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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Chasm of Dread - A Story of Viet Nam {#BlogBattle}

Tie for this week's #BlogBattle, the keyword-driven flash fiction contest hosted by Rachael Ritchey.

The word this week is CHASM.

Chasm of Dread

Slow time on bridge guard, with dusk falling, the sun far down behind a wall of clouds over the central highlands.

"Smoking lamp's out, guys."

Sonny stubbed out his dreadful cigar, and carefully wrapped the butt. "Just when ah'm a gittin' to the good part, TC."

"Sorry."

There was an ARVN platoon dug ito fighting positions forward,, and The Dude said "Hey, TC, here comes their officer."

I looked up. The Vietnamese lieutenant waved, and slowed. "Mind if I join you for a few minutes?" His English was unaccented.

We rose. It wasn't required that we salute him, an officer of a foreign army, but he did deserve respect. "Sure."

He was tall for a Vietnamese, and in the fading light I saw that his eyes were not dark mahogany, but gray. Unusual.

"Thanks, guys. I don't suppose y'all have a beer?" he smiled, not expecting one, but Sonny climber up the glacis, dropped into the turret, and reappeared a moment later with a can of Miller.

"Here, L.T, catch. Sorry it's warm."

The lieutenant smiled a broad, delighted smile, deftly catching the can without jarring it. I figured he'd hold it till morning.

But no...he popped the top, and sucked back what foam there was, leaving himself a weirdly Santa-like white moustache and beard. It was kind of upsetting, since these guys were our security, but there wasn't much I could say.

He sat down with us, sipping the beer. "So how's it going?"

The Dude was as uncomfortable as I was. "Uh, it's going OK...sir."

"Never mind the sir. Name's Troung." he offered his hand, and we all shook it, comrades together, of whom one was having a pre-guard-duty beer.

Troung caught the feeling. "Relax. You're safe. Charlie won't come tonight." He patted his chest. I guarantee it.

There was a powerful confidence in his tone, and something sad, too. I noticed that he wore a US Ranger tab on his shoulder, which may have explained the confidence.

But why the sorrow?

The Dude asked quietly, "How do you know?"

Troung pulled out a pack of cigarettes, shook one into his hand, and was about to light it when The Dude said, "Uh, sir..."

The lieutenant flipped open a zippo, and his face was orge-lit in the flame. he puffed, and said, "It's OK. Charlie won't come. Not with me here, not tonight."

I was tempted to snatch the thing out of his mouth. I didn't share his confidence.

But The Dude asked, "What's a Ranger doing here?" It was a good question; the Vietnamese Rangers, especially one of their number who went through the US school, were valued assets, hunters. They didn't stand post.

Truong blew out a cloud of smoke. "I come from U Minh. They sent me here to give me more time."

It was Greek...well, Vietnamese...to me.

But not to The Dude.

"What happened?" he asked, with warmth and sorrow that matched Truong's.

"NVA main force crossed the border, and holed up in the forest. We needed to pin them so the arty could give them a walloping, but the local units wouldn't go into the U Minh. Bunch of superstitious gooks...so it was me and a couple of Nung fire teams."

He took a drag, and said, "See, I'm as American as you guys. My Dad was a Catholic lay missionary, and during the war a family hid him from the Japs. In 1945 he went back to San Francisco, and took the eldest daughter with him. My mom."

"So why're you an ARVN?" Biff asked.

"It's my country. My people. I jined up in the states, got tabbed, and then decided, well, I owed it to these guys to fight with them. So The Army did the paperwork, and I became Marvin the ARVN." He looked down. "I regretted that."

"Why?" asked The Dude.

Troung didn't answer directly. "See, the locals were afraid of U Minh. But I'm an American...no 'Forest of Darkness' can scare me, right? And the Nungs...they aren't scared of anything."

"Yeah," said Sonny. "Ah done heard of them."

"So we went in. It was spooky. You spend ten minutes there, man, that place is evil. You know? Death drips off the trees." He shook his head. "But the Nungs didn't care, and I had to lead them. had to set an example. Can't control those boys elsewise."

"Did you find the NVA?" The Dude asked.

"No." The answer was short.

"Ah," said The Dude.

