Sunday, May 28, 2023

$20, a Leaky Bucket, and a Lesson

 A professor sat on the corner of his desk, facing a class of about a dozen or so students. He lifted his wallet from his back pocket and from it, took out a twenty-dollar bill. He held it out in front of the students and said, “Anyone want this?” Most of the students smiled, raised a hand, or said, “I do.”

The professor said, “What if I do this?” and he wadded the bill up in a little ball. “Anyone still want this?” The students said yes, and one said, “It’s still a twenty-dollar bill.” 

The professor nodded, and then he straightened out the bill as best he could and said, “What if I do this?” He put the bill on the floor, stepped on it, and ground it into the linoleum. He then picked it up. It was dirty, wrinkly, and had a small tear in it. The professor asked, “Anyone want it now?” Most of the students raised their hand, but a few didn’t, wondering where this was heading …

There is a story about a farmer who, each morning, walked to the small river at the edge of his farm with two buckets. One was still shiny and almost brand new. The other was old, rusted, and had a hole or two. He’d fill them with water and carry them up to a small garden he had planted and watered the flowers and vegetables in it. He repeated this each morning. 

One morning, the leaky bucket said to him, “Excuse me, but perhaps you shouldn’t use me any longer. I leak water out and there is hardly any left for you to water your garden.” 

The farmer smiled and shook his head. The next morning, the farmer took the two buckets to the river just like he did each morning, and filled them to the brim. As the farmer began his slow walk up to the garden, the leaky bucket protested, “Sir, I’m sorry. I am much more trouble than I am a help. By the time you get to the garden, there is hardly any water left for you to use.”

The farmer smiled and walked slowly along the path and said, “Yes, you leak a little, but look at what you did along this path. Look at all the flowers and bushes you watered along the way. They wouldn’t have grown if you had not watered them each morning.” 

And indeed, along the path were beautiful wild flowers of different colors. Bees nestled among them, a rabbit scurried out of a lush bush as the farmer neared it. Even a bird or two flew out of them to a nearby tree. “You see, not only did you water the flowers, you brought life to this little path as we walked this path each morning.”

The lesson … 

Even though the twenty-dollar bill was crumpled and torn, it still maintained its value. It was worth $20, no matter how much the professor damaged it.

The leaky bucket, old and rusty, still had value because it served a purpose in creating beauty to an otherwise normal path to a river. In so doing, the bucket gave beauty and life to an otherwise ordinary path to the river. 

The moral …

Even though the world tells us otherwise; even though the world crumbles us up, steps on us, grinds us down and even though we feel worn out, tattered and torn, we still have value and purpose. No matter what anyone tells you or what message they send- spoken or silent- we matter. We matter to others, known and unknown. We matter because we are human and were created and given life. We matter because we love.

Even though we feel old and run-down; even though our body aches as we get up out of bed or out of a chair; even though our hair turns gray and our sight dims, and we get spotted with old age, we matter. We are still valuable to those who truly know us, love us, and care about us. There are those who, in our younger days and even in our older days, we cared about and cared for, and no matter how old we get, no matter if we walk with a cane or ride in a wheelchair, and no matter how hunched over we are, they love us and care about us, because we love and care about them.

Time and age won’t change that. Our appearance won’t change that. Memories of love and caring don’t fade away. They last long after we cease to exist. Like the leaky bucket, we brought beauty and life to this, their, and our world. We will always, always have value. Always! Something to think about … 

Live Your life, and Make A Difference!

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My Publisher, Black Rose Writing, and I sponsored a giveaway for Fan Mail that began on Tuesday, April 25 and ended Wednesday, May 24th. We gave away 5 copies to Goodreads members in U.S. I want to thank the 4,458 people who signed up for it, and the 4,177 people who tagged it as “want to read.” I sincerely appreciate each of you! 

Fan Mail: New Release! A Maxy Award Finalist, an Eric Hoffer Award Nominee, and a Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner!  

A barrage of threatening letters, a car bomb, and a heart attack rip apart what was once a close-knit family of adopted brothers. Randy and Bobby, along with fellow band member and best friend, Danny, receive fan mail that turns menacing. They ignore it, but to their detriment. The sender turns up the heat. Violence upends their world. It rocks the relationship between the boys and ripples through their family, nearly killing their dad.

As these boys turn on each other, adopted brother Brian flashes back to that event in Arizona where he nearly lost his life saving his brothers. The scars on his face and arms healed, but not his heart.  

Would he once again have to put himself in harm’s way to save them? And if faced with that choice, will he? 

Blaze In, Blaze Out: Best Action Crime Thriller of 2022 by Best Thrillers! A Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Readers’ Favorite Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read! A BestThriller’s Editor’s Pick!

Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of Dmitry Andruko, the head of a Ukrainian crime family, meant the end. It was only the beginning. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. Andruko hired contract killers to go after and kill O’Connor and Eiselmann.

The killers can be anyone and be anywhere. They can strike at any time. They care nothing of collateral damage. Andruko believes a target is a target, and in the end, the target must die. 

Betrayed: Two Top Shelf Awards: 1st Place Fiction-Mystery; and Runner-Up Fiction-Crime; A PenCraft 1st Place Winner for Thriller-Fiction! A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read Award Winner! A Reader’s Favorite Honorable Mention Award Winner for Fiction-Crime-Mystery! 

Betrayed is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! 

A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Greed can be all-consuming, and seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted.

Spiral Into Darkness: Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!

He blends in. He is successful, intelligent, and methodical. So far, he has murdered eight people. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, do not know they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement. 

Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by 

Caught in a Web is also available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback!

They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. A violent gang, MS-13, controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay. 

Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else.  
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 live in separate parts of the country, the lives of 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 Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out.  

Book One, Stolen Lives: Editor’s Pick by BestThrillers! Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Crime Thriller finalist in the 2021 Best Thriller Book Awards!

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 will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved.  

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:

The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. 
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:

Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward to anyone willing to kill fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and death?    

Photos courtesy of Lucas Van Oort and Annie Spratt and Unsplash

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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe