in Jesus Christ? Maybe you are a writer whose drive is sharing Christian themes and principles for the mainstream market. Whatever your motivation, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” Ephesians 4:1b.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (English Standard Version) says,

I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

These verses give five principles that will help you: Walk In A Manner Worthy Of Your Call To Write

Humility

Principle One: Humility – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility” – Ephesians 4: 1b—2a

As a Christian writer, you should be full of Jesus, not self. The temptation is to be full of ourselves. When this happens, we are at risk of treating others with contempt. It should be about others, not ourselves.

Gentleness

Principle Two: Gentleness – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a

As a Christian writer, you should be bold but under control. This does not mean to be a wimp. Just as a mighty racehorse is under the control of the jockey, as a Believer, we need to be under the control of the Spirit of the Living God. Share the love Jesus and his teachings without beating the reader over the head with the Holy Bible. Share how God’s Word is applicable to everyday living.

Patience

Principle Three: Patience – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a

As a Christian writer, we need to trust God in believing His word would come true. We need to keep on keeping on. We need to accept the fact that it takes time to develop our writing craft.  “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but wish patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” — 2 Peter 3:9

It is better to have a limited audience and impact lives for Christ than to be a New York Times bestselling author and have no impact or testimony for Christ.

Forgiving Love

Principle Four: Forgiving Love – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” – Ephesians 4: 1b – 2.

As a Christian writer, we need to realize Christian love covers a multitude of sins. We should write with a respect that loves no matter what. We have all heard it said, “hate the sin, love the sinner.” That is precisely what we must do as writers. After all, as a Christian, you are, by grace saved through faith … it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8-10

In Christ, we need to love people from where they are to faith and growth in Christ.

Unity of the Spirit in the Bond Of Peace

Principle Five: Unity of the Spirit in the Bond Of Peace – “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:3 English Standard Version

Principal five is the sum of points one through four. All four points equal a bond of peace. We are bearing one another in love. Our writing should share and bring people to Christ, not drive them from Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:4-6 (English Standard Version).

We need to realize it is not a geographical or a denominational thing; it is a Jesus and a God thing.

Encourage your friends, keep reading and writing.
Jimmie A. Kepler

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Photo Source: Pixabay

This is an original devotion written by Jimmie A. Kepler on May 4, 2012, and edited on July 6, 2013, and August 26, 2018. 

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Eight

Sometimes We Feel No One Cares

When dealing with a chronic illness, there are times when we feel no one understands or cares. There is hope. We are not alone.

Jesus cares. In fact, he shares sympathy with you. Jesus knows you. He shares the feelings you have. He is in tune with you. God empathizes with you.

My Story

When my late wife Miss Benita was diagnosed with Melanoma Cancer I knew it was bigger than she or I could handle. We would need lots of help, prayers, and support. 

I immediately started a secret Facebook Group named “Benita’s Family & Friends.” I invited family, friends, church members, coworkers, and acquaintances to join. This included friends from high school and college days. It included her former boyfriends.

I had no doubt Miss Benita’s fight was cancer was more than we could handle, but not too big for God. I also knew from my working with social media at the day job regularly updated content was needed to keep people engaged with the social media.

The first posting was on the day of her first surgery. I made a daily entry for one thousand and one days. That is how long she lived. 

As I wrote the daily update and prayer I could feel her life passing away like sand slipping through an hourglass. We shared prayer requests with our church and Bible fellowship class. We shared them with coworkers. My day job had a chaplain’s department. They regularly ministered to us.  I never felt like God had forsaken us. However, many days I felt very alone. 

Miss Benita was very private and very caring. Because of my having had heart and stroke issues over the last thirty-six years she and our children had worked to protect me from stressful situations for years. This choice to care more about me than herself early in her illness had me at times feeling alone and excluded. 

All I knew to do was pray. and read my Bible. I read the Bible verse John 11:35 one morning. It simply says, “Jesus wept.” It was a good reminder for me that no matter what, Jesus cared, Jesus was aware, and He empathized with me. 

Amazingly in the last few weeks, Miss Benita told me that even with the Melanoma Cancer, she always felt she would outlive me. She did a great job of sharing her thoughts, concerns (she had almost none), trust in God, and let me help in almost every aspect of the last two and one-half years of her battle. 

She told me she never felt alone. She knew I was there for and would be with her until death did we part. She also felt God’s loving presence and the prayers lifted on her behalf. I thanked her for sharing her life with me and she thanked me for loving her and her parents and siblings unconditionally. 

The Bible Says

John 11:35 (KJV), “Jesus wept.”

The Meaning of the Bible Verse

God empathizes with you.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, thank you for paying attention to our hurts and cares.
  2. Lord Jesus, as today’s verse says, “Jesus wept.” Thank you for caring enough to cry with us and to comfort us.
  3. God, help us as your word teaches in 1 Peter 5:7 (KJV), “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Are there times when you feel lonely as you care for your loved one? It is okay to feel this way. Remember God is here for you all the time. Talk to Him and let Him know how you feel.
  2. Do you have a support network? Many churches offer support groups for caregivers. Consider joining one.
  3. Are you reading your Bible and praying on a regular basis?  You don’t need special training or a theological education to do this. It can be as simple as reading a chapter of your Bible a day. I suggest reading a Psalm or Proverb to start. When you are lonely or struggling simply tell God. An example is to pray, “God, this is so hard. Help me make it through cleaning the potty chair or calling another doctor office to deal with a billing issue.” 

Photo Source: Pixabay

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Seven

Extending Life

Tafinlar and Mekinist were Miss Benita’s chemotherapy prescription medications. The prescriptions are used for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic Melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations. These were the mutations of Melanoma she had. Sadly, I know more about Melanoma than I ever wanted to know.

Metastatic Melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations were detected by an FDA-approved test as the specific type of Melanoma mutation Miss Benita battled. The Tafinlar and Mekinist were also used because of involvement of the thirty-four lymph nodes, following complete resection. Tafinlar and Mekinist were used as an adjuvant treatment. 

What is an adjuvant treatment?

In Miss Benita’s case, it was using a pharmacological agent that modified the effect of other agents. It changed the immune response by boosting it such as to give a higher amount of antibodies and longer-lasting protection. It was used to enhance the efficacy of the Tafinlar and Mekinist by helping to modify the immune response to particular types of immune system cells. 

My Story

One Monday Benita shared, “Woo Hoo! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!!! I got word from the oncologist today (Monday) that there was no sign of Melanoma in my CT scan. Thank you all so much for your prayers. That’s the good news of the day. The bad news was my cholesterol is up, and my primary doc said I need to have fish oil and recheck the blood work in a month. So pray I can swallow those giant fish oil pills.”

I recall how Benita was confused when friends and acquaintances responded saying it was great she had been healed. A few commented they were glad she no longer required their prayers. Others mentioned how wonderful she was cured.

She said they don’t understand. I still have Melanoma. All the scan means is at present the Tafinlar and Mekinist have the Melanoma under control. The prescriptions don’t cure cancer. Only God can do that. They just help extend my life. I can’t take the medicines forever. Sure, cancer might go into remission short or long-term but from what the oncologist says unless I have a miracle it will recur within six to nine months once I have completed the chemotherapy treatment using the Tafinlar and Mekinist.

Eight months after completing the Tafinlar and Mekinist treatments she was diagnosed with a recurrence of the Melanoma in a brain tumor. She lived four months and five days after the brain tumor was found. She lived twelve months after completing the Tafinlar and Mekinist treatments.

God is Jehovah Rapha – God our healer of all our diseases. 

No, God did not let us down by not healing Miss Benita’s illness. I believe when she passed away she was instantly in heaven with God. She was cancer and disease free. I know because of her faith in Jesus Christ she believed this too.

The Bible Says

Isaiah 57:18 (KJV), “I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.”

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

I like how Barnes Notes on the Bible explains the passage. 

“I have seen his ways – That is, either his ways of sin, or of repentance most probably it means the former; and the idea is, that God had seen how prone his people were to sin and that he would now interpose and correct their proneness to sin against him, and remove from them the judgments which had been brought upon them in consequence of their crimes.

And will heal him – That is, I will pardon and restore him. Sin, in the Scriptures, is often represented as a disease, and pardon and salvation as a healing of the disease And will heal him – That is, I will pardon and restore him. Sin, in the Scriptures, is often represented as a disease, and pardon and salvation as a healing of the disease.” 

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, thank you for caring enough to see our ways.
  2. Lord Jesus, thank you for the provision of restoration – be it through healing or even better, through salvation.
  3. Let your Spirit teach our spirit how to live to Your honor and glory each day.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Have you ever accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Ultimate healing comes through confession of sin and trusting Jesus as your Savior.
  2. What areas of your life do you find yourself facing struggles? Trust God by asking Him to help you through these issues.
  3. It’s hard when you pray for healing, and a disease isn’t cured. Growing tired and weary as you care for a loved one is normal. Realize you don’t have to do everything in your own strength and power. Ask God to help you. 

Photo Source: Pixabay

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Six

It’s Scary

Facing a chronic illness is a scary daily challenge for the person with the disease as well as the family and the caregiver. Through Jesus Christ, we can be strong and courageous. How can we do this?

We cannot do this by ourselves in our own strength. We are only able to do this in God’s power. We must remember that daily the Lord Jesus, our God, goes with the Christian. We need to remember He goes with us and is with us today.

Today’s Scripture tells us the Lord will not leave or forsake the Believer in Jesus Christ.

