Archive for the ‘Illustrated story’ Category

The Wayward Son

“Dad, I’m taking what’s mine and leaving.”

“Why? I hoped you would want to work with your brother and I in the business. When I retire the business will be yours, and your brother’s. ”

“No. I want to see the world, travel.” He turned away avoiding the crestfallen look on his father’s face.

A few days later Mick closed out his accounts, cashed in his trust fund, took his share of the estate and left.

For months following he traveled the world, living like a man with no responsibilities or obligations. No concerns or thoughts to who or what he left behind and none for those he met along the way. He dined and partied with men and women who showed him a good time, drove fast cars, stayed at five-star hotels and resorts eating and drinking at expensive restaurants while spending, and charging all without a care. Life was good, easy. He felt free. But the money ran out, credit cards expired, loans defaulted, and he was broke, unable to pay his debts.

Now desperate and hungry he hauled grain and feed to the stock pens of a farmer eating what he could glean. When he asked for food, they replied. “Go away, can you not see all the hungry who still have no food to eat. There isn’t enough for our own.” So, he searched through alleys for scraps in waste bins behind the bars he once hung out in.

I will go home and apologize to my father and ask if he will hire me on as one of his construction workers. They at least eat well and are paid for their wages earned. I have earned nothing but the shame and disrespect of my family. Will even God forgive me for all I have done?

While walking up the long-gated drive to his father’s home he was met with the warm loving arms of his father, never asking where he’d gone or what he’d done. Only how happy he was to see him and know he had ‘come home.’ His father asked his servants to prepare a very special, festive dinner and celebration with his best wine for his youngest son had returned home.

But when Stan Jr. the older son saw all the commotion and celebration going on, he came to his father and asked what he was doing and why.

“Did I not work for you all these years faithfully running things at the business just like you taught me? And yet, now you spoil him with an outlandish display of gifts and party. Do I not deserve the same or better for all I have done?”

“Stan Sr. replied, “Son, all you need do is ask and it is yours to enjoy. All I have is yours already. But your brother was lost to us all those years and now has returned. It is time to celebrate, not be bitter. Let’s party.”

_________________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © 2019

The above story is fiction, but the truth and parable are scriptural. The story of the prodigal son is found in Luke 15: 11-32 of the New Testament Bible. It is one of many parables or stories Jesus shared with his disciples to illustrate a truth or lesson. This parable story is one of my favorites as it depicts the love our Father God has for us who come to him lost, with a repentant heart seeking forgiveness and wishing for a new beginning, a new life in Him. receiving the gift of salvation and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in directing our steps while on our journey of faith. I love how this father reached out to his lost son in love with no condemnation or questions as to where he’d been or how he conducted his life before his return. As Father’s Day is approaching on Sunday, June 16th I thought this parable story a perfect one to share and hope you have enjoyed reading my own fictional modern version of the parable of the ‘Prodigal Son’. I want to wish all fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day. Best wishes to you and yours on this special day.

JEM

The Father’s Way

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When we were walking the trail one day with our dog I spotted these little geese families. We watched them first trot along in the high grass, across our path to the lake with all the babies’ in tow, their little heads barely seen above the grass. and then they quickly hurried over to the water and jumped in. Between the larger geese, leading and bringing up the rear the babies swam between. By the middle of spring there is a lot of new life and babies born to birds and game of all kinds. It was a touching sight to watch them, and I was so glad I had my camera. There were also little duck families that we saw on another day when I did not have my camera, so I have begun to take it along more regularly now when we walk so I don’t miss shots like this. As you can see, I have used the same photo for my blog header image as well.

While watching the geese and ducks I thought about the way parents of any species will fiercely protect and watch over their young, lead, and direct them through their young life, so they know how to be watchful of prey, to protect themselves when grown.

It is also the way our heavenly father watches over us with a much greater sense of protectiveness and direction, hoping that we will follow after Him, his leading, and know how to live in a way that assures us a safe, trusting pathway in life.  In Proverbs 13:1 of the Old Testament bible, it says, “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction.” Male or female, we all need that kind of leading which gives us the tools and instruction to live our lives in safety and harmony with others.

I was very fortunate to have an earthly father who led by example and taught us how to apply those biblical principles to our own life. But, it is my heavenly father who gives me eternal life, and the best of everything I can ever hope for, or expect. It is the Father’s way.

If you are a father, I wish you a Happy Father’s day, and the blessings and peace that only the Heavenly Father can give.

____________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

Brothers Divided

Hagar approached Abraham’s tent, Ishmael following after his mother with little concern for what was coming. Abraham had no choice if he wanted to keep Sarah happy. Hagar and his first-born son, Ishmael would be cast out, homeless and destitute in the desert of Beersheba with no promise of a future, and certainly none of the coveted inheritance. It would come through Isaac, Abraham’s second son, born to Sarah. He would receive God’s covenant blessing and favor, and all future generations of the Jewish nation after him. But, the God of Abraham did not turn away from Hagar and Ishmael. He heard her cry, and saw her distress. He would spare them both, provide for them, and through Ismael many nations would be born. (Paraphrased; Genesis, chapter 21 in the Old Testament Bible NIV.)

The above story is true. When I read about Sarah, Abraham, Hagar, Ismael and Isaac I think about the division, hate, and turmoil in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians, and people and cultures of other Middle Eastern countries with the ongoing conflict. One might think that what was written centuries ago and recorded of stories like Abraham’s might be of little consequence to us today. But, what was written back then by those who lived and recorded their stories is relevant to our lives today. It comes back, bigger, more profound. The two most basic things we need most are love and acceptance. They can unite and bind us, but. if we have neither only divide and separate us. The characters in the story below are fictional, but their situation and circumstances could be real. It is not just their story, but one in places all over the world.

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Tel Aviv, Israel – present day

“Why did you wait till now to tell me?”

“Gamal, your father deserted us. I never saw him again after that. I felt shamed, as if it was all my fault. So I left, moved closer to the settlements and just tried to blend in.”

“Like a Jew.”

“I had to find work, to support us…even though…” Sahar said, through her tears.

“Even though you were pregnant with a bastard’s son.”

Sahar shook her head, overcome with the emotion coursing through her like a hot iron.

“What about Sam’s father?”

“I was working in Jerusalem at a shop on Haifa Street when I met him. He was serving in the Israeli army then…At first I wanted nothing to do with him. He was Jewish. He came in often, was kind, and gentle…”

“And he married you.”

“Yes. We were married by a clergyman from another faith, because the Jews would not accept me, nor my people him.”

“So he captivates the pretty damsel, and off they ride into the sunset with her bastard son in tow.”

Sahar screamed at him. “Stop calling yourself that. You’re not! I never thought of you like that.”

“No? But, I was the curse that came with the shame of a sordid love affair with a man from Gaza…”

“We were a family. I tried to raise you both the same. I loved you. I never told Sam’s father anything…about your birth, or father. He accepted you and was willing to raise you as his own. He was not Orthodox so my past was not an issue with him. Then, one day…while on duty…with the military, rockets came. He was out there, trying to pull people from that carnage, but there were…Palestinians out there, shooting at them, and he was hit. He died, soon after.” Sahar’s shoulders shook, her cry intensified with every breath.

“And Sam? What does he know?”

“He only knows about his own father, how we met, how he died. Nothing about yours.”

“Then why tell me now, mother, after thirty years, making me believe I was Jewish, instead of…the son of a Palestinian?”

“Because your ties with Israel’s enemies affect your relationship with Sam, and his position in the army. You are brothers for God’s sake.”

“For God’s sake?” He laughed, sarcastically. “Your God does not care about us.”

“Gamal! What are you saying? The God of Abraham and Isaac is our God! We have no other. He is God to all.

“We come from different people, mother. Or have you forgotten that?”

“I don’t serve Allah!”

“But, I do!” He said, his eyes glaring at her, cold and dark. “Goodbye, mother.”

Gamal! She yelled after him, but he did not listen. He was gone, slamming the door behind him, shutting himself off from her, Sam, and all that he knew.

_____________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2016

Footnotes: Last year I posted short fictional stories under the title, Acid Rain, the first one under the title of Brothers Divided where Sam, a Jewish Israeli defense officer comes against those in the Arab nations set on destroying the Jewish people and the country of Israel. You can find those stories here. The above story is fiction also, and the prequel to Acid Rain.

“Not their last dance” (A Valentine’s Day poem/story)

Recipients, waiting for hearts

Pray faith imparts

What most they need

From one’s kind deed

~~

With hope the hearts that are reserved

For both preserved

That each receive

Will they believe

~~

Grant to them both extended life

Husband and wife

And not by chance

Be their last dance

________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2016

Footnotes; The above poem is called a “minute poem” according to the writersdigest.com site. It is named for having a total of sixty syllables because a minute has sixty seconds, thus giving it that name. The poem contains three (verse) quatrains, each having twenty syllables, in a four line stanza with the rhyming scheme done in aabb/ccdd/eeff/ rhyme fashion. Cutting some unnecessary words, rhyming with them all in their right position, can be tricky, so I reworked this one several times. I always look forward to receiving my quarterly issue of Writer’s Digest magazine as it is packed full of great information and articles for writers, and gives me opportunities to practice new forms of poetry.   

The above illustration is mine, written in a story form of a married couple, both needing heart transplants, and both receiving their new hearts at the same time. Because of Valentine’s Day coming up on February 14th (next Sunday) I have decided to use this poetic verse rhyme to tell my little story. I hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day and enjoy  my little story. JEJ


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)

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Joyce E. Johnson (2015)    

 

 

The scarlet cord

“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

“…her children rise up and call her blessed…”

She embraces each day

ready, whatever may come

watching over all

entrusted into her care

She blesses all she touches

~~~~

With her hands she makes

designer clothes; she creates

and feeds her children

that which grows from her garden.

She manages her household

~~~~

She makes decisions

with the carefulness and thought

of one who is wise

governing business ventures

with prayer, confidence and grace

_______________

Footnotes: This poem is my perspective of the woman portrayed in Proverbs, Chapter 31, Old Testament bible. She is a mother, a wife, a business woman, and a governess who is blessed because all that she does she does with God’s help, with the wisdom gained throughout her life. I chose to use this passage of scripture in Proverbs as an inspiration for these three verses of Tanka poetry to honor a Proverbs 31 woman and mother on Mother’s Day. My own mother was a woman and mother who exemplified the Proverbs 31 woman with these characteristics, and though she is now deceased I hope that I can be one of such character. To all mothers out there, I wish you a happy Mother’s Day.

Joyce E. Johnson © 2015


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