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Hope is that which springs

forth from the well of our soul

Assuring promise

Whatever situation

Wherever we are in life

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E Mannhalter. (C) May 2022

Posted May 5, 2022 by Joyce in My Writings, Poems, poetry, Tanka poetry

The making of story, The Informant’s Agenda, and thirty plus years of research

Reflections

HPIM2273_thumb.jpg My family history – files, photos and documents on the Mannhalter family tree from Germany, Russia, Ukraine and North America

It was the year my father died in 1982 when I began the long journey of researching my paternal family history. When I realized all the resources out there in libraries, genealogy organizations and later on internet sites it opened up a whole new world of things at my fingertips, literally.

My paternal grandfather’s family were a part of the huge mass of immigrants who came over to the U.S. from Russia. My grandfather came from Odessa, Ukraine. As the years progressed and I learned so much about their lives, culture and what they left behind in Russia I had no clue yet or real evidence of their Jewish background because their family was Lutheran when they immigrated in 1889. When I did learn of their Jewish connection and background…

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Posted February 23, 2022 by Joyce in My Writings

The making of story, The Informant’s Agenda, and thirty plus years of research

HPIM2273_thumb.jpg

My family history – files, photos and documents on the Mannhalter family tree from Germany, Russia, Ukraine and North America

 

It was the year my father died in 1982 when I began the long journey of researching my paternal family history. When I realized all the resources out there in libraries, genealogy organizations and later on internet sites it opened up a whole new world of things at my fingertips, literally.

My paternal grandfather’s family were a part of the huge mass of immigrants who came over to the U.S. from Russia. My grandfather came from Odessa, Ukraine. As the years progressed and I learned so much about their lives, culture and what they left behind in Russia I had no clue yet or real evidence of their Jewish background because their family was Lutheran when they immigrated in 1889. When I did learn of their Jewish connection and background I was hooked and obsessed with my research.

I began filling up notebooks, buying scores of books and maps, joining German Russian genealogy clubs and visiting libraries and the RLDS Family History centers in my location to get into their exhaustive archives and files. I remember the excitement as I scrolled through their massive microfiche files and cataloged records and  finding a copy of the actual document of my 3x great grandfather’s immigration from Germany into Russia in 1786. I must have scared the other women in that room who filled their days volunteering time at the family history center when I loudly exclaimed,  “I found it. I found my ancestor.”

The rest is all history too as I spent hours pouring over books, maps and resources. Then in May of 1989 my dream came true and I was booked with a tour group to visit Russia. My husband was unable to go with me, so I flew alone to Moscow and hooked up with the tour group when I arrived. We visited Moscow, Kharkov, Kiev, Odessa and finally Leningrad (then named after Vladimir Lenin, and now renamed St. Petersburg). It was an absolute unforgettable and exciting trip. It was during that time, the ‘cold war’ period when Russia and its republics were still under the Communist regime.

But, my  journey did not end with that trip. I still revisit those places if only through the internet sites, maps and resources as I write the chapters of my ongoing story, The Informant’s Agenda and follow Monica on a similar journey as she travels to Russia, Moldova and Ukraine to learn the history of her own family, and that of families like her own. The same excitement (almost) is there as i narrate her story and journey.

Little did we know that Ukraine would make history again with the aggressive action by Russia to take possession of the Crimean region. The history of Russia, Ukraine, and all former Soviet republics is one of turmoil, revolution, dictatorships, destruction and rebuilding.  Now again, the country of Ukraine fight to keep and regain what they have lost to Russia. Their economy suffers while the west decide if, or how it can help. Their plight to keep a government and democracy strong is once again hanging in the balance. Although I will not bring into my story their current story I follow it in the news, and my prayers and thoughts are with them through this time. I hope one day Ukraine will look back on all this as just another chapter in their history that helped strengthen and unify their country in the reformation process.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. (Johnson) Mannhalter  (2014)

