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Friday, November 17, 2017

Gratitude and Thanks



I love this time of year. I love fall, the colors, the crisp air, and sweatshirt and jeans kind of weather. It’s about the only time I indulge in hot chocolate, something I don’t do in winter.

Mostly, it’s the season of my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. I like Thanksgiving more than Christmas. It’s a time of family and food, of recognizing all we have, all we’ve been given, and even those things that we weren’t given. You see, sometimes without those things we’ve wanted and wished for, we’re just better off for not receiving them.

There was a time in my life when I seriously considered entering the priesthood. I felt “a calling” as they say, and I liked the prayer life and the mysticism, the theology and philosophy of it. I thought it was what I had wanted.

From about sixth grade through my early twenties I investigated various orders: the Dominicans, the Jesuits, others. Something held me back and I’m not sure what it was.

Garth Brooks sings a song titled, Unanswered Prayers about a guy going back for a hometown football game. He sees a girl who he had thought once upon a time “was the one” and “the one he had dreamed of” but for one reason or another, they never clicked or ended up together.

Funny thing about time . . .

In the song, Brooks sings:
           
            She was the one that I'd wanted for all times
And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine
And if he'd only grant me this wish I wished back then
I'd never ask for anything again

I think each of us looks back from time to time and wonders, questions. Sometimes we look back happily, sometimes sadly, sometimes fondly, sometimes in anger. And like in the song, we might bargain, plan, pray, arrange.

And then time takes over and life happens.

Had I entered the priesthood, I wouldn’t have met my wife, Kim. I wouldn’t have had three wonderful kids, Wil, Hannah and Em. I probably wouldn’t have coached a state championship, taught or been a counselor. I don’t think I would have lived in five different states.

So thanks to time and life, my path was altered- happily so!

Gratitude and Thanks!

As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, we can do something a bit differently. Perhaps we can not only give Thanks for all we have, for all we’ve been blessed with, but perhaps we can also be express Gratitude for things that might not have come our way and because of that, a door or possibility was granted to us that we didn’t see or notice because we were so fixated on that one thing we so wanted. It was the absence, the non-acquisition of that thing we had thought we needed so badly that gave way to what we ended up with that made our life so much better, so much richer, so much more blessed.

The lyrics in the chorus of Unanswered Prayers are:

            Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

Sometimes we forget that. Sometimes we don’t necessarily know what is good for us. We think we do, don’t we? And sometimes, maybe more than sometimes, we really don’t. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

My fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction Caught in a Web will be published by Black Rose Writing in April of 2018. It is currently in the very skilled hands of an editor I especially admire. When she finishes, I fix what’s needed to fix and then I send it to Black Rose and their editors will no doubt find more for me to fix. The real work of any writing takes place in the edits, something I both dread and get excited about. Yeah, I’m smiling as I write this. As always, I will keep you posted on the progress.

Good News!
I finished the first draft of Spiral Into Darkness and I’m currently doing the editing work on it. It is a thriller/mystery with an attitude.

Please feel free to connect with me at:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author                                     

Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI /                                  

If you like Thriller/Suspense fiction, check out my novels:

Available on Amazon for .99 the Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Agent Kelliher and two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out. http://bit.ly/Taking-Lives-JLewis               

Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy:
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved. http://bit.ly/Stolen-Lives-JLewis             

Shattered Lives, Book Two of the Lives Trilogy:
Six desperate and violent men escape. One of them stands in a kitchen facing a 14 year-old-boy with a gun. There are many reasons for the boy to pull the trigger. Mainly, the man had started it all. http://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis              

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
A 14 year-old-boy is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. High up on an Arizona mesa, he faces three desperate and dangerous men in hopes of saving his father and his brothers. http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Silence Isn't Necessarily Golden



John Quiñones hosts a television show that has been on the air for twelve seasons called, What Would You Do? The premise of the show places individuals in situations acted out by marks to see “what would you do?” in that situation. Some of the episodes have been interesting.

In one, a restaurant worker refuses to serve a homeless man who has money to pay for a meal. In another, an individual leaves a briefcase or purse on a bench and walks away. Things like that.

Each situation is dependent upon who is present. Some come forward to help. One man buys food and offers it to the homeless man. Another argues with the restaurant worker to let the guy eat. In the case of the purse or briefcase, one individual chases down the guy/woman who left it on the bench.

I watch the show sporadically at best, but when I do, I am interested in those who don’t say anything, those who choose to do nothing.

Back when I was in fifth or sixth grade, I remember going to a diner in Milwaukee with my sister, Betty. We were sitting at the counter which was something new and different from me. While we ate, there were patrons who came and went as any customer might do. I remember the hustle and bustle of the place and at that time, being kind of a quiet kid and new to the “big city” I was at once apprehensive and exited at the same time. Probably in equal parts as I recall.

An interesting thing happened  . . .

A man walked in and sat down on one of the stools at the counter but off to the left. Like many, he grabbed a menu and looked it over and waited. My sister and I kept eating. Then the man begins to say, “Why is everybody staring at me?” Each time he said it, he got louder. He even pounded the counter.

I have to say I freaked, maybe more than a little. I wanted to leave and I actually got up from my stool even though my meal wasn’t finished. My sister, a nurse at that time, placed her hand on my arm and shook her head. I remember wanting to argue that we should leave, but my sister only held my arm and shook her head.

So my sister I finished eating but I watched the guy out of the corner of my eye as did the other patrons. Eventually the guy left and it went back to a kind of normality, I guess. As I said, I was new to the big city and eating at the counter of a diner.

I think about that situation from time to time. I think about the brave souls who march and protest and who dare to speak out, to write in order to make a point of view known. I know there is a time and a place for it. I also know there are those who choose to say nothing, do nothing and leave things as they are while they grumble among friends.

Martin Niemöller was a prominent Protestant pastor who was as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler. As a result, he spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

He is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Doing the right thing, saying the right thing isn’t always comfortable and safe, is it? It’s a lot easier, safer to ignore and keep on walking. Perhaps circle on back when the coast is clear and murmur encouragement or condolence when no one is looking.

Saying and doing the right thing is especially tough when it involves a friend, someone you admire and like. It because a lot easier to just walk away, to remain silent. I think in these cases, Silence Isn’t Necessarily Golden. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

My fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction Caught in a Web will be published by Black Rose Writing in April of 2018. It is currently in the very skilled hands of an editor I especially admire. When she finishes, I fix what’s needed to fix and then I send it to Black Rose and their editors will no doubt find more for me to fix. The real work of any writing takes place in the edits, something I both dread and get excited about. Yeah, I’m smiling as I write this. As always, I will keep you posted on the progress.

Please feel free to connect with me at:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author                                    

Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI/                                 

If you like Thriller/Suspense fiction, check out my novels:

Available on Amazon for .99 the Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Agent Kelliher and two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out. http://bit.ly/Taking-Lives-JLewis              

Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy:
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved. http://bit.ly/Stolen-Lives-JLewis            

Shattered Lives, Book Two of the Lives Trilogy:
Six desperate and violent men escape. One of them stands in a kitchen facing a 14 year-old-boy with a gun. There are many reasons for the boy to pull the trigger. Mainly, the man had started it all. http://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis             

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
A 14 year-old-boy is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. High up on an Arizona mesa, he faces three desperate and dangerous men in hopes of saving his father and his brothers. http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis

Friday, November 3, 2017

Awfulizer vs Awesomizer



My daughter, Hannah, loved Winnie the Pooh. I can’t tell you how many movies we have and I can’t tell you how many times we watched those movies. And read the books. And sang along to tapes (CDs weren’t invented then or if they were, we didn’t have them).

Each character was memorable and I think each of us had a favorite. Mine was Eeyore. He kept losing his tail or it would fall off and sometimes when placed back on, it would be crooked and off-center.

Eeyore had a penchant for finding the gloom in almost every situation. A sunny blue sky- it might rain. A walk in the woods- too many thorns and bugs. Statements usually with a “Yes, but . . .” or an “I don’t know . . .” warning.

While Eeyore was my favorite character, I had to admit he grew tiresome. I think that’s why the writers only had him in bit parts and in snatches of action. Too much Eeyore was, well, too much.

And then there was Mary Mallon.

You probably know her better as Typhoid Mary. She was a cook and the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever. Legend had it that she had infected 51 people, three of whom died.

You might be wondering what the connection is between Eeyore and Typhoid Mary.

It’s simple, really. Both are/were carriers of gloom, of doom and both cause illness. Mostly illness to the heart and head and sometimes to our physical and emotional well-being.

I’m willing to bet right now, this very moment, each of you can picture someone who is a doom and gloom kind of person. Someone who sees the negative, the awful in any situation. Someone who is a “Yes, but . . .” person. I’m also willing to bet that when you are around this person, you can only take so much before he or she wears you out, drains your energy, and you lose the sunny and positive disposition you had.

And unfortunately, this Eeyore, this Typhoid Mary moves from person to person infecting him or her with this gloom, this doom until the positivity you and they feel is . . . gone. And each person they “touch” becomes infected and the tendency is to pass it on to the next, and to the next, and to the next . . .

I listened to a brief presentation from a colleague who had attended a conference. He shared with us some of the things he learned from it, some insights that caused him to ponder.

One of the things that struck him was the difference between the Awfulizer vs Awesomizer.

The Awfulizer has nothing positive or constructive to share or offer. He or she shoots down ideas and picks apart suggestions only offering what can or might go wrong without offering an alternative. This person has no energy and one wonders if the Awfulizer ever smiles, is ever happy.

The Awesomizer is the opposite. The Awesomizer is positive, energetic and intuitive and who sees the best in people and in situations. The Awesomizer actually looks for the best in people and in situations. And like Typhoid Mary, the Awesomizer is someone who can pass on his “disease.” Only in this case, the Awesomizer leaves everyone feeling uplifted, in a better mood and feeling positive. The Awesomizer leaves you with a smile, maybe a laugh.

We have a choice, you and I. We can be like Eeyore and the Awfulizer or we can be like the Awesomizer. In either case, we become like Typhoid Mary passing onto others whatever is in our heart, whatever we are feeling. Think about that for a moment . . . isn’t it better to fill someone’s cup with joy, with happiness and with hope rather than doom and gloom and darkness? We have that choice- either for ourselves or for others. As Yoda would say, “Choose wisely.” Something to think about . . .

To My Readers:

My fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction, Caught in a Web will be published by Black Rose Writing in April of 2018. While I complete the necessary edits and wait, I am finishing up my sixth, Spiral Into Darkness. As always, I will keep you posted on the progress of both.

Please feel free to connect with me at:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author                                    

Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI/                                

If you like Thriller/Suspense fiction, check out my novels:

Available on Amazon for .99 the Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Agent Kelliher and two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out. http://bit.ly/Taking-Lives-JLewis             

Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy:
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved. http://bit.ly/Stolen-Lives-JLewis           

Shattered Lives, Book Two of the Lives Trilogy:
Six desperate and violent men escape. One of them stands in a kitchen facing a 14 year-old-boy with a gun. There are many reasons for the boy to pull the trigger. Mainly, the man had started it all. http://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis            

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
A 14 year-old-boy is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. High up on an Arizona mesa, he faces three desperate and dangerous men in hopes of saving his father and his brothers. http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis