Sometimes I sit and stare
At the blank page before me there
I think, What shall I write today?
Do I have anything worthy to say?
Something forming or stirring in my brain
I can express in whatever, clever way
An idea I’ve not yet used, or just a nudging thought this day
God, let the words now come and flow
Upon my page and pour, like rain
And if it be, please let them find
A receptive heart or open mind
And may they be just what one needs
To lift one’s spirit, encourage, hope or strength
And my words not found in vain.
Joyce E. Johnson © 2015
It was the morning of July 5th, 2005. My husband, and I with our daughter, husband and children headed north out of Colorado towards Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. It was not my first trip to Yellowstone. I had gone on earlier trips there as a child and years later with our youngest girl.
The beautiful red mesas, buttes, and plateaus of Wyoming merged with the vistas of the serene Grand Teton Mountains as we entered Yellowstone. The sun disappeared as dusk settled over the mountains. We all watched for wildlife and enjoyed the scenic drive through steep terrain and thick forests.
Suddenly, my eyes caught sight of a beautiful animal standing still behind the brush. Too soon, it was gone from view. It looked like a gray wolf with its gray and white fur coat. Yet, from that distance I couldn’t be certain it was a wolf, or a coyote.
After checking into our cabins and getting a good night’s sleep, we got up early to go sight-seeing.
We headed first for the Norris geysers and Old Faithful. The strong sulfuric geysers smelled like burned hard-boiled eggs.
We stood, fascinated at the effect created by the boiling, bubbling pockets in the earth. Steam, heat and odor spewed forth from belching, gray puddles.
In the next three days, we explored the park, the sights of waterfalls, gorges, forests, lakes, rivers, went horseback riding, and hiked trails.
Amazed at the mammoth brown bodies and girth of the grazing bison, my grandson sat up on a mound of dirt in front of our cabins watching them intently. They watched him just as intently looking too dangerously close.
One morning we headed across the park to the east side towards Roosevelt Lodge for breakfast and stopped to photograph the lush, green pastures and landscape. That night we enjoyed an old-fashioned cowboy style cook out and wagon ride through sage brush, prairies and pastures. Wildlife of all kinds roamed freely about undaunted to our encroachment on their habitat.
On the way back down to Canyon Village that night sitting contentedly in a wet marsh just a ways further was a big male moose. Parking the SUV on the side of the road, we all jumped out. My excited husband was once again ready with the camcorder and ran down the road towards the marsh. The moose got up and sauntered out of the marsh, up into the hills all the while unaware that my husband had captured his essence on tape.
A trip to the wolf and grizzly bear game preserve on the northwest side of the park was another place we visited while on this trip. The preserve had several different species of bears, mountain lions, snakes and other game set back into a natural area where they were treated and cared for as if in a royal zoo.
It was 6:00 a.m. and our last morning there when we drove south, watching the wildlife grazing for food when we spotted it. There, coming towards us was a huge male grizzly bear off the side of the road. The sun was just coming up over the horizon. What an amazing sight to see this beautiful creature foraging for his early morning breakfast. The large humped back bear sniffed the air as if sensing our presence parked, about fifteen feet away, snapping pictures and taping his every move and turn.
“This way, over here. Now! That’s it. That’s good. Great! We got him.” My husband said as he was sticking halfway out through the sun roof aiming his camcorder. The bear stopped and stared back as if daring us to come closer. We had no way of predicting his movement or reaction to our being there. My son-in-law was prepared with his foot to the pedal if we needed to get away in a hurry.
Before leaving the park that day we had photographed and videotaped grizzly bears, black bears, a moose, elk, wolves, coyote, fox, otters, bald eagles, and bison.
We reluctantly headed south out of the park through the Grand Tetons, thankful and felt blessed to see what our country and national parks has preserved and maintained for over one hundred years.
Although a big fire in 1988 destroyed much of the park’s trees and forests, it has since revived itself with new growth, and regeneration. Old burnt down trees lay beside the new seedlings and saplings reminding us that nature can restore it and compensate for its loss. It is a vivid illustration of rebirth.
The bears, bison and wildlife still remain one of the biggest attractions for tourists. But, because of the confrontations and attacks by bison and bears the rules were changed to protect visitors to the park. They aren’t allowed to feed peanuts to the bears like we did when I was a child as we hung out of car windows to get a good picture of them, luring them ever closer with the peanuts.
Joyce E. Johnson © 2015
It has been forty-nine years ago today when we stood at the altar of our church in Kansas City, Mo., at the young, tender age of nineteen. We said our vows, declaring our love, promising to cherish and keep sacred what we hold dear. A merging of two lives, one man, and one woman joined together in holy matrimony in a union that God created, ordained and blessed.
We have been not only blessed to have two wonderful girls and four grandchildren, but have had the blessing, support and encouragement throughout our marriage from family and friends. With a tenacious spirit and determination we hung onto hope to not give up when things got difficult. It was our faith and belief in a living Savior that kept us strong, believing for the impossible when there didn’t seem to be a way through those rough times.
Yes, I believe in God’s plan of marriage between one man and one woman, and it is in that kind of union blessed by Him that it not only will last and endure, but one where there is always hope. It is in that hope that assures us a new day, a new dawn when clouds are there upon our rising. The sun does come out, and we have the favor of God who loves us so much He does not give up on us when we screw things up. He does not bring us through the bad times only to give up on us just to throw it all away. I am so happy to have the best of those years today.
Joyce E. Johnson (2015)
I remember the hop, skip and jump
between the ends of a jump rope with childhood friends
and practicing the hurdles and running a relay
was the thing I did inside the gym.
Our coach yelled, “Go!”, and we set out to win.
All of the walking and bicycling back then
was enough to stay fit and trim,
and when I put away my hula hoop
to go dancing to a new kind of ‘hop’
I was thirteen and moved about
and around on a polished wooden floor
to music of the sixties and ‘be-bop’ tunes.
But, as I got older the pains, creaks and cramps
wore down my knees, and I’d had enough.
Whatever my fears, dreading the outcome
I succumbed to a ‘procedure’ providing the way
to find relief and walk again
without the pain from arthritic knees.
Now, I look forward to the things I can do,
even though I’m no longer a child of ten
with jacks and jump ropes and hula hoops.
I can walk and bicycle, dance, or prance,
and feel like a filly let loose at the gate.
The world is my arena and I sport ‘new’ knees.
Joyce E. Johnson © 2015
Footnotes: I had my second ‘total knee replacement’ surgery done on June 30th. The first one (left knee) was done almost four years ago. The second one (right knee) done on June 30th is I think going well, as I am in the middle of my therapy, so I’m taking some time off to recuperate and recover before getting back to my usual posting and writing routine.
I turn once more my eyes toward you
when I gaze upon heavens’ blue sky
your promise of faithfulness I keep
though I don’t always know just what to do
when confusion swirls about in my mind buried deep
my muse grows mellow through time when I’m weak
and though I seek, but not always find
every answer that comes to all that I see
I know without fail you’re there in my need
and I hope the image one sees in me
is a reflection of the greater one seen in thee.
Joyce E. Johnson (2015)
He befriended just one, a boy in danger
And placed his trust to the heart of this stranger
The perilous journey brought them to shore
Survivors of a shipwreck entwined once more
The black moved cautiously allowing the boy
To stroke his mane as if shy or coy
But the stallion once wild beyond good reason
Had been hurt before in another season
It was a time he could easily recall
His head shot up remembering that fall
He pawed at the ground warning the stranger
How could the boy understand his anger?
From this giant black in frustration and fear
Challenging any who dared to come near
He threw up his back as if tossing a saddle
Demonstrating his power, keen and agile
No one would break his spirit or force
Their will or claim to set his course
He was set free to run with great speed
Freed by the boy respecting his need
Tearing across the sands with exceeding gait
He defied any who would determine his fate
The expanse of land would become his home
He’d rear up to all wherever he roamed
But he came back to the boy on shore,
And tried to forget what happened before
Here was the one whom he’d given his heart
Winning his trust for an impeding new start
Joyce E. Johnson (2015)
Footnotes: I love horses and growing up as a child there were some favorite Children’s classics I loved reading, and watching on TV when they were made into a movie. One of those was, The Black Stallion, about a young boy, Alec that befriends a beautiful black Arabian horse after they alone survive a shipwreck, and find their way to shore after a perilous journey at sea. After finally bonding they become inseparable, and eventually the stallion is trained as a racehorse by another friend and trainer who teaches Alec how to ride and race his horse like a pro. The above poem is one I wrote many years ago, but revised recently to post here with this photo taken from the internet advertisement of the movie. You can find more information on The Black Stallion here.
“Go! Check out the land, especially the city of Jericho. Then report back to me.” Joshua said.
The two men entered town under the cloak of darkness. A thick wall rose above them encompassing the entire city.
They went directly to the home of Rahab, a prostitute whose house was built into the high wall. She agreed to hide them under stalks of flax on her roof.
But, the king learned of their mission and where they were. He sent his men after them. “By order of the king, you are to release the spies to us.”
“They were here, yes, but they have left. I didn’t know who they were, or where they’d come from. But if you go now, and hurry you might catch them before the city gates close.” Rahab said.
When the king’s men were gone she went to warn the spies they would be pursued.
“Everyone knows of your strength and reputation. All the people fear you. They’ve heard of your victories, how you have conquered all where you have gone. Promise me you will spare my family and household when you return, since I have been good to you.”
“You have our word. Hang this scarlet cord from your window the day we return and you and all your family and household will be saved.”
Rahab agreed. “It will be as you say.”
They lowered themselves down by the scarlet cord from her roof, and ran into the hills where they hid for three days until it was safe to return to their camp.
On the day that Joshua and the Israelites took possession of the city of Jericho Rahab and all her household were saved because she hung the scarlet cord from her window above the city wall.
Joyce E. Johnson © 2015
Footnotes: You can find the story of Rahab and the spies in Joshua, chapters 2 – 7 of the Old Testament bible. Rahab put herself at risk hiding the Israeli spies, and lying about their whereabouts. But she chose to take an active part in their plan to capture the city of Jericho because she knew they were God’s chosen people. Because of her courage she and all her family were saved.
The ways in which God performs His miracles will astound us because in the natural we cannot comprehend it. Our walls may look impenetrable, doors and gates firmly shut beyond our control. But, when Israel’s army marched in and surrounded the city their loud call and shout brought down the wall, collapsing all at their feet, and the entire city was open to them so they could take possession, because they believed. “Everything is possible for him/her who believes.” Mark 9:23