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#  Title

9—War Stories

8—The Days of 9.11


6—Better Off Not Knowing

5—To Be Like Christ

4—About Face

3—Sharing in His Sufferings

2—Why Are We Surprised?

1—Final Perspective

# 9

War Stories


“Daddy, tell me about the war!”


            “I met many painters, and builders, and chefs, and merchants.

            But, they did not paint, or build, or cook, or sell.


“No, Daddy, please tell me about the soldiers.”


            “I met teachers, community leaders, scientists, and workers.

            But, they did not teach, or lead, or research, or fix things.”


“Why? Because they were busy fighting? Tell me about the battles!”


            “There were philosophers who did not think deep thoughts.

            There were writers who did not write interesting books.”


“Daaaaaaaddy, I want to hear your war stories.”


            “There were many artists who did not paint their dreams.

            There were Moms and Dads who did not love on their kids.”


“Wait, why didn’t the Moms and Dads love on their kids?”


            “Oh, they wanted to, believe me! But, they couldn’t.”


“Why couldn’t they?”


            You tell me, ‘why not.’”


“Because they were busy fighting?”


            “No. Because they were busy dying.”




            “Anything else you want to know about the war?”





© 2019 gratefulsue

# 8

The Days of 9.11


The day of 9.11








Innocence lost.




Desperately needing a friend.


The day after 9.11

Fears confirmed.


Caught off-guard.

Wind knocked out of your lungs.

Rug pulled out from under you.





Redefining family.

Re-evaluating history.

Re-envisioning future,

With open, jagged wounds.


Haunting images.

Beyond upset.



Mental screaming.

Hatred of sin and evil.

Compassion for the victims.

Shaken up lives.

Shattered trust.

Emotional devastation.

In vain, comfort from a friend.



No good answers.

More questions.

Difficult, painstaking,

Cleanup begins at the crash site.


The week after 9.11







Wanting to stay alone.






(Where was God?

Why didn’t He restrain sin?

He let it run its course.

He knew, He watched.) 



Fractured faith.

Confiding in a friend.


The month after 9.11

It wasn’t your fault.

You were innocent.

You didn’t know.

You were a victim.


It was partly my fault.

I didn’t love you enough,

Those precious years,

When I had the chance.

I’m so very sorry.


Entirely his fault.

He didn’t love you at all,

Or, the God of love.

Spiritually blind.

His “truth” was a lie.

Complicit puppet.

Unexpected adversary.

Inexcusable assailant.

Betrayer. Saboteur.  

Terrorist. Thief.

Seeds of bitterness.

Avoiding a friend.


Six months after 9.11

Asking for peace.

Hoping for strength.

Emotionally exhausted.

Craving sleep.

Unable to sleep.

Tortured sleep.

“Escape the pain” sleep.

“Not wanting to wake up” sleep.

Working, working, working,

On forgiving. Living.

Listening to a friend.


Slow to heal.

Waiting for a better day.

Searching for hope,

“...Beauty from ashes.”  1.

And, waiting some more.


The year after 9.11

Less pain.

New routines.

Reluctant acceptance.

Some pleasant days.

More authentic smiles.

Receiving kindnesses.

Enjoying a friend.


The dawn of surprise...

Noticing God.

I see Him again!

(He was also waiting...

He never left.)

He is patient.






Four years after 9.11

Yes... trustworthy.

Evidence of healing,

Feeling alive again.

Practicing gratitude.

Really laughing.

Being a friend.


Rebuilding (informed) faith.  2.

Re-writing the future... with hope.



1.  Isaiah 61:3

2.  Hebrews 11:36 – 12:3




© 2017 gratefulsue


(Besides the overt reference to the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on 9.11.2001, “The Days of 9.11” can also represent any personal catastrophe, abuse, or trauma, and how one might process it over time.)

# 7



Mind videos and audios,

            are stuck on “instant replay.”

Like a “broken record,” they

            continue night and day.


Exhausting thoughts, ferocious fears;

            raw feelings barge right in—

at any moment, without welcome,

            relentlessly, they begin.


Depression enters, falls, and feels

            like a blanket, wet and heavy.

Endless details overwhelm,

            and drown me without pity.


My mind becomes a second foe,

            besides the trauma’s furry.

A battleground for fractured faith,

            hard questions, doubts and worry.


Flood my mind, sweet Holy Spirit,

            with waves of boundless grace!

Tender mercies, love, forgiveness.

            May peace, nightmares replace!


And send away my vain complaints

            from broken circumstances.

Help me know and ever trust,

            the ‘morrow brings second chances.


Come, thankful thoughts, and new beginnings!

            Come, sincere songs of praise!

Bring calm release, and acceptance of

            my Lord’s unexplained ways. 1.


1.  Isaiah 55:9




(C) 2015 gratefulsue

(For Christi, whose brand new house burned to the ground two weeks after moving in.)

# 6


Better Off Not Knowing


Better off not knowing

that earthquakes topple a city,

Bury young and old, and

make orphans, without pity.


Better off not knowing of

tornados armed with power,

floods which overwhelm and

devastate in their dark hour. 


