Ten Thoughts to Encourage Others

Over the years I have noticed people with ability and skill to do a task or an assignment often lack the confidence to tackle the job before them. If they are a writer, they may fear to put words on paper. If an analyst, they may hesitate or question themselves before solving a problem or recommending a solution.

I have found that a little encouragement helps them make their goals and do their job. Here are ten thoughts on how I encourage others.

1. Show a Sincere Interest in the Person.

  • Listen to what they are saying.
  • When they are talking, look at them not your smart phone.
  • Be interested in what is happening in their life, the challenge(s) they are facing.
  • Let them know you care.

2. Acknowledge What’s Important. 

  • 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.
  • A proper technique I use is merely to restate their question or challenge and then allow them to talk it through.
  • Follow-up and ask how it’s going, are they making progress.
  • Do not share similar circumstances you have lived through or had a friend or family member survive. It’s about them, not you!

3. Say “Congratulations.”

  • These magical “Words of Encouragement” at the right time can make all the difference between a person “keeping going” and “giving up.”
  • Congratulate them on a job or task well done. This recognition can be as simple as thanking them for meeting a deadline.
  • A “Post-It” note or email congratulatory word has fantastic results.
  • Give a person the credit they’ve earned. Do not claim it for yourself.

4. Be There. 

  • Sometimes the “ministry of your presence” is all they need.
  • Just being there for them is encouraging.
  • Many times all they need is a listening ear to talk through the issue or task.
  • Let them know “you have there back.” Many times these simple acts share hope.

5. Say “Thank You.”

  • Saying thank you is a common courtesy.
  • It is good manners.
  • People like a little reward for hard work.
  • 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 sweet for you, an excellent way to show your appreciation is merely to return the favor.
  • Returning a favor will both shock and encourage them.
  • Consider bringing them a coffee or offering to help them with their next project or routine tasks when they have a short deadline or a heavy workload. You might take their “on-call” where they can have a weekend break instead of swapping weekends with 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.
  • If something went wrong, help them focus on the solution instead of assigning blame.
  • It is incredible 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 usual tardiness.
  • A good finder affirms their coworkers or friends.
  • People will gravitate toward you where you’re a “good finder” as you’ll become someone who makes others feel good.

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.
  • Smiling will transform your own attitude as well.

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 by being there for them.
  • If a person gives me an excessive workload, I usually ask them if there is anything else I can do for them when I finish the job. I do not complain about the amount of work.

What are some ways you encourage friends or coworkers? These techniques also work with your spouse or partner. Please share your suggestions in the comments.

What are some ways you encourage other? Post your actions in the comments. They just might enocourge someone!

Photo Source: Pixaby

Charlie’s Bells

Charlie’s Bells by Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jackson Smith lived in the pale yellow house with the whitewashed picket fence on Second Street. When he first arrived in town, he had already accepted a new position with the First State Bank. He brought with him a small inheritance from his favorite aunt, so he had not hesitated to purchase the three gabled structure.

Jackson prized the large porch on the house’s west side. He envisioned himself swaying gently on the wide swing. Handsomely painted a peaceful-gray, Jackson had it repainted a cheerful pale yellow to please his new bride when they married two years later. Since then, he spent many an enjoyable evening on that porch. The charm of Jackson’s home was appealing. An advantage was its’ location, just one block north of the County Courthouse and the bank.

Jackson possessed a keen intellect. He enjoyed athletic good looks, a healthy shock of sable brown hair, smiling amber brown eyes and naturally straight white teeth. The only flaw found in Jackson Smith was he would not attend church. He had been enlightened at State University. One religion professor taught church attendance wasn’t necessary. That man’s teachings were validation for Jackson’s inclination towards the avoidance of church interiors.

Jackson avowed his Christian belief but insisted on sleeping late on Sunday mornings. It was with a good-natured yet firm resolve that he rebuffed the invitations to attend the sermons of Dr. George Whitefield Jones. He attended a few times when he first moved to town and joined the church.

Since Jackson could answer anyone’s questions on Christianity with his thorough Bible knowledge and rhetorical prowess, even Dr. Jones left him alone. This was especially true since Jackson subscribed to the church budget based on his gross income. He was one of the church’s top five contributors while never attending. That was indeed the only gossip the mongers could muster on the man.

Anyone familiar with small-town customs knows that such a refined, young man cannot be allowed to go through life unmarried. The eagle-eyed wife of a bank trustee spotted Jackson within days of his arrival. She set to work matchmaking Jackson with her beautiful, debutante granddaughter who was of marrying age. She thought, Julia needed a husband and so she went to work.

The scheming matchmaker worked to pair the two, her activities so blatant that both parties and half the town knew what was afoot. In the end, most felt Cupid intervened, releasing the twin arrows from his bow that pierced the paired lover’s hearts.

Jackson was happy the meddling trustee’s wife had insisted her granddaughter visit that first summer. He thought it endearing how she had plotted so many events to bring them together. They were soon courting and then engaged.

As the impending nuptials approached, Dr. Jones began lobbying Julia to have Jackson pay for the repair of the church bells so they might ring out gloriously in celebration of their wedding.

Julia imagined her wedding day, a perfect June morning with a blue sky, she and Jackson exiting the church and laughing at being drowned in showers of rice. Dr. Jones had vividly planted the suggestion of wedding bells ringing. Julia, too often indulging in her favorite wedding daydream, actually began hearing the church bells ringing.

When Julia finally asked Jackson to pay for the bells repair, he said yes. It was a bit sad when it was discovered that the restoration turned out to be so much simpler than anticipated. The armature holding the bell didn’t need replacing. The rope had merely become frayed and gotten caught up into the gears. It only required untangled from the mechanism and replaced with a new line.

That Tuesday afternoon in May, the unexpected ringing of the bells after so many years of their silence caught the community entirely off guard. People rushed out of their shops or stood at home on their porches admiring the sound. The melodic ringing elicited broad smiles, a few sentimental tears, and cheery goodwill.

When the wedding day arrived, it was as Julia imaged. Mr. and Mrs. Jackson Smith exited the church with happy smiles as cascades of rice poured down on them. They dashed to the waiting car with the Just Married sign, the tin cans and old shoes tied to the bumper. The bells rang and rang. They resonated long and gloriously filling the blue sky with their joyous sound.

#

The Smiths were still unpacking from their honeymoon when the Richards family moved to town. Mr. Charles Richards was hired to replace the saw mill’s elderly superintendent, who after losing two of his fingers had grudgingly agreed to retire.

The Richards was an unassuming couple. Their family was small with one son, Charles Junior. Everyone called him Charlie. He had Down syndrome. It influenced his personality strongly.

Charlie was fifteen years old, always smiling and happy. He quickly gravitated towards the church. You’d find him there whenever the church doors were open. Some of the dear sisters thought his mother shooed him off in the church’s direction to have some time away from the simple-minded boy, but he was not a bother. He was competent and industrious when directed towards a task that was within his abilities. He was able and willing to dust and polish pews and rake leaves. Charlie had a special talent for plugging away at the most boring and repetitive tasks. He always completed them with industry and cheerfulness than no one else would, or even could.

Charlie’s efforts saved the church money. It was with appreciation that Dr. Jones would pay Charlie a small salary. The money swelled Charlie’s heart with pride. He would take the few dollars down to the shops on the square, buy himself a comic book and a double-dip ice cream waffle-cone with a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of butter praline.

The first time Charlie heard the church bells he wanted to ring them. A young man named Tom held the bell-ringer position. When Charlie found out that Tom would be leaving for college, he began lobbying to take over Tom’s duties.

Dr. Jones liked the idea of Charlie having the bell-ringing responsibilities, but he was also concerned with Charlie’s physical and mental challenges from Down syndrome that he might injure himself. The bells were as big as Charlie and weighed hundreds of pounds. The timing and rope pulling needed coordinating in just the right way to be safe for the bell-ringer and pleasing to the ear. It just so happened that Tom was both an athletic young man and gifted with a musician’s sense of timing.

It also turned out Tom was kind and patient. When he learned Charlie wanted to be the bell-ringer, he taught Charlie how it was done. To begin the lessons, Tom rigged up a phony rope next to his. He’d have Charlie practice pulling along with him.

This thrilled Charlie, as he didn’t really quite understand that his rope had no effect on the bells because when he pulled his line along with Tom, the bells rang. After several sessions of perfecting the timing with the dummy rope, Tom had Charlie assist him at pulling on the real line so that Charlie could get used to the weight and feel of the swinging bells.

It turned out that Charlie was a natural bell-ringer. He wasn’t just competent, he was good at it! Charlie performed his duties safely. He had a natural rhythmic gift. Often when pulling the rope, Charlie would let the rebound lift him several feet off the ground, thrilling to it over and over. Charlie would tell his parents that he felt like an angel flying in the church, and Charlie’s mother would say to him that he was an angel.

Charlie’s bell ringing pleased everyone except Jackson. In his enthusiasm to please his wife and have the bells repaired, Jackson had not thought through the consequences of having fully functioning church bells so close to his home.

Jackson liked sleeping late on Sunday. He didn’t mind Julia getting up and going to Sunday services at the church. His request was she be quiet and not awaken him while she was getting dressed. Julia complied as she dressed and ate her light breakfast, but it was pointless. Julia might as well have shot off artillery in the front yard because the bells woke Jackson up just as predictably as cannons would have. Every Sunday, the bells Jackson had paid to repair caused him aggravation, all the more so because he was responsible for their now flawless functioning.

Julia suggested since he was going to be woken up anyway, why not accompany her to church? Jackson almost softened but said no. He didn’t offer an explanation. It was then that she realized Jackson’s real aversion was to attending church. She pointed this out to him and gently queried him further, but this questioning was met with an uncomfortable silence. Julia decided she respected her husband enough that he could keep this secret.

Jackson decided to do something about the Sunday morning bell ringing. Dr. Jones chuckled at Jackson’s request to silence the ringing, pointing out that Sunday’s bells called the congregants to church. Dr. Jones even suggested there was a positive Pavlovian response for churchgoing people to hear the ringing bells. He again thanked Jackson for having the bells restored, shared how much Charlie enjoyed ringing the bells, and the community’s appreciation. Well, that shook Jackson’s resolve. He resigned himself to wearing earplugs which didn’t always work.

One reason Jackson no longer pursued ceasing the Sunday bell ringing was Charlie. He and Julia were very fond of Charlie. The boy often stopped and drank a glass of iced tea if he walked by their home when they were sitting out on their west-facing porch waiting to watch the sunset. The three of them would sit companionably enjoying the evening and chatting about subjects that suited Charlie. Julia would also praise him on his bell ringing. She liked watching her husband grimace disapprovingly, but there would be that smile in his amber brown eyes.

I’ll have to resign myself to hearing the bells ring all the days of my life, he’d grumble to Julia. She countered the bells should fill him with joy, reminding him of their wedding day. She told him to remember, their marriage was the reason the bells had been repaired. Jackson knew not to argue that point.

And so it was, every Sunday the bells announced church. This went on year after year. Charlie with his bell ringing was a faithful servant unto the Lord.

Jackson and Julia had always assumed that they would have children, but the years passed and it just never happened. Julia sought advice from a doctor and tried some different things, but in truth, they were content only with each other. They also enjoyed spending time with Charlie, who as he grew older was still a perpetual kid. They often took Charlie places with them, sometimes to a movie, or on an overnight trip to the lake. They would have dinner with the Richard’s family once a week, alternating homes and cooking duties. Mr. and Mrs. Richards eventually designated the Smiths to be Charlie’s guardian should anything happen to them. One Sunday Jackson didn’t wake up until noon. No church bells were ringing to serve as his alarm.

Jackson knew immediately when Julia returned from church that something was terribly wrong, her nose was red, and her face was wet with tears that continuously streamed down her cheeks. He lightly took her shoulders and pulled her to his chest, enfolded her in his arms and asked what was wrong. Julia could barely choke out her grief-stricken words, Charlie was about to leave for church this morning when he had a heart attack right in front of his Mama. They called Dr. Wilbur. He came right away, but they knew Charlie was dead. Dr. Wilbur said Charlie had flown to Heaven before he even reached the floor. His Mama said he really was an angel now.

Now the years had been kind to Jackson. His work ethic complimented his banking skills. Before he turned fifty, the board appointed him president of the First State Bank. When Julia’s grandfather passed away, he assumed his seat on the board of trustees. Jackson had remained faithful in both making and paying his subscription to the church’s budget. He was now their most significant contributor.

One morning Jackson called and made an appointment to meet with Dr. Jones. The aging minister had recently announced that he would be retiring on his seventieth birthday. Jackson wanted to meet with him while Dr. Jones was still in a position to help.

