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Friday, September 29, 2017

The Need For Joy



There is a wonderful story that has blown up Twitter and other social media, along with the more traditional news outlets.

Deshaun Watson is the rookie starting quarterback for the Houston Texans. He’s having a fairly typical season so far, maybe better than typical. But here is what impressed me.

There are three arena cafeteria workers who feed the players and fans on a daily basis and on game day. Like most blue collar folks, they work quietly in long and hard hours to serve others, mostly without recognition other than, perhaps, a thank you when one picks up a meal. Unknown by most, but evidently known to Watson. He must have recognized their smiles, their friendliness, their presence and mostly, their quiet service.

During Hurricane Harvey, these three cafeteria workers lost most of what they owned and their houses were ruined. Like many Americans during times of tragedy, their lives were changed, altered.

Life doesn’t play favorites. Life can be cruel and sometimes, hurtful.

So in steps Deshaun Watson, the rookie quarterback. He takes his first game check and splits it up among the three cafeteria workers in an effort to help ease their pain. I don’t know what he earns for a season. I don’t know what he earns for each game. But whatever it was, he wanted to give it to these three ladies in hopes of easing the unfairness Harvey unleashed on them. He hoped to ease the pain, the cruelty of how life turned on them.

The reaction of the three was interesting. One smiled and wept. Another was off camera and I didn’t see a clear shot of her reaction. The third stood stunned by the gesture.

What was touching was that this rising star smiled and spoke kindly to each of them. He treated them as one would someone’s mom. He reached out to three workers who toil and serve, who work without fanfare or the recognition someone like he receives. Watson recognized that there is a Need For Joy in this life. Not just for these three nameless workers, but really, for all of us.

Watson’s gesture wasn’t necessarily super huge, although it certainly could have been. I’m sure to those three cafeteria workers, it was like winning the lottery. He cared about someone other than himself. He raised up and brought Joy back to these three.

There is a Need For Joy.

For all of us. Each of us. Each day. Every day.  

I read something that floated by on Twitter and while I can’t remember the exact quote, paraphrasing as best I can it went like this: Joy comes to us when we are grateful for all we have.

I would like to amend that statement to: Joy comes to us when we are grateful for all we have and share it with others.

When I watched Watson present those checks to those three workers, it brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. It was selfless. It was humbling. It was love. And while I didn’t receive any money from him, I shared in the joy he made and the joy he gave and it brought me joy hundreds of miles away. It made life a little easier for those three women and their families, and it made life a little more joyful for all of us. Something we might do for one another, don’t you think? Bring Joy to someone? Anyone? Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I finished my fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction, Caught in a Web and I’ll keep you posted as to when it will be published. While we wait, I am busy having fun with my sixth, Spiral Into Darkness, and I’m nearing the end and in the middle of the climax. I’ve completed more than 78,000+ words and 315 pages into it.

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, 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:
A 14 year old boy stands in the kitchen pointing a gun at his uncle. There are many reasons for him to pull the trigger. Mainly, he 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, September 22, 2017

In Service



It seems like the earth is not real happy right now! Hurricanes, earthquakes, wild fires, you name it. All of it happening at once is a bit disconcerting, if not downright frightening. And to think there is a second round and perhaps a third round on the way. I ponder that and can only shake my head and murmur a prayer or two.

In my meditation this morning, I read the passage about the washing of feet. Interesting in that the Master, the Leader did the washing and not the other way around.

Think about that for a minute . . .

Back then, there weren’t any fancy Nikes to wear. For men, there weren’t any Corthay Derby Shoes costing $2100 (seriously, who buys those?) or Brooks Brothers costing $175. For women, there weren’t any Manolo Blahnik costing $965. There weren’t even any Chucky Taylors.

Men and women wore sandals. Not Birkenstock sandals, either. Back then, footwear- if there was any and for some, there probably wasn’t any- was cheap and inexpensive.

And then, you have the whole “feet thing.” The dirt and the grime and the sweat. The smell. Not very pleasant no matter who’s they are.

So for the Master, the Leader, the Savior to wash a follower’s feet was something. A lesson for us just in that, I think. Humbling, kneeling before them. Placing oneself lower than another. A whole new meaning to someone considered to be and looked upon as a leader.

So . . .

We’ve read stories about human chains- folks holding hands to reach someone stranded in raging waters. We read stories about folks volunteering their time and their boats to get to Houston or Florida to help rescue people trapped and surrounded by water. We see pictures of men and women carrying others to safety. Children and pets being rescued and saved.

Men and women risking their lives in water or in fire or in rubble. Unknown to each other, but brought together because they care . . . we care. Brought together because we are all human and all connected. Brought together because, well, because next time it could be a family member. One’s mom or dad or grandparent. A child. Next time, it might be you or it might be me.

So today, I want to give silent praise and thanks for all of those who have gone out of their way or are going out of their way to help another soul. To those who put their own lives on hold because there was a need of another, of others- a need more urgent than our own. To those who volunteered or were voluntold to go help. To those who collected money and clothes and food and water, and to those who gave money, clothes, food and water. To those who are working to bring back running water and electricity. To those who are helping to rebuild.

I am humbled and in awe of your sacrifice, your caring and your concern. Your giving. Perhaps those of us who can’t help, if we just don’t hurt, that might be at least something. Wouldn’t it? Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I finished my fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction, Caught in a Web and I’ll keep you posted as to when it will be published. While we wait, I am busy having fun with my sixth, Spiral Into Darkness, and I’m more than 72,000+ words and 300 pages into it.

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, 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:
A 14 year old boy stands in the kitchen pointing a gun at his uncle. There are many reasons for him to pull the trigger. Mainly, he 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, September 8, 2017

The Little Man



I am a sucker for the underdog. The kid or the adult who has it all stacked against him or her, who doesn’t seem to have a chance to win or succeed, no matter however you define it. Except for, perhaps, his or her own belief in him or herself. Sometimes that belief is all that is needed.

It seems like when I . . . we . . . come across such a story, we cheer at the end when it turns out “just the way it should.” And I think you all know what I mean by that.

When I was working on Stolen Lives, the first book in my trilogy, I had thought about killing off one of my favorite characters. He was a hero. He saved his friends and took a bullet doing so. Conventional wisdom is to “kill off your darlings” as they say, and this character would become most everyone’s favorite according to many of the reviews after it had been published. As I wrote that chapter however, I had bounced the idea off my daughter, Emily, and she emphatically told me not to. I reminded her that life doesn’t always have a Disney version of “and everyone lived happily ever after.” She leaned forward, pointed a finger at me and said, “Well, it ought to.”

Well, okay then . . .

We know of the Biblical story of David and Goliath. The big brute was chosen to represent his tribe and when no one stepped forward to fight him, a skinny, scrawny kid with a slingshot stepped forward to do so. We know how that ended.

One recent Saturday, I had the TV tuned to the NFL network and there was a profile of Doug Flutie on at the time. Originally, I had it on as background noise while I worked on something around the house. But then, I started to pay attention.

Flutie was a college quarterback who stood five foot nine inches. For a quarterback, that’s tiny. For a quarterback at a major college or near major college, that’s Smurf-like, to quote Jim McMahon. A college football game took place between the Boston College Eagles and the University of Miami Hurricanes on November 23, 1984 that later became known as the Hail Flutie Game.

This was a big game between the #10 Boston College Eagles and the #12 Miami Hurricanes who were coached by Jimmy Johnson. Boston College was looked down upon because it didn’t have the notoriety of Miami. There were several milestones that occurred in this game. The Hurricanes' Bernie Kosar passed for a school-record 447 yards. Miami running back Melvin Bratton ran for four touchdowns. And tiny Doug Flutie passed for 472 yards and four touchdowns and became the first collegiate quarterback ever to surpass 10,000 yards passing in a college career.

But the fireworks took place towards the end of the game.

In the final seconds, Dough Flutie threw a Hail Mary to wide receiver Gerard Phelan to give Boston College the win. At the time, Miami was the defending national champion and the game was played at the Miami Orange Bowl.

A real David and Goliath moment.

The world of sports has many such stories and we celebrate them. Everyday life also gives us stories as well.

Mother Teresa. Helen Keller. Eleanor Roosevelt. Gandhi. Rosa Parks.

And we know of students who have succeeded despite the odds. Two of my former students, Khalid Maxie and Gabino Baez come to mind. I’ve written about them in the past. Both overcame considerable odds of poverty, gangs, and broken families to not only graduate high school, but go on to post-secondary education and beyond. But there are many others.

Sometimes all the underdog needs is a word of encouragement. Sometimes, just an opportunity. Sometimes, the words, “You can do this!” or sometimes, an arm around the shoulder and the message, “I’ve got your back.” It doesn’t take much effort on our part, not in comparison to the underdog. It doesn’t extend us much. But the effects of a word of encouragement, a kind word, our presence lasts longer than we might. Think of it as one more ripple in a pond forever extending outwards. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I finished my fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction, Caught in a Web and I’ll keep you posted as to when it will be published. While we wait, I am busy having fun with my sixth, Spiral Into Darkness, and I’m more than 66,000 words and 264 pages into it.

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, 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:
A 14 year old boy stands in the kitchen pointing a gun at his uncle. There are many reasons for him to pull the trigger. Mainly, he 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, September 1, 2017

The Dot



I saw this posted on Facebook and it struck me as truth. It went like this . . .

On the first day of class, a professor went to an overhead projector and placed a piece of white paper on it. The paper also had a black dot. The students were to write or speak about what it was they observed. No other explanation or direction. Just to write or speak about what it was they observed.

I would like you to stop reading this post and try it for yourself. I’ll wait . . .

You can either do this exercise yourself or ask someone else to speak or write about what they observe.

Chances are you speak more about The Dot. You draw parallels to this. You come up with what The Dot might represent. But all in all, there is very little conversation, very little comment on the white part of the sheet of paper. Almost none, if any.

Hmmm . . .

Human nature, I guess. The way our minds work. We tend to look more closely at the speck, the smallest portion of the white sheet of paper, The Dot. The Dot consumes our thoughts, our energy, and our time.

I’m heading into my 41st year in education and I say that proudly. There is no other profession I desire to be a part of. There are no other professionals I’d rather rub elbows with. I love the kids. I love the challenges. I love the goofiness of youth (and my own, I dare say). I also know I’m on the backside of that mountain and the thought saddens me. I don’t fear it, no, not really. It’s just that I love what I do and with whom I do it with.

At the end of each year, I evaluate portions of my staff. These evaluations are based upon observations, conversations, phone calls- you name it. And each year, the portion of my staff I am responsible for come to my office for our conversation. And it doesn’t matter how gently I word something. It doesn’t matter how many superlatives I pack into the evaluation. I recognize that those who visit with me at the end of the year are anxious, if not scared.

And I am no less anxious and no less scared, because each year for forty years, and one more at the end of this year, I will have an evaluation. And no matter how many superlatives (hopefully there will be one or two) my supervisor packs into my evaluation, my teachers who see me, and I with my supervisor, share the same feeling.

We will focus on The Dot. That one comment or two that is less than superlative, less than positive, something for each of us to work on. The Dot. The smallest part, the speck on the white sheet of paper, and that will be their . . . and my . . . focus as they, and I, get up to leave the end of year conversation. Always The Dot. Always.

 We focus our thoughts, our energy, and invest our time and perhaps pay a portion of our soul to The Dot, the smallest part, the most insignificant portion of our lives.

The wrong someone did to us. The real or imagined affront. The careless word. The thoughtless action.

Sometimes The Dot represents something we did or said, something we didn’t do or didn’t say long ago. Time has passed. There have been so many other positive memories. There have been so many wonderful people who have entered, and sometimes left, our lives. Yet, we spend an inordinate amount of time on The Dot of long ago . . . or recently ago . . . and fail to recognize that we are not that person we once were. And neither is that person who might have wronged us.

We fail to realize that each morning we receive a gift. The gift of a Do Over (a former post). And we fail to realize that each evening we receive another gift. The gift of Reflection where we can examine what we’ve done and how we did it and resolve to try again. To do better.

So perhaps, it is better to only glance at The Dot and spend more time on the whole other portion. To recognize that we have done good, that we’ve done well, that we will do good. And recognize that mistakes happen because we’re only human. It’s in our DNA. And, what is a mistake exactly, but an opportunity to pick ourselves up, to strive to do better next time, and smile while we do it. I’d rather that than stress, and worry, and be anxious. Really. I think we all might rather that. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I finished my fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction, Caught in a Web and I’ll keep you posted as to when it will be published. While we wait, I am busy having fun with my sixth, Spiral Into Darkness, and I’m more than 59,000 words and 251 pages into it.

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, 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:
A 14 year old boy stands in the kitchen pointing a gun at his uncle. There are many reasons for him to pull the trigger. Mainly, he 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