Better off not knowing

that tsunamis kill and maul,

or, that poverty and hunger

paint a picture I appall.


Better off not knowing

that mass murderers exist,

that crazies prey on innocents,

and slavery persists.


Better off not knowing of

the youth who takes his life,

of the abuser, or drug user,

or, of the abandoned wife.


Better off not knowing

that the world is harsh and cruel.

“Nowhere on earth is safe,” 

seems the only steadfast rule.


Better off not knowing that

pain festers deep within.     

When no one else is watching,

unchecked bitterness begins.


Alas, too late to hide.

I do know what I deplore.

Each day brings news of sorrow,

sin and ruin—more and more.


The knowing is my anguish.

I, unanswered questions, ponder—

the meaning of such pain,  

for all who witness, grieve, and wonder.  


There isn’t ample time,

nor all the money needed, 

to fix this broken world—

huge needs by which I’m greeted.


The glass “half-empty” shouts,

“Life’s a miserable existence!”

Emotions bow and whimper

at reality’s insistence.


The glass “half-full” remembers—

there IS good despite the raw.

There IS hope and new beginnings,

sublime beauty without flaw.


There ARE ways I can re-focus.

There IS sun, not just the rain.

There ARE talents I can offer.

There ARE smiles that lessen pain.


There IS a God of loving-kindness.

There ARE those who sacrifice.

There IS a Savior without equal—

and for me, that should suffice.

Better off not knowing?

Of this lament, I must beware.

As my Jesus loves through me,

I CAN pray and give and share.




(C) 2015 gratefulsue

(Reflections after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, 12.13.12.)

# 5


To Be Like Christ


Suffering is just part of life.

            Not some surprise

                        In-your-back knife.


Suffering keeps ego at bay.

            At times, it heals

                        Or, opens a way.


Suffering comes to one and all—

            To parents and children,

                        Great and small.


Suffering shows me Satan’s schemes:

            To lie, to kill,

                        To steal my dreams. 1.


Suffering makes me seek from above—

            God’s power, presence,

                        Wisdom, love. 2. 


Sufferers know, He has overcome!  

            The battle is over,

                        And, Jesus won! 3.


Look past the feelings of pain and woe.

            To be like Christ,

                        Sufferings must show. 4.

1.   John 10:10

2.   James 1:2-5

3.   John 16:33

4.   Romans 8:17



(C) 2015 gratefulsue


# 4


About Face


Why did this happen?

I don’t understand.

I was headed the direction

I thought You had planned!


Now suddenly here

I must turn “about face”—

Leave my heart behind

While continuing the race.


I have “lost my life”

For your sake, I know. 1.

Take me to the place

Where Your life in me shows.


Though Your will seems hard—

Though “sight” cannot see—

“Faith” trusts the One 2.

Who loves and died for me.

1.   Matthew 10:39

2.   2 Corinthians 5:7



(C) 2015 gratefulsue

(For a friend dealing with the pain of miscarriage.) 

# 3


Sharing In His Sufferings


Does Jesus want my happiness

Above all else on earth?

Does His love for me insure

A life of peace and mirth?


“Not so.” His Word speaks to my heart—

No promises of ease.

Yes, His love is strong and thick—

But not, “just as you please.”


I oft forget that suffering is

A promise in the Holy Book—

Passed down from Jesus and the Apostles

When the path of “disciple” I  took.


Persecutions, difficulties,

Make my faith more pure.

Death to self, to life and all,

His mandate—to be sure.


Are feelings hurt or spirits crushed?

Or loved ones sore abused?

My Lord does see and feel my pain.

I know He’s not amused.


But, He will let me bear that cross,

Yet, offering His grace.

While in this world I have the chance

To taste the tears on his face. 




(C) 2015 gratefulsue

# 2


"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial

you are suffering, as though something strange were

 happening to you.     1 Peter 4:12


Why Are We Surprised?


Why are we surprised

            when the world is harsh and cruel—

When the ending isn’t “happy”

            and we feel like we’ve been fooled?


Disappointments, heartaches

            disasters and the like,

Are Satan’s signature…

            every time he strikes.


Only Heaven has no heartaches,

            our true home alone can be

A place where cruel surprises

            are but faded memories.


Meanwhile, we must suffer

            as did Jesus Christ, our Lord,

And know the “crown of life” awaits 1.

            where “treasures in Heav’n” are stored. 2.



1.   James 1:12

2.   Matthew 6:20




(C) 2015 gratefulsue

# 1


Final Perspective


Times of suffering

            times of pain

Bring their horror

            to every name.


Come with hatred

            come with scorn

Hope despairs and

            love mourns.


Who can help,

            deliver, free?

Man may not, but

            our God sees!


Counts He all

            the loss and tears

Remembers He

            the injustice, fears.


Our God knows

            and judges wrong.

Lift up your heads,

            oh, sing His song.


Yes, sing!  Rejoice!

            The judgment is nigh

When each will account

            for his life, he and I.


The oppressor, warlord,

            murderer, thief,

He too will give account and

            at last, know grief.





(C) 2015 gratefulsue