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Friday, April 28, 2017

Appreciation



I think there is nothing that beats the feeling of being loved, wanted and appreciated! Nothing. I don’t think we express it nearly enough. We might think it. We might feel it. But we don’t express it. And it is the expression of love and appreciation that ties us to mankind, to each other, especially to those who are dear to us.

Sometimes, we take those who we love and appreciate the most for granted. We assume “they know” and even if we’re right- that they do know- expressing it is more valuable than you can imagine.

I am who I am because of those who nurtured, guided, prodded, pushed and poked me along the way. I am who I am because I was mentored and cared for.

Next week, we celebrate Teachers. Someone named next week as Teacher Appreciation Week. To me, it is vital and necessary, but it shouldn’t be just one week. Teachers are too valuable.

I look back in my life and there are several who shaped, guided, mentored, and yes, pushed, pulled, poked and prodded. I’m sure at times I was exasperating. I’m sure at times they felt like giving up on me.

But they didn’t! They hung in there with me, and more importantly, they hung in there for me.

Mrs. Nancy Mehring, my fourth grade teacher saw something in me that my previous three teachers didn’t. Before her, my grades were something akin to pebbles at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Before her, I was just “another Lewis.” She rescued me. She picked me for various classroom duties. I remember her calling my name to help make a classroom decision. It was because of her my view of self changed. And I think, because I viewed myself differently, kids in my class viewed me differently. My annoying stutter stopped. I stood a bit taller. My grades shot up. And, I was happily willing to work for her. She inspired me and because of her, I smiled more and I laughed a little.

Sr. Josephe’ Marie, my sixth grade teacher was, and still is to this day, a friend, a mentor, and a spiritual confidante. She knew I loved to read, but she inspired in me a love of writing. I credit her with whatever success I have. She was “the crazy nun” and I loved her, still love her, and I know my classmates did, too.

I’ve been in education for forty years and I’ve been blessed along the way. I’ve had wonderful colleagues who made me a better teacher and person simply because I was around them. I’m so thankful to them: Dan and Mark, friends and my assistant coaches; Bill, the first principal I truly could call a mentor; Andre, another mentor who I can say truthfully that what he has done for me, for others extends far past the classroom, the school, and into one’s heart and soul. Tony, now deceased, who was an exceptional teacher and an even better person. So many others. So many others . . .

I look at my staff: teachers all- regardless of title- caring, compassionate, and patient. Teachers who guide and mentor. And like those teachers in my younger years, teachers who pull and push and prod and poke. Teachers who spend their own money on pencils and candy and bulletin board supplies. Teachers who stay up grading and making suggestions so their kids can improve and achieve great things. Teachers who come up with creative ways to reach their students. Teachers who don’t receive the appreciation, the thank you, the “you make a difference” enough. Not nearly enough. I walk the hallways and I visit your classrooms and at times I stand before you, humbled because you are so much better than I was or am. Proud to call you My Tribe. Proud to be among you. Proud to be one of you.

Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I just finished my fifth work of thriller/mystery fiction, Caught in a Web and it’s currently being edited. I’ll keep you posted as to when it will be published.

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/Mystery fiction, check out my novels:

Available on Amazon for .99 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 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://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
It began in Arizona with death and it ends in Arizona in death. A 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t know it. Their family 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? http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis   

Friday, April 21, 2017

Where Would I Be?



From time to time, I’ve written about the need to keep focused ahead rather than living in one’s past. We don’t get very far when we look over our shoulder. We trip, stumble and run into things if we constantly look back.

I mean, looking backwards serves a purpose. The first is to let us know just how far we’ve come. For some, the journey wasn’t easy. So by looking back, we can appreciate how far we’ve grown, how much we’ve overcome, how much we survived.

And the second is to literally and figuratively gauge where we’ve come from and appreciate where we are now. Sounds like I’m repeating myself, but I’m not.

I am sixty-three years old. Worked in five states. I’m happily married with three great kids, one deceased. I have a job that I love so I don’t see as a “job” per se, but as a vocation. I work with kids and I have the best staff in the world.

I’ve come a long way from the wet-behind-the-ears kid, who at age twenty-two began teaching and coaching about a thousand miles from home and family without the benefit of having anyone near me. I confess I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. I’ve had some patient mentors along the way. Mostly, I learned from the kids.

As a dad, I’ve learned a lot and know I have so much more to learn. It is as a dad that I find myself looking backward and wondering how my kids survived me. Mistakes, sometimes harsh words I wish never left my mouth or entered my head. My heart hurts thinking about all those mistakes. Wish I could “do over” here and there and make things better. Best I can do is learn from those experiences and vow to do better.

As a husband and friend, I find myself shaking my head as I wonder how Kim puts up with me. I have done nothing to deserve this gift I was given, but I am so appreciative of the love and the friendship I have.

So with those thoughts . . .

Today, I’m asking you to take a look back and ask yourself the rhetorical question, Where Would I Be . . .

without that one painful experience you suffered through and yet survived?
without that one relationship you regret and learned from?
without the push and pull from that one teacher who never gave up on you?
without that painful family relocation when you thought life as you knew it was going to end?
without that one boss, that one co-worker who made life miserable for you?

Where Would I Be . . .

without  . . .
Or perhaps, Where Would I Be . . .

with . . .

Because it works both ways.

We learn because of and we learn from. We learn from others as well as learn without others. Without others, we learn to trust our own heart, our own head and listen to our own soul.

Where Would You Be if you had remained in that one relationship, with that one person who you thought was “the one”? Where Would You Be if you had stayed in that one job? Where would you be if you had stayed in one place and never moved? Where Would You Be? Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I just finished my fifth work of thriller/mystery fiction, Caught in a Web and it’s currently being edited. I’ll keep you posted as to when it will be published.

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/Mystery fiction, check out my novels:

Available on Amazon for .99 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 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://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
It began in Arizona with death and it ends in Arizona in death. A 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t know it. Their family 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? http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis   

Friday, April 14, 2017

Rise And Fall



Each sport season ends with one victorious team that dispatched thirty or so others along the way. The winner gets the crown . . . or at least a trophy and rings along with media attention. Usually there is a parade and sometimes a trip to the White House. One or two of the series heroes might be featured on talk shows and magazine covers.

Happens for most every sport: football, basketball, hockey, baseball, only to begin again the next season. It reaches down into the collegiate and high school level, though usually not as extensive or dramatic.

Most of us with a Christian upbringing know the story of Jesus and his triumphant procession into Jerusalem. Folks lined the streets and laid down palm branches and cloaks covering the path. Incongruous to His triumphant procession was His ride: a donkey. Quite the contrast.

Here was a King, (though most everyone misunderstood what kind of King He was) riding a donkey. Not a horse. Not a throne carried on the shoulders of four body-builder types. A donkey.

And just as swiftly, the parade and the cheers and the palm branches were replaced by jeers and a whip and a crown of thorns. Instead of the cheering crowd, He was taken into custody in the dark of night by an armed mob. One day later, instead of being raised up on a throne, He was raised up on a cross. His hands and feet nailed to a cross and a lance pierced His side.

Not even one week from the great and grand triumphant procession He was put to death in a most inglorious way: on a hilltop nailed to a cross along with two thieves.

Quite the Fall, don’t you think?

Got me thinking . . .

Seems like more and more we see those who are on top Fall. Sometimes slowly over time. Sometimes by their own hands. Sometimes at the hands of others. All seem to Fall.

Young music artists fade as their brand of music changes with the taste of the listening public. Actors come and go. Athletes decline with age.

What disturbs me . . . what bothers me is that there are those among us who wait for the Fall to happen.  After the swift ascent, after the Rise, they wait and when the Fall takes place, there is a sneer and finger-pointing and an “I knew it would happen. I told you it would happen.”

I guess it would help if we remember that once on top, the only place to go is down.

And more importantly, no matter how great the man or woman, no matter how accomplished and gifted he or she may be, they, like we, are only human. Each of us are subject to decline because that’s the way we’re built. Each of us will have those moments when we Rise and those moments when we Fall.
Each of us!

And it isn’t the Fall that is necessarily bad, but rather not getting back up on one’s feet that is the failure. And more than that, it is the bystander, the onlooker, and perhaps “friends” who cheer and jeer as we Fall that hurts more than the Fall itself.

If we realize that each of us, all of us, will Fall at some point in our life, and if we support one another to lessen the hurt and the pain of the Fall, folks might do the same for you. So, are you ready to land after your Fall and Rise up once again? Your move! Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I just finished my fifth work of thriller/mystery fiction, Caught in a Web and it’s currently being edited. I’ll keep you posted as to when it will be published.

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/Mystery fiction, check out my novels:

Available on Amazon for .99 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 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://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
It began in Arizona with death and it ends in Arizona in death. A 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t know it. Their family 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? http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis