We Lost the Sweetest of Dogs

We lost Abby today.

Having just turned 13, she lived a good long life for a collie and I’m sure that since God has lions and lambs and horses in heaven, His landscape up there is loaded with dogs as well.

Abby’s beauty rivaled that of Lassie and, with a rough like that of a male, when the wind blew her hair you’d swear that she was even more breath-taking. The stronger the wind, the more her splendor. Magnificent.

And yet her spirit was even more lovely.

Some people sport that bumper stick “I believe in dog.”

Well, if dog is God spelled backwards all the more power to them. For like the very best of dogs, Abby possessed all the characteristics God wants of us but we so often fail in delivering

Uncompromising love tops the list.

Add to that loyal, affectionate, forgiving, trustworthy, devoted, dependable,  dedicated. Her Auntie Lyn called her “a calming presence.” Whatever is good in a dog, Abby had it in spades and every other suit in the deck.

The one attribute I wish she’d left in the crib was stubbornness. But with all her delightful traits, hey…

Abby lavished love not only on us mortals but on her other four-legged companions, always stepping in the middle of a brewing conflict, like a referee but better.

When she reached maturity she graced our property as our extraordinary “lawn ornament.” She’d go outdoors, lay down and pose—like the male lions you see in the movies. So majestic and seeming to know it.

She’d lay there, her head high if there was a breeze, and watch her younger brother and sister play and woof-woof at them and at passers-by with a cheery voice that became a low-decibel urging.

So, now with bittersweet memories we look forward being reunited.

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Fear Versus Faith

You Are What You Eat

“For God did not give you a spirit of fear, but power, love and a sound and orderly mind (and sound judgment).” II Timothy 1:7 (Amplified)

“Do not let your heart by troubled, or let it be fearful.” — John 14:27b

The Bible says fear is directly linked to irrational behavior (unsound judgment). An example would be the helter-skelter, mindless closing down of an entire state (Maine), destroying people’s lives and livelihoods when 53 are dead out of 1,326,000.

Worldview people are controlled by fear, slaves to distress and panic — and unsound judgment.

Godview people overcome fear with faith and sound judgment.

Matthew 17:20 tells us that faith the size of a mustard seed can defeat a mountainous attack — even and especially an attack of fear.

What we’re witnessing was foretold in Luke 21:25-27 when Jesus said, “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with  power and great glory.”

The solution?

Verse 28: “But when these things begin [not later] to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near.”

Shrink away into our isolated caves? Wait to act?

No and No.

Lift up your heads!

Redemption is near!

Kick out the fear!

Boost your faith!

Be alert to the signs!

I repeat: Worldview people are controlled by fear, slaves to distress and panic — and unsound judgment.

Godview people overcome fear with faith and sound judgment.

You are what you eat. Stop feasting on the 24/7 COVID-19 news of the day. Eat the words of Jesus and be filled full with faith.

Revolution? Parallel Circumstances

The world American colonists lived in in the 1770s and the situation we find ourselves in in 2020 reveal a fascinating parallel. In 1775 Great Britain’s “piling on” of the colonies resulted in the American Revolution. What will be the end result of the government’s authoritarianism today?

Alec, one of my favorite characters in my current manuscript that takes place in 1777, said of Boston’s history of riots: “Ours is a recreational rowdiness. Violent, yes, sometimes. Riots are a political tool for us commoners…”

“Us commoners.” There’s a parallel.

It seems that most of the 330 million Americans today—us “commoners—have as much input on what governors force upon us as colonists had on King George III and British Parliament in the 1700s.

That is, none. No input.

In the 1765 the British Parliament imposed the Stamp Act, a direct tax on the colonists ostensibly to pay for protection from a French invasion that the colonists never feared in the first place. The act demanded that most printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp.

Was this not only taxation without representation but the first time politicians chose “a winner” in commerce: British paper manufacturers?

Not to be outdone by previous Parliaments, the newly minted body in 1773 passed the Tea Act, granting the English East India Co. a monopoly on tea sales in the American colonies.

Today’s governors have taken the part of King George III. Which businesses, which enterprises have preferential status varies from governor to governor, but make no mistake: the governor is king, his or her actions shall not be questioned or you will be charged. (In colonial times, you could simply be forced to serve in the British military.)

Where’s the representation today in the halls of State Houses across America? The same place, it appears, as it was in London: nonexistent.

Where did these politicians get their totalitarian powers? Powers that have put tens of millions of gainfully employed people out of work, not only destroying their finances and futures, but leading to suicides, social upheaval, food insecurity, and health risks unrelated to COVID-19.

While any deaths from a virus are tragic, a thousand times more people are seeing their livelihood devastated.

What would the colonists of the 1770s do if they were suddenly transported here (in a time warp) and faced this new sort of tyranny?

 

Those men proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I’d say that “liberty and pursuit of happiness” part has been knocked off a cliff.

They—those dreaded “commoners”—followed up their decree with certain Amendments, among them the 1st Amendment giving citizens the right to assembly, free speech and religion—none of which could be contested or impinged upon by the government. This would include governors, the President, Congress, you name it.

How far have these rights devolved?

The answer is “into lunacy.”

A pastor is fined for holding a service with 16 people separated great distances in a 230-seat sanctuary.

Church members are fined for sitting in their cars in a church parking lot and holding a service.

A man is fined for playing ball with his child in a sparsely populated park.

Where’s the Revolution today?

“Us commoners” must decide.

The Media and Panic

The psalmist Asaph recalled in Psalm 78 how, when facing death, the Israelites remembered they “should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God but keep His commandments.” (v. 7) Then they “sought Him (God) and returned and search diligently for God and they remembered that God was their Rock and the Most High their Redeemer. (vv. 34-35)

Here, today, in 2020, see how quickly fear spread over the entire earth.

I believe the media and social media will be the anti-christ’s major weapon.

Imagine, in less than two months more than 7 billion people have been reduced to a cowering, trembling mass so laden with dread and panic they will happily give up all their freedom and privacy to ease that fear even a smidgeon.

Man’s technology, combined with a media driven by the knowledge that hysteria breeds readers, has led to his own undoing. And when the anti-christ grabs those reins, watch out!

Psalm 78:53 says: “He led them safely, so that they did not fear but the sea engulfed their enemies.”

There’s plenty to pray for nowadays. Pray this: That people seek God diligently in this time of stress and death and fear.

Lead me to the Rock that is higher than me, Lord.

A Torn Asunder Sampling

Baby No. 12 has been born.

Torn Asunder — an End Times novel portending a future of One World Government, One World Religion, One World Court and other wonderful prophetic Isaiah-and Revelation-isms — has hit the bookshelves of America.

And in this world gone berserk, guess who the heroes are.

No, really. Guess.

Forget it, you’ll never guess. Put aside such a silly endeavor and jump right in.

You see, Torn Asunder’s heroes — Jake MacMillan (gotta have a good Scotsman, right?), Darek (gotta have a hero named after a son, no?) Field and Jillian Down (gotta have a lovely and smart and talented heroine, no question) — are all on the staff of Truth Publishing and Broadcasting. Actually, Jake owns the media empire. And, boy, does he tick off the powers that be.

Politically correct? Nah.

Toeing the line? Fah-get-about-it.

Come along and read Torn Asunder’s prologue. Maybe these few paragraphs will entice you to fill your Social Distancing/Self-Isolating days with an action/thriller that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat and cheering on the “good guys.”

 

PROLOGUE

The first indication the world we know was about to end eluded the world’s most alert seismologists. In the earth’s upper and lower crusts, where massive tectonic plates slide across one another, their jagged edges sometimes catching and grinding, a mild movement caused the earth above to quake.

As people slept in Japan, the massive Ring of Fire plate shifted ever so slightly over its entire breadth from the Pacific Rim to Chile to New Zealand. That shift caused just a burp in the seismograph charts.

The second clue might have forewarned a veteran of seismic monitoring.

As Starbucks-infused Seattleites hurried to work early to beat the morning rush, the small Juan de Fuca tectonic plate off the coast of Washington and Oregon suddenly plunged obliquely beneath the North America plate. A cough erupted on seismometers.

The third signal? As soccer players in Liverpool, England, practiced in the late-afternoon sun, the Eurasian plate nosedived below the eastern edge of the North American plate. At that point even sleepy-eyed scientists jerked awake with a jolt.

In places little known for earthquakes, something ominous, something dreadful was about to tear apart the earth. By now, time had run out for seismologists to warn the masses. Some called home to warn their families. But escape the carnage? That was another matter.

 

 

The Feelings Police and the Bible

God’s Word needs no tenderizing, no flavorizing. Those things spoil the Bible’s power, potency and truth.

When we sprinkle “feelings” and “what-ifs” into the Word, into sermons and interpretations, it gets spoiled, unrecognizable, and, most of all, untrue.

We have reached the time Paul warned of in 2Timothy 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears…”

This is what has happened and is happening and a major reason many churches are failing and falling apart. Witness the United Methodist Church split between “traditionalists” and “progressives.”

The Feelings Police in the pulpits have tenderized the hard parts.

(Oh-oh, 1 Corinthians 6:9 is too tough: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals…”

And so is Mark 7:20-23 where Jesus said, “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

We have to tenderize those scriptures, for sure, so as no one gets offended by their sin.

And those same Feelings Police have flavorized the easy parts to make them even easier.

Whereas Jesus said, “I am the truth the way and the life. No man comes to the father but through Me” (John 14:6) his Word has been flavorized into “all paths lead to God.”

Yes, and by tenderizing the hard parts and flavorizing the easy parts, the Feelings Police have pounded the True Word into something unrecognizable.

“Progressive” interpretations of scripture don’t pass the Taste Test of Truth. But, boy, they make sinners feel better about themselves. And that is the goal.

Instead of “the Word of Life” (1John 1:1) we have the Word of Slip-Sliding Away, the Word of Defiance, the Word of Death.

1 John 1:6-7 tells us: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the Light [God’s pure, unadulterated Word… my addition] as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

By walking in that Light and reflecting that Light, we are avoiding and discrediting the darkness, the tenderized and flavorized deception of the enemy of our souls.

1John 1:10 says, “If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His Word is not in us.”

All the Jolly-Good-We’re-Good-I’m-OK-You’re-OK preaching out there is making Jesus a liar!

The bottom line is Jesus’ words in Mark 9:42: “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

2020 Vision

You may have seen window glass manufactured like it was back around 100 C.E. when it was a new thing, wavy and imperfect. Or one of the first mirrors (1 A.D.) — you know, those ones that distort, not a lot different than a carnival’s House of Mirrors. Or an early black-and-white television set whose image would sometimes descend into blizzard-level obscurity.

It seems every technology or manmade creation improves over time. Vinyl to CD. Analog to digital. Landline to satellite phone. The Wright brothers’ biplane glider to F-22 Raptor.

Every single manmade invention started with a vision.

Thomas Edison took Allasandro Volta’s work who took from Benjamin Franklin’s discovery…

Alexander Graham Bell expanded on inventiveness of Innocenzo Manzetti, Antonio Meucci, Johann Philipp Reis and who knows who else to create the first telephone.

There’s a saying — mainly to annoy Monday-morning quarterbacks — that “hindsight is 2020” and, of course, you can see the outcome of actions better afterward, you Brady-bashers!

And then there is 2020 eyesight, vision that cannot be improved upon.

But what about 2020 vision when it comes to your life? Do you have a vision? Even thought about one?

Where there is no vision a people perish,” Proverbs 29:18 tells us. “Perish”? Now, that’s scary.

We may be able to look back on 2019 and all the way back to our first memories—all of it with perfect 2020 hindsight.

And we may look forward to the coming year with a vision. But is it “2020 perfect”?

There is one source, and one source only, we can seek for perfect 2020 vision for the year ahead. That is a capital-S Source. I pray we all take time to seek Him to perfect our dreams, our goals, our vision as we head into this new decade.

His vision, after all, is without defect, maybe even 2015 or 2010. And He has a perfect plan for each of us.

A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.” — Prov. 16:9

Hello, my name is…

So how does an author choose the names of his or her characters?

Truly, the draft of my first of Max-and-Kat’s Thrill of the Hunt novels was finished and Kat’s name was Annie.

“Annie?” my wife the editor-in-the-shadows asked. “Wrong name.”

“Her name’s Annie. I like it,” I responded.

“Wrong,” she said. “It’s gotta be Kat.”

“‘Gotta be’?” I repeated, teeth clenched.

“No question. Annie’s too — too soft.”

“But I really like Annie?”

“Too soft.”

Guess what. It’s Kat with her curly red hair, flashing green eyes, stunning smile, alarming wit, and world-renowned archaeologist’s wisdom, who now inhabits the pages of three novels.

And Max? Phew, that cowboy-turned-special-ops hero, escaped the knife, the red pen of my wife’s imagination.

I think Francis Asbury is simply lucky that “Midnight Rider for the Morning Star” was about him, America’s first circuit-riding preacher who arrived on America’s shores just before the American Revolution broke out, and thus his name was beyond changing. She of the red pen would certainly change Francis to, say, Steve McQueen. (Oops. Sorry. That name’s taken by the coolest guy e-v-e-r, whose given name by the way was Terence Steven McQueen.)

But I digress. The question is, How do writers select the absolutely perfect name for each character in a manuscript? I find myself watching the entirety of the credits of TV shows and movies — right down through the folks holding the mikes and directing the lighting. I grind A-Z through a http://www.duckduckgo.com search for Hebrew girls’ first names; Muslim boys’ names; Irish nicknames; Texas history’s heroes and heroines; anything that might help capture the essence, substance and spirit of any character who plays a pivotal part in the book I’m writing.

Jigger Jacques, a French-Canadian lumberjack and my favorite character in “The Crossing” about the KKK in Maine in the 1920s, was fashioned after Jigger Johnson, who was famous from Maine to Michigan in the world of river-running loggers in the early 1900s.

Omri Zohn — first and last names both deep dives into Jewish history — was my choice for the Israeli-born MIT professor and Nobel laureate in “The Last Aliyah.”

We have a son named Darek — Dax for short and a gifted writer by the way — and so I stole his name for a modern-day investigative journalist in my upcoming end-times thriller, “Torn Asunder.” Dax has not yet complained or sued, so I think that character’s name will stand.

Even minor characters sometimes deserve memorable names, like Ned “Zaps” Zapper, the President’s chief of staff in “The Last Aliyah.”

 

Oh, and “Operation Jeremiah’s Jar,” my novel set in Israel, is a treasure trove, including:

 

  • Jerusalem Mayor Gabriela “Gabby” Burla;

 

  • Kefira “Keffy” Jankel, a hurricane of a second lieutenant in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF); and

 

  • Oxana “Oxy” Meyuseff, another female soldier with Mista’arvim, the IDF’s anti-terrorism unit.

 

So there you go, and there I go. Before “Torn Asunder” goes to press I’ve got to change a couple of first names. It seems I got hung up on the “Js.”

 

Yep. Jessica, Jillian, Jake. Too tough on the reader. What was that cool Australian show I watched a couple days ago? I think I can rewind through the credits…

 

The Epilogue

I love epilogues.

When you have a book well written, a story well ended, it’s like a person’s life. There can be—hopefully will be—an epilogue. And that epilogue can be far cooler than even the most remarkable part of the book, just like heaven is far more thrilling than the most gratifying, exciting time in your life here on earth.

With an epilogue, you give the reader a glimpse into what happened after the end of your story. You can wrap up loose ends, tie a bow on the entire package, and punctuate the reader’s emotions with an exclamation point.

At the end of my novel, The Crossing, about the Ku Klux Klan in a small Maine town, readers would want to know what happened to the missing King Kleagle of The Crossing’s klavern as well as my favorite character, world-renowned woodsman Jigger Jacques. The epilogue answers those questions and more.

In Chasing the Music, about the globe-trotting hunt for the music of the Psalms and introducing black-ops veteran Max Braxton and archaeologist Kat Cardova, jihadist leader Mumim Maloof was unaccounted for … until the spine-tingling epilogue.

The epilogue of The Three Sixes, a tale exposing terrorist cells in America, was told in the sobering headlines of newspapers in an airport bookstore.

The epilogue of Operation Jeremiah’s Jar, Max and Kat’s third adventure, was actually a postlude, finishing the prophet Jeremiah’s story that began with the book’s prelude. Try that one on for size.

The entire contemporary thriller, The Last Aliyah, is actually an epilogue to my 1860s Underground Railroad saga, True North: Tice’s Story.

And my favorite of all may be the epilogue of my upcoming end-times novel, Torn Asunder. Of course the decision is tough. Kind of like when I’d ask a golf course architect what was their favorite personal design and they’d answer without hesitation, “The next one.”

Well, everyone’s favorite epilogue should be the one Jesus performed at the end of His life here on earth.

In John 16:7-8 Jesus says, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away the Helper [Holy Spirit] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.

“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”

In Jesus’s epilogue, the Holy Spirit empowers all believers to work the miracles of Jesus and, He said, even greater works “because I go to My Father.” (John 14:12)

Now that is an epilogue for the ages. An epilogue in which we can all play a part. Just as others can play a part in our lives’ own epilogues when the time comes.

Yes, I do love epilogues.

But now I’m looking forward to the best epilogue ever — a Super-epilogue: His coming again.

And, dear friend, to learn of that you’ve got some reading to do.

My suggestions: Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 and Revelation 2:17.

Talk about epilogues!

Fate of Some Christians on Cutting Room Floor

My upcoming end-times novel, Torn Asunder, ran so long that I had to delete some scenes that felt like cutting off a finger. Well, one in particular felt like a more major limb. The reason for the pain is the truly demoralizing, depressing feeling I get when hearing of the murder of Christians in various parts of the world. In my manuscript’s case, that is the Sudan.

Just so that I can enlighten my blog audience as well as feel that my words didn’t go to waste, I want to share this scene with you.

Here goes:

Punjab lay on his straw mattress on the dirt floor, listening to the night sounds around the tiny hovel. He could hear his papa sleeping in the next room and was sure his father’s arm was wrapped around his mamma. Even in sleep his papa protected his mamma. Punjab figured his father’s subconscious kept aware of the dangers of being a Christian in Sudan.

Punjab thought of his many relatives who were now dead. His uncle, aunt and five cousins were among the forty-three people who had been burned alive while worshipping in their church when Muslim militia barred the door to escape, then set the building on fire.

Another uncle and aunt and three cousins had simply disappeared one night. Family and friends assumed they had either been killed and buried, or carried off and sold into slavery.

Here in their own village, eight days ago, nearly every home where Christians lived had been torched in one night, and when those sleepy inhabitants who could escape stumbled outdoors, the men over eighteen years old were shot dead where they stood, and the women and children carted away on a big flatbed truck.

Punjab and his family would have been victims themselves that night, but were visiting friends two villages away. Nevertheless, Punjab could picture the scene. He could hear the big truck sputter down the dark road, carting away the women and children to who knew where. The women called for their dead husbands. The children screamed in horror and desperation. Fear sent a shiver down Punjab’s spine and he pulled his one thin blanket up to his chin.

Punjab quietly prayed to God. He had seen far too much horror for a boy twelve years old. Peace was all he craved. Peace and a game of soccer, he said to himself, forcing a smile.

He thought of his two little sisters, Pouya and Mimri, and asked Jesus to grant them a life of peace as well. They were too cute and precious for anything else. They didn’t deserve less. They didn’t warrant being objects of hate. Just peace.

