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Friday, February 26, 2016

Not Making The Cut



We just went through tryouts for our spring sports teams. For most of the teams, yesterday was the day coaches delivered the news that a kid made it . . . or didn’t.

It’s a day of highs and lows. It’s great for the kid who makes the team. He or she gets a uniform, a name in the program, and if he or she is one of the elite, gets his or her name read over the PA system. But it’s a tough day for both the coach and the kid. I don’t think I’ve ever met a coach who enjoyed saying to a kid, “You didn’t make it.”

I spent ten years as a coach. Eight at the high school level and two at the collegiate level. I’ve had my share of conversations with kids over the years, telling them that they were good kids, but not quite good enough to make it. It’s a conversation the coach doesn’t want to have and I know from experience, it’s a conversation the kid doesn’t want to have. No matter what words I used (knowing that sometimes I get fouled up and what comes out of my mouth isn’t at all what I intended), the message is pretty clear: not good enough. And in the kid’s mind, he or she might only hear the first two words: not good.

When I was a junior in high school, I got cut from basketball. Looking back on it, I can understand why. As a coach, I would have cut me as a sophomore. I had no left hand, a prerequisite for someone of my short stature. I was only a fair shot. I was pretty good at defense. But when you combine that skill set, there was no way I should have played beyond my freshman year.

Still, at that time, it stung. It hurt. I mean, my friends made the team and instead of being on the court with them, I’m sitting in the stands watching them.

I was a pretty good football player, and the basketball coach was one of the assistant football coaches. When he cut me, he told me that if I tried to run between two trees, I’d hit them both on the way through. I don’t think it was a compliment.

But a funny thing happened at the end of that conversation . . .

He said he needed someone to coach the eighth grade team. Not help out. Actually coach. He told me I knew the game. He said I could see it the way it should be played. He said that he thought I would be a pretty good coach someday.

That was my second experience coaching. My first actually came in my eighth grade year. Father Jim was the sixth grade coach and he asked me if I wanted to help. Hey, why not, right? There were times when something pulled him away from practice and he left me to run it for him. I liked it but didn’t see myself as a coach way back then. After all, I was a player, right?

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that possibilities and opportunities come at you unexpectedly. They pop up everywhere. Some we seek out and others are presented to us.

Had I made the team as a junior and then as a senior, Coach Crowe might never have had that conversation with me, and most assuredly, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to coach a team as a junior in high school. It wasn’t something I was looking for. I wanted to play. I wanted to be with my friends. But as it turned out, I was better suited for coaching than playing.

While it is never easy when we’re down or disappointed and hurting, I think we need to remember that in each disappointment, there might be a possibility, an opportunity. The hurt we feel might give way to something better, way better. That possibility will present itself in its own time, in its own way and sometimes . . . maybe most of the time, unexpectedly. We just have to be open to the possibility, the opportunity. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
I received two five star (five out of five) review for both Taking Lives, the Prequel to the Lives Trilogy, and for Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy. 

The reviewer wrote for Taking Lives: “Couldn’t put the book down. Great story can't wait to read the next one.”

The reviewer wrote for Stolen Lives: “Waiting on the next. I thought the prequel was good, but this is another one. Once you start, you can't put it down.”

You can find all four of my books
Taking Lives, Stolen Lives, Shattered Lives and Splintered Lives at:
#Mystery #Thriller #Suspense #Crime #Fiction #Kidnapping #Murder

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Bailey And Stella


Bailey And Stella

 

When we moved to Virginia eight years ago, we decided to get a dog. It wasn’t a sudden idea. No, not at all. It came to us gradually and with some reluctance.

 

We’re partial to Golden Retrievers, liking their intelligence and their gentle nature. Actually, it was Hannah and Emily who did the hunting for us. We’d wake up in the morning and find pictures of various dogs on the refrigerator door or on a cupboard or in the pantry. Clever of them. Funny, really.

 

We gave in.

 

Bailey was from the beach area and was a rescue dog. We met the owner halfway, near Richmond. The owner turned out to be only a caretaker. The actual owners were in the military and were heading back overseas somewhere.

 

We took a look at Bailey and saw that she had suffered. We could count her ribs. If we made a sudden move, even just to pet her, she’d shy away. Kim and I took a look at Bailey and came to the same conclusion. We gave Bailey about two weeks before she’d die. She was that bad.

 

She kept to herself and would stare out the window in the living room. She never barked for months. We didn’t even know if she could bark.

 

No matter how hard the girls tried, no matter how hard Kim or I tried, Bailey wouldn’t warm up to us . . . for a long time. She was afraid. She couldn’t trust anyone. It was heartbreaking, really.

 

And then slowly over time, Bailey came out of her shell. We think back on it and can’t come up with a ‘when’ or a ‘how’ it happened, but . . . She joined us in the family room. As best she could, she would play with us. She was affectionate, gentle. She still has her moments, though. Loud noises and sudden moves still cause her to flinch and shy away, but she has come such a long way. A long, long way.

 

Bailey is now a part of us and a part of our family. But it took time. A frustratingly long time, and a heck of a lot of patience. There were times I felt like giving up, but I’m so glad I didn’t.

 

Fast forward . . .

 

Next year, Hannah will be going to grad school to finish up her degree in elementary ed and she’ll be living in an apartment by herself. Kim and I felt she needed a companion, so we gave Hannah permission to do a search for a dog. She found Stella.

 

Stella is part lab, part retriever. She was a stray and brought to a shelter. We put in our application and they checked references and last week, we went to pick up Stella.

 

Small, skinny, scared. So very scared. Like Bailey used to be, we can count Stella’s ribs. There have been some ‘accidents’ and some snarling, but all in all, just in one week, there has been so much improvement. Stella is like a different dog. A long, long way to go, but Stella is coming around just like Bailey did.

 

Bailey And Stella . . .

 

I’ve been in education for many years, just like many members of my family. I’ve been a ‘person’ longer than I’ve been an educator. A whole lot longer.

 

Along the way, I’ve met many, many Bailey’s and I’ve met many, many Stella’s.

 

Kids, parents, fellow teachers and administrators, friends . . . some more like Bailey And Stella than not.

 

And along the way, I’ve felt like giving up on them, just as, I’m sure, they might have felt like giving up on me. Each of us . . . all of us . . . share some of the same characteristics as Bailey And Stella. Afraid. Scared. Beaten and abused. Not knowing who to trust . . . if we can trust, ever trust.

 

One of the themes I hit over and over again in my posts is the idea of helping one another, of making the choice to improve the lives of others and in so doing, improving our own lives. The theme of making a positive difference in the lives of those around us.

 

At times, it isn’t easy. We feel like giving up and giving in. We feel like walking away and walking out. But perhaps, like Bailey And Stella, at some point, because of something we do or something say, the many afraid, the many scared, the many lost and the many lonely do come around. They do come around. They will come around. So, just like with Bailey And Stella, we can’t give up. We just can’t. Something to think about . . .

 

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

 

To My Readers:

If you like reading fiction, thriller/mystery/suspense, you might want to try my Lives Trilogy and the prequel. I’ve received very nice reviews. You can find them on Amazon.com in both ebook and paperback, and free with Kindle Unlimited. There links and the book descriptions are below for your convenience:

 

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! There are no leads and no clues. Worse, Kelliher suspects that someone on his team might be involved.


 

Book Two, Shattered Lives:

After all the arrest warrants were issued and many of the men involved in the human trafficking ring were arrested, six men escaped, went into hiding 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. A dangerous situation for the kids and their families.


 

Book Three, Splintered Lives:

It began in Arizona with death. It ends in Arizona with death. 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 and where they might come for him?


 

Prequel, Taking Lives:

The bodies of six boys are found in remote areas in different states with startling similar characteristics. FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his team from the Crimes Against Children Unit investigate and discover a curious pattern that his superiors refuse to believe. Unfortunately for Pete, there are no other leads and no evidence to verify his theory. A 12 year old Navajo boy in Arizona, and a 12 year old boy in Indianapolis, unaware of each other, unknowingly hold the key to these disappearances and deaths.


 

 

 

 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Our Journey



There are times when walking through this world, our world and our life, that perhaps we feel very alone. Sometimes things are said, perhaps, without thought. Sometimes actions taken without explanation. Sometimes we’re left out. Sometimes we’re in our own world and we close off others, even those whom we care about and those who care about us, because at times, our lives become too much. I’ve been there on both sides of that road.

Sometimes we’re troubled by the fact that there are those who leave us: emotionally, physically, and that parting is sometimes painful. Very painful.

I came across a wonderful passage that I wanted to share with you. It isn’t my own, but rather one written by Jean Turbeville Sanders.

The Train

At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel on our side.  However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone.

As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of your life. Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum.  Others will go so unnoticed that we don't realize they vacated their seats. This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells. Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers requiring that we give the best of ourselves.

The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. So, we must live in the best way, love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are. It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.

I wish you a joyful journey.

Each of us is on a Journey. It’s personal. Yes, we share it. Perhaps we don’t share it, but others know nonetheless. And sometimes we consider it to be just Our Journey, not realizing that there are others out there willing to help, to comfort, to listen, to support, and to just be with us as we make our way on Our Journey.

And . . .

Perhaps, without realizing it, we are a part of someone else’s Journey. Whether it be the folks we work with each day, go home to at night, the guy we buy the coffee and donut from, or the guy we wave at on our way to work. Sometimes, it is the children we teach, or the children we go home to each night, or the one’s we love dearly and who love us back. Sometimes, it is the folks who are disgruntled, who are negative and unhappy, the ones who complain. Yes, they are on Our Journey, too. Even them.

So, we have a choice, you and I. We can choose to make this Journey without regard to those around us, even without regard to ourselves. Or, we can be intentional in our words and our actions and make Our Journey better, more loving, and easier for others. And by doing so, we make Our Journey better, more loving, and easier for ourselves. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

Are you into #Thrillers #Mysteries & #Suspenseful #Crime Novels? Yes! Then You Will Love The Lives Trilogy! Get Your Copies Today!
🔪  http://tinyurl.com/hmyn7al   🔪
#Mystery #Thriller #Suspense #Crime #Fiction #Kidnapping #Murder #KindleUnlimited #BTIWOB — with Joseph Lewis Author

Friday, February 5, 2016

Plan And Prepare



We knew the forecast was for snow. Actually, there were several forecasts and several weather models and it all depended upon where the storm would actually track. I listened to the weatherman- or meteorologist, I suppose is the correct title- and I looked at his weather map that resembled a pile of colored spaghetti that fell out of the box (something I’ve done a time or two).

Most of the channels agreed. The only difference was in how many inches of snow we’d get. The common theme was that we’d get a lot.

So . . .

On we went to Walmart. Purchased the necessities and made sure we had enough to get us through several days, maybe one or two extra “just in case.” Kim and I checked our lists just to be certain. Now, we only live 1.6 miles from Walmart, but when it snows, everything is shut down and we knew that if the amount of snow predicted was accurate, we’d be snowed in for several days. So we Planned And Prepared.

To paraphrase John Fogerty in one song and Steve Earle in another, “The Snow (rain) came down . . .”And we shoveled, and shoveled, and shoveled.

There are two things Kim likes to do when she is restless: she puts together puzzles and she bakes. I read and write and watch movies. Emily plows through Netflix, reads, and after a little prodding, she does some homework. But at least we did the Planning And Preparing.

Got me thinking . . .

We Plan And Prepare for much in our life. Now is tax season, so we gather our records and receipts and try to make sense of it all. The young ones write and rewrite cover letters and polish resumes in hopes of obtaining a job. Those of us who are getting older, look at the possibility of retirement looming off on the horizon and watch the stock market to see what it might be doing to our 401Ks. When we were younger, we put money aside for savings, for vacations, for kids’ college.

We Plan And Prepare for a lot of what goes on in our lives. But, there is much we can’t Plan And Prepare for.

The car that won’t start when we really need it to. The roof that gets damaged in a storm. The leak from a pipe that can’t be found easily. The washer or dryer that quits. A sick pet. Sudden illness, and sometimes sudden and unexpected death.

Can’t Plan And Prepare for much of that.

But it seems to me that if we lead quality lives . . . lives filled with joy and love, with giving and sharing, the Planning And Preparation for that final call, that final goal is accomplished along the way. Seems to me that if we lead quality and compassionate and caring lives, the Planning And Preparation comes naturally or at least doesn’t seem insurmountable or impossible. And if along the way we help and lift up those around us, those in our lives, we tend to help each other Plan And Prepare.

Seems to me that’s the way we should live anyway . . . helping not only ourselves, but also those around us, those in our lives. Makes our world, and their world a better place to be. Makes all the Planning And Preparing a little easier in the long run. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
Another 5 Star Review for Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy!
“This book was well-written just like the other two before. The characters and dialogue go hand in hand and it was easy to immerse yourself in their journey as the story unveiled. The plot twists and connections among the characters in this novel make you feel emotional connections to them as well. A great conclusion to the story and the trilogy. I suggest you read this when you have a chunk of time on your hands because otherwise, you will be anxious, looking for a chance to finish it.”
Find Splintered Lives, along with the Prequel, Taking Lives, Book One, Stolen Lives, and Book Two, Shattered Lives, on Amazon in both eBook and Paperback versions.