My Story

Late in my wife Benita’s battle with cancer, she suffered confusion and disorientation. It was mid-March. Only three months earlier her Melanoma Cancer had spread to the brain. She had been diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of an egg. She had surgery. The tumor was removed. She had completed three weeks of radiation treatment in February. 

Following the treatments, she had a brain scan. No sign of cancer was detected. She and I had talked at length cherishing every moment. We could feel the sands in the hourglass of her life quickly running out. Daily and at times hourly I told her how much I loved her, how blessed I was to have her share life with me. 

We openly discussed how scary cancer was. Benita made me aware of her wish that if cancer recurred in the brain to not let the doctor do another surgery. She did not want to be operated on again. She did not want another brain surgery.

Our faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ was strong. Her Christian faith and trust in God were the strongest I have ever seen. And then the confusion and disorientation hit her like an express train. She did not know who she was, where she was, what date it was, what month it was and could not answer my rudimentary questions. I’m not a medical doctor, but I knew her situation was terrible, very horrible.

With the help of my children, I took Benita to the emergency room of the hospital where she had had the original tumor removed the previous December. I knew from the emergency rooms physicians’ initial responses and reactions this was serious. 

I was awake thirty-nine consecutive hours during this time. The ER doctors deferred talking to me about the details of a recurrence in the area of the original tumor. They left the difficult conversation with me to the brain surgeon. The surgeon was straightforward in his talk with me. The cancer had recurred with a massive blood clot. The operating room was available in fifteen minutes if I gave the okay. They needed an answer now. Time was critical.

I asked a few questions. I was told the surgery would only extend life two months on average. I was reminded of the recovery time for this type of surgery was six to nine months. It was pointed out that due to the location of the tumor that surgery may leave her totally blind, with the possible loss of speech, and unable to care for herself. Then I was told we need a decision. He said if you say no to the surgery, your choice cannot be reversed because of her critical nature. The other option was for her to go on hospice care. If I selected the hospice option, the doctor gave her days to weeks to live. He could not guarantee she would regain consciousness. 

I asked the doctor for ten minutes. I left the room and called two of our children. Our oldest child was with me. I did not ask for their opinion. I told them what was going on and that per their mother’s wishes we would not have surgery. I next called my wife’s sisters and told them the same. I returned to the intensive care unit and informed the doctor. He agreed with our choice. They started her on massive steroids to stop the swelling and on morphine for pain management. 

Within a few hours, she regained consciousness. A few hours later her brain function had returned where she realized where she was, what was going on including understanding she was going to die, Benita thanked me for honoring her wishes.

She was moved from ICU to a room to stabilize her. She then went to an inpatient hospice hospital for a week before being transported by ambulance to our home. Benita’s wish was to go home. Again, I was honoring what she wanted.

I was scared to death wondering how we would manage. Could I get her to and from the bathroom? Then it was could I get her on and off a potty chair? I worried about lifting and turning her in bed. I wondered how I would handle watching her die.

God was faithful.  We had a caring team of hospice nurses, her sisters, our children, and even me that managed to make it through the twenty-three days from when I took her to the emergency room until she passed away with family and friends surrounding her. I was holding her hand, had just kissed her goodbye and told her it was okay to go on to heaven when she took her last breath.

No, it wasn’t easy. Yes, God was there with us each step of the way. He went with us and did not forsake or fail us.

The Bible Says

Deuteronomy 31:6 (KJV), “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

Because Christians have God with them, they should be of good courage. The courage comes from their confident assurance in God. It is this certainty comes to abound as a result of their faith. This sure faith in Christ allows Christians to bravely face each day knowing through Him we shall have the ultimate victory. 

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, please help our family to continue to be strong and courageous in the face of this illness. Help me as the caregiver to continue to trust in You and have faith in You.
  2. Lord, we ask for Your comfort. Help us to not fear or be in dread of the challenges we are living through. Help us to not grow weary. Thank you for letting us know it is the Lord our God who goes with us and that You will not leave us or forsake us.
  3. We pray our family and loved ones would confess faith in Jesus Christ where they too can experience the comfort available to Christians.

Applying The Verse To Receive God’s Hope For The Caregiver

  1. What challenges are you currently facing as a caregiver that has you scared and wondering if you can handle the problem? Have you turned this challenge over to God through prayer? Why not do that right now? 
  2. The verse is not positive thinking. It is not an if you believe it you can achieve approach. Instead, it is asking God to fill you with His Holy Spirit to strengthen you. It is realizing the same God that created the universe, that knit you together in your mother’s womb at conception is there with His angels to lift you up, sustain you, and help meet your every need.
  3. Have you asked God for the needed courage to face today? Whatever the challenge you face as a caregiver, He is big enough to help you through the situation. 

Photo Source: Pixabay