God’s Love Endures Forever

There is Hope

Love

Going Out to Eat

Please enjoy my reading of the poem “Going Out to Eat.” Going Out to Eat was written in May 2013 in Estes Park, Colorado, and originally published in vox poetica Magazine on January 27, 2014. Annmarie Lockhart is the founder of vox poetica. Nathan Gunter is the current managing editor of vox poetica. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I did writing it.

Going Out to Eat

Sweetheart, do you have a preference for where we go out to eat?
…..No. Anywhere you want is ok with me, dear.
Great. There’s a McDonald’s. They have a senior coffee discount.
…..Oh, but look! There’s a Subway. I think that would be better.
OK. Subway it is. I’ll let you off at the door and then park the car.

Do you see anything on the menu you prefer?
…..No. Anything you want is OK with me, dear. We can share a foot-long sub.
Great. How about a foot-long Italian meatball sub?
…..Oh, but the Black Forest ham … I think that would be better.

OK. Make it a foot-long Black Forest ham on wheat bread, please.
…..Oh, get whatever you want, dear, but white bread …
Ma’am, can you change that to white bread, please. And American cheese.
…..Dear, pepper jack … I think that would be better.
OK, make it pepper jack cheese.

We’d like lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, green peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos …
…..Anything you want, is OK with me, dear, but maybe not the tomatoes and pickles.
Ma’am, hold the tomatoes and pickles, please.
…..What if we skipped all the peppers and just got black olives?
OK. Make it black olives and mayonnaise instead of green peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos.
…..Maybe you should go with light mayo. Remember your waistline.
Yes, dear. Ma’am, we’ll take light mayo instead, please.

“Sir, do you want to make that a combo with chips and drink?”
Sure, that sounds–
…..Dear, we’ve got water and apple slices in the car. No need to splurge, but …
OK. Just the sub, not the combo.

That was a very good lunch.
…..Yes. Thank you for taking me out to eat. Aren’t you glad I let you have whatever you wanted?

And I recalled the words of the Apostle Paul,
…..Love is patient, love is kind.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler
Written in Estes Park, Colorado
May 2013

“Going Out to Eat” was originally published in vox poetic in print and electronic form. The electronic version can be accessed at: Kepler, Jimmie A. “Going Out to Eat,” vox poetica, January 27, 2014, Retrieved January 27, 2014, from http://voxpoetica.com/eat/.


When I read the first draft of this poem to my late wife, I was shocked at how visibly upset it made her.

“You’re making fun of me and telling the whole world!” she said.

I was taken aback by her comment.

“I don’t understand,” I said with honesty.

“That’s what I did at the Subway Restaurant at Amarillo,” she said. She didn’t smile. She only lowered her head.

It was apparent the memory was fresh on her mind.

“It’s a composite of so many of the older couples we see at restaurants. It seems the wife frequently tells the husband to order what he wants. As he orders, she tweaks the order to what she wanted,” I said.

Again, she did not smile. She rolled her eyes.

“It’s not about you,” I said attempting to reassure her.

“It’s about me. Everyone will know it’s about me.”

“But it isn’t about you. Even if it were, who do you know that reads poetry?”

“So you admit you wrote it about me.”

“Sweetie, it’s a composite of so many of the older couples we see at restaurants,” I said trying to reassure her.

“And you’re going to submit it for publication?”

“Only with your permission. I don’t want it to upset you.”

“So it’s my fault if you don’t submit the poem?”

This time I rolled my eyes.

She glared at me for a minute and then sat silent for another five minutes. Finally, she started laughing and said, “I guess if I’m honest wives do that to their husbands. Go ahead and submit your silly poem.  No one publishes or reads poetry these days.”

I submitted it. It was accepted for publication. And no, it wasn’t about Miss Benita. It really is a composite of so many of the older couples I’ve seen at restaurants. It seems the wife frequently tells the husband to order what he wants. As he orders, she tweaks the order to what she wanted and then hands him a coupon to use.

 

Psalm 62:2 (NLT)

“He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:2 (NLT)
 

Weekly Update on My Writing Life

Podcasts I Listened To This Week:

  1. The Christian Publishing Show with Thomas Umstattd, Jr,
  2. The Creative Penn Podcast for Writers with Joanna Penn,
  3. Shipping and Handling Podcast with Jennifer Udden and Bridget Smith,
    • Episode 69 (February 27, 2020), Nice :), Two literary agents talk books, fandom, writing, and beyond. Hosts: Bridget Smith of Dunham Literary Inc. & Jennifer Udden of Barry Goldblatt Literary. In this episode, Bridget and Jen do an all-questions-all-the-time deep dive into their Tumblr inbox. Among other things they discuss are sex in Young Adult fiction, the relative value of an MFA, and disclosure of advances. http://shippingandhandling.libsyn.com/episode-69-nice
  4. Writers, Ink with J.D. Barker and J. Thorn. It is a podcast about the business of writing.
    • Episode 14, Becoming a Successful Author as a Stay-at-Home Mom with Mercedes Yardley. Mercedes Yardley knows how to become a successful author as a stay-at-home mom. With a husband working and a child requiring special needs, Yardley took up writing as an emotional outlet, and her thrilling style soon became recognized. She won the Bram Stoker Award in 2015 for her psychological horror novella, Little Dead Red, and wrote the Stabby Award-winning Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love. She is also a member of the Horror Writers Association and co-chair of the Las Vegas HWA Chapter. Mercedes currently lives in Las Vegas with her family and rescue animals. https://writersinkpodcast.com/becoming-a-successful-author-as-a-stay-at-home-mom-with-mercedes-yardley/

Audio Books I’m Listening To:

I came currently listening to “It” by Stephen King. I listened to the opening credits, dedication, Part 1: The Shadow Before, Chapter 1: After the Flood (1957), Chapter 2: After the Festival (1984) and am currently in Chapter 3: Six Phone Calls. Chapter 3 is 2 hours thirty-six minutes, and 27 seconds long.

Writing Completed By Me:

  1. I reviewed the book, “Gabe and His Hero” by A.J. Chilson. The review can be read at https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R318ML4TQ6YUKW/. The book can be purchased at https://www.amazon.com/Gabe-His-Hero-J-Chilson/dp/1705526756/.
  2. I wrote the article Quiet Time With God. It is available at https://jimmiekepler.com/2020/02/28/quiet-time-with-god/.
  3. I published the article Resting in the Lord. It is available at https://jimmiekepler.com/2020/02/27/resting/.

Books I Purchased This Week:

I bought and started reading two books this week. I am enjoying both. They are:

  1. Sinister Magic: An Urban Fantasy Dragon Series (Death Before Dragons Book 1) Kindle Edition by Lindsay Buroker. It is available at https://www.amazon.com/Sinister-Magic-Fantasy-Dragon-Dragons-ebook/dp/B084TVCCK2
  2. I Cry Unto You, O Lord: Poems of Lament Kindle Edition by Sarah Suzanne Noble. It is available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084YXFW34/.

What I am Working On:

  1. Editing a collection of my poems to be published later this year by Poetry and Prayer Press. It will be my second published book of poetry.
  2. I have a science fiction book that I’m still working on writing the first draft.
  3. I have two books that were published last fall for which I am working on a marketing plan. They came out at the same time I had cataract surgery and tested positive for A&B flu. There has been no marketing of the books or book launches as of yet.

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

Tears Are Normal

3.1 My Story

“I removed the tumor. The tests also showed it has spread to her lymph nodes. I removed thirty-four of them,” said the surgical oncologist.

I stared at her. She was slowly becoming out of focus as I became teary-eyed. I knew the initial diagnosis of Stage 3 Melanoma Cancer was terrible. I knew the Melanoma spreading into the lymph nodes was very bad. I knew this would kill my wife. Even though I was trying hard not to, I started sobbing.

The surgeon then said the words I needed to hear. She said, “It’s okay to cry.” She took me in her arms, and I wept.

With her four simple words, I stopped pretending to be a macho man, let down my guard, and let the emotions of the moment take over. Today wouldn’t be the last time sobbing would overcome me. I would cry many more times over the next thirty-four months. Even now at one year since my wife’s passing, the crying returns from time to time.

Remember, it’s okay to cry.

The Bible tells of Jesus crying when Lazarus died. The Heavenly Father cares about our tears. Today’s Bible verse tells what God’s word says about crying.

3.2 Tears are Normal

When you’re a caregiver part of accepting the hope available through Jesus Christ is realizing that tears are normal. Daily living with a chronic illness or caring for a loved one with a persistent disease or terminal illness will bring tears. It’s okay to cry. Even Jesus wept (John 11:35 KJV, “Jesus wept.”).

3.3 Bible Verse

Psalm 56:8-9 (KJV), “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.”

3.4 What the Verses Mean

Why would God keep tears in a bottle? The idea behind the keeping of “tears in a bottle” is a remembrance. King David, the writer of these verses, is expressing a deep trust in God. He knows that God remembers his sorrow. He knows God remembers his tears. King David also is sure the God will never forget about him. David is confident that God is on his side.

3.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father, thank you for making us where we can cry and experience the emotional release of the resulting tears. Teach me to understand and accept that my tears help me identify and help me deal with my feelings.
  • Lord Jesus, thank you for letting me know crying is okay.
  • Almighty God, it is comforting to know that you notice and keep track of my tears.
  • I turn the sorrow concerning the chronic illness of my loved one and my ability to care for them over to Yahweh-Rapha (God that heals).
  • I pray that my family and I would feel the freedom to cry out to you God and let the tears flow when the release is needed.
  • I pray that my family and friends would be supportive, loving, and understanding during the times the tears flow.
  • I pray I would hold on to God during these times without questioning and accept God’s comfort.
  • Help me to have the confidence of King David, the author of these verses, and say with him – for God is for me.

3.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Have you given yourself and your loved ones permission to cry? Remember it’s okay to cry. Share with your family members that there are times when you cry. Your sharing will permit them to shed tears. There are times when they need to cry.
  2. Remember that God will not forget about your loved one. He does not forget about you or the other caregivers. Thank God for remembering you and not forgetting you.
  3. What is the first concern you think of when it comes to caring for your loved one? Tell God what that concern is and remember, it’s okay to cry. Tears are normal.

Photo Source: Pixabay

This blog is from the book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D. The book is available in paperback or eBook format at Caregiving: Biblical Insights From a Caregiver’s Journey


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Becoming a Peacemaker

Matthew 5:9 English Standard Version (ESV), “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Peacemaking Is Not

  • avoiding
  • appeasing

You Need To Be a Peacemaker

Did You Know Unresolved Conflict …

1. Blocks your fellowship with God.

1 John 4:20-21(ESV), “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

1 John 1:3-4 (ESV), “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”

2. Prevents your prayers being answered

1 Peter 3:7 (ESV), “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Matthew 5: 9 ESV, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God

3. Hinders your happiness.

Job 18:4 (ESV), “You who tear yourself in your anger, shall the earth be forsaken for you, or the rock be removed out of its place?”

Five Steps to Becoming a Peacemaker (using the acrostic P.E.A.C.E.)

P – Plan a peace conference

Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV), “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

E – Empathize with their feelings

Philippians 2:4 (ESV), “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

A – Attack the problem not the person

Proverbs 15:1 (ESV), “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV), “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

C – Cooperate as much as possible

Romans 12:18 (ESV), “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

E – Emphasize reconciliation not resolution

2 Corinthians 5:18 (ESV), “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;”

Colossians 3:15 (ESV), “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

It has been said that the only time a woman will allow a man to have the last word is when it is an apology. – Unanimous

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business

We all have things in our lives of which we need to take care.  I’ve been reminded of this too many times in the last five years as I’ve had my mother, then father, and finally, my wife die.

