We Are the Lord’s

15 We Are the Lord’s

15.1 My Story

I still recall the conversation. Rarely have I hated having such a talk. I am forever glad we had the conversation.

“Jimmie, we need to talk,” said Miss Benita. I glanced in her direction. While her natural smile and joyous attitude were on her face, it was the tangible seriousness in her voice that caught my attention.

I also realized we needed to talk, RIGHT NOW. Being married to the same person for over forty years helps you understand when she says we need to talk; she means we need to do it NOW.

I didn’t take time to get or doing anything. I gave my wife my complete attention.

“What’s on your mind,” I said as lovingly and supportive as I could. I wanted Miss Benita to know I had her complete attention and whatever was on her mind was the most critical thing in the world to me. If it was her concern, it was my concern.

“You know I am about to start the radiation treatment on the area of my head where the neurologist removed the brain tumor.”

I nodded.

“When the tumor recurs, and it will recur, don’t you go letting them cut on my head again. I don’t want any more surgeries. Them cutting on me isn’t going to save me. Jesus already saved me when I was a girl.”

“So you’re saying –” I started.

“I’m saying, love me enough to let me go. It’s going to be okay for me. I’ll be in heaven with Mama, Daddy, Willie, and Grandma before the hospice people get my time of death called in,” she said with a calm and peace of mind that can only come from God.

“Oh, okay,” I said suddenly choking out my words.

“Don’t go being selfish. Let me go to heaven. Love me enough to let me go. You and the children will be okay. I’ll be seeing you all again when you get to heaven. Even the kids that aren’t attending church or living for the Lord are going to be there. We trained them up the best we could, we shared Jesus with them, and even when they or you aren’t living for the Lord, you’re still saved. I know you know that. Like you, they each accepted Christ and knew what they were doing.”

I nodded.

Then she quoted from memory Romans 14:8 (KJV), “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.”

I teared up.

She added, “Best I can figure, the Lord is leaving you here to write about Him and point others to Him. You need to keep writing religiously. Don’t go chasing any Stephen King or Ray Bradbury dreams of fame and fortune. If you honor God, he’ll honor you. You know that. You taught me that.”

I grabbed a Kleenex.

“The book of devotions you wrote to help me will help others. Write something for those people like you, the ones who are caregivers. You have as hard a job taking care of me and the household as I have being the terminally ill patient. Just keep pointing people to Jesus. We both know Jesus is the only hope anyone has. Now promise me you won’t let them cut on me anymore and that you’ll write to lead people to Jesus and help Christians grow in their faith.”

“I promise,” I said as I held her hand and then kissed the back of the hand to seal my pledge.

Eight weeks later the tumor recurred. At the recurrence, I was given two options. Option one was surgery which would extend life a couple of months at the most. Choice two was hospice.

“I need your decision on which option you will choose. I need it now. The operating room is available now and then not again for several days. Several days will be too late. What do you want to do?” asked the neurological surgeon.

Miss Benita’s word reverberated through my head, “Don’t go being selfish. Let me go to heaven. Love me enough to let me go.”

“No more surgery We chose hospice,” I said. And then I cried. Loving someone enough to let them die and go to heaven is hard.

15.2 We Are the Lord’s

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic or terminal illness realizes we are the Lord’s. Today most people live for themselves and live for the moment. This lifestyle is different from how a Christian should live.

The purpose of the Christian life is to do the Lord’s will and promote his glory by our living example. Trying to model the Christian life doesn’t mean you cannot have fun. On the contrary, it allows you to have fun without regrets.

15.3 Bible Verse

Romans 14:8 (KJV), “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.”

15.4 What the Verse Means

The purpose of the Christian life is to do the Lord’s will and promote his glory by our living example. A Christin should do this because they belong to God. Not only do we belong to God in this life but we belong to him even as we are dying and after we die.

The passage provides a reminder that the soul does not cease to be conscious at death. We are still the Lord’s.

Even when the body is in the grace, we are the Lords. 2 Corinthians 5:8 (KJV) reminds us, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

15.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father if I live I live to the Lord. Help me live to the Lord. May you be glorified through my life.
  • Lord Jesus if I die, I die to the Lord. Help me to die to the Lord. Help me to remember that even in the grave I am yours.
  • I proclaim to the world whether I live or whether I die, I am the Lord’s. Thank you, Lord, for the security I have as a Believer in the Lord.

15.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Are you living every day to point people to Jesus? If not, ask God through prayer to help you live for Jesus.
  2. Are you spending time reading God’s word? Remember, a regular time of reading the Bible will help you as a caregiver. It will strengthen and refresh you spiritually.
  3. Who do you know in your loved one’s circle of friends that need to know Christ as Savior? Begin praying for God to soften their heart.

Photo Source: Pixabay

This blog post is from the forthcoming book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D.

To receive a notification when “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Kepler, Ed.D. is available and to get occasional updates on the writing of Jimmie Kepler please complete the “Email Sign-up”  found in the far left column of the blog.

 

Time

8 Time

8.1 My Story

“How long …”

I asked the question doctors dread to hear. How long will my wife live? I spoke those words to the physician when my mother had her kidney transplant. I repeated the words when my wife had Melanoma surgery and had thirty-four lymph nodes removed because the disease had spread into them. Yes, I also said those two words when I took my ninety-years old father to the emergency room and found out he had suffered a major heart attack.

With my spouse, I remember the oncologist giving the five-year survival rate odds which were very depressing. She emphasized enjoying the now. She strongly emphasized if cancer recurred it would be terminal.

Less than six months later the Melanoma returned. My wife lived another two years and two months after the recurrence. She survived nearly two years longer than what we were told to expect.

I worked hard to make each day she lived a positive experience. I also took her on a multi-week “bucket list” trip where we had quality time together.

The trip was challenging as I had to get a refrigerator for our car for her prescription chemotherapy medications. Daily, I also had to pack and unpack a bulky lymphedema therapy machine. She had to sit for an hour every day hooked to the machine to control swelling in her left arm, wrist, and hand.

My point is we made good use of the time available. I made sure she saw her sisters multiple times. I made sure our grown children were engaged in her life.

God was gracious and gave her 1001 days from the first surgery. He also gave me the patience and desire to serve her.

The hope we both had through Jesus Christ allowed us to face each day with hope.

8.2 Use the Time God Has Given You

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is learning to use the time God has given to us. The Bible teaches that God has the days of our lives numbered. Here are five examples:

  1. Job 14:5 King James Version (KJV), “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;”
  2. Job 21:21 (KJV), “For what does he care for his household after him, When the number of his months is cut off?
  3. Psalm 31:15 (KJV), “My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.”
  4. Psalm 139:16 (KJV), “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”
  5. Ecclesiastes 3:2 (KJV), “A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.”

8.3 Bible Verse

Psalm 39:4 (KJV), “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.”

8.4 What the Verse Means

The verse shares thoughts concerning the psalmist meditations on human life. He reflects on life’s brevity, life’s vanity, and life’s sorrows.

He wonders why life was so short. Why was it so vain? Why was it so full of pain?

8.5 Pray Using Scripture

  • Father in heaven, thank you for reminding me of how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to use the days I have to the fullest.
  • Lord Jesus, thank you for reminding me that my days are numbered. Help me to trust that you know what is best for me.
  • God, help me remember how fleeting my life is and to live my days to your honor and your glory.

8.6 Responding to God’s Hope

  1. 1. Are you helping your loved live their remaining days to the fullest? What can you do today to make today a good day for your loved one?
  2. 2. What can you do to encourage friends and family to engage with your chronically or terminally ill loved one?
  3. 3. Make sure you include rest in the management of your one’s time. What can you do today to make sure they take time to rest?

Photo Source: Pixabay

This blog post is from the forthcoming book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.

To receive notification when “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D. is available and to get occasional updates on the writing of Jimmie Aaron Kepler please complete the “Email Sign-up”  ound in the far left column of the blog.

Thanks for the Memory

The Value of Giving Thanks 

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness understands the value of giving thanks for what you have.

When you care for a person with a chronic illness, too often you focus on the negative and the bad. Instead of focusing on the adversity of the situation you are living through, you should give thanks for what you have and have had. 

For the caregiver and their charge who are Believers in Jesus Christ, this includes being thankful knowing that death is not the end. That separation is temporary. You know you will again see each other in Heaven.

My Story

As death was imminent for my wife, I did not feel sorry for the brevity of her life. Oh sure, I would have preferred her being healed and having another thirty plus years with me. After all, dying at sixty-one years old is dying too young.

I understood that God has our days number. From the beginning of time, he knew when you would be born and when you will die. 

Psalm 139:16 King James Version (KJV) says, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned when as yet there was none of them.” In modern English, the verse means that God has ordained or predetermined for me the numbers of days I will have in my life. He knew when I would be born and knows when I will die. God has this information already written in His book of life.

I find great comfort and security in knowing that God has my life so ordered that I will neither die a day sooner nor live a day longer than what has already been recorded in his book. I will defer happily to let God take care of the decisions of this magnitude.

Without a doubt I know I clearly understand this divine principle. Because of my understanding, I am freed from fearing death. My faith which frees me from this fear allows me to live the life God had designed for me.

Knowing and trusting that God knows best allowed both my wife and me to enjoy the time we had. Instead of weeping over her upcoming death we were able to reflect and reminisce. We looked at old family pictures remembering the events, thankful for our time together.

I still call Miss Benita thanking me for loving her and staying with her until “death do we part.” I know it was I who was the real lucky one. I give thanks to the Lord for the forty-three plus years we were married. I thank God for what we had.

When I miss her and feel sad, I focus on the memories, ask God’s forgiveness for my failures and regrets, and look forward to the Heavenly reunion I’ll have one day with late wife, Miss Benita.

I am thankful for the assurance of Heaven for the Believer in Jesus Christ. 

Bible Verse

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV), “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

What the Verse Means

The verse reminds us that Christians should not only to pray to God but also give thanks to Him. We should thank him for everything, in every circumstance, in joy as well as in sorrow. 

Pray Using Scripture

  • Heavenly Father help me always show gratitude to family and friends who aid and support us.
  • Lord Jesus, help me to praise God daily for who he is and for his love and care.
  • God Almighty, I thank you for a loving church, Bible fellowship class, our brothers and sisters-in-Christ who help and support me.
  • I give thanks for the quality medical care and counsel I have as well as the health insurance that pays for so much of the treatment and prescriptions.

Responding to God’s Hope

  1. Are you thankful for the days you have with your loved one?
  2. Are you thankful for the memories you have? I am amazed God created us with the ability to have remembrances.
  3. Have you told your caregiving charge that your thankful for them and the opportunity to serve them? Have you said thanks for the memories?

This blog post is adapted from the forthcoming book, “Caregiving: A Biblical Alternative” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.

Creativity and More: The Value of a Liberal Arts Education

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Albert Einstein said, “The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.”

My undergraduate education is a liberal arts education. My major was history and my minors were English and military science. My Master of Arts degree is in Christian education. My broad-based liberal arts education did more than prepare me for a job. It provided the foundation that allows me to compete in the marketplace of ideas. I also completed the core curriculum for a computer science degree.

It has been 43 years since I heard the University of Texas at Arlington President Dr. Nedderman say I had met the requirements for my bachelor’s degree. Within minutes of his pronouncement, I raised my right hand and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Army through Army ROTC.

I did not make the military a career. Three years later I headed to graduate school. I was amazed at how prepared I was. I knew how to read, write, study, do research and write research papers, and most importantly how to think.

My UT Arlington liberal arts education taught me how to think independently and make sound judgments. I learned how to expand my horizons, discover new perspectives, and acquire the tools to defend my point of view. My education helped me learn to reflect on life, have a moral and historic compass where I can distinguish good from evil, justice from injustice, and what is noble and beautiful from what is useful.

I have been employed over the years as an officer in the US Army, a minister, educator, corporate trainer, Internet Coordinator, IT Support Analyst, IT Systems Administrator IT Application Engineer, and writer. These have been my day jobs that have supported my 38 plus years of freelance writing. When working in IT it is interesting to see how many persons have undergraduate degrees in the liberal art disciplines. These are the people that know how to think outside the box. These are the people with excellent critical thinking skills. These are the persons that embrace change and know how to successfully deal with it.

What have I done with my history degree? All the above plus I have published hundreds of magazine and trade journal articles. I have published poetry. I have written book reviews. I have a website “Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews.” The site was named a 100 best websites for history buffs. I read and review military history books published under more than a dozen different imprints.

I get asked often by younger adults how I know so much about so much. They say I am a modern renaissance man. My answer: I received a liberal arts education at the University of Texas at Arlington.

How committed am I to a liberal arts education? I have three grown children – all three were liberal arts degrees.


Photo Source: Image created and shared by Jerri Kemble, assistant superintendent at Lawrence (KS) Public Schools, after reading Scott Hartley’s “The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World.”

Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Dreams

Have I mentioned I’m writing my fourth novel?  Oh, I know, everyone is either writing a novel, plans to write a novel or has the next great story idea.  So, with that in mind, I’ll start over.

Writing My Fourth Novel

Did I mention I am writing a novel?

Yes, I am. While I’ve published a science fiction novel, a historical fiction novel, a short story anthology, a poetry collection, and have a second unpublished science fiction novel, I have never published a literary fiction novel. Novel number four is literary fiction.

Even though I have hundreds of paid writing credits over the last 40 years in dozens of trade journals, magazines, literary journals, and science fiction magazines, few people view me as a writer.

Response of Family and Friends

Have you ever noticed the response of family and friends when they learn you are writing a novel?  You know the responses I’m talking about.  You’ve seen them.

There’s the rolling of the eyes up toward the sky.

There’s the bobbing the head up and down while shaking it in disbelief.

Sometimes they will express condolences to a spouse that you’re using your time in this way.  other times they will say “That’s nice.  Everyone needs a hobby.”

When I get responses like these I want to put my hands on their shoulders, look them directly in the eye and say, “Hello, did you hear me? I said I am writing a novel.  That’s because I am a writer!”

At this point they usually repeat, “That’s nice or I thought you worked with computers.”

I reply “Working with computers paid for my passion for writing before I became a full-time writer.”

It’s sad. They still don’t get it.  Oh, I can send them running out of the room in a hurry if I say, “Would you like to hear a chapter?”  Those words are like saying “FIRE, RUN, FLEE FOR YOUR LIFE!”

Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Dreams

I mention all this to say, don’t let anyone steal your dream.  If you’re like me, you have to write.  You can’t help it.  It’s part of who you are.  So write!  And, tell your friends and family that you’re working on a novel.  Let them the progress you are making.  And you can drop me a note from time to time in the comments section.  I’ll understand.

Good Friday and Easter – My Personal Christian Testimony

Being good doesn’t get you to heaven. Being “saved or born-again” 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 remarkable day for me. Sunday, July 11, 1977, was the watershed event in my life.

July 1977 found me on active duty as a lieutenant in the United States Army. I was serving as Battalion Maintenance Officer, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry, 3rd Brigade, 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. My career was going great. I had just received a commendable rating during an Annual General Inspection in maintenance and Department of the Army General Inspection (DAIG). It was the first commendable rating since the division had returned from Vietnam.

Because of the DAIG commendable rating, I received a special officer evaluation report with addendums from my battalion commander, brigade commander, assistant division commander for support, and division commanding general. I with Named an Outstanding Junior Officer of the Ninth Infantry Division because of the commendable rating. I was branch transferred from the Infantry to Ordnance Corps to better utilize my giftedness in leading support maintenance. I received an offer of a regular army commission. I was asked to be assistant division commander for support’s aide.

I always tried being the best I could be and doing what was right. I was a perfectionist, high-achieving, and a workaholic. However, after all of this, I still had an empty, unsatisfied, void, and alone feeling.

Beginning in my college years I tried drinking, 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 attending First Baptist Church of Lakewood in Tacoma, Washington. I noticed a group of men that seemed to have what I was missing. I attended a Bible study with them.

Here I found that God has given us an essential 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! We have all sinned and therefore cannot save ourselves by just 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 a 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.”

Since then my life has not been perfect. It’s been far from it. I’ve 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 40 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.”

Why not pray this simple prayer and accept Jesus Christ today.

Hold On Tight To Your Dreams

Hello there. Welcome to jimmiekepler.com, the blog of a writer, poet, and polymath named Jimmie Aaron Kepler. This is Jim Kepler.

On my blog, I communicate about how I write, my writing process, and how I manage to do it while maintaining a life. From time to time I’ll interview other authors on the same subjects.

I don’t have all the answers. Like you I struggle. My struggle is a thirty-five plus years journey of writing while working a day job, being a husband, father, grandfather and caregiver.

Presently I work full time as an Applications Support Engineer for a Fortune 500 privately held company. I average 45 hours a week on my day job. I spend another ten to fifteen hours a week in my car during my daily commute. I am the primary caregiver for my wife of forty-plus years who is battling Stage IV Melanoma Cancer and Neuroendocrine Cancer. I also am the primary caregiver for my ninety years old father who lives 50 miles from me with all of the city of Dallas, Texas and its traffic in-between. He still drives and lives on his own.

Today I am the blog’s guest. My name is Jim Kepler. I earned a bachelor of arts degree in history with minors in English and military science from The University of Texas at Arlington and a master of religious education and master of arts degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. I later earned a doctor of education degree as well as completed the core curriculum of a computer science degree.

Relax, I promise not to hit you over the head or between the eyes with the Bible. I confess I write science fiction with faith where I include Christianity and other belief systems. I try to avoid the Seven Deadly Sins of Religion in Science Fiction.

Since high school, I wanted to write. I was told writing was not a real job for a man who would someday need to support a wife and children. Graduating from college, I did three years active duty as a commissioned officer in the US Army. I then headed to grad school.

When I finished graduate school, I started taking writing seriously. I attend my first writer’s conference. There I was offered a nonfiction magazine article assignment. I jumped at the opportunity.

Over the next fifteen years, I wrote, sold, and had published one to three articles a year. I was paid at professional writing rates. I penned a weekly newspaper column for fifteen years. I also wrote a nonfiction book, sold it, and then had the kill fee clause in the book’s contract executed. I was paid twenty percent of the contract by the publisher to cancel the book. I was devastated. I started losing my motivation to write.

Then life seemed to get in the way. I did a major career change where I started doing a large amount of corporate training, technical writing, and curriculum writing. I also went back to college and faced the common challenges of career, parenting three teenagers, having my wife develop a serious illness, and caring for aging parents.

Because of this, I took a ten years break from writing articles. I still wrote and worked on a few poems. I also started writing and publishing book reviews in the military history field as well as blogging. I did not write any book-length manuscripts, magazine articles, short stories, etc. during this season of life.

In 2007 I was revisited by my Muse. She encouraged me to start writing again. This time I started over as a newbie. Instead of writing nonfiction I decided to write short stories, historical fiction, and my favorite, science fiction.

That same year I started the next great American novel, joined an excellent writers group, and started writing and submitting short stories and poems. Along the way, I sold a few short stories as well as placed at some writing contests.

The writing contest affirmations of my skills helped my ego and increased my drive. Somewhere in this time, I learned the need to focus. My focus was improved by listening to podcasts on writing like Mur Lafferty’s “I Should Be Writing” and Joann Penn’s “The Creative Penn.”  Dean Koontz and Diana Gabaldon also were podcasting during this time and provided great insights and motivation.

I took me three years to complete that first novel. It was historical fiction. I went the traditional route pitching it to agents at Cons, small press acquisition editors, and publishers at more Cons, and finally self-publishing the first novel to minimal sales. It proved to be of great value as it showed me I could complete a book. I have since written the first two books of a four-book science fiction series.

Through the years I found myself wanting to be a full-time writer so bad I could taste it. I modeled the habits of the people who successfully transitioned from day job to full-time writer. I started writing an hour a day before work, giving my best time and effort to my writing before going to the day job. I would also write for two to three hours on Saturday.

So I’m chasing the dream. In the weeks ahead we’ll pursue the dream together and meet other writers pursuing their dreams.

And you’ll be reminded to hold on tight to your dreams.

Buna, Texas and the Polka Dot House

Buna Polka Dot HouseIn southeast Texas at the southern end of Jasper county is a community called Buna. I lived in Jasper County from 1984 through 1993 and again in 1996. Buna was my home in 1992 and 1993. I had the blessing of serving a wonderful group of people as associate pastor of the First Baptist Church of Buna.

Two large questions filled my mind when I first talked with the church’s search committee about joining their staff. The first was how the community got its name. The second concerned a certain house in town.

Buna was named by the owners of the lumber mill. I was told the Beaumont Lumber Company mill in southern Jasper County was first called Carrolla. It was named for the Carroll family. They were prominent Beaumont lumbermen and industrialists. The site was renamed Buna, however, in honor of one of the family’s cousins, Buna Corley. So Buna was named after a cousin of the saw mill’s owner.

The second question concerned that certain house. At first glance the house was nothing special. It was painted white like many other houses. At second glance I realized it was different. There were spots on the house. Cleaning my glasses didn’t help. The spots were still there. As I got closer I realized the spots were actually polka dots. The polka dots were painted blue!

Several members of the associate pastor search committee taught me the history of the house as they knew it.

Some told me a couple bought the house after World War Two and couldn’t agree on the color to paint it. They said the wife wanted a white house, but the husband wanted it painted blue. He grudging gave in painting it white to please the wife. Then he painted blue polka dots to please himself. I believe it was the Odell family that purchased the house.

Not all on the search committee agreed with how the house got its polka dots. Others told me the Davis family owned the house and later sold it to the Odell family. Some thought it may have already had the polka dots before the Odells got the house. One said no matter how many times the Odells painted the house white the dots just kept bleeding through the white paint so they finally gave up and kept the polka dots.

Buna water towerApparently the house originally had red and blue polka dots, though I only remember the blue ones. They were a royal blue, just like the high school colors.

Through the years the house has been a residence, florist, gift shop, home of the Buna Chamber of Commerce, and a few even remembered it housing the sub-courthouse of Jasper County.

Any residents of Buna that know the real or rest of the story please feel free to leave a comment.

Does Buna, Texas still have the little white house with blue polka dots? I don’t know for sure. I haven’t been to Buna since just after Hurricane Rita. That certain house was still there then.


A reader shared this website with me that has more info on Buna’s Polka Dot House: http://bunapolkadothouse.wix.com/bunapolkadothouse. Also please read the below comments to get the rest of the story from local residents and kinfolks of Buna’s Polka Dot House original owners and polka dot painters.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Writer’s Life: Remembering My First Sale

Today I was sitting back and reflecting on the writer’s life. It got me to thinking. How did I get that first sale? That first book review?

The first sale involved learning the system. I attended a Smokey Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference. I was a want to be writer. I learned some of the basics of magazine article writing. Maybe the most important happening at the conference was meeting editors and publishers. I talked to several publishers who expressed interest in working with new writers.

All the editors required that I write on speculation. That means I write on the subject they assign, but they have no obligation to buy my work. It allows them to see if I can follow their rules, meet their deadlines, write saleable copy, etc.  It lets them see how thick-skinned you are and if you take criticism too personal.

I had a kind editor who loved taking a few rookie writers under his wing each year and mentoring them. I had to rewrite six times before he bought the first article. My payment was 2 1/2 cents per word.  I received a check for $12.50, three copies of the magazine – one for me, one for my parents, and one for my wife’s parents. Plus my name was on the by-line. The article was published in a little magazine called “Sunday School Leadership” published by Lifeway Christian Resources. Its circulation was over 250,000 subscribers. It was read by my church members, seminary classmates, and members of the 40,000 plus Southern Baptist Churches in the USA as well as most directors of Christian education of all denominations.

I wrote an article or two for this editor every year for the next 15 years. It took me over a decade before I got a cover article. Once I did get a cover article I got one every year until he retired.  The first article is very basic. It is attached and titled: Who Does What?

I wrote the article in the Emory University Library in Atlanta, Georgia. I lived close to the campus. It was a favorite place for me to hang out and study.

In 1989 I was approached about reviewing books. At the time I would put a book review about once a month in my church’s newsletter. My editor was on the mailing list and said I wrote good reviews. He recommended me to a colleague. The thought of having someone give me a book for free to read was exciting to me. I bought and read about 100 books a year. The article for the first book I reviewed is attached with the simple title Book Review”.

I wrote this article while sitting in my church bus. I had taken the senior adults from my church to an event in the Smokey Mountains. We had the afternoon free and had gone to tour the Vanderbilt Estate in Asheville, NC.  One lady refuse to visit the house. She was protesting paying homage to the wealthy and decadent lifestyle I think. Even though the cost of the tour was prepaid, she refused to go on it. It was fall and cold in the mountains. I would not let her stay on the bus by herself. So, I sat out there on the bus all afternoon and wrote. I can write anywhere I think. The dear lady is still living and around 90 years old and still has strong convictions. The picture is of the Vanderbilt Estate.

What is my point? My point is if you love to read and write you can probably leverage it into a paying gig.  You will never get rich. I was reminded at the DFW Writers Workshop last spring that less than one percent of all writers are able to support themselves writing full time. So don’t quit your day job. If love writing why not go for it? Just write!

My Grandfather and Me

My maternal grandfather’s name is Stayton Henry May. He passed away when I was thirty-three.

I wrote the poem from memories from 1963 and 1964. Those years I lived in Seguin, Texas. He lived on the old Pruitt Place between Leesville and Nixon, Texas in Gonzales County.

As a fifth and sixth grader, I spent many weekends and holidays with him during those wonder years. The poem is of memories of fishing with him and when I asked him about Jesus walking on the water. He asked where I heard the story. I told him Sunday school. He then retold me the story saying he first heard it attending church as a boy.

I had a wonderful grandfather.

grandpa in boat

My Grandfather and Me

We would walk to the stock tank
My grandfather and me
There I learned to bait a hook
In the cool shade of the trees

Sometimes in the little boat
Rowing close to an earthen dam
He would retell of Jesus walking on the water
A story he’d learned in church when just a lad

He would take a dip of Garrett Snuff
Addicted to the nicotine
While I watched my cane pole’s cork float
When it bobbed, I tugged the line, and let out a scream

In my homemade feed sack shirt
Blue jeans rolled up nearly to my knees
He was always in his khakis
A red bandanna used to catch his sneeze

Memories of those early years
Are as fresh as yesterday
Someday we will meet in Glory
Again he will show me the way.

Jimmie A. Kepler
July 2012