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Thursday, July 28, 2016

More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows



As I’ve written many times, I grew up in a large family. There were ten kids and I was the second youngest. There is a twenty year difference between the oldest, Donna, and the youngest, Jeff. Big families are like that.

I remember that each Sunday, our family would sit on the left for the 9:15 AM mass, usually in one of the first ten pews. All of us, all together. Once a month on a Saturday, dad would drive us to church for confession. Not exactly sure why the frequency, but it was important to dad so we went.

My brothers and sisters and I were the youngest there by light-years. Even my dad would be considered young in comparison to those kneeling in pews or in front of votive candles. I remember mentioning this to my dad. He thought about it in silence for a bit and then mentioned something to the effect that as we get older, we realize better how we erred. We realize that the end is near, and we realize that we need to make amends.

I must have looked up at him with a furrowed brow or at least an unspoken question on my lips, because he smiled and said something like, “When you get older, you’ll understand that you’ll look back on your life, all the mistakes you’ve made, all things you said or did, and you’ll want to say, ‘I’m sorry.’”

Hmmm . . .

I’ve always been a spiritual kind of guy. For most of my life, I’ve been a religious kind of guy. I guess it goes back to being raised in the family I was born into, being taught by nuns from first through eighth grade, and then going to the high school I went to, which was a co-ed boarding school that used to be a seminary.

But it wasn’t until recently that I realized that I had More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows left in me. That’s a sudden and stark realization.

There was no one incident that caused that realization. There is no illness other than a few more aches and pains. I’m in pretty good health. I’m happy. Life is good. Kim and I are faced with being empty nesters in August and neither of us are quite sure what to make of that. So, no, there wasn’t one thing I can point to that caused me to say to myself that I have More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows. Yeah, being sixty-two, I really am on the downhill side of the mountain.

And aside from retirement accounts (in about six years, I figure) and life insurance and such, I have to consider what I’ve left for Kim, for Hannah, and for Emily.

Did I do enough for them? Was I a good example for them? Am I someone they tolerate and kind of ignore or do they like having me around? Was I a good enough dad for Hannah and Emily, and as I interact with Kim, who is my best friend, am I showing Hannah and Emily what a good husband might be?

Knowing that I have made, and will continue to make, mistakes, do I own them or place blame on others? Are my words meaningful and loving or are they careless and hurtful? Do I smile enough, laugh enough? Is my heart full enough and do I freely and lovingly give all that is in my heart away enough? Do I continue to trust even though I might get burned from time to time?

Do I forgive . . . others . . . myself . . . for all that I did do, didn’t do, and did say or didn’t say? Have I used the gifts I was given? Did I share my gifts with others and help bring out the gifts in others?

So many things for me to consider. So many questions to ask myself. And . . . so many things for you to consider and so many questions to ask yourself. Something . . . many things, actually . . . to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

For My Readers:
Please feel free to connect with me at

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor



If you would like to read a recent interview of me and my work, you can find it at http://bit.ly/29yA9IT  

If you like to read thriller/mystery, check out:

Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
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://tinyurl.com/Stolen-Lives-J-Lewis        

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them. http://tinyurl.com/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis       

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
The FBI knows a 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t. With no leads and with nothing to go on, the FBI gambles and sets up the boy and his family as bait in order to catch three dangerous and desperate men with absolutely nothing to lose.

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 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 lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out. http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis

Sunday, July 17, 2016

In Someone Else's Hands



In Someone Else’s Hands

At a recent concert, Keith Urban saw a sign held by a fan and he invited him up on stage. The guy wanted to play guitar. So, Keith Urban handed him his guitar, and then perhaps as a precaution, asked his guitar tech for a guitar. “Any guitar, Chris,” is what he said.

I’ve heard of other artists bringing fans up on stage and having them perform. Bryan Adams brought up a fan for his hit, Cuts Like A Knife, and it didn’t turn out so well. And in this case, Keith Urban handed this kid his own guitar and the song was Sweet Thing, full of vintage guitar riffs. When I watched the video, I was focused more on Keith than I did on the kid, because this was his song, his guitar and this particular performance was In Someone Else’s Hands.

How did it turn out?

“He crushed it!” is what Keith Urban said. And to my untrained ear when I listened to it, it sure sounded like he had crushed it! It really sounded great!

This past week, we took a vacation to Tennessee and it was one of the best we’ve ever had. Peaceful, tranquil, and yet, busy. Horseback riding, Moonshine tasting, Tubing down a river with a couple of small rapids thrown in, a tour of Cades Cove, mini-golf on the side of a mountain, visiting an enormous aquarium where the girls got to pet stingray and jellyfish.

