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Friday, December 11, 2015

In Harm's Way



Growing up in the Midwest, I remember the first snowfall and the first real accumulation of snow. Out would come the snow pants, the heavy woolen socks, the stocking hat pulled snuggily over the ears. Then we’d don the boots- with buckles, no less- pull on the heavy warm jacket and mittens, and out the door we’d go. Growing up next to a river, there would be the necessary cautions to “stay off the ice because it isn’t thick enough yet.”

A snowflake on your tongue. Snowball fights. Snow forts.  Igloos and tunnels and snow angels.

After every last bit of energy was spent and after we were more than soaking wet, with cheeks red and lips sometimes cracked, we’d trudge up the back stoop, strip off all the outer gear and hang it up to dry.

Then there was Coco with marshmallows, maybe a graham cracker or two, sometimes with peanut butter.

I’m a lot older now and to be honest, I’m not all that enamored with snow or the cold anymore. That’s the reason we left Wisconsin.  I believe that unless the temperature matches my age, I shouldn’t have to go outside. But I also know that changes in weather, sometimes chilly and sometimes down right cold, happen, so I live with it.  Barely.

Like my parents did so many years ago, and not just with boots and mittens and stocking hats and heavy socks, and like parents and teachers and mentors today, we try to protect our kids from the ice and the cold.  We try to protect our kids from a lot more than that.

We build up our kids, and we help them avoid the potholes and pitfalls that lay in wait. Heck, we know that they’re there. Chances are, we tripped and stumbled and fell because of one or two of them.

Each of us in our own way and as best we can try to strengthen our kids, get them ready for the big ol’ world outside the comfy confines of our homes . . . their homes.  Some are better at it than others.  But I believe each of us does the best we can.

It’s never easy.  Parenting, like teaching, is a tough and rugged contact sport.  WWF has nothing on us!  Nothing.  When it comes to our kids, any kids, I think there isn’t one of us who wouldn’t take a kick to the head before we’d let anyone kick our kids.  I think each of us would put ourselves In Harm’s Way before something would happen to our kids.

And when something does happen to our kids, there is anger and a desire for swift retribution.  What is that old saying about not messing with the cub if you don’t want mama bear after you? 

And then we come to our senses, barely, and we gather up and hold and protect and reassure.  We build back up and reinforce so that the next time . . .

And there always will be a next time.  No matter how we prepare, no matter how we might wish it away, there will always be a next time.

So . . .

Knowing that we can’t protect our kids . . . ourselves . . . for or from every eventuality, we can take solace in the fact that there are guardian angels among us.  Those folks who look out for us and who come to our aid when we need it, when we least expect it, when there is no one else.  There are those guardian angels among us who suddenly and quietly appear by our side, who are with us step by step, and who might not say a word, but will, by their silence and a gentle hand and a willing ear, let us know that we are not alone.

Are you a guardian angel when there is a need?  Or do you leave that to others? Being a guardian angel takes a commitment and it takes courage and it is sometimes messy.  Especially in this season of giving, something to think about . . .

To My Readers:
From An Enthusiastic Reader:
“These are some of the most amazing books I have ever read. I'm working on the last one now and have been waiting ever so impatiently for it to come out. I started with the prequel and the other ones were out already, with the exception of the last one, which is now. From that book, I went straight to downloading the rest of them and read them back to back. I couldn't put it down. If you are someone who likes to read I highly recommend these books!”

Book Three, Splintered Lives:
A 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t know it. Their vacation turns into a trip to hell. Out gunned and outnumbered, can this boy protect his father and brothers? Without knowing who these men are, how many there are, or when they might come for him? Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives, is now available in ebook and paperback on Amazon, free on Kindle Unlimited. http://www.amazon.com/Splintered-Lives-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B017RFXY9Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1447079283&sr=1-1&keywords=Splintered+Lives%2C+Joseph+Lewis  

Book One, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents has 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead!

Book Two, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them.

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 live in separate parts of the country, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11 year old Brett McGovern, and 11 year old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The 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 futures grow dark and dreadful as each search for a way out.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MG2JAWE?ie=UTF8&at=aw-android-pc-us-20&force-full-site=1&ref_=aw_bottom_links 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Kaleidoscope



One of my favorite things to do and one of the things I looked forward to as a kid was the annual summer trip with my parents, usually just my dad, to the Washington County Fair. Now, it’s not the biggest fair in the world, but when you’re a kid, a red snow cone, a corn dog, some cotton candy, and a Ferris Wheel, life is good.  Real good.  Heck, I would even put up with going into the animal barns to satisfy my dad as long as he’d take us.

Dad would give us a couple of bucks and we’d try our luck throwing a softball at three bottles and if we’d knock them down, we’d get a small prize.  The catch was that to get one of the big stuffed animals hanging from inside the canopy, we’d have to knock down the three bottles a couple more times.  Of course we’d try, and my dad would stand back, fold his arms and smile, knowing that it would be next to impossible to do.  In retrospect, I never saw more than one or two big stuffed animals clutched in the arms of any of the fair goers, young, old or in between.  No, I, and they, would usually just take home the small prize.

Many times, the small prize was a Kaleidoscope.

Made out of plastic. Generally a bright color. Rarely bigger than the palm of your hand. Made cheaply. Certainly not made to last. But I liked them just the same.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood that the “pictures” in the Kaleidoscope were formed by broken bits of paper.  You’d turn the Kaleidoscope a small turn and the little broken bits would form a geometrical formation.  You’d turn it another small turn, and the little broken bits would form yet a different formation. And another and another.

One after the other. One pretty design, followed by another pretty design.  All from a simple turn of the fingers and wrist and all because the little broken bits worked just right.

Much later in life, I saw some amazingly beautiful Kaleidoscopes made out of brass. Golden or silver and much more heavy and sturdy than the little plastic ones we picked up at the county fair. But the principle was the same.  Little broken bits of many colors would shape up and turn into a beautiful design with just the twist of one’s fingers.

I learned something from the Kaleidoscope.

No matter how torn the little bits, no matter how broken the little bits, each worked together to form a beautiful design or picture with very little effort. It only took the desire to use one’s fingers and a slight turn of the wrist to make it happen. And happen again, and again, with each turn, with each twist.

We . . . all of us . . . are much like the Kaleidoscope.

We come to work each day, move into and out of each other’s lives with broken hearts, damaged dreams, sometimes with torn spirits. We work with people, we work with kids, who have equally broken hearts, damaged dreams, and with sometimes torn spirits.  Each of us.  Every day.  Day after day.

But like the Kaleidoscope, each of us, individually, and collectively, can be and are beautiful. With just the turn of the fingers and a turn of the wrist, with very little effort on our part, the broken, the damaged, the torn can be beautiful.  Because within our humble frame, we are beautiful in spite of what others might say.

So as we enter this very important season of giving and sharing, remember that the humble plastic of our beings houses sometimes broken bits that become beautiful. Even those of us who have shiny and pretty shells, have within us, broken and damaged and torn parts.  But each of us can, with very little effort, help turn us . . . and each other . . . into the beautiful designs we were meant to be, and more importantly, most assuredly, yes, most assuredly, that which we are.  Something to think about . . .

To My Readers:
In time for the Holidays and Holiday Shopping . . .
From An Enthusiastic Reader:
“These are some of the most amazing books I have ever read. I'm working on the last one now and have been waiting ever so impatiently for it to come out lol I started with the prequel and the other ones were out already, with the exception of the last one, which is now. From that book I went straight to downloading the rest of them and read them back to back. I couldn't put it down. If you are someone who likes to read I highly recommend these books!”

Book Three, Splintered Lives:
A 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t know it. Their vacation turns into a trip to hell. Out gunned and outnumbered, can this boy protect his father and brothers? Without knowing who these men are? Or how many there are? Or when they might come for him? Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives, is now available in ebook and paperback on Amazon, free on Kindle Unlimited. http://www.amazon.com/Splintered-Lives-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B017RFXY9Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1447079283&sr=1-1&keywords=Splintered+Lives%2C+Joseph+Lewis  

And if you need to catch up on the series, the previous books of the Lives Trilogy are available:

Book One, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents has 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead!

Book Two, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them.

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 live in separate parts of the country, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11 year old Brett McGovern, and 11 year old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The 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 futures grow dark and dreadful as each search for a way out.