It’s Okay to be Afraid

1.1 My Story

My eyes locked on to the bloody spot on the lower left front of my wife Benita’s blouse.

“What’s going on? What’s with the blood?” I asked pointing to the half-dollar sized strain.

My heart was aching. It looked terrible, scary. I knew this couldn’t be good.

Miss Benita gazed down toward the damp crimson. Her eyes looked tired, sad. She said, “It’s my mole. It started bleeding.”

I recalled the small mole I had first noticed over forty years earlier on our wedding night. I had playfully kidded her about it that night calling it her beauty mark. I found out that was the wrong thing to do. She was sensitive about the mole.

“What’s going on?” I said. I could hear the fear, concern, and the demand for an answer in my voice.

She lifted her eyes meeting mine. I could see the tears forming. She smiled weakly and then said, “I think I must have scratched or irritated it, maybe at work. It started bleeding a couple of weeks ago. It scabbed over a couple of times, but when I thought it was healing, I would do something to cause the scab to bleed. I thought it would get better. Instead, I think it may be getting infected. It may be getting worse, and it’s not healing,” she said.

Melanoma Cancer, I thought.

“Has Dr. Z looked at it?”

She shook her head, “No, not yet. I didn’t want to mess up our vacation to Colorado and your writer’s conference,” she answered with a forced smile and then lowered her eyes.

I took her hand, lovingly squeezed it, and hugged her holding her close. We were out for an afternoon of shopping in a local furniture store and enjoying each other’s company.

I nodded and then said, “Let’s go home where I can look at it.”

She stared at me, our eyes locking for a few seconds. It was as if she was saying I’m sorry. She looked sad. Then she nodded.

She knows this is very bad, I thought.

We held hands, walked unhurriedly through the store, and to the car. I drove us home in silence.

Once home, I led her to the bedroom and closed the door. She unbuttoned the blouse and removed a blood-soaked gauze bandage. The mole was oozing blood through a cracked dreadful-looking scab.

The mole had grown from the size of an eraser on a number 2 pencil to about the size of a quarter. It had changed from a light brown to a horrible black since I last remembered seeing it.

Melanoma Cancer, I again thought.

“Let’s call the dermatologist. I think that’s Melanoma Cancer,” I said with a seriousness that scared even me.

Miss Benita’s lips tightened, and eyes narrowed at hearing the words. She shook slightly and exhaled.

I asked, “Do you want me to call and get you an appointment or do you prefer to call?”

She glanced at herself in the mirror looking at the mole. “I’ll call the dermatologist. Dr. Z will refer me there,” she said.

The dermatologist performed the same day an in-office surgery removing the mole and adjacent tissue. The physician had the test expedited. She called late that night with the biopsy’s results.

“I wrote down what the doctor told me. She said, ‘It’s malignant. It is a type of cancer called Melanoma, and it’s an advanced stage three. The depth of cancer determines the stage. It’s within one centimeter of being stage four.’ I know it’s bad. I could hear the doctor’s quivering voice and her choking back tears. She told me this is serious and could kill me,” said a shaken Miss Benita.

The dermatologist acquired an appointment with a surgical oncologist. She said I needed to go to the office with my wife. Her finding us an appointment the next morning at 8 AM showed the urgency of the situation. My wife had surgery within a couple of days.

The surgery’s findings were terrible. It was Melanoma Cancer. The cancer had spread to the lymph nodes.

The oncological surgeon removed thirty-four lymph nodes. The physician told me the five-year survival rate for these findings was less than ten percent.

While my wife was still in recovery at the hospital, the surgeon told us some of the treatment options and that when not if, cancer recurred it would be restaged to Melanoma stage 4 and would be terminal. There was no cure. She said death was the ultimate destination of this journey barring providential intervention or a new medical and pharmaceutical breakthrough.

I knew Melanoma stage 3 was too big for me to handle. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had already moved into a new role as a caregiver. I also realized the future my wife and I had planned together had suddenly changed.

Our hopes and dreams vanished. They were replaced by feelings of fear and hopelessness. I was overwhelmed just thinking about the day to day struggles of caregiving. I faced the fear of the unknown.

So many questions flooded my mind. Would my wife survive? How long would she live? What would be the quality of her life and mine? How would we pay the medical bills? How much help was she going to need from me daily? How could I be strong and help her? How was this going to affect our day jobs?

I also was concerned for our three grown children and granddaughter. What I needed was hope.

The purpose of this book is to share the hope Christians have and the hope that my wife and I exercised through our faith in Jesus Christ. It shares my journey as a caregiver.

“Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” offers Biblical guidance and support helping you in your role as caregiver. It will help you connect with the perfect love which casts out all fear, the love of Jesus Christ.

The day I noticed the blood on Miss Benita’s blouse, my wife and I prayed together. We shared I love you and claimed, Psalm 56:3 (KJV), “What time I am afraid I will trust in thee” and 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your cares on the Lord for He careth for you.”

This story does not have an Earthly happily ever after ending. My wife lived 1001 days from the first surgery. Then she died. The faith we both had in Jesus Christ allowed us to face each day with hope.

Yes, even with our hope because of our Christian faith we still were afraid. However, our trust in Jesus Christ leads us through the process moving us from fear to a calmness that could only come from God. The fact that my wife was a Christian gave us a real-world spiritual happily ever after ending. She is in heaven today, and one day, since I am also a Christian, I will join her there.

1.2 It’s Okay to be Afraid

Fear of the unknown and fear of the journey you are beginning is part of the process of learning to care for a person with a chronic or terminal illness. It’s a scary assignment. When you’re a caregiver, it’s okay to be afraid.

You also need to learn to accept the hope for the caregiver that’s available through Jesus Christ. The hope available through the love of Jesus Christ will help you face and handle the fears you will encounter in your journey of caregiving.

1.3 Bible Verse

1 John 4:18 King James Version of the Holy Bible (KJV), “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”

1.4 What the Verse Means

John says that perfect love produces courage in the day of judgment. It casts out fear.

How does the perfect love of Jesus Christ accomplish casting out fear? Perfect love casts out fear because it produces a likeness to Christ and Jesus Christ is the Judge.

There is another way in which love produces boldness. It does this by its casting out fear. The entrance of perfect love through Jesus Christ is for fear a “cease and desist” letter. It is an order to quit.

When love arrives, it brings hand in hand with itself courage. Boldness is the companion of love, only when love is perfect. Only professing Christians can experience this perfect love of God, a love that casts out fear.

As Believer’s in Jesus Christ, we can face the future, including being the caregiver of a loved one with a chronic illness, and even death with the peace that only comes from Christ’s perfect love.

If you are not a Christian, accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior is a prerequisite to obtaining God’s peace.

1.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Lord Jesus, thank you that there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.
  • Heavenly Father help me to keep my mind focused on you and your love for me.
  • God, help me remove any fears I may have as I look to the future by turning them over to you daily and as new ones occur.
  • Provide your grace to meet the challenges I encounter daily. I cannot travel this journey alone but can with you.
  • Help me to know without any doubt that as a Believer in Jesus Christ my ultimate future is in Heaven. Help my loved one to trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior if they are not a Christian. Prepare their heart to hear the Gospel and to accept Christ as Savior.

1.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. List two examples of times you have been afraid (Psalm 56:3 and 1 Peter 5:7).
  2. Remember two times you have trusted in God since your loved one’s diagnosis with a chronic illness (Psalm 56:3 and 1 Peter 5:7)
  3. List two cares or concerns you are facing. Cast (or give) those cares to the Lord remembering that “He careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7).

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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Christian Writers Are God’s Provision For Others

Text: Proverbs 10:17

“Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.” –Crossway Bibles (2011-02-09). The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (p. 534). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

As Christian writers, our witness is as important as the stories or poems we write.

If our private lives don’t match our public lives, our writing suffers. More importantly, we have people tune out the message of Jesus Christ because of our witness. They label us as just another religious hypocrite.

One of the most significant and miraculous things in life is to heed God’s voice. It is when we fully trust and follow in His ways.

I know what you are thinking, how can you know the ways and instruction of God? First, you ask God through prayer. Second, you spend time in His word, the Bible, by reading, meditating on and memorizing Scripture. Third, you listen to God’s herald … this would be listening to sermons as you attend church.

You might be thinking, but you don’t know me. I have really failed. I have broken so many of God’s teachings … how can He ever use me? God is a forgiving God. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV teaches, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

God has a plan for your life.

Never forget that God knows your heart. He even knows your most secret thoughts and feelings. God knows the number of hairs on your head. God knows everything!

Maybe you think you have everything under control. If you believe that, you are wrong. Only God has everything under control.

Maybe you are feeling confused and just need direction in your life. Perhaps the struggles of daily living and just meeting life’s expenses have you down. You feel spiritually broken.

One thing we can do in times of brokenness and confusion is to look God and pray for our needs … and don’t forget to thank and praise God when He meets your needs!

An example of God’s provision from my life was recently finding a large package with twenty rolls of toilet paper in the middle of the highway. I stopped, picked it up, and took it home. My wife shared she hadn’t purchased any that week when she bought groceries but had been looking for some on sale as our finances were tight. God met this everyday need in our life. Another example could be a friend who calls and speaks words of reassurance or encouragement when you feel depressed or hopeless.

Christian writers are God’s provision for others.

We are the used to meet needs in other’s lives. We need to heed God’s instructions where others will listen to what God is saying through our writings. When we fail to walk with God, our witness doesn’t point others to Christ, but can actually lead them astray.

My Spiritual Birthday – July 11, 1977

Benita, Jimmie, and Kristopher Kepler 1977
Benita, Jimmie, and Kristopher Kepler 1977

July is the birthday of America. July is also my spiritual birthday.

What’s that? You don’t know about spiritual birthdays? My physical birthday is the day I was born. It was November 25, 1953 at Brooke Army General Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. My spiritual birthday is when I was “born again”. It is when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. It is when I was “saved”. It was July 11, 1977 at the First Baptist Church of Lakewood in Tacoma, Washington.

Did you know being good doesn’t get you to heaven. Being “saved” does. Here’s my story of “being saved”.

On July 11, 1977, my life changed. If you look up that date in history, you will find nothing historically significant happened on that Sunday. It was a noteworthy day to me. That day was the watershed event in my life.

July 1977 found me on active duty as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. I was serving as Battalion Maintenance Officer, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Life was good. I had a beautiful, intelligent wife. I had a new son born in January that same year. I had just gotten a commendable rating during an annual general inspection in maintenance. It was the first commendable rating since the division had returned from Vietnam. Named an Outstanding Junior Officer of the Ninth Infantry Division because of the commendable rating, I received an offer of a regular army commission. My career was going great.

I always tried being the best I could be, and doing what was right. I was a detail-oriented perfectionist, high-achieving, and a workaholic. I excelled at most things I did. However, after all of this, I still had an empty, unsatisfied, void, and alone feeling. Beginning in my college years I tried drinking adult beverages, women, materialism, partying, and hanging-out with the right crowd to fill this unexplained need I had. I knew something was missing from my life.

I was also attending church. At my church I noticed a group of men my age that seemed to have what I was missing. I attended a Bible study with them. Here I found that God has given us an important manual for life — the Bible. He has the answers to the problems and emptiness we may face. I found out I was here for a purpose, and not by accident. I learned Jesus loves me, and desires to have a personal relationship with me. However, sin separated me from Him.

I realized I had a sin problem.

The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23 But no one is perfect! Not even a perfectionist. We have all sinned and therefore cannot save ourselves by simply living a good life. Why?

I learned there was a penalty to be paid for my sin.

The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

I learned God gives us a promise.

The Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

I learned that God made provision for me.

The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. – Romans 10:9-10

I prayed to accept the gift of eternal life through Jesus.

I prayed, “Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I believe that You died for my sins and rose from the grave so that I might have eternal life in Heaven with You. I willingly repent of my sins and ask you to come into my heart and life. Take control of my words, thoughts, and actions. I place all of my trust in You for my salvation. I accept You as my Lord and Savior, and this free gift of eternal life. Amen.”

