Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

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.”

Things I do now

 

 

Tread carefully and carry a sharp hoe. That’s what I do now while traversing across the uneven terrain in my back yard where tree roots have created a rough surface above ground making it difficult to maintain or mow. Trying to keep up with the yard maintenance is not an easy task and one that requires a lot of work as I am now single and on my own. I spray, hoe and dig up all kinds of weeds, fight off swarms of flies, filled a dozen trash bags full of raked leaves from the huge trees in my front yard, cleaned out the wet, slimy gunk from my gutters, shoveled and scooped huge piles of snow off my deck, driveway and walk numerous times from record snow storms and cold harsh weather, freezing temperatures, lightning and thunder storms. But when the storms passed I planted and potted new plants in containers for the front and back yard, then enjoy them feeling rewarded from all my labor.

Lately, I have added snake killing to the current list of activities after seeing several garden snakes slithering about from open holes and crevices in an area where I had planned to plant a vegetable garden, but have since scratched that idea.

One day I saw a green metallic colored snake slithering around under my deck just a couple feet from my patio swing where I love sitting while watching and listening to the birds in my yard and trees. I am no Annie Oakley, but am beginning to think I should have come out here to Nebraska’s farmland with a whip, saber or machete.

Jokes aside, it isn’t always the forces of nature or the unexpected chaotic interruptions in life that bring about character building I see God using to make me more the person He wants me to be, but the things and ways each day and the growing process He takes me through that leaves the biggest impact.

The one thing I am sure to learn through this is perseverance, patience and determination.

James 1:2 & 3 & vs 12, New Testament, NIV says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Vs 12, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

This brings me comfort and assures me that whatever new challenge or test that comes my way I have God to lean on and trust that He is there, directing my every step.

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

Joyce E. Mannhalter (June, 2019)

 

 

Sometimes it’s the small things

 

 

Gone, the last of winter’s final blast

of cold bitter winds and snows now passed,

I look out my window and see the sun

and welcome the warmer days to come

 my heart is joyful for what is new,

 the air, fresh and sweet with fragrant blooms

the smallest pleasures are the most enjoyed;

a splash of color in a small bouquet,

and scented candle to brighten my day,

 a time to plan, and a time to plant,

to usher in a new season this way.

_________________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter May, 2019

I have two of the most thoughtful, loving daughters anyone could wish for. They have cried and laughed with me, loved me through the worst of times, supported me, and helped me adjust and get settled in a new place after my move last year. When I recently had a birthday my youngest girl brought me this little bouquet. We went out to dinner as a family that night and I was so thankful and grateful for all the ways God has provided for me and blessed me with good kids and grandkids. They are not perfect and I was not a perfect mom. No one is. But to see how they have turned out I am confident I did a few things right.

As Mother’s Day approaches I hope and pray for all the mothers, young and old out there that God will pour out His blessings and riches on all, for there is no greater calling or responsibility than being a mother. I pray they have guidance, wisdom, courage and strength.

Wishing you all a happy spring and a happy Mother’s Day out there to all moms, grandmothers , young and old.

JEM

Profusion in pink

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Profusion in pink,

and trees, their limbs full and green 

shelter birds that sing.

 ~~~

The sun is shining.

May comes, and with it new life,

expectancy, hope.

~~~

Is it the season,

or the newness of things fresh?

Spring; I savor all. 

_________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2016

Welcome April

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After all the snow

The sun shines; it’s warming up

And that is no joke 🙂

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Joyce E. Johnson © 2016 

Farewell to Summer’s sweet end

 

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Summer shies away

while autumn draws nigh and cool

I bid sad farewell

To the season’s warm sweet smells

Of late August blooms, and sigh

___________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2015


Still a flower in bloom

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The sun smiles upon

a flower and it opens;

God smiles upon us,

and it shows how great His love

For a flower still to bloom

______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)


Waiting for spring

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I sit in my swing and train my eyes

to the sky as blue as a robin’s egg,

and wish for a lawn all fragrant and green

as the freshly cut flowers’ leaves and stems.

I sit in my swing and wait for spring

like two doves on a branch in the tree

waiting also for warm weather like me.

I sit in my swing and wait for spring

and let the warm sun bathe my face

thinking all the ways I will enjoy warm days

while old snow melts leaving no trace.

I sit in my swing and wait for spring

looking at the ways I can garden and bring

new life to the roots of all that lay

dormant through the winter until this May

when the scent of lilac and roses I smell

while I sit in my swing and enjoy the spring,

and listen to the choir of birds that sing.

