Archive for the ‘Inspirational stories’ Category
With sheets of old yellowed parchment spread out
the scribe sits down at his splintered worn desk,
and with withered hand he dips his quill
into a thick substance inside the inkwell,
and turns his face towards Heaven, blessed be He,
God of the universe, and praise to the One
who sits on the throne, all the earth be His.
It is not what the scribe hears with audible voice,
but what his heart hears and knows to be true
for that which is given him scribed upon
with sweeping gesture, flourish and swirls
the Hebraic characters penned in ink
are the scribe’s writings on ancient scrolls.
Joyce E. Johnson © 2017
No eloquent words, flowers, gifts or cards
could he give her, but just a token
gesture of his affection
with twisted smile, and memory all but gone.
Eyesight, hearing, failing too,
he tried to form his thoughts,
while expressing his love to her,
but his stroke had stolen from them so much.
Like the younger version of himself
with vibrant, baritone rich voice
when he once belted out old tunes,
are but broken phrases hanging on.
With faint muttering he attempts to sing,
to remember the lyrics, what he wants to say
like the day he swooned her heart with song.
But, she’ll treasure what they have today
for she fears the day when he is gone.
and prays to God it lingers on.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all.
Joyce E. Johnson © 2017
The Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, Israel, May, 2001, Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson
Nothing but chaos, crowds and noise
greeted the young couple, desperate to find
a quiet place, warm and dry
for the birth of their child, the newborn king.
Foretold and promised generations ago,
news of his birth was heard throughout the lands,
and the star in the east that lit up the sky
guided men of wisdom across desert sands.
Shepherds fled their flocks
frightened by angels that came nigh
announcing the news of Jesus’s birth.
To the king they hurried, and in haste found
the tiny babe chosen to rule and reign
lying in a feeding trough upon a cold bare ground.
Hope and redemption was born that night
where cattle grazed, and sheep and goats brayed.
No throne or palace was awarded this king,
yet people came from all around
seeking the savior born that day.
Now in a world where chaos, crowds and noise
leaves hearts searching and seeking one to follow,
where joy, comfort and peace
is eternal, lasting and hallow,
there waits the savior born that day
to reign in hearts that just believe.
Joyce E. Johnson (2016)
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today, in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:10-14 NIV, New Testament Bible.
I would like to take this time to thank all of my blogger friends, followers and visitors who have visited my blog site through 2016, and wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year of peace and joy in 2017. The amazing friends and opportunities I have, and the positive comments received are what makes blogging fun, rewarding, and an inspiration to my writing. Blessings to all. JEJ
An old church I photographed while vacationing one year in the upper northeast (New England and Nova Scotia). I love photographing old white churches.
The antique ‘Deacon’s bench’ I bought years ago from an antiques dealer. I don’t know its history, but the pew and intricate carving in the deep walnut wood is much like those used in old churches, and my inspiration for the fictional story below.
It started with quiet, cloudy skies, the air so still not a bird could be seen in flight.
“A storm is coming.” Janetta said.
The grocer glanced out the window. “It will probably be just one of those late summer showers, then move out.”
“Maybe…Well, I guess that’ll be it. I’ll see you next week, Hank.”
“Sure thing. And thanks for the eggs. There’s none better than farm fresh, anywhere.”
“Yes. My hens have had a good year.” She smiled as she walked out the door.
The gravel kicked up, spitting rocks to the sides of the road. She watched the clouds turn an ominous gray. The ten miles home seemed to take longer, and the miles much further when she was in a hurry.
Sirens wailed as she spotted a black cloud, with its twisting, menacing tail swirling across the sky, dip low, then pull away only to come around again, this time from the direction she was headed. Her house. God, please get me home in time. But, the funnel cloud came right for her.
She turned her wheel sharp cutting through a field towards the old church, catching weeds and dried brush under the car, and slammed to a stop in front of the door. A window leading down to the basement was her only escape and means of protection. She broke it and climbed through. She and Bill were married in this church, faithfully attending until its membership dwindled, and people moved on. Now, it was little more than a hollow shell of memories, with relics from the past, left behind. With the swiftness of a rabbit she scurried under a pew.
Sounds like a freight train derailed from its tracks, cars crashing into each other was deafening. The twister struck like a cracking whip splitting open the church, exposing all to the sky as she watched in horror, crouched under the pew. It spun around, building in strength, then tore across the ground destroying everything in its path. Creaking beams snapped and toppled to the earth’s floor. Doors and windows blew out, shattered glass and objects were caught up in a whirlwind of debris, soil and dust, sucked into the cloud.
The storm was gone as quick as it’d come. When she crawled out from under the pew the church was reduced to a pile of rubble. But, the pew sat upright, untouched. An old hymnal hanging from the book rack behind lay opened to a hymn she remembered once singing; ‘Jesus is the rock in a weary land…a shelter in the time of storm.’
Both her and her husband’s lives were spared that day, when others were not. Bill found refuge in an underground culvert, their prayers sustaining them, giving them hope. They lost their home and their hens to the tornado, but not their spirit. They would rebuild, again.
Joyce E. Johnson (2016)
An antique sewing machine from the 1800s. It is one of my collected antique pieces acquired over the years. The photo above was my inspiration for the fictional story below. I don’t use this machine for personal use, but I do sew, on my own Kenmore machine I have had for about fifty years.
The Blessing of the Old Sewing Machine
Bent over at the shoulders, her bones small and brittle she leaned in, head bowed to see clearly her stitches as the old sewing machine made a repetitive pattern on the fabric pieces, all of them cut from dresses she’d made her granddaughter when worn as a little girl. The machine made clicking sounds as it faithfully worked across each row, fed under the presser foot by thin, arthritic fingers. Her foot tapped with steady rhythm the large iron foot pedal below the machine. Her family tried to bless her with a new Singer sewing machine one Christmas, but she would not hear of it. Her old ‘Nelly’ had been with her for so long she refused to give her up, a gift from her long departed husband. Nelly was an old trusted friend, that would remain with her until its end, or hers.
Her eyes were failing her as she attempted to finish the quilt in time for her granddaughter’s dowry shower. Wire rimmed glasses rested on the indented straight nose. They helped little in gaining her vision acuity as she squinted. She looked for any puckered or uneven stitches. Ah, Nelly, you miss a few, too. We work hard to catch up, growing old together, and where will your grave be when my foot can peddle you no more? Soon, Darla will have her dresses again, reborn in this dowry quilt.
Ah…I remember this one, the dark blue damask. She wore it to her piano recital. Such a beautiful piece she played. A concerto, I think. Her fingers danced across the keys. And oh, this one, the red rose brocaded pattern. It was worn for the children’s Christmas program at church. They sang the Carols of the Nativity. Like an angel choir come down from heaven, they were. And this green striped plaid, she wore for her… ninth, or tenth birthday party? She’d spilt punch on it, and we worked to get out that stain. There’s just a hint of it left here, I can see, barely. Oh, the memories that child has given me. If I am not around when she has her first…oh, what a thought. I will be there to see her face when she opens her gift. Now, I am almost done. There, the blocks are all in place.
Aligning the front of the quilt to the back, the underside done in a flowered pattern with the batting between, she stitched up the sides. With short lengths of colorful embroidery floss and buttons stitched through the thickness she finished with little bows. She then folded the quilt and laid it between sheets of white tissue paper in a large box, sealed it up, and wrapped it in paper.
Feeling the weariness come over her, she laid down to rest, and went to sleep.
A month later, the wrapped box sat on an empty chair at Darla’s shower. It had been saved for last. As she pulled away the tissue from the quilt folded inside, her tears fell like a summer rain on thirsty ground.
“Mama! It’s my old dresses, all sewn into a quilt.”
Joyce E. Johnson (2016)
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.
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.
His hand gripped tightly. With grunting, gasping breaths he climbed up, and saw nothing but the tunnel of hard, cold steel that went on, endlessly in the claustrophobic tomb.
“Help!” He cried out.
Save your breath. It will only tax what energy you have left and be your downfall.
A hoarse cough broke from his parched throat.
My ‘downfall.’ Yeah! Done that!
Don’t look down. The bottom is endless, too. Grab hold! Anything!
His feet felt like iron weights.
Climb! I can do this.
The elevator shaft opened.
Oh, thank God!
Psalm 31: 2, Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of rescue, a strong fortress to save me. NIV, Old Testament
The above short story is fiction, but I used it as an illustration of the times when we need to be rescued from some trap or downfall, either by our own doing, or one of a literal sense. To acknowledge God, and His power to save, rescue and heal us, however it happens is when we need him most. The Psalms are full of the many stories and pleas of David, King of Israel who often found himself trapped by his enemies, or caught in literal or personal traps he’d set for himself. I’m thankful for the way God always provides us with a way of escape from that which the enemy sets up for us, either to catch us by surprise, or one placed there, warning us of what might come if we do not acknowledge Him, or seek His help .
Joyce E. Johnson © 2016