Archive for the ‘My Writings’ Category

What does America’s future look like?   Leave a comment

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   Leave a comment

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   1 comment

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 

When at the end of the day

                                Lake McConaughy, Ogallala, Nebraska

When at the end of the day

the sun sets and I watch

amazed as it slowly sinks

lower in the skies

as if bowing to its creator,

warm rays kissing rippled waters

my reverent heart too, bows to His greatness and power

and I marvel at the things He instills into my searching soul

the ways He is teaching me, helping me

through the storms in life,

sustaining me, lifting me,

encouraging me, strengthening me.

When I am weak, though I fail, I will not fall.

He’s there, and I rest assured

that though I know not

what a new tomorrow brings

I know He shelters me in His arms of grace.

_______________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © Sept. 2019

“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


 

Setting attainable goals

Accepting failure

For the unattainable

can move us forward

~~~

To strive instead for

What is attainable now

That which is in reach

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

In Philippians, chapter 3, verses 12-16 Paul was addressing the church of Philippi about the highest goal of which we can all attain, that being the one called by God; to live according to His plan, for His glory not of our own flesh and earthly desires but of that which brings Him the glory for what he can do through us and in us. We may work hard and diligently at things that are self-seeking, things we want for ourselves, our goals and dreams for those that we think will bring happiness, success and gain. But what is not sanctioned, blessed and directed of and by God can only bring failure, dissatisfaction, and a searching for truth and reward. Only that which God offers can bring what we need and ultimately want to have; what no man or anything on this earth can take away or destroy, that which is called the “highest goal,” the “prize of the high calling of God” that Paul speaks about. To press on, to attain that goal is the easy and best part, but to work at being what God has called us to be requires commitment, dedication and is not self-seeking, but the reward is eternal. So many times I have worked and sought to bring about a result of self-satisfaction and gain for myself in what I have tried to do as a writer, or at anything I felt led to do on my own, only to fail at attempts that proved we are nothing without God and can only move forward by His grace and know a real peace that only He can bring. It is not what the world can give or anyone else but only through Him we have that which is the highest of goals attainable.

“Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” Philippians 3:16 NIV

Joyce E. Mannhalter © August 2019

Reseated

Cliff handed the driver a generous tip, thanked him and walked into the conference hall. Signs and banners announced the launch and grand opening of the new rehab center. Without the sizeable donations and contributions from companies like his he knew they’d not even exist. Equipped with the best in housing, treatment and care they spared nothing to give the doctors, medical personnel and case workers all they needed to facilitate what the residents and patients needed. Except for the director, administrator, and well-placed case workers and professionals it was largely staffed with unpaid volunteers who themselves were recovering alcoholics and former drug addicts, and the like. They’d all been invited to the gala event. The congressman who pushed and promoted the center’s cause and creation into existence promised tax credits and incentives to the big donors funding it. He was running for president in the next election and Cliff, one of his constituents was inclined to get on board with the project. If it succeeded it was a win for them all.

They opened with speeches, introductions and honorable mentions of people significant to its inception. A formal dinner would follow. Cliff moved towards the front of the head table shaking hands, smiling and talking with ones near the director and administrator hoping to claim a seat next to the congressman as he and the director greeted guests and dignitaries.

He stood behind a seat near theirs ready to sit down when the event planner came up to him and said, “Sir, we have these seats next to the director, administrator and congressman reserved for the chaplain, case workers and mentors that work directly with them, but if you will follow me down here to the end of this row we will seat you with another group.”

He glared back at her, then said, “Young lady, do you know who I am? I’m the CEO of Scarsdale Industries and if not for our financial support and funding this event would not even be happening It is because of our involvement that…” he went on a bit too loudly. Heads turned their direction hearing the exchange of words which also caught the attention of a news photographer standing to the side, videotaping it all.

“Yes, sir. Thank you. I’m aware of who you are, but at the request of the director we have placed his staff next to them because of their selfless commitment and time to the program. I’m sure you understand my position. So, if you will please follow me, I will reseat you down on this end with the other contributors and donors.”

Cliff’s face turned red, his eyes, cold as ice glaring back as if in defiance, but without another word just nodded and followed her to the end of the long formal dining table set for the fifty some guests invited.

His dignity suffered a a direct blow from the incident. He came to the gala proud, arrogant and boastful for what he’d given to them, trying to claim some glory for himself with his position in life, but instead walked away humbled, learning a lesson in humility. He found that there is no glory for one who lives only to exalt and lift up himself so others might see his good works.

__________________

The above story is fiction. It is my version, inspired by and based on the parable Jesus told in Luke 14:7-11, ‘the banquet feast.’ I have recently been studying the parables and stories in both the new and old testaments, and find them not only full of history, facts and truth, and a message for all, but also they are a great inspiration for stories that can speak to hearts today. We all have times when we’re needing to learn what it is like to have our stool or pedestal knocked out from under our feet. Sometimes just declaring our achievements openly before others can prove fatal to achieving what we really need demonstrated; integrity, honesty and consideration for those who maybe struggle with their own personal worth, confidence and self-esteem.  I have been reminded of that plenty of times when the still small voice of the Holy Spirit quickens my heart and I need forgiveness for my selfish attitude or indifference. 

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11 NIV

Joyce E. Mannhalter © July 2019

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)

 

 

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