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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Appreciate The Large And The Small



Last night I made a pot of chili. It’s one of my favorite dishes, and my family likes it, too. Generally, it’s spicy and on the hot side, which is just right for Hannah and me, kinda sorta all right for Emily, and too hot for Kim. But honestly, I don’t know how else to make it.

My idea of cooking is to throw stuff in the pot. I never measure any of the ingredients, but rather, just dump. My tendency towards various peppers and spices gets me in trouble with Kim. Sorry about that.

But the best part of the meal, any meal really, is the conversation and the laughter that takes place around the table. A lot of laughter. Even after the meal has been eaten, we sit around amongst the dirty dishes, the used glasses and silverware, and share stories and laugh.

I have to tell you that our youngest, Emily, is kind of a split personality. Don’t be fooled by her! She presents herself as reserved and quiet, actually rather serious. A deep thinker and concentrated observer of the Large And The Small that takes place around her. But, she is the comedian of the family. She takes everything in and spills it out with a catchy comment that makes us burst out laughing. She and Hannah can resemble Laurel and Hardy at times, much to Kim’s and my delight.

And while the conversation and laughter around the dinner table doesn’t seem like much, it has become one of my favorite things in life. Much like as adults, sitting around the living room exchanging stories and jokes and catching up with brothers and sisters, or as a kid, listening to the conversations that took place amongst the older group. All the “Remember when’s” and the “How about the time when . . .” All of that.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to Appreciate The Large And The Small in my life. Mostly The Small.

I love sunrises and sunsets. I love walking in the school cafeteria at lunch listening to the conversations of the kids. Sometimes I join in, other times, I listen as I stroll by. I enjoy music. All kinds, really, except for the type of jazz that has an improbable melody or doesn’t know when to end. I love food and that’s probably why I look the way I do. I like pictures and paintings of quiet forests, of trails and of roads that seem to disappear that make me wonder what lies around the bend. I like the fluffy cotton ball clouds that float in a blue sky. I like rugged mountain scenes forested in green or snow capped.

I like books that take me away to unknown places with characters that become real to me. I like movies that keep me guessing and on the edge of my seat.

I like the peace and quiet of early mornings, sitting alone in the family room doing, well, nothing.

And as I get older and walk along the downward slope of the mountain, I’ve come to Appreciate those individuals who walked into my life and made a difference, who caused me to laugh, who made me think. I’ve come to Appreciate those individuals who have encouraged me to continue, to keep moving forward. I’ve come to Appreciate those individuals who have lent me a hand to lift me up time and time again. I’ve come to Appreciate those individuals who gave me a shoulder to lean on, an ear for listening, and most of all, their presence when I needed to be with and around someone.

Seems like each of us has something to be thankful for. Seems like each of us can find something to Appreciate, Large And Small. We just have to look- not so much with our eyes as much as with our heart. Because I believe it is with the heart that we come to Appreciate The Large And The Small that make up our lives. Something to think about . . .

To My Readers:

My new book, the third and final book of The Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives, is now available on Amazon, free with Kindle Unlimited. The paperback version should be coming shortly.  The synopsis is as follows:

It began on the Navajo Indian Reservation when a fourteen year old boy, George Tokay, witnessed and reported the murder of a Caucasian boy his own age. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents solved that crime, which led to the freedom of thirty boys who were abducted off safe suburban streets and held in captivity, some for more than two years. The FBI thought the boys were safe and so did their parents. After all, arrest warrants were served and members of the human trafficking ring were arrested. That is, except for three dangerous men with absolutely nothing to lose.

These three men arrange for a handsome reward if fourteen year old Brett, one of the boys who had been held captive, is killed. Brett has no idea that he, his younger brother, and his friend, another former captive, are targets. But more than anyone else, these three men vow revenge on George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and go into hiding. What was to be a fun-filled vacation with his newly adopted family, turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Indian Reservation high up on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather.

Outnumbered and out gunned, George is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, but can he protect his father and his brothers from these dangerous men before that happens? Can he save them without knowing who these men are or where they might be? Or when they might attack? Can George trust his friends whom he reaches out to for help? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death?

Splintered Lives can be found at:

Friday, November 6, 2015

Brave And Tough



I don’t consider myself a particularly brave person.  I don’t consider myself to be a particularly tough person.  I think there have been situations and circumstances in my life where I might have performed bravely.  But those are situational, not the norm.

I remember a time back years ago as a counselor in California.  There was a shooting at lunch time on our high school campus.  Fortunately, no one died, though there were injuries.  And, the shooter was eventually caught and brought to justice.  But I remember talking to another staff member when we both heard the gunshots.  We looked at each other and broke into a run . . . towards the shooting, towards the sound of the gunshots. 

It wasn’t planned.  It was just reactive.  Both of us were concerned about the safety of the students and the safety of the staff.  Neither of us thought about our own safety, nor did anyone else who had responded.  As I said, it was in reaction to what we both knew we heard.

I think of those three brave men on the French train.  These young men, two U.S. Marines and a Brit likely saved dozens of lives when a Moroccan man opened fire aboard a train from Belgium to Paris.  I think of 9-11 and Flight 93.  Because of the actions of the 40 passengers and crew aboard that plane, the attack on the U.S. Capitol was thwarted. In so doing, they lost their lives to save others.  In both cases, I think they were pretty brave and pretty tough.

I wrote in one of my posts quite some time ago about a young man I knew, Khalid.  I was his counselor and I never knew the struggles he had until he had graduated: living in a home where he wasn’t wanted; sleeping on the floor night after night all through high school; not necessarily receiving the support he so deserved from his father and step-mother as he went through school.  Yet, Khalid graduated and attended college on a football scholarship.  He became a counselor and is now an administrator.  He’s married to a beautiful young lady and together have two beautiful kids.

That takes courage to move throughout the day, each day, each week, month and year to achieve in spite of all the obstacles in his path.  Pretty brave.  Pretty darn tough.

I think of another student, Beth, who was an honor student.  Her family was homeless.  She slept in hotels when her family could afford one, otherwise it was a car or a shelter.  At times depending upon where it was when she went to bed, she would wear long sleeved shirts and slacks to bed with rubber bands on the cuffs to keep cockroaches from getting in her clothes.  She would study by flashlight when the electricity was cut off, and as I said, she was an honor student.  And each day in spite of all she went through, she would come to school and smile and work.

Like Khalid, it took courage to move throughout the day, each day, each week, month and year to achieve in spite of all the obstacles in her path.  Pretty brave.  Pretty darn tough.

Both are tougher, and both are braver than I’ll ever be.  Both are tougher, and both are braver than most anyone I know.

I think of the great philosophers, Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robbin.  Christopher said to Winnie, “Promise me you’ll always remember that you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

What a nice philosophy to impart to our children!  What a really nice philosophy to impart to each other! 

I think kids need that reminder from time to time.  I think each of us needs that reminder from time to time.  Sometimes kids, and each of us, are faced with what seem like insurmountable obstacles in our paths that prevent us from moving forward.  Sometimes these obstacles are of our own creation.  Sometimes these obstacles are created for us by others or by the situation or circumstance we find ourselves in.  So a reminder that we are “braver than we believe, stronger than we seem, and smarter than we think” is always good, always welcome.  And, perhaps we might offer a hand to lift up, a shoulder to lean on, and a smile along with a word of encouragement.  Always welcome.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
At last Splintered Lives, Book Three of The Lives Trilogy debuts on Amazon on Monday, November 9 on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, and shortly thereafter in paperback.  The synopsis is as follows:
It began on the Navajo Indian Reservation when a fourteen year old boy, George Tokay, witnessed and reported the murder of a Caucasian boy his own age. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents solved that crime, which led to the freedom of thirty boys who were abducted off safe suburban streets and held in captivity, some for more than two years. The FBI thought the boys were safe and so did their parents. After all, arrest warrants were served and members of the human trafficking ring were arrested. That is, except for three dangerous men with absolutely nothing to lose.
These three men vow revenge on George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and go into hiding. What was to be a fun-filled vacation with his newly adopted family, turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Indian Reservation high up on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather.
Outnumbered and out gunned, George is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his father and his brothers. Can he save them without knowing who these men are or where they might be? Or when they might attack? Can George trust his friends whom he reaches out to for help? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death?


You can find Book Two, Shattered Lives, at: http://www.amazon.com/Shattered-Lives-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00UZRP828/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427118727&sr=1-1&keywords=Shattered+Lives%2C+Joseph+Lewis