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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Being Before Doing


Being Before Doing

 

I’ve written before that Mother Theresa has been, is, and will be one of my heroes.  Selfless, humble, sincere, honest.  She gave her life to the poor of India and in so doing, brought awareness and opened hearts to those individuals who had and have less, live with little, and perhaps hunger for more than just food.

 

Father Damien or Saint Damien of Molokai is another.  You might remember him for his ministry to people with leprosy (also known as Hansen's disease), who had been placed under a government-sanctioned medical quarantine on the island of Molokai.  After sixteen years caring for the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of those in the leper colony, he eventually contracted and died of the disease.

 

Flash forward to present day and those who volunteer to travel to parts of Africa to help those who are suffering and dying from the Ebola virus.  Courageous men and women who, despite the possibility of contracting the disease themselves, they carry on, toil, and give aid and comfort to those who are most vulnerable.  And in that vulnerability, they risk their own health, welfare and well-being.

 

What is it that Mother Theresa, Father Damien, and the doctors and nurses and other care-givers in Africa have that I . . . we . . . don’t have?

 

This summer just before the new school year started, I was given a book, The Joshua Code, written by Dr. O. S. Hawkins.  It is a weekly meditational book that gives a verse of scripture and an explanation of it using everyday life examples.  There is a chapter in the book that is titled, Being Comes Before Doing.

 

Interesting concept: Being Before Doing.

 

It is similar in nature to a concept I learned in graduate school while pursuing my degree in Counseling taught by one of my professors and theorized by psychologist Alfred Adler, who believed that humans use a progression of Think, then Feel, and then Do.  In that specific order.

 

Being Before Doing.  Think, Feel, Do.

 

In very simple layman terms- I am no expert and will never claim to be- I believe that Mother Theresa, Father Damien, and the volunteer caregivers in Africa have a sense of being that they are only a part of the web of life.  They, while small, and perhaps insignificant of and by themselves, together with others, play a large part in the betterment of life, of mankind.

 

Mother Theresa said it much better than I can: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

 

But before Mother Theresa cast the stone to cause a ripple, she and Father Damien and the others had to have had a belief, a sense of being, a sense of purpose to make it possible to cast a stone.  They had to have come to the realization that a bigger purpose, a bigger reason exists to make them want to cast a stone.  They had to have come to the realization that they are a part of the web of life, a part of humanity.  And they saw that they had, and have, a responsibility to make life, and humanity, better. 

 

They had to have come to the realization that giving something to get something does not have a purpose except to satisfy self.  And we’ve all known, and know, individuals who will do and say something to get something, and when they get that something, they leave.  Their “getting” doesn’t help the receiver very much, if at all.

 

So I ask you, what stone will you cast today, and what ripples will you cause?  And beyond that, and perhaps the first consideration should be to ponder the reason and purpose for casting the stone.  Because in the end, as Adler states, we Think, then Feel, and then Do.  Or as Hawkins writes, Being Comes Before Doing.  Something to think about . . .

 

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

 

To My Readers:

I am humbled by the fact that my two books, Taking Lives, the prequel to my “Lives Trilogy” and Stolen Lives, the first book in the trilogy, have not strayed far from the top ten on several of Amazon.com’s lists.  Thank you!  When I put those books out there, my first thought was, ‘Is anyone going to buy them?’ followed shortly thereafter with, ‘Is anyone going to like them?’  Happily, and very humbly, folks like you are buying them and seem to like them, judging by the reviews.  So again I say very sincerely, Thank You!

 


 


 

Sincerely,

jl

 

 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Joy, Midst Grief



As a high school principal, I get to watch some of the most heartwarming and wonderful things take place among my staff and students.  It is both humbling and inspiring, and quite honestly, I don’t have much to do with it.  Nothing, really.  It comes from the creative souls and generous giving hearts of those around me.

For example . . .

The Master Chief in our JNROTC program has quietly, for the past four or five years, organized the Cookie Project.  Cookies of all sorts are donated.  We’re talking huge quantities of all kinds of cookies, the amount and quantity that might induce a diabetic coma should you enter their door.  Six cookies are collected and placed into a container, and then all the containers are taken to area Rest Homes and Retirement Communities.  The beauty?  No one knows this is actually going on except the JNROTC Officers, the cadets, and their parents.  When asked why the newspaper wasn’t contacted or even our own school newspaper not notified, Master Chief stated that, “Sometimes, you do things because it is good to do good!”  People who might not receive anything this holiday season will get something, and more importantly, they will be remembered when perhaps they might not have been.

For example . . .

Our School Social Worker placed a small tree in the staff workroom.  The tree was decorated with paper ornaments, but not just any ornaments.  Each ornament listed an item from a needy family’s wish list, and the wish list came from five or six needy families, all anonymous- unknown by name to our faculty.  Our faculty and staff would then pick an ornament and purchase the item for the family.  The wonderful thing that took place was that the ornaments lasted perhaps a day and a half, and some folks were disappointed that they couldn’t get an ornament for the family.  Bicycles.  Books.  Dolls.  You name it, our staff bought it.  The family that is our staff will bring joy to families who might otherwise go without.

For example . . .

One of our teachers organizes the yearly food drive that is sponsored by the American Legion. In the past, this drive fed holiday dinners for approximately 300 families from our county.  These are families who would not be able to afford or provide a meal that most of us take for granted.  300 families!

And then . . .

This year, this Christmas season is a very real struggle for my family, for me.  We’ve decorated the house.  Kim will make cookies.  Presents will be wrapped and placed under the tree.  We’ll celebrate our Christmas as a family and then make the trek to Wisconsin to celebrate with our extended family.  Yet, the shadow and specter of my son’s death, which occurred just five months ago, shrouds what is typically a very special, happy time of year for us.  However, there have been wonderful, supportive staff members, even students, who check in on me to make sure I’m doing alright.  They acknowledge that it is tough going, but they offer support and I know they are there if needed, wanted.  And I’m so thankful to them, for them.  They are so appreciated.  And they do this for other folks like me, who have suffered a loss and are suffering quietly.  This staff is family to me.  While there are disagreements and squabbles- like most families- we care about one another and it shows in so many ways.

So there is balance. 

On one hand, joy and giving and acts of kindness without the expectation of recognition.  On the other hand, sadness- not just for my family and me- but for countless, nameless others who will go without, others who walk in pain and wear it like a cloak, others whose heart aches from suffering that goes, perhaps, unnoticed.

Joy, Midst Grief.

So I do ask you to do one thing:

As you celebrate your season, your holiday, your Christmas, absolutely and totally love those around you, those who are precious to you, and let them know, show them, that you love them, care for them.  I’ve learned that life is too short.  The unexpected, and sometimes the unwanted, happens.  Don’t let a day, an hour, a minute go by without telling and showing those who are important to you that they are important to you.  You can’t take their love for granted.  They can’t, and shouldn’t, take your love for granted.  Spend your time, and your love, wisely.  Something to think about . . .

God Bless Each of You, and May Each of You Have Peace and Joy this Christmas Season!
From My Family: Kim, Hannah, Emily and Me.  And from Maria, and yes, Wil, too!

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

Thank you for purchasing and reading Taking Lives, the prequel to my trilogy, and for purchasing and reading Stolen Lives, the first book of the trilogy.  If they made you uncomfortable and perhaps kept you up at night, I guess I did my job.  But more than that, I hope I gave you a glimpse of the hope and the courage that can be found in our humanness.  I hope you caught a glimpse of the friendship, the caring and compassion, and the love that exists in our humanness.  If you did, then I know I did my job.

You can find Taking Lives by Joseph Lewis on Amazon.com and at this link:

You can find Stolen Lives by Joseph Lewis on Amazon.com and at this link:

Thanks,
jl

Friday, December 5, 2014

Advent And Thanksgiving



Thanksgiving is generally the kickoff to the Christmas and the Holiday season.  Ever since I was little, it always seemed to be so.

We prepare the meal.  We eat the meal.  We clean up after the meal.  We catch a football game or two. 

I think Thanksgiving needs to be bigger than that.  Thanksgiving needs to be bigger than a drumstick and some pumpkin pie and pigskin. 

And then after the meal, there is the late Thursday night shopping, followed by Black Friday shopping and weekend shopping, followed by Cyber Monday shopping.  This year, I noticed that as soon as Halloween was over, stores ripped down their displays and raised up the Christmas and Holiday displays.  It seemed as if Thanksgiving was hastily ushered off and thrown into the closet until it is pulled out for a quick salute for a day or two the next year.

Hardly seems fair that Thanksgiving was treated with such little respect.

Still, I do love the season of Advent.  And I do love what the Christmas season represents.  I just wish Thanksgiving was given its true and rightful place in our lives and in our hearts.

At times I think that Advent should be before Thanksgiving.  I mean, shouldn’t we prepare, make ready and make room, and then give thanks?  For example, doesn’t food taste better when one is hungry, when one is less full, and when one is prepared for it?

I think we’ve somehow lost the meaning of Advent.

Yes, we decorate the house.  We make the holiday breads and cookies.  We chop down a tree, throw lights on it, and place a meaningful ornament or two or twenty on it.  We draw names for gift giving.  We make lists and shop and wrap and tie everything up with a nice shiny bow.

Yet, like Thanksgiving, Advent is bigger than that.

But I’ve always been drawn to Advent as being bigger than that.  It is about preparing our hearts.  It’s about taking stock of our lives.  It’s about the preparation for what needs to be done, what needs to be repaired, and what needs to be rethought. 

Advent is about looking at our relationships- the relationship we have with ourselves as well as the relationship we have with others.  

And like Thanksgiving, we’ve treated, and treat, Advent with very little respect.

Advent has to be more important, more significant than twinkling lights and tinsel.  Advent has to be more important than the pile of boxes and bows.  At some point, we need to rediscover the meaning behind Thanksgiving and about Advent.  We need to give those two holidays, and ourselves, more respect than we show them, us. 

We rush about frantically trying to ‘get it all done’ before we collapse in a heap.  We worry about what we need to do, what needs to get done, when truly, really, what we’re worrying about and what we think is so important, really isn’t all that much to worry about, and it is really fairly unimportant and trivial.

There are relationships.  There are memories to build and nurture and grow.  There are smiles and laughter to behold and express.  There is time that needs to be spent with and on those whom we love.  And, we need to do this way before it is too late, before there is no time, and before time passes and is no longer.  So much more important.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!