The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, by Greg Grandin

2020 Pulitzer Prize Winner in General Nonfiction.

Dr. Greg Grandin is the 2020 Pulitzer Prize Winner in General Nonfiction. His book was moved from the history category to the general nonfiction category by the Pulitzer Board.

Here’s my review/summary of the book. The book is well-argued, full of interesting history to back up his points and surprisingly, I found myself mostly agreeing with his arguments.

Basically, the book explains from the American revolution through Donald Trump’s election that American expansionism and our manifest destiny served as a pressure release point with expansionism allowing internal US political pressures to be deflected outwardly as opposed to being dealt with.

He makes his main point by arguing that Trump’s approach to the ordinary people where he argued that the government was not listening to and neglecting their concerns while taking care of themselves. This includes stating that part of the ordinary people not being heard or being taken care of was immigrants (illegal and maybe legal) which caused an upswing or racist nationalism, vocalized anger, and ultimately leads to Donald Trump’s election.

He uses the border was a kind of rallying point and metaphorical gravestone that marks the end of the real American dream of a country for all peoples of all beliefs. This is what he feels made America exceptional over the years and with the election of Trump, it is dead and buried with the wall as its tombstone.

You Are the Son of God!

You Are the Son of God!

by Jimmie Aaron Kepler

After the crowds were dismissed
And all started going away
His disciples gathered ‘round Him
Listening to the few words He had to say.

I’m going up on the mountain
I need alone time to pray and meditate.
Get onboard your boat and cross the lake
Before it gets too late.

While on the mountain top, eve changed to the night
While the Father and Jesus were all alone
And the disciples’ boat moved toward the other shore
His followers heard the tempest as it began to groan.

Now the wind and waves
Increased all through the night
And as a black fear gripped the men
The wondered would they survive to the morning light.

Sometimes between 3 and 6 A.M.
Jesus came to them walking on the sea.
But they feared he was but a ghost
They were terrified and wished that they could flee.

And immediately Jesus spoke to them
His words cutting through the violent storm
It’s me, take heart, don’t be afraid.
His words were full of love and very warm.

But Peter wasn’t so sure it was Jesus.
His grave doubt quivered in his voice
He yelled. “Let me walk on the water out to you.”
Was his verbalized faithless choice.

With kindness in His voice
“Come,” the Master said.
And Peter walked on the water towards Him
Without fear of drowning or becoming dead

But then He took His eyes off Jesus.
He looked at the wind all around.
And suddenly he began to sink.
Peter feared he would drown.

Lord Jesus save me!
Was his faithful cry
Jesus reached out taking his hand
“Why doubt me? You’re not going to die.”

Then they got into the boat
And the disciples began to sob.
For the wind and waves and tempest had stopped.
They worshipped and declared, “You are the Son of God!”

“You Are The Son of God!” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler
is a retelling of the biblical story found in Matthew 14:22-33
where “Jesus Walks on the Water.”
It was written in April 2020.

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.

 

Urban Pigeons

Please enjoy my reading of the poem “Urban Pigeons.” Urban Pigeons was written in August 2009 and originally published in vox poetica Magazine on August 26, 2012. 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.

Urban Pigeons

White clouds
Fill the Columbia blue sky,
Like hundreds of cotton balls.
The brilliance
Of the summer sun,
Reflected even brighter
Off of the clouds.
The clouds remain
Suspended in the sky
With little movement.
A flock of pigeons,
Land on an adjacent building.
They stand on the edge
Of the ten-story structure,
Peering downward
Looking
For some crumb or morsel of food.
They also eye the sky
And the roof,
Of a neighboring building.
The birds are watchful
As a red hawk
Is perched waiting,
Waiting,
Waiting
For one of the pigeons
To let its guard down
And become his next meal.
The sounds of cars,
Trucks
And an occasional motorcycle
Fill the air
As they travel
From their point of origin
To their destination
Using the freeway
That passes
Through the building’s shadow.
A panhandler
On a nearby corner
Looks up at the sky
Shielding her eyes
From the bright sun.
She looks to see
What the airborne commotion is about.
The sun temporarily blinds her
With its brilliance
And then she sees
Dozens of feathers
Slowly descending to the ground.

August 2009

Kepler, Jimmie A. “Urban Pigeons,” vox poetica, August 26, 2012, Retrieved August 27, 2012, from http://voxpoetica.com/words_to_linger_on.html and August 29, 2012, Retrieved from http://poemblog.voxpoetica.com/2012/08/29/urban-pigeons.aspx.

Seven Reminders For Developing Staying Power

Seven Reminders For Developing Staying Power

Christians today need what I call “staying power.” I define staying power as the ability and action of continuing in your walk with Jesus Christ for your lifetime.

The need for staying power exists for the average Christian. The need exists for the man or woman in full-time ministry, and yes, even for the Christian writer.

Staying power helps you continue is your daily walk with Jesus. Staying power helps you to finish the article or book where it doesn’t end up in a drawer or as a forgotten file on your computer’s hard drive. It allows you to keep submitting and writing despite the rejections or poor sales.

Here are seven reminders that will help you develop staying power. 

“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

Reminder #1 – I Must Remember That God Loves Me

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

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” – 1 Corinthians 15:10 ESV

Remember

    • Our performance does not give us our worth.
    • God’s grace gives us the power to start over.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” – Romans 8:37 ESV

Reminder #2 – I Must Maintain a Clear Conscience

“But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” –  2 Corinthians 4:2 ESV

Remember

    • I must have and maintain my integrity.
    • I must have and maintain my character.

Reminder #3 – I Must Have The Right Motivation

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” – 2 Corinthians 4:5 ESV

Remember

    • Our ego will only take us so far
    • We proclaim Christ Jesus.

Reminder #4 – I Must Accept My Limitations

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV

Remember

    • We must pace ourselves.
    • We must do our part to maintain our health.

Reminder #5 – I Must Love Other People

“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” – 2 Corinthians 4:15 ESV

Remember

    • It’s God’s love that extends His grace to His glory.
    • As God loves me unconditionally, I need to love others.

Reminder #6 –  I Must Take Time to Recharge

“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

Remember

    • Our inner self is being renewed day by day.
    • Recharging helps us to not lose heart.

 

Reminder #7 – I Must Keep My Eye On The Goal

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 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 4:17-18

Remember

    • You cannot produce if you do not face the problems and keep on keeping on to the goal.
    • Our problems won’t last forever. Remember, God’s faithfulness that you experienced when you had past problems. He’s still here and still faithful.

Photo Source: Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

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

Quiet Time With God

Time With God

“I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word.” Psalm 119:147 NKJV

1. Set a Regular Time

Psalm 119:147a – “I rise before the dawning of the morning, …”

The Psalmist has a regular time designated for meeting God. He rises early in the morning. While rising early in the morning is good the key is to have a regular time.

While the implication is the Psalmist does it every day, that isn’t stated. What is important is to do it consistently. Don’t let Satan get you down when you miss a day by hearing a voice criticizing you or telling you you can’t do it since you missed a day.

I like the term regular as opposed to daily. Surprisingly I find Sunday the most difficult day of the week to spend personal alone time with God. I don’t let Satan defeat me when I don’t read and reflect on the word of God on the day I go to church and participate in Bible study and corporate worship.

Don’t let Satan focus on the one or two days in seven you miss. Instead, rejoice in the time you spend with God.

Also, you don’t have to get up before sunrise to meet God. I recommend a regular place and time. I have joked with friends saying God knows where I am going to be and when I am going to be there for my regular time with Him.

2. Share Your Heart

Psalm 119:147b – “…And cry for help;”

Part of my time with God is reading His word. I remember when I was younger the minister would suggest we read the Bible through each year. We would be given plans that told us what we should be reading each day. For years I failed miserably.

My late mother suggested I don’t put so much pressure on myself to check off reading three or more chapters a day. She told me the first time she read the Bible through took her five years. She started at Genesis and read sometimes a few verses and other times a few pages.

