Saturday, December 30, 2023

An Orange from a Lime Tree

 Each morning, after getting myself ready for the day, I have two devotionals I read from. One is a book of Bible verses, and the other is a daily devotional. The devotional begins with a Bible verse, and then someone expands upon it in about three or four paragraphs. Some are better than others. 

I’ve been reading these same two books for years now. When finished, I simply turn to the first page and begin again. Some I remember well, while others I forget because they didn’t touch me. 

I recently read a meaningful passage from this same devotional. I remembered it as soon as I began reading the first sentence. It came from Dr. Clayton Cloer of Orlando, Florida. It’s the kind of message that sticks to your heart, so I thought I would share part of his message with you. Dr. Cloer wrote:

In 2003, I was called to be the pastor of the Church at the Cross in Orlando. A new friend I made after arriving, Bill, came to my house and planted an orange tree in my backyard as a gift. He told me that in three years we would have oranges. In 2006, I wanted to pick the oranges, but they stayed green most of the year. Finally, a few turned semi-orange, so I picked them and winced as I tasted the sourest flavor. Bill came out to see if the tree had a bitter root- only to discover that he had not planted an orange tree but a lime tree by mistake.

I have news for you. It does not matter how long you wait for oranges from a lime tree: it will never produce oranges. The fruit revealed the root. I had expected oranges, but the tree would never have the ability to produce them.

When you hear bad words out of a person, then you have a bad root. Listen to people and discern their hearts by the words that they speak. Things do not change: they only get revealed … What is in the well comes up in the bucket …

What is in the well comes up in the bucket.

I have long believed that words and actions reveal the character of a person. One just needs to look at the present political culture to figure that out. We get who we vote for, and if we don’t vote, we get who everyone else votes for. 

I think as parents and as mentors and role models for children and young adults, we owe them our best. Our best words and our best actions. We owe them genuineness. What isn’t said or done out of love and compassion, caring and concern, should not be said or done.

And, if we say words, we need to live those words each and every day. I believe in the axiom that actions speak louder than words. But if someone spews hate and if someone seeks to divide instead of unite, BELIEVE them. They are who they are. Don’t expect an orange from a lime tree. Something to think about …

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:  

If you like what you’re reading and find a benefit from it, you can check out my other posts at under the Inspirational Blog tab. 

And if you’re curious, you can check out my nine books on the same site. I’ve won nearly twenty awards, and I write in the thriller-crime-mystery genre, but with a coming-of-age thread in each. My latest book, Fan Mail, just won a 2023 Silver Book Award and a Recommended Read Award, and was featured as Author of the Month from Reader’s Favorites.

If you are an author or writer, veteran or beginner, check out my Author’s Blog tab on the same site. There you will find tips on writing, interviews with other authors, and excerpts from my own books. If you want to get a hold of me, use the Contact tab

I hope you check it out. Again, my writing can be found at 

I can also be found on Facebook at:  

Dr. Cloer’s message is from Grace, Hope and Love, My Daily Devotional.

Photo Courtesy of Amy Lynn Grover and Unsplash.




Sunday, December 24, 2023

The Season

Like many of you reading this post and following my blog, the Christmas season is one of my favorites. Family gathering together, the laughter and sharing of stories, the holiday treats my wife, Kim, bakes, the delicious kringles we order, savoring every bite, the decorated tree in the family room with presents galore underneath, the decorations around the house, some of which have been in our family for years. The holiday and Christmas music played. All of it.

Mostly, I think, is the warm nostalgic feelings of love and tenderness and compassion, caring and concern that fill our hearts. I love sitting back and watching everyone open up their presents. Some large, some small, but all wrapped in colored paper and given in love. I love the meals that are prepared. 

I love this time of year, and I’m sure you do, too. 

For many, there will be the struggle of someone important and loved missing from the table. The empty chair, as it were. For some, there will be aloneness and loneliness. Those who will be by themselves, eating and celebrating (or not) alone. No one to talk to, visit with, laugh with. No warm embraces or the sharing of smiles and touch. I hope their season, their days are gentle and warm. 

I think of them, and I’m sure you do, too.

I felt the need to reach out to each of you and ask that God blesses each of you and your families near and far. Please know I appreciate your thoughts, your kindness, and I appreciate you taking the time to read my posts. I hope they mean something to you. I hope they bring you warmth and I hope they cause you to think.

From my family: Kim, Alex, Hannah and Mason, and Q and Emily, and me, I hope you are blessed and loved. I hope you are cared for and hugged, and I hope your thoughts and feelings are kind to you and to others. God Bless, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

As always, something to think about …

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:  

If you like what you’re reading and find a benefit from it, you can check out my other posts at under the Inspirational Blog tab. 

And if you’re curious, you can check out my nine books on the same site. I’ve won nearly twenty awards, and I write in the thriller-crime-mystery genre, but with a coming-of-age thread in each. My latest book, Fan Mail, just won a 2023 Silver Book Award and a Recommended Read from Reader’s Favorites.

If you are an author or writer, veteran or beginner, check out my Author’s Blog tab on the same site. If you want to get a hold of me, use the Contact tab

I hope you check it out. Again, my writing can be found at 

I can also be found on Facebook at:  

Photos Courtesy of Rodion Kutsaiev and Unsplash, and the Lewis Family

Saturday, December 16, 2023

The Breakfast Club

Over the many years I’ve written this blog, I’ve used this platform to inspire and to engage the heart and soul of each reader. From the feedback I’ve received, I think I’ve done that. In this Holiday, Christmas, Hanukkah season, I think it’s even more important to do that so we don’t lose the focus on just giving and receiving gifts, but the ‘why’ we celebrate these seasons. These seasons, this season, is holy for a reason, no matter your faith (or not) and no matter your religion (or not).

As a kid and well into adult, I would attend Midnight Mass at Holy Angels Church in West Bend, Wisconsin. It was something I enjoyed, even yearned to do. The singing, the candles, the incense. The beauty and the pageantry. It all held, and holds, a special meaning to me. This is Christ’s season, our season, and it is more than just wrapping presents and giving and opening up gifts.

Sometimes, the gifts are so big, they don’t fit under the tree. And the true, real gifts happen throughout the year, not just at Christmas time.

I found one example on TikTok from CBS news ...  

At the crack of dawn in St. Louis, MO, students from Bishop DeBerg High School go to Grandma Peggy’s house for breakfast. They call it, The Breakfast Club. It began when several students went to a diner and Sam Crowe, a sophomore, said (paraphrasing), “You know, my grandmother cooks better than this.”

So the following Wednesday, and virtually every Wednesday since throughout the school year, Sam and his friends, along with many other students, ate breakfast at Grandma Peggy’s house. She invited them in and welcomed them. No race, creed, or color prevented them from partaking. 

Then one day, Peggy’s grandson, Sam, was killed in a hit and run. Sam was beloved. Peggy was heartsick. She didn’t know if The Breakfast Club would continue after Sam’s death. Neither did the kids. Breakfast was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

Yet …

The very next Wednesday, and virtually every Wednesday since in numbers greater than when they first began, students showed up at Grandma Peggy’s house. Healing was served along with breakfast. 

As one boy said, “It’s not about the food. It’s about being together.” Another said, “We benefit from her, and she benefits from us. It’s like we feed off each other.” And still another said, “We’re keeping his memory alive.” 

All of us grieve differently. But those who handle grief best blanket themselves with others, sharing the burden, teaching each other to laugh again, and building tradition.

“We benefit from her, and she benefits from us.”

Isn’t that the truth? When we give freely from the heart, the gift we give- big or small- does as much for the recipient as it does for the giver. The delight in the eyes, the warm feeling in the heart. The goosebumps, the tiny shivers. Both the recipient and the giver know when it isn’t just a formality. We know it because we feel it. 

Just like Grandma Peggy and the kids in The Breakfast Club, they know the gift they are giving and receiving. As one student said, “She’s our grandma now.” 

I have to think that somewhere up above, Sam is smiling down on Grandma Peggy and his friends, proud of what he started, and prouder still, of what it means to everyone. And I think Sam is there with them each Wednesday, always with them, sharing in the laughter, the stories, and, of course, the breakfast served and eaten in love. Something to think about …

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers: 

If you like what you’re reading and find a benefit from it, you can check out my other posts at under the Inspirational Blog tab.

And if you’re curious, you can check out my nine books on the same site. I’ve won nearly twenty awards, and I write in the thriller-crime-mystery genre, but with a coming-of-age thread in each. 

If you are an author or writer, veteran or beginner, check out my Author’s Blog tab on the same site. If you want to get a hold of me, use the Contact tab. 

I hope you check it out. Again, my writing can be found at

I can also be found on Facebook at:  






Monday, December 4, 2023

Our Children

Early morning, the world dark, not even shadows. I sat in the bedroom’s corner in a rocking chair, the same chair Kim and I used for both Hannah and Emily at their time. A different time, a different place. No one awake, except for maybe Kim. I tried to be as quiet as I could be, letting her sleep for as long as she needed. No one else awake except for me, and for just a smidgeon of time, Mason. In my arms, held tightly to my chest as I rocked and patted his back.

Raining off and on most of the night. I imagined the world dark, dreary, and damp with ghost-like fingers of fog creeping in amongst the trees in our backyard. Honestly, didn’t dwell on that, but of Mason sleeping in my arms. His perfect smell, his warmth. 

At first, his head nestled in my neck, rigid, his tiny hand grasping my finger. Then, as I rocked and patted his back, his breathing changed, his body grew limp. He understood he was safe, protected. Still grasping my finger, not letting go. Oh, I held on and on, happy and content, not at all tired, Mason not at all heavy in my arms. 

My mind drifted to long ago. First, Hannah in my arms, both of her tiny hands wrapped around fingers of my hand as I tried to feed her a bottle in the dark of night. Her eyes studying my face, not interested in the bottle past the first few gulps. Just studying my face before falling back to sleep. Me holding her, loving her, as much as I did then and do now. Oh, so much. 

Then to Emily. Always thirsty, wanting more, yet the same need and contentment being held, fingers of her hand grasping mine. A heavier, bigger baby than Hannah, yet so small. A different time, a different place. 

Do they understand I am wrapped around their fingers, their heart? It will always be so. 

How our children wanting, needing to be held, to hold. Comfortable in our arms, hearts beating the same rhythm, the same slow beat. Our arms to comfort, to protect- as much for them as it is for us. Their tiny bodies fitting like puzzle pieces snuggly, tightly, correctly in our arms. Hearing their laughter, their quiet sighs, their yawns.

Our children, merely babies at first, helpless and dependent upon us. Then, growing to toddlers, to children exploring their world, always coming back to us for shelter, for guidance, asking questions, seeking love and reassurance. Then onto young adults and then older adults with lives and loves and families of their own, leaving us as they pave their own way in their world, the world of their making. 

And as we grow older, wiser with experience, with love, and sometimes tempered with pain and failure, how much more we need them then (now?), even though they are independent, apart from us, different cities, different states, worlds and lives of their own. 

Yet we long to be held, and we seek that same comfort we gave them, their love, the same love we gave them- sometimes expressed with words, but more often through their eyes, their smiles, their infrequent visits. 

And while we text and sometimes call, the distance is only almost cut in half, not perfectly, not nearly close enough, never enough for me, for you. The texts, the calls, bring comfort, but not as warm or friendly or as satisfying as their touch. Never like their touch. 

But we make do, knowing that in the end (and the end is coming at some point- for us) creeps closer, stealthily, silently, dangerously closer. Until then, we hang on, grasping their hands, knowing our hearts are wound tightly, beating softly, yet with urgency for them, along with them. Sometimes not knowing how we feel, and us, not sure how we can express it, only to love them, protect them, and give them as only a mom or dad can, hoping and wondering if what we did for them, are doing for them is and was enough? God, I hope so! Hoping beyond hope, that after we pass, they, too, will find shelter and protection, comfort and love to last their lifetime and beyond. Yes, beyond. Something to think about … 

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

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My Books, Their Descriptions, and Links to Purchase

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.     

Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives: Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! Best Thriller’s Editor’s Pick! Best Thrillers Runner Up Award Winner! 

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.

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.                                       

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives 

A 14-year-old boy knows the end is coming. What he doesn’t know is when, where, or by whom. Without that knowledge, the FBI cannot protect him or his family. And he cannot protect himself, his father, or his brothers.                                                  

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

Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback

Bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. MS-13, a violent gang originating in California, controls the drug, sex, and gun trades along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area. They send an enforcer, Ricardo Fuentes from Chicago to Waukesha 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, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.

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

He blends in and is successful, intelligent, and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no discernible pattern, no clues, and 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 law enforcement.

Betrayed: A Best Thriller’s 1st Place Award for Crime Fiction! Maxy Award Runner-Up! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner!

Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! 

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

Blaze In, Blaze Out – Best Action Fiction Book of 2022- Best Thrillers! Reader’s Favorite Runner Up! Literary Titan Gold Book Award!

Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback!

Detectives Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of a Ukrainian gang lord meant the end, but it was only the beginning. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. A target is a target, and in the end, the target will die. Eiselmann and O’Connor become the hunted, but they don’t know by whom or when they will strike. 

Fan Mail – New Release! A Reader’s Favorite Silver Book Award! Maxy Award Finalist! Eric Hoffer Award Nominee! Literary Titan Silver Book Award! 

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?

Fan Mail is a Coming-of-Age story embedded in a Thriller-Crime-Mystery. 

Photos Courtesy of the Lewis Family