Archive for the ‘My Writings’ Category

To all, a Season, a Time   Leave a comment

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   Leave a comment

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   2 comments

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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Lone Responder

Gabe had to get out of the house. Tired of all the depressing news on Covid-19 he grabbed up his car keys and his mask and headed out the door. For where exactly, he wasn’t sure.

Maybe, a drive to the lake, park somewhere, walk around and watch the sunset. When have I last done that?

Working from home, long hours spent on his laptop, crunching the numbers for a company needing resuscitation from the economical meltdown had him seeing multiple dollar signs in his dreams at night. Would there ever be an end to this nightmare?

He noticed others out walking, some with their dogs, others obviously wanting exercise and fresh air, too.

The campgrounds were looking more like a tent city springing up with all the homeless; evicted or thrust out of their place or shelter.

As he slowed and came around a curve, a commotion ahead caught his eye and that of others keeping their distance, gawking at a man sprawled on the ground clinging to his possessions as two men ran from the scene, clutching things ripped from the hands of the injured man.

Can’t park here. Just isn’t safe. Going on over to the other side of the lake away from all this.

When parked, Gabe got out of his car, locked it and headed for one of the safer trails up ahead. But something about the helpless man sprawled out on the ground nagged at him.

God, I know you said to love our neighbors, do good deeds. But, this? What if I…? What if he…? What can I do?

Returning to his car he put on his mask and walked down the street to where the man lay.

When he got to the man, he could see he had been beaten with gashes, cuts on his face, and looked disheveled in dirtied, torn clothes. His face was bruised and bleeding, but his eyes pleading, imploring.

“Please! Help me. They took everything I had. I…tried to resist…but, they…were stronger, and I could not…”

“It’s OK. I’m going to get you some help. What’s your name?”

“Theo. Theodore.”

“OK. First, I need to go get my car, parked over there! on the next street. Then, I will drive you to the hospital and stay with you, so you get the help needed.”

Gabe ran back to the car, drove up in front of the man, still prone, very weak, barely conscious, then picked him up and laid him carefully in his back seat and rushed him to the hospital.

Gabe ran into emergency with his mask on, disregarding their questions or protocol, but instead led them out to his car to the injured man, told them where he’d found him, what happened, then stayed with him while he got the treatment and care needed until he was well. He paid his hospital bill, then found him a place to live.

_______________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © April 2020

The above story is based on the parable Jesus told of the ‘Good Samaritan’ found in Luke 10:30-35, in the New Testament Bible. Jesus spoke to his disciples and those listening what it meant to, “inherit the kingdom of God, and to love your neighbor as yourself”. When a self-righteous man asked, “And, who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’. At times we might be asked to step up and take responsibility of caring for the needs of one we would not otherwise want to do. It is then when we might need to be a, “Lone Responder”, or ‘Good Samaritan’ to help that “neighbor” and love them as we love ourselves.

JEM

 

Fresh Wind

A fresh wind of God

Is sweeping across the earth

With hearts turned toward prayer

Beseeching a risen Christ

Seeking help to heal their land

______________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © April 2020

With much of the U.S. – and elsewhere s around the world – in an isolated lock down mode we find ourselves vulnerable in many ways. We’re staying home, with our family more, closeted in ways where we were so free to move around, get out and enjoy the things we took for granted. The need for isolation to protect us all from the spread of Covid-19 has given us a new norm in how we have needed to adjust, to be creative even in making memorable moments with our family and loved ones. That is some of the good we are seeing. We are also seeing a new spiritual hunger in the world. People want hope, healing and assurance that we will get through this. People are wanting to touch base with their roots. when family time and attending church services together was important to them.

There are videos, and clips of media shown and shared of the ways families and friends are reconnecting with the required social distancing, sharing creative ways, making new memories, via of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. People are connecting in new ways coming together with a common strength and unity. People are seen on their knees in prayer, attending church services online and contributing in ways to help provide for others in need. As we come into this Easter weekend to celebrate the resurrection of a risen Christ it need not be less a celebration because we cannot be together in a group or church setting, but more of one where we draw strength from one another even though apart physically. I believe this is a divine plan of God to allow us all a time of renewing our mind and hearts, a time that reminds us all that we are stronger as one, united in ways that enrich us all.

“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14 NIV

I pray God’s richest blessings on you and yours this Easter season and holiday however you may spend it, whether by watching a church service online or time spent with family members at home.

JEM   

Sowing new seed

 

A corn crop in Nebraska nearing harvest time, across the road from where I live.

 

Spring is a season to plant and grow what is sown into fertile ground. We wait in anticipation for the first signs of growth as they become visible and with diligent watering and maintaining our garden or crops we later celebrate a harvest reaped from our efforts.

In normal times and weather elements conducive to our planting schedules we don’t usually expect to see catastrophic results that wipe out, destroy or wash away what we have planted except by means of devastating storms like floods,tornadoes or drought. My son-in-law is a farmer in Nebraska, and each day he goes out to the farm and fields where he plants, grows and manages the crops. Because of these crops and so many others like it our health and lives are  sustained and we are fed.    

Lately however it is not the fertile ground beneath our feet where our attention and focus has been drawn, but instead that of our own well being, and the lives of all concerned.

We are in a storm of catastrophic proportions now that require from us all sacrifices that we are needing to make for a time to protect, guard and care for. It is our very existence on this earth, so giving and fertile to the seeds we plant. Indeed our life is dependent on the crops and seeds planted on our earth, but while making changes and sacrifices that we once took for granted we are also seeing the effects of those areas we always expected and took for granted; the basic necessities, simple ways we enjoyed life, the pleasure of roaming, traveling and experiencing life as we came to enjoy it. What can we do but follow the rules and guidelines during this Coronavirus/ Covid-19 crisis in our land and around the world? A lot of wonderful good things are being done by so many people who are creative, caring and helping in this crisis for all the people affected. Some might ask, “That’s all good, but what else can I do? How can I make a difference besides what is advised or expected of me in following the rules engaged?”

For us all there are seeds we can plant in fertile soil. They can be merely kind words, simple deeds; prayer, a phone call, text or note sent to family and friends to help those struggling with faith, and hope. Spreading cheer, joy and optimism to others instead of worrying about spreading our germs and keeping a safe distance might be just what another needs. We can follow all the rules to stop the spread of this disease but there are those who struggle with anxiety, despair and worry that they will contract the virus themselves, or a loved one and they feel more isolated internally than externally. Sharing seeds of faith, hope and encouragement can make all the difference to get us all through this and may be one of an eternal change that turns one’s life or perspective around. 

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self discipline.” II Timothy 1:7 NIV New Testament Bible 

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

Joyce E. Mannhalter (C) March 2020

 

 

Life as we know it now

There’s lots of advice

for life as we know it now,

but we’ll get through it.

Stay positive, encouraged,

God is our source, and our joy!

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

Joyce E. Mannhalter (C) March 2020

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” II Corinthians 1:3 & 4, NIV New Testament Bible

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” II Thessalonians 2:16 & 17, NIV New Testament Bible.

 

 

 

Where there seems no way

When frustrations mount,

Your patience and faith tested,

You have no control;

All you know is to worry.

Give it to God, and let go!

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

Joyce E. Mannhalter © March 2020

Have you ever felt like this? You don’t understand what or why things happen in your life, or in the world that leaves you frustrated and worrying. You wonder what good can come out of a situation that has gone awry and out of control. But, when we let go of our fears, our worries, our hold on what consumes our thoughts and takes up residence in our mind, body and soul, we can experience a kind of peace that brings instead joy, contentment and assurance that all will work out for our good and according to God’s plan and purpose. Putting all our cares on Him and trusting Him in all that goes on in our life and in the world frees us from the bondage that the enemy, Satan uses to deceive, manipulate and control what we give him access and license to. Letting go of the fears that cripple us from experiencing all that God has for us and what He can do in and through us means using ‘Spiritual Warfare’ (God’s word) against our enemy’s attacks. Two scriptures I love that can help us find that help and peace of mind in these situations are found here,

Psalm 34:4, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me: he delivered me from all my fears.”

John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” NIV

JEM

 

Painted by the finger of God

 

As the sun crept into view

across the still, dark Eastern sky

I stood watching in awe His creation

as shades of pink and orange yellowed hues

merged like fingers across the high.

The dawning of a new day,

Painted by the finger of God,

and I thought how wondrous His works of art.

And I wondered all the things He can do

with a picture not yet finished, like the canvas of my life

with all its imperfections, sins and flaws

marring the obstructed view

But the Master Artist created in me

not a perfect canvas, but one like a new day’s dawn

that would be touched by the strokes of the Master,

an image of Him made new.

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

Joyce E. Mannhalter © 2020

 

Coming Against Our Giants

Growing up in a Christian home as a child I learned early the biblical stories of people; men, women, and children who made a difference or left an impact on the lives of those they came to know, ones they encountered by choice, accident or by divine intervention. One way or other they all left their traces and footprints on the pages of history in the old and new testament, and today we still can learn things, gain new perspective and insight into how their story and what they did can influence and affect our lives by learning from their experiences.

One of my favorites was the stories of David, a small boy who grew up to be a great king of Israel. But, his journey to get there was a long, arduous one. It was difficult, full of obstacles, danger, intrigue, cunning defensive counter attacks, preparation and planning. One would think that the first phase of his military accomplishments should be a long extensive stint of training and knowledge of tactical weaponry and a ‘tour of duty’ serving under Israel’s present king, Saul. But it did not start that way. It started with a mere stone and small sling. How does a young shepherd boy, small in stature, dressed in an animal skin tunic and sandals kill a burly, mean, threatening bully over seven feet tall, armed with steel armor, javelin, spear, and helmet? With faith, confidence and the power of a God that assures us that all things are possible with, and through Him (ref. Philippians 4:13). With the assurance that God was with him in his battles David stood his ground facing his giant.

We don’t know the battles we will face, nor have the option to choose them, the time or place as they might come unexpectedly at any time from any direction or source, and we are faced head on with them. It may not be a lion or bear, or a nine-foot giant dressed head to toe in steel armor with spears or javelins. Our giants come in many shapes, forms, and sizes. The devil chooses weapons that can deceive us, destroy us, diminish and drain us of the things we need to fight with; faith, confidence, and courage.

God’s word comes as a sword preparing us for battle. It is the stone, the rock we carry in our sling that leaves the biggest impact, with the power and strength that knows no limitations to what it can do for us, the giants it will take down and the battles we will win. If God goes before us, we cannot lose, but win. We cannot fail but succeed.

But the enemy is sly, deceitful and deceptive. It looks for cracks in our armor and can gain access if we don’t fortify our walls and strengthen our defense. After David’s victory in killing the giant, Goliath he then had to deal with another, the present king, Saul. From that point on David’s battles came; bigger, greater, one right after the other.

Fortifying our walls, strengthening our defense, choosing our rock determines the outcome of our battles, win or lose. Our battles belong to the Lord to fight for us.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge, He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold,” Psalm 18:2 NIV

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

Joyce E. Mannhalter (Jan. 2020)

 

Christmas

Christmas

It is again that time of year

when friends and family far and near

come and gather round the tree

bright and festive, full of cheer.

The air is filled with the scents and sounds

of all things merry and to all appear

a time when joyful hearts are warmed,

when all are engaged, and gifts exchanged

of special moments and memories formed.

But the greatest of all is the gift of love

born of a virgin, laid in a manger

who came to save and redeem the lost,

God’s gift to a broken, sinful world.

With a jubilant herald of voices in praise

the angels celebrated in chorus and song

lifting up His name, name above all

Jesus, Savior, Redeemer, King

________________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © 2019

Scripture references for the story of Jesus’s birth can be found in the book of Luke, 2nd chapter of the New Testament, and also in Matthew, chapter 1: 18 – 25. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS, for he shall save his people from their sins. vs. 23, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son and they shall call his name Emanuel which being interpreted is, God with us.”         

To all my blogger friends and followers, thank you for following me through the years, for the likes, and all the kind and thoughtful comments, prayers and support. I was not as active on WordPress this last year taking a long rest after going through a painful divorce, and relocation to move forward in my life. It is because of God’s gift of love, giving us a Savior that abides with us through all of the times in our lives, the easy times and the worst of times that I know I would not be the person I am today without going through the process of spiritual growth and maturity I needed. 

I want to wish you all a very happy, blessed and merry Christmas and hope that the new year will be good to you.  

God bless all,

Joyce Mannhalter 

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