Be Strong and of Good Courage

Abound in Hope

Rest in Hope

Little Squirrel

Little Squirrel

Little squirrel
In the tree
I see you
Looking at me

Your color is red
In your furry coat
You look at me
Sitting in the boat

You’re eating the acorns
Found in the tree
A smile on your face
Dropping the shells on me!

© 2009 Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.


Originally published in:
WORDS…RHYMES…POETRY & PROSE
May 2011

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.

 

Five Steps To Finishing Strong

Five Steps To Finishing Strong

Maybe like me, you’re old enough to remember the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. I’ll never forget watching a British runner named Derek Redmond run the 400 meters. Redmond had a history of injuries that kept him from being the best in the world. 

In 1992 everything seemed to be coming together for Redmond at last. Derek was running well. In the first round of qualifying, he recorded the fastest time. He won his quarterfinal heat. 

As he settled into the starting blocks for the start of his semifinal race, Derek Redmond’s thoughts turned to his father, Jim. His dad had always supported Derek. 

In this race, Derek got off to a clean start. He was running smoothly. Suddenly, about 150 meters into the race, his right hamstring muscle tore. In pain, he fell to the ground.

The stretcher-bearers are running towards him. Derek wanted to finish the race. He somehow managed to get up and began moving awkwardly forward despite the pain he felt.

His father, Jim, ran out of the grandstands.  He joined his son on the track. Dad joined with son, hand in hand, arm in arm, and with Derek sobbing from disappointment and pain, they continued.

As they neared the finish, the father let his son go, and Derek Redmond completed the course on his own. The crowd of 65,000 roared their approval and gave him a standing ovation.

Our Heavenly Father is there for us as Believers. He will pick us up and move with us hand in hand, arm in arm, and even pick us up and carry us to the finish line. All we have to do is rely on Christ, and we can finish strong. 

This article has five steps to finishing the race known as life strong.

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” – Acts 20:24 ESV

Five Steps to Finishing Strong

Step #1 – Remove All Distractions

“…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” – Hebrews 12:1b ESV

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

Step #2 – Remember the Reason

“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.” – 2 Corinthians 4:1 ESV

“as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 ESV

Step #3 – Renew Myself Daily

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV

“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” – Psalm 94:19 ESV

Step #4 – Resist Discouragement

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9 ESV

Two Basic Principles of Life

1. You Will Get Discouraged
2. You Will Get Over It

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” – Hebrews 10:35-36 ESV

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ESV

Step #5 – Rely on Christ

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13 ESV

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” – Psalms 34:4 ESV

“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.” – Psalms 34:7 ESV

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6 ESV

Remember, Our Heavenly Father is there for us as Believers. He will pick us up and move with us hand in hand, arm in arm, and even pick us up and carry us to the finish line. All we have to do is rely on Christ, and we can finish strong. 


Image Source: Image by LillyCantabile from Pixabay

Gene, Everywhere

Talya Boerner is a master storyteller.

Gene Everywhere took me back to the three-years period of time I was my 90 years-old father’s caregiver after my mother died. So much of what the author wrote tugged at the memories and experience I had with my father.

The prose is spectacular.

Talya’s prose is spectacular. Her picture painting and showing the story transport you into her home. You smell the smell, hear the sounds, and feel the genuine love she developed for her at times crotchety father-in-law. Without giving any spoilers, you’ll experience a beautiful story unfold, have your heartstrings tugged and be flooded by memories if you ever cared for a parent or parent in law. Again, the books’ prose is exceptional. I highly recommend the book.

Resting in the Lord

4.1 My Story

You may be like my late wife was when she was battling Stage Four Melanoma cancer. She found herself very tired. She needed rest. My daily caregiving also left me weary. Like my wife, I needed rest.

The managing of my wife’s schedule took a skillset even an air traffic controller would envy. First, she had the neverending visits to her primary medical team. The army of medical doctors was the primary care physician, the surgical oncologist, managing oncologist, dermatologist, gastro endocrinologist, thyroid doctor, cardiologist (the heart must be healthy enough for the treatments) and radiologist medical doctor. They did the routine checks, prescribed the medications and treatments, performed biopsies and surgery as well as ordering the tests.

A group of medical technicians did the grunt work of tests and treatment procedures. In this category was blood work, PET scans, CAT scans, MRIs, days and weeks of radiation treatments and the lymphedema therapy.

At home, my wife did months of daily chemotherapy prescription medications, spent hours waiting for UPS or FedEx to deliver the refrigerated prescriptions from the exotic, super expensive pharmacy, did 24/7/365 lymphedema therapy at home with the machine that sounded like Darth Vader with a sleeve that looked like the nose of Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street.

Added to these challenges was managing her work schedule to maintain health insurance. These alone were enough to have her constantly exhausted. Unfortunately, more daily challenges were adding to her fatigue.

My wife’s eating schedule controlled her life. She had to take the prescription meds and wait two hours to eat or eat and wait several hours before she could take the medications. The routine dictated the time of day when she woke and went to bed.

You get the picture and can relate. Like my wife, you get tired. Yes, the patient gets tired. The caregiver also gets worn down. The caregiver makes sure the loved on stays on schedule and task. As the caregiver, you need to rest. You need God.

4.2 Resting in the Lord

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness understands the need for resting in the Lord.

Caregiving for a loved one with a chronic illness can leave you tired and weary. I am talking about becoming bone tired. I am talking about the type of fatigue that vacations or even a sabbatical cannot cure.

4.3 Bible Verse

Exodus 33:14 (KJV), “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

4.4 What the Verse Means

The Lord is telling Moses that God will personally go with him. The Lord will give him rest. He is informing Moses that everything will ultimately be fine for him.

For the caregiver, this doesn’t mean that your loved one will be healed in this life. Final healing may not happen until heaven.

The application for the Believer in Christ is the Lord also personally goes with us, gives us rest, and promises to sustain us during our caregiving journey.

4.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father thank you for your presence going with us.
  • Lord Jesus, thank you for the rest you give us.
  • God, we ask to experience your rest again this day.
  • Let us use Sundays as the day of rest and worship.

4.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Remember a recent time you felt God’s presence. What were you doing? Recall how you felt his presence.
  2. Ask God to go with you and be with you today as you work and go about your caregiving responsibilities.
  3. Are you getting enough rest? Are you reading your Bible regularly? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you taking time to be still?

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


To get occasional updates on the writing of Jimmie Aaron Kepler please complete the “Email Sign-up” found in the far left column of the blog.

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


To get occasional updates on the writing of Jimmie Aaron Kepler please complete the “Email Sign-up” found in the far left column of the blog.

How to be Courageous

How to be Courageous

2.1 My Story

One of the first thoughts I had when my wife received the diagnosis that she had stage three Melanoma was how am I going to care for her and love her unconditionally until she dies.

I knew the Melanoma was going to kill her unless God intervened. I wondered if she would follow the doctor’s orders. Would my wife let me help her? How would she react? Could I handle being her caregiver?

In time all the questions were answered. The solutions didn’t happen in one day. There was some give and take.

My spouse had to have a heart to heart with me along the way, which included telling me to back off and give her some space as I was smothering her with kindness and care.

She didn’t need me reacting as if every little event she encountered was a life or death situation. I learned what she needed was for me to be there. She desired my calm, steady presence.

A simple example was when I had a ball game on the television, and she came into the room, I would change channels on the TV to her favorite HGTV program. I stayed in the room with her instead of going to the bedroom and continuing the ballgame. If I were cleaning, doing other housework, or even reading, I would stop, give her my attention, and be with her.

In her last days of hospice care, she told me how much my just being there meant to her. She said I could get the house spotless after she was in heaven, but until then, she needed the ministry of my presence. She needed me to be courageous as I spent time with her.

2.2 How to Be Courageous

Part of caring for a person with a chronic illness understands how to be courageous the Lord.

Caring for a person with a chronic illness is a scary daily challenge for both the person with the disease, their family, and you as the caregiver. Through Jesus Christ, we can be strong and courageous.

How can we do this?

We cannot do this in our strength. Daily the Lord Jesus our God goes with the Christian. We need to remember, He goes with us. We need the Lord to strengthen us.

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

2.3 Bible Verse

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.”

2.4 What the Verse Means

Because Christians have God with them, they should be of good courage. The courage comes from their confident assurance in God, which faith gives. This faith in Christ allows us to face each day bravely knowing we shall have the ultimate victory through Him. 

2.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father, please help me and my family to continue to be courageous in the face of this illness.
  • Holy Spirit, I ask for Your comfort. Help me to not fear or be in dread of the challenges I face as a caregiver. Help me not to grow weary.
  • Thank You for letting me know it is the Lord our God who goes with me and that He will not leave me or forsake me.
  • I pray my family and loved ones’ would confess faith in Jesus Christ where they too can experience the comfort available to Christians.

2.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. What are two areas that you are fearful of failing in as you care for your loved one? Name them.
  2. Take the two items you identified in question one. Admit your fears to God. Ask God for the faith you need to face fear courageously.
  3. Realize that God has entrusted you already with your loved one’s care. He’s put them under your supervision; God will equip you for the daily challenges you face. Thank God for the confidence He has placed in you, and for the way, He helps you daily as you care for your loved one.

2.7 Takeaway

Part of caring for a person with a chronic illness understands how to rely on the Lord.


If you are not a Christian, accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior is a prerequisite to obtaining God’s peace.
Click HERE to find out how to become a Christian. You can trust Jesus Christ and become a Christian now.

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


To get occasional updates on the writing of Jimmie Aaron Kepler please complete the “Email Sign-up” found in the far left column of the blog.