But . . .

Kim, Hannah and Emily wanted to go white water rafting. Hmmm . . .

Now folks, I have to tell you that I’m not competent nor comfortable in water except a hot tub or a bath tub. The thought of the necessity of having to wear a helmet and a lifejacket caused me some anxiety. Okay, I was actually very nervous. I almost chickened out.

It was a forty-five minute trip on the Pigeon River that started just feet from the North Carolina border. We were given instructions:
1.      Don’t stand on the river if you fall out of the boat because most drownings occur when one’s foot gets lodged between rocks and debris on the river floor. Yes, comforting, especially the falling out of the boat and drowning part.
2.      Keep the lifejacket snug because if you do fall overboard, they pull you up by the shoulder straps, not your arms, for fear of dislocating a limb. Oh, great!

Our guide, BP, was a young kid- late twenties or early thirties. Heck, at my age, anyone ten years younger than me is a kid.

He had six years’ rafting experience and was a former Marine (not that I knew that until we were actually on the water). Still, I gave up what little control I had and placed it squarely, if not begrudgingly, In Someone Else’s Hands.

BP was funny, informative, and gave us a wonderful trip. I would go again in a heartbeat, especially if he was our guide.

Still, the thought of placing my life and lives of Kim, Hannah and Emily In Someone Else’s Hands caused me nervousness and anxiety and almost at the end, I almost didn’t go. I almost chickened out.

But I didn’t. I didn’t.

I allowed myself the opportunity to trust someone I didn’t know. I allowed myself to trust that someone, besides me, knows what to do and how to do it. I allowed myself to let go, to go along, and to believe that I cannot, will not, be able to control everything. Nor should I. A big step for me. Perhaps, a big step for each of us. To let go. To place ourselves In Someone Else’s Hands. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
Please feel free to connect with me at

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor



Recent interview of me and my work, you can find it at http://bit.ly/29yA9IT

If you like to read thriller/mystery, check out:

Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
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://tinyurl.com/Stolen-Lives-J-Lewis       

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them. http://tinyurl.com/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis      

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
The FBI knows a 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t. With no leads and with nothing to go on, the FBI gambles and sets up the boy and his family as bait in order to catch three dangerous and desperate men with absolutely nothing to lose.

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 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 lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out. http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Some Not So Final Thoughts . . . Again



Two years ago, I wrote this post. I wrote it two weeks after the death of my son, Wil. He would have been 30 years old. He and his wife, Maria, had been talking about having children. Just the day before his murder, he received what he called his dream job. And in one thoughtless act as he walked innocently down the street after stopping for noodles and after picking up one or two items for their new apartment, he was shot in the back by a then fifteen year old gang member.

Wil just happened to be walking down a street when a bullet meant for someone else took Wil’s life, his future . . . our son, and Emily’s and Hannah’s brother . . . away.

It didn’t have to happen. It never should have happened. Not to Wil and not to anyone else. Sadly, it did.

I decided to repost this entry. I don’t want or need pity or sympathy. My wife and kids don’t want or need pity or sympathy. That is not the reason for my reposting this entry.

You see, I truly believe . . . believe strongly and deeply . . . that each of us has a purpose. Each of us needs someone on the sidelines of our life to cheer us on when all we want to do is quit. Each of us needs someone in our lives who says, “You can do this!” “You’ve got this!” “Yes, I believe in you!”

It’s really the reason I began this blog several years ago. If it helps just one person, it’s a success. If it causes a smile or a nod of the head, it’s all good. And sometimes, it might bring a tear. I guess that’s good, too.

I call it “Simple Thoughts From A Complicated Mind, Sort Of” because they really are ‘simple thoughts’. And I really don’t have that ‘complicated of a mind’. Really. I think and I ponder, that’s all. Sometimes I share it, while at other times, I tuck it away.

What I like about this post was that it talks about three ideas that are near and dear to me. Three ideas that I believe in, and I hope to some degree, you do, too.  

So from me to you, from my heart to yours, and from my family to yours, I give you this once more . . .

July 28, 2014:

Last week, we laid to rest our son, Wil.  It was, and is, difficult.  As I reflect on it, I wanted to share with you Some Not So Final Thoughts.

When I read the newspaper or watch the TV news and when a story comes on about a gunshot victim or people dying in a plane crash, of course I’m saddened. No one likes to read or hear about death, especially to the young, certainly not children. However, there has not been the “personal” connection until my son, Wil, died in a homicide while taking a break and walking to a restaurant for noodles. Shouldn’t have happened to him, and it should not happen to others.  But now it is difficult to read the newspaper or watch the TV news because those stories are all the more real to me, to Kim, and to Hannah and Emily. Too real.

When it was my turn to speak at the service, I didn’t say all I wanted to say . . . all I needed to say. I did the best I could, and I think Wil was okay with that.  Yet . . .

I talked about his struggle learning the English language. For a new learner, it takes from seven to ten years to become fluent. Wil worked hard at it and there were some funny moments. In Wil’s ears, birds were “burps” and clouds were “ballooms.” Yes, I spelled it correctly, at least how Wil pronounced it. There was a cartoon that Wil liked and its theme song and lyric went: “looting and polluting, it’s up to you!” What Wil sang as he danced around the family room was: “oony ah balloony estass to you!” (I spelled that phonetically) But it wasn’t all on Wil.

One evening, I wanted to tell Wil that I was a little upset at him for not working hard on his homework. My Spanish was and is awful, and I said, “Yo soy un poco mojado” but when he looked at me in wonder, I ‘corrected’ myself and said, “Yo soy un poco morado.” He laughed at me and I looked up what I said and found out that I told him I was “wet and purple.”

Those of you who read my posts regularly know that I use three phrases most, if not all, of the time and I use each phrase deliberately.

The first is: “Something to think about . . .”

I believe what we read, what we hear, and what we see should be considered and thought about.  It should be reflected on. Obviously it is a choice whether one does so, but all of life has a lesson, some big, some small, and most can be applied to our lives. Reflection is important in the growing process. What did we learn? How does this apply? How might this change me? What can I do differently? What should I keep doing? What must I stop doing? All great questions.  Evening works best for my reflection, but so does morning. We have a gift in each Morning (a previous post)- a ‘do over’. How great is that? We’re not bound by the past. We’re not doomed to repeating it. We can grow from it, learn from it, and each Morning, we get to begin again.  But it all begins with “Something to think about . . .”

The second is: “Live Your Life . . .”

Your Life! Not someone else’s. Certainly not someone’s idea of what Your Life should be. It is yours to live! Wil didn’t necessarily do things the way I had wanted him to. Wil made his own way. Sometimes he struggled until he got it right. Sometimes he sought out my advice and went with it, but other times he sought it and didn’t use it. That’s okay. It worked for him, because it was Wil’s life, just like Your Life is yours! When you get in your car and drive to a destination, chances are there are several, if not many, ways to get there. Some might take you longer. Some might take only a short time. Yet, you arrive! You always do! Live Your Life . . .  I have your back on that!

The third is: “Make A Difference!”

One can move through life without feeling, without thinking, and one can merely exist. One can move through life and use others, trample on them to get to their goal, their prize, their result.  Or one can lift up, one can support, one can help along and encourage. And I believe in so doing, each of us is helped in perhaps greater measure. It makes the journey easier. The pain we sometimes have becomes, if not less, at least a little more bearable because it is shared. Our pain is, on some level, understood. Each day, each minute, we have a choice to make a positive impact on others. Judging by the comments shared with us at his service and on the In Memory of Wil Lewis page on Facebook and the comments shared with us at the visitation and the luncheon that followed the memorial service, Wil made a positive impact on many. And the beauty of it was that perhaps Wil was unaware he had done so. Wil just Lived His Life and in so doing, Made A Difference!

That’s all I really ask of you. Each of you. Each day, each moment. Just Live Your Life and Make A Difference! Not too much to ask, is it? 

In Apollo 13, there is a scene when the three astronauts are in their little capsule. They aren’t sure if they will survive the reentry into the atmosphere. They aren’t sure if they will make a safe and soft landing. Their hands are in the hands of some unknown folks thousands of miles away. I don’t know the historical accuracy of the scene, but the character played by Tom Hanks turns to his partners and says, “Gentlemen, it has been an honor and a privilege.”

Wil, it has been an honor and a privilege to be your dad.  It has been an honor and a privilege for me for you to be my son. A real honor and a real privilege. I regret that I wasn’t walking along the sidewalk with you July 12th. I regret that I didn’t have my arm around your shoulders and I regret that I didn’t tell you one more time how very proud I was . . . am . . . of you. I will live with that. But I will also live with the fact that you called us the day before, on July 11th to wish us, Kim and me, a happy anniversary. We laughed because you weren’t sure of the date and we laughed because you had a bit of trouble remembering dates. The laughter was good, is always good.

Yes, it has been an honor and a privilege, Wil. Always. You had a positive impact on many and you probably didn’t even know you had. A life well lived. Very well lived. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!