Footnotes: (February 23, 2022) Although I first posted this in March 2014, we once again see the driven ambition of a man (Putin) intent on enlarging his territorial empire and taking it back to pre cold war days with it’s former Soviet Union regime or even the Czarist Russian anarchy regime. It is just like the prophetic warnings from the prophet Ezekiel’s in the Old Testament in chapters 38 and 39. While Russia is on the move I believe that God is too, and He is moving things along on His own timetable.  My prayers are with the people of Ukraine as they now fight to defend themselves, their country  and what rightfully belongs to them.   JEM

 

Hope Instilled

Hope instilled in hearts

is believing for things once

thought impossible,

but God assures us, by faith

we’ll see His promise fulfilled.

_________________

Joyce Mannhalter © Feb. 2022

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NIV

 

On the subject of Love

A declaration

Of Love is remembered more,

Not with eloquent

Words or gifts, but by honest

Expressions and selfless heart.

_______________

Joyce Mannhalter © 2022

 

Posted February 14, 2022 by Joyce in Love poems, My Writings, poetry, Tanka poetry, Valentine's Day

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Immanuel,” God with Us”

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

God came down to earth in the form of human flesh, born to a virgin. They named him, Jesus. He was the Messiah, a Savior come to save the sins of the world,

In Matthew, chapter 1 & 2 and in Luke 2, New Testament NIV bible,  it describes the humble beginnings of the lineage of Jesus through Joseph traced back to the family line of David, king of Israel and further back to Abraham. I am always amazed reading the stories of those back in Jesus’s family line. They were just common, humbled people God chose to be a part of his heritage, people with big problems and surmounting challenges. Even David’s family history is full of things like greed, adultery, revenge, rape and murder. He felt great remorse for his sins committed later becoming the primary author of the book of Psalms, his praises to God, the father. Jesus’s birth was prophesied generations back before David came on the scene in the  old testament books of 1 and 2 Samuel.

God’s plan for this world and the prophecies foretold about the virgin birth of the Savior was a challenge and responsibility Joseph accepted as Jesus’s father. Mary also came from humbled beginnings, a young Jewish girl chosen by God to be the mother of the Savior of the world who was destined to go to the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of all.. God promised them that He would be with them through the journey. While the world believed the Messiah would come from a royalty line of great wealth and fame God’s plan upset the whole scenario King Herod and the Roman world expected to find, and a child born to a Jewish girl, conceived by the Holy Spirit must have sounded preposterous to all who doubted and could not believe it true. But God’s plan was a perfect one, and so God sent us Immanuel, “God with us.” in human flesh, a baby born to a Jewish girl from Nazareth. Jesus, the Savior, God’s son in the flesh came to be born to the world so that we might have life everlasting.

When storm clouds come taking all that we own with it leaving us without a home to return to, God is with us.

When we suffer from the affliction of a devastating disease we know little about, God is with us.

When we grieve the loss of a loved one and wonder how we will go on without them, God is with us.

When we watch and witness the horror, chaos and destruction in the world that seems to spin out of our control, God is with us.

When we feel the stress from worry and fear that overshadows our life and wellbeing, God is with us.

Whatever our storm, whatever challenges or situation we face in life, things that happen we don’t understand, Immanuel, God’s son, Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah is with us, now and forevermore.

_________________

God’s best and blessings this Christmas to all,

Joyce E Mannhalter © December 2021

 

Those Things Declared Over Me

The air I breathe I don’t discount

with each breath through lungs unseen,

My sight though weakened and dimming be

 transfixed upon your works I see,

 your boundless grace embraces me

and I hold fast to what is mine,

what you proclaimed and  declared  over me

that which sets me apart, and sets me free,

your greatness, your power, your word, your truth

all that you are, the great ‘I Am’

I lift up your name,

and praise to thee.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter (C) Nov. 2021

___________________

John 6:33, NIV, “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life, He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

I John 1:5, NIV, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you, God is light. In Him there is no darkness at all.”

____________________

The above scriptures speak of a spiritual hunger and thirst for truth and righteousness. We live in a world of darkness and see the despair on the faces and in the lives of people everywhere, but we can have and be the light to those who don’t know the Savior sent to bring us light and salvation..  As we enter into a new season of Thanksgiving, I am always mindful of what all I have to be grateful and thankful for, but it is not just the season for thanks, but each and every day of my life I am amazed at the blessings poured out on me, my family and the ways God shows up and shows out in our lives to do His work and that of the Holy Spirit’s of healing, grace and forgiveness. His declarations spoken over our life brings wholeness, completeness and a reward not found in anything else. I hope He is real to your life as well, and you are blessed this Thanksgiving and the coming days into Christmas.  Blessings to all this Thanksgiving season.  JEM

Walk That Road Together

 

 

Sometimes there’s things we say or do

we think will help or inspire along the way

when our road or path, smooth or rough

teaching patience and perseverance are essential qualities,

but, when we haven’t either, or running on short supply,

we feel discouraged or depressed and meander through our day,

we pray for needed strength that we might be

refreshed, revived, renewed.

There are times when we feel we carry on alone

we stumble and we struggle,

and the road again a rocky path once more;

we wish it gone, and hope for a better day.

Yet we smile, hold high our head, and say,

“I’m fine,” Pretending all well instead.

But, our lives are not meant to go it alone,

so take the hand of a friend, or one you’ve come to know,

share your journey, your life, your aspirations, your dreams,

and walk that road with them; being there for each other.

And if they should be the one who falls, then be the one who helps them

up. encourage and support as you each draw strength along the  way

Praying together through those times, embracing each new day,

trusting God to lead, whatever comes, what may.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter © Sept. 2021

Footnotes:   I wrote the above poem thinking about the story of David and Jonathan in the old testament in I Samuel. When David was about to become the new king of Israel, Saul the present king, father of David’s  friend Jonathan  became jealous, angry and wicked, determined to kill David to keep the throne. Jonathan stood by and protected David with a plan to save him, even when his own life was in jeopardy.

I believe that whatever our situation or need whether it be one of great significance or not we just need one that will stand beside us, encourage us, pray with us, listen and be there as a friend who cares.  JEM

Posted September 29, 2021 by Joyce in Inspirational Poems, My Photos, My Writings, Poems, poetry

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To all, a Season, a Time

Once again it is that time of year: Autumn, my favorite season. I see the first of many leaves fall to the ground. The air is cool, brisk and welcomed. And I think back on how fast the last three years have gone since I have been living in Nebraska after moving from Colorado, my birth state. So much has happened in my life as I’m sure in yours. Our lives take many turns, ups and downs and through it all we learn and grow.

At times, I think there just isn’t enough time to do all I want or need to do. Then I realize I have tried to do too much in one day. And I think, where are the memories for this day if I don’t stop to enjoy the simpler things enough to make any?

I love to watch out my front windows at the feisty fat squirrels that race up and down my huge old Maple tree and think how busy they are too chasing after each other, racing to be the first to get to the last of the sunflower seeds in my bird/squirrel feeder.

I live in a town where farming, cattle ranching and agriculture are the primary occupational sources around this part and everyone gets involved it seems in the anticipation of early spring planting, the calving season and into the fall and autumn months of harvest when people celebrate the harvest knowing that their crops whether it be corn, soy beans, wheat or raising prime beef are feeding the rest of the county. And we do enjoy the best of fresh corn on the cob here and  prime beef, grown and  raised locally.

The events here in the U.S. and throughout the world in the last few years with the pandemic, Covid and changing weather and storm related events have shown us that nothing ever stays the same and changes come with the seasons from month to month and year to year. And we all change with it as a result.

I am reminded of a favorite scripture passage found in the Old Testament that speaks, to everything there is a time, a place, a season. These words of King Solomon are/were prophetic in that time and are today. known as a very wise man and most influential king of Israel during his reign.

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die: a time to plant, and a time to pick up that which is planted: a time to kill, and a time to heal: a time to break down, and a time to build up: a time to weep and a time to laugh: a time to mourn, and a time to dance: a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together: a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing: a time to get and a time to lose: a time to keep, and a time to cast away: a time to rend, and a time to sew: a time to keep silence, and a time to speak: a time to love, and a time to hate, a time of war and a time of peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter (Sept. 2021)

Posted September 21, 2021 by Joyce in Autumn, blogging, Faith, My Photos, My Writings

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The Vineyard

It was a good year for the wine industry. The harvest would yield a good crop. Though the drought hit some areas hard there were others where the rains came, measured by inches, and the vineyard flourished. But it was not easy finding enough workers to harvest the grapes. Those who did want work showed up early  seeing the sign posted, “Grape pickers wanted. A day’s wage paid for all who need or want work.”

 The landowner  sent them out to the fields with buckets. At 9:00, 12:00 noon, and 3:00 in the afternoon he went out and found more migrant farmers willing to work and sent them all out as well with their buckets promising them too a full day’s wage. At 5:00 p.m. there were still more again outside hanging around.  The land owner asked them, “Why are you all just standing around doing nothing?” One replied, “We could not find any work today.” So again he offered the last group the same day’s wage for the remainder of the day’s work to be done.

At closing time, he told his foreman to pay the last workers hired their full wage, and then those hired at 3:00 p.m. theirs, those hired at 12:00 noon theirs,, those hired at 9:00 a.m. theirs, and those from the first group hired early in the day, last.

But, the first group of workers complained and argued with him saying he owed them more because they were the first to be hired and worked the longest, in the heat of the day. “We should receive more for working a full day.”

The owner replied to them, “Friend, I told you like I told all the workers that you each would receive  the same amount, a full day’s wage. It was fair and according to our agreement. Don’t I have the right to hire and choose whomever I want, and pay what is owed them? Are you jealous that I paid them first what I paid all of you? Those who were hired last and paid first are entitled to the same as those hired first and paid last.  They are deserving of the same equal pay. Now, take your pay and go.”

_____________________

The above story in fiction, a modern day version of the parable similar to the one Jesus shared with his disciples as told  in the New Testament Bible in  Matthew 20: vs. 1- 14. It tells the story of the parable of the vineyard. In that day during biblical times a Denarius was a small silver coin, a Penney’s worth, but considered a full day’s wage. The land owner emphasized the importance to pay each and every worker their fair share, and his word was honored.

In the world today where the economy is suffering, some of it due to the pandemic, yet in other ways because of administrative decisions made   people complain because they don’t have any or too little and our government is helping those who still expect extra when there are numerous job opportunities  out there. And still businesses are closing, shutting down, or just trying to stay open with few employees to share the load and carry the burden for the weakened economy. This scripture passage of the parable of the landowner’s vineyard speaks about having integrity and equality for all, in our business ventures and in every area of life regardless of age, gender and race. It is in these times when we all can be reminded of the seeds and lessons in scripture to plant in our own soil, or soul  good seeds where it can produce good fruit. 

Joyce E. Mannhalter (C) Sept. 2021

 

 

Peace in the midst of a storm

When the furry of a storm subsides,

waves once thrashing the shore

are now just ripples in low coming tides,

the wind grows quiet, and clouds yield to the sun,

and you breathe a weary sigh,

thankful the end is nigh.

You remember God’s promise that

peace comes in the midst of a storm,

and peace that reigns in the soul.

_________________

Joyce E Mannhalter © (August 2021)

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you, let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Footnotes: After taking a much-needed break and rest these last several months after my own bout with Covid and other health related issues I am once again back at my computer writing and blogging again for which I am so thankful and grateful to God who has blessed and helped me through my own storms. It is that peace that assures me that whatever my storm is I am going through he gives me grace and mercy through it all. JEM


 

Memories from Christmases past and present

Christmas Past

Taffeta dresses, black patent leather shoes
Pageant lines practiced,
trying to remember my cues.
Little paper sacks sealed up tight
with oranges, nuts and candy
handed out that night.
Christmas carols sung by the choir
and the gong of loud bells under the church spire
Bowls of hot chili, cider and cookies
After cold caroling parties
Multicolored lights frame street lanterns and light poles
On our drive through town
a festive spirit everywhere
could be found

Joyce Mannhalter (C) Dec. 2020

___________________

As I reflect back on my memories from past Christmases I am so thankful for the hope we have in the risen Savior, Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit who came into a lost and sinful world offering the gift of salvation and redemption. This Christmas it has been quite a bit different for me, ending with recovery from the Covid-19 virus which I contracted after Thanksgiving. Having to quarantine more it allowed me more quiet, reflective moments with the Lord thinking about all the ways and times in my life when I knew Who and Where I could go to for help in anything I needed. With the loss of vision I have had over recent years it has been hard to accept what I cannot do much of any more, what I love most; write, read and compose poetry, and fiction. Advancing RA requiring surgery in both hands has also added to the setbacks, but know there is always hope in the redeeming saving grace of the King of Kings and Redeemer of all. The story of Jesus’s birth can be found in Luke 2:4-20 of the New Testament and remains the greatest love story every told and still my favorite.

God bless you all and thank you readers and bloggers who have followed me through the years here at Word Press. I want to wish everyone out there a Merry Christmas and a heathy , safe, happy and prosperous year in 2021.

JEM

 

Posted December 22, 2020 by Joyce in My Writings

What does America’s future look like?

I have always loved Thanksgiving Day, my favorite time of year. Maybe, it’s the  memories of our family and relatives gathered together with big holiday dinners to celebrate the harvest, and all we have to be thankful for. Maybe it’s the history, the story about a group of pilgrims and freedom seekers who journeyed across treacherous seas joining together with native Americans to celebrate a safe arrival and their survival to live, worship, to govern a new body of believers. Their fight, fortitude and union to create, sign and document a new constitution and declaration of independence from the British was reason enough to celebrate. It is  a time to just be thankful for having all that they made possible, and what this country has meant to me a s a descendant of German/Russian immigrants.

When my grandfather came to this country in 1889 from Russia he was just three yeas old, accompanied by his parents, (my great grandparents) siblings and relatives. They were excited to be on a ship coming to a new land, a new home, a place his father promised would be free of persecution, tyranny and anarchy, without a ruling czar, prying eyes, secret police, riots, revolutions and socialism, and ultimately a country never to worry about a Communist regime that would decide our fate, our future.

But, here it is, 2020, the election over and we now have a new ‘president elect’ and ‘vice president elect’ ready, with a hand picked team eager to enforce their new agenda that looks very different from what we have known for over two hundred years, held sacred and fought to keep safe and secure. The changes coming and in the works to move forward looks much like a kaleidoscope full of different pieces, shapes and sizes thrown in the mix like the faces of each promising to help “change the future of America”. The safety, economic security, prosperity and democratic and religious freedoms we’ve had and come to know, love and expect now looks doubtful as a new president moves in to secure his place in history at the Whitehouse and new measures are put in place to set a new course.  Will we be able to still enjoy Thanksgiving Day dinners with our families without restrictions, or attend our religious services as we once did? Will we be assured that when we need a police officer to come to our aid, he will not be attacked, killed, stopped or lacking to facilitate our rescue or help needed? Will we have to watch for stalking eyes that lurk on our social media sites, censoring our posts? Will there still be mobs and riots that threaten our lives, loot or steal from us, burn or ransack our homes and businesses? What does America’s future look like? Time will tell, but I don’t put my trust in man alone, but in God who assures me that my future is secure in His hands, not in one who resides in the Whitehouse. It is God who ultimately has control. That is comforting. That is what gives me peace. That is what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce Mannhalter (Nov. 2020) 

     

Posted November 19, 2020 by Joyce in Faith, My Writings, Politics

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Just Days Before Election

Just days before election  

I’m standing at the door 

Passing out the candy 

To spooks, gooks, and more

 

With my early ballot cast 

I’m thinking to myself 

What a year it has been 

And It happened all so fast 

 

With my bowl full of treats 

For little tricksters, costumed and masked 

I greet them all with smiles 

Holding their bags full of sweets 

 

And I think and I pray 

What will life be like  

For us all this time next year? 

After another Election Day? 

 

Will it be a mixed bag full of promises made? 

Or all we expect or hoped it to be? 

Or will it be full of tricks or treats? 

But who knows? The future we cannot see. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Joyce E. Mannhalter (Oct. 2020) 

Posted October 31, 2020 by Joyce in Election Day, Halloween, My Writings, Poems, poetry, Politics

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America, endangered

I remember beautiful cities I once visited; Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Washington D.C., New York city… the list goes on. It was not about the monuments or museums visited, infrastructure erected, landscape or location that made them great cities, but its history and sense of community that made it ‘home’ to those living there. Whether driving through affluent neighborhoods with manicured, landscaped yards, little clapboard or cottage cape cod houses, or the boroughs of crowded brick tenement apartment buildings there was a culture all its own. Is that now gone forever? It is certainly all changed. Is it in danger of ever being once what it was? Where/when did this country, or its leaders fail its people, to change all that we loved, took pride in, and vowed to protect and preserve ? Are we still in America, the Beautiful, or America, endangered? Where are the people that took pride in their cities, preserving, protecting what they had created? Are they all now in the streets of these cities looting, protesting, destroying and knocking down monuments erected of historical events and leaders that once fought for the people’s rights and freedoms? Are they the ones vandalizing public and private properties, victimizing the innocent that stand by and watch their homes or their businesses burned, their monuments destroyed? Why do they refuse the help, want to defund or abolish  the police and federal agents that took an oath to guard and protect all the people, black and white, red and Asian, poor and rich, homeless and sheltered, Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Atheist? What started as a “black lives matter” movement for racial injustice has now become more a revolution to oppose humane justice for all. These mobs are driven by the powers of socialists and anarchists to destroy all that we fought to preserve; our democracy, our freedoms, our free will, our voice, our culture, our livelihood our future, our faith, our very existence. Whatever name they choose to call themselves they are now killing, injuring and wreaking havoc on the innocent. They are not just common folks with a sign and a cry for change, but leaders, officials and politicians in office. Though we are not forced to take sides, to commit to, or support one group or party, we have a choice and we have a voice. Where do we draw the line at what is allowed or acceptable when the blood of the innocent pools at the feet of protestors aligned with anarchists? Who will speak for the victims of a revolution gone bad? Who will we stand with, not fight against? Are we still even one nation? We are for certain not, “one nation under God,” But, one so divided, so broken that there is no longer an America the Beautiful, but one endangered. And it is the latter one I fear is soon to be extinct if it cannot stand as one and come together for the sake of democracy and justice for all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter © July 2020

 

Posted July 29, 2020 by Joyce in Essays, My Writings, Politics

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Where comes our hope

When everything seems wrong

When life and all that we know

Spins out of control

And we look to those to lead

Us forward and yet we doubt.

 

We live with our fears

While the news brings death and tears

How is one to cope

For what may come tomorrow?

Are their answers? Is there hope?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter © July 2020

“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths,

guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior,

and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4&5 NIV

Pivoting Moment

This day in time history books will note

the chaos and destruction reigned down

on a country rife with hate, bigotry and strife,

when a unified spirit formed

to move things forward in a new direction

cannot stand with discord ripping factions apart,

weakening its statutes and laws enforced,

laws made to protect and preserve a sacred constitution

written for a nation that came together

birthed by patriots who firmly believed

that a country made strong

was a country destined never to fall,

and the song, “God Bless America” should include, “God Help America!”

Will we make it through tough times

together as one body, or apart, divided in the quest?

Or will it be a pivoting moment in time

when we watch with despair at its further decline?

Will we only stand and sing?

“America. land of the free and home of the brave”?

Or will we fall to our knees and pray

that those are not just words to a song,

but seek our creator who forgives us our wrong?

In spite of our misgivings and mistakes

will He not still bless and keep His word?

Will He not cry also, tears of heartache and pain

 because He was not invited in,

to guide us through these times

when our country teeters on a precipice to survive?

Have we become just a country

trying to hold it together, hurting on this pivoting day?

What kind of legacy will we leave behind to make it great again?

Will we welcome God back in?

__________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © July 2020


 

Germinating Seeds of Faith

Matthew followed his grandfather out to the old barn. The water line was still visible, its sides warped, leaning from storm damage and the dark, humid interior emanating a dank smell of fertilizer, peat moss, tools and tractor.

“Grandpa, it smells like the pond after the flood. You know…when it receded and left a lot of rot and stuff down along the banks?”

“Yes. But we’ll start by propping open that fallen door and letting in some sunlight and fresh air. Then we can start cleaning up what is salvageable to use again. The tools and tractor are not too severely affected by the flood waters, but the mower and other things might be. I think there’s still some seed over here on the shelves that we might be able to use to plant another crop if it is not too wet or decayed.”

They opened a damp, limp bag, still sealed but smelling like rotting wet hay. “Whew. It smells like… my dead frog.” Matthew said.

“Yes, I guess it does. I’m sorry about your frog.” Grandpa stuck his hand down in the bag, sifting the contents through his fingers testing the texture for signs of any moisture. “It feels dry enough to try. Shall we? It’s corn seed.”

“Plant it? I don’t know. The bag got pretty wet.”

“Yes, but it’s been sealed shut, so nothing else could get in to spoil it, or ruin the contents. You know, Matthew it’s kind of like the scriptures you learned in your bible lessons, about the parables of Jesus, the way he taught his disciples about planting good seed that grows deep in good soil that is cultivated, plowed and watered. The seeds yield a good harvest because they are like the words of Jesus planted in our heart, our soul. They are sealed in, but they don’t stay there if they’re to do any good.”

“I know Grandpa. but when things get ruined or spoiled how can we expect anything good to come from it? And this seed was not even in the ground yet before the storm. Talk about good irrigation!”

Grandpa laughed. “Matthew, do you have just a grain of faith that it will work, that we can make our garden grow? It only takes one seed to grow a plant until ripe for harvest. Don’t you think we can see an acre of corn grow from this one bag of seed? Do you remember the parable about the mustard seed? It only takes one seed, one grain to produce.”

“Yes, I remember. Well, you’re a farmer. A good one. If anyone can do it, you can.”

“Maybe, but, it’s not what I can do, but what God can do with my seed because of my faith. Now, it’s time you learn what a seed can do that has survived a flood with washed out crops. Like those words of Jesus you’ve learned in the parables, that what we see, what we hear, what we plant, what we grow is rooted in a firm foundation, and in this case it is initially the soil that is our foundation; planted, cultivated and prepped to produce a good crop. It is what we do with what we have that builds our faith.”

____________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © June 2020

Footnotes: scripture references for the above fictional parable are as follows.

[Luke 6:49] NIV

But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed, and its destruction was complete.”

[Mark 4:3] NIV

“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. [Mark 4:8] Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

My friend was black

At least a head taller than me, Zach was large for a boy his age.Whatever came his way  he seemed assured, confident and ready to take it on. But, it was not with anger, resentment or violence. He stooped to no one, cowered to none, and stood up for those who befriended him; like me. That is the way I saw him. I thought him a ‘cool guy’. We laughed and joked, talked about the things we liked and the  homework we hated. He was the only black boy in our junior high school in a mostly all white town, with an increasing number of Hispanics moving in to the community adding to the diverse mixture of the ever growing, burgeoning population.

That was sixty years ago. I did not know then or realize until much later how important the lesson learned to treat all whatever one’s color, faith, genetic background or intellectual abilities with a genuine kindness, consideration and respect. During the sixties era with the civil rights movement and unrest, the KKK, the mayhem and protests that followed  a man by the name of Martin Luther King Jr. put a name to it and fought peacefully to stop it. It was discrimination at its worst. And today once again it rears its ugly head.

Growing up with friends like Zach taught me a valuable lesson on what a friend is, and who will stick up for us when we are faced or confronted with a situation while seeing others pull away to join ranks with a bigoted crowd. Those are the ones who cannot ‘walk the talk’ of equality and tolerance because they fail to cultivate the soil from which they came.

Zach was teased, harassed and made fun of because he was a lone, black boy in an all white kids’ school and town. It did not matter to the other kids that he was a smart kid, a nice kid with a soldier father serving in the U.S. army. They just found no good reason to like him, because he was black. But, I found plenty and it made no difference about the color of his skin. He was genuine, honest, had respect for others and came from good soil, cut from the same cloth like Martin Luther King Jr. Growing up I heard adults talk about ‘hooligan kids’ who came from ‘bad seed’. But, there is no bad seed with God who created us all in His image. We are a product of the soil or environment from which we grow in, and that which we cultivate.

Zach came from good soil; nurtured, taught and raised to respect the ways of others, their ideals and perspective on life. That is what I saw in Zach that drew me in, to accept him as my friend. When the situation was reversed and it was me who was harassed or bullied he stood up for me and let others know he would not allow a friend of his to be treated in such a way, and the kids backed off. He did not fight back with raised fists, shouting insults or use foul words.

White or black, brown or otherwise. We are all like a seed in the soil of our environment and in it we can grow, cultivate and bloom under one sun, under one nation  with God’s grace and mercy. The choice is ours in how we choose to live, and how we want our voice heard. Protest is not the answer to a problem much bigger than that which we are faced with. Choose not to hate. Choose not to throw bricks or sling insults back with anger and violence. Choose instead to love another regardless of the color of their skin, background or ethnic heritage and treat them as if they are the children of God, because they are, and so are you.

________________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter (June 2020)

 

A Mother’s Legacy

I made a lot of mistakes. A lot of times I tried and failed in ways to be the person that I wanted to be for my girls, and always the example for them, and to inspire in them confidence to be the person God wanted them to be as well. But, we are not perfect, and I knew I could improve in ways knowing God was with me because I trusted in him to direct and guide my every step. I knew that he would always be with me, that I would never have to worry about being alone or afraid, even in raising my children. I knew that I could count on him. Admitting to having made mistakes is a step forward to improving what we need to work on. But dwelling on those mistakes is precious time wasted and can bring us down. Attempts to right our wrongs will not change the fact that something was wrong in the first place, but taking one day at a time and making it one with a positive attitude is how we can make strides toward being the person God wants us to be, and the mother we need to be. It is what I have learned as a mother and as a grandmother. This is what I wish to pass on to my girls while raising their children, and in turn their children’s children as grandparents. This is a part of my legacy I hope will be remembered. The kind where I grew not by striving towards unreachable goals, then failing in the attempt, but instead growing through the difficult, hard times that left me vulnerable and dependent on God to lift me to a higher standard of excellence.

I knew I might never measure up to be the woman told about in Proverbs 31 of the Old Testament, but we are all unique in the way God created us, and our gifts unique in the way we might use them to govern our steps in raising our children. God is a God full of grace, mercy and forgiving. He walks with us through our journey and does not judge us for our mistakes, but loves us unconditionally and honors our effort to do our best. That is the most reassuring thing of all, because we are nothing without him, but with him we can do incredible things we thought otherwise impossible.

Proverbs 31: 26 “She opens her mouth with wisdom: and on her tongue is the law of kindness.”

Prov. 31:28 “Her children arise up and call her blessed…”

Prov. 31:29 “Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excels them all.”

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and grandmothers out there. God bless you all.

Joyce E. Mannhalter © May, 2020

Posted May 10, 2020 by Joyce in Faith, Mother's Day, My Writings

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