_____________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2015

Life found where we least expect it

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Nature won’t give up

on what it breathes life into;

but comes back, stronger

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One and a half years after the disastrous flood of September 2013 in our town in northern Colorado we have amazing sights that surprise us like this old cracked tree stump that was surrounded by destroyed trees and washed out trails, roads and demolished buildings. But, last summer while on the walking trail we spotted this old tree stump cut down where others had been trimmed or uprooted from the flood, many that literally floated down the raging river during the flood. Thinking the tender green shoots were growing up from the ground near it, I decided to get a closer look at it and found that they were actually growing from out of the cracks or crevices in the stump. I was glad I had my camera along.

I was immediately reminded of a favorite scripture in Job 14: 7 of the Old Testament that says, “At least there is hope for a tree; if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.” (NIV) And I thought about how often I had given up on dreams or things in my life because I felt as if they were ‘dead in the water’, like the trees that washed away in the flood, or having been cut down of ever producing any life or fruit again. But, God’s word is true. It is the same promise for today as it was in the days of Job, and there is the faith and hope that new life, new growth can begin again and we will bear new fruit.

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

Daring to be different

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A single pink rose bloom on my white rose-bush

Daring, different

From all the rest this pink rose

Shyly opens up

~~~~~~~

I have several rose bushes in my back yard of different colors; red, pink, and white. The single pink bloom here is the only one among the white or ivory colored blooms on this bush and seemed remarkable as we watched it develop and bloom.

It reminds me of the ways in which I felt different growing up. My friends had blue eyes, blond hair, had common names like Kathy or Linda, and were considered ‘cool’ and ‘popular’. I had brown hair, brown eyes, a less common name, was quiet and more the introvert. They had bicycles of their own. Mine belonged to my sister. They all made A’s and B’s in school. I barely passed on C’s. Their fathers had good paying careers and jobs. My father was a church pastor barely able to provide for a family of two parents with four kids. Did I resent that? No. My life was just different from everyone else’s. Sometimes I thought it unfair, and grumbled; until I realized it was I who needed an adjustment, and an attitude of gratitude with a thankful heart.

About the blue-eyed, blond-haired girls; back then, I wanted to be like them; until I learned that brown hair and brown eyes could be romantic and mysterious; all in the brown eyes of the one beholding such beauty.

The bicycle that wasn’t mine? I rode it everywhere throughout my childhood until the day I could afford to buy my own.

My low grades? Well, I learned that what I lacked in confidence and ability in some things I could achieve and excel in others. So, I worked at those things I could do well in; writing, music and art.

And my father who was a church pastor; well, he worked long days and sometimes nights ministering to people with love, humility, grace, compassion, forgiveness and a thankful heart. His lessons on life he taught his children, as well as those in his congregation.

What I learned? It isn’t how much we have, or what we’re born with that is important, but what we do with what we’ve learned; believing in ourselves and knowing it’s OK to be different, blooming where we are planted.

________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

‘Parable’ of the honey bee


Parable of the honey bee

 

Clinging to life it holds on, but failing, its wings heavy from the pollen it carries it offers up;

Others hover near gathering their own and wait respectfully, knowing its fate.

When it’s time the bee succumbs, and others carry on producing what they know to do.

The life of the bee is short; their purpose vital, crucial to the environment.

It is nature’s way, a part of God’s perfect plan.

Like the common bee we live our lives too, within a span of time.

We gather what is important to us. But, it is what we offer up that is the essence

of God’s spirit in us, as a sweet nectar, and aroma that permeates the land.

________________________

Scripture reference – 2 Corinthians 2:15 (NIV translation)

Footnotes:  The above photo is one I took in my back yard garden while watching this bee as it died. I have a good friend who has a bee hive operation as a hobby and watched him at work with his bees. I became very interested in the things I learned about bees, more so than in the past when careful to stand away from them and not be stung. The recent experience while watching and studying bees inspired me to write this ‘parable’, a short devotion about the things we have in common with a mere honey bee, and whether we seek for ourselves those things most important to us, or whether we ‘offer up’ and give back what matters most; our relationship to God, to others, and to our world in general. I love reading the stories and parables in Matthew that Jesus taught his disciples and thought the bee story made a good illustration to use. Comments on this story are welcome, as always with my stories, posts and poems.

Joyce E. Johnson © 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Nurturing what we plant

Like seeds planted and

nurtured, our fruit is known by

that which feeds our soul.

________________

Joyce E. Johnson  (2014)

April rains and spring flowers (Day 15 of NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month)


April brings showers

The fresh scent of falling rain

And new spring flowers

___________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Spring; my favorite season

Below is my poetry submission for the NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) challenge of writing and posting a poem a day. If time allows I will to try to keep up, and post one a day.  Here is this one for the day. A Haiku poem.

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Blue skies and green grass

flowers in bloom, birds singing

Spring; finally here

__________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Succulent Flower


Succulent flower

The bee hovers in mid-air

Gathering pollen

____________

Poem by: Joyce E. Johnson (2013)

Photo credit: Thomas Wayne Johnson (2013)

Note: The bush this flower grows on is covered in these beautiful flowers in mid-summer.  I wanted a photo with a close up  of a honey bee for the haiku poem, and for my ‘writings’ scrapbook with another of my bee poems, recently published, so sent my husband Wayne out to get a shot of it with his camera, and he was able to get a good close up of one here. It was perfect.  🙂

Summer Roses


The scent of roses

Lingers like a strong perfume

In the summer sun

Joyce E. Johnson (2013)

Cactus blooms in the Rockies

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When I and my family were up at our Glacier View mountain property over Memorial Day weekend I brought my cameras up, as they pretty much go everywhere with me now, especially up there to our lot. With all the moisture and late snow storms we’ve had the last two to three months the foothills were the greenest I have seen them in years. When we got to our lot, above 9,000 ft. elevation even the wildflowers were already in bloom. One of the types of blooming plants we have up there is this kind of mountain cactus that thrives through all kinds of weather. This one bloom and others like it are at their best right now, with the colorful pretty shades of pink, lavender and yellow. Many years ago I dug up one of our large cactus plants with beautiful yellow blooms on it and transported it back home to Loveland in a bucket with its own soil, then transplanted it with the same soil and mixed in some fresh potting soil. Because these cactus plants have very sharp needles and are too prickly to handle with bare hands I put on leather work gloves to work them carefully down into the soil and large clay pot. The cactus thrived and lived for years, blooming every late spring with beautiful yellow blooms. I took pictures of it in full bloom, but have misplaced that photo and did not have it handy to scan and upload it to this post, so am using this photo to show one of the cactus types that grow in our Colorado Rockies. We have many other wildflower plants too that grow up there and are in full bloom by July. Last year when our mountains suffered so terribly with uncontrolled wildfires that burnt thousands of acres our lot came close to burning too in the High Park fire in June, 2012, but it was spared. That was definitely an answered prayer and when we were able to get back up there again three weeks after the fire was contained I spotted some of our faithful, hearty little wildflowers blooming among the dried, scorched pine needles like these Daisy type blooms. It is sometimes the little things we often overlook because they are/were always there, but in the midst of all the burned areas, a single flower or cactus plant thrives through all, and green shoots come back to remind me to never take any of it for granted.

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_______________

Joyce E. Johnson

Making mud pies


From mud pies to gardening I still love to play in the dirt. There are lots of ways to enjoy nature and the great outdoors. Sixty years ago when I was six my mom would give me her old canning jar lids, spoons and bowls to play with in the dirt out beside our house. And of course there was my little ‘oven’ to bake them in: a cardboard box. My ‘cooking and baking’ process was simple. I started with the ‘freshest ingredients’ I could find; what I called ‘clean dirt’ and pulled out the unwanted things like weeds, little bugs or rocks, if any so my pies would be smooth and edible (for me that is). Once I had mixed just the right amount of water with the right amount of dirt I tasted my mixture to test its consistency, then if satisfied I patted them down into the lids and baked them in a hot, slow sun. When dry, I emptied my lids of the coarse over baked pie and would start all over again. When I told my grown girls that I ate some of my own mud pies when I was a child, they could not believe the story from one who hates insects and runs after the bug spray can at the first sight of an ant invasion. Now, when I play with my little grandchildren in the dirt planting a garden or potting flowers I can share my mud pie stories with them and let them know that a little bit of dirt does not hurt, and that mud is a part of nature, one of those things God gave us in this great big outdoors to enjoy. So, for old times sake I went outside and once again made an old-fashioned mud pie in a canning jar lid just for the fun of it, and it brought back memories of those days when I was six. So, here is a photo of my mud pie, and for certain I will show a picture of it to my grandchildren and let them know that making mud pies can be a lot of fun, and tasting them, not so bad, either. 🙂 But, I really did do quite a bit of real gardening this week too. The below photo is one of my potting projects. It was fun playing in that big barrel of dirt, too. 🙂

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Joyce E. Johnson


A seed planted…

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A seed planted, hides

In soil watered till blossomed

Kissed by the sun, grows

___________________

Joyce E. Johnson

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