Each day, she would leave a bookmark where she had finished reading. She did this for days, then weeks, then months, and finally five years later she had finished reading the entire Bible. She started over the next day and this time it was only two years before she finished making it through. By the time she was 80 years old, she was reading the Bible through a couple of times a year.

She said God honored her feeble efforts over the years by having the word she needed for each time she approached His throne of grace.

She taught me how to tell God how I loved Him, to cry out and confess my sin. She taught me 1 John 1:9 (author’s paraphrase) – “If I confess my sin He is faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.” She also taught me to thank God for all He did for me and my family as well as to pray for others.

3. Hope in God

Psalm 119:147c – “I hope in Your word.”

My pastor and the late Dr. Calvin Miller taught me how to have hope.

I remember worrying about getting a church and having a ministry when I first attended seminary over four decades ago. My pastor had the word I needed to hear. He said God doesn’t call a person to ministry without having a place for them to serve. He shared Genesis 12:1 (NKJV) – “Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house To a land that I will show you.”

My pastor said, “God told Abraham to go before He told Him where the journey would take him. God will be as faithful to you.” Later when I began writing the same pastor told me, “When God tells you to write, write. He’ll take care of the audience. He may be having you write for your personal growth or to influence the masses. Sometimes it is just for one or two people who need to hear the word you are sharing. He told me to give equal attention to writing a column in a church newsletter as you would to writing a book with a million-dollar advance.”

Later, the wisdom of his words found an example when I was attending a writing conference in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the late 1980s. I was in a session with the late Dr. Calvin Miller. He shared how his book The Phillipian Fragment began as a series of weekly pastor’s columns in the church newsletter. An editor who was on the mailing list read them and approached him about turning them into a book.

I believe the bottom line is when we spend regular time with God, God honors us for honoring Him.

Image by Cara Shelton from Pixabay

He Won’t Let You Down

Did You Know God is Faithful? 

Yes, God is faithful. He won’t let you down. God’s word says in 1 Corinthians 1:9 English Standard Version (ESV), “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Definition of Faithful

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives this definition of faithful. The definition of faithful:

  1. Steadfast in affection or allegiance: LOYAL a faithful friend
  2. Firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty: CONSCIENTIOUS a faithful employee
  3. Given with strong assurance: BINDING a faithful promise
  4. True to the facts, to a standard, or to an original a faithful copy
  5. Obsolete definition of faithful: full of faith

What Does it Mean to be Faithful?

  • It means to be reliable.
  • It means to be trustworthy
  • It means to be dependable 
  • It means to be consistent.

Four Ways God is faithful.

1. God is Faithful To Protect

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

Takeaway: “I sought the Lord.” If you seek the Lord you will find that God is faithful.

Psalm 34:17-19 ESV, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

Takeaway: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.” If you cry to the Lord, he hears  and delivers. He is faithful.

2 Timothy 1:7 ESV, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Takeaway: God is faithful. When you are fearful remember he has given us a spirit of power, love, and self-control. He is faithful.

2. God is Faithful To Pardon

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.”

Takeaway: “If we confess our sins …” God is faithful. God is faithful

3. God is Faithful To Provide

Philippians 4:18 ESV, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Takeaway: God will supply every need of yours” (not your greed). God is faithful.

4. God is Faithful To Preserve (that is to Keep Us Safe).

1 Peter 5:10 ESV, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

Psalm 57:1 ESV, “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.”

Takeaway: “I will take refuge” (in God). When you do he will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Yes, God is faithful.

I am reminded of a little acrostic I have heard many preachers use. It is GRACE. It stands for:

G – Gods

R – riches

A – at

C – Christ’s

E – expense.

Others may let you down but God promises to be faithful. Yes, God is faithful. 


Video Source: From YouTube. Fountainview Academy, British Columbia, Canada. Fountanview Academy is a Christian high school based in southern British Columbia, Canada, which holds Province of BC Ministry of Education accreditation. Students from all over the world are attracted to Fountainview because of its balanced approach to education. Each staff member is personally committed to the eternal success of every student, and together they strive for the highest standards in every respect.

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