Add to that several of my friends recently passed into eternity. They were in their mid-sixties. They died while sleeping. I have other dear friends who lost their spouse or have spouses with life-threatening illnesses. As a result, I’ve come to realize the brevity of life in a personal way.

Because of the limitation of time and briefness of life, we must take care of business. The time for doing it is now. I want to suggest five needs we all have that will help us take care of business now.

Five “Need to Dos” When Taking Care of Business 

1. Hold What Needs Holding

Philippians 2:16 English Standard Version (ESV), “holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

    • Hold on to your loved ones.
    • Hold on to your values.
    • Hold on to God’s principles and truths.

2. Mend What Needs Mending

Ephesians 4:32 (ESV), “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Mend that broken relationship with family, a friend, or business associates.

    • Call them – take responsibility
    • Visit them – forgive them
    • Send a note or email – take the first step.

3. Walk What Needs Walking

Matthew 5:41 (ESV), “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

If you are a writer:

    • Get started – stop dreaming and start writing. Write that novel.
    • Get off dead center – submit the rejected manuscript to another agent or editor.
    • Stop procrastinating – do the rewrites the editor wants.

4. Say What Needs Saying

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV), “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

    • Have you found that words hurt you? Your words can also hurt others.
    • Don’t let your words hurt others.
    • Be a good finder, not a nitpicker.

5. Pray What Needs Praying

1 John 1:9 (ESV), “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

John 16:24 (ESV), “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

Takeaway: Ask God what plans He has for you and then do them! 

Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV), “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”


Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Does God Have a Purpose for Your Problems?

Does God Have a Purpose for Your Problems?

If we are honest with ourselves, we would admit that many of the life problems we face we cause. 

Financial issues? 

  • Have you been following God’s principles?
    • Do you tithe?
    • Do you save money?
    • Do you avoid paying interest (buying on credit)?
    • Do you live within your income?

Work issues? 

  • Have you been following God’s principles?
    • Are you a good employee?
    • Are you investing in yourself by having and maintaining a current skill set?
    • Do you get to work on time and give a full day’s work?
    • Are you submitting to and following the authority of your boss?

Relationship issues? 

  • Have you been following God’s principles?
    • Are you a good friend?
    • Do you forgive others as God has forgiven you?

Writing Issues?

  • Maybe you’re a Christian writer like me. Are you having writing issues?
    • Are you praying for God to direct your writing?
    • Are you writing regularly?
    • Are you improving your writing skills through study and practice?

Well, you get the picture. 

Defeat or Develop?

Life is a series of problem-solving opportunities. The problems you face either defeat or develop you. It all depends on how you respond to them.

Ask God what He is trying to tell you from the problems you face. Romans 8:28 ESV says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Five Ways God Wants To Use The Problems In Your Life

1. God Uses Problems to Direct You

  • Proverbs 20:30 ESV, “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.”
  • Some problems are needed to get our atttention and get us back on the right track.

2. God Uses Problems To Inspect You

  • James 1:2-3 ESV, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
  • Caution: Too much self-analysis can be dangerous. Don’t dwell on the why. The why may be as simple as you disobeyed God’s principles for life and now have the consequences of your choices and actions. Accept and admit when your problems are self-inflicted.

3. God Uses Problems To Correct You.

  • Psalm 119:71-72 ESV, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”
  • Some lessons come through pain and failure.

4. God Uses Problems To Protect You

  • Genesis 50:20 ESV, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
  • A problem can be your protection if it keeps you from something worse.

5. God Uses Problems To Perfect You

  • Romans 5:3-5 ESV, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
  • A problem can lead you to God and eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.

Takeaways:

  1. Problems when responded to correctly are character builders.
  2. God is more interested in our character than our comfort.
  3. Your relationships with God and your character are the only things you will take with you to eternity. (see Romans 5:3-4)

God wants to make changes in your life where you can make a difference in the life of others and where you have an impact for Christ in the world.


Photo Source: Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay