Archive for the ‘nature’ Tag

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

 

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

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

 

Hanging by a thread

I photographed the (second and present) jumping rope here at the jump site just off the walking trail at the Big Thompson River, Loveland, Co. The kids still use the rope and jumping site and have for years. To my knowledge there has not been a serious accident or one reported with the kids using the rope and jump site, but the dangers from the river during flood stage is real and has resulted in deaths, from the devastating flood of 2013.

 

“It’s just what kids do,” grownups said when kids met up at the river during the hot summer months, jumping into the water from the old rope that hung between two trees.

But, once again, the river rose higher, and the current ran faster through the Big Thompson from the rain with little letup. It could be a clear flowing stream at its lowest point, a murky green at its deepest, or a raging menace at its worst. Today, it was the latter. Yet, they paid little attention to the warning signs posted, ‘High water. Dangerous current. Potential for flash flooding.’

“Will this work? I found it in the garage.” Shawn asked, holding up a spool of plied rope.

“It isn’t going to be as good as the old one, but it might.” Nathan said.

“I bet that old rope was at least an inch thick. I wonder what happened to it.” Danny said.

“Don’t know. Maybe someone took it down. Or maybe it broke off and washed away in the flood.” Nathan replied.

The wooden ladder rungs were still there, nailed to the side of one tree allowing the kids to climb up and jump into the water from the top. Nathan climbed up one side, tied a length of rope around the tree and threw the other end over to Shawn, waiting on the other tree. He caught the rope, pulled it taut, tied that end, and each boy secured their side with double knots. Danny stood below with a longer section of rope and threw the loose end over. They tied it off, then made knots for hand holds.

“Done. Let’s try it out.” Danny said.

They took turns launching themselves out over the water. Long enough to jump to either side they grabbed the rope, swung out and landed on the opposite bank. Then, they dove off the trees lunging at the one swinging from the rope. They played the game of, ‘Catch me if you can,’ when Danny caught hold, hanging onto Shawn, but neither saw the loosened knots tied at the trees, or noticed the fraying threads on the rope, straining under their weight.

“Dudes. Stop! Get off! The rope…it’s…loose!” Nathan yelled, but they did not hear.

A tree branch cracked. The frayed rope snapped, and Shawn and Danny tumbled into the water. Their sounds and yells were not heard above the roar of the river as they were swept downstream.

It had been a month since the accident. Nathan stared down at the still water. He kept seeing Shawn and Danny as they fought against the current that threatened to swallow them up.

A park ranger walked over. “Your friends almost died that day, Nathan. If they hadn’t found that broken tree limb to latch onto they might not have made it out safely.”

Nathan nodded. “I know.”

“Using good common sense to make right choices is a better way to learn a lesson, don’t you think?”

“Yes, sir.”

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

Footnotes:  The above story is a work of fiction, but the following scripture verses seemed appropriate to share in emphasizing the truth or lesson illustrated in the story above. Proverbs 8:34-36 on wisdom- “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and draws forth and obtains favor from the Lord. But he who misses me or sins against me wrongs and injures himself, all who hate me love and court death.”

The Cache La Pouder River Rapids

Where the rapids flow

through Pouder’s canyon narrows

wild, white waters go.

_____________

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

The Cache La Poudre river is a very popular one in northern Colorado for river rafting, but can be very dangerous when the river swells, spills over and causes floods from too much rain as in the Sept. 2013 flood. I took the video above of the river overflowing to levels of spilling over its banks making it dangerous to rafters. Below is a video link where you can view the video portion in Amazon where I have it saved in the Amazon cloud.

https://www.amazon.com/photos/share/w0yGa2McIe1QQ4RkKg3jBz0lNz66VGLXtz9nidMRqTF

For information on the Cache la Poudre, click here;   https://www.rivers.gov/rivers/cache-la-poudre.php

Rafters on the Cache La Poudre River, northwest of Fort Collins, Colorado, May 15th, 2015. We drove up to see what the river looked like after getting so much rain and got there just as these rafters were ready for their trip down. The river levels out here and is a starting point where rafters board their rafts for the trip down.  JEJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…as a beacon upon a hill

A lighthouse off the Na Pali west shore coast of Kauai, Hawaii

 

 Lord, guide me safely

to your shores where I might find

sanction and sweet peace,

and that my own light be seen,

and my life in You lived well

be as a beacon upon a hill;

Let it shine that one might see

a safe harbor found in thee.

________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2017

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” John 12:46 (NIV) Bible

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