He pictured them flanking him, one on each side, holding his hand and strolling to the swimming hole at the nearby river. He looked at them in his daydream. Pouya, eight and full of spunk, eyes always twinkling, funny thoughts spinning around in her head and spilling out on her tongue. If Punjab had known about comedians, or gymnasts perhaps, he would have guessed that Pouya would grow into one or the other, or both.

Mimri, five, was a little princess, a girl if ever there were one. Though pretty princess clothes were unknown in Sudan, she would look perfectly at home in them. Two sets of very big, very brown eyes looked up at him in his daydream. He smiled and breathed a deep, satisfied breath.

Then, abruptly, the tranquility of Punjab’s reverie exploded with a crash at the front door. The door splintered. Their voices snarling, angry men burst into the home.

Punjab had wondered about this moment, what he would do if it happened. There would be no way of escape because the home had only that one door and its two windows bracketed that door. If men were armed, his family stood no chance. Even his father, who could lift a donkey cart all by himself, was defenseless against weapons.

He quickly asked God to rescue them supernaturally, then spun off his mat and ran to his sisters in the adjoining room. Groggy and confused, they looked at his figure in the dark. He knew they knew it was him, but before he could speak, a crushing blow to the back of his head sent everything spinning into darkness.

Very briefly, he heard his sisters scream. Somewhere in the home, his father shouted. Somewhere his mother…

Sometime later, Punjab awoke. His head felt like a knife pierced his skull. It was still nighttime, but he could see the dawning sun struggled to break the horizon. He half-lay on the ground, his upper body propped up against the wall beside his front door, his wrists tied behind him.

He winced at the pain in the back of his head and his temple, and a mammoth man stepped inside the door. A moment later the giant loomed over him and kicked him in the ribs.

“Get up, Christian swine!” he growled and kicked Punjab again, harder this time. Now the pain in his side overcame that in his head, and Punjab struggled to stand up. His equilibrium fouled up, his hands tied behind him, he barely got to his knees when he fell sideward.

The goliath grumbled something and a second man stepped inside. One on each side of Punjab, they grabbed his arms and yanked him up.

“You filth,” the giant said, then spit on the floor, “you become an example.”

Punjab fumbled the facts over in his mind, but the pain made it impossible to decipher them. Everything was awhirl, his vision spinning. Fragments of the night came to recollection. He was in his home. The door had burst open. Shouts. His sisters. Then—nothing. Until now.

“An example to others… like you… Christians,” spat the second man.

“Deny your faith,” demanded the first.

Punjab said nothing.

“Deny Jesus!” the man shouted.

Punjab could not deny his Lord and Savior.

A slap to his face snapped his head back.

“Deny or die!”

“No!” Punjab sputtered, spitting blood. “Never!”

“Then go to Sheol!” the giant growled, and they dragged him outside, shutting the door behind them.

Punjab felt like a rag doll in their hands. He was too weak and in too much pain to fight back. Thoughts of David and Goliath spun across his mind, but he couldn’t grasp them. He felt like his head was tumbling down a hill, over and over, over and over, and he couldn’t stop the sensation to create a clear thought.

In one sudden jerk, the men lifted him off the ground. As one of them held him aloft, the other lifted his right hand to his side at shoulder height. Punjab looked to his right just in time to see a huge spike hammered through the palm of his hand. He screamed and passed out.

Later—minutes? hours?—he awoke to see the rising sun over the field where his father planted soybeans. He felt strangely suspended, with excruciating pain in his hands and feet. He struggled to breath.

He looked about him. He was crucified to the door of his home. If he could see above his head, he’d know that with the blood that had poured from him, his tormentors had drawn a fish with an “X” crossed through it. A message for any remaining Christians in the village.

Hours later, a brave neighbor put his own life at risk and yanked the offending nails from the door, releasing Punjab from his horror. Punjab drenched his clothing in tears. He had no idea what had happened to his momma, his papa, and his two little sisters, Pouya the comedian and Mimri the princess.