Author Archive

The Galilee and His Disciples

The Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, Israel, May, 2001 photo credit: Joyce (Johnson) Mannhalter

 

The Galilee, quiet, cold and still

but for the ripples under a bright orange sky

lies in mournful praise. It was here

where once they’d gathered sharing life, 

they’d fished and prayed,

 but now the sea is silent like His grave. 

as the sun sets, its reflections seen

over what looks like a stained glass sea

  merging colors of purple, crimson red 

for the bruised and broken Son of God,

the crucified Christ who suffered and bled.

Now their boats sit idly by with empty nets drawn in and dry. 

His disciples aren’t here, gone to mourn their loss, 

 the Messiah, Savior Lord, whom they followed to His death.

the One who stilled the storm and taught

from a boat about faith, and hope

and how to believe for miracles received. 

Did He not promise he’d return one day? 

And find them again before going away 

to reign with His Father and they would know

that what He said, He would do,

and that in His place would the Comforter come too? 

So they left their nets and boats to moor

on the Sea of the Galilean shore.

_________________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter – April, 2019

The story of the Sea of Galilee and Jesus’s disciples can be found in the scripture passages here below: Matthew, 8: 23-27, chapters 14: verses 22-32, and chapter 17: 22 & 23. The promise Jesus made to his disciples of the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) that would come after he went away (after the resurrection) can be found in these scriptures here: John 14:16, 26, 15:26 & 27,and in chapter 16: verse 7. His promise made then for them and for all is the same today, and always. We have the assurance that whatever we face in life with all the challenges, the problems, the good, the bad and the ugly we have the assurance that our Redeemer lives, is still on the throne, and we will be comforted and shown grace and mercy. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today and forever.” KJV

Happy Easter to all,

JEM

 

 

A New Spring

So happy to see

birds returning to my tree,

and squirrels too, at play.

Spring has come. I feel so blessed

to just be here, and be free.

~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter

In true Tanka form I welcome a new season, a new spring. The cold winter months might be gone for a season, but often there is another one or two big snowstorms that hit before really warm temperatures announce it summer.

It has been a long, dry season in my writing too, not because I did not want to post or write, but other things and obligations took precedence over that. During that period it was a time of self-reflection and I needed to prioritize what was most important at the time. It was a time of growth too, both spiritually and in learning how to become more self-sufficient as I am now single again. I am so grateful and thankful for the way God has revealed His plan and purpose in my life and shown me how much more I need to trust Him.

“Casting all your care upon Him; for he careth for you.” I Peter 5:7 KJV

A Happy Spring to all,

JEM

When to Him

When to Him I come and ask

for wisdom and understanding

to the questions I have,

with few answers to all that confuses the soul,

and though yet I trust Him

I know not what to do,

I ask still again, What is God doing?

What is the lesson here to be learned?

for too often I ask as if still to plead,

Did you not hear my prayer and my need?

There isn’t any doubt to all I believe,

but so often it’s hard to persevere,

and I wait on Him and think to myself,

did I not get it? Did I not hear?

And then, it is dawn and I see the sun

break through the clouds and fog now gone.

Sometimes it is like that with our heavy heart

when we are impatient, awaiting a breakthrough,

but soon rewarded; behold the Son.

__________________

Joyce E Mannhalter (C) 2019

And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of judgement; blessed are all they that wait for him. Isaiah 30:18 KJV Old Testament

 

 

 

 

A year like none other

It has been a year unlike any I have ever experienced in my life. Sometimes, because of our choice or decisions made there are circumstances that change or alter the course or direction for our lives. Other times it is God who has appointed and chosen one for us by allowing things to happen that require us to set out on a new path. We might wonder what He had in mind or wanted to accomplish in it. But we can only appreciate it if we realize He is teaching us to grow and learn how to trust him. It was that way with me this last year, although it was difficult and challenging.

I have so often thought and wondered what it must have been like for Mary, the mother of Jesus as she tried to understand or comprehend why she in her tender teenage years was chosen to be the one God used to carry and deliver His gift to the world. What a tremendous challenge it must have been for her as maybe she thought or wondered if she was worthy or ready for it. Maybe she went through a time of doubt or unbelief while hoping people, family and friends would see and understand that she was not a woman to be shamed, stoned or ostracized, pregnant with a child before her espoused marriage to Joseph, but instead God’s chosen vessel by appointment to deliver the Savior, King and Redeemer to a lost and sinful world. Scripture tells us there was great joy and jubilation at the birth of Jesus as angels heralded his birth before men. (Luke 2:9-18). But not all were rejoicing in his birth as King Herod sought him out to kill him. (Matthew 2:1-16). At that time of celebration and jubilation she had no knowledge or thought that one day she would weep for Jesus’s suffering too, as once again He would be sought out and killed. Yet, He went willingly to the cross for all. (Luke, chapters 22 & 23).

We cannot fully appreciate and comprehend the miraculous birth of Jesus, born to a virgin or His death and resurrection until we fully appreciate the new and miraculous rebirth in our own lives. The rebirth of our soul is only dependent on this one thing; that we believe in Jesus, the Son of God who came to forgive us our sin and trespasses and offer us hope and a new life. John 3:16&17. I cannot imagine what my life would be like if not knowing my Savior during this difficult year. It is what held me up, what lifted me during my down times, what buoyed me when I felt I was being pushed under with the strain and stress.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my faithful blogging friends and readers who have visited my blog through the last year, and for all the kind comments, feedback, thoughts and prayers as I went through a difficult period of my life with a divorce and relocation, as I set out on a new path of my own. We cannot know what our tomorrows bring, but we can grow through them, and learn to trust God as we move forward.

Merry Christmas and God bless you and yours in 2019.

_________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter (Johnson) (Dec. 2018)

Posted December 14, 2018 by Joyce in Chrisitanity, Christmas, Devotional, Faith, My Writings

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Reflecting back on things learned

Each morning when I rise I reflect

on things God is showing me new each day

if not with words I often write,

but with an audible voice to say,

God, how do I pray? Show me your way.

Life brings us troubles we don’t understand,

things that move us the way they do,

and the emotion whelms up inside our soul

and we need a forgiving and loving heart

for one whose life spins out of control,

one who needs help but there’s much we don’t know,

so in my place of quiet solitude

where my mind is stilled and I ponder all,

and for once not ask for myself to receive,

but offer up my prayers and pleas

for the one who needs divine intervention.

It is what God asks me to do,

it is what I do now, because I believe.

___________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter (C) 2018

As I think back on this last year and what I have gone through with the challenges God put in my path there were times when I didn’t know if I could get through it. But, as time went on I realized it was the prayers and support of friends that cared when sometimes I didn’t know what to do because of the pain, bitterness and unforgiveness I carried in my heart. But, God calls us to have a forgiving and understanding heart and pray for the one who has hurt us. In Colossians 3:13 it says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Luke 6: 28 “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

I am so thankful for what I have learned through this last year as I went through a painful divorce. It has made me grow spiritually. This is the season of thanksgiving as we enter into a time of celebration of the birth of God’s son, and give thanks for what we have, and this is what I am most thankful for. Life is full of lessons in our journey and there is much we can learn and reflect back on. It can change us in ways that make us a better person. I believe it has done that for me. I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. God bless you and yours.

Joyce E. Mannhalter, Nov. 2018

More like home

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where corn grows ready waiting the harvest

and granaries are tall white towers

stretching upwards into bright skies.

Where trees, large and twisted

their bark like wrinkles baked in the sun,

with heavy foliage on hanging branches

 bow low to the ground now covered in leaves,

and busy little squirrels scurrying around.

 The sound of trains rumbling down the tracks,

the blast of a noon day whistle heard,

with the semis and tractors sharing the road

between quaint shops that line the street;

a bank, a post office, grocery and gas pump.

Are all beginning to feel more like home.

_________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © Oct. 2018

 

 

 

Posted October 26, 2018 by Joyce in Autumn, blogging, My Photos, My Writings, Photography, Poems, poetry

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Change

Change is not something I do well. My old ‘routine’, or to put it more aptly my personal agenda was like wearing a comfortable, favorite pair of old shoes or blue jeans. But, even a new pair of shoes or blue jeans has to be broken in until softer and loose enough to easily slip on.

But change is what my past year has been like since making some tough decisions in my life, good or bad. And when those changes come with a new name, address, relocation and relationships and all that goes with it there comes with it a time to stop and rethink priorities, goals for the future, and focus on what is immediate and most important; things that must be dealt with here and now.

There have been many who wondered, questioned or just stood by and prayed while I and my husband went through a divorce this last summer, and a broken marriage after fifty-two years together. The serious mental illness and suicide attempts my husband suffered through 2017 and  2018  became more than I could handle physically, mentally and emotionally. I had to make a decision that was not only very difficult, but I knew things would never be the same for us again. When I filed for divorce and we put our house and properties we owned jointly up for sale other things followed that made it harder to bear as the months went by. My husband became unpredictable, with varied mood swings and personality changes that shocked everyone who knew him, and frightened those of us who once loved him; our two daughters, our grandchildren, family and friends, and myself included.

When he started buying up and carrying around guns, deliberately threatening the lives of others and demonstrating a delusional, hallucinating mind and personality that conjured up stories we knew were not true, driving around with reckless abandonment, and pursuing women on internet match sites I knew I could not stay married to a man I hardly knew anymore.  I had to put my life and future at the forefront, find a new place to live and put my trust in an unfailing God who I knew would never leave, or forsake me. I knew God would walk with me through the shadow of dispelling darkness and despair I felt engulfed in, though at times I wondered if I would ever find my way through it. But, I was not alone. I had the support and prayers of friends and family, who knew the struggle I was going through.

During the months following he committed a serious crime, and the felony landed him in jail. He faced court hearings, convictions, a possible prison sentence, and numerous months of mental and psychic evaluations. For months I was angry, deeply hurt and resentful of all that he had put me through. But, deep down I knew he was a very sick man, that something had claimed his mind and soul causing his problems or contributing to all that he’d done. The many medications he took were adjusted and one by one each possible diagnosis came back unconfirmed. Things would never be the same for him. As for me, I was determined to grow through the experience and become the person God was shaping me to be. But, I knew I would need to make changes in my own personal agenda and reset my priorities. There would be no comfortable routine.

In Philippians 3:13 & 14 the apostle Paul speaks of his own experience; “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” NIV I hung onto that hope that God was working in my life and I believed He would do a work in my husband’s life as well, that one day he would be healed and made whole again.

There will always be many unanswered questions as to why and how one could change so much that no one recognized him anymore. After the divorce and the sale of our home I set out on my own to relocate, buy another house in another state, and took a long break from blogging and social media sites. I have now taken back my maiden name of Mannhalter and though it is becoming once again more familiar and comfortable like my old sneakers and blue jeans when signing my name I will remember forever the fifty-two years I had with the once wonderful, giving, loving man I married when I was Joyce E. Johnson.

Joyce E. Mannhalter (October 2018)

 

Posted October 12, 2018 by Joyce in blogging, Faith, My Writings

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Longing for a tranquil place

 

             Sunset over Lake McConaughy, Ogallala, Ne.

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

My soul longs for a tranquil place,

filled with still and quiet peace where a bird’s joyful song

is a moment not taken for granted, but seized,

times when God shows mercy and grace,

and I feel His presence commanding my space,

like the sun’s warm rays stretched over still waters,

and the wind that sends ripples across the lake.

It is with searching heart I gaze into the skies

knowing the testing of my faith

implores a renewed and courageous strength, 

so I’ll not doubt His word, but trust 

Him in those things I don’t understand

 regardless the outcome, whatever it be

for I know that He does have a purpose and plan,

and my life and future secure in His hands.

______________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2018

If I Could Behold


If I could behold scarred hands and face

and feet where nails pierced through were placed

I would ask, “How could you love me so very much,

to carry the weight of my sins to the cross,

and die that I might have new life

while suffering such an agonizing sorrowful death?”

But, he replied with scarred hands to my face

and with eyes reflecting the tears in my own,

“You see my child, there will be times

when you will suffer your own pain and loss,

and I will be there to comfort you.

I’ll not forsake you. You’ll not be alone.”

It is what I know He does for me now,

enfolding me in His arms of grace.

__________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2018)

There are times when we need an unshakable trust in the Savior to get us through turbulent storms in life, when we don’t know what to do, and need His comfort and grace. But, He is there, always, and hears our every prayer, and knows our every need. In John 20:29 Jesus said, “Because you have seen me you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” And, in II Corinthians 12:9 Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” NIV 

JEJ


Enjoy today; worry not about tomorrow

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 NIV

I have always had a problem worrying over things I dreaded, things that could not be avoided like a dental appointment, a medical procedure, or having to drive somewhere where I didn’t want to go, taking me out of my comfort zone. I worried about getting lost, being alone in a crowd of people I didn’t know, getting in a bad car accident. You name it; the list of dreaded things I could not avoid would grow and increased my anxiety to a point that what I was really feeling was out-right fear, the fear of tomorrow, the fear of the unknown.

Worrying over our tomorrows takes our focus off what is important today, and steals the joy that God has for us. What God wants to do for us today, in us, or through us the devil wants to steal. When tomorrow comes we may have regret that we did not put more effort into making our yesterday the best it could have been. Even the memory of it might not be a happy one. Experiencing the joy of today enables us to not fear or worry about tomorrow. Fear sucks the joy right out of our very soul. It can cripple us from walking (daily) in the spirit.

I realized that more than the things I dreaded tomorrow was the inability to appreciate what I have today, an opportunity to make it my best day, to live in the moment and not dwell on what would come in its own time. Learning to take one day at a time even when there are things I knew were coming did not have to steal my attention off of today. For this day I choose to make it my best day, and be hopeful, expectant that whatever today brings I will rejoice and be glad in it because I know that God has all in His hands, and I know He has all my tomorrows as well.

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2018

Posted February 28, 2018 by Joyce in Chrisitanity, Devotional, Faith, My Writings

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What is this thing called Love?

 

It is not measured

by gifts great or small,

or acts of kindness

expressed one day alone,

but by choosing to live

a selfless life, with a heart

that does not seek

to take what he deserves not,

but to give back what another needs;

it is that which God call’s love.

________________________

Joyce E Mannhalter (Johnson) Feb. 2018

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” I Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV This is called the ‘Love chapter’ by many bible scholars. I love this scripture passage as it teaches us how to love unselfishly, the kind that gives back, not expects to receive, a good lesson in life.

JEMJ                                              

 

 

The Promised Rock

 

 “Lady, do you want a pretty rock? I got pretty rocks. It just costs a nickel.”

The little red-haired, freckled boy stood outside my front door with a hopeful, expectant look. I didn’t think he could be over five years old. I smiled and said. “Sure. I’d love a pretty rock. Can I pick one out?”

 “No, I have to go get it. I will be right back.” Then he ran off down the street.

I went to get my nickel, then waited a few minutes at the door to see if he would return. He did. Running up to my door again, he held out his hand and a small, white, triangular-shaped rock lay in his palm. We made the exchange.

I said, “Thank you. That is a pretty rock.” Then he took off. As I watched him run back down the street I smiled and wondered if the little entrepreneur went looking  for another who might buy one of his rocks. There is nothing in particular about this little rock that stood out as anything special. But, it reminded me of the story in Matthew in the New Testament about John the Baptist who came as the forerunner telling all he met that God was sending the Son of God, the prophesied Savior. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy spirit and with fire.” Matthew 3:11

Christ came as the promised rock, the One whom we could place our trust  in and build our foundation upon. All that He asks from us in exchange for this gift of eternal life is to believe in Him, seeking forgiveness for our sins.

Jesus never demanded attention, did not dress to stand out in a crowd, or use other means to draw people unto Him. Yet, His love and compassion compelled people to come to Him. He stood out among the masses while doing what his father sent Him to do; loving all unconditionally, healing the sick, ministering to the poor, the hurting and brokenhearted, teaching grace and forgiveness. He came to fulfill the will of his father, to be the sacrificed lamb, the ‘promised rock’ of salvation. There is no way to the Father except through Jesus Christ, His son.

“The Lord is my rock and my salvation.” Psalm 18:2

_________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2018)

Living at the foot of the Rockies; tour guide

I took this photo from a trailhead in Loveland, looking west towards the Rocky Mountains while hiking on what is called, The Devil’s Backbone.

 

Looking west towards the mountains from River’s Edge Nature Preserve, Loveland, Colorado

 

A view of the white water rapids of the Cache La Poudre River northwest of Fort Collins after a heavy rain storm.

 

 

Our city is one of several along the front range of the Rockies where roads and highways leading up to Rocky Mountain National Park are most often congested with the traffic of tourists going up in the winter months to ski at popular ski resorts, or in the summer to hike the trails,  ride the white water rapids or just to enjoy the changing colors of autumn. After the summer months the bright golden hues of the Aspen trees cover much of the Rocky Mountain slopes before the first frosts. Estes Park, a town at the foot of RMNP is a popular tourist destination throughout the year. We have an abundance of hiking trails and mountain and water sports to choose from living along the front range with an often unpredictable swing in temperatures and climate.

____________

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/tour-guide/

Joyce E. Johnson (2018)

 

Let the fury of fierce winds blow

A view of Longs Peak and mountain range in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, Dec. 2017

 

Let the fury of fierce winds blow

 across the frozen tundra plains

and winter’s bitter chill

turn to mist that hovers still. 

 How soon might I see

    tender shoots unfolding upon the dew?

   Hidden now they’re cloaked in nature’s own dark room

 waiting patiently to bloom,

and tender blades of grass

that peek from beneath the thawing earth,

and skies with a bright warm sun

promise spring is soon to come. 

 _______________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2018


There are times

THERE ARE TIMES

There are times in life when weariness comes,

when things seem off; they’re just not right,

when I wake to clouds, and my skies turn gray.

God seems too silent even though I pray,

my heart keeps knocking on heaven’s door

seeking access to His throne, beseeching His grace.

I know He hears my imploring voice,

but think He’s neglecting his child that cries.

Then I sense a quiet spirit arise

calming my quivering anxious pleas

and I hear him say, “My child

I’m here, I’ve not gone away,

I’ll not leave you. Trust me today.”

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson (C) 2018

A psalm of David; “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10 (NIV) When David’s enemies pursued him he became weary from the fight, running from Saul, his persecutor and those sent to kill him. Sometimes we become weary from the fight of holding tight what we don’t want to lose; things that we feel secure us and our future. It challenges our faith, weakens our resolve and we are vulnerable. But, God says to trust Him and he will lift that load from off us, and take on our problems and cares and deliver us from fighting an uphill battle that we cannot win ourselves. He says in I Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you. ” (NIV)  

JEJ   



Posted January 27, 2018 by Joyce in Faith, Inspirational Poems, My Writings, Poems, poetry

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A Time to Plant

I ask the Lord

What is it You want of me to do?

Is it the season in my life for new seed?

To break new soil and prepare to plant,

or the time just to nurture that which grows?

And to God, I’ll say, “I’ll do it later, just not today.”

But, if tomorrow doesn’t come

and all I have is remorse and regret

that I took not the time to plant those seeds

and nurture your garden, and it turn to weeds,

for the harvest is great, and cannot wait,

I gave it no attention; it cries out and pleads

for there were times when I just turned away

and said, “Let another plant that seed,”

and I turned not my heart to that one in need.

But God now I ask, “Give me this day,

this moment, this season, this time, and a way

that I might find in one new soil I pray,

to plant the seed of love in one

that becomes a part of the harvest to come

in a new time and season nurturing me.

______________________

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: vs. 2…a time to plant and a time to uproot…” NIV This is one of my favorite scriptures in the Old Testament and the inspiration for the poem above. There is always a season and time to plant good seeds and reap a harvest of good fruit sewn. I Cor. 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 

Joyce E. Johnson © 2018

The Dawning of a New Year


So long 2017, Hello 2018

As 2017 draws to a close, I am thankful and look forward to welcoming the new year in 2018. 2017 was a very difficult year for me and my family. But, it was also a year where I saw God do a miraculous work of healing and forgiveness, faith and restoration in our lives that only comes in knowing Him and having a personal relationship with His son, Jesus, the King of Kings born to the world so that all would come, seeking Him.

As we enter into this new year I choose not to dwell on those things that tested my faith and weakened my resolve when I went through those times in 2017, but instead the moment I have now.

I am learning what it means to have an ‘unshakable trust’ in God where we come to a place of complete surrender, relying on Him in every situation we find ourselves in. When I relinquish all my worries and fears over to Him my burdens are lifted. Giving Him all that we have no control over, or answers for frees us from the worry and stress, or searching for ways to deal with whatever we face in life. It is about letting go of our hang-ups, our problems so that He can do His work in our lives. I choose to not dwell on the past, upon mistakes made or regrets for things that did not work according to my plan. But, instead live for this moment now, with Him. I am not concerned about pushing my agenda or making ‘new year’s resolutions’ or lists for tentative plans for my future as I might fail, and things work out differently. With God I know all things work according to His plan and His will when I just trust him with that kind of unshakable trust. In Jeremiah 29:11, it says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” NIV

I want to personally thank all the readers, bloggers and followers who have visited my blog site this year and I hope something you have read or seen here has inspired you, blessed you or entertained you. It has been a pleasure and joy interacting via WordPress with you all.

Happy New Year to all.

_________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)


Posted December 31, 2017 by Joyce in Chrisitanity, Faith, My Writings

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Christmas in the Rockies

Longs Peak, RMNP, 14, 259 foot elevation, second tallest peak in Colorado.

A view of RMNP peaks off Trail Ridge road.

Lower elevation at the foot of RMNP, a clearing where herds of elk are usually seen grazing. Towards this time of night at sunset hours they will hunker down for the night. The sun was just beginning to go down, and the skies lit up with soft hues of pink and orange. These clouds seemed to descend down upon this peak, and I thought it was an awesome sight to photograph.

Elkhorn Ave. and The ‘Old Church Shops’ in Estes Park lit up for Christmas.

A view of the southeast side of  Estes Park. Notice the large star lit up on the side of the mountain.

 

Sometimes the Christmas season gets hectic with the business of shopping, decorating, program events, parties, and family gatherings. There are times when things came too soon and hurried right after the Thanksgiving Day holiday and often just having a moment to sit and relax with a cup of hot chocolate and a favorite Christmas movie seems like a luxury I don’t have or take time for and regret it later.

But, through the years we have tried to keep a few favorite Christmas traditions and even started new ones as we tried to prioritize what meant the most to us. Things like going up to the mountains to cut and collect our own greenery and pine cone branches to make our own wreath was a favorite event. Browsing through Christmas shops and antique stores to find a new Christmas ornament or antique toy to place under our Christmas tree was another.

But, our favorite thing is to just drive up to the mountains during the holidays and spend the day exploring the territory. This year we went up to Estes Park that sits at the foot of Rocky Mountain National Park, then drove up part way to Trail Ridge road. After the first snow storms of the season they close the first gate to the higher elevation areas when snow cannot be cleared and it becomes too dangerous to pass or drive through safely.

I took these shots above this last Friday (12-15) when we went up with our dog, Maggie, had a bison burger and fries at a favorite place and walked around town in Estes Park on our way down before returning home. Making a day of it makes it a special memorable outing. Colorado has not seen too much snow this season thus far, so it is pretty dry along the front range except for brief snowfalls in the higher elevation. Snow skiing is a very big sport industry here in Colorado so the ski slopes are waiting anxiously for some really good snows that keep them busy into spring. But, for those of us who are happy to find just enough to tramp through the white covered ground in brisk temperatures, and see Christmas lights glimmer off its white sheen it is enough to make our day.

I hope your Christmas will be merry and bright, memorable and special. Merry Christmas to all.

_____________

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

 

Believe for the Impossible

CHRISTMAS

A man stood outside the busy store, shivering, dressed in a Santa suit, ringing his Christmas bell. A volunteer to the nonprofit, he smiled and greeted everyone he met. A few stopped to drop some change into his kettle, then hurried into the store. It was beginning to snow and the temperature had dropped another ten degrees.

Minutes later a mini-van pulled up in front and let people out, all senior residents from the “Westbrook. Senior Center, Home of the Ageless.”

“Ageless? Now that’s a new concept.” He said to himself. A spry little lady walked up to the kettle and dropped her coins in.

“Thank you, mam.”

“You’re welcome. You look cold. Have you been out here long?”

“Uh, several hours now. You know, trying to help out the charity, and all.”

“Yes. Of course. And, they are grateful. The Lord bless you, young man.” She patted him on the shoulder and walked into the store.

“Yes, mam. Thank you.”

She returned later with a large winter coat and a cup of hot cider. She placed the coat about his shoulders and handed him the cider. “I thought you could use this. The coat is yours also.”

“Oh, No, mam, I can’t take the coat. You needn’t do that. I’m fine, really.”

“Nonsense. Your feet ache, fingers stiff from the cold, you were laid off your factory job, divorced, .and looking for work.”

What…in the world? He stared at her as if she read his mind, knew him intimately, and his life history. “How could you know that…what I did? Who are you?” he asked, incredulously.

She smiled. “It’s not important. Well, it’s time I rejoin my friends. Good night.”

She boarded the waiting van with the same people she got off with and it drove away. He stood staring, trying to figure if he had ever met her.

When he turned in his kettle that night, he waited until it was emptied, the money counted, recorded, then signed out.

“Thanks, John. You know that job you applied for in the warehouse? It’s still open if you want to come in tomorrow for an interview. Still interested?” asked the officer behind the desk.

“Sure. Yes, sir. Thank you.”

John went home to a quiet house with so many regrets, the divorce, his drinking problem, losing his old job because of it. He couldn’t change his past, but he was working at changing his future.

He took off the coat wondering about the stranger who’d given it to him. She’s got my number alright. Maybe a former employee from the company that knows too much. Nice coat, though.

He found an envelope in the pocket with a check made out to him signed by an anonymous benefactor for $50,000. There must be some mistake. Who would leave a check…?
Some severance check or back payment from my layoff? An attached note read, “If you believe in things you thought impossible miracles tend to happen. Merry Christmas, John.”

______________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2017

Serene

The little village of Madrid, Nebraska is not officially a town. It does not meet the population requirements of 500+ to qualify, so it is called, a “village”. But the quiet, laid back atmosphere of this small farming community with its historical beginnings has the kind of country charm and character found on postcards from the 1800’s era. Walking down a gravel road one sees corn fields, tractors and combines at work planting or harvesting, hay balers, grain elevators, mammoth piles of grain and corn, and huge semis lined up, loading their haul to transport goods to processing plants or distributors.

In the old General Store owned and operated by the Mennonite people one can find all kinds of sweet treats, candies of every color, shape and flavor stored in large jars, gum balls and my favorite, their almond date nut, coconut rolls. Farm fresh eggs, nectars, syrups, fresh-baked breads and rolls can be found there also.

In the evenings when the sun goes down the sunset is as serene and picturesque as a Norman Rockwell painting. The air turns cooler, the roads look almost deserted and one can hear the sounds of hawks screeching across the open skies in search of prey.  Neon signs light up Main street, but a soft glow of lights can be seen from the windows of houses up and down the streets that branch off the county roads.

The trip to Madrid for Thanksgiving to be with our daughter and family was memorable, and the setting serene as we drove away with some reluctance to come back home to our congested heavily trafficked city of Loveland, Colorado.

This post is done for the Daily Post photo challenge at: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/27030/posts/1681986819 

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