"Our point guy found a fissure in the ground, and we figured, well, they might be in there. It was dark, and we couldn't see the bottom...but there was no movement, no smell, nothing." In the bush you can smell people before you can see them, and since the Nungs ate a different diet, they were good at that.

"So the guys were lined up on both sides, looking in...curious, like. And then the flame came out."

"Mr. Charles carrying a flamethrower?" asked Sonny.

Truong shook his head, no. He didn't speak.

"It wasn't a flamethrower, Sonny," said The Dude.

"Mee-thane?" Sonny was persistent.

"No." The Dude spoke, because Truong was still silent, his head bowed, face intermittently red-lit by the cigarette.

"What was it?" Biff's voice had a slight tremor.

"Dragon," said Truong.

"Wait, wha..?" 

The Dude cut Sonny off.

"It took them all. I ran."

"Thar ain't now such thing," said Sonny. But in the dark night, he didn't sound convinced.

"Yes, there are," said Truong. "Dragons of air, and dragons of earth."

"Why didn't you shoot it?" Biff's voice had risen an octave. 

Truong looked at him with pity. "You don't shoot a dragon. You can't. They have armour..." his voice trailed off.

"It told you its name?" The Dude's voice was very quiet.

Truong nodded. "So I am safe, until he comes for me. I feel the vibrations in the earth. He's close. ARVN sent me here, to give me time."

"To put your affairs in order," said The Dude.

"Yes."

"And that's why Charlie won't attack. He hears it coming, and he doesn't want to interfere."

Sonny wouldn't give up. "Ah still think it was a guy with a flamethrower."

Truong looked up at him, and smiled. "Bless you...maybe you're right. Maybe you're right, at that."

He stood, thanked us for the beer and the company, and said, "Well, in the morning, them..."

And he walked off.

At 0200 a thunderstorm rolled in, and mingled in the thunder and lighting was the boom of a claymore, from a fighting position to the right of the road. And then a deeper, sharper BLAM.

"Charlie! shouted The Dude, standing radio watch. "Biff, traverse right!"

But all there was, was rain, and thunder, and lightning. The ARVNs had a mad minute, but there was no return fire, and theirs slowed down to a few nervous pops, the soldiers cowering in their holes, waiting for the day

When dawn was lighting the east, a Vietnamese sergeant came running back, and shouted to my, "Trung si, you come, di di! Please!"

I jumped off Ship of Fools and ran with him, The Dude hard on my heels.

The sergeant ran ahead, then slowed, and paced forward uncertainly. He turned back to us."Our trung uy, he was here..."

And there was a blackened hole in the ground, from which still rose wisps of smoke that smelled of sulfur. A claymore clacker lay to one side, the green plastic of the firing grips partly melted, and an M-16 lay beyond it.

Claymores don't make a hole.

And this one was deep. We couldn't make out the bottom

The Vietnamese sergeant asked, "VC mine?"

I nodded. "Yeah...VC mine, trung si."

"Where body our trung uy? VC steal?"

"I guess...uh, yes, trung si." The VC recovered their own bodies. They didn't typically steal ours, or ARVNs.

The sergeant shook his head. "Numbah ten place fo' fight position."

"Yes. Number ten."

He shook his head again, and wandered off. He was in command of the ARVNs now. he walked a little taller, but he looked back, just once.

"Well," said The Dude, "I guess Truong figured the claymore was worth a try."

The End

And yes...this is the way it happened. Draw what conclusions you may choose.

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them







Your Dying Spouse 117 - When It's Time To Quit

We're linked with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday -please visit beth for great marriage wisdom!

They say that animals know when it's time to let go, and die.

People are like that too, sometimes...and there may come a day when you realize that your terminally ill husband or wife is letting go.

It may be that they're ready, or it may be that the fight has simply gotten too hard, and hope to slim.

It can be a terrible knowledge to face...and what can you do?

First, recognize that it may be a temporary thing. Courage and strength fluctuate, and while we'd all like to be steadfast, we aren't even in the normal challenges of daily life.

The aftereffects of surgery, chemo, radiation...they can make death feel like a balm. We all have our limits, and aggresive treatments can push us straight into them.

If that's the case, it's important not to jump to conclusions; don't reinforce the feeling, either by words or actions. If it is a temporary lapse, weighing in with "yes, I understand...you can let go" can make fighting back to a position of hope all the harder.

It can make one feel more alone in the fight...and trust me, please, it is a lonely fight.

Second, if the decision to give up is the real thing, be supportive, and make clear the message that the time you have left with your husband or wife is important to you.

Even the real statement of giving up contains an implicit appeal...please tell me that I mattered, that our life together meant something, and still means something. Please.

It's a hard burden for the caregiver, because you've got to shoulder the emotional weight of another person. It's not an attempt at manipulation.

It simply means that your husband or wife can no longer go on alone.

It may be time to let go, to step away from the treatments and the medication, and to accept the grace of death and the hope of the life to come.

You may not agree. You may want to say, "Keep fighting!"

But that decision's not yours to make.

But it is your road to walk; because...

Please, don't let me walk it alone.

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them





Sunday, February 7, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 116 - Evangelizing The Dying

We're all supposed to marry fellow believers, and most of us do.

But faith is not constant, and severe circumstances, of which terminal illness is only one, can erode it badly.

Or it may never really have been there at all.

Or it may have been there in another form.

Whereby in the worst of times...when the person you love most in the world is dying...you may, as a caregiver, find yourself unequally yoked.

And what do you do?

If you think your husband or wife is unsaved, or has let salvation slip...you're supposed to win them back, right?

Well...wait.

First, assess the situation.

When someone's under stress...like, in extreme pain, or very depressed...he or she can say things that they would not under even 'the new normal' say.

I've shaken my fist at the sky and told God to take his 'plans' for me and treat them unconventionally.

Do I hate God? No. Was I in a lot of pain, and completely at sea in how to deal with it? Yes.

The surrendered salvation you see may just be an emotional blip. I doubt that God takes these seriously; neither should you.

Second, listen over time.

Yes, time may be critical, and salvation may be a vital question in the short term.

You, however, are not the salvor. God is. God alone knows how much time there is, and you've got to give Him room to work.

It's hard and frustrating - and scary - to stand back. But we can't really know another's heart, not even the person we've lived with, and loved, for decades. The relationship with the Almighty is intensely personal.

Give it time, and give that time over to God.

Third, do no harm.

You may see your mate's faith morphed into something that looks New-Age-y, or Eastern, or 'spiritual'...and NOT see the 'confession with the mouth' renewed in daily life.

But there still may be faith there, like a small, glowing ember.

If you blow too hard, you can snuff it out. Comfort, even the comfort that seems false to you, is extremely important to a dying man or woman.

Yes, it may look like...and be...false doctrine. And you may be itching to jump in and save your loved one from damnation.

Don't. Let Jesus do that. C.S. Lewis, in the final book of the Narnia series, The Last battle, relates the story of a young soldier of Telmar, a state that swore enmity to Aslan, the Lion under whose rule Narnia would find eternal grace.

This soldier, a worshipper of the dreadful and evil false god Tash, nevertheless swore honour and fealty...and these good things, Aslan claimed as his own.

Give Jesus room to work.

Fourth, evangelize by example.

To rescue a drowning man, you have to make sure you are not dragged under.

This is the time to immerse yourself in Scripture, and live by it.

This means that, first and foremost, youhave to guard what you say. You can't afford a word of despair, even if you're feeling it, and even if you see things happening that make you question God's goodness.

You have to address doubt and despair in your own heart, yes, but not with a dying spouse. You've got to turn to a pastor, to a trusted brother or sister in Christ, and to The Word.

In other words, you've got to suck it up, and move forward.

You can't give someone faith, but you can water the ground in which it can grow again.

Here's the musical inspiration for this post -



If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them





Thursday, February 4, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 115 - A Hopeful Heart {FMF}

It's time for Five Minute Friday, the weekly keyword-driven timed writing challenge hosted by Kate Motaung.

This week's word is...well, I don't know yet. I'm writing in advance, and if you read these words it means I wasn't able to get a word-specific post together. I'm sorry, Kate.

First...many thanks to those who have sent cards, and to those I have not emailed yet...please forgive me. Barb only collects the mail once a week or so (remote rural box), and...I'm very tired.

But please know that they mean the world to me. Truly.

Okay, here we go.

I knew this day would come; I'm wearing out. It's getting too tiring to do more than the minimum, just the bare necessities...and some days, not even these.

Pain, nausea, and other, less pleasant things are taking a toll, and I am beginning to see that it's not recoverable.

There's still so much to do...bring Emerald Isle in self-published form, along with a couple of other completed novels...finish the sequel to Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart (it's nearly done), finish my Civil War novel, Lady Stonewall...and most important, finish my Viet Nam narrative, Travels With The Dude (and where else will you find Marines contemplating a pinup of Katherine Ann Porter?). You can read the latest installment of The Dude's story here, if you'd like.

There are two inspirational self-help books, as well, Your Winning Season, and Keeping The Vow - Christian Marriage In A Pagan World.

And Unsung Heroes Of The Bible, which features such worthies as Uriah the Hippie, Tobit's Dog, and the Rich Young Ruler.

Oh, sorry...Uriah was a Hittite, wasn't he?

And there are airplanes I have been working on, that I'd like to finish...and fly (real ones, not models).

But the tools are quiet now, and so, largely, is the keyboard.

I dreaded this, but the funny thing is that it's not nearly as fearsome as I had thought it would be.

Because, you see, I can still do something, like writing this post. (I have to confess that I'm cheating; as mentioned above, I am writing it long before the word is revealed, and will be editing it to drag the given keyword in by its hair, kicking and screaming...if I can  And I'm not setting a timer. I can't do that today. This is being written in fits and starts. Call it 3-Hour Friday. )

My days are much more 'reading' than 'writing'. A good cigar, and energy drink (but where's the energy?), and a good book...and a houseful of quiet dogs who understand that the best support they can give is their loving, warm presence.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not going gently into that good night, but the fight I can bring is exactly that...what I can still bring, and it's much more a matter of attitude.

Not militance, but the knowledge that I don't have to quit. That quiet resistance is still resistance.

That even when I'm too tired to do much else, there's still something worth doing.

That as long as I keep a hopeful heart in spite of the pain, there is still room for a miracle.

And that the miracle is here every day, precisely because I have and keep that hopeful heart.

I may not have keyed in the word for this week...we'll see tonight. But I'm happy with this, right now.

That's it.

Addendum...Kate graciously let me know in advance that the word is FOCUS. I'm not up to retooling the above, but here's 'something'...

A Texas oilman had two sons who wanted, more than anything, to be cattle ranchers. So he bought them a ranch, on the condition that they let him name it.

They agreed, and asked what he wanted to call the spread.

"Focus," he said.

Say WHAT?

"Sure. because it's where the sons raise meet."

As a final word, I wrote a post this week that I kind of liked, on caregiving, dying, and the Lord's Prayer. If you're interested, you can find it here.

The musical inspiration for this post came from Coldplay...



If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them





Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Through The Forest - A Story of Viet Nam {#BlogBattle}

Time for this week's #BlogBattle, a weekly keyword-driven flash fiction contest hosted by the wonderful Rachael Ritchey.

The word this week is FOREST.

Through The Forest

The engines were rumbling, and blue smoke wafted up into a lightening sky, though 'light' was a matter of conjecture. The clouds were low, it was bound to rain, and it was almost time to see if Charlie had been busy planting mines along the MSR through the night.

Yeah, well, of course he had. It was our job to spot them, and the engineers in the APC following would dig them up.

Just another road sweep in paradise.

There was a sudden whop-whop-whop, reflected between clouds and ground. The Dude looked up. "Brave boys to be out today."

"It's the Cav's AO," said Biff, as if that explained everything, which it really did. The Cav were nuts.

"There he is," said The Dude. A Huey was almost in the trees, and its rotors looked like they were cutting spiral-swirls out of the clouds. He suddenly, banked, and turned toward us.

"Aw, you should've ignored him," said Biff. "Now we got his attention." And if he flew over the tanks we were going to get nicely dusted off...and if it rained the dust would turn into a particularly pervasive mud.

"Sorry," said The Dude. "My mistake."

But the Huey didn't overfly us. It dropped down into the Rome-low area fifty yards away, and skidded to an untidy stop.

"Whoa," said The Dude. He leaned into the turret. "Sonny, grab the aid kit, we got visitors!"

The Huey was shot-up, with smoke coming from the hump on top where the engine sits...and the chin bubble on each side was red with blood, under broken windscreens.

A skinny black kid gingerly climber down onto the skid, and then tripped. He looked toward us and waved. A spray of blood splashed off his arm.

"Sonny, move it!" The Dude leapt off the deck, and I followed him, telling Biff to stay with the tank. I heard Sonny hit the ground with a grunt just behind me.

And we ran.

The Rome-plow furrows were uneven, and I saw The Dude trip once, then Sonny cursed as he caught a boot behind me, and then I went down.

The hurt Huey was sitting tilted, engines shut down and rotors coasting to a stop, and the black trooper wasn't waving now. He'd bled out.

The Dude reached the right-hand pilot's door, and as he pulled it open it came off in his hand. He looked around the side armour, then recoiled, gagged, and spun around to throw up in the dirt. I stumbled up behind him, and was about to look in when I heard his voice.

"TC, don't...just, don't."

"Yeah." The blood in the chin bubble contained other things, and I could tell it wasn't worth a look.

Sonny, ran around to the left side, and as he reached the door the AC opened it, and dangled out a bloody arm. "TC, Dude, I'm gonna need y'alls help heah!"

The Dude got shakily to his feet, his face white. I lent him a hand, and he spit vomit from his mouth. "Just glad Biff didn;' see that."

When we got to the AC's open door The Dude crawled onto the pedestal between the seats, and was putting his jacket over what was in the right-hand pilot's seat. Then he threw up again.

The AC had his helmet off, and was sitting sideways in his seat. Sonny had pulled back the side armour, and the man was writhing in pain from multiple holes in his legs. That he could have flown the thing at all was a miracle.

Sonny was tending to his wounds with a gentleness that belied his bulk.

The AC looked me in the eyes. "We need help."

"We're here, man. " I didn't know if he was a warrant or a real officer, and I didn't care. "We got you."

"You don't understand, tanker...the Blues are getting overrun, the other lift bird's down...we need you to bust a trail and get 'em out."

The Dude put a hand on the man's shoulder, and then quickly removed it as the pilot winced. "Where?" he asked.

"I'll lead you...help me get this thing cranked again and I'll lead you. You bust a trail...through the forest..."

Sonny looked at me, and shook his head.

"Yeah, we'll do that. Let's get you fixed up first, OK?"

"The AC was weakening. "Through the forest, tanker...we gotta go now..." He reached for what I took to be the controls to start the thing, but his hands fell away.

"Help me," he said. "I can fly...just help me get it started."

Sonny said to me, "TC, here, hold pressure," moving my hand to a dressing on the pilot' leg. "OK, there."

Then, to the pilot, "OK, talk me through it."

The pilot's words were slurring now. "Batt on...ok, fuel onnn..." He pressed a trigger on the collective, next to his seat, and there was a ticking sound. "Igniters..." he said.

The engine caught with a low whoosh, and in his last movement the pilot meshed the blades, and they began to turn.

He died then, and Sonny gently closed his eyes under the strobing of the rotors in the grey dawn.


If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them






Your Dying Spouse 114 - The Service Dog Blues

We're linked to Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday...please visit Beth's wonderful website for faith, love, and wisdom.

This post is a change of pace. I...we...hope you'll enjoy it.

I have two service dogs. The one you see in the right'hand sidebar is Sylvia, a large and very warm-hearted Pit Bull.

The one pictured below is a Red Heeler named Ladron. She is not quite as fast as Syl, and thereby hangs a tail...uh, tale.


Ladron is very attentive, and very alert. She sleeps right next to my shoulder, and if I stop breathing, she calls in The Muscle...Sylvia...who will jump up and down on my chest in a field-expedient canine version of CPR.

They have brought me back a couple of times...and yes, you can stop breathing and be conscious. It sucks.

Ladron is at my side 24/7; she helps me feed other dogs, for instance. She is perfectly capable of carrying a dish full of food to someone else, opening a feeding crate, and putting the dish inside. She does not steal food - ever - and no one is brave enough  to mess with her.

Especially since she doesn't sleep much. When I sleep - and I don't sleep much, either instead lying awake trying to biofeedback the pain into something manageable - she's awake, watching.

Unfortunately, her diligence can cause her problems...since I have a real problem with nausea...

I throw up a couple of times a day...often quite a bit of blood comes up as well.

When I go down, I go down hard, and the girls move to keep me from hitting my head on the floor, but when Syl realizes that something is about to happen, she scuttles backward (and she can back up faster than most dogs can go forward).

Ladron hasn't mastered that art, and by the time she spins around it's usually too late.

And it's bath time.

Ladron does not like baths.

And thus, so you can get an idea of The Service Dog Blues, and for your viewing pleasure...



If you can.please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them


















Sunday, January 31, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 113 - Time To Pray

What do you pray for, as a caregiver, or a terminally ill patient?

There are some "no, duh?" answers...like HEALING, NOW!

Or the boon of an easy death.

But it can be surprisingly hard to be specific...fortunately, we have a context in which we can find the specificity we need.

It's called...wait for it...The Lord's Prayer.

Let's walk through it.

Our Father, which art in Heaven...

This sets the relationship...caregiver and patient, we are God's children, and He cares...very much...what happens to us.

He's all-powerful, yes, but the relationship...and His love...do not preclude bad things happening. An earthly father has to let his children make mistakes, and sometimes, wilfully, damage their lives...and bad things can simply happen, through accident or by evil design. The only way the earthly father can prevent them is to bar the door, and prevent growth...and that's not what being a father is all about.

So too...and more so...with God, because His responsibility is to make us fit to be citizens of Heaven.

...hallowed be Thy name...

God is holy, but this is not a put-down for us, because the seeds of holiness are within us, too. We won't achieve anything like it in this life (contrary to what a certain pastor recently said about living a 'holier life than 95% of the people out there'...he fragged himself with pride, that one did).

Terminal illness can water those seeds, for caregiver and patient...if it's allowed to. Saying 'adversity builds character' is a cliche, and enough adversity can tear it down. It has for me.

But what it can help grow is intentionality...the intentionality of compassion, and endurance, and faith. Those decisions are taken in every moment, and the fires of a situation that really sucks can temper the steel of our hearts.

...Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven...

One day this world's going to pass away, and we'll wonder what all the fuss is about. His kingdom is coming...but in the meantime, His will for what's happening here is a reflection of what's happening in Heaven.

That sounds loony, doesn't it? There's so much that's simply awful in the world...how can it be the will of a merciful God?

How did He let it come to this?

Free will, that's how. We have to choose Him for our growth, as His children to have any meaning...and that means that He can't pull strings, because people don't dance to the strings...puppets do.

His will here is a reflection of Heaven because all that's terrible around us is loudly and decisively put right there...and we will know the contrast.

...give us this day our daily bread...

The Israelites wandering in their Sinai-circles got enough food for each day, and they had to trust that it would be supplied tomorrow.

Facing terminal illness, we've got to do the same thing. The coping today is enough; we can't predict what tomorrow will bring, and sometimes it's better we don't know, because now is what we really have...to care, to enjoy, to love.

...and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us...

When time is short, forgive. Your sin-debt's been paid...and even if you backslide, it's still paid, as long a you recognize it as sins and try to stay out of the cesspool.

Every marriage has areas of resentment and unforgiveness. Try to say goodbye with as many of those dark corners lit up by the lights of forgiveness and love. You'll regret it if you don't, and be very glad if you do.

...and lead us not into temptation...

There are huge temptations when facing death-by-illness. Both caregiver and patient are tempted to bitterness, anger, resentment...often against God.

The emotions are natural, but they're still harmful, and they come from the worst part of our being.

Even when it hurts, we've got to fight them...and we've got to look Up while fighting, to have some sort of idea of what we want to be.

...but deliver us from evil...

Evil can come in some pretty unpleasant forms, for both caregiver and patient.

For the patient, it can mean acting out in anger against the person who's closest...the caregiving spouse, out of a sense of entitlement to 'vent'.

Sure, we can vent...but we're not entitled to hurt.

Temptation may be there.

Evil is acting on it.

...Amen.

And that's how you pray, when your world is slowly falling apart.

If you can.please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them