When he arrived at the pastor’s study, Jackson asked one question. He wanted to know who would be ringing the bells at ten o’clock A.M. every Sunday. Dr. Jones agreed there was still value in the bell ringing but said no one was willing to commit to taking the responsibility.

A couple of more Sundays passed with Jackson sleeping away his Sunday mornings because no one rang the bells to wake him. People started arriving late for the church service because they had no church bells to remind them to hurry to church.

The weather turned to match the cold, gray attitude that settled over the town on Sundays since the church bells stopped ringing. The joy of the little Down syndrome boy who grew into a happy man that had permeated the congregation and town for a quarter of a century disappeared when the bells stopped ringing.

#

Julia came home from the Wednesday night church business meeting with all the color drained from her face. She told Jackson the church had voted to remove and sell the church bells. The value of the brass and the money obtained would be given to help those with special needs unless someone stepped forward, called by God to ring the bells.

Jackson shook his head in disbelief. He said nothing.

The next Sunday morning at ten o’clock, Julia and her Sunday school class heard the bells ringing. They closed their Bibles, picked up their purse and hurried to the bell tower curious to see who was ringing the bells. Dr. Jones left his prayers and last minute review of his sermon as soon as he heard the bells ringing. He also headed for the bell tower. This was repeated by class after class from the oldest men’s class to the older preschool class.

They all arrived at the bell tower at the same time. Someone opened the red door. Inside was the president of the First State Bank, Jackson Smith. He was pulling the rope up and down, ringing the bells. A great smile was on his face.

“What are you doing?” questioned Dr. Jones.

“I’m ringing Charlie’s bells,” said Jackson Smith.


Photo Source: Pixabay

“Charlie’s Bells” was originally published in the June 30, 2015 edition of Beyond Imagination Digital Literary Magazine published by Dark Star Publishing, publication description: “Charlie’s Bells” by Jimmie A. Kepler in “Beyond Imagination Digital Literary Magazine July 2015” (Beyond Imagination 2015) Kindle Edition by Larry Lonsby, Jr (Illustrator), Craig Herndon Jr (Editor), Dayne Edmondson (Editor) “Charlie’s Bells” by Jimmie A. Kepler File Size: 1860 KB Print Length of Magazine: 147 pages, Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited, Publisher: Dark Star Publishing (June 30, 2015), Publication Date: June 30, 2015, Sold by subscription: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

“Charlie’s Bells” is included in “Charlie’s Bell’s: A Short Story Anthology” available on Amazon. It is currently priced free for Kindle Unlimited members.

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

The Writer’s Life: A Question of Balance


A Question of Balance

Balancing your day job with your passion for writing and reading is hard. The day job is important. You need a regular paycheck and insurance for survival.

So unless you’re a Dean Koontz with a spouse who is willing to give you five years to make it with her working full-time to support you or you have enough wealth, savings, or other sources of income, you need a day job.

Having a Life is Important

You need to manage your time to keep yourself fiscally, spiritually and physically fit. You need a sound body and a sound mind as you write. You need time for a spouse or whoever your relationship is with.

Your spouse isn’t going to cook, clean, and give sex on demand to you while you hibernate in your office researching, reading, and writing. You have to invest time in your relationship(s).

Let’s face it, there are days when you are too tired or exhausted to write. There are other days where all you feel like is reading. The reading recharges your energy and is fodder for future writing.

You Need to Write Regularly

Notice I used the word regularly, not daily.

Why not daily? Because you will have some days you cannot write. If you are trying daily and miss a day you will feel guilty and may give up. If you just write one page a day for 25 out of 30 days in a month that is a 300-page book in just one year!

You Can Do It

You can find the time to write if it’s your passion. You can find the balance to do it. Go for it!


Photo Source: Pixabay

One Great Way to Discipline Yourself for Success

Below is a little guide I put together. I call it “One Great Way to Discipline Yourself for Success.”

1. You must master your moods.

Proverbs 25:8 – Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.

2. You must watch your words.

Proverbs 13: 3 – He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

3. You must restrain your actions.

Proverbs 19:11 – A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

4. You must stick to your schedule.

Ephesians 5:15-16 – Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

5. You must manage your money.

Proverbs 21:20 – The wise person saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.

6. You must maintain your health.

I Thessalonians 4:4 – Each of you should learn to control his own body, keeping it pure and treating it with respect …

The above Bible verses offer a Bible-based, common sense approach to success.


Photo Source: Pixaby

Ten Thoughts to Encourage Others

Ten Thoughts to Encourage Others:

Over the years I have noticed people who have the ability and skill to do a task or assignment often lack the confidence to tackle the job before them. If they are a writer, they may fear to put words on paper. If an analyst, they may hesitate or question themselves before solving a problem or recommending a solution.

I have found that a little encouragement helps them achieve their goals and do their job. Here are ten thoughts on how I encourage others.

1. Show a Sincere Interest in the Person.

  • Listen to what they are saying.
  • When they are talking, look at them not your smartphone.
  • Be interested in what is happening in their life, the challenge(s) they are facing.
  • Let them know you care.

2. Acknowledge What’s Important. 

  • 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.
  • A proper technique I use is merely to restate their question or challenge and then allow them to talk it through.
  • Follow-up and ask how it’s going, are they making progress.
  • Do not share similar circumstances you have lived through or had a friend or family member survive. It’s about them, not you!

3. Say “Congratulations.”

  • These magical “Words of Encouragement” at the right time can make all the difference between a person “keeping going” and “giving up.”
  • Congratulate them on a job or task well done. This may be as simple as their meeting a deadline.
  • A “Post-It” note or email congratulatory word has fantastic results.
  • Give a person the credit they’ve earned. Do not claim it for yourself.

4. Be There. 

  • Sometimes the “ministry of your presence” is all they need.
  • Just being there for them is encouraging.
  • Many times all they need is a listening ear to talk through the issue or task.
  • Let them know “you have there back.” Many times these simple acts share hope.

5. Say “Thank You.”

  • Saying thank you is a common courtesy.
  • It is good manners.
  • People like a little reward for hard work.
  • 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 sweet for you, an excellent way to show your appreciation is merely to return the favor.
  • It will both shock and encourage them.
  • I can be as simple as bring them a coffee or offering to help them with their next project or routine tasks when they are overloaded. You might take their “on-call” where they can have a weekend break instead of swapping weekends with 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.
  • If something went wrong, help them focus on the solution instead of assigning blame.
  • It is incredible 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 usual tardiness.
  • A good finder affirms their coworkers or friends.
  • People will gravitate toward you where you’re a “good finder” as you’ll become someone who makes others feel good.

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.
  • Smiling will transform your own attitude as well.

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.
  • If a person gives me an excessive workload, I usually ask them if there is anything else I can do for them when I finish the job. I do not complain about the amount of work.

What are some ways you encourage friends or coworkers? These techniques also work with your spouse or partner. Please share your suggestions in the comments.

Photo Source: Pixaby

Kepler’s Aphorism #2 – Don’t Plan on Earning Enough Money Writing to Live On

I was sixty-four years old before I was able to write full-time and I don’t make enough money off my writing to support myself solely on my writing income. I required having multiple streams of income to achieve this goal. It also took my being debt free.

Even with my simple lifestyle, my combined earnings from my writing income, interest received on savings, and earnings from a 403B, my income is about what an hourly employee at a big box store earns. I am only able to write full-time through frugality, lack of debt, and a very modest lifestyle.

I have been writing full-time for twelve months. The plus is I have earned money from my writing every month. The minus is the monthly income from just writing has never made me four figures in a month. It helped that I understood the business, have been writing and regularly publishing since 1981, and had multiple books and articles published.

The late Ray Bradbury was one of the first who said don’t plan on making money writing. Bradbury and his wife, who “took a vow of poverty” to marry him, hit thirty-seven years old before they could afford a car. For years he sold newspapers on the street corner to get enough money to pay the rent. He even used a pay typewriter in the UCLA library that charged him twenty-five cents per thirty minutes of writing before he earned enough money to buy his own.

You can be a working writer and earn a modest income. According to BookScan, the average U.S. book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.  With average royalties that’s less than $5,000 a year for a book and less than $60,000 over a book’s lifetime for an Indie author, you cannot survive on just that income. The earnings figure is significantly less for traditionally published authors.

You can see detailed information on author earnings at Author Earnings.


Photo Source: Pixaby