What came next?

Since then my life has not been perfect. It’s been far from it. I have messed up from time to time, sometimes failing miserably in my decisions and choices. However, I have had direction and purpose in my life. I know where I am headed. I have the Bible to give me the principles for daily living. I am never alone. I have had real peace for the last 37 years.

How about you?

Have you ever been “saved”? You can do like I did. Romans 10:9-10, 13 tells us, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. … For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Can an intelligent person or intellectual/scholar believe in God?  Can an Intelligent Person Believe in Christianity?

The Real Question — The answer to the above question(s) is, “Yes, of course! We cannot deny that many intelligent people do believe in God and Christianity.” So a better question may be, “How can an intelligent person believe in Christianity?” or “Why would an intelligent person believe in Christianity?” Click HERE for more the answer.

About the photo: It was taken in February 1977 in my military quarters at Fort Lewis, Washington. In the photo in Miss Benita, my bride. We have been married since 1974. Also in the picture is our first child, Kristopher. Yes, I look tired. I had just returned home from a fourteen day training exercise. I had not had sleep in over 72 hours at the time the picture was taken. I was very tired. The picture was taken by my late father-in-law William Clarence Breeding, Sr. He and my mother-in-law had came to Washington State to help Miss Benita with our new son Kris.

Yes

Why I Write

George_Orwell_in_Hampstead_-_geograph.org.uk_-_432863Today is Thursday March 21, 2013. 

In 1946, George Orwell (his real name was Eric Arthur Blair) wrote an essay titled “Why I Write”. It detailed his personal journey to becoming a writer. Orwell lists “four great motives for writing” which he feels exist in every writer. He explains that all are present, but in different proportions, and also that these proportions vary from time to time. They are as follows:

1. Sheer egoism – Orwell argues that many people write simply to feel clever, to “be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on grown-ups in childhood, etc.” He says that this is a great motive, although most of humanity is not “acutely selfish”, and that this motive exists mainly in younger writers. He also says that it exists more in serious writers than journalists, though serious writers are “less interested in money”.
2. Aesthetic enthusiasm – Orwell explains that present in writing is the desire to make one’s writing look and sound good, having “pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story.” He says that this motive is “very feeble in a lot of writers” but still present in all works of writing.
3. Historical impulse – He sums this up by simply stating this motive is the “desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.”
4. Political purpose – Orwell writes, “No book is genuinely free from political bias”, and further explains that this motive is used very commonly in all forms of writing in the broadest sense, citing a “desire to push the world in a certain direction” in every person. He concludes by saying that “the opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.”

After reading the essay, I came up with my list. They are as follows:

1. Ego/Hubris – I love to see my name listed as the author. I enjoy when my name appears on the cover of a magazine and in the table of comments of a magazine. I wish to see my name on the spine of a traditionally published book.
2. Educating People – I have loved when I have published a magazine article then get a telephone call, letter, or email asking for more information on the subject. Sometimes because of my writing, I have received job offers and speaking engagements. I enjoy informing people about historical events, writer’s lives, and the backgrounds of people and events.
3. Desire to influence others and be held in esteem by others – Maybe this goes with number one – Hubris. I recall the pride my oldest son had when he went to college and found several of my traditionally published magazine articles while doing research. He said it was somewhat cool to quote his father’s published work in a research paper. He said some of what I wrote for journals would be in the library forever.
4. Sharing my faith – I remember reading the late musician and former Beatles guitarist George Harrison’s memoir, “I, Me, Mine”. In the book, he says he purposefully wrote songs to share his beliefs and faith in Hare Krishna. I do the same to share my faith and belief in Jesus Christ. I try to do it in the normal flow of life as opposed to clobbering someone with the Bible.

If you write, why do you write?

Encourage your friends, keep reading and write.
Jimmie A. Keple
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Photo credits: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the corner of Pond Street and South End Road, opposite the Royal Free Hospital. The bookshop has long gone. Date: 11 May 2007. Source: From geograph.org.uk