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Friday, December 15, 2017

The Simplest Gift



You know as I get older, my Christmas list gets shorter. And with the exception of a couple of items, I think it gets more meaningful. I look at some gifts from years past and some of the more meaningful ones are the gold chain Emily and Hannah gave me for my St. Andrew medal, the silver chain and pendant Kim got me for our anniversary this past summer, the leather bracelet Hannah brought back from Costa Rica, and the little peanut character that sits on my bookshelf with the caption, “Nuts About My Dad” from Emily about nine years ago. There are many others.

One of the Christmas carols being played on radio this time of season is, Little Drummer Boy. I have to admit that song isn’t even in my top five, but I think the message is important.

It’s about a little shepherd boy. Back then, they were poor folk, simple folk, probably didn’t have much education, since in that time and place, education was reserved for wealthier folks. According to the song, this little boy saw a Baby Jesus in a manger with his Mother and wanted to give Him a gift. I suppose he was a little embarrassed because he didn’t have a shirt or blanket to give. He didn’t have anything at all, except for his drum. He asked for permission to play for the Baby, and it was granted so he did. As best he could. And as the song goes, Mary nodded and Baby Jesus smiled at him.

A Simple Gift. A meaningful one at that because he gave all he could and it came from his heart.

I am continually blown away by my staff- each of you! This month alone, my staff and students collected 6,000+ pounds of food for an American Legion Post to help feed the needy. Every ornament was taken off of the Angel Tree in the staff conference room. Each ornament represented a “wish” from a student or parent for something for Christmas. Lots of money was spent and lots of presents were purchased for them. Yesterday, a staff member sent out an SOS because he and his wife were trying to support a family in need. Staff responded with couches, beds, chairs, kitchen utensils . . . you name it. And all of it in one day!

All of this done for others. All of this done because of compassion. People care above and beyond self.

At a recent staff meeting, I mentioned that sometimes holidays aren’t so happy. Especially this year, there has been so much loss: deaths of parents, of spouses, of loved ones. Staff members battling severe health issues bravely and silently though I am certain they are scared and worried. I am aware of one student who has brain cancer. I am aware that another student’s father is dying of cancer and has three months to live. And there are others. Others.

I can’t imagine any gift that might help any one of them. I mean, one sits down to eat a Christmas or Holiday meal and there sits an empty chair. A chair previously sat in. The laughter and lightness of the season diminished into a cloud of worry, of doubt, of emptiness. Of sadness. Of pain.

One can only hope that a Simple Gift of kindness- a smile, a kind word, a hug- might let someone know you care . . . that we care. That we are there.

So perhaps this season, if not all seasons, each of us- you and I- can give each other (and ourselves) The Simplest Gift. The gift of kindness, which costs absolutely nothing. A kind word. A smile. A hug.

Because if we don’t, it may never happen. If we don’t, that person may never know. And if we don’t take care of ourselves, how is it possible to take care of anyone else? So please, keep giving. Please do so. But perhaps give The Simplest Gift, like in the manner of the Little Drummer Boy. Giving what he could, what he had to offer to the very best of his ability and position. We can too. We should too. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

My fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction Caught in a Web will be published by Black Rose Writing in April of 2018. It is currently in the very skilled hands of an editor I especially admire. When she finishes, I fix what’s needed to fix and then I send it to Black Rose. The real work of any writing takes place in the edits, something I both dread and get excited about. I will keep you posted on the progress. I am working with Black Rose on several publicity campaigns so when the “drop” nears, I’ll keep you posted. There will be an opportunity for preordering Caught in a Web, so when the link becomes available, I’ll make sure you know. Unlike my others, this one will be available in bookstores as well as Amazon.

Good News!
I finished the edits on Spiral Into Darkness and I’m working to find an agent for it. It is more of a psychological thriller but with an attitude.

Please feel free to connect with me at:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author                                        

Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI /                                     

If you like Thriller/Suspense fiction and are looking for something to read over the winter, check out my novels:

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 Agent Kelliher and 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://bit.ly/Taking-Lives-JLewis                  

Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy:
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://bit.ly/Stolen-Lives-JLewis                

Shattered Lives, Book Two of the Lives Trilogy:
Six desperate and violent men escape. One of them stands in a kitchen facing a 14 year-old-boy with a gun. There are many reasons for the boy to pull the trigger. Mainly, the man had started it all. http://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis                 

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
A 14 year-old-boy is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. High up on an Arizona mesa, he faces three desperate and dangerous men in hopes of saving his father and his brothers. http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis  

Friday, December 8, 2017

If One Should Fall



I look forward to the Olympics. It doesn’t matter the season, because both the summer and the winter versions have some of my favorite events.

In the winter, there is figure skating and those crazy folks who bobsled and luge. At least the riders in the bobsled have a modicum of protection, but the luge? Your feet stick out on a flat sled and you travel on ice with a top speed clocked at 87 mph! I find it exciting to watch, but no way would I ride it unless I was encased in bubble-wrap.

In summer, I like the track and field competition, swimming and gymnastics. With both of my daughters having been swimmers for bunches of years, I know a little about what it takes in terms of dedication and effort. Like any sport if one wants to reach the pinnacle, the time and the training is grueling.

Gymnastics mystifies me. Like other sports, a gymnast is part of a team, but performs individually. I look at the tumbling, the flips, the twirling . . . first I’d probably get dizzy and throw up, and then I’d land with a thud either on my head or unceremoniously on my butt.

Last night I watched the school’s gymnastics meet. You could tell the kids had practiced. You could tell the kids put in the time and had trained for it. Particularly, I focused on the balance beam.

For those of you who don’t know, the beam is 16.4 feet long and its width is 4 inches. It stands 4.1 feet off the floor. Never having done it in my life . . . not that I ever would or could . . . I imagine when balancing and flipping and dancing on top of it, the height looks closer to 4 miles high. Yes, there are pads and mats under and around it and hopefully the gymnast never has to use them, but at times . . .

Last night, a young lady from another school performed her routine. She did a stunt, lost her balance and fell. She took a deep breath, jumped back up, did another stunt or two and fell again. She sighed, jumped back up and continued. In all, she fell four times. And each time, she jumped back up and continued.

Each time . . . she jumped back up and continued.

Now, I’m sure she was embarrassed. I’m sure she was disheartened. But each time she fell, she got back up and continued until her dismount. Each time.

Not only did I watch her, I watched her coaches and teammates. I watched the spectators. Honestly, there was nothing but encouragement. Each face registered hope. Each face registered support. You could see it in body language, the way hands and breath were held. And you could see it especially after she stepped off the mat and walked over to her coaches and teammates.

After a moment or two of kind words, pats on the back, a hug here and there, the girl left the gym to be by herself. I get that. As I said, I’m sure she was both embarrassed and disheartened.
But each time . . . she jumped back up and continued.

Something to be said about that. While I’m sure her score didn’t reflect it, there was victory in her effort and in her performance. Victory in not giving up. Victory in not giving in to the personal desire to quit and walk away. Victory in completing her event even though she fell four times. Victory in jumping back up and continuing through her dismount.

And I think there was another victory. Victory in the silent encouragement for her, the silent hope for her from those who watched with breath held. Victory in the kind words and pats on the back, the hugs given away after she stepped off the mat. Victory for those of us who have fallen once, twice, many times on our own personal balance beam and dared to stand back up and continue until our own dismount. Victory indeed! Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

My fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction Caught in a Web will be published by Black Rose Writing in April of 2018. It is currently in the very skilled hands of an editor I especially admire. When she finishes, and I was just told today that she expects to get it to me by Christmas, I fix what’s needed to fix and then I send it to Black Rose. The real work of any writing takes place in the edits, something I both dread and get excited about. I will keep you posted on the progress. I am working with Black Rose on several publicity campaigns so when the “drop” nears, I’ll keep you posted. There will be an opportunity for preordering Caught in a Web, so when the link becomes available, I’ll make sure you know.

Good News!
I finished the edits on Spiral Into Darkness and I’m working to find an agent for it. It is more of a psychological thriller but with an attitude.

Please feel free to connect with me at:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author                                       

Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI /                                    

If you like Thriller/Suspense fiction and are looking for something to read over the winter, check out my novels:

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 Agent Kelliher and 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://bit.ly/Taking-Lives-JLewis                 

Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy:
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://bit.ly/Stolen-Lives-JLewis               

Shattered Lives, Book Two of the Lives Trilogy:
Six desperate and violent men escape. One of them stands in a kitchen facing a 14 year-old-boy with a gun. There are many reasons for the boy to pull the trigger. Mainly, the man had started it all. http://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis                

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
A 14 year-old-boy is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. High up on an Arizona mesa, he faces three desperate and dangerous men in hopes of saving his father and his brothers. http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis

Friday, December 1, 2017

Three Things



I think most of us look for fast, quick, easy ways to get through life. Sometimes I think we spend so much time looking for these short cuts that we actually don’t get to live.

There are several Twitter folks I follow that give me slap alongside the head every now and then. One I had to laugh at. “There are several keys to writing. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” Isn’t that the case!

Way back, there were several sitcoms around the concept of family. Family Ties, Cosby Show, Boy Meets World, Full House, The Wonder Years. There were others. Each of them had a commonality: a problem that needed to be dealt with.

The problem was presented. The problem was dealt with. The problem was solved. All nice and neatly wrapped up in thirty minutes with at least two commercial breaks to push the good life.

Have a headache? Take these two pills and they will knock it out quickly and keep it away for 12 hours. Have a stuffy nose? Squirt this once and you’ll be able to breathe again for 24 hours. Upset stomach? Sore back? Anxious? Feeling stressed? Need a fast loan? Your hair thinning out and you’re going bald? Need more bounce and body in the hair you do have? A veritable cure for every and anything. Just watch TV. It has all the answers, right?

I’m not knocking the need for pain relief. I’m not anti-medicine or anti-doctors or any of that.

The thing is, there aren’t any quick or easy fixes in life. I mean, if someone knows something I don’t . . . and there are plenty of folks who know a heck of a lot more than I do . . . please let me know.

Life, at times, is a struggle no matter how you approach it. At other times, it is a joy and a blessing. Hopefully for both you and me, it is more the latter than the former.

But life comes at us in waves. And with each wave, there is the crest and the trough. There is the ebb and the flow. We grab our surf board and we ride it out. Nothing else we can do, really.

I think the thing to remember is that for every night, there is a morning. For every cloud, the sun is still there, but hidden. And even though the sun sets, the moon is there to greet us. Sometimes we forget that.

And I also think that we forget that when you and I have a burden, there is always someone there to help, to listen, to comfort, and to help lift us up. Really, we are never, ever alone. Not really. Even though we may feel that way . . . might feel no one quite understands . . . there are enough of us who truly do. There are enough of us who have been through it before or are going through it now and who will go through it in the future. And if we remember that if two or three help carry the burden, the burden becomes lighter somehow. Doesn’t it?

I want to leave you with a thought, something a commercial pushing the good life won’t tell you. Something that doesn’t come out of a box or a bottle or in a pill.

I think if you’re looking for a quick fix, even though there isn’t one, I ask you to remember and to pass this on when there is a need and the time is right. It is simply this:

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” Unknown

Kind of powerful, don’t you think? And, something to really think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

My fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction Caught in a Web will be published by Black Rose Writing in April of 2018. It is currently in the very skilled hands of an editor I especially admire. When she finishes, and I was just told today that she expects to get it to me by Christmas, I fix what’s needed to fix and then I send it to Black Rose. The real work of any writing takes place in the edits, something I both dread and get excited about. I will keep you posted on the progress.

Good News!
I finished the edits on Spiral Into Darkness and I’m working to find an agent for it. It is a thriller/mystery with an attitude.

Please feel free to connect with me at:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author                                      

Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI /                                   

If you like Thriller/Suspense fiction and are looking for something to read over the winter, check out my novels:

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 Agent Kelliher and 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://bit.ly/Taking-Lives-JLewis                

Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy:
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://bit.ly/Stolen-Lives-JLewis              

Shattered Lives, Book Two of the Lives Trilogy:
Six desperate and violent men escape. One of them stands in a kitchen facing a 14 year-old-boy with a gun. There are many reasons for the boy to pull the trigger. Mainly, the man had started it all. http://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis               

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
A 14 year-old-boy is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. High up on an Arizona mesa, he faces three desperate and dangerous men in hopes of saving his father and his brothers. http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis