Archive for the ‘My Photos’ 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.”

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

 

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


 

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

The Galilee and His Disciples

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

 

The Galilee, quiet, cold and still

but for the ripples under a bright orange sky

lies in mournful praise. It was here

where once they’d gathered sharing life, 

they’d fished and prayed,

 but now the sea is silent like His grave. 

as the sun sets, its reflections seen

over what looks like a stained glass sea

  merging colors of purple, crimson red 

for the bruised and broken Son of God,

the crucified Christ who suffered and bled.

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

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

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

the One who stilled the storm and taught

from a boat about faith, and hope

and how to believe for miracles received. 

Did He not promise he’d return one day? 

And find them again before going away 

to reign with His Father and they would know

that what He said, He would do,

and that in His place would the Comforter come too? 

So they left their nets and boats to moor

on the Sea of the Galilean shore.

_________________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter – April, 2019

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

Happy Easter to all,

JEM

 

 

A New Spring

So happy to see

birds returning to my tree,

and squirrels too, at play.

Spring has come. I feel so blessed

to just be here, and be free.

~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter

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

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

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

A Happy Spring to all,

JEM

More like home

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where corn grows ready waiting the harvest

and granaries are tall white towers

stretching upwards into bright skies.

Where trees, large and twisted

their bark like wrinkles baked in the sun,

with heavy foliage on hanging branches

 bow low to the ground now covered in leaves,

and busy little squirrels scurrying around.

 The sound of trains rumbling down the tracks,

the blast of a noon day whistle heard,

with the semis and tractors sharing the road

between quaint shops that line the street;

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

Are all beginning to feel more like home.

_________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © Oct. 2018

 

 

 

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

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Longing for a tranquil place

 

             Sunset over Lake McConaughy, Ogallala, Ne.

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

My soul longs for a tranquil place,

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

is a moment not taken for granted, but seized,

times when God shows mercy and grace,

and I feel His presence commanding my space,

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

and the wind that sends ripples across the lake.

It is with searching heart I gaze into the skies

knowing the testing of my faith

implores a renewed and courageous strength, 

so I’ll not doubt His word, but trust 

Him in those things I don’t understand

 regardless the outcome, whatever it be

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

and my life and future secure in His hands.

______________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2018

Living at the foot of the Rockies; tour guide

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

____________

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

Joyce E. Johnson (2018)

 

Let the fury of fierce winds blow

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

 

Let the fury of fierce winds blow

 across the frozen tundra plains

and winter’s bitter chill

turn to mist that hovers still. 

 How soon might I see

    tender shoots unfolding upon the dew?

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

 waiting patiently to bloom,

and tender blades of grass

that peek from beneath the thawing earth,

and skies with a bright warm sun

promise spring is soon to come. 

 _______________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2018


Christmas in the Rockies

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

A view of RMNP peaks off Trail Ridge road.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

_____________

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

 

Serene

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Challenge: Experimental

I took this photo with my iPhone 6 camera. I have not had this phone long. It was given to me by my granddaughter. She had lost it on a hiking trail, was rather new still, and though she searched for it then  she did not find it until two weeks later. Since she had immediately gotten her a new phone of the same model and make, she gave me this old one which surprisingly was still there in the same spot where lost and her dog picked up her scent on it. It was not broken or damaged, and still in excellent condition for me to use after transferring my phone carrier account over to this one. I experimented with the camera some while on a walk with my dog when the sun was going down over the lake when I took this. You can see just a tiny opening of color still from the reflected color and sheen off the lake through the trees, and a glistening wet look on the fallen leaves along the trail.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/experimental/

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

via Photo Challenge: Experimental

Bowing branches

Low hanging branches

bare and dark, as if bowing in reverence, pray,

Even trees raise not their limbs

to the sky, but like

hearts heavy, weary and drained,

beseech the Lord, and ask, “Why”?

~~~~~~~~~~~

I walk this trail a lot. On this particular day I noticed the drooping branches, bare and void, looking as if little if any life remained in the tree. But, I know this is a well maintained and popular walking trail at one of our busiest campground sites, so knew that come spring it would no doubt be again budding with leaves and new growth, if it remains rooted and connected with the source which gives it life.

It was the day after the Texas church massacre, and my thoughts and prayers were focused on the victims and families of those, and those killed or surviving other attacks in New York, Las Vegas and elsewhere.  We all have questions; why, how does this thing happen, and so frequently anymore. There are no answers, no easy solutions. We cannot be guaranteed we will have a tomorrow, but we can be guaranteed that we are ready to die if we don’t see tomorrow. God assures us of that. It is His promise to us that with new life in Him we have hope, and that hope assures us we will know Him and see Him.

Psalms 42:5 (NIV) says, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

In Matthew 5:4 (NIV) Jesus spoke to the throngs of people on the mountain in a message known as the beatitudes. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

 

 

 

Ever faithful and true

The sky is clear but for a soft glow

and the dark silhouette of mountains and trees

reflecting back still images I see

while walking the path along the still lake

I lift my eyes to a twilight sky

feeling grateful, for it’s been a good day

My heart rejoices, and I silently pray

How great is Your name, ever faithful and true

all that I need or ever hope to be

I need only to trust in You.

_________________


Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

A New Season in Life


Like tiny bits of crinkled paper

leaves fall, scattering in all directions

chased by the wind, scorched by the sun,

some caught on rocks, some gather in piles.

Trees grow more bare day by day;

exposed and stripped branches cannot hide

what found refuge through summer’s heat.

A season ends, and another begins.

I welcome the changing times of life,

each day a gift like the leaves that scatter

one upon the other like the passing of time.

I pray there not be a day go by

that I fail to bare my soul to Thee, 

and thank you, God for what you’ve given me.

__________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2017

God gave me a rose

I needed just a sign

that God turned not away

disappointed in His child

for what we could not hide,

or dwell on what went wrong.

We would choose to now move forward

not look back on Why or How,

or think upon the long

days of waiting you’d come around

as we stood by in silent sadness;

yet hanging onto hope

that you’d make it through the days

 and your life we prayed to keep,

while God standing watch over you amidst your fear.

 He returned to you your life,

and assured us that in spite of what he did allow

He’s not yet through with you, and here.

He never really left, but gave us just some space.

 How precious every moment, every day of our lives,

like the rose, the sign I needed

  to know He’s always there, and with us day and night.

_________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

 

Succumbing

 

A flower that blooms in the spring, and 

produces through a season if warmed by the sun, 

  watered by the heavens if nurtured will bring

beauty for the times when the trials of life

weigh me down so my soul can’t sing,

and for the bee for which it must have

that succulent nectar to live and thrive

 will grow weary too, lie listless, weak and die.

So, it is like that in life,

and like the flower and the bee

when our days we cannot number,

each and every one known to God

we have no guarantee. But still, I often wonder

over the day when I too shall slumber,

but until that time, I’ll give all I have

to Him who guards my quaking steps,

and steadies me when I fall,

 for I know that in all I do

it is with Him that I do all.

_________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2017

 

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