Archive for December 2015

A New Year Begins

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Looking east towards St. Louis, Mo, while on a road trip, years ago (taken from my car). Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson

 

A new year looms; predictions are made.

Do we dare look ahead with expectant hope

that we can live our life in safety, not fear,

and that what we believe to be what we need

can be realized, not a promise unseen?

Change is what we make it,

lying dormant until we produce.

Those New Year resolutions that filled a list

may become but empty regrets,

but, a moment in time is a precious thing;

it is that which comes only once,

so, I’ll cherish that moment with what counts most,

and I’ll fill it with what will last.

___________

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

When I reflect back on 2015 and prior to opportunities I had interacting with bloggers, writers, and friends on Word Press, and social media sites, I am grateful and thankful for the people I came to know and care about. Sometimes, there is only a fleeting moment in time when opportunity comes around just once. What we say, what we do, even to just encourage one, or pray for them might be that one time that can make a difference.  

It is the same with our friends and family outside of the blogging community; telling one we love them, care about them. When we see the terrorism, wars, shootings, and chaos our country, our world has experienced and still faces today, our lives remain as fleeting as that moment in time, for it could be our last. Those are moments I don’t want to miss. So, I balance my time more carefully now, and I look at each new day, each moment in time as a gift from God. 

I want to take this moment to tell each one out there who has visited my blog site, read my posts, followed me, or commented that I care about you. I hope that your new year will be a blessed one, and that you will have a happy, healthy and safe new year in 2016. Thank you all for reading my posts, visiting my blog site and commenting on those posts you enjoyed. Here’s to a new year in 2016. Savor each moment you have, and God bless you all.     

Joyce E. Johnson © 2015


My thoughts this Christmas

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Christmas draws near as I sit and ponder

The years gone by, the memories, so many

I count myself blessed

For the family I have, my husband, my home

And the children we’ve had.

But, I look at the lives,

and heartache of those,

their loneliness, their sorrow

their loss, and I’m sad.

If it’s only just to pray and in some way

I’ll offer encouragement, or just be kind.

Some suffer what they’ve lost;

A loved one gone

We may never know, or understand

What they’ve gone through

Or at what cost.

Lord, grant them favor, that they find grace

And their Christmas be filled with the promise of hope

And their lives know the Gift you sent us with love

born of a virgin a long time ago

who came to this world a baby King,

to bring us life and bear the world’s sin

the Messiah, Redeemer, King of Kings.

____________

Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope it will be a happy one, filled with joy, peace, good will, and God’s best, and that you will have health, prosperity and good things in 2016.

Joyce E. Johnson © 2015


He who stands alone to worship

 

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The Sea of Galilee in Israel; Photo taken May, 2001 while touring Israel just four months before the 9/11 attack on the U.S. Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson

 

 

The shepherd struggled to his feet. Smoke rose into the sky as winds carried the smell of death and destruction of Bethlehem to the hillside.

The annual  pilgrimage of thousands who came each year to see the place where the Christ child was believed born was only a trickle this year in the wake of all the terrorist attacks.

They are the smart ones, who stay away. The Palestinians did not fear the Jews, or their retaliation to the missiles and suicide bombs, but instead the much darker force of evil who controlled the region destroying and desecrating all historic or religious sites. Like a plague of death their victims fell to their swords, and their black flag now flew over Gaza.

Hassan heard a soft bleat.

One has survived.

He made his way through the carnage to the sound growing weaker with every step and found him half buried under rock and debris carried by the blast. Bleeding, legs broken, but alive his eyes pleaded with silent cries.

As the night grew dark, and now quiet the shepherd tended after the lamb. He supposed the rest of his flock was now dead, or scattered. Like all the nights before when the stars came out he looked up, searching, studying those that never failed to shine their bright light upon the hills of Bethlehem.

A glow penetrated the cave dwelling. A star has fallen!

“Hassan! It is I.”

He shook with fear. Where did that come from!? 

“Hassan, you alone have survived. Don’t be afraid. I will be with you. Worship me, Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ sent to save the world from its sin. I came so that you may have eternal life. Believe only in me, and you will be saved.”

He had no understanding or comprehension of what had just happened, or what he had heard. Yet, a calm came over him, seeping into his very soul. Food and water appeared mysteriously before him. Provisions?

He ate. Taking the lamb he rose and walked to where the destroyed grotto now lay in ruins.

It is only a shrine.

Lifting his voice toward the heavens he cried out. “If I stand alone to tell my story I will tell how you came to save me, and that I live to worship You.”

One by one the scattered sheep came back, compelled by the sound of their shepherd’s voice.

It mattered not that he alone survived the attack, but that he was no longer alone. His time remaining he did not know. He was alive. He had this moment now.

___________________

Footnotes: The above story is only fiction. Thank heaven for that. Literally.  🙂 Bethlehem was one of the places we visited while on our tour of Israel in May, 2001. Although the U.S. has seen much of its own terrorism (the 9/11 attack and the one most recently in San Bernardino, Ca.) and those in Paris and elsewhere I remain very thankful I live in a free country, and can still worship the living Savior who came to this world born of a virgin, went to the cross to die for the sins of this world, and was buried and resurrected so we can have eternal life. The real story (a much happier one) of the shepherds and Jesus’s birth can be found in Matthew and Luke, chapter 2 of the New Testament Bible.

“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)

_________________  

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)    

 

 

Other things I used to do

One of my old 'practice' sketches

One of my old ‘practice’ sketches

 

When I was growing up in Colorado Springs one of the things I loved doing was sketching and drawing. I would take some favorite photographs or pictures of things or people and practice duplicating the image as best I could with a pencil. When in elementary school my teacher would pick me out to do a wall mural or display for the border above the chalkboard. She’d have me climb up onto tables so I could reach the areas since I was so short. One time I was so engrossed in drawing Easter egg baskets, eggs and bunnies that I literally did not notice how close I came to the edge of the table and fell off, much to my embarrassment. I was so embarrassed and afraid to get up and try again for fear of all the kids laughing at my lack of grace and coordination, and abundant clumsiness. But, I did get back up and finish my border art project.

One year while in the fifth grade my teacher had another student act as my ‘model’ so I could sketch him posed like, The Thinker sculpture. There were many highlights during those years when I explored my artistic expression, via pencil, and pen as I began to also ‘write.’  The following year my sixth grade teacher liked my fiction story and told me I should be a ‘writer’ when I grew up. I never got to realize my full potential beyond the point of merely sketching and drawing from photographs, sometimes even trying my hand at oils and watercolors. A dream to go to art school after high school was put aside and I got married. But, I kept what I did in art and through the years would bring out my sketch pad and try some again. The above picture is one I did from an old photo, with all its smudges and eraser marks. My love and interest in watching ballet prompted this sketch a very long, long time ago. 🙂

I recently attended a performance of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet with my daughter and granddaughter which was a tradition at Christmas time with my daughter and I when she was small. This year’s Nutcracker event was the first for my five-year old granddaughter. She loved it, and it will no doubt become an annual event for them now, too. Keeping alive some of those old traditions allows us special quality times to enjoy together.

